NFL Week 3 Picks: Games Sure to Go Down to the Wire
At this pace, NFL fans are going to suffer from heart irregularity due to all the close finishes.
Last week, eight games were decided by four points or less. And that's not even including the Houston Texans/Tennessee Titans matchup that went into overtime.
Balance reigns supreme as half the league resides at 1-1. Very few squads stand head and shoulders among the rest, assuring us a bevy of close games on a weekly basis.
These games in particular should still hang in the balance late in the fourth quarter. Such evenly contested bouts could be swayed by the slightest of factors. One missed tackle or costly penalty could make all the difference.
|Away Team||Home Team||Prediction|
|Kansas City Chiefs||Philadelphia Eagles||Chiefs|
|San Diego Chargers||Tennessee Titans||Chargers|
|Cleveland Browns||Minnesota Vikings||Vikings|
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers||New England Patriots||Patriots|
|Houston Texans||Baltimore Ravens||Texans|
|St. Louis Rams||Dallas Cowboys||Cowboys|
|Arizona Cardinals||New Orleans Saints||Saints|
|Detroit Lions||Washington Redskins||Lions|
|Green Bay Packers||Cincinnati Bengals||Packers|
|New York Giants||Carolina Panthers||Giants|
|Atlanta Falcons||Miami Dolphins||Falcons|
|Indianapolis Colts||San Francisco 49ers||49ers|
|Jacksonville Jaguars||Seattle Seahawks||Seahawks|
|Buffalo Bills||New York Jets||Bills|
|Chicago Bears||Pittsburgh Steelers||Bears|
|Oakland Raiders||Denver Broncos||Broncos|
San Diego Chargers (1-1) at Tennessee Titans (1-1)
Kudos to both organizations. This game figured to be much worse before the season commenced.
Expectations ran low for both squads, with only the Oakland Raiders and Jacksonville Jaguars saving them both from last-place projections. Yet here they both stand with victories over much more hyped teams.
Philip Rivers registered his first 400-yard performance in three years in a shootout victory over the Philadelphia Eagles. San Diego amassed 539 total yards to stop Philadelphia's bandwagon from reaching its capacity.
Tennessee exposed major flaws in the Pittsburgh Steelers' offense, limiting them to 194 total yards.
Who will win?
Each club's only loss came to the Houston Texans in a game that became much closer than anticipated. The Chargers carried a three-touchdown lead into halftime, while the Titans had the defending AFC South champs on the ropes before the Texans escaped in overtime.
San Diego's offense has pleasantly defied lowly expectations, but the defense has already surrendered 960 yards. Tennessee's defense is behind Alterraun Verner and Zach Brown, but Jake Locker's passing offense still rates worst in the league.
Which slumping group will show something, and which impressive unit will rise to the occasion? The Titans will need some takeaways, which is certainly possible with Rivers at quarterback. But if San Diego's offense can muster some points, Locker will struggle to keep up.
Pick: Chargers 20, Titans 17
Buffalo Bills (1-1) at New York Jets (1-1)
These teams also share a common foe that ruined their chances of realizing a 2-0 start. The AFC East rivals happen to have a lot in common.
Each club came painstakingly close to upsetting the depleted New England Patriots, but neither could finish the job. Stephen Gostkowski nailed a 35-yard field goal with five ticks left to fend off the Bills, while Geno Smith's three interceptions squandered any chance for the Jets to emerge victorious.
Who will win?
But at least they each sneaked away with a victory in the other of the season's two bouts. The Jets parlayed a 15-yard sideline push into a last-second field goal to climb past the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, while the Bills' late drive culminated in a touchdown pass to a wide-open Steve Johnson.
New York's defense has not missed a beat after Darrelle Revis' departure, trailing only the Seattle Seahawks in total yards allowed after stymieing Doug Martin and Tom Brady. But Buffalo's offense holds a significant advantage.
They're both relying on rookie quarterbacks to lead the way, and the edge in that department goes firmly to E.J. Manuel. Buffalo's neophyte has completed 68.2 percent of his passes.
This low-scoring affair will boil down to which side can make some plays during the waning minutes. Manuel's impressive early highlights give the Bills the slightest of edges.
Pick: Bills 14, Jets 12
Atlanta Falcons (1-1) at Miami Dolphins (2-0)
When the Falcons are involved, it's safe to say the game will remain close.
Ten of Atlanta's games ended in single digits during the 2012 regular season, and both of its playoff matchups came down to last-minute drives.
Who will win?
They had four chances to beat the New Orleans Saints on the road during Week 1, but they could not jam the ball in the end zone. For their standards, a seven-point victory over the St. Louis Rams felt like a blowout.
Against a 2-0 Miami squad on the road, the Falcons will have to scrape out another close triumph.
The Dolphins have won their first two matchups due to Ryan Tannehill making significant strides during his sophomore campaign. He has completed 65.3 percent of his passes with 8.21 yards per attempt, giving Miami a solid offensive unit.
This game is far closer than most fans probably envisioned while playing the preseason schedule game. Atlanta boasts enough offensive weapons to slither by, but they're going to struggle mightily to win the division again with a fading defense and laundry list of injuries.
Pick: Falcons 27, Dolphins 23
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