Week 3 is upon us, and while it is difficult to gauge all 32 teams in terms of where they will end up at the end of the season, some trends are forming throughout the league. Yes it is early, but the pressure is on for some teams to turn it around, or face the wrath of a long, harsh season. With that said here are my picks for this week’s games. (I’m 0-1 so far this week, foolishly picking the Panthers to win on Thursday night.)
St Louis at Chicago
The Bears dressing room has the feel of Days Of Our Lives at this moment. Quarterback Jay Cutler has been the centre of the soap opera, with his drama queen antics. Whether crying on the sidelines, or chewing out teammates, Cutler hasn’t endeared himself in the Windy City. The Rams have looked decent so far and look like they have a bright future ahead of them. That said, the Bears are at home, and will need a win to relieve some of the pressure. Close game. Could be a great game. Chicago wins. Barely! (Or bearly if you like puns.)
Buffalo at Cleveland
The Bills have had a roller-coaster start to the season. After being humiliated by the New York Jets in Week 1, the Bills bounced back and routed Kansas City at home last week. The question is which Bills team shows up? The Browns have lost both games so far, but have been competitive in both. I have a feeling the Browns are poised for a breakthrough. In a mild upset, Cleveland wins.
Tampa Bay at Dallas
What to make of the Dallas Cowboys. After an impressive opening week win over the defending Super Bowl Champion New York Giants, the Cowboys were simply flattened by Seattle last week. The Cowboys desperately need to figure out what type of team they are going to be. The Bucs blew a huge lead to the Giants last week, and it is uncertain whether the psyche of the young Bucs is damaged. These two teams are very difficult to read right now. But because it is the Cowboys home opener, Dallas wins.
Jacksonville at Indianapolis
The Colts are pleased so far with the development of Andrew Luck and why shouldn’t they be. The first overall pick completed 20 out of 31 pass attempts for 224 yards and 2 touchdowns, in the Colts win over Minnesota last week. Luck showed composure and maturity beyond his years last week, and the Colts are hoping his progression continues on the upward scene. The Jaguars are 0-2 and looking dreadful so far. Expect a long season in Northern Florida. Indianapolis wins.
New York Jets at Miami
Critical early AFC East battle. The Jets are coming off a disappointing loss to Pittsburgh, while Miami scored a solid win over Oakland. Of course, the Jets have the usual circus of Mark Sanchez vs. Tim Tebow quarterback controversy. The Dolphins rookie signal caller, Ryan Tannehill was excellent against the lowly Raiders, but will face stiffer competition from the Jets. These two teams don’t like each other, which makes this game tough to call. I’m not sure why but New York Jets win.
San Francisco at Minnesota
The 49ers have been arguably the best team in the NFL early on, going 2-0, showcasing an aggressive, hard-hitting defence that is relentless to any ball carrier. The Vikings are 1-1 and have been competitive in both outings. However, the Vikings will be facing their stiffest foe of the season. San Francisco has been clicking on all cylinders early on. The only flaw with the 49ers is that they have let their opponents stay in the game. If the 49ers can find the killer instinct, they may be unstoppable. San Francisco wins.
Kansas City at New Orleans
Two disappointing teams square off at the Superdome. The Saints have looked confused and confounded in their two losses to Washington and Carolina. The Chiefs have looked dreadful, getting blasted by Atlanta and Buffalo in their first two games. The Saints are still trying to adjust to life without coach Sean Payton. The Chiefs are trying to have a football team. Both defences have been ripped and shredded up more often than illegal government documents. The only thing is, I don’t see the Saints going 0-3. New Orleans wins.
Detroit at Tennessee
The Lions are off to a 1-1 start, playing very uneven football to start the 2012 season. The Titans have looked horrific, starting 0-2 and getting blown apart in both games this season. For the Lions, Matthew Stafford must reduce his interceptions, and make better decisions in the pocket. The Titans must get running back Chris Johnson going on all cylinders. CJ2000 has rushed for a mere 21 yards in 2 games. If Johnson’s struggles continues, the Titans defence will be on the field for too long, which will be trouble against an explosive Lions offence. It won’t be pretty but Detroit wins.
Cincinnati at Washington
Interesting matchup in DC. Both teams are 1-1 and both have shown potential for better things. The Bengals will rely on the passing combo of Andy Dalton to A.J. Green for success. The Redskins are riding the coattails of sensational rookie Robert Griffin III. RG3 will be making his home debut in this one, and the US Capitol is abuzz with anticipation. Add to the fact, the Bengals defence is as ferocious as a kitten, this could be a big day for RG3. Washington wins.
Philadelphia at Arizona
Great matchup in the desert. Both teams are 2-0 and are raising expectations with fans and media. The Eagles have won both games, despite a combined 9 turnovers in both of those games. Michael Vick is a great athlete, but must reduce his interceptions. It would help if coach Andy Reid would call some running plays. LeSean McCoy is a superb back, who has game-breaking ability. The Cardinals have impressed with their defence flying all over the field. Arizona shut down New England’s powerful offence, to propel them to an upset victory in Foxboro. Linebacker Darnell Dockett and cornerback Patrick Peterson are the stars of the Desert Storm defence, and they are the keys to Arizona’s success. Add to the fact, former Eagles quarterback Kevin Kolb is now the starter for Arizona, adds to the intrigue of this one. Should be a good one. Arizona wins.
Atlanta at San Diego
For a full preview, click on the link here for my preview of this one.
Houston at Denver
Another good matchup. The Texans have looked solid early on, starting the season with wins over Miami and Jacksonville. Denver are 1-1 losing a tough game to Atlanta last week. Peyton Manning threw 3 first quarter interceptions against the Falcons, as he had a difficult time reacting to the Falcons formations and reads. Manning is still on a learning curve with the Broncos offence, and the rest of the Broncos will also have to adjust to Manning’s unique style of no huddle offence. The Texans do step up in competition this week, and this will be a true test for a team with much to prove. This has the makings of a beauty. However, Denver is very tough at home, where the altitude and crazy fans can make a huge difference. I see that happening here. Denver wins.
Pittsburgh at Oakland
If this was 1974, this would be the marquee matchup of the week. Sadly it is 2012 and this looks like a mismatch. The Steelers dominated the New York Jets last week, using a stifling defence and a balanced offence. The Raiders have been anemic on both sides of the ball in their two losses, and will have a difficult time against a charged up Steelers team. Darren McFadden has yet to get going for the Raiders, which puts a ton of pressure on Carson Palmer and the passing game. Despite the fact Troy Polamalu and James Harrison won’t play for Pittsburgh, Oakland doesn’t have the firepower to give the Steelers trouble. Pittsburgh wins.
New England at Baltimore
A rematch of last year’s AFC Championship game. The Patriots defeated the Ravens in a thrilling title game, that still has the Ravens seething. Baltimore is desperate for revenge, and they will have home field advantage for this one. New England were shocked by Arizona last week, as their prolific offence struggled against the Cardinals. The defence is improved from last season, but Tom Brady and company will need to find a way to put up points against a stern Ravens D. Baltimore lost a controversial game against Philadelphia last week. The Ravens defence is key as always, and with Ray Lewis and Ed Reed leading the way, Baltimore is looking forward to this one. If Joe Flacco can generate enough offence, Baltimore should get its revenge against the Pats. Baltimore wins.
Green Bay at Seattle
Both teams are 1-1, rebounding from losses in Week 1, to record solid wins last week. The Packers knocked off their arch-rival Chicago Bears last week Thursday, using a solid defensive effort. Seattle beat up Dallas last week, using special teams and a physical presence. Green Bay hasn’t gotten their offence clicking as of yet, as Aaron Rodgers still hasn’t found his 2011 form. It won’t be easy for him to find it in Seattle where the Seahawks are very tough at home, using a noisy and crazy crowd to their advantage. CenturyLink Field will be insane for this Monday night showdown, and that could be enough for the Seahawks. One question for Seattle. Can Russell Wilson handle the bright lights of Monday Night Football? If he can, Seattle will be successful. Because of home field, Seattle wins.
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