NFL Predictions Week 3: Underdogs Primed for Upsets over Playoff Contenders
For some, the first two weeks of the 2013 NFL schedule have been an exciting ride, as teams generally thought to be very average have landed stunning upsets over consistent postseason performers.
At the same time, it's obviously been a disappointing couple of weeks for a number of teams that have already seen their playoff aspirations take significant hits, with the Giants, Vikings and Redskins immediately coming to mind.
Now, with Week 3 of the season on tap, there are a handful of tilts that will feature surprising results, as contenders who have looked good so far will fall to hypothetically inferior opponents.
Here's a look at which games will end in upsets this weekend.
Green Bay at Cincinnati
After the Packers' dominant showing against Washington in Week 2, Aaron Rodgers' offense looks virtually unstoppable, but on the road against the Bengals, Green Bay will find it tough to make it two in a row.
For starters, Andy Dalton's been quietly productive through the air, and given the Packers' standing as the 30th-ranked pass defense in the league (though that's inflated due to the Redskins' production during garbage time), A.J. Green will bounce back to have a big day for Cincinnati.
In addition, while the Packers got the job done against a porous Washington defense on the ground, that won't be the case against the Bengals, so it'll be left to Rodgers to single-handedly put points on the board.
That's not to say he isn't capable of that, but the Bengals' balanced offense will find a way to outgun the Packers' pass-heavy attack on Sunday.
Prediction: Bengals 27, Packers 24
Atlanta at Miami
Yes, the Dolphins will be the only 2-0 team on the field at the beginning of the game on Sunday, but you'd find a hard time convincing many people that Miami should be favored over Matt Ryan and the vaunted Falcons offense.
But the Dolphins remain undefeated for a reason, and a big part of that is how dominant the team's defense has been during the early going, and that will continue this weekend.
On the other side of the ball, after an inconsistent rookie season, Ryan Tannehill suddenly looks like a quality NFL quarterback, and now that he and Mike Wallace have generated some much-needed chemistry, the Dolphins will feast on Atlanta's pass defense (currently No. 29 in the league).
While Miami's offense generally isn't nearly as powerful as Ryan's, the defense will be the deciding factor in this one, and Lamar Miller will build on his 69-yard rushing performance from Week 2.
It may not be pretty, but the Dolphins will move to 3-0 with a stunner over the visiting Falcons.
Prediction: Dolphins 24, Falcons 20
Tampa Bay at New England
Last week, the Buccaneers came within a hair of coming up with an upset over the Saints, and this week, they'll get redemption against Tom Brady and the New England Patriots.
Currently averaging just 18 points per game, the Patriots aren't as dynamic offensively as they've been in past, but obviously that has a lot to do with the absences of Danny Amendola and Rob Gronkowski (though the latter could be returning to action Sunday, per ESPN's Ed Werder) in Brady's receiving corps.
The Bucs' passing game is struggling, as Josh Freeman continues to be plagued by inconsistency, but now that Doug Martin's looking like the guy who took the league by storm last season, watch for him to feast on the Patriots in Week 3.
Every year, it seems like the Patriots lose to a team they have no business even being on the same field as, and I have a feeling this tilt against the Bucs will be this year's edition of their annual trap game.
Prediction: Buccaneers 19, Patriots 17
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