With the Browns winning on Thursday (for the first time since Christmas Eve 2016), the pressure’s on for the rest of the NFL’s winless teams in Week 3. The Doug Flutie-led Bills were the last team to make the playoffs after an 0-3 start, back in 1998 (they were bounced by a Miami side with Dan Marino at quarterback in the Wild Card round).
Only five teams since 1980 have lost their first three games and reached the postseason, so expect some nervous glances around Houston, Oakland, Buffalo, Detroit, Seattle, Arizona and in NY (the Giants).
Of those sides, Houston look the most likely to snap their streak this Sunday, when the face Eli Manning’s also winless Giants. Deshaun Watson has not looked like the dynamic young quarterback he did before last season’s injury, but playing at home with a defense up against a porous NY offensive line, the second-year man should come out on top.
Mike Tomlin’s Steelers, thanks to their error-strewn tie with Cleveland in Week 1 and their loss to Kansas last time out are 0-1-1. They travel to Tampa who’ve piled up more offensive yardage than any team in the league (965). That’s largely down to Ryan Fitzpatrick’s 819 yards passing but ‘Fitzmagic’ often disappears in a puff of smoke and I don’t see Pittsburgh’s D letting him pull a rabbit out of a hat three weeks in a row.
New England pay a visit to their former defensive co-ordinator in the small hours of Monday morning, with Matt Patricia now head coach in Detroit. It’s been a rough start to the season for the 0-2 Lions and it’s not likely to get any easier with his mentor of 16 years Bill Belichick knowing all his best moves.
Denver were 12-0 down against the Oakland Raiders last week but Case Keenum pulled out his second comeback win in two games for his new team. Baltimore meanwhile fell to 1-1 against the Bengals last Thursday night. The Broncos’ new two-headed rushing attack featuring rookies Phillip Lindsay and Royce Freeman should give Baltimore’s ailing defense fits.
With Tampa Bay sitting at 2-0, division rivals Atlanta and New Orleans face off in Mercedes-Benz Stadium, venue for this year’s Super Bowl, both with 1-1 records. The Saints have offensive weapons in Drew Brees, Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara but their young pass defense that was such a revelation last season has leaked big plays so far in 2018. Expect Matt Ryan to find rookie receiver Calvin Ridley – who caught his first NFL pass last week – early and often to free up the even more dangerous Julio Jones.
Five-fold acca pays around 16/1
Texans over Giants
Steelers over Buccaneers
Patriots over Lions
Broncos over Ravens
Falcons over Saints