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NFL Picks Week 3: Teams That Will Solidify Contender Status

SEATTLE, WA - SEPTEMBER 16:  Quarterback Tony Romo #9 of the Dallas Cowboys passes the ball during play against the Seattle Seahawks at CenturyLink Field on September 16, 2012 in Seattle, Washington. The Seahawks won the game 27-7.  (Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)
Stephen Brashear/Getty Images
Tim DanielsFeatured ColumnistSeptember 22, 2012

After two weeks, only six undefeated teams remain in the NFL, which means there are a bunch of teams at either 1-1 or 0-2 still looking to establish themselves as playoff contenders despite a shaky start. The journey begins in Week 3.

Even though it may seem early, the quarter pole is right around the corner. And in a season with just 16 games, the margin for error is razor thin. With that in mind, let's examine three teams that will take a step in the right direction with key wins on Sunday.

 

Detroit Lions

The Lions offense hasn't been the unstoppable force many people were expecting. Matthew Stafford has more interceptions than touchdowns, and Calvin Johnson is the only pass catcher with more than 100 yards through two games.

In order to get the high-powered unit back on track, Detroit needs to establish its running game. The team is averaging just 83 yards per game on the ground, allowing defenses to key in on stopping the potent aerial attack.

Luckily for the Lions, they face a Tennessee Titans defense that ranks 30th against the run. Not only will adding more balance on offense help them beat the Titans, but it should put the team in much better position to succeed moving forward.

 

Dallas Cowboys

In typical Cowboys fashion, they looked like an elite team in an opening night victory over the defending champion New York Giants, but followed it up with a lackluster loss to the Seattle Seahawks. It's tough to predict which Cowboys team will show up in any given week.

It's frustrating for players and fans alike because the talent to become a legitimate threat in the NFC is there. The necessary consistency is missing on both offense and defense, though. That's what Dallas needs to work on starting in Week 3.

The Cowboys have a good opponent to do it against in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Bucs are a team Dallas should beat, but they have enough talent to pull off an upset if the Cowboys play poorly. It won't be easy, but Tony Romo and Co. should emerge victorious.

 

New Orleans Saints

Based on the Saints' performance in recent years, games against the Washington Redskins and Carolina Panthers should have led to a 2-0 start. Instead, the Saints are winless and are desperately seeking ways to end the skid before it snowballs.

The biggest problem has been the defense. It's a unit that has always had holes for opponents to exploit, but usually made enough big plays to make up for it. Not this season. The Saints rank dead last in yards allowed at 461 per game and lack game-changing turnovers

It's not time to abandon the bandwagon yet, though. Drew Brees still leads one of the most dangerous offensive attacks and the defense should improve. The Saints will start to turn things around with a win over the Kansas City Chiefs.

 

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