Week 3 NFL Picks: Patrick Mahomes, Lamar Jackson take center stage on Monday night

Game of the week

Kansas City at Baltimore

This was supposed to be last year’s AFC championship game matchup until Tennessee stunned the Ravens. What a coup for ESPN to get this game on Monday night featuring the last two NFL MVPs (Patrick Mahomes/Lamar Jackson). Baltimore (minus 3 1/2) makes one stop to win.

Ravens 42, Chiefs 3

Upset of the week

Green Bay at New Orleans

How are the Saints a favorite (minus-3)? New Orleans looked all kinds of out of sorts in last week’s loss at Las Vegas, including quarterback Drew Brees, who needs to start stretching the field vertically so Alvin Kamara can have room on the short routes.

Packers 30, Saints 24

Lock of the week

Arizona at Detroit
The Cardinals (2-0) are one of the league’s early surprises and are a 5 1/2-point home favorite against the winless Lions. Detroit outscored Chicago/Green Bay 27-23 in the first half, but were blown out 46-17 in the second half. Is the clock ticking on coach Matt Patricia? It should be.

Cardinals 27, Lions 14

Around the AFC: Josh Allen, Stefon Diggs lead Buffalo to fast start

Bills’ fast start. Smart move by former Wyoming/current Buffalo quarterback Josh Allen in prioritizing new receiver Stefon Diggs. During the Bills’ 2-0 start, they scored 58 points and Diggs has 16 catches for 239 yards and one touchdown. Allen has a 122.8 rating and is completing 70.4% of his attempts (six touchdowns/no interceptions). Diggs will see a lot of Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey on Sunday. “He’s (darn) good; everybody knows that,” Diggs said of Ramsey. “As far as shying away from (Ramsey), we don’t really shy away in anything.” Rams-Bills is one of two matchups between 2-0 teams (Kansas City-Baltimore).

Waller uncoverable. One of our favorite players in the league to watch is Las Vegas tight end Darren Waller because he’s a full-field matchup problem. He has 18 catches through two games; the next-closest Raider is running back Josh Jacobs (seven). “I think it’s been such a long time since we’ve seen a guy like (Waller),” New England coach Bill Belichick said. “Very versatile player (and) pretty unique guy in the league. There’s some really good tight ends, but nobody really does more than this guy does.” If the Raiders win at New England, they will be 3-0 for the first time in 18 years.

Texans’ brutal start. Who did Houston tick off at the NFL office this offseason? The Texans opened at Kansas City (lost by 14) and home to Baltimore (lost by 17) and play at Pittsburgh (2-0) on Sunday. Among the issues for coach Bill O’Brien to figure out: Takeaways (the Texans and Detroit are the only two teams without one). Chasing the game (the Texans have been hammered 37-17 in the first half). Third down (Houston ranks 27th, 36.8%). And keeping the football (the Texans are 30th in time of possession at 25 minutes, 11 seconds).

Around the NFC: All-around struggles for Minnesota early on

Vikings struggling. Among the 11 teams who have started 0-2, Minnesota is one of the surprises. The Vikings are 29th in yards allowed (438.0) and have given up 70 points in two games. They are already two games behind Green Bay and Chicago in the NFC North and host Tennessee on Sunday. “What we have to do is get back to being ourselves, doing the things that we do good and eliminate the mistakes we’re making,” coach/defensive play-caller Mike Zimmer said. “My message to (the players) has been, ‘Before we start winning, we have to stop losing.’”

Saints keep it short. What’s going on with the New Orleans passing game? Granted, quarterback Drew Brees has never been a big-armed gunslinger, but through two games, he has only two passes that have traveled at least 21 “air” yards, according to STATS Inc. Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers leads the league with 16 such passes. New receiver Emmanuel Sanders has only four catches and Broncos fans know that probably isn’t going over very well with him. Of not connecting with Sanders yet, Brees said: “I honestly don’t feel like there have been a ton of opportunities. We called two (deep shots) in (Week 2) that were designed to go to him down the field. Unfortunately, the coverage really didn’t allow that.”

Life without Barkley. The New York Giants’ offense can’t go through running back Saquon Barkley after he sustained a torn ACL last week against Chicago. The Giants (0-2) signed Devonta Freeman to replace Barkley but the pressure is turned up on second-year quarterback Daniel Jones. “It’s not any one guy, it’s not a couple guys — it’s all of us executing to put the ball into position to score points and make explosive plays and keep drives going,” Jones said.

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