I must confess, my picks were awful last week. I’m so glad I’m not a professional gambler. If I was, I would have suffered a similar fate to Joe Pesci’s character in the movie Casino. Beaten with a shovel in a secluded cornfield, then buried alive. That’s how bad my picks were last week. Maybe, with the real referees back this week, my luck will change. I doubt it though. So for your comedic pleasure, my picks for this week.
Carolina at Atlanta
The Falcons have looked like one of the best teams in the NFL early on. With a record of 3-0, Atlanta has been sharp in every aspect of the game. Matt Ryan is looking like an early MVP candidate, while the defence has been much better than expected. The Panthers are coming a humiliating loss to the New York Giants, in which Cam Newton was questioned for his attitude and leadership skills. If there is dissension in the Panthers dressing room, it spells huge trouble for Carolina. Atlanta wins.
New England at Buffalo
Even though the Bills come into this game with a better record, this is a must win game for Buffalo. The Bills have been owned by the Patriots in recent years, losing 16 out of the last 17 meetings. Buffalo could be boosted by the possible return of running back Fred Jackson from a knee injury. The Bills lead the NFL in rushing and they will need to be effective in that category, to keep the Patriots offence off the field. New England are coming off a tough loss to Baltimore, in which coach Bill Belichick was fined for shoving an official following the game. The Patriots are seething and will come out hungry and motivated. New England wins.
Minnesota at Detroit
The Vikings are emerging as an early season surprise, especially after their upset win over San Francisco, which improved their record to 2-1. Christian Ponder is off to a solid start for the Vikings, completing 70.1% of his passes for 713 yards, 4 touchdowns and zero interceptions. Running back Adrian Peterson has shown no signs of the horrific knee injury from last season. AD has rushed for 230 yards and 4 touchdowns, while still showing some of the flash and dash, that made Peterson a star. The Lions are off to a wonky 1-2 start, losing a wild one to Tennessee last week. Matthew Stafford hurt his hamstring against the Titans, but is expected to start against the Vikings. The Lions may have found a running back as Mikel Leshoure rushed for 100 yards in his debut last week. One advantage for Detroit is that they are back at home and are much better at Ford Field. Have a feeling the Vikings might be too high after last week’s win and are due to take a step back. Detroit wins.
Tennessee at Houston
The Texans are the only unbeaten team in the AFC, and are playing the part very well. Despite quarterback Matt Schaub losing part of his ear last week, the Texans are an excellent team with weapons and depth on both sides of the football. Receiver Andre Johnson and running back Arian Foster give the Texans a balanced attack on offence, while defensive end J.J. Watt is becoming a superstar right in front of our eyes. The Titans won a crazy game over Detroit last week, but improvements are needed, especially on defence and the running game. Jake Locker is looking like a quality quarterback but he shouldn’t be the leading rusher of the Titans. Chris Johnson has been invisible so far for Tennessee, and if he doesn’t reappear soon, the Titans will be lost at sea. Houston wins.
San Diego at Kansas City
Interesting AFC West showdown. The Chargers top the division with a 2-1 mark, but were pasted by Atlanta last week. The Chiefs are 1-2, coming off a thrilling overtime win over New Orleans. San Diego won’t have tight end Antonio Gates in the lineup, as he is inactive due to bruised ribs. This does limit the options of Philip Rivers who loses a key cog in the passing game. Running back Ryan Mathews will miss the game as well with a broken clavicle. The Chargers defence will have to be superhuman, as the offence will be hard pressed to put up points. The Chiefs got a breakout performance from running back Jamaal Charles last week, as he gained 233 yards on the ground against the Saints. Look for the Texas alum to be the focal point of the Chiefs offence. The Chiefs are hungry and at home. The Chargers are hurting. Kansas City wins.
San Francisco at New York Jets
The 49ers are coming off a bad loss to Minnesota last week, and will be looking to take out their frustrations against the Jets on Sunday. Some experts claim that the 49ers were overconfident coming into last week’s game, so look for coach Jim Harbaugh to give his team a stern wakeup call. Alex Smith threw his first interception in 249 pass attempts last week, which is a franchise record. The Jets suffered a massive blow last week, as all-world corner Darrelle Revis tore his ACL and is lost for the season. The Jets are team drama, so just add this to another storyline in the soap opera, that is the New York Jets. Dramatics don’t win games in the NFL. San Francisco wins.
Seattle at St Louis
The Seahawks are coming off perhaps the most controversial win in NFL history, defeating Green Bay on the last play of the game. Everyone knows how Monday’s game ended so I won’t talk about it here, but this could be a season changer for Seattle. The big question will be, how will Seattle react to last week’s wild finish? One overlooked aspect from Monday was the Seahawk defence sacking Aaron Rodgers 9 times. The Rams have a solid defence, but their offence is struggling. Sam Bradford and company had a dreadful time in Chicago last week, and it may not get better this week. I think Seattle is better than people give them credit for. Seattle wins.
Miami at Arizona
The Cardinals are one of the biggest surprises in the NFL, starting the season with a 3-0 start, thanks to a defence that flies around like demons. The Cardinal linebackers are the strength of the defence, as Sam Acho, Darnell Dockett, Paris Lenon and Daryl Washington seem to be everywhere. Patrick Peterson is living up to all the hype the scouts gave him during his days at LSU. Kevin Kolb has been efficient at quarterback, solidifying the Cardinals offence. The Dolphins aren’t terrible, but I smell a long day for rookie Ryan Tannehill, going up against this defence. Arizona wins.
Oakland at Denver
A bitter rivalry resumes in the Mile High City. The Raiders are coming off a thrilling win over Pittsburgh, while the Broncos lost a hard-fought match to Houston last week. Carson Palmer was excellent last week for the Raiders, but consistency has been an issue for the former Bengal signal caller. Peyton Manning has yet to find his groove for Denver, but he does have the ability to turn things around in a hurry. These games are always fun. I’m taking the home team in this one. Denver wins.
Cincinnati at Jacksonville
The Bengals are coming off a wild win over Washington last week, while the Jags won their first game of the year, over Indianapolis. The Bengals young passing combo of Andy Dalton to A.J. Green is lighting up secondaries across the NFL. The Jags will look to Maurice Jones-Drew to carry the load on the ground. Both teams are young, but filled with potential. Could be a wild one. Cincinnati wins.
New Orleans at Green Bay
The Saints are the biggest disappointment so far in the NFL, losing their first three games. No game was more heartbreaking for New Orleans than last week, where they blew an 18 point lead against Kansas City. The Saints look lost without head coach Sean Payton, who is suspended for the entire season. The defence is soft and bountiless. This season is turning into a nightmare for New Orleans. The Packers are still steaming after the debacle in Seattle on Monday night. Look for them to take out all their frustrations against the Saints. Green Bay wins.
Washington at Tampa Bay
Both teams are 1-2 and are coming off losses. The Redskins defence was shredded by Cincinnati, while Tampa lost a tight one to Dallas. The Redskins will continue to rely on rookie Robert Griffin III, even though he struggled last week. Growing pains will happen for RG3, but he has the potential to light up defences. The Bucs have been decent on defence, but haven’t been able to put points on the board. To be honest, I don’t have a clue in this one. Washington wins.
New York Giants at Philadelphia
Huge game in the NFC East. Both teams are 2-1, but are somewhat opposite in their mindset. The Giants are coming off a blowout win over Carolina, while the Eagles were smacked around by Arizona. Eli Manning is the king of fourth quarter comebacks, and could earn a trip to the Pro Bowl by season’s end. The defence had a bounce back game last week, and is looking to continue the momentum. The Eagles are lucky to be 2-1 as turnovers plague Philadelphia. Only a bakery makes more turnovers than the Eagles at this point, and I see that trend continuing. Andy Reid’s stubborn and questionable play calling will break the Eagles again. Giants win.
Chicago at Dallas
Interesting Monday night matchup. Both teams are 2-1, but haven’t impressed. The Bears are coming off a solid win over St Louis, using their defence to carry them to victory. The Cowboys defeated Tampa Bay, but struggled on offence. The Bears do have a great defence, but can Jay Cutler keep his composure, especially with DeMarcus Ware chasing him all night? Can Tony Romo be the good Tony Romo on Monday night? I’m not sure about this one, so I’m guessing here. Dallas wins.
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