First of all, sorry there was no Week 2 picks posted. They almost didn’t get posted. I don’t know if that’s why I went 12-4 or not; my results this week will show whether or not I should bother posting again in the future.
After two weeks of games, certain things are becoming very clear about this season. Tom Brady and the Hoodie don’t care about no stinkin’ lockout. Indianapolis is so bad the NFL might revoke their rights to host the Super Bowl in February. The Green Bay Packers are who we thought they were. Buffalo may actually have professional football again.
Now that I’ve given some insight into my thinking, here are my Week 3 picks.
New England vs. Buffalo: Tom Brady has had the precision of a surgeon picking apart the Dolphins and Chargers defenses. The Pats have only beaten Buffalo 15 consecutive times and I can find no reason, even the Bills’ marked improvement this season, to doubt they will make it 16. It will be a closer game than many of those past contests have been. Pats win a shoot out 34-28. Confidence: 9
San Francisco vs. Cincinnati: So far it appears the question being asked in Cincinnati is “Carson who?” Andy Dalton performed really well after a not-so-welcome welcome to the NFL in his first start against Cleveland. For a team not used to recent on-field success, 1-1 is a great place to be. Dalton even has a star receiver in the making hooking up early and often with fellow rookie AJ Green. SF’s D let them down late last week against Dallas. Me thinks Jim Harbaugh will have them ready to go come Sunday. Still I will take Cinci at home 21-14. Confidence: 7
Miami vs. Cleveland: Miami’s season started with promise—they were able to keep pace for half their first game against New England. Beyond that nothing else is going right for Miami. Henne played almost well enough to get benched last week and the defense is allowing opponents to do whatever they want when they want. Ownership is making things really warm for Tony Sparano to start producing on the field and soon. In the meantime, Cleveland should be 2-0, but couldn’t hold the lead late against their cross-state rival Bengals. They did come back and play well last week. Then again that game was against the Manning-less Colts so that game was almost unfair. Colt McCoy and Peyton Hillis have a field day at home. Cleveland 26-18. Confidence: 5
Denver vs. Tennessee: Both teams come into this game after their first wins of the season. For Tennessee it was an impressive doubling up of Baltimore, the team that a week earlier had embarrassed the reigning AFC Champion Pittsburgh Steelers. For Denver, it was a game of attrition where they had to fight and claw their way using 2nd and 3rd stringers in a number of places and turned at one point to Tim Tebow to play the slot receiver position. Chris Johnson who held out of “training camp” waiting for the armored car to pull up and unload on his driveway is not playing like the $56 million man the Titans made him last month. They won by way of Matt Hasselbeck’s arm. Denver is getting back a number of their walking wounded including leading receiver Brandon Lloyd. Denver wins this game 23-20. Confidence: 6
Detroit vs. Minnesota: I really, really hope Donovan McNabb has updated his will recently. Ndamukong Suh and friends are in town and they’ve been rolling this season. So has Matt Stafford offensively. Conversely, McNabb’s play has been offensive. Week 1 had him throwing for 39 yards. If his name were anything other than Donovan McNabb, he’d have been cut and left in the visitor’s locker room in San Diego. He has thrown for 267 yards this season. There are QBs who’ve done that in a half this season. Even with Adrian Peterson playing, I can’t pick them to win. The Lions are clicking on all cylinders while the Vikings can’t seem to get the car started. Detroit 27-16. Confidence: 4
Houston vs. New Orleans: The Superdome is this spring’s host of the NCAA Men’s Final Four. This game should give the scoreboard operator plenty of practice for that weekend. Yes, New Orleans held Chicago to 13 points at Soldier Field last week, but at the same time, Drew Brees threw for 270 yards and three touchdowns. He also has yet to throw a pick this season. We all know in Houston it’s Matt Schaub to Andre Johnson. They also have, if healthy, last season’s leading rusher in Arian Foster. His backup, Ben Tate has handled the role very well so far. Houston also has Wade Phillips as defensive coordinator. While they are leading the league in yards and points allowed through two weeks, I don’t think that will continue. Both teams protect their QBs well, both can run the ball well which will open up the field. New Orleans wins 41-35. Confidence: 13
NY Giants vs. Philadelphia: The most important brain in America isn’t in a lab somewhere working on a cure for cancer or in New York solving the world’s economic problems this week. It’s on a football field in Philadelphia and it belongs to one Mike Vick. He has been cleared to play and that’s advantage Eagles. His presence on a football field changes how defensive coordinators must game plan. The Giants are depleted on the defensive side of the ball after a number of key pre-season injuries. Last week, they lost one of Eli Manning’s favorite targets in Domenik Hixon, whose season is done after tearing his ACL. Meanwhile, Vick has all his toys at his disposal and torched the same D for 500 yards passing last season. That’s before you figure in that he can also run. Philly wins their home opener and won’t need a punt return for a touchdown as the clock ticks away, either, 30-20. Confidence: 2
Jacksonville vs. Carolina: This one will be brief. The Jaguars (more like the Puddy Tats) just benched Luke McCown after he had a passer rating last week of 1.8. That is not a typo—1.8. This includes four interceptions against a pretty damn good defense in the Jets. They throw out wet-behind-the-ears rookie Blaine Gabbert. This isn’t to say that he won’t do better than McCown (is that even possible to do worse?), but he is facing a much improved Carolina Panthers team and their QB Cam Newton who is lighting up scoreboards and re-writing the rookie QB record books. While his on-field success hasn’t shown up in the W column yet, they are close. They lost by a touchdown to Arizona, a team with a recent trip to the Super Bowl. They also lost by a touchdown against the reigning Super Bowl champs; this game had Carolina up 10-0 before Aaron Rodgers even saw the field. This is the week those learning experiences pay off. Carolina cashes in big 31-7.
NY Jets vs. Oakland Raiders: The Raiders are coming off a game in Buffalo where they had their hearts ripped out and stomped on in the final seconds. Of course their own defensive shortcomings were half responsible for the Bills scoring on all five of their 2nd half possessions. Darren McFadden is having a great start to his season and Jason Campbell has shown that he’s the right guy to play QB in the system owner and crypt keeper Al Davis demands of his team. The Jets, on the other hand, are having issues running the ball, something that came easy the last time these teams played. They did, however, crush the struggling Jaguars last week 32-3. Upcoming on their schedule are two more road games in Baltimore and New England so this game is an almost must win. Their defense that has allowed one 100 yard rusher in the last 25 games must remain solid to set them up in good field position to win. I just think that McFadden is having too good a start to this season and won’t be stopped easily. Raiders pull the upset 17-14. Confidence: 3
Baltimore vs. St Louis: You have to start wondering if someone within the Rams organization pissed off NFL scheduling looking at what they’ve had to face the first two weeks and now in Week 3. In order they’ve had to face Philly, the Giants, and now Baltimore, three of the best defenses in the league. Sam Bradford has thrown one touchdown and been sacked six times in two weeks. This team was a game from the playoffs last season and right now is looking nothing like that team. They are allowing a league worst 177 yards rushing per game and face a team that is well-known for its ground game. Ray Rice hasn’t had a real break out game yet. I expect him to get the ball early and often. I also expect Bradford on his back early and often. Baltimore wins 20-10. Confidence: 10
Kansas City vs. San Diego: Matt Cassel probably wishes he was back in New England backing up Tom Brady about now. One touchdown, four picks, and four sacks in two games is not exactly what was expected when he signed with the Chiefs. It won’t get any easier facing a San Diego team embarrassed by said New England QB a week ago. Philip Rivers has too big an ego not to go out on Sunday and want to take it out on someone. Rivers may even join the 400 yard club this week for no other reason than pure cockiness. SD easy 38-7. Confidence: 15
Green Bay vs. Chicago: It seems every time you turn around, these teams are playing one another. Last time, it was for the right to go to the Super Bowl. Jay Cutler has come out and questioned his offensive line’s toughness. Seeing as he’s spent more time on his back than the town bicycle this season, it’s a valid question to ask. This week, he’s likely to get to know Clay Matthews up close and personal. The Saints showed the rest of the NFL that applying continued pressure at Cutler is the way to win and the reigning champs are sure to have noticed and have the right pieces to make it happen. Just like the NFC Championship game, Pack rule and Cutler drools 24-13. Confidence: 12
Arizona vs. Seattle: Pete Carroll must pinch himself constantly trying to wake himself up given how bad his team is a season after a division title. They went and got Tavaris Jackson from the Vikings. Uhhh, wasn’t he benched for the Zombie Formerly Known as Brett Favre last season? He’s thrown two touchdowns and been sacked 10 times. Meanwhile, Kevin Kolb has begun to mesh with RB Beanie Wells and WR Larry Fitzgerald. The Cards haven’t put it all together yet, but are far closer to a finished product than whatever it is Carroll is trying to do in Seattle. Arizona wins 23-15. Confidence: 14
Atlanta vs. Tampa Bay: Atlanta is riding high after it’s come from behind win against the, albeit, Vick-less Eagles in the 4th quarter last week. Matty Ice lived up to the nickname guiding the offense down the field on scoring drives of 84 and 77 yards. Not having to face Vick defensively was an added bonus, but overcoming a 10 point 4th quarter deficit is still overcoming a 10 point 4th quarter deficit. This week, they face another team that overcame a large deficit to win in Tampa who came back from down 17-0 to win 24-20 at Minnesota and began looking like the team that went 10-6 a season ago. I believe that Atlanta has too much firepower. Atlanta wins a high scoring game 31-22. Confidence: 8
Pittsburgh vs. Indianapolis: Without an act of god in the next 48 hours, this very well may be the laugher of the weekend. After Baltimore ran roughshod through them, the Steelers came back last week to return the favor to Seattle. Ben Roethlisberger will not have to do much in the way of heavy lifting, but will definitely be able to add to his numbers. Don’t be surprised if the Colts turn from Kerry Collins to Curtis Painter if for no other reason than to try something different. Steelers BIG 38-3. Confidence: 16
Washington vs. Dallas: Will he play? Will he sit? How does one recover from a punctured lung in four days? Who else plays? Who’s out for the Cowboys? Are the 2-0 Redskins for real? It can only mean one thing—Monday Night Football at Jerryworld. In their two wins so far, the Skins have had the luxury of playing in front of people who actually like them. This week, they don’t get that benefit playing in the coziness of Cowboy Stadium. In those two games, they played an injury-plagued Giants team in Week 1 and squeaked by an improving Cards team last week. I believe Romo plays and I believe he plays well, continuing what he started when he returned to that game last week in San Francisco. Low scoring, defensive game with Dallas on top 20-17. Confidence: 1
Feel free to laugh at me if I am completely wrong, but I doubt I will be.