Tag Archives: week 3

2017 Season: Week 3 Preview

We’ve got two weeks in the books and there are only ten undefeated teams left in the league.  Week 3 boasts just one matchup of 2-0 teams, so in theory we could still have nine after this weekend.  This likely won’t happen, but you never know with today’s NFL.  Defense has been the name of the game for the first two stanzas, so will this be the window when the offenses catch up?  Here are my game picks for the third week of the season.

Last Week: 10-6

Season: 20-11

Locks: 0-2

Upsets: 0-2

Thursday, September 21st, 8:25 e.t.

Los Angeles Rams (1-1) @ San Francisco 49ers (0-2)

After demolishing the Colts at home, the Rams got run over by the Redskins last week and that evened their record out.  Now they hit the road for the first time this year to take on a 49er team that hung tough with Seattle a week ago.  The Niners won two games all of last year and both were against these Rams.  I want to pick them to win again here but I can’t pull the trigger given the fact that I think that L.A.’s D-line will dominate this game.  Could see this one being close, but ultimately I think the Rams will put it away midway through the third quarter.

Los Angeles 21, San Francisco 12

Sunday, September 24th, 9:30 am e.t.

Baltimore Ravens (2-0) vs. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-1) (in London)

We get our first international game of the season, and it pits two good defenses alongside two not so great offenses.  I don’t expect to see a ton of points here and this contest will come down to which “D” steps up in the end.  I like Baltimore to improve to 3-0 in that situation.  The Ravens have had a terrific start to their season on that side of the ball with ten takeaways (five in back-to-back weeks).  While I don’t think they will steal the football five times yet again, I can see them making some splash plays and making life tough on Blake Bortles sans Allen Robinson.

Baltimore 17, Jacksonville 10

Sunday, September 24th, 1:00 e.t.

Houston Texans (1-1) @ New England Patriots (1-1)

The Pats showed everybody last week that they are not on the downfall after taking one on the chin opening night.  Now they play host to an offense that has looked terrible for the most part this season.  Deshaun Watson has a lot to learn in this league, and on the road in New England is not the place to do it.  Look for the Pats’ “D” to make a statement win at home against the rook.

New England 31, Houston 14

Cleveland Browns (0-2) @ Indianapolis Colts (0-2)

Last week I said that the Colts wouldn’t win a game without Andrew Luck this year.  I was almost wrong a week ago and I’m ready to go back on my word here.  I think the Browns have a much improved team over a year ago, but it could take a little bit of time for their offense to gel.  The Colts aren’t anything special, but they are playing at home and I think they can squeak out a win playing the Brownies this early in the season.

Indianapolis 20, Cleveland 18

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-0) @ Minnesota Vikings (1-1)

As of the writing of this column, we don’t know if Sam Bradford will be good to play in this game.  I am operating under the assumption that he will not be which will make things tough on the Vikings.  That said, I love the homefield advantage that the Vikes do have and I think that their offense will look much better this time around with that edge.  So, regardless of who starts at QB, I like Minnesota to take this one.  Jameis Winston makes a couple of mistakes that tilt the game in the home team’s favor.  It also seems like a good opportunity for the Vikings to shut down that Tampa run game and make the Bucs one dimensional.

Minnesota 27, Tampa Bay 14

New York Giants (0-2) @ Philadelphia Eagles (1-1)

You won’t see a more desperate team entering Week 3 than the New York Giants and the story of their season has been their poor play up front on the O-line.  Things do not get better as they hit the road to take on a stout Eagles’ D-line.  The Giants will utilize a lot of quick passes to prevent Philly from getting after Eli Manning, but as long as the Eagles tackle well, they shouldn’t have a problem here.  I like what I’ve seen from Carson Wentz so far too as the birds have looked like the best team in the NFC East thus far.  I don’t think the Giants season is done with a loss here, but they got a big hole to dig themselves out of.

Philadelphia 26, New York 17

Pittsburgh Steelers (2-0) @ Chicago Bears (0-2)

Okay, which Bears will we see this week?  The one that nearly (and probably should have) beat Atlanta Week 1, or the one that got destroyed by the Bucs last week.  Methinks they will be a little closer to the former as they draw the Steelers in Chicago.  Le’Veon Bell has yet to really get it going on the ground and I look for Pittsburgh to establish the run early.  The Bears have been good versus the run thus far, so it will come down to Ben Roethlisberger’s right arm.  I think he gets the job done, but not without a fight.

Pittsburgh 24, Chicago 20

Atlanta Falcons (2-0) @ Detroit Lions (2-0)

I’m looking at all sixteen games this week, and I think that this is the best out of all of them.  Both teams have looked pretty good to start the year, and one of them is going to 3-0 to start the year.  I think that will be Atlanta.  They’ll be running on turf this week which gives them a huge advantage.  Also, the Falcons’ offensive line is much better than the Giants’ and Cardinals’, so Detroit won’t be able to bully them around quite so much.

Atlanta 37, Detroit 27 ***LOCK OF THE WEEK***

Denver Broncos (2-0) @ Buffalo Bills (1-1)

The Broncos looked good last week against the Cowboys, proving their defense is still great.  The big story has to be Trevor Siemian and his right arm thus far, though, as he has looked like a potential franchise quarterback.  Most people will be picking Denver to go to 3-0, but I think that the Bills can steal one here.  I look at the Broncos and can see that defense falling off a bit as they fly to the east coast and fall into a classic trap game.  If Buffalo can get some rhythm going on offense, I like their chances at an upset at home.

Buffalo 23, Denver 21 ***UPSET OF THE WEEK***

New Orleans Saints (0-2) @ Carolina Panthers (2-0)

The NFC’s answer to Baltimore’s defense has to be the Carolina Panthers.  They have allowed just six points through two weeks and are getting after the passer much better than they did a year ago.  The Saints, meanwhile, have had some issues on offense to this point in the year with only three touchdowns, two of them coming in garbage time.  Last year the NFC South matchups produced a lot of points, but I don’t think this one will.  I was going to take the Saints to win their first game of the season, but they’re going to have to get the ground game going.  Drew Brees can’t do it all and unfortunately I think he will have to on the road in Charlotte.  Give me Carolina.

Carolina 19, New Orleans 16

Miami Dolphins (1-0) @ New York Jets (0-2)

The Dolphins eeked a win out on the road in Los Angeles a week ago and now they fly back across the country to take on an underwhelming Jet team.  Josh McCown actually looked decent on the road in Oakland but he has no other help on offense at the moment.  The Dolphins did a great job against the run versus the Chargers and they shouldn’t have any trouble shutting that facet of the game down here either.

Miami 30, New York 14

Sunday, September 24th, 4:05 e.t.

Seattle Seahawks (1-1) @ Tennessee Titans (1-1)

Each of these teams picked up their first win of the year last week, but the Titans have looked like a much better team this season.  All I’ve got to say is luckily for Tennessee, they draw this game early in the year because if this was November or later, I’d probably pick Seattle.  Unfortunately for the Hawks, they are still trying to put the pieces together on offense and their rush defense has not been great to this point.  The Titans get the job done at home here with some power football and play action passing.

Tennessee 24, Seattle 18

Sunday, September 24th, 4:25 e.t.

Cincinnati Bengals (0-2) @ Green Bay Packers (1-1)

The Bengals have been a major disappointment this season so far.  Their offense has been atrocious and they have yet to score a touchdown on the season.  The Packers got torched by Atlanta on the road last week, but a lot of teams will probably meet that same fate this season.  Returning home, Green Bay gets back on the ball with a win.  However, I think the Bengals will shock everybody by playing them tough.  Their defense has not been the problem this year, so if the “O” gets it going a little bit, this could be a better game than most would expect.

Green Bay 29, Cincinnati 23

Kansas City Chiefs (2-0) @ Los Angeles Chargers (0-2)

The Chargers need a win, and badly.  Unfortunately for them they are playing the hottest team in football this week.  The Bolts could be 2-0, but continue to find ways to lose games.  I think they can keep this game very close until then end, but I can see Alex Smith driving his team down the field for a go-ahead score late to down L.A. for a third straight heartbreaking defeat.  That offense is looking good and they continue to roll to their third win.

Kansas City 32, San Diego 28

Sunday, September 24th, 8:30 e.t.

Oakland Raiders (2-0) @ Washington Redskins (1-1)

The Redskins picked up a huge road win last week late versus the LA Rams and it’s a good thing they did because I do not see them winning this game here against the Raiders.  Derek Carr and the Oakland offense has looked good this season and the Washington defense has not been that fantastic so far.  The Raiders will travel well this year and I think their passing attack can shred the Redskin defense in Landover.

Oakland 38, Washington 20

Monday, September 25th, 8:30 e.t.

Dallas Cowboys (1-1) @ Arizona Cardinals (1-1)

I wanted to pick Dallas to win here since the Cardinals have not been that good this season and barely beat the Colts last week.  However, this is their home opener, and I think that will really help them out.  Their defense should be swarming and Denver really put the blueprint down on how to defeat the Cowboys: make Dak Prescott beat you.  He was unable to do so last week and won’t be able to again this week as the Cards will work to shut Ezekiel Elliot down for the second straight week.

Arizona 21, Dallas 19

Week 3: Minnesota Vikings @ Carolina Panthers Recap

Tom Johnson and Everson Griffen combining for one of eight sacks on Cam Newton.

Final: Minnesota Vikings 22, Carolina Panthers 10

It was a smothering effort by the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday afternoon as the team went on to score 22 unanswered points en route to a dominant road win over the 2015 NFC Champs.  There was not a ton to clap about on offense, however the defense swarmed and there were many standout players in this contest.

For the Vikings offense, the line was actually harassed by Carolina.  A lot of the time it is due to a dominant defensive effort, but that was not necessarily the case this afternoon.  Injuries and poor play really hampered the front and made it tough for Minnesota to do anything with the football in the first half.  Once the team went into the half and made corrections, it became much easier for them to move down the field.  Sam Bradford, after completing only four out of eleven passes in the first half, went a solid 14/17 in the second with a touchdown pass.  He was getting rid of the ball in a hurry on the back end of three step drops.  Credit Norv Turner for some fantastic in-game adjustments.  Stefon Diggs looked very good with his route running in this game, twisting many of defenders around.  Kyle Rudolph grabbed seven balls for 70 yards and a score.  Sam Bradford loves his tight ends and is fixing to make a star out of Rudolph.

Sam Bradford went 14/17 in the second half to bring his team back from a 10 point first quarter deficit.

Defensively for the Vikings, there were a ton of stars in this game.  Danielle Hunter sacked Cam Newton in the end zone for a safety in the first quarter, and that looked small compared to some of the efforts from other players.  Everson Griffen pitched in with three out of the team’s eight total sacks as well as a couple of additional pressures and some help in the run game.  He was a force.  Xavier Rhodes did an amazing job locking down Kelvin Benjamin throughout this game in man coverage.  The Panthers’ number one wide-out was shut out in this game and was only targeted one time; very late in the game.  Harrison Smith played like a man on fire, flying all over the field and tackling everybody in frame.  Erik Kendricks missed a couple of tackles to account for one of the only down performances in an otherwise dominant defensive effort for the Vikes.

Offensively for the Panthers, it got ugly in a hurry.  They started out great, scoring ten points over the course of their first two drives, but their momentum was quickly stymied by the buzz-saw known as the Minnesota defense.  For starters, Carolina ran a surprising amount of 12 and 11 personnel (meaning one back and two tight ends or one back and one tight end).  This was likely to keep the Vikings in their base defense and force them into some rather vanilla looks.  On paper, this was a good plan but unfortunately Minnesota wised to it and outplayed the Panthers.  As stated above, Kelvin Benjamin was completely shut out, and the rest of the wide receivers looked very ordinary in this game.  Philly Brown and Ted Ginn did chip in with some nice plays, but neither of them were able to get behind the defense after the first quarter.  Cameron Artis-Payne was not bad in this game, and it would have benefited the Panthers to run the pall more with him.  They got too aggressive with the offense and were looking for the big play down the field in the pass game.  The Minnesota corners would not let the wide-outs shake loose and this forced Cam to hold the ball and take sacks.  Poor play-calling was a big part of the twelve point loss.  Also, the Panthers made many silly and sloppy mistakes.  False starts, illegal formations, and holdings were among some of the terrible penalties that hampered drives for Carolina making it hard for them to move the ball.  They may have gotten away with these errors had they been facing a more inferior team, but the Vikings are too good to goof up against.

Adam Thielen with a one handed catch late in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s action.

On defense, the Panthers played a good game.  Luke Keuchly, as he often is, was the best player in the game.  He made quite a few run stops, had a QB rush and hit, and was flying sideline to sideline tackling everybody.  Thomas Davis did his thing as well, reeling in a sack and making 10 tackles.  The two lead the team in takedowns with a combined 23.  Tre Boston was around the line of scrimmage a lot, and made a couple of nice stamps however he was out of position on a couple of plays which really cost the team late.  James Bradberry, the rookie, was nice in man-to-man coverage but really struggled in zone when he was targeted on the afternoon.  Shaq Thompson was a no-show in this game, being completely neutralized by the Vikings on the afternoon.

Simply put, the Vikings looked like the better team in Carolina today.  Their defense was great after getting pushed around in the first quarter and they are the reason for the team’s 3-0 start.  Sam Bradford played well again and had no trouble reading the defense and taking what they were giving him once he was actually protected.  The offense made only eleven first downs in the game, but nine of them were in the second half and five of them came on the touchdown drive that gave them the lead out of the break.  Also, the team racked up 211 yards in the game, but 177 of them did come in the third and fourth quarters.  Marcus Sherels had a 54 yard punt return for a touchdown in the second quarter that contributed to the team’s win on the day.  The Vikings fly back home to take on the once beaten Giants next Monday night, a team that Sam Bradford got to play twice last year when he was on the Eagles.  The Panthers hit the road to face the Atlanta Falcons, the only team to defeat them in the regular season a year ago.  Being 1-2 with some very sloppy play, Carolina needs to rally the troops and play some better football if they hope to maintain their status as an NFC powerhouse.

Sam Bradford, Jeremiah Sirles
Sam Bradford celebrates a touchdown pass from 9/25/16.

The Skinny:

  • The Minnesota defense was awesome in this game.  They sacked Cam Newton eight times, three of them coming from Everson Griffen.  They also picked Newton off three times and completely shut out Kelvin Benjamin.
  • Marcus Sherels had a 54 yard punt return for a TD in the second quarter that helped the Vikings rally from what was once a ten point deficit.
  • After going 4/11 in the first half, Sam Bradford finished the game 14/17 in the second half despite a poor showing from his offensive line.  He looked good for the second week in a row and it is clear that the Vikings are no worse off at QB without Teddy Bridgewater.
  • The Panthers now have 30 straight games with 100+ rushing yards, but they were barely able to do it in this game, racking up only 105 of them, many coming late on scrambles from Cam Newton.
  • Carolina was flagged ten times for 65 yards.  Many of these were pre-play fouls which could have been prevented with better preparation and more sound play.  They also scored no points after jumping out to a 10 point lead after two drives.
  • Cam Newton is holding the ball too long and is trying to hit too many big plays down the field this season.  Teams that can run with their wide receivers stand a chance against Carolina if they can keep #1 in the pocket like Minnesota did today.

2016 Season: Week 3 Preview

There is something smelly in town.  Could it be the New Orleans secondary?  What about the Los Angeles offense?  The Cleveland Browns quarterback situation?  How about the entire Raiders’ defense?  No.  It is none of this.  Instead, what reeks of pure disgusting and moldy cheese is my picks.  17-15?  Yikes.  Well, the first two weeks are in the books and we are beginning to get a better picture on who is going to be good this season and who will not be.  From here on out we are shooting for 70% or better!  Here are my Week 3 picks.

Last Week 8-8

Season: 17-15

Thursday, September 22nd, 8:25 e.t.

Houston Texans (2-0) @ New England Patriots (2-0)

The Jacob Brisket era has begun in New England.  Jacoby Brissett will be making his first start against a Houston defense that has allowed only 26 points on the season.  The Patriots probably have the most giddy feeling of any team in the league this season as they are 2-0 without Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski.  They could lose these next two games and be fine when Brady returns in Week 5.  This is a good thing too because I see them losing this game to Houston.  As tempting as it is to pick the Pats here, we will have to go with the Texans.  New England will be wearing some very odd jerseys due to the color rush gimmick.  Fans are going to see highlights from this game and remember it as the game of the ugly jerseys and the one that they lost to the Texans at home in the waning minutes.  Houston actually has the longest regular season winning streak of any team in the league.  They will move to six games in a row with a narrow win on the road.

Houston 24, New England 20

Sunday, September 25th, 1:00 e.t.

Oakland Raiders (1-1) @ Tennessee Titans (1-1)

The Titans may be a sneaky smart pick for an upset this week, but it will not happen.  As you could probably tell from reading the opening narrative to this article, the Raiders’ defense ain’t so hot right now.  They have are the 32nd ranked defense in the league and haven’t so much as slowed down Matt Ryan or Drew Brees.  Luckily the team faces Marcus Mariota this week, a second year QB who hasn’t had a solid start to his season.  Oakland will actually get some pressure this game and force some errant passes, so long as the Titans don’t stubbornly spoon-feed the Raiders a heavy dosage of DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry with mild success that is.  Ken Wisenhunt’s smashmouth football strategy hasn’t really gotten going yet and in today’s league trying to force it is like jamming a hot dog into a cheerio hole.  That probably sounded dirtier than it should have.

Oakland 26, Tennessee 17

Cleveland Browns (0-2) @ Miami Dolphins (0-2)

What a barnburner this one is!  Cody Kessler will be getting the nod for the Brownies on the road.  This, for Cleveland, is amazingly the fifth straight regular season game where they will be starting a new quarterback under center.  Charlie Whitehurst will be holding down the fort from the sidelines in case Kessler doesn’t get the job done.  For Miami, the Dolphins looked good week one against the Seahawks on the road but were absolutely shredded last week by Jimmy Garoppolo in a quarter and a half.  The defense got it going once he was hurt but it was a little too late as the game was too far out of hand.  I have a feeling that the Miami defense will feast on the rookie quarterback at home and force a lot of bad passes.  If they can contain Corey Coleman, there shouldn’t be any issues down there.  The Browns did the best they could to jam every highlight of their season that they could into the first quarter last week versus Baltimore.  Mission succeeded, but now you gotta hit the road against a team that is desperate for a win in the early season.  Here comes a car crash.

Miami 31, Cleveland 6

Baltimore Ravens (2-0) @ Jacksonville Jaguars (0-2)

Every week in the NFL there seem to be eight easy games to call, a couple of upsets, and about four or five contests that could go either way.  This is one of those four or five.  As they say, a sheep deciding between two bales of hay will starve to death.  You just gotta pick one.  I’m going to go with the Jags, very begrudgingly.  Part of me wants to believe that Jacksonville is a team on the rise, but until I see them win a game at home like this, I’m going to hesitate on picking them.  They gave Green Bay a nice fight in Week 1, but then were shoved aside like a plate of broccoli at the kid’s table in San Diego last Sunday.  This should be a competitive game, but the Ravens did need to make a big comeback on the road in Cleveland.  If they had won that game convincingly, I’d have no issues picking them because we would all think they are back to form, but small wins over the Bills and Browns isn’t enough to get me excited.  Will the Jacksonville offense wake up?  This pick is me betting on them doing just that.

Jacksonville 30, Baltimore 20

Arizona Cardinals (1-1) @ Buffalo Bills (0-2)

The Cardinals broke out the belt against Tampa Bay and they are swinging for the fences as they hit the road against Buffalo.  The Bills defense is injury riddled and letting up big plays this season.  When you are facing off with a Bruce Arians coached team that loves taking shots, this is a horrible combination.  John Brown and Michael Floyd were invisible last week but should return here against a team that allowed two 100-yard receivers a week ago (and almost a third) along with a 100-yard rusher.  All signs point towards a blowout, but I doubt that Arizona is going to give the Bills a wedgie and take their lunch money.  This is probably going to be a close game that sees quite a few defensive plays being made on both sides of the ball.  In the end, I just can’t afford to throw caution to the wind and start picking teams like Buffalo to beat NFC powerhouses.  We aren’t trying for another 8-8 week.

Arizona 22, Buffalo 20

Minnesota Vikings (2-0) @ Carolina Panthers (1-1)

This is a good game.  Having it played in the 1:00 window and then having the Bears and Cowboys play Sunday night is sort of like enjoying your ice cream cake dessert before your lumpy meat loaf dinner.  Anywho, the Vikings are coming off of an impressive win over the Packers.  Sam Bradford looked great in his debut with the team and Stefon Diggs looks like he is trying to make the leap to an elite-level wide receiver.  Trying to join him in that journey is Kelvin Benjamin who already has three touchdowns on the year.  i’ll be picking Carolina for this game as they have way too much talent and look like one of the best teams in the league again, but it wasn’t without a thought.  Yes, Adrian Peterson will be missing several games due to a torn meniscus, but he wasn’t running roughshod on defenses this year anyhow.  Actually, the Vikings defense is what has carried this team, and asking them to slow down the Panthers on the road is not going to be easy.  Carolina takes the (ice cream) cake here.

Carolina 35, Minnesota 21

Denver Broncos (2-0) @ Cincinnati Bengals (1-1)

Here’s another game that is leaving me wondering why we get stuck with the Bears/Cowboys on Sunday night instead of a gem.  The Denver defense has been as good as it was last season while the offense remains the same.  There doesn’t seem to be any falloff after losing Peyton Manning and Brock Osweiler over the offseason.  The Broncos are a good team.  The Bengals can say that they are too, even though they lost a week ago to Pittsburgh.  The defense did do a nice job shutting down Antonio Brown however.  They also draw the Broncos on the road here.  This will be their first game away from home and I expect that to play a huge role in this one.  It is also Cincy’s home opener in the 1:00 window.  The Bengals don’t normally lose these types of games and I don’t expect them to this week.  I see the Denver defense falling off a bit against a good offensive team.  Give me the home team here.

Cincinnati 27, Denver 13

Detroit Lions (1-1) @ Green Bay Packers (1-1)

The Packers season is almost identical to the Bengals season so far this year in the sense that they gutted out a tough road win in Week 1 and then lost on the road to a very good team last Sunday.  Now they will open the home schedule against a team that has had their number at Lambeau over the past… season.  Of course, we all remember how much trouble the Lions had winning in Wisconsin prior to their stunning 18-16 win a season ago in the (at the time not so) frozen tundra.  This Green Bay offense has to get going soon, right?  They are going to be moving the ball against a Detroit defense that barely did enough to win Week 1 versus Indy and let a middling sophomore quarterback lead a comeback drive in the final minute against them this past week.  Sure, Matthew Stafford has looked good at times, but he is Matthew Stafford.  This dude really struggles when playing winning teams.  And although Green Bay does not have a winning record at this point in the season, it is safe to say they have a winning team.  The Packers should take care of business at home and I think we are going to see a dramatic spike in their offense playing in front of a more friendly crowd.

Green Bay 34, Detroit 24

Washington Redskins (0-2) @ New York Giants (2-0)

Do we still like Kirk Cousins after the first two weeks of the season?  I can’t say I do as they guy is still yet to win against a team with a winning record.  The Giants are 2-0 and are winning games that they would have lost last season.  Sure, they didn’t score an offensive touchdown against the New Orleans Saints but they did still win the game.  That is what it all comes down to: finding a way to win.  The ‘Skins look like they are taking a step backward this season and they do not tend to play very well on the road against the Giants.  Kirk Cousins is very generous with the ball when he does play New York as he begins to rain interceptions like it were party confetti.  Of course, you can bet that if Washington did win the game, we would see Cousins yelling at reporters yet again.

You Like That??

^A great face to put on the $1 bill by the way.  At the end of the day, I don’t think that the Redskins have the caliber of team to run with the Giants if their offense gets hot.  This is a game that New York does want to win because they will be hitting a brutal stretch following this contest.

New York 27, Washington 15

Sunday, September 25th, 4:05 e.t.

Los Angeles Rams (1-1) @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-1)

The Buccaneers flat out got stomped by the Cardinals a week ago and will try to bounce back against a Rams team that has scored a total of nine points in two games.  That should put them at 0-2, but as it is, LA is 1-1.  Tampa Bay doesn’t have to be perfect on offense to win this game.  All they have to do is slow down Todd Gurley aka the entire Rams offense.  They have not looked too bad against two of the fantasy football darlings so far this season in the run game (Devonta Freeman and David Johnson).  Of course, Johnson did have almost 100 yards receiving against Tampa in Arizona last week, and that is something that would be concerning if the Rams could actually throw the ball.  Since they really can’t, I have no problem in selecting the Buccaneers at home this week.

Tampa Bay 20, St. Louis 9

San Francisco 49ers (1-1) @ Seattle Seahawks (1-1)

Well I’ll be diddly darn damned.  The 49ers can actually play a little offense this season.  Unfortunately they still got run out of the gym by the Panthers a week ago, but they have shown some semblance of hope on that side of the ball for the first time in a bit.  The Seahawks however have scored just 15 points all season long.  You would think they are the worst offense in the league, but of course we know that Russell Wilson is hurting right now.  The good news for these guys is that their defense has surrendered only 19 points on the year.  This is a unit that really slammed the doors on Chip Kelly’s offense the last time they played in Week 14 in ’14 against Philadelphia.  I expect them to follow that blueprint and come out on top with a victory.  It’s only a matter of time before we start yearning to see Colin Kaepernick run Chip Kelly’s offense.  Okay, okay, that might just be wishful thinking on my part.

Seattle 21, San Francisco 10

Sunday, September 25th, 4:25 e.t.

San Diego Chargers (1-1) @ Indianapolis Colts (0-2)

This truly is a quarterback duel.  You got Philip Rivers and those guys versus Andrew Luck and these guys.  Rivers and Luck don’t have a lot of help in their games and will have to rely on their own talent to win some close contests this season.  At least Philip has a rejuvenated Melvin Gordon to lean on.  This San Diego offense is using a cane to get around these days as they have gone consecutive weeks with losing a valuable offensive weapon, first with Keenan Allen and next with Danny Woodhead.  Philip Rivers is ironman though, so we expect him to play through anything.  Andrew Luck is waiting on Donte Moncrief and T.Y. Hilton to wake up and smell some coffee.  He has not looked bad this season, but has literally had to do everything for the Colts.  Normally this is a bad sign, but I think that Indy comes out with a win this week.  The Chargers are just too banged up and the Colts are the more desperate team, I think.  They really cannot afford to fall to 0-3 with Houston getting out to a quick start.

Indianapolis 35, San Diego 26

New York Jets (1-1) @ Kansas City Chiefs (1-1)

Just how good are the Chiefs?  They beat a San Diego team at home in Week 1, but it took them overtime and a major comeback to do it.  They lost pretty badly to Houston last week without even scoring a touchdown.  The offense has looked inconstant and the defense hasn’t been making plays.  The opposite can be said about the Jets.  They have been putting heat on the opposing quarterbacks and defenses with sacks and big passing plays.  New York looks like it is a far better team at this point that do the Chiefs.  I was going to pick Kansas City given Andy Reid’s success against this franchise, but I just can’t.  The Jets are about to hit a make-or-break stretch early in the season, and this is a team that I expect to be in the running late in the year.  They simply have to win games like this and right now is a good time to draw the Chiefs since they are still trying to find an identity on offense and are reeling a bit out of the gates.  They will turn it around soon, but are also quite vulnerable right at this very moment.

New York 31, Kansas City 19

Pittsburgh Steelers (2-0) @ Philadelphia Eagles (2-0)

In yet another good game on the Week 3 docket, we get the battle of Pennsylvania when the Steelers take on the Iggles.  A lot is going to be learned of this Philly team and Carson Wentz this week.  He has looked superb in starts against weak secondaries.  Jim Schwartz’s defense has looked awesome, but it was, again, against the Browns and Bears.  Now they have to cope with the Steelers who boast what is undoubtedly the best offense in football.  The Eagles are prone to giving up big plays and that does not bode well for them here.  Antonio Brown is itching to go off after being held in check by the Bengals and I fully expect him to in this game.  Carson Wentz is obviously the story for the Eagles but I don’t know if there are enough playmakers on the offense for him to be able to go blow for blow with Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers.  This would be an attractive option for a trap game as far as Pittsburgh is concerned, and I do think Philly will be relevant this year, but the Steelers are too hot to pick against right now since they do look like the best team in football early on.

Pittsburgh 28, Philadelphia 21

Sunday, September 25th, 8:30 e.t.

Chicago Bears (0-2) @ Dallas Cowboys (1-1)

There is something wrong here.  How are we stuck with this game when there are many other brilliant contests taking place throughout the week?  All the Sunday Night Football games have been good this season, and this one likely will be also.  Dak Prescott has still not turned the ball over on the season and he is facing off against a Chicago unit that has been hit harder with the injury bug than any other team in the NFC.  You would think they were the Packers in that respect.  Dak should have a nice game, especially if the other rookie Ezekiel Elliot finally gets things going.  This is a perfect time for the Dallas offensive line to get right too since they are facing off against the inferior Bears D-line.  Let’s not forget about Brian Hoyer though.  He is certainly an entertaining guy to watch, sometimes for the wrong reasons.  It is the bald guy in the backup QB bowl who will be heaving it down field to Alshon Jeffery.  Unfortunately there won’t be enough jump balls to be had and I do see Dallas coming out with a win.  The Bears may struggle to score points all year and the Cowboys have a better roster up and down at virtually every position.  Hard to pick against a team in this situation.

Dallas 20, Chicago 14

Monday, September 26th, 8:30 e.t.

Atlanta Falcons (1-1) @ New Orleans Saints (0-2)

The Monday night games have been snoozers so far this season, but that should change this week.  Atlanta’s offense looks very good and they are going against a secondary that would make you believe that the Saints are trotting just nine defenders out on the field on given plays.  That said, the New Orleans offense is definitely capable of putting up points if Drew Brees can be kept upright.  Luckily for them, the Falcons have a serious lack of a pass rush and there is a good chance that ole #9 picks them apart at home.  It is so hard to pick against the Saints on Monday nights as well since they seemingly always do well in these types of games.  America should see a shootout in this contest, but then again that is what was said about last week’s game between the Saints and the Giants.  Just goes to show how crazy this league can be.  I will be going with N’orleans here for the sheer fact that I think that Brees can cut right through this Atlanta defense and find some serious match-up problems.

New Orleans 38, Atlanta 31

Week 3 Bonus Predictions

Sure Bet of the Week (2-0): Miami over Cleveland

Upset of the Week: New York Jets over Kansas City

Offensive Player of the Week: Drew Brees, QB Saints

Defensive Player of the Week: Kwon Alexander, LB Buccaneers

Rookie of the Week: Ezekiel Elliot, RB Cowboys

Best Quarterback: Drew Brees

Best Running Back: Eddie Lacy, RB Packers

Week 3: Philadelphia Eagles vs. New York Jets Recap

Ryan Mathews stiff arms Jets' defender Antonio Cromartie from 9/27/15
Ryan Mathews stiff arms Jets’ defender Antonio Cromartie from 9/27/15

Philadelphia 24, New York 17

The Philadelphia Eagles gut out their first win of the season on the road over the New York Jets.  Philly is now an impressive 10-0 all-time versus Gang Green and they were in desperate need of a win to keep pace in the NFC East.

The defenses for both teams ruled the game as there were not too many big plays on either side of the ball.  For the Eagles, this is pretty much par for the course early on in the year.  They have seriously lacked explosive plays on offense

Brandon Bair hits Ryan Fitzpatrick from Sunday's game
Brandon Bair hits Ryan Fitzpatrick from Sunday’s game

and that is a big reason why they have struggled out of the gates.  With that being said, they ran the ball much better in this contest, and Ryan Mathews looked strong with many tackle-breaking rushes.  He fumbled once, but the Eagles were able to get the ball back on the following drive by forcing one of four turnovers.

The Jets came into the game with a +8 turnover differential and had forced five takeaways in each of their first two games.  In this one, they gave it away four times and were only able to strip the ball one time, although that doesn’t mean that the defense wasn’t good.  The front seven was dominant at the line of scrimmage and the secondary did a marvelous job in coverage.  Sam Bradford had some clean pockets to step up into, but rarely had any wide open looks.  Running backs for Philly had an edge when running wheel routes out of the backfield, however both Ryan Mathews and Darren Sproles dropped what looked to be potential huge touchdown receptions on those plays.  Sproles made up for this with an 89-yard punt return for a touchdown and a rushing score, however, as he had an excellent day.

Brandon Marshall had his way with the Philadelphia defense as the game wore on.  He caught ten passes for 109 yards and a touchdown.  He did make a bonehead play in the second quarter when trying to pitch the ball backwards.  He chucked it right at Connor Barwin’s facemask and the Eagles recovered the loose ball and marched it into the end zone to take a 24-0 lead at the time.  The Jets really struggled to run the ball all game long.

Each defense made plays in this one, and both offenses were inconsistent and sleepy at times.  The true difference in this game was the Darren Sproles punt return for a touchdown.  Philly has their first win of the season, but it was not super impressive.  They had to tough one out, but at the same time it came against a rock solid defense on the road.  They will travel to Washington next week to play their second divisional game of the year while the Jets fly across the pond to battle the 1-2 Miami Dolphins in London.  At the end of the day the defenses were able to neutralize both offenses, but Philadelphia was able to find points in other ways via special teams for the win.

The Skinny

  • Philadelphia improves to 10-0 all-time against the New York Jets
  • Sam Bradford got the ball out of his hands quickly and was errant on a few of his throws, and the Philly receivers
    Philadelphia corner Eric Rowe and New York receiver Devin Smith battle for the ball from the game on 9/27/15
    Philadelphia corner Eric Rowe and New York receiver Devin Smith battle for the ball from the game on 9/27/15

    dropped a few catchable passes as well, contributing to the 14/28 clip

  • Ryan Fitzpatrick threw the ball 58 times in this game, tying a career high for him.  He was intercepted three times while throwing two touchdowns
  • The Philadelphia corners played a pretty good game.  Rookie Eric Rowe made a bunch of nice plays, Byron Maxwell played better than in weeks past, and Nolan Carrol was terrific.  Malcolm Jenkins pitched in with a nice effort as well
  • Eagles linebacker Jordan Hicks had an awesome game filling in for Kiko Alonso and Michael Kendricks.  He made nine tackles and an interception, the first Philly rookie linebacker to do this since Stewart Bradley in 2007
  • The Jets have only targeted tight ends five times on the entire year after this game
  • Darren Sproles’ 89 yard punt return for a touchdown was the second longest in Philadelphia history

2015 Season: Week 3 Predictions

So far the 2015 season has been as unpredictable as ever.  Who would have guessed that teams like the Seahawks, Colts, Eagles, and Ravens would be 0-2.  What surprises will Week 3 hold?  Here are my predictions (hoping to bounce back after an awful week).

Last Week: 5-11

Season: 13-19

Thursday, September 24th, 8:30 e.t.

Washington Redskins (1-1) @ New York Giants (0-2)

Matt Jones and Alfred Morris ripped apart the St. Louis defense last week while Odell Beckham Jr. had a field day against the Atlanta secondary.  Of course the Giants were unable to mount a late surge against the Falcons while the ‘Skins were able to find the “W”.  This week should prove a bit different.  The Giants are playing at home again while Washington is at a disadvantage having to go on the road during a short week.  Additionally, New York should be the better team anyways.

New York 26, Washington 16

Sunday, September 27th, 1:00 e.t.

Indianapolis Colts (0-2) @ Tennessee Titans (1-1)

Both teams are coming off of embarrassing defeats to teams that they should have beaten and are looking for redemption.  While Marcus Mariota has looked solid in two starts, he has been a bit loose with the ball.  He fumbled it three times last week and lost two of them.  Meanwhile, the Colts offense has stumbled out of the gates in a big way.  Look for Andrew Luck to bounce back on the road against a team that he tends to dominate.

Indianapolis 37, Tennessee 17

 Philadelphia Eagles (0-2) @ New York Jets (2-0)

If I told you two weeks ago that one of the teams in this game would be winless and the other would be undefeated, you probably would have believed me.  However, you probably wouldn’t have guessed which one was which.  The Eagles have been particularly awful on offense (especially on third down) while the Jets have been good on defense and passable on “O” with Ryan Fitzpatrick in control.  On the road against a tough defense, the Eagles could struggle again, but I think Chip Kelly gets some sort of game plan going to pull out the “W”.  The birds have a decent defense as well and that should show in a tough game on the road.

Philadelphia 31, New York 24

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-1) @ Houston Texans (0-2)

The Buccaneers shocked the Saints on the road a week ago and are looking for their first two game winning streak in a couple of years.  The Texans have other ideas, though, and they will stop Tampa Bay in their tracks.  I see Jameis Winston struggling on the road while Ryan Mallet has a nice game against a really inconsistent defense.

Houston 30, Tampa Bay 16

Oakland Raiders (1-1) @ Cleveland Browns (1-1)

Each team pulled off surprising wins a week ago, however the Oakland victory was quite impressive.  Now that the Browns have decided to go back to Josh McCown, I honestly think that the offense will regress a bit.  The Raiders should be able to move on the road and scoop up the win.  It is weird thinking that one of these teams is going to be 2-1 if I may say so.

Oakland 23, Cleveland 12

Cincinnati Bengals (2-0) @ Baltimore Ravens (0-2)

The Ravens are a team that is a couple of plays away from being 2-0, but instead they sit with an ugly 0-2 record and have the AFC North leading Bengals coming to town.  This is the home opener though, and Baltimore does tend to play much better at home.  Even though Cincy has won in each of the last two seasons on the road against the Ravens, I see them dropping this game.  Baltimore has something to prove and could ill afford to fall to 0-3 on the year.

Baltimore 26, Cincinnati 20

Atlanta Falcons (2-0) @ Dallas Cowboys (2-0)

Both teams are undefeated, but have an entirely different feel about this one.  The Cowboys are without their three biggest weapons on offense from a year ago while the Falcons are looking pretty good, and could very well be the team to beat in the NFC South.  Matt Ryan, while a different quarterback on the road, is worlds better than Brandon Weeden and Julio Jones > Terrence Williams.  Atlanta wins.

Atlanta 27, Dallas 13

Jacksonville Jaguars (1-1) @ New England Patriots (2-0)

The Patriots jumped out to a huge lead on the road in Buffalo before letting the Bills climb back into it.  That said, they looked damn impressive on offense.  At home in front of a raucous crowd, Tom Brady throws for another three scores as the Patriots dominate the Jaguars who will be hitting the road for the first time all year.

New England 44, Jacksonville 14

San Diego Chargers (1-1) @ Minnesota Vikings (1-1)

The last time the Chargers visited the Minnesota Vikings, Adrian Peterson shredded them for an NFL record 296 yards back in 2007.  I think he will have a slightly less spectacular day, but still a good one with about 140 yards and a score or two.  Despite this, the Chargers, behind a big effort from Philip Rivers, will win the game on a last second score.  This should be a really good contest.

San Diego 31, Minnesota 28

New Orleans Saints (0-2) @ Carolina Panthers (2-0)

With the status of Drew Brees up in the air, and given how bad the Saints have been so far this year, I don’t feel safe picking them on the road against Carolina who still has a good defense.  Behind Johnathan Stewart and a nice running game, the Panthers improve to 3-0 on the year.  The good news for the Saints is that Mark Ingram rushes for 135 yards and two scores to keep the game interesting.

Carolina 23, New Orleans 20

Pittsburgh Steelers (1-1) @ St. Louis Rams  (1-1)

The Steelers have been hitting on big play after big play and they now go on the road to St. Louis to square off against a team that is prone to giving up a few of those every now and again.  This one will be much more competitive than many might think, but in the end my money is on Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown against a shaky secondary.

Pittsburgh 36, St. Louis 31

Sunday, September 27th, 4:05 e.t.

San Francisco 49ers (1-1) @ Arizona Cardinals (2-0)

San Francisco looked pretty bad on defense a week ago, but their offense was not too bad.  They should fare alright on the road against an Arizona team that can be quite good at times.  However, the Cards “D” will give up a play from time to time and I think that San Fran takes advantage of this en route to the shocker of the week.

San Francisco 14, Arizona 10

Sunday, September 27th, 4:25 e.t.

Chicago Bears (0-2) @ Seattle Seahawks (0-2)

The Seahawks (all things considered) didn’t look too bad on the road against the Packers.  Now they will have their hammer back in Kam Chancellor and will be taking on a Chicago team that will send out Jimmy Clausen as their quarterback.  Seattle finally gets into the win column with a dominant victory in front of the 12th man.

Seattle 38, Chicago 10

Buffalo Bills (1-1) @ Miami Dolphins (1-1)

I want to pick the Bills to win this game here because they are the better team, but for some reason I have a weird feeling that this will be the random game that the Dolphins play were they look like they can be a contender in the AFC.  Their offense is faster than Buffalo’s defense and Ryan Tannehill is better than Tyrod Taylor.  Rex Ryan coached teams do have a history of success down in Miami, but this time I give the ‘Phins the win.  Lets see if Cameron Wake isn’t a ghost in this one.

Miami 27, Buffalo 16

Sunday, September 27th, 8:30 e.t.

Denver Broncos (2-0) @ Detroit Lions (0-2)

The Broncos looked pretty terrible in the first half a week ago until they intercepted Alex Smith and then Peyton Manning got rolling.  This week, they take on a Detroit team that has to be frustrated with their 0-2 start.  Logic would dictate that you go with Denver here due to their incredible defense and passable offense, but because I like to get a little frisky with my picks I will take Detroit.  I say their defense shuts down Peyton Manning and the offense does just enough to get them the victory in a gritty game.

Detroit 19, Denver 17

Monday, September 28th, 8:30 e.t.

Kansas City Chiefs (1-1) @ Green Bay Packers (2-0)

The Chiefs should really be (or could really be) 2-0 at this point but they fumbled away the game against the Broncos last Thursday night.  A little later in the week, Green Bay flexed its muscles and clipped the Seahawks at Lambeau.  Any time you play the Pack in Wisconsin, I wish you the best of luck.  They are a tough out.  Aaron Rodgers should light this defense up and the Packers will roll to an impressive victory.

Green Bay 45, Kansas City 23

Week 3 Bonus Predictions

Upset of the Week (0-2): San Francisco over Arizona

Sure Bet of the Week (1-1): Seattle over Chicago

Rookie of the Week: Melvin Gordon, RB, Chargers

Offensive Player of the Week: Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Steelers

Defensive Player of the Week: Glover Quin Jr., DB, Lions

Best Overall Offense: Green Bay Packers 

Best Overall Defense: Seattle Seahawks

Feel free to leave a comment stating what you think will happen in this weekend’s games!

2014 Season: Week 3 Predictions

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.

Week 3: Denver Broncos 37, Oakland Raiders 21- Post Game Recap

Forgive me from brown-nosing here, but we are witnessing one of the greatest players in NFL history do his thing each and every week in the 2013 season.  Peyton Manning turned in another incredible performance on Monday as his team threw up 536 total yards and #18 himself ended up throwing for 374 yards, 3 touchdowns, and once again no interceptions.  Peyton is also the first quarterback in NFL history to throw for 12 touchdown passes through his first three games in a season; he is on pace for 64 TDs on the season.  Okay, now that we got that out of the way let’s get into the specifics of the Monday-nighter.

To be fair, the Manning masterpiece ended up overshadowing what Terrelle Pryor was able to do.  I thought Pryor looked pretty good in this game.  He did leave for the locker room late in the fourth quarter with a potential concussion, but up until that point he was solid.  The Raiders were really blown out of the water early because they could not get their running game going.  Oakland went into the game boasting the second ranked rushing offense in the league and Denver shut them down.  Greg Olsen dialed up a plethora of running plays early and the Broncos continually snuffed them out.  This lead to a handful of three and outs, and on a night were Mr. Manning was on the top of his game it was a disaster waiting to happen.

The Raiders defense wasn’t atrocious like the numbers would indicate.  They were just on the field for too long.  Charles Woodson was a force in the secondary and Oakland did a marvelous job shutting down the wide receiver screens.  Unfortunately they were torched by just about everything else.  There was a lot of zone coverage being used early, and the Denver receivers were finding soft spots and Manning wasn’t missing them.  Later on they shifted to more man-to-man looks, and Peyton devised some rub routes and clear-outs to try and separate the receiver from their defender.  This was also a raging success.  Finally, Oakland gave up on that and tried to blitz the Denver QB and he would simply get it out hot and hit a receiver before the pressure could get to him.  Simply put, nothing was working for the Raiders and I honestly don’t think it was because they are a bad unit.  I just think Peyton Manning got the best of them,

The Denver rushing game was impressive as well.  The team ran for 4.9 yards a pop and were getting good run blocking, especially from the guards.  The Raiders had no answer for anything that the Broncos threw at them and it was simply a dominant performance overall.  The highlights of the night for the losing team were the 73 yard TD pass late in the second quarter from Pryor to Denarius Moore and a 16 yard pass from Darren McFadden to Marcel Reece for a touchdown.  Like I said before, there were a lot of three and outs for Oakland and they were simply unable to get anything going on offense on a consistent basis.

Right now the Broncos appear to be the best team in football (yes, better than Seattle).  They will have their defense tested next week when the Eagles come to town for a late-window match-up.  At the same time the Raiders will be home to host the Redskins in a game that pits two desperate teams.  Those types of games always end up being very entertaining.  Let’s hope Terrelle Pryor will be good to go for Week 4 because he has proven to be a fun guy to watch.

Week 3: New York Jets 27, Buffalo Bills 20- Post Game Thoughts

For the Jets, it goes a little something like this: The Good- They have one more win than both of the other New York teams combined, The Bad- They have turned the ball over eight times through three games and have a -6 turnover differential, The Ugly- They lead the league in penalties and penalty yardage after 20 flags for 168 yards in this game.  Nevertheless, the Jets are 2-1 and they are coming off of a very good offensive performance in this game.  The Jets put up 513 yards of offense in this game and rookie Geno Smith threw for 331 yards, including a 69 yard touchdown to Santonio Holmes and a 51 yard touchdown to Stephen Hill.  It has been a long time since the Jets have seen offensive numbers like this, so they have to feel great about where the team stands now in comparison to where they did a few weeks ago.  Now for the Bills, this is a team that has played all three of their games very well and have kept their opponents close.  E.J. Manuel did not show the comeback magic this week that he did when his team played the Panthers, but you can blame the Buffalo defense for allowing the Jets to light them up.  It is not too often that you see a team commit 20+ penalties and still win the game, but that is exactly what happened in East Rutherford, New Jersey on Sunday.  Each of these teams have been fighting early on and really each could conceivably be 3-0 (of course not simultaneously).  Bills and Jets fans alike have to be thrilled with what they are seeing out of their young quarterbacks at this point in the year.

Week 3: Seattle Seahawks 45, Jacksonville Jaguars 17- Post Game Thoughts

Most people saw this outcome from a mile away, but something can be said about the Jags managing 17 points against a great defense.  The team accounted for 11 points through two games; only nine of them coming from the offense.  At least this week they were able to score multiple touchdowns and did not look terrible in the process.  It is just way to hard for a team trying to rebuild to go up to Seattle and down a red-hot Seahawks team in front of the “twelfth man”.  I pity any team that has to head north to the Emerald City in this season.  To make a long story short, the ‘Hawks are pretty much unstoppable at home, and they are winning the games they should win.  I credit Jacksonville for making an effort to stand up in Seattle, but in the end the mountain was way to big of a climb for them.

Week 3: Miami Dolphins 27, Atlanta Falcons 23- Post Game Thoughts

Technically speaking, the Dolphins were actually favored to win this game, but I see it as an upset over the high-octane Atlanta offense.  The Falcons took the opening drive right down the field in 8:48 and scored a touchdown on 14 plays.  From there on out it was not as easy for them to move the ball.  They managed just one touchdown the rest of the game and had to settle for three field goals.  This left the window open for Ryan Tannehill and the Dolphins to win the game.  They scored a touchdown with only :38 left on the clock.  The drive before, Atlanta had a chance to go up 27-20, but instead were forced into kicking a 33 yard field goal.  I credit the Dolphin defense for this win, they have been really impressive through the first couple of weeks.  This does not take away from what Ryan Tannehill has been able to do.  He has done a good job buying time in the pocket and has been solid in converting third downs.  The team went 7/12 this week and that is a big reason why they were able to win the game.  Atlanta has dropped a couple of tough games, but in hindsight it was against two undefeated teams (through three weeks).  The sky is not falling in Georgia, although the team could have some problems if they are unable to take one from the Patriots at home next week.