Week 3 NFL Picks: Predicting Which 2-0 Teams Stay Undefeated

Zach KruseSenior Analyst ISeptember 23, 2012

PHILADELPHIA, PA - SEPTEMBER 16: Quarterback Michael Vick #7 of the Philadelphia Eagles takes the field with teammates before the game against the Baltimore Ravens at Lincoln Financial Field on September 16, 2012 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Rich Schultz /Getty Images)
Rich Schultz/Getty Images

Only six NFL teams enter Week 3 with 2-0 records, marking the lowest number of undefeated teams this early in the season since 1997. 

By the end of Sunday, that number will decrease by at least two, as the Philadelphia Eagles take on the Arizona Cardinals and the Atlanta Falcons travel west to play the San Diego Chargers. 

Who will join the winners of those games as 3-0 teams entering Week 4?

We answer that question below by predicting each game featuring a 2-0 team in Week 3. 


San Francisco 49ers (2-0) at Minnesota Vikings (1-1)

No undefeated has an easier path to 3-0 than the 49ers, who travel to Minnesota to take on a Vikings team that could easily be 0-2 through two weeks.

The underdog Vikings will likely need turnovers and a strong effort on special teams to spawn any upset hope, but San Francisco protects the football better than anyone, and both specialists (Andy Lee, David Akers) are among the league's best.

The 49ers rarely beat themselves with mistakes.

It's also hard to envision Minnesota being productive offensively, especially if the 49ers stop the run on early downs and force young quarterback Christian Ponder into difficult and dangerous third downs. No team in football stops the run better with just six or seven men in the box than the 49ers, with Justin Smith and Ray McDonald controlling the line of scrimmage and Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman flowing downhill to the football. 

Adrian Peterson fails to crack the league's best run defense, Ponder makes one or two bad decisions and San Francisco rolls to a 3-0 record on the road. 

49ers 34, Vikings 10

Philadelphia Eagles (2-0) at Arizona Cardinals (2-0)

Few predicted this Week 3 matchup would have featured two 2-0 teams, especially with Arizona traveling to New England and the Eagles welcoming Baltimore in Week 2. But both teams have survived, setting up this early season NFC clash. 

Defense should rule the day, but the difference here lies with the playmaking ability at the quarterback position. 

The Cardinals should struggle to move the football against one of the best 2012 defenses, especially considering the pressure Philadelphia can put on Kevin Kolb. But Michael Vick should be able to keep plays alive against an active Arizona defensive line.

The game remains close throughout, but the Eagles stay undefeated in 2012 by making one or two more plays on the road. 

Eagles 20, Cardinals 17

Atlanta Falcons (2-0) at San Diego Chargers (2-0)

The Falcons have arguably been the second-most impressive NFC team in 2012, behind only the 49ers. Matt Ryan is an early MVP favorite. But the Chargers are still the best 2-0 team no one is talking about. 

Consider that Philip Rivers is playing like he did before his disaster of a 2011 season (four touchdowns, 110.7 passer rating), the defense is first against the run (41.5 yards per game) and San Diego is now catching some luck on special teams (long snapper debacle in Oakland). 

The Chargers will make Atlanta one dimensional Sunday, then come after Ryan with Shaun Phillips (2.5 sacks) and impressive first-rounder Melvin Ingram. A late turnover seals a 3-0 record for San Diego to start the 2012 season. 

Chargers 31, Falcons 30

Houston Texans (2-0) at Denver Broncos (1-1)

Betting against Peyton Manning at home is always a risk, but the Texans represent a difficult matchup for the Broncos on Sunday. 

The pressure packages defensive coordinator Wade Phillips can throw at Manning will be extensive, but this is a defense that can create pressure without bringing extra defenders. That will allow the Texans to sit back in coverage and give Manning different pre-snap looks, much like the Falcons did in Week 2. 

On offense, the two-headed running attack of Arian Foster and Ben Tate can help slow down a Broncos defense that relies on getting edge pressure with Von Miller and Elvis Dumervil. Foster and Tate combined for over 230 total yards last week in Jacksonville. 

Houston can control the tempo of this game on both sides of the ball. The Texans are just too well-rounded for a Denver team that is still trying to gel together. 

Texans 27, Broncos 17