Ben Graham’s NFL Week 3 Preview: Real Cowboys To Stand Up Against Cardinals


San Francisco v LA Rams | Friday, September 22, 10.25am (AEST), Levi’s Stadium

The 49ers put up a half decent fight in their loss at Seattle last week but there’s not much to get excited by, maybe RB Carlos Hyde.

As for the Rams, they were unlucky at home (an interception cost them the chance to tie it up), but they do have something to build on.

QB Jared Goff (pictured above) is improving each week and RB Todd Gurley (88 rushing yards, 1 TD & 48 yards receiving, 1 TD) is looking good. 

The Verdict 

Rams to send the 49ers to a 0-3 start in a close, low scoring game. 

Unibet Odds: San Francisco 2.10 LA Rams 1.76

Tip: LA Rams 

Line tip: LA Rams -1.5

Jacksonville v Baltimore | Sunday, September 24, Wembley Stadium, London 

Great to see another NFL game in London and having personally played at Wembley once before for the New Orleans Saints, players from both teams will have an amazing experience.

If this game was in Jacksonville, my prediction might be a little different.

With Wembley Stadium, London being a neutral venue, neither team has a major advantage and in the small sample size of two weeks, Baltimore is better placed.

QB Joe Flacco had another good game (25 from 34 for 217 yards and 2 TDs) before shutting it down in the second half.

The Verdict 

The Jaguars were completely outplayed in the second half at home last week against Tennessee and I rate the Ravens above the Titans at this stage of the year.

Baltimore to continue to roll.

Unibet Odds: Jacksonville 2.63 Baltimore 1.52

Tip: Baltimore 

Line tip: Baltimore -3.5

Buffalo v Denver | Monday, September 25, 3am (AEST), New Era Field

The Broncos are coming off a big win over the Cowboys and are looking fantastic in all three phases and will be looking to build on their perfect start.

QB Trevor Siemian is doing an outstanding job managing his offence as he knows he has a strong running game and threats in the air but it’s the Broncos’ defence that has the ability to stunt the most potent offence.

Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott is a case in point after being kept to just eight yards rushing.

On the Broncos' defence is Aussie Defensive Tackle Adam Gotsis (pictured above) who started his first game last week and has nine tackles (7 solo, 2 assisted) for the season so far.

The Verdict

The Bills struggled on offence last week and I expect Adam and the Broncos to give them similar grief. 

Unibet Odds: Buffalo 2.38 Denver 1.61

Tip: Denver 

Line tip: Denver -2.5

Chicago v Pittsburgh | Monday, September 25, 3am (AEST), Soldier Field

After being a little scratchy in week 1, the Steelers proved they’re still a good team.

They’ve always had a strong defence but it’s their exciting offence that got going in week 2 against the Vikings with Big Ben (23 from 35 for 243 yards and 2 TD’s) and playmakers RB LeVeon Bell (pictured below) and WRs Martavis Bryant and Antonio Brown hitting their straps

Chicago took a backward step after being competitive in Atlanta week 1 but failing dismally in Tampa, being completely outplayed and scoring their only touchdown late in the fourth quarter.

The Verdict

Pittsburgh are the far superior team in this match-up and it won’t matter that the game is played in Chicago.

Unibet Odds: Chicago 3.65 Pittsburgh 1.30

Tip: Pittsburgh

Line tip: Pittsburgh -6.5

Carolina v New Orleans | Monday, September 25, 3am (AEST), Bank Of America Stadium

The Saints were always up against it last week facing a rebounding New England.

QB Drew Brees (pictured below) continues to put up big numbers but their running game needs to step up to create uncertainty amongst opposition defences.

As for the Saints' defence, they can’t be allowing 20 points in a quarter if they expect to be competitive.

For the Panthers, their offence wasn’t at their best (no TDs) but did enough to win the game with four field goals but for the second straight week, their defence didn’t allow a touchdown.

The Verdict 

This bodes well as ‘defence wins championships’ but as it’s a ‘quarterbacks league’ and with Brees coming to town, this will be a good match-up.

In this important NFC South division game, Panthers to win at home.

Unibet Odds: Carolina 1.41 New Orleans 3.00

Tip: Carolina 

Line tip: Carolina -5.5

Minnesota v Tampa Bay | Monday, September 25, 3am (AEST), U.S. Bank Stadium

The fate of this game rests on the health of Vikings QB Sam Bradford (pictured above).

They weren’t great with QB Case Keenum at the helm in Pittsburgh last week and will be sweating on Sam’s knee to heel quickly.

I expect him to miss one more week and get healthy for an important three week stretch, with three division games coming up after this week.

I liked what I saw in Tampa Bay’s first game of the season with a 22-point domination over Chicago with all three phases contributing to the win.

The Verdict

With the result hinging on Bradford’s knee and my prediction that he won’t play, I’m taking the Buccaneers away from home in an upset. 

Unibet Odds: N/A

Tip: Tampa Bay

Line tip: N/A

Indianapolis v Cleveland | Monday, September 25, 3am (AEST), Lucas Oil Stadium

The question is which one of these teams will get their first win of the season and leave the other team potentially staring at pick 1 in the 2018 NFL draft?

The Browns haven’t been expected to win yet this year but there’s some hope given they’ve been competitive.

Even the Colts, who were blown away in week 1 by Los Angeles Rams (by 37 points), found a way to stay in the game last week at home against the Cardinals and force overtime.

QB Jacoby Brissett (pictured at top) won the start (Andrew Luck is out for at least another week) and looked okay and their defence did a stellar job of stopping the Cardinals from running the football.

The Verdict 

I can’t believe I’m saying this, I‘m predicting a very rare win away from home. 

Unibet Odds: Indianapolis 1.98 Cleveland 1.87

Tip: Cleveland 

Line tip: Cleveland -1.5

New York Jets v Miami | Monday, September 25, 3am (AEST), Metlife Stadium

The Dolphins would be thrilled with their win at LA Chargers after all they’ve been through with Hurricane Irma.

While a Chargers missed field goal handed them the win, the fact that QB Jay Cutler had a mistake-free game would’ve bought a frown to the brows of Bears fans.

RB Jay Ajayi (pictured above) started the year with a bang (122 yards) and will look to go again against a Jets defence who allowed 45 points against the Raiders.

It might be a while before I tip the New York Jets again but they need to be more disciplined and protect the football.

The QB Josh McCown/WR Jermaine Kearse (pictured below) combination is a small shining light.

The Verdict

Dolphins to win this AFC East match-up.

Unibet Odds: New York Jets 3.10 Miami 1.40

Tip: Miami 

Line tip: Miami -5.5

New England v Houston | Monday, September 25, 3am (AEST), Gillette Stadium

Both teams rebounded from week 1 losses to take the points in week 2 but it’s fair to say, the Patriots are back!

QB Tom Brady was at his scintillating best with 30 completions from 39 attempts for 447 yards and 3 TDs.

One of those was to TE Rob Gronkowski (116 yards and a TD) (pictured above) who continues to monster his opponents as the best Tight End in the game.

Texans Defensive End JJ Watt and his defence will have their work cut out trying to stop them as the Patriots will be a tougher challenge than the Bengals’ offence.

While the Patriots are still favourites to take out the AFC Championship, time will tell if opposition defences can repeat the effort of the Chiefs in week 1.

On the Texans offence, QB DeShaun Watson (pictured above) looked good in his first start and has another opportunity to show he’s worthy of being a first round pick (12th overall) in the 2017 NFL Draft.

He’s definitely an exciting prospect and will continue to improve each week.

The Verdict 

This is a tough match-up for the Texans, so I’ll stick with Brady and the Pats. 

Unibet Odds: New England 1.13 Houston 6.75

Tip: New England 

Line tip: New England -12.5

Detroit v Atlanta | Monday, September 25, 3am (AEST), Ford Field

This is the game I’m looking forward to most this week.

Both teams are in super form and I’m expecting a high scoring affair in Detroit.

The Falcons are almost the complete team and will probably go in as favourites but the Lions are slowly building into a force in the NFC.

For a long time, the Lions have been a pass-first offence but RBs Ameer Abdullah and Theo Riddick (pictured above) are providing a more balanced offence and the defence is on the improve.

Falcons RB Devonta Freeman had a day out (84 yards and 2 TDs) and WR Julio Jones (pictured below) continues to rack up the yards (108) and will test the Lions’ young and upcoming defence.

The Verdict 

Lions’ defence will do the job and contain the Falcons in an exciting win for Detroit fans.

Unibet Odds: N/A

Tip: Detroit 

Line tip: N/A

Philadelphia v New York Giants | Monday, September 25, 3am (AEST), Lincoln Financial Field

This NFC East match-up should see the Eagles bounce back at home.

They were competitive in Kansas City last week but should have too much fire power for the Giants who are 0-2 and really struggling offensively.

One part of the game that I always keep a close eye on are the punters.

Special Teams are such an important phase of the game and winning the field position battle is crucial in determining the result.

For the Giants, it’s Aussie punter Brad Wing (pictured above) who is in his fourth NFL season.

He has had mixed results so far punting behind a poor offence but is ranked 32nd for Net Average thanks to his punt returned for a touchdown last week vs Lions.

He’ll need to punt well if the Giants are any chance. 

The Verdict

Unibet Odds: N/A

Tip: Philadelphia 

Line tip: N/A

Tennessee v Seattle | Monday, September 25, 6.05am (AEST), Nissan Stadium

Like the Redskins, the Titans are tough to read.

I like what they’re building and it'll take some time but they blew past Jacksonville last week with encouraging signs from QB Marcus Mariota (pictured above) and his offence.

The defence also showed their capabilities by stopping the run and picking off Bortles twice.

For the Seahawks, I was left a bit disappointed last week with just a three point win over the 49ers and if it wasn’t for their defence, they might’ve been 0-2.

The Verdict 

This game will be won or lost in the battle between the Titans’ O and Seahawks’ D and I think the Titans in Tennessee will prevail. 

Unibet Odds: Tennessee 1.66 Seattle 2.28

Tip: Tennessee 

Line tip: Tennessee -2.5

Green Bay v Cincinnati | Monday, September 25, 6.15am (AEST), Lambeau Field

I’ve made the mistake now two weeks in a row picking the Bengals to win.

Not this week!

Starting the season with two games at home and not scoring a touchdown is downright embarrassing and has cost offensive Coordinator, Ken Zampese his job.

One can only hope QB Andy Dalton gathers the troops and show some signs of life.

For Green Bay, no-one expected them to travel to Atlanta and take the points but they did rally in the fourth quarter after being 24 points down.

The loss of WR Jordy Nelson (quad) hurts them but there are still plenty of weapons in RB Ty Montgomery and WRs Davante Adams and Randall Cobb (pictured above).

The Verdict 

The Packers to come home to Lambeau Field and will win easily.

Unibet Odds: Green Bay 1.26 Cincinnati 4.00

Tip: Green Bay 

Line tip: Green Bay -7.5

Washington v Oakland | Monday, September 25, 10.30am (AEST), FedExField

The Redskins have been one of the hardest teams to read, lose at home, win away and I think the pattern will continue when Oakland come to Washington in week 3.

This prediction is not so much about how the Redskins are travelling but how exciting the Raiders are right now.

How about these for stats?

QB Derek Carr 23 from 28 for 230 yards and 3 TDs all to WR Michael Crabtree, RB Jalen Richards rushed for 58 yards and a TD and had 51 receiving yards and WR Cordarrelle Patterson with 57 yards and a TD on a run play.

But it was ex-Seahawk, RB Marshawn Lynch (pictured above) that got all the attention with 45 rushing yards and a TD aren’t huge numbers but the energy he brings to the Raiders sideline is immeasurable.

The Verdict 

Beast mode is official in Oakland.

Unibet Odds: Washington 2.32 Oakland 1.64

Tip: Oakland 

Line tip: Oakland -3.5

Arizona v Dallas | Tuesday, September 26, 10.30am (AEST), University Of Phoenix Stadium

Will the real Dallas Cowboys please stand up?

They were putrid last week in Denver with RB Ezekiel Elliott (pictured above) rushing for a career low of eight yards.

QB Dak Prescott couldn’t get anything going as they were completely dominated.

Even the normally reliable defence had holes everywhere as the Broncos put up 42 points.

The Cardinals actually looked better in their week 1 loss at Detroit than their week 2 overtime win in Indianapolis and have plenty to improve on but one thing is for sure, RB David Johnson will be sorely missed.

The Verdict 

I’m going to give the Cowboys a pass for last week and look to them to get their season back on track with an away win in Arizona and Elliott to rush for over 100 yards and 2 TDs.

Unibet Odds: Arizona 2.60 Dallas 1.52

Tip: Dallas 

Line tip: Dallas -3.5

Read More From Ben Graham