Thursday, September 18, 2008

Parity Reigns Supreme: NFL Week Three Predictions

With the exception of a few botched calls, the NFL couldn't have asked for a better start to the season. There have been a large number of games coming down to the final moments, thrilling come from behind wins and shocking upsets. The NFL has this parity thing down pat, which makes it even more difficult to figure out who is going to win each week.

Yes, there are the terrible teams that you can pick against every week like Kansas City, St. Louis and Detroit. And, there are the stacked teams that have looked unbeatable so far, like Dallas and Pittsburgh. But, in between the cream of the crop and the bottom feeders, there is the great unwashed middle of the NFL, where any team can beat any other team on any given week.Niners over Seahawks? Sure! Bills over Jaguars in Jacksonville? Why not!

It is with the thought that anything can happen that I make my Week Three predictions. Like always, all picks are made strictly based on who I think will win and do not take the spread into consideration.

Record Last Week: 9-6, .600
Overall Record: 19-12, .613

Sunday Day Games:

Chiefs @ Falcons This is just the opponent that Matt Ryan and the Falcons need after struggling against the Bucs last week. Look for Michael Turner to get closer to his Week One rushing total (220) than his Week Two total (42). Also, will somebody tell Larry Johnson that if he wants more than 12 carries in a game, he should try to average more than 1.8 yards per attempt. My pick: It's nice to see the Falcons get a 2-1 start to their season. They probably won't be above .500 again all year long. In fact, they'll be lucky to win 2 more games all season.

Raiders @ Bills Allright, I'm finally starting to buy into the Buffalo Bills. With a decent running game, strong defense and a surprisingly efficient passing attack, the Bills could be a contender in the wide open AFC East. The Raiders beat an awful Chiefs team even though they only passed for 55 yards. That isn't going to work against the Bills, who are good enough against the run that JaMarcus Russell will actually have to do something to earn a win. My pick: Bills in a rout

Bucs @ Bears These two team are nearly identical to me. They have identical records (1-1), the same number of points against (33) and nearly the same number of points for (46-44). They both have mediocrity at quarterback and an aging but decent defense. The only difference is Chicago has played well against two pretty good opponents while the Bucs haven't really played anyone yet. My pick: Bears at home by a field goal. It will be a low scoring game and sure to bore anyone who isn't a diehard Bears or Bucs fan

Texans @ Titans The Kerry Collins era began again in Tennessee, and the Titans are better off for it. I have a feeling that having a quarterback who can actually throw the ball will help them in the long run. Pairing an actual aerial threat to the two-headed running back attack of Lendale White and Chris Johnson makes a team that used to solely rely on their defense a well-rounded club. There isn't too much new to say about the Texans, although it's not a good thing when your bye week is wasted preparing for a game that never happened. The players didn't get any time to relax as they mentally focused on the Ravens in a game that got moved to later in the season. That will hurt them down the stretch. My pick: Titans

Panthers @ Vikings Can the Panthers really start the season 3-0? Better yet, can everybody's surprise pick to make the Super Bowl, the Vikings, really start a season 0-3? The Vikings have had some tough luck with a rough schedule, but how do they lose two games where Adrian Peterson rushes for over 100 yards? Replacing Tarvaris Jackson with Gus Frerotte should only help the offense. The Panthers get Steve Smith back this week and I'll give a thousand bucks to anyone who though the Panthers would be 2-0 with their biggest offensive weapon on the sideline. My pick: I should know better, but I think the Vikings finally pull one out. They can't possibly start 0-3, can they?

Dolphins @ Patriots I guess the demise of the Patriots isn't coming as soon as we all thought. Matt Casell is doing his best Tom Brady (circa 2001) impression as he manages the game. The Pats can win some games like that, but eventually Randy Moss is going to get annoyed if he doesn't get some big plays. An angered Moss can cause some major problems in the locker room, just ask the Raiders. The Dolphins are much better than they were last year, unfortunately they won't be showing it in the win column just yet. My pick: Patriots

Bengals @ Giants The Bengals are another team that I keep thinking can't possibly be as bad as they look. Carson Palmer looks to be half the quarterback he was two years ago and the defense is still one of the worst in the league. This game is almost too easy to predict, which makes me think that we might see a big upset. Still, how can you pick against the defending champs at home, especially when they look like they have picked up right where they left off last season? My pick: Giants

Cardinals @ Redskins It's hard to get a good read on Arizona. They are 2-0 to start the season for the first time I can ever remember, but they have beat the 49ers and the Dolphins, two pretty awful teams. Their offense looks scary good with Kurt Warner still flinging it all over the field to Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald. Their biggest question is the defense. The Redskins outplayed the Saints last weekend but I still don't think they're all that good. My pick: Cardinals on the road

Lions @ 49ers I just pointed out that the 49ers are awful, but the Lions are even worse. I can't believe the Niners are going to start the season 2-1 with a third-string quarterback as the helm. Detroit needs to get rid of anyone not named Calvin Johnson and start this team over. My pick: 49ers

Rams @ Seahawks This one is a battle of the totally defeated. Unfortunately for the Rams, there are teams that are 0-2 because they are bad and teams that are 0-2 because they are starting slow. I still think the Seahawks will regroup and win the weak NFC West and it will all start with this game at home against the pathetic Rams. My pick: Seahawks. Even though Matt Hasselbeck has no one to throw to, it's not like they have to put up too many points to beat the Rams.

Saints @ Broncos Somehow, when I wasn't paying attention, Jay Cutler went from a mediocre quarterback to one of the best in the league. Cutler has looked great so far this season, putting up 300 passing yards in each of the first two weeks. This Broncos team can't quite run the ball like the Denver teams of old but when you have Cutler throwing to Brandon Marshall 20 times a game, you don't need to run. The Saints should have beaten the Redskins last week, but the loss of Marques Colston really takes a bite out of their offense. They now have to rely on Reggie Bush to be a bigger threat, and that's never a good thing. My pick: Broncos

Steelers @ Eagles When I originally made my predictions for how the Eagles would fare each week of the season, I thought they would lose this game. Now, after seeing Donovan McNabb returning to form and using his legs to keep plays alive, I am changing my pick. With Brian Westbrook looking unstoppable and DeSean Jackson emerging, the offense looks to be re-gaining it's elite form. Plus, McNabb will get another target to throw to this week as Reggie Brown returns to the field. The Eagles defense wasn't nearly as bad as it looked on Monday Night, the Cowboys offense simply overpowered it. The Steelers are a good team, I just think they won't be able to put up enough points to keep up with the Eagles. My pick: Eagles

Jaguars @ Colts Before the season started, I pinpointed this game as a showdown between two teams looking for the upper hand in the AFC South. Two weeks into the season, both teams are just trying to keep their heads above water. The winless Jaguars are a mess right now as their offensive line is in complete shambles. Their entire offense is based on their ability to run the ball so not having a healthy line is killing them. The Colts look like a team that is ready to put together a complete game. After slumbering for 6 quarters to start the season, Peyton Manning and the offense woke up and started playing at the level we are used to. Consider the first two games a warmup for Manning, he should have things clicking in no time. My pick: Colts

Browns @ Ravens The Browns can't really be this bad, can they? After playing two tough opponents in the first two weeks, this weeks matchup against the Ravens should be when the offense breaks out. Derek Anderson better hope it does, or he is going to find himself holding a clipboard. My pick: Browns

Sunday Night Game:

Cowboys @ Packers It really pains me to keep praising the Cowboys, but they looked really good on Monday Night, at least offensively. Their defense was another story, but just like the Eagles D, I think the Cowboys D was better than they looked on Monday. The Packers defense is another story, they will have to get their act together if they want to keep Tony Romo and Terrell Owens in check. Aaron Rodgers is proving himself to be a good quarterback, but I don't think he's ready to put up the number of points it's going to take to beat the Cowboys. He'll put up a valiant effort just like he did last year against Dallas, but ultimately Rodgers will fall short. My pick: Cowboys

Monday Night Game:

Jets @ Chargers The Chargers have had some bad luck so far this season. They lost in the last second in Week One and they were absolutely robbed in Week Two. I think the third time is the charm and they knock off the Jets. The defense is too strong and there is too much talent on this team to let them slip to 0-3. Thank goodness that this game is on Monday Night and not Sunday Night because John Madden would have had a heart attack as he endlessly talked about Brett Favre. As it is, the over/under for number of times Tony Kornheiser mentions Favre's name is set at 50, and I'm taking the over. My pick: Chargers

So those are my picks for Week Three. If you agree or disagree or have picks of your own, feel free to leave comments!


Garo said...

I have a genuine concern about the Eagles' running defense. Dallas controlled the line of scrimmage; more so at the end of the game, and we put a lot of pressure on our linebackers and safeties because of the lack of presence up front. How do you think we'll fare against the Steelers' potent "smashmouth" rushing attack?

Erik said...

Turns out the Eagles were able to neutralize the ground game and get to Big Ben repeatedly!

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