NFL Predictions Week 3: Forecasting the Winners of Primetime Matchups
Week 2 of the 2012-13 NFL season featured some electric primetime matchups, as the Green Bay Packers rolled over the Chicago Bears, the San Francisco 49ers knocked out the Detroit Lions and the Atlanta Falcons made Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos look bad.
Crazy enough, I got all those matchups right in my Week 2 predictions.
Well, I'm ready to take another stab at it this time around in Week 3, as the Carolina Panthers host the New York Giants, the New England Patriots visit the Baltimore Ravens and the Seattle Seahawks try to make life miserable for Aaron Rodgers and the Packers.
Here are my Week 3 primetime predictions (say it in Deion Sanders' voice, it's better that way).
New York Giants at Carolina Panthers
Where: Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, NC
When: Thursday, Sept. 20 at 8:20 p.m. ET
Watch: NFL Network
Call me crazy (you won't be the only one), but I see the Carolina Panthers defeating the reigning champion New York Giants in this one.
First off, the Giants needed Eli Manning to go for 510 yards through the air just to escape with a victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last week.
That's because the Giants' pass defense has left a lot to be desired through two weeks. The Giants allowed Josh Freeman to pass for 243 yards and two touchdowns in Week 2 (albeit with two interceptions). That was after New York allowed Tony Romo to go 22-of-29 for 307 yards, three touchdowns and one interception in Week 1.
Sure, the defense is forcing turnovers, but not enough to make up for what quarterbacks have done through the air so far. That's part of the reason why the Buccaneers and the Dallas Cowboys combined for 58 points against the Giants.
That's a bad sign against Cam Newton and the Panthers, who just posted 35 points against the New Orleans Saints.
In that game, Newton not only went 14-of-20 for 253 yards (12.7 yards per attempt) and a touchdown through the air, but he also combined with DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart to rush for 191 yards on 38 carries.
It also bears noting that the Giants have allowed 4.6 yards per carry through two games, 23rd in the NFL.
There's also the fact that Drew Brees' game against the Panthers wasn't as spectacular as it may appear. He did go 31-of-49 for 325 yards and a touchdown, but he also averaged just 6.6 yards per attempt and tossed two picks against an improved Carolina defense.
Prediction: Carolina 30, New York 27
New England Patriots at Baltimore Ravens
Where: M&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore, MD
When: Sunday, Sept. 23 at 8:20 p.m. ET
I expect the Patriots to play much better in this game, but I also like the Ravens quite a bit this season.
Yes, the Ravens did lose to the Philadelphia Eagles last week, 24-23, but they still forced four turnovers and were facing a daunting defense (plus, c'mon, the Patriots lost to the Arizona Cardinals).
There's also someone on New England's offensive line who appears to be a weak link. It sounds weird saying this, but that "someone" is left guard Logan Mankins, who has looked like a shadow of himself the first two games.
Why is that particularly significant against the Ravens?
Well, because you not only have right defensive end Haloti Ngata on that side, you also have second-year pro Albert McClellan and rookie Courtney Upshaw, who have surprised so far. McClellan was rated by ProFootballFocus.com as Baltimore's best defender against the Eagles.
There's also the fact that Tom Brady and the passing attack hasn't looked right thus far. Conspiracy theorists see the Patriots' movement toward the run as a sign of phasing out receiver Wes Welker, who signed his franchise tag this offseason despite wanting a long-term extension.
Whatever the case, Brady averaged just 6.9 yards per attempt against the Cardinals in Week 2, while tossing one touchdown and one interception.
I think the Ravens' defense will do enough against the Patriots for Joe Flacco and Co. to outscore New England (remember, Baltimore has scored a combined 67 points against the Eagles and the Cincinnati Bengals this season).
Prediction: Baltimore 27, New England 24
Green Bay Packers at Seattle Seahawks
Where: CenturyLink Field, Seattle, WA
When: Monday, Sept. 24 at 8:30 p.m. ET
Despite a dominant effort against the Chicago Bears last week, there is reason for the Packers not to take the Seahawks lightly in Week 3.
First of all, the Seahawks beat the Dallas Cowboys in Week 2 largely because of running back Marshawn Lynch's dominant effort. He rushed for 122 yards and a touchdown on 26 carries and was a main reason why the Seahawks won the time-of-possession battle by nearly 10 minutes.
The Packers have allowed 5.1 yards per carry so far, the third-worst mark in the NFL.
Second of all, the Seahawks have a very underrated defense. Tony Romo averaged just 6.3 yards per attempt against them in Week 2, while tossing one touchdown and one interception.
Which game are you most excited to watch?
They also were able to bring some pressure on Romo. That may have had more to do with the Cowboys' offensive line, but Seahawks second-year linebacker K.J. Wright is beginning to look like a player to be feared.
That being said, the Packers bounced back against the Bears last week with a dominant defensive effort.
There's also the fact that Aaron Rodgers will likely get Greg Jennings back from a groin injury. I think that helps the Green Bay passing game.
But make no mistake about it, I expect this to be a close one in raucous Seattle.
Prediction: Green Bay 23, Seattle 20
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