Week 3 NFL Predictions: 5 Teams That Will Break out with Big Wins
Week 3 of the NFL season provides an opportunity for five NFL teams to cement their place among the league's best.
Included in those five teams are the Dallas Cowboys, who need to bounce back against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Philadelphia Eagles, who could use a clean win over the surprising Arizona Cardinals, and the Houston Texans, who face their first true test of the 2012 season.
In the following slides, we'll break down the five teams that will break out big wins in Week 3 of the NFL season.
Dallas Cowboys over Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Cowboys were punched in the mouth on the road in Week 2, but the worrying part was their complete lack of execution. Turnovers and a blocked punt gave Seattle an early lead, and there wasn't a receiver on the field that made a play for Tony Romo last Sunday.
That all has to change in Week 3 when the Cowboys make their home debut.
The Cowboys simply have to be more physical up front to recover from last Sunday. Look for Dallas to get back to the run game early on, while bringing more defenders into the box on defense to stop the Bucs' run game.
Dallas teams of the recent past would probably lose this matchup Sunday, but I'm not ready to include the 2012 version among those disappointments.
Cowboys rebound to get to 2-1.
Philadelphia Eagles over Arizona Cardinals
Some will call the Eagles "lucky" to be 2-0, but this is a talented football team that has overcome self-inflicted wounds. Sunday gives Philadelphia a chance to show the rest of the NFL what it can do with a clean performance.
The Arizona Cardinals have the same chance to prove they are for real, but the Eagles are the better team with a higher ceiling for 2012.
In a close game Sunday, the Eagles get to 3-0. Philadelphia has enough playmakers on offense to outscore a Cardinals team that should struggle to move the football.
San Diego Chargers over Atlanta Falcons
The Chargers are the 2-0 team that no one is talking about. Why is that?
Maybe because San Diego is an annual underachiever early in the season, or because Philip Rivers somewhat fell off the map with an interception-laden 2011 season.
But there have been few teams as impressive as the Chargers through two games.
Rivers looks back to pre-2011 form, the defense is leading the NFL in rushing yards allowed and there have been no game-altering special teams blunders early on.
The 2-0 Falcons come to town Sunday, and if San Diego gets to 3-0, more eyes will open. I like Rivers to out-duel Matt Ryan to keep the Chargers perfect in 2012.
Houston Texans over Denver Broncos
The Texans are an impressive 2-0 so far, but their opponents (Dolphins, Jaguars) arguably represent the NFL's weakest early game schedule.
Sunday in Denver gives Houston its first real test of the 2012 season.
While difficult to pick against Peyton Manning at home, the Texans have balance on both sides of the ball to get their first-ever road win against Manning.
Look for Houston to pressure Manning early and often. Wade Phillips will also attempt to replicate what Falcons defensive coordinator Mike Nolan was able to do Monday night in confusing Manning pre-snap.
Arian Foster and Ben Tate provide a consistent threat running the football, which opens up the play-action passing game for Matt Schaub.
If the Texans can go into Denver and pick up a road win, there will be no doubt where this team ranks in the AFC hierarchy.
New Orleans Saints over Kansas City Chiefs
Few expected both the Saints and Chiefs to be at 0-2, but neither team has played a lick of defense through two weeks. That might not change Sunday, but the Saints look like the team more prepared to stave off 0-3 and keep their 2012 season alive.
Expect to see a sharper Drew Brees against Kansas City, especially with so much at stake. Consider that since 1970, only one team has started a season 0-3 and went on to win their division.
Both teams want to avoid becoming another statistic Sunday in New Orleans.
There may be 75 or more points scored in this contest, but it's difficult to see Brees letting the Saints fall to 0-3 against a defense that has been as poor as the Chiefs have this season.