The first two weeks of the 2012 NFL season have offered plenty of exciting finishes and surprising results.
Week 3 figures to keep pace, as four of the remaining six unbeaten teams will meet on Sunday. There is also a surprising matchup of 0-2 teams that were picked by many to win their divisions.
Following are four upset specials from a full schedule of games.
Kansas City Chiefs at New Orleans Saints: Saints -8.5
The New Orleans Saints are struggling on offense, despite posting some impressive point totals, but their defense is the real issue on the team. They lack leadership and direction and Sean Payton’s absence is clearly hurting in the locker room and on the field.
The Saints have given up points in bunches, and they’ve done it against a pair of teams that have been less than impressive in their other games.
The Washington Redskins followed their 40-32 win over the Saints by blowing a game to the St. Louis Rams. Carolina took care of New Orleans 35-27, but dropped a close game to Tampa Bay and was blown out by the New York Giants.
It isn’t that the Chiefs have played any better. They weren’t competitive on the scoreboard against the Atlanta Falcons or Buffalo Bills, but Kansas City had more first downs and yards than both opponents. They also had three turnovers in both games and fell behind early in each game.
This game is a risky proposition on a straight up basis but the Saint defense won’t be good enough to allow New Orleans to blow teams out…unless Drew Brees finally gets back to his pre-$100 million form and improves on his dismal 54.5 percent completion percentage.
But if the Chiefs can control the ball and allow their points to finally match their offensive production they will get their first win on the year.
Prediction: Kansas City 30-27
Atlanta Falcons at San Diego Chargers: Chargers -3
Don’t look now, but the Chargers have opened September with a pair of wins. Fans have become accustomed to a team that starts slow and has to push for a playoff spot late in the season.
The Bolts will put their perfect mark on the line against the Atlanta Falcons (2-0).
I’m still not convinced the Chargers are an elite team in the AFC. They had a close call against the Oakland Raiders followed by a convincing home win over the Tennessee Titans.
Neither team is any good.
The Falcons are a legitimate threat at home and on the road. They’ve already won two games against the AFC West and will look to go 3-0 on Sunday.
Michael Turner was arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol on Tuesday night after being pulled over for speeding, though Adam Schefter of ESPN reports he will not be suspended. It will be interesting to see how Turner responds after his arrest.
Prediction: Atlanta 20-17
Philadelphia Eagles at Arizona Cardinals: Eagles -3.5
In the other matchup of two 2-0 teams, the Eagles travel to University of Phoenix Stadium to meet the Cardinals. It is a bit surprising to see both of these teams undefeated after two games, but for very different reasons.
Arizona was the underdog the first two weeks but used an aggressive Ray Horton defense to beat the Seattle Seahawks and New England Patriots.
The Eagles’ biggest competition has been themselves. Michael Vick has struggled with interceptions and the team has had to score in the final 2:00 to scratch their way to a pair of one-point wins.
Granted, one of their wins was a home victory over the Baltimore Ravens, but life can be a bit more difficult when fans pack U of P stadium.
The Eagles have been winning in spite of their quarterback while the Cardinals have found success without one. Former Eagle Kevin Kolb will get the start in place of the injured John Skelton, but issues with their offensive line could make for a long day.
Arizona will score with help from their defense and Larry Fitzgerald will be eager to have a statement game after registering just 67 yards in two games.
Prediction: Arizona 23-20
Green Bay Packers at Seattle Seahawks: Packers -3
Trivia time—which of these teams leads the NFL in winning percentage on Monday night? Perhaps the context of the question makes the answer a dead giveaway, but how many would have answered the Seattle Seahawks if that question was posed by a random fan while watching MNF?
Seattle isn’t slated for many Monday night appearances but they certainly make the most of them. They are 17-8 in the featured game and are winners of five straight.
That stretch includes three shutouts and a 24-14 win over the Packers.
Green Bay has used a powerful pass rush and solid play in the secondary to limit opposing passing offenses. However, they struggled to stop Chicgo and Frank Gore on the ground.
The key for the Packers in this game is to open up a lead and keep the Seahawks from turning the game over to Marshawn Lynch. But Green Bay may be missing receiver Greg Jennings (listed as questionable in the NFL.com injury report) and Seattle’s physical secondary could be the third team in as many games to keep the Packer offense from catching fire.
Fueled by the noise of CenturyLink Field, Seattle will win this game with solid defense and a ball-control offense led by Lynch.
Prediction: Seattle 24-20
Odds via scoresandodds.com.