NFL Picks Week 3: Underdogs Poised to Get Blown out

Tyler ConwayFeatured ColumnistSeptember 23, 2012

Sep 9, 2012; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder (7) takes the field against the Jacksonville Jaguars at the Metrodome. The Vikings defeated the Jaguars 26-23 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-US PRESSWIRE
Brace Hemmelgarn-US PRESSWIRE

As we head into the bulk of Week 3 action on Sunday, it seems that we have reached the point of full parity in the NFL.

Coming into the third week of the season, there were an NFL record 20 teams sitting with a 1-1 record and just six teams without a win thus far.

For prognosticators, that makes the job inherently more difficult. As teams get closer and closer talent-wise, it is infinitely harder to make a pick with any confidence.

Fortunately, there are still a few teams out there facing glaring mismatches in Week 3. With that in mind, here's a look at a few underdogs that are poised to get blown out this weekend.


Minnesota Vikings

The Vikings come into Sunday's contest with a 1-1 record, but more importantly, a ton of reasons to be optimistic about their future.

Quarterback Christian Ponder has been a revelation this season, completing 47-of-62 passes for 515 yards and two touchdowns. For a young signal-caller who looked lost in his rookie season and had many already proclaiming him a bust, Ponder's marked improvement has come as a relief for Minnesota management.

Nonetheless, he will go from facing the Jacksonville Jaguars and Indianapolis Colts (two of the NFL's worst teams) to facing quite possibly the league's best team in the San Francisco 49ers.

After coming into the 2012 season as an en vogue choice for regression, the 49ers have already beat two NFC playoff teams handily. Alex Smith looks more comfortable than ever in the pocket and the defense made slight work out of Aaron Rodgers and Matthew Stafford, two top-tier NFL quarterbacks.

The future may be bright in Minnesota, but look for a dark cloud to hang over the Metrodome on Sunday.

Final Score Prediction: 49ers 27, Vikings 10


Tennessee Titans

Another team that has gotten better-than-expected play from its quarterback this season, the Titans will unfortunately run into a hungry Detroit Lions team this weekend.

Led by Stafford, the Lions offense struggled mightily against the 49ers last week and has not found a consistent rhythm after being among the league's best in 2011.

Look for that to change this week against an anemic Titans defense. Tennessee comes into Sunday having allowed 72 points this season, good for third worst in the NFL. Using Football Outsiders' advanced metrics, the Titans are the fourth-worst statistical defense in the league, giving up an estimated 21.1 percent more yardage than a replacement-level unit.

What's more, Tennessee's biggest weakness is in pass defense, where it gives 46.9 percent more yardage than an average defense would against similar competition. 

Considering Detroit's desperation to reclaim its status as a high-powered aerial attack, look for Stafford and Calvin Johnson to wreak havoc on the Titans' defense.

Final Score Prediction: Lions 34, Titans 17


Tampa Bay Buccaneers

An early-season sleeper pick for many, the Bucs have at least somewhat lived up to the billing thus far. 

The systematic shutdown of Cam Newton and the hyped Carolina Panthers offense in Week 1 served as a precursor to Tampa Bay's first-half dominance of the New York Giants last week.

Only one problem: There were two halves to be played, and Eli Manning exposed a fraudulent Buccaneers pass defense in the second half. The signal-caller threw for a career-high 510 yards as he led the Giants to a 25-point fourth quarter en route to a 41-34 win.

Facing Tony Romo and the Dallas Cowboys' abundance of weapons on the outside, expect Tampa's struggles on the defensive end to continue. Dallas is coming off an embarrassing defeat by the Seattle Seahawks, and will need an impressive performance to keep pace in the NFC East.

Look for Romo to connect with his receivers early and often as the Cowboys pull away early and don't look back.

Final Score Prediction: Cowboys 31, Buccaneers 13