Week 3 of the 2018 NFL season kicks off Thursday night when the New York Jets travel to Cleveland to face a Browns team searching for just their second win in their last 34 games. The Jets, featuring rookie quarterback Sam Darnold who has looked the part in his first two starts, are looking for their second win of the season after their Week 1 throttling of the Detroit Lions 48-17. In Week 2, despite losing to the Miami Dolphins 20-12, Darnold completed 60.9 percent of his passes for 334 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions. Meanwhile, in Cleveland, Baker Mayfield continues to sit behind Tyrod Taylor who was meager in the Browns Week 2 loss to the New Orleans Saints 21-18 in a game featuring two missed field goals and two missed extra points by Browns second-year kicker Zane Gonzalez, forcing the Browns to cut Gonzalez and sign rookie kicker Greg Joseph.

Taylor completed 73.3 percent of his passes for 246 yards with one touchdown and one interception while rookie receiver Antonio Callaway filled in for now departed Josh Gordon, traded to the New England Patriots, catching three passes for 81 yards and one touchdown.

Fitzmagic looks to continue Tampa’s winning ways

Week 3 of the 2018 NFL season will conclude on Monday Night Football when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and their surprising 2-0 start, host the Pittsburgh Steelers who lost 42-37 to the Kansas City Chiefs and surrendered six touchdown passes to second-year quarterback Patrick Mahomes who set an NFL record with ten touchdown passes in his first two games. Mahomes has a chance to set the NFL record for touchdown passes in the first three games of an NFL season, a record currently held by Peyton Manning who threw 12 touchdown passes in his first three games during the 2013 season in route to his record-setting 55 touchdown passes in a single season.

The Steelers, full of drama with a missing Le’Veon Bell and an unexcused absence by all-world receiver Antonio Brown this past Monday. Meanwhile, Tampa is the early surprise of the NFL season with Ryan Fitzpatrick filling in for a suspended Jameis Winston and leading the NFL in passing with 819 yards and eight touchdowns, second behind Mahomes.

Tampa held off the defending champion Philadelphia Eagles this past Sunday 27-21 with Fitzpatrick completing 81.8 percent of his passes for 402 yards and four touchdowns with one interception. Game Prediction: Tampa 38, Pittsburgh 35 in a Monday night shoot-out in Florida.

The pupil faces the master on Sunday night

The New England Patriots and Hall of Fame coach Bill Belichick travel to Detroit to face former defensive coordinator, and first-year Lions head coach Matt Patricia.

Detroit, off to a 0-2 start after their 30-27 loss in San Francisco Week 2, will be looking to right the ship against a 1-1 New England team who looked vulnerable in their Week 2 loss to Jacksonville 31-20. Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford could be poised for a big night after New England surrendered 377 passing yards to a sometimes erratic Blake Bortles. Tom Brady, meanwhile, was held to 234 yards passing with two touchdowns against a stout Jacksonville defense and was sacked twice. The Lions and their three-receiver set featuring Golden Tate, Kenny Golladay, and Marvin Jones Jr. present a match-up problem for the visiting Patriots, and one should expect rookie running back Kerryon Johnson (13 touches in Week 2) to be more involved in the offense.

Game prediction: Detroit 31, New England 28.

Atlanta and New Orleans in NFC South showdown

New Orleans, with future Hall of Fame quarterback Drew Brees, travel to Atlanta to face Matt Ryan and a Falcons team decimated on defense. Third-year safety Keanu Neal tore his ACL Week 1 against Philadelphia while versatile linebacker Deion Jones, also injured in Week 1, was placed on injured reserve. The missing pieces showed in a Week 2 win against Carolina, 31-24, with the Falcons defense surrendering 335 passing yards to Cam Newton and 14 catches to second-year running back Christian McCaffrey. The Saints, 1-1 on the season, survived a scare from visiting Cleveland Week 2, 21-18. The winner of this game has an early edge in the NFC South with everyone trying to keep pace with 2-0 Tampa Bay.

Game Prediction: New Orleans 41, Atlanta 31 in a high scoring affair with Drew Brees shredding Atlanta’s decimated defense.

Jon Gruden looking for his first win

Gruden, returning to the coaching ranks with the Oakland Raiders, will be searching for his first win of the 2018 NFL season when the Raiders travel to Miami to face a surprising 2-0 Dolphins team. Miami was a surprise winner Week 1 at home against visiting Tennessee and defeated their divisional rival New York Jets Week 2 20-12. Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill, returning from injury this season, has looked the part despite meager statistics, throwing four touchdowns with two interceptions in the first two games of the season. The Raiders, meanwhile, suffered a fourth-quarter melt-down on the road against the Denver Broncos, losing 20-19 after Broncos quarterback Case Keenum led a 10-play, 62-yard drive, with Denver kicking the go-ahead field goal with 1:52 remaining in the game.

Oakland failed to score in the fourth quarter for the second consecutive game, and after leading 19-7 late in the third quarter, one has to wonder how much the Raiders are missing Khalil Mack who has been an absolute wrecking ball for the Chicago Bears since being traded. Game Prediction: Oakland 27, Miami 24 in a close game with Derek Carr and Amari Cooper being the difference.

The battle for Los Angeles

The Rams will face the Chargers in the first battle of L.A. since both teams relocated to the city of angels. Rams, featuring a dominant defense surrendering just 13 points on the season, and their 2-0 record will look to derail a high powered Chargers offense led by quarterback Phillip Rivers, running back Melvin Gordon, and receiver Keenan Allen.

Rivers threw for 424 yards in a Week 1 loss to Kansas City with three touchdowns 256 yards with three touchdowns in the Chargers Week 2 win at Buffalo 31-20. The Rams, meanwhile, led by running back Todd Gurley who scored three touchdowns in a Week 2 34-0 throttling of the Arizona Cardinals, will be looking for their first 3-0 start since 2001 when the Rams last appeared in the Superbowl. Game Prediction: Rams 33, Chargers 14 as the Rams defense continues to dominate.