Predicting the MVP of Each Game in the NFL Week 3

Marc LillibridgeContributor ISeptember 21, 2012

Predicting the MVP of Each Game in the NFL Week 3

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    Week 3 of the NFL season is here, and parity is widespread throughout the league.

    Predicting MVPs of each game makes for some interesting studying of numbers, but if the first two weeks are any indication, the picks can be thrown out the window.

    There have been some crazy wins; who would have thought the Arizona Cardinals would be 2-0 after such a miserable preseason?

    There are some great matchups this week and some surprise winners in the predictions. Here are my predictions of the MVP for each game this coming week.

Kansas City Chiefs vs. New Orleans Saints: Drew Brees

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    The Chiefs secondary is struggling, and injuries leave them shorthanded heading into the Week 3 matchup against the Saints. 

    Cornerbacks Brandon Flowers and Stanford Routt are talented players, but they are being asked to do too much this early in the season.

    The Chiefs produced zero pass rush last week against the Bills, and the Saints offensive line will pose a similar challenge. The Chiefs have only produced one sack on the season (Week 1, Falcons). 

    With ample time to throw the football, Brees will hook up with his powerful No. 1 target, Jimmy Graham, all game long. Look for Brees to have over 300 yards passing and at least two scores.

Buffalo Bills vs. Cleveland Browns: Trent Richardson

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    The Browns barely lost in Week 2 against the Cincinnati Bengals, but look for the 0-2 Browns to beat the Bills in Week 3. 

    The Bills defense is 24th in the NFL against the run, giving up an average of 134 yards over two games.

    The Browns seem to have gotten rookie running back Trent Richardson back on track after injuries took away most of his preseason.

    Look for the Browns offensive line to create cutback lanes all along the Bills defensive front and for Richardson to be at the linebacker level a majority of the game.

    Bills linebacker Nick Barnett and playmaking safety Jairus Byrd were both limited in practice this week.  While both should play, the Bills will need them both to be 100 percent to stop Richardson.

St. Louis Rams vs. Chicago Bears: Chris Long

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    The Bears offensive line is a mess. Chilo Rachal is now playing at left guard in place of Chris Spencer. 

    The Bears offensive line was abused in the Week 2 loss to the Packers, and things don't look to change even with the extended time off.

    Chris Long is a better pass-rusher than run defender, but the former Virginia Cavalier goes hard to the whistle each snap. Though Long has yet to record a sack in 2012, he has pressed the pocket consistently and will have a breakout game against the Bears.

New York Jets vs. Miami Dolphins: Reggie Bush

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    Reggie Bush is coming off one of the best rushing performances of his career and looks to add to his career year against the 22nd rushing defense in the NFL.

    The Jets defense has allowed too many big plays and is giving up an average of 130 yards rushing.

    The onus will be on the Jets linebacking corps of David Harris, Bart Scott and Calvin Pace. Outside linebacker Bryan Thomas may not play due to a hamstring injury. Safety LaRon Landry could be out as well with a heel problem. 

    Look for Bush to exploit the middle of the Jets defense as a runner, but also watch him as a weapon in the Dolphins passing attack. The easy dump-offs, checkdowns and screens to Bush will calm down rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill and build his confidence.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Dallas Cowboys: Doug Martin

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    As Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch proved in Week 2, the Cowboys front seven can be exposed in the running game. 

    Left defensive tackle Kenyon Coleman and nose tackle Jay Ratliff have not practiced this week, and Marcus Spears is limited with a knee injury.

    Doug Martin is a powerful inside runner who stays low to the ground. Look for the rookie to have his first 100-yard rushing game as a Buccaneer and at least one touchdown.

San Francisco 49ers vs. Minnesota Vikings: Aldon Smith

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    The Vikings offensive line has been solid in the first two weeks, but it has given up six sacks heading into Week 3. 

    Though the 49ers were not a dominant sack-producing team through the first two weeks, that will change in Minnesota. 

    Starting left tackle Matt Kalil is a rookie, and Aldon Smith will look to take advantage of the former USC product.

    Smith already has 2.5 sacks on the season and will add to that total when he gets Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder to the turf. He will finish the day with more than one sack and will make a play that forces a turnover.

Cincinnati Bengals vs. Washington Redskins: Robert Griffin III

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    With the injury to Bengals cornerback Leon Hall, the secondary took a major hit.

    Backup Jason Allen is now the starter, and this greatly weakens what was a solid unit before Hall’s calf injury. Allen is dealing with his own leg issues, so the onus may fall to backup cornerback Terence Newman. 

    The Bengals are 29th in passing defense and have produced zero interceptions.

    Robert Griffin III had a solid outing in Week 2 against the St. Louis Rams, and if not for a late unsportsmanlike penalty on wide receiver Josh Morgan, he may have been the winning quarterback. 

    He has weapons in wide receivers Morgan, Santana Moss, Aldrick Robinson and Leonard Hankerson.

    Look for Griffin to exploit Allen/Newman for an MVP-winning performance.

Detroit Lions vs. Tennessee Titans: Jason Hanson

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    In what will be an ugly game, Jason Hanson wins the MVP almost by default. Neither offense has produced much this season, and because both defenses are solid, neither will in Week 3.

    Hanson is 6-of-7 on field goals this season but has yet to try one inside 30 yards. Six of his field-goal attempts have been over 40 yards, and Hanson has only missed one.

    With Matthew Stafford and Jake Locker struggling, and the lack of a running game for either team, this game could be all field goals. 

Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Indianapolis Colts: Maurice Jones-Drew

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    The Colts defense is 15th in the NFL against the run, giving up an average of 104 yards and two total rushing touchdowns.

    Defensive end Cory Redding and outside linebacker Dwight Freeney are listed as "questionable."

    The Jaguars offensive line is dinged up as well, but Maurice Jones-Drew has a habit of torching the Colts (12 games, 1,212 yards and nine touchdowns). 

    Look for Jones-Drew to go over 150 yards to get in the end zone twice against the Colts.

Philadelphia Eagles vs. Arizona Cardinals: Darnell Dockett

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    The Eagles offensive line will be without starting left tackle King Dunlap, and center Jason Kelce has been shut down for the season. Demetress Bell and Dallas Reynolds take their places, respectively. 

    Darnell Dockett is a Pro Bowl defensive lineman who plays hard every down and is extremely disruptive.

    Dockett’s defensive linemate, Calais Campbell, was the NFL Defensive Player of the Week after Week 2. Dockett will use that as motivation along with the injuries along the Eagles front five to have a huge game. 

    The Cardinals beat the Eagles at home, and Dockett’s play will be a major reason why.

Atlanta Falcons vs. San Diego Chargers: Matt Ryan

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    Matt Ryan is coming off a solid week against the Denver Broncos (219 yards and two touchdowns on 24-of-36 attempts).

    The Chargers defense is No. 1 in the NFL against the run and top 15 against the pass. 

    Ryan has his work cut out for him, but he has a number of weapons and has yet to throw an interception.

    Expect wide receivers Julio Jones and Roddy White to both have solid days. Ryan will end the day with over 250 yards passing and at least two touchdowns.

Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Oakland Raiders: Carson Palmer

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    Carson Palmer is looking to bounce back against an injury-plagued Steelers defense. All-Pro safety Troy Polamalu and outside linebacker James Harrison won't be playing. 

    The Steelers defense has been inconsistent, and Palmer threw for 373 yards last week in a loss to the Miami Dolphins. Look for Palmer to spread the football to tight end Brandon Myers and running back Darren McFadden over the middle. 

    He will pass for over 300 yards again in Week 3 but will get the win.

Houston Texans vs. Denver Broncos: Arian Foster

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    An easy pick would be to go with anyone on the No. 1-ranked defense in the NFL. 

    Defensive end J.J. Watt is always a safe pick, and linebackers Brian Cushing or Brooks Reed could get the nod.

    But Arian Foster, even though he will be playing against a very formidable defense in Denver, will have another huge day and lead the Texans to victory. 

    The Texans offense has been very balanced this season, but they need Foster to carry the load against the Broncos. 

    Foster rushed for 110 yards and a touchdown with 37 yards receiving last week against the Jaguars.

New England Patriots vs. Baltimore Ravens: Joe Flacco

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    Joe Flacco was in command in Week 2 in the last-minute loss to the Philadelphia Eagles.

    Without a controversial offensive pass inference call late in the fourth quarter on wide receiver Jacoby Jones, Flacco would have gotten the win. 

    The Patriots feature one of the best pass defenses in the NFL, but Flacco is playing at a high level and has too many offensive weapons. 

    Wide receivers Torrey Smith, Anquan Boldin and Jones can stretch the field. Tight ends Dennis Pitta and Ed Dickson understand how to get open when Flacco is pressured. Running back Ray Rice is one of the best in the game.

    All the former Delaware Blue Hen product has to do is pass the football accurately to the playmakers and reap the benefits of being the MVP.

Green Bay Packers vs. Seattle Seahawks: Charles Woodson

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    Charles Woodson is a future Hall of Famer, and the move to safety is reminiscent of another Hall of Fame corner turned safety, Rod Woodson. 

    Woodson continues to play at a very high level, adding an interception to his 54 other picks against the Chicago Bears in Week 2.

    Woodson will be starting against a rookie quarterback. Last year, Woodson had three interceptions off rookie quarterbacks Cam Newton and Christian Ponder. 

    Russell Wilson, though calm under pressure, has not faced a player like Woodson yet. Look for Woodson to bait the rookie into making poor decisions.

    Woodson will also be used as a blitzer off the edge and will finish the night with a stat line something like one interception, one sack, two pass breakups and six tackles. 

    That makes for an MVP performance.