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Six teams on upset alert in NFL Week 3

Jesse Reed
Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

Last week, we correctly called a couple of big upsets and were very close on some others. Looking ahead to NFL Week 3, there are more teams ripe for the upset.

Can Lamar Jackson and Co. take down the mighty Kansas City Chiefs? Will the Cam Newton-less Carolina Panthers handle the Bird Gang in the desert? We’re answering these questions and more examining six teams on upset alert in NFL Week 3.

Baltimore Ravens vs. Kansas City Chiefs (-6)

Given the exploits of Patrick Mahomes, who is on pace to shatter NFL records this season, it’s hard to bet against the Chiefs. However, if you recall the Ravens did a fantastic job defensively against him in the playoffs last year, and they feature a dynamic defense once more this season.

The big reason to have faith in Baltimore, however, is that Lamar Jackson has taken a huge step in his development and leads a potent offensive attack that can put points on the board in a hurry. Kansas City’s defense may be improved this season, but it’s still vulnerable to being gashed by the big play.

Weather could be a big factor, too, as heavy rain is forecast. This matchup should be highly entertaining, and we won’t be surprised in the least if the Ravens fly home with a victory.

Oakland Raiders vs. Minnesota Vikings (-9)

The Vikings haven’t impressed in the early goings of this new season. Offensively, they are severely limited by the play of quarterback Kirk Cousins, who continues to be downright awful in key situations.

Dalvin Cook is electric, but this weekend he’s going against an Oakland defense that has been outstanding against the run (63 yards allowed per game). The Raiders also held the mighty Chiefs scoreless for three quarters in a losing cause last Sunday.

On the other side, if rookie running back Josh Jacobs has recovered from the malady that kept him sidelined early in the week, the Raiders have a chance to pound Minnesota’s defense into submission. Richie Incognito returns after a two-game suspension and should bolster the Raiders’ offensive line.

Detroit Lions vs. Philadelphia Eagles (-5)

Matthew Stafford has opened the season with a couple of strong outings, and he has an effective trio of receivers in Kenny Golladay, rookie tight end T.J. Hockenson, and veteran slot specialist Danny Amendola. Hey’ll have to rely on them heavily going against a Philadelphia defensive front that has been a brick wall against the run.

However, if the Lions get the kind of defensive effort in Week 3 that stymied the Los Angeles Chargers last weekend, this game is very much theirs for the taking. Philly is banged up in a big way offensively. Alshon Jeffery is questionable with a calf injury, and DeSean Jackson isn’t going to play.

If Philly’s defensive secondary has another outing like we saw in Week 1, then this game could get out of hand quickly.

Carolina Panthers (-2) vs. Arizona Cardinals

The Cardinals have looked darn impressive offensively ever since recovering from their slow start in Week 1. Rookie Kyler Murray looks pretty comfortable as a pro, and he’s thrown for 657 yards already this year — eclipsing 300 yards in each of his first two games. Carolina’s defensive front seven will cause problems, to be sure, yet we’re not convinced it will tip the scales in favor of the Panthers.

The big reason we’re leaning toward Arizona winning its first game of the season is that the Panthers are starting Kyle Allen under center as Cam Newton recovers from a foot injury. He’s played in just one game as a pro, and while it was a positive outing his play this preseason was shaky at best. So, if the Cardinals can corral Christian McCaffrey they have a real shot to win.

Houston Texans vs. Los Angeles Chargers (-3)

The Chargers were a miserable wreck on the road last Sunday against the Lions and will have their hands full with Houston coming to town in Week 3.

The injury bug has been relentlessly eating away at the Chargers’ roster since well before the season began. They recently lost tight end Hunter Henry again, and backup safety Adrian Phillips — starting this season in place of the injured Derwin James — is now out with a broken arm, among others.

Offensive fireworks should be on the menu as both teams feature high-powered passing games with top receivers who’ll have tasty matchups. In the end, we’re expecting the Texans to do just enough to protect Deshaun Watson and come away with a huge road win.

Los Angeles Rams (-3.5) vs. Cleveland Browns

If the Browns are going to pull off the upset in front of their home fans Sunday night, then it’s going to be up to Myles Garrett and Co. to step up their efforts defensively in a huge way. The Rams are one of the top teams in the NFC and feature a very good offensive line, so it’s not going to be nearly as easy to get to Jared Goff as it was to dominate on Monday night against the New York Jets. Yet Garrett is on a heck of a run to start this season, and he’s playing with a huge chip on his shoulder.

The battle between veteran defensive coordinator Wade Phillips and Browns head coach Freddie Kitchens’ offensive attack is going to be fascinating to watch unfold. Phillips is one of the best in the business. The Browns have been underwhelming on offense so far. However, the Rams are allowing 4.3 yards per rush and have allowed three touchdowns on the ground. So if Nick Chubb gets going he’ll have a positive impact on the offense as a whole and open up the passing game for Baker Mayfield, Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry.

This should be a fantastic game on Sunday night.