If Week 1 was upset Sunday, the Week 2 was blowout Sunday. Ten of the sixteen games last week were decided by at least two scores with seven of those games being by at least two touchdowns. I like close football games, so hopefully I’ll get to bite some nails this weekend. We have a boatload of appetizing storylines to munch on this week. For starters we get to see a Super Bowl rematch between the Broncos and Seahawks (up in Seattle). Also, DeSean Jackson makes his return to Philadelphia for the first time as a Redskin. Additionally the Cardinals get to test their merit at home versus San Fran, while the Saints and Colts look to get their first win of the year against inferior opponents. Defense could be the Sunday night game’s calling card as the Steelers square off against the unbeaten Panthers. Monday night features a good one as well when the Bears take on the Jets. On paper, it looks as if we will get a lot of good football this weekend. Below are my predictions as to how these games will pan out.
Thursday, September 18th, 8:25 e.t.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-2) @ Atlanta Falcons (1-1)
Going into the Georgia Dome is not something that many teams want to sign up for, especially when you will be facing a Matt Ryan who is probably mad at the world after throwing three picks in an ugly loss to the Bengals last week. Doug Martin is going AWOL, and Josh McCown simply has not looked like the quarterback who lit it up last year for the Bears. I like Tampa’s defense, but not enough to pick them in this game. These guys lost back-to-back home games to backup QBs, I don’t have confidence in them on the road against one of this league’s best.
Atlanta 31, Tampa Bay 14
Sunday, September 21st, 1:00 e.t.
Washington Redskins (1-1) @ Philadelphia Eagles (2-0)
If LeSean McCoy were the Washington physician, DeSean Jackson would be a 100% go for this game. As he is not, D-Jax’s status for this one is still up in the air, but early indications say that he will be playing come Sunday. The ‘Skins will need him if they hope to keep pace with Philly’s offense. The Eagles are coming off of back-to-back come from behind wins and have looked strong in the second half of games this season. Meanwhile we don’t know what we will get from the Washington offense from week to week. They looked pitiful against Houston but then looked solid against Jacksonville. But then again, that was Jacksonville, and Kirk Cousins isn’t necessarily the guy in the nation’s capital. In a league of uncertainty, I think I go with the safer option here and pick the Eagles. They have won five straight home games in the regular season and the offense looks like it is rolling early (leading the league in yards and points per game). I like those odds.
Philadelphia 31, Washington 25
Green Bay Packers (1-1) @ Detroit Lions (1-1)
Here is one of this weekend’s most interesting games. Two NFC North rivals will be hooking horns in the Motor city as the Green Bay offense looks to outscore the Detroit offense. Make no mistake, these are two teams that can light up the scoreboard. They are each going to have to as I say this is the highest scoring game in Week 3. I want to take the Packers because of Aaron Rodgers, but then I also want to take the Lions because their offense can be productive and the Green Bay defense is questionable at best. At the end of the day this game will come down to who can protect the rock, and I have more confidence in the Pack than I do in Detroit when it comes to that scenario. Give me Green Bay on the road here, but do not be surprised if the Lions pull off the victory at home.
Green Bay 38, Detroit 34
Baltimore Ravens (1-1) @ Cleveland Browns (1-1)
The Ravens will be well rested for this game, and coming off of a dominant win over the Steelers at home last week they will have some momentum. However, the Browns managed to shock the NFL by dropping the Saints to 0-2 with a last second field goal last Sunday. Now the two will match up in the Dawg Pound for all the marbles. Terrence West has looked good and will have some gaps to run through against Baltimore’s defense. Steve Smith Sr. has looked like a rejuvenated receiver in purple this year and has become Flacco’s go-to guy. On defense there are enough play-makers to cause a hardcore fan to salivate. I like this one to be close throughout with Joe-cool leading his team down field for a late score. I see the Ravens picking up a big win here before taking on the Panthers next week.
Baltimore 23, Cleveland 21
Indianapolis Colts (0-2) @ Jacksonville Jaguars (0-2)
On a short week, the Colts look for their first win of the season as they head to Everbank to take on the Jaguars. I say they get it here. Jacksonville looked terrible last week as they were only able to collect eight first downs the entire games against a Redskins defense that isn’t the greatest. Indy was able to run the ball against Philly on Monday night, and they can build on that here. Hopefully (for his sake) Trent Richardson doesn’t fumble the rock twice in this game. If he and Andrew Luck can limit turnovers, the Colts should stomp all over these guys.
Indianapolis 30, Jacksonville 10
San Diego Chargers (1-1) @ Buffalo Bills (2-0)
I’m still trying to figure out if the Bills are contenders or pretenders. This game will go a long way in deciding the team’s fate for the season. A loss may serve as a harsh reality check while a win could give them a monster confidence boost. Afterall, the Chargers did just beat Seattle in an impressive performance last week, so if Buffalo were to clip them at home it would look very good. I’m not sold that the Bills are legit yet, but I am feeling them this week. San Diego (sans Ryan Mathews) will likely have a tough time running the ball in this game, and that will force Philip Rivers to throw it 30-40 times. Chances are he completes a couple to the other team in there, Jim Schwartz’s unit is solid when it comes to making splash plays on defense. The Bills come out of this game victorious; Robert Woods and Fred Jackson have mammoth games, I’m calling it now!
Buffalo 30, San Diego 24
Dallas Cowboys (1-1) @ St. Louis Rams (1-1)
Each of these teams are coming off of big road wins last week and are now looking to get over .500 this week. DeMarco Murray has started this season fast, rushing for over 100 yards in each of the first two contests. He has also owned the Rams in the past. I’d be shocked if he doesn’t get at least 25 carries in this one (as long as he is healthy). Tony Romo sat out practice Wednesday, so there is no need to rely heavily on him. If the ‘Boys ride Murray through this one, they should have no trouble beating a St. Louis squad that is in trouble if they keep throwing Austin Davis at their opponents.
Dallas 24, St. Louis 10
Oakland Raiders (0-2) @ New England Patriots (1-1)
Would you believe me if I told you this was a match-up of the most and the least penalized teams in the NFL? Maybe, but who would have guessed that the most penalized team would be the Patriots while the Raiders are holding their water? Talk about bizarre! Now that we got that out of the way… the Pats have not looked great in the second half of games this year. They have scored just six points and have not looked overly sharp on offense. This is the week that it all changes. I like what I’ve seen on tape from Derek Carr, but I’m not sure he has the supporting cast around him to help him succeed. This could be a long day for the Raiders as Tom Brady and company will try their best to rip them apart.
New England 35, Oakland 13
Minnesota Vikings (1-1) @ New Orleans Saints (0-2)
The Vikings did their best Jekyll and Hyde impersonation the first two weeks as they looked super strong in a 34-6 win on the road over the Rams and then they turned around and fell on their face, 30-7 at home against New England. They will not have Adrian Peterson to offer the Saint’s run defense and outside of Cordarrelle Patterson, there is nobody who really scares you on the Vikings team. Meanwhile, the Saints are always explosive at home and are nearly a lock for 400+ yards and 30+ points. No way do they slip to 0-3 this week in the Big Easy.
New Orleans 42, Minnesota 17
Houston Texans (2-0) @ New York Giants (0-2)
The Texans have started the year 2-0 for the fifth consecutive year and have looked good in the process. The Giants have started 0-2 for the second straight season and have looked sub-par in doing so. However, the offense did show signs of improvement last week against a solid Arizona defense. Now, if only Eli Manning and friends weren’t so generous with the football… I say this is the week they get that corrected. New York isn’t that bad, are they? The Texans’ defense also seems to have games where they get lit up by certain quarterbacks. I see it happening here. Big Blue hops in the win column with a nice team victory over the visiting Texans.
New York 24, Houston 16
Tennessee Titans (1-1) @ Cincinnati Bengals (2-0)
It is hard to pick against the Bengals at home. Besides Nick Foles, Andy Dalton is the only quarterback in the league to eclipse 300 yards in both starts and he has a dominant defense to go along with a great offense. Jeremy Hill looked like a bowling ball last week and Geo Bernard has the east-west quickness that scares you as a defense. A.J. Green will not be participating in this game, so look for the Bengals to take the air out of the ball. After seeing the Cowboys run wild on this Tennessee defense, I’m scared the same will happen here. I like the cats to improve to 3-0 in the jungle here.
Cincinnati 27, Tennessee 13
Sunday, September 21st, 4:05 e.t.
San Francisco 49ers (1-1) @ Arizona Cardinals (2-0)
The 49ers have looked good in the first half of their games this season, but have fallen flat in the second halves of both contests. That is a trend that will have to be fixed if they hope to win on the road against the Cards. Since Arizona is starting Drew Stanton, I like San Fran’s chances. The Niners should try and run the ball early to set up play-action. If Colin Kaepernick can avoid Patrick Peterson like the plague, I think he will be fine. I’ll take the 49ers on the road here.
San Francisco 19, Arizona 17
Sunday, September 21st, 4:25 e.t.
Kansas City Chiefs (0-2) @ Miami Dolphins (1-1)
The Chiefs hung tough with the Broncos in Denver last week, which surprised me since they did it without Jamaal Charles on offense. Now they will have had a full week to prepare for a Miami defense that got shredded by C.J. Spiller last week. Despite that, the Dolphin “D” on the whole has performed admirably this season, but their offense has looked to inconsistent for my liking. I like Alex Smith to take care of the ball again better than Ryan Tannehill and his inconsistencies. KC’s defense is vulnerable to the deep ball, and that is something that Tannehill still struggles with. Because of this, I like the Chiefs to take the “W” on the road.
Kansas City 20, Miami 13
Denver Broncos (2-0) @ Seattle Seahawks (1-1)
This is the week’s best, and most intriguing match-up and it’s not just because it is a Super Bowl rematch. This is a game between the NFL’s two best teams and it will have a playoff feel as it is being hosted by Seattle. The twelfth man will be rocking Sunday afternoon, making it tough on Peyton Manning at the line of scrimmage. The Broncos have not looked like the same team that scored a league record 612 points last year yet and getting things right in Seattle is not something that you would take to the bank. I see the ‘Hawks walking away with the win, but it will not be as big of a blowout as the Super Bowl was.
Seattle 27, Denver 20
Sunday, September 21st, 8:30 e.t.
Pittsburgh Steelers (1-1) @ Carolina Panthers (2-0)
The Steelers have been outscored 50-9 since the second half of their opening game and have not looked good on defense during the process. While their defense has been sub-par so far, the Carolina “D” has looked as ferocious as it did last season. Cam Newton made a triumphant return in a 24-7 win over Detroit last week. The Panthers’ offense got off to a slow start, but once it got rolling it looked pretty darn good. I think they get it rolling early in this game and then rely on the defense to shut the Steelers down in the end. I’ll take the home team here.
Carolina 26, Pittsburgh 16
Monday, September 22nd, 8:30 e.t.
Chicago Bears (1-1) @ New York Jets (1-1)
The Bears pulled off an extremely gutsy win in Santa Clara last week and will now have to face a Jets team that just gave Green Bay all it could handle on the road. My instinct says to pick Chicago here, but I’m not going to do it. There is something about this Jet team that has me thinking that they will be a tough out from week-to-week. These guys can run the ball, and the Bears still really struggle to stop it. Plus, in his only Monday night performance, Geno Smith posted a quarterback rating near 150 in a 30-28 win over the Falcons a year ago. Also, believe it or not, I think the Jets defense is better than the 49ers “D”. It’s going to be hard for Jay Cutler to repeat his 4 touchdown performance this week; I like the New York defense to rough him up a little.
New York 28, Chicago 23
Week 3 Bonus Predictions
Upset of the Week: New York Giants over Houston
Sure Bet of the Week: New Orleans over Minnesota
Rookie of the Week: Derek Carr (garbage yards will help him big-time)
Offensive Player of the Week: Matthew Stafford
Defensive Player of the Week: Geno Atkins
Best Overall Offense: New England Patriots
Best Overall Defense: Carolina Panthers
Week three is upon us and it promises to be yet another wild one! I can’t wait to see how it shakes out. Remember, you can always leave a comment letting me know how you think the games will play out.