NFL Week 3: Player and Score Predictions for Each NFL Game (with Result Updates)
It’s Week 3 of the NFL season, which means, sadly, we have two less weeks of football left in our year.
The New York Giants answered the bell this week, thrashing the Carolina Panthers 36-7, but there are still 15 games left to be decided—essentially 15 riddles; analysts, fans, and gamblers are trying to solve.
Are the Cowboys the team that controlled the Giants in MetLife Stadium for 60 minutes, or the team that quit at Seattle after the opening kickoff?
Is 49ers' quarterback Alex Smith as good as he has played against Green Bay and Detroit?
Can Robert Griffin III and Andrew Luck continue to thrive in their third true days on the job?
Are the Ravens going to get as much vengeance as a team can in Week 3 of an NFL season?
The NFL is truly an “Any Given Sunday” league. With that said, here are predictions for every game in Week 3.
All statistics compiled from NFL.com.
Tampa Bay @ Dallas: Dez Finally Shows Up
Cowboys’ wide receiver Dez Bryant definitely hasn’t lived up to expectations. During training camp, Bryant was supposedly taking steps to reach the potential he showed at Oklahoma State.
This season, Bryant has caught seven passes for 102 yards, hardly numbers the team expects from a potential number one receiver.
To put his numbers into perspective, Kevin Ogletree, who fought for the third receiver spot all summer, has nine grabs for 140 yards and two touchdowns.
After a good outing against the defending-champion New York Giants, Bryant was absent from last week’s game in Seattle. The third-year pro was held to three catches for 17 yards, including two dropped passes.
Bryant will show up this Sunday against a Tampa Bay defense that was thrashed by Eli Manning last week. He will record his second-career 100-yard receiving game and reach the end zone twice.
Bryant and quarterback Tony Romo match the effort of their defense and get the two-faced Cowboys back on track.
Player: Dez Bryant, 100-plus receiving yards and two touchdowns
Game: Dallas 31, Tampa Bay 17
Player: Dez Bryant finished the game against Tampa Bay with six catches for 62 yards. He also had a 44 -yard punt return that set up Dan Bailey's game-sealing field goal.
Game: Dallas 16, Tampa Bay 10
Buffalo @ Cleveland: T-Rich Fills the Box Score Again
After struggling against Philadelphia’s fourth-ranked rush defense in his NFL Debut, Cleveland Brown’s running back Trent Richardson scored two touchdowns in a Week 2 divisional clash with the Bengals.
The rookie runner racked up 145 total yards on 23 touches and scored both on the ground and in the passing game.
In Week 3, the Browns get Buffalo’s 23rd-ranked rush defense, and Richardson will put up numbers similar to his Week 2 coming out party.
Though the Bills have struggled on defense this year, they do have potent pass rushing threats in defensive ends Mario Williams and Mark Anderson. This could force rookie signal-caller Brandon Weeden to check the ball down to Richardson a little more than usual.
Despite this, it won’t be enough for Cleveland to satisfy the hometown Dawg Pound.
Player: Trent Richardson, 150-plus total yards and a touchdown
Game: Buffalo 20, Cleveland 13
Player: Richardson carried the ball 12 times for 27 yards and a touchdown, along with six receptions for 24 yards.
Game: Buffalo 24, Cleveland 14
NY Jets @ Miami: Tannehill, Dolphin's Receivers Get Lose on Revis Island
With Darrelle Revis returning from the mild concussion that he sustained in Week 1, Miami’s rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill is going to find it difficult to throw anything down the field against the Jets’ defense.
Revis is, without a doubt, the game’s premier cornerback. He is physical, fast, and finds a way to almost stick onto opposing route-runners.
The combination of Revis, former Pro Bowl cornerback Antonio Cromartie, and Rex Ryan’s aggressive 3-4 defense seems to ensure that Tannehill is going to throw some balls to the wrong jerseys.
The Sanchize does just enough to help out his defense, but whispers of “Tebow?” are beginning to be heard amongst the J-E-T-S faithful.
Can you feel Skip Bayless smiling?
Player: Ryan Tannehill, three interceptions (with at least two dropped by the Jets)
Game: New York 20, Miami 16
Player: Tannehill completed 16 of 36 passes for 196 yards, and an interception.
Game: New York 23, Miami 20
San Francisco @ Minnesota: Alex Smith More Than a Game Manager?
Alex Smith has looked fabulous in the first two games of his 2012 campaign. With a 70.2 completion percentage and four-to-zero touchdown to interception ratio, Smith looks very capable of managing his way to a Super Bowl appearance.
He will continue to take care of the football against Minnesota, though one can expect Viking’s defensive end Jared Allen to get his sack or two. Smith will force the Vikings to stay honest against the run, as Minnesota’s sights will clearly be set on shutting down Frank Gore and the ground attack.
The 49ers defense is essentially eleven bullies taking offenses’ lunch money every week. Patrick Willis, Navarro Bowman, Aldon Smith and the rest of the gang will shut down Minnesota’s offense.
The unit will make Adrian Peterson, who’s looked great in two games after returning from serious knee surgery, look not-so-fully recovered. Second-year pro Christian Ponder’s surprising 110.6 quarterback rating will be cut in half, at least.
Player: Alex Smith, 200-plus yards, two touchdowns, and zero interceptions
Game: San Francisco 24, Minnesota 10
Player: Alex Smith went 24-of-35 for 200 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Ponder had a QB rating of 94.7, and Peterson rushed for 86 yards on 25 attempts.
Game: Minnesota 24, San Francisco 13
St. Louis @ Chicago: Cutler Remains Inconsistent, but Bears Win
Jay Cutler looked frustrated and lost against the Green Bay Packers last Thursday night. He tossed four interceptions and was sacked nine times in a loss against the team’s hated rivals.
It got to the point that Cutler tore into and bumped (or, more accurately, shoved) left tackle J’Marcus Webb. As Packers’ cornerback Charles Woodson told Rachel Nichols after the game, “It’s the same old Jay.”
Without Matt Forte, the Bears are going to have to rely on the inconsistent Cutler, which is always a high-risk, high-reward situation. The Bears are going to lean on backup running back Michael Bush and the defense to help Cutler beat Sam Bradford and the Rams at Soldier Field.
It wouldn’t be surprising to see Devin Hester finally get off again on special teams this week.
Player: Jay Cutler, 300 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions
Game: Chicago 24, St. Louis 20
Player: Cutler was 17 of 31 with 183 yards and an interception.
Game: Chicago 23, St. Louis 6
Jacksonville @ Indianapolis: Luck Breathes Hope into Colts Fans
Last week, Andrew Luck showed why he was the first-overall selection in the 2012 NFL Draft.
Colts fans can only hope that Luck will one day summon the magic that No.18 brought to Lucas Oil Field each week for 13 seasons.
Luck posted 224 yards, two touchdowns, and no picks in the Colts’ 23-20 win against Minnesota. He will carry this momentum into his Week 3 tilt with the Jaguars.
Blaine Gabbert will show why the Jags should have passed on him in the first-round of the 2011 NFL Draft, and Maurice Jones-Drew will not be able to carry the Jags far enough.
Player: Andrew Luck, 250 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception
Game: Indianapolis 17, Jacksonville 16
Player: Luck had 313 yards, two touchdowns and an interception.
Game: Jacksonville 22, Indianapolis 17
Kansas City @ New Orleans: Brees Makes Up for Saints' Defense
The Chiefs must be coming into the Superdome with much more confidence than one would have initially thought. Of course, they are 0-2, but then again, so are the Saints, who went belly up in the first two weeks of the season.
Though Kansas City will score some points and Jamal Charles will reward his fantasy owners this week, there is absolutely no way that Drew Brees lets the Saints fall to 0-3 at home against an inferior opponent.
Brees will light up the Kansas City defense and carry the Saints to a victory.
Player: Drew Brees, 400 yards, four touchdowns, and one interception
Game: New Orleans 38, Kansas City 24
Player: Brees threw for 240 yards, three touchdowns and an interception.
Game: Kansas City 27, New Orleans 24
Cincinnati @ Washington: RGIII Displays Talent, but Benglas Show Finish
Redskin’s quarterback Robert Griffin III has put the league on blast in his first two weeks of action.
Similar to, though not as spectacular as, Cam Newton’s emergence last season, Griffin III has accounted for 526 passing yards and three touchdowns against only one interception. He has also picked up 124 yards and two scores running the football.
Griffin III presents an interesting challenge for defenses. He is the most athletic quarterback to come out of college since Philadelphia’s Michael Vick, but he would rather make a throw from the pocket than take off and run. He also has the arm talent to do so. His dual-threat ability alone will enable Griffin to pile up some yardage against the Bengals.
Although Griffin will test the Cincinnati defense, Andy Dalton and A.J. Green will prove to be too much for a Redskins defense that lost outside linebacker Brian Orakpo and defensive end Adam Carriker for the rest of the season.
Player: Robert Griffin III, 225 pass yards, 50 rush yards, two total touchdowns
Game: Cincinnati 27, Washington 21
Players: RGIII accounted for 221 passing yards, 85 rushing yards, and two total touchdowns.
Game: Cincinnati 38, Washington 31
Detroit @ Tennessee: Chris Johnson Continues Hiatus
It seems like only yesterday, when Chris Johnson was running through defenses on his way to a 2,000 yard season. Today, Johnson has fantasy owners searching the trade block.
As gifted as Johnson is, he has a mere 21 yards on 19 carries, through two games.
It doesn't seem as if Johnson is returning-to-form anytime soon, especially given his recent comments blaming teammates for his struggles.
Don’t get me wrong: Chris Johnson is a good football player who has been enjoyable to watch, but the task of facing a stout Detroit defensive line will be too tall for the Tennessee running game.
The Titans face the potent (yet, struggling) Detroit offense, which is equipped with the biggest weapon in the league in wide receiver Calvin Johnson Jr. Johnson Jr. and quarterback Matthew Stafford will have their way with the Tennessee secondary, as the Titans fall to 0-3.
Player: Chris Johnson, less than 40 yards and no touchdowns
Game: Lions 31, Titans 10
Player: Chris Johnson carried the ball 14 times for 24 yards.
Game: Tennessee 44, Detroit 41
Atlanta @ San Diego: Jones, White, and Gonzalez Score as Falcons Bounce Bolts
Atlanta’s Matt Ryan and San Diego’s Phillip Rivers are both very good quarterbacks, but Ryan has two of the league’s elite play makers on the outside in wide receivers Julio Jones and Roddy White.
Rivers, on the other hand, lost his biggest threat at receiver, Vincent Jackson, to Tampa Bay in free agency.
This will be the difference in a game that Atlanta may use to make a statement: We are for real.
Atlanta wide receivers Jones, White, and tight end Tony Gonzalez will each reel in touchdown grabs, as the Atlanta offense continues to roll.
Player: Matt Ryan, 350 yards and four touchdowns
Game: Falcons 38, Chargers 28
Player: Matt Ryan threw for 275 yards, three touchdowns, and an interception. Jones and Gonzalez scored.
Game: Atlanta 27, San Diego 3
Philadelphia @ Arizona: Cardinals Crumble When Forced to Score Points
The Arizona Cardinals defense, fresh off an impressive performance against Tom Brady and the Patriots, has been one the early surprises this season.
The unit has fans and analysts asking, “Are they for real?”
Though the group is better than they had been given credit for, the game against New England was an illusion.
As long as they can take care of the football (which is no given), the ultra-fast Philadelphia offense will force the Cardinals to put points on the board.
That is something the quarterback-less Cardinals are not prepared to do.
LeSean McCoy, Michael Vick, and Co. will shine.
Player: Arizona Defense, 450 yards and 27 points allowed
Game: Philadelphia 27, Arizona 13
Player: Arizona's Defense allowed 308 yards and a mere six points.
Game: Arizona 27, Philadelphia 6
Pittsburgh @ Oakland: Steel Curtain Corrals the Black Hole
The Oakland Raiders have a monster coming into their backyard, and they won’t be the drunk-skull rocking Raiders’ fans in the Black Hole.
The Pittsburgh Steelers, fresh off their dismantling of the New York Jets, look to continue their winning ways after dropping their Week 1 contest to Denver.
Troy Polamalu and the rest of the Pittsburgh defense, are simply too good for turnover-prone quarterback Carson Palmer, even with the absence of star linebacker James Harrison.
The Raiders do have more speed than the Hell’s Angels, but Palmer will struggle to get the ball into his playmakers’ hands.
Player: Pittsburgh Defense, four turnovers
Game: Pittsburgh 20, Oakland 6
UPDATE: Pittsburgh Safety Troy Polamalu has been scratched from Sunday's game at Oakland.
Player: Pittsburgh's defense only forced one turnover.
Game: Oakland 34, Pittsburgh 31
Houston @ Denver: Manning's Struggles Continue
Has anyone noticed that Peyton Manning rarely throws a spiral anymore?
In his days in Indianapolis, Manning threw one of the tightest spirals any of us have ever seen. As the Broncos’ shot caller, he is struggling to get the same spin on the football.
The difference between a completion and an interception in the NFL is, at times, a matter of fractions of an inch. Can Manning still play like he once did? That is yet to be seen.
He is still Peyton Manning, and as long as he is active, will have the highest football IQ on the field. However, there is no hiding that his body is not responding to his mind.
When the Houston Texans come to Mile High, they are going to expose Manning’s physical limitations even more.
Remember when Manning beat up on the Texans twice-a-year? Yeah, not so much this year.
The Texans’ stellar defense also has an offense that employs Arian Foster and Andre Johnson. This, along with the fact that Manning is not 100 percent, puts Manning in a tough spot against his former division foes.
Player: Peyton Manning, 300 yards, two touchdowns, and two interceptions
Game: Houston 24, Denver 17
Player: Manning had 330 yards and two touchdowns
Game: Houston 31, Denver 25
New England @ Baltimore: Ed Reed, Ravens Avenge AFC Championship Loss
Bill Belichick, Tom Brady, and the rest of the defending-AFC Champion New England Patriots must be hot. After losing a game against a clearly less-talented opponent, the Pats will be looking for blood in Baltimore.
The thing is, in Baltimore, blood is exactly what the Patriots will get. Ray Lewis and Ed Reed have been at it for years, and Sunday Night on NBC will be no different.
The Patriots want a win against a quality in-conference opponent, and the Ravens will be looking for vengeance from last season.
The ball-hawking Ed Reed will get his opportunities to turn over the football against New England's pass-oriented offense. Reed rarely lets opportunities slip through his fingertips.
Vengeance is what the Ravens seek, and vengeance is what they will get. Too bad Billy “Wide Left” Cundiff isn’t around to reap the benefits of revenge.
Player: Ed Reed, one interception, one forced fumble, seven tackles
Game: Ravens 27, Patriots 24
Player: Ed Reed finished the game with seven tackles.
Game: Baltimore 31, New England 30
Green Bay @ Seattle: Seattle's Secondary Hangs Tough, but Rodgers Is Too Good
Last week, Seattle and Green Bay both handled business.
Green Bay snuffed out division-rival Chicago. Seattle, in the words of Stephen A. Smith, “punked” the Dallas Cowboys.
Seattle definitely has one of the biggest, most physical defensive backfields in the NFL. Brandon Browner, Richard Sherman, and Kam Chancellor all look to impose their will on opposing receivers, while Earl Thomas roams centerfield.
The Green Bay receivers will get hit, often. They will drop passes because they hear footsteps, but ultimately, quarterback Aaron Rodgers will do work, and Seattle will not have enough on the offensive side of the ball.
Rookie quarterback Russell Wilson had a pretty good game against an apathetic-looking Dallas squad, but he will simply not be able to match Aaron Rodgers point-for-point.
Player: Aaron Rodgers, 300 yards, three touchdowns
Game: Green Bay 28, Seattle 16