NFL Week 3 odds, picks: Rams pressure vs. Kyler Murray sparks win, Bills halt Dolphins’ deep passing game
After a wild Week 2, we have a little more clarity as to which teams are good and which teams might struggle this season. Here are the moves and subsequent Week 3 matchups on my radar, along with how they could impact the outcome of these games.
Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET
TV: Fox. Streaming: FuboTV
Featured Game | Arizona Cardinals vs. Los Angeles Rams
Defensive schemes favor Stafford, not Murray
Just as recent history favors the Bills against the Dolphins, the Rams have had Kyler Murray’s number. Murray’s marks against the Rams (1-6 SU, 1-5-1 ATS, 7 TD, 8 Int) are all his worst against any team (min. 3 games). The only time Murray beat the Rams he also had DeAndre Hopkins in the lineup.
Murray vs. Rams pressure
Kyler’s struggles against the Rams begin with pressure. He has been pressured on 36% of his dropbacks against them, his worst rate against any team. He was completely under fire against them in the playoffs last year, going 4 of 12 for 22 yards and an interception when hurried. Los Angeles’ pass rush isn’t as potent without Von Miller, but it’s good enough to put an end to the magic act Murray pulled off last week.
Stafford vs. Cardinals blitz
The key to beating Matthew Stafford? DO NOT BLITZ. He has an NFL-best 139.8 passer rating against five-plus pass rushers since getting traded to the Rams, with 18 touchdown passes and one pick. In a Rams uniform, Stafford is 9-0 when blitzed at least 25% of the time and 8-6 in all other games.
I’d like to give Arizona the benefit of the doubt and say “maybe they won’t blitz,” but I can’t do it after Week 1. Patrick Mahomes is the second-best QB against extra rushers since 2021, behind Stafford. He’s a notorious blitz beater yet the Cardinals blitzed him at easily the highest rate in his career (54%) leading to five touchdown passes. Arizona has blitzed at the highest rate in the NFL this year (48%), and could continue that against Stafford.
Sunday, 1 p.m. ET
TV: Fox. Streaming: FuboTV
Featured Game | Washington Commanders vs. Philadelphia Eagles
Eagles OL vs. Commanders DL
The Eagles ground game is in midseason form, ranking second in the league in rushing yards per game this season. They’ll face a Commanders defense allowing 7.5 yards per rush this season. How bad is that? It’s the highest by any team through Week 2 since 1951, when the Bears, Giants and Eagles were all worse. 1951! The Eagles vaunted offensive line should push the Commanders around just like they did last year, when they swept Washington while rushing for 178 yards per game. With Jalen Hurts’ early season breakout, that’s enough for me to pick Philadelphia in a reunion with Carson Wentz.
Buffalo Bills (-5.5) at Miami Dolphins
Sunday, 1 p.m. ET
TV: CBS. Streaming: Paramount+ (one month free trial)
Featured Game | Miami Dolphins vs. Buffalo Bills
Bills can block Dolphins’ path to victory
The Bills have won seven straight against the Dolphins by nearly 20 points per game and Josh Allen has 19 touchdowns and three interceptions during the win streak. So Buffalo already has their number, and they look to have the pieces to stop Miami’s newfound mojo too. Assuming safeties Micah Hype and Jordan Poyer play (neither practiced Thursday), I’m picking Buffalo.
Deep passing game
Miami’s miracle in Baltimore was aided by two deep fourth-quarter touchdown passes from Tua Tagovailoa to Tyreek Hill, against a suspect Ravens defense. They shouldn’t find the same holes against a Bills defense built on rushing four and keeping everything in front of them. Since the start of last season, the Bills have allowed the lowest passer rating on deep balls (20+ yards downfield) at 16.4. The next lowest-rate is 42.7. Buffalo has allowed zero touchdowns and has nine interceptions on these throws. While Hill can take the top off any defense, he has never caught a ball thrown even 15+ yards downfield against the Bills.
Miami is built on speed with Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle, evidenced by Hill’s two long touchdowns last week, but also a crucial score by Waddle in Week 1. Waddle took a quick post from Tua 42 yards for a score on fourth down. Hill and Waddle have combined for 524 receiving yards this season, the most by any duo through Week 2 in NFL history. They are a big reason Miami leads the NFL in yards after catch this season, a driving force behind the team’s offense. It’s a small sample but the Bills defense ranks fourth in yards after catch average this season, after ranking 21st in 2021.
Before the season opener new head coach Mike McDaniel told his team this is still the defense’s team until proven otherwise. That might not be true after Week 2, but it’s still a dangerous defense built on an aggressive blitzing scheme. The Dolphins send extra pass rushers at the third-highest rate in the NFL (42%), which hasn’t been a formula for success against Josh Allen. Since the start of 2020, Allen is 27-5 when blitzed at least 20% of the time and 2-6 when not. He has 10 touchdown passes and zero interceptions against Miami’s blitz in their last seven meetings.