Tuesday, September 27, 2022

NFL Week 3 odds, picks: Rams’ pressure vs. Kyler Murray sparks win, Packers’ ground game too much for Bucs

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.

Los Angeles Rams (-3.5) at Arizona Cardinals

Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET

TV: Fox. Streaming: FuboTV

Featured Game | Arizona Cardinals vs. Los Angeles Rams

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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.

Pick: Rams

Philadelphia Eagles (-6.5) at Washington Commanders

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET 

TV: Fox. Streaming: FuboTV

Featured Game | Washington Commanders vs. Philadelphia Eagles

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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.

Pick: Eagles

Green Bay Packers at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-1)

Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET

TV: Fox. Streaming: FuboTV

Featured Game | Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Green Bay Packers

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Packers run game vs. Buccaneers run game

The Buccaneers could be without their top three wide receivers (Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Julio Jones) and the Packers are still looking to hit their stride without Davante Adams. With Tom Brady’s and Aaron Rodgers’ aerial attacks potentially grounded without top targets against good secondaries, I look to the ground.

Rodgers said the goal is getting Aaron Jones and A.J. Dillon each 15 touches a game, which could play into a mismatch with the Buccaneers. They lead the NFL in defensive efficiency, but their run defense is still vulnerable. They rank 22nd in run stop win rate, an ESPN stat measuring how often they beat their blocks on run plays. They also rank 19th in yards per rush allowed this season, down from 15th last year and first when they won a Super Bowl in 2020. Green Bay’s run defense has struggled, too, but on offense the Packers’ ground game is third in yards per rush, compared with 26th for the Bucs.

Pick: Packers

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