This just looks ugly on paper. And it probably will on the field, too. Who knows, maybe the Bills will force two quick turnovers, one being a scoop-and-score, and go up 13-0 or 17-0. Or maybe (probably) Josh Allen‘s protection will break down in 2.3 seconds, and the Buffalo rookie will get sacked five times and hit a dozen others. Here’s what I know: This is an awful matchup for a Bills team that has offensive line woes. If Buffalo can’t establish the run again (83 yards in Week 1, 84 in Week 2), Sean McDermott’s bunch has no chance. Look for Minnesota coach Mike Zimmer to play the long game, allowing the better roster to prevail without taking unnecessary risks offensively. Essentially, he won’t give a turnover-starved defense any freebies.
Buffalo Bills at Minnesota Vikings (1 p.m. ET, CBS)
Point spread: MIN -16.5 | Matchup quality: 49.2 (of 100)
Mike Rodak’s pick: Kirk Cousins threw for four touchdowns and had a 153.7 quarterback rating in his previous game against the Bills, the fourth-highest passer rating by an opponent with at least 10 attempts in Bills history. Only one defensive player (defensive end Jerry Hughes) and no defensive coaches remain from that Bills-Redskins game in 2015, but there is little evidence so far this season that Buffalo’s latest group will fare better. Vikings 30, Bills 10
Courtney Cronin’s pick: The Vikings are heavy favorites coming off Cousins’ late-game performance in which he threw for 223 yards and three touchdowns in the fourth quarter and overtime in Green Bay. He likely won’t have to stage a comeback this week against a Buffalo team that gave up 47 points in its last road game, at Baltimore. Vikings 35, Bills 10
FPI win projection: MIN, 91 percent. Things can quickly go from bad to worse for the Bills; after this matchup in Minnesota in which FPI is giving them only a 9 percent chance to win, they follow it up with a trip to Green Bay in Week 4 (14 percent chance to win).
I’m not picking against the Dolphins again. The reasons are two-fold: 1) When I do pick against Miami, my Twitter timeline blows up. (Although fans thought I picked them to get shut out last week, which I didn’t. They were mad as Jay Fiedler over it.) And 2) Oakland is not strong enough right now, especially on defense, to mitigate mental errors like the ones that cost them last week. Miami’s defense is playing well, while the Fins have two effective running backs in Kenyan Drake and Frank Gore. They can afford to play somewhat safe and still gain yards against a suspect Raider D. On a related note, I have the 1973 AFC Championship Game (Oakland at Miami) on DVD. The Dolphins made their second straight Super Bowl with a strong running game, their bend-but-almost-never-break defense and a mobile quarterback who didn’t throw picks. Sound familiar?
Oakland Raiders at Miami Dolphins (1 p.m. ET, CBS)
Point spread: MIA -3 | Matchup quality: 35.8 (of 100)
Paul Gutierrez’s pick: As hard as it is to pick the new-look Jon Gruden Raiders to win a game before they show they can close someone out — Oakland has been outscored by a combined 43-7 in the second half thus far — it is just as hard to see Gruden’s Raiders falling to 0-3. Derek Carr and the offense clicked as he completed 29 of 32 attempts in Denver, and that confidence carries over to Miami. Barely. Raiders 24, Dolphins 23
Cameron Wolfe’s pick: This screams trap game for the 2-0 Dolphins hosting a struggling 0-2 West Coast team. With Ryan Tannehill and Carr showing high-accuracy and low-air-yard passing attacks, expect the defense that can jump more of those routes to secure a victory. The Dolphins are tied for the NFL lead with five interceptions, and they’ll add to that total Sunday. Dolphins 26, Raiders 20
FPI win projection: MIA, 66 percent. Miami somewhat surprisingly leads the league in defensive efficiency through the first two weeks, making up for the fact that Tannehill ranks 27th in the league in Total QBR, the lowest of any of the 2-0 quarterbacks. Oakland has the lowest pressure rate in the league.
What to watch for in fantasy: Tannehill makes for a good streaming option in Week 3. Look for the Dolphins QB to eclipse 200 passing yards, with another 20 on the ground. Read more.
Look for Tom Brady to rebound in a big way this week after last Sunday’s loss to the Jags. Detroit’s front four does not resemble the Jacksonville wall Brady faced in Week 2. Moreover, the Lions only seem to generate a pass rush when they blitz — and blitzing the Patriots‘ quarterback has never been the ticket. If Detroit coach Matt Patricia attacks his former team with linebackers, he’s going to get James White-d till the cows come home. An advantage to that strategy is the lack of a vertical component to the New England attack. I can’t imagine recently acquired receiver Josh Gordon will have a huge role this week. Expecting the Pats to prevail. That said, if the secondary fares as it did in Jacksonville, Matthew Staffordwill eat those guys alive (provided he’s not off for the whole first half again).
New England Patriots at Detroit Lions (8:20 p.m. ET, NBC)
Point spread: NE -6 | Matchup quality: 52.4 (of 100)
Mike Reiss’ pick: The Patriots’ running game was a disappointment in Week 2, unable to deliver consistent results even when in what should have been advantageous matchups (e.g., big personnel vs. nickel), but there’s a solid chance for a turnaround against the Lions. In a grind-it-out type of game that could be a coming-out-party for rookie RB Sony Michel, look for the running game to rebound. Patriots 30, Lions 20
Michael Rothstein’s pick: The Lions have obvious holes in their defense, particularly defending outside runs, and Bill Belichick & Co. are going to exploit that often. Belichick has a sterling record against his former assistants (11-4), and there’s no way New England overlooks a winless Detroit team both because of that connection and the double-digit Week 2 loss to Jacksonville. Patriots 35, Lions 20
FPI win projection: NE, 62 percent. The Patriots rank 16th in offensive efficiency so far this season. Let’s just say FPI doesn’t think that side of the ball is going to be a problem. Matt Patricia, watch out.
Last week 1-2, Season total 3-3
Bills @ Vikings: 36-9
Bills scored more than week one, but the team is still horrific to watch on both sides of the ball. Against this D they may be lucky to get 3 FGs
Raiders @ Dolphins: 24-27
Miami’s D has been impressive thus far, but today its their O that needs to score close to 30. Raiders are a bad defensive team, but they can find ways to score on you.
Patriots @ Lions: 23-17
The Patriots are not the same ol Pats, something is not right. This is a game that can be an easy win, but also a huge upset. In the end I still think the Pats are the better team, but I do not expect a blow out.