Yet another fascinating week in the NFL as we are starting to see the perception about some teams change positively (hello, Detroit) and negatively (sorry, Cleveland) from the preseason hype machine. There were a handful of major upsets on Sunday and the field of undefeated teams continues to shrink further as the gap between the mediocre squads and Super Bowl contenders grows ever larger.
Note: All times are ET and all games are on Sunday, Sept. 29 unless otherwise noted.
Here are this week's best NFL picks against the spread:
Carolina (1-2) at Houston (2-1), 1 p.m.
The Panthers were a big unknown going into their game against the Cardinals given that QB Cam Newton was ruled out and Kyle Allen was inserted into the starting lineup. The youngster looked solid playing in his old hometown, beating up on a pretty bad Arizona defense. Still, that performance under center was enough to keep the gap between the Panthers and the Texans, who beat a much better Chargers side on the road, under a touchdown. Stick with the home side in this one as Deshaun Watson and that feisty Houston defense get the better of the visitors. The Pick: Houston -4
Kansas City (3-0) at Detroit (2-0-1), 1 p.m.
The Lions might just be the surprise of the league right now after going into Philly and pulling out an impressive win. Matt Patricia and company have to be kicking themselves for that season-opening tie now given the way the defense has played as of late and there's optimism going back to Ford Field that they can hang with yet another title contender in the Chiefs. Andy Reid has done a superb job early in the year with his team though and has them ready to play on the road again as Patrick Mahomes puts up big numbers in a big win on Sunday. The Pick: Kansas City -6
New England (3-0) at Buffalo (3-0), 1 p.m.
The battle for AFC East supremacy awaits in Buffalo as the Bills hope to finally prove the defending champs mortal. There's no question that New England is banged up coming into this one, with offensive line and receiver proving to be particularly thin. Still, this is a top-flight Bill Belichick coached team and a terrific secondary for the Pats, who get the best of turnover-prone Josh Allen in a game that isn't close come the fourth quarter. The Pick: New England -6
Cincinnati (0-3) at Pittsburgh (0-3), 8:15 p.m. (Mon.)
While many could have seen an 0-3 start for the Bengals coming in August, that wasn’t the case for the supposedly resurgent Steelers — who failed to take advantage of turnover after turnover on their trip to San Francisco. Mason Rudolph showed a few flashes in his first start as Ben Roethlisberger's replacement but not enough to get the victory. That changes with the return home to the Steel City as Mike Tomlin’s team avoids the depths of the AFC North thanks to a comfortable victory over surprisingly pesky Cincinnati. The Pick: Pittsburgh -4
Last Week: 1-3
— Written by Bryan Fischer, an award-winning college football columnist and member of the Athlon Contributor Network. You can follow him from coast-to-coast on Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat at @BryanDFischer.