OUCH!

Pretty much across the board, NFL teams are feeling the pain from key players getting hurt. Pro Picks was damaged by some of those injuries in Week 2, as well.

On Thursday night, a team likely down to its third-string quarterback, a rookie no less, takes on a club that in the offseason signed its new QB to a sweet $72 million, four-year contract.

Yep, the Patriots figure to have third-round selection Jacoby Brissett behind center with Jimmy Garoppolo mending his injured right shoulder and Tom Brady suspended for two more weeks. Houston counters with Brock Osweiler, who has looked pretty good in his first two outings as a Texan.

Yet New England (tied for first in AP Pro32 with Pittsburgh) is a mere 1-point underdog to Houston (No. 7, AP Pro32). That’s a testament to how tough the Patriots are at Foxborough.

Maybe Texans coach Bill O’Brien’s familiarity with the Patriots’ system after having coached there for five seasons, two of which ended in Super Bowl defeats, will help. After all, this is a guy who slept at Gillette Stadium during his time working there.

“No question when I was quality control coach, I definitely had a couple nights there,” O’Brien says. “(Josh) McDaniels had me breaking down all kinds of film. (Bill) Belichick had me breaking down all kinds of film. I had to get the job done.”

The oddsmakers figure his team will get it done this week with no Tom Terrific, no Jimmy G and maybe no Gronk — All-Pro tight end Rob Gronkowski has yet to play this season because of a hamstring issue. Sure seems like a good spot to pick the visitors.

Nope.

PATRIOTS, 21-20

KNOCKOUT LEAGUE TIP

The Panthers kept us breathing, and now we look to the DOLPHINS to do the same.

No. 31 Chicago (plus 7 1-2) at No. 17 Dallas

Da Bears look like Da Worst in NFC.

BEST BET: COWBOYS, 24-10

No. 11 Baltimore (minus 1) at No. 29 Jacksonville

Just a feeling the Jaguars will bounce back from San Diego debacle.

UPSET SPECIAL: JAGUARS, 26-20

No. 3 Denver (plus 4) at No. 10 Cincinnati

Denver defense was dynamic at home. Why not on the road, too?

BRONCOS: 17-13

No. 19 Atlanta (plus 3) at No. 26 New Orleans, Monday

Ten years ago in Week 3 was the Saints’ emotional return to Superdome. Falcons are better team, but the juice is with the …

SAINTS, 28-27

No. 5 Minnesota (plus 7) at No. 4 Carolina

Even with Adrian Peterson, we’d like the Panthers. Without him …

PANTHERS, 22-13

No. 1 (tie) Pittsburgh (minus 3 1-2) at No. 15 Philadelphia

After Browns and Bears, Eagles get a taste of a real opponent.

STEELERS, 26-20

No. 20 San Diego (plus 3) at No. 27 (tie) Indianapolis

Time for Colts to finish off a close game.

COLTS, 30-24

No. 32 Cleveland (plus 10) at No. 23 Miami

Who’s next at QB for Browns, Bernie Kosar? Brian Sipe?

DOLPHINS, 20-3

No. 24 San Francisco (plus 9) at No. 12 Seattle

Something is very wrong with Seattle’s offense. Seahawks will escape anyway.

SEAHAWKS, 13-10

No. 16 Oakland (plus 1 1-2) at No. 22 Tennessee

Something is very wrong with Oakland’s defense. They won’t escape.

TITANS, 29-23

No. 25 Los Angeles (plus 5 1-2) at No. 18 Tampa Bay

Which Rams team will show up? Which Bucs team?

BUCCANEERS, 23-13

No. 6 Arizona (minus 4) at No. 30 Buffalo

Wonder who Rex will fire if Bills lose this one.

CARDINALS, 27-16

No. 14 New York Jets (plus 3) at No. 13 Kansas City

Chiefs have been a huge disappointment so far.

JETS, 24-20

No. 27 (tie) Washington (plus 4 1-2) at No. 8 New York Giants

Redskins have been an even bigger disappointment.

GIANTS, 21-19

No. 21 Detroit (plus 7) at No. 9 Green Bay

Back at Lambeau, we’ll see the real Packers. We think.

PACKERS, 30-20


This Week: Against spread (7-9). Straight up:(9-7)

Season Totals: Against spread (15-16-1). Straight up: (22-10)

Best Bet: 0-2 against spread, 1-1 straight up.

Upset special: 1-1 against spread, 1-1 straight up.


AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP_NFL