NFL Picks Week 3: Breaking Down Sunday's Most Exciting Games

Rob GoldbergFeatured ColumnistSeptember 22, 2013

Oct 21, 2012; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Texans quarterback Matt Schaub (8) signals against the Baltimore Ravens during the second half at Reliant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Thomas Campbell-USA TODAY Sports
Thomas Campbell-USA TODAY Sports

While there are certain to be some blowouts in Week 3 (sorry, Jaguars fans), there are also some really intriguing matchups between legitimate playoff contenders.

A number of teams are trying to prove that their 2-0 record is for real and not a fluke. Meanwhile, some squads are hoping to avoid their second or even third loss this early in the year.

This is certain to create some exciting football in the third week of the season. Here is a look at the top battles on Sunday, along with full predictions for the remaining slate of games.

 

Green Bay Packers vs. Cincinnati Bengals

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - SEPTEMBER 08:  Quarterback Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers celebrates against the San Francisco 49ers at Candlestick Park on September 8, 2013 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
Jeff Gross/Getty Images

Despite starting the season 1-1, Green Bay still has one of the top offenses in the NFL. The unit ranks first in the league in yards per game and second behind the Denver Broncos in points per game. Aaron Rodgers has plenty of weapons around him, and the offense could be even more dangerous if the run game continues to be productive.

Then again, if anyone has a solid chance of slowing down this group, it is the Bengals. If the defensive line can put pressure on Rodgers, it will force him into making bad decisions and will eventually lead to some turnovers.

On the other side of the football, A.J. Green also has a chance for a big game against a struggling Packers secondary.

Despite all of this, it is hard to imagine the Bengals staying with Green Bay on the scoreboard. Rodgers knows how to avoid pressure and find his targets down the field better than anyone else in football, and he will be able to put up enough points against this quality defense to come away with a road victory.

Prediction: Packers 31, Bengals 27

 

Houston Texans vs. Baltimore Ravens

Sep 15, 2013; Baltimore, MD, USA; Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco (5) drops back to pass against the Cleveland Browns during the first half at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports
Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Neither of these teams has performed well to start the season. The Ravens were blown out by the Broncos and then could barely move the football against the Cleveland Browns. Meanwhile, the Texans fell behind early in both games to start the year, but they pulled out late wins over the San Diego Chargers and Tennessee Titans. 

Obviously, winning is the most important thing, but there is not much reason to have confidence in Houston, despite its 2-0 record.

One thing to look for in this game is a truly breakout performance from Bernard Pierce. With Ray Rice injured and doubtful for Sunday, the bigger Pierce will get his chance to have a huge game on the ground. This will set up Joe Flacco to have more space on play-actions, and the Ravens will finally start to resemble the squad that won the Super Bowl last season.

Prediction: Ravens 20, Texans 17

 

Atlanta Falcons vs. Miami Dolphins

ATLANTA, GA - SEPTEMBER 15: Julio Jones #11 of the Atlanta Falcons runs with a catch against the St. Louis Rams at the Georgia Dome on September 15, 2013 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)
Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

The Kansas City Chiefs made a big statement Thursday night to prove that their undefeated record was legitimate. The Miami Dolphins will try to do that as well on Sunday.

Miami has been impressive to start the year, with road victories over the Browns and Indianapolis Colts. Amazingly, the Dolphins only had two road wins all last season.

Ryan Tannehill has been one of the most improved players in the NFL, and the defense has held up strong in the two wins.

Unfortunately, though, that defense has not been challenged like it will be against the Atlanta Falcons. Matt Ryan and Julio Jones have been perfectly in sync to start the year, and whatever the squad can get out of Roddy White is a bonus.

While Steven Jackson is out for the game, Jason Snelling and Jacquizz Rodgers are experienced enough to provide balance to the offense.

Although Miami still has a chance of playing for a playoff spot, the squad will lose its first game of the year on Sunday.

Prediction: Falcons 28, Dolphins 17

 

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