NFL Week 3 picks: Ravens-Chiefs is a game that could define the NFL season

The last time we had a regular-season matchup that looked as good on paper as the Kansas City Chiefs at Baltimore Ravens next Monday night, it was the Chiefs vs. the Los Angeles Rams in 2018. That turned out to be the greatest regular-season game in NFL history.

It will be hard for Chiefs-Ravens to live up to the hype, but the NFL can’t give us a better matchup this season.

Any reputable NFL power rankings will have the Chiefs and Ravens in the top two spots, in whatever order you prefer. The Ravens were the best team in the regular season last year. The Chiefs won a Super Bowl. Patrick Mahomes and Lamar Jackson have won the past two NFL MVP awards and either one could win it again this season. With the expanded playoffs, the No. 1 seed being the only one to get the first-round bye and the tiebreaker being head-to-head results as usual, this game could have the biggest single impact on who wins Super Bowl LV.

Yeah, this will be fun.

If you believe the Chiefs are the best team in football, the point spread for this great matchup doesn’t necessarily agree. The spread at BetMGM was set at Baltimore as a 3.5-point favorite and it hasn’t moved. With many questioning the true value of home-field advantage without fans — even though home teams are winning at a much higher rate this season, though we only have two weeks of data so far — the line is a bit surprising. This could be the only time Kansas City is an underdog all season (the other possibilities are at Tampa Bay on Nov. 29 and at New Orleans on Dec. 20), and the Chiefs are getting more than a field goal.

It’s too hard to pass that up, even if it seems that oddsmakers are begging everyone to take the Chiefs. A field goal would be enticing, giving bettors the hook is a great deal on Kansas City. Even though I’ve had the Ravens as my No. 1 team in the power rankings since the end of last year, I’ll take the Chiefs +3.5. It should be a great one.

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) will face the Baltimore Ravens on Monday night. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) will face the Baltimore Ravens on Monday night. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

Here are the rest of the picks for Week 3 of the NFL season, with point spreads from BetMGM:

Dolphins (+3) over Jaguars

I was probably more impressed with the Jaguars in last week’s near-loss to the Titans than in Week 1, when they were outplayed by the Colts but pulled off the upset. The Jaguars gave a good Titans team a heck of a game last Sunday. The Dolphins haven’t looked good, but they have played the New England Patriots and Buffalo Bills. I think Miami will at least keep it close.

Patriots (-6) over Raiders

Monday night was a huge night for the Raiders. They got a win in their first game at Las Vegas over the favored Saints. The combination of a possible emotional letdown, a shorter week and the disbelief that the Patriots will be 1-2 leads me to take New England.

Bills (-2) over Rams

Two teams that have been very impressive through a couple weeks. I have been on the Bills’ bandwagon all offseason, and I’m not moving off that now. The Bills are very good, and I think they continue to prove that here.

Steelers (-4) over Texans

Not sure what the Texans have shown to convince anyone to back them against a Steelers team that has a lot to like. Pittsburgh didn’t blow away the Broncos like they should have last week after Drew Lock’s injury, but I think the Steelers will overwhelm Houston here.

Giants (+4) over 49ers

Two teams dealing with a ton of key injuries. I don’t feel great taking the Giants without Saquon Barkley or Sterling Shepard, but San Francisco is even more beat up.

Titans (-2.5) over Vikings

A trap? Maybe. But I’m falling into it. The Vikings look really bad so far. They’ll have the urgency, at 0-2 against a 2-0 Titans team that has squeaked out both of its wins, but I need to see the Vikings play better before picking them against a team as good as Tennessee.

Washington (+7) over Browns

I don’t love Washington in this spot, against a Cleveland team that has extra rest and might have just looked bad in Week 1 because Baltimore is that good. But still, let me see the Browns cover a spread before laying a touchdown with them.

Bengals (+5.5) over Eagles

I thought the Panthers would lead the league in backdoor covers, but Christian McCaffrey’s injury might shift that honor to the Bengals. Joe Burrow looks legit and Cincinnati will always keep things interesting at the end of games.

Bears (+3.5) over Falcons

I get every reason why the Falcons are probably the value here, over a 2-0 Bears team that has been pretty fortunate so far. But I don’t trust Atlanta, and who knows how that epic collapse last week affects them.

Jets (+10.5) over Colts

The lookahead line last week for this game was Colts -7. I get it, the Jets stink. It’s not fun to pick them and it might look really dumb when they’re losing 21-0 at halftime. But this line is a little ridiculous. And if the Jets can’t cover, they might as well ask Trevor Lawrence which number he wants to wear.

Panthers (+6.5) over Chargers

It will be a slog for the Panthers without Christian McCaffrey. Still, they have some good targets in the passing game and I still believe in their backdoor cover ability, especially if Justin Herbert starts and makes some rookie mistakes (and especially if Tyrod Taylor starts).

Cardinals (-5.5) over Lions

There was a movement before the season that the Lions were way better than we thought. I probably bought into that when I picked them to cover last week at Green Bay. Now it just looks like a team that has a terrible coach and really has little interest in playing all that hard for him.

Buccaneers (-6.5) over Broncos

I’d like to take the Broncos getting this many points at home but just can’t. There are too many key injuries for me to back them.

Cowboys (+5.5) over Seahawks

Russell Wilson has been great. Seattle’s defense has not been as great. The Cowboys’ offense got it going in the second half last week and they’re going to score on Sunday. The Seahawks love playing close games and this will be another one.

Saints (-3) over Packers

New Orleans was a 5.5-point favorite on the lookahead line last week. That means there’s value in the Saints coming down to a field goal. New Orleans lost to the Raiders, but that was a bad spot for them playing in Las Vegas’ first home game. The Packers have looked tremendous, there is no doubt about that. If the Packers win here, it will be pretty clear they deserve to be viewed as the NFC’s best team.

Last week: 8-8
Season to date: 17-13-2

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