NFL Picks Week 3: Offenses That Will Ride Aerial Assaults to Victory

Andrew Gould@AndrewGould4Featured ColumnistSeptember 21, 2013

NEW ORLEANS, LA - SEPTEMBER 08:   Drew Brees #9 of the New Orleans Saints throws a pass against the Atlanta Falcons at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on September 8, 2013 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Chris Graythen/Getty Images

The days of lining up and running down the middle are firmly behind us. The NFL is a pass-first league, and those who embrace the throwing game will be better for it.

Maybe coaches started playing Madden and realized how fun it is to air the ball out with ruthless aggression. Probably not, as the NFL simply introduced new rules to embed the quarterback's cause at the same time that a swarm of talented signal-callers entered the league.

Those who attend Stay off My Lawn University will lament the end of ground-and-pound offenses, but everyone else will admit that the sport offers much more excitement when offenses pick apart secondaries at will.

This Sunday will feature several passing attacks pummeling their opponents into submission. Keep your eyes glued to the air; that's where you'll find the ball when these offenses take the field.

Detroit Lions at Washington Redskins

GLENDALE, AZ - SEPTEMBER 15:  Wide receiver Calvin Johnson #81 of the Detroit Lions catches a touchdown pass in front of cornerback Patrick Peterson #21 of the Arizona Cardinals in the first half at University of Phoenix Stadium on September 15, 2013 in G
Jeff Gross/Getty Images

The Lions may not even know what "run" means. 

Matthew Stafford threw an unfathomable 727 times last season, mostly out of necessity to combat deficits. He also led the NFL with 663 pass attempts in 2011.

Detroit brought in Reggie Bush to shore up the position, but he's just another weapon to use on screens and checkdowns. He has 30 carries, but the 28-year-old has more yards receiving (145) than rushing (115) so far.

But his status for this weekend remains up in the air due to an injured knee. No worries—Washington still won't stop Detroit's potent passing attack.

The Washington defense has paved the way for 100-yard receivers (DeSean Jackson of the Philadelphia Eagles and James Jones of the Green Bay Packers) through each of its opening bouts, and both pale in comparison to Detroit's Calvin Johnson. 

The maligned defense ranks last with a 73.1 opposing completion percentage and 10.2 yards allowed per attempt. Stafford has averaged 39.5 attempts per game, which means he would produce 402 passing yards if both of those averages hold up on Sunday.

New Orleans Saints vs. Arizona Cardinals

Well yeah, this is what Drew Brees does.

Who would bet against a guy who just rattled off two straight 5,000-yard seasons?

He has exceeded 300 passing yards in each of his past seven starts and has recorded a passing touchdown in 60 of his last 61 outings. There's no safer bet than Brees to make things happen through the air.

We all know how good Brees and Co. are in New Orleans, but what about Arizona's pass defense? While Patrick Peterson and Tyrann Mathieu often orchestrate must-see TV, the secondary still possesses some shortcomings that the Saints will exploit.

Opponents have completed 68.9 percent of their passes against Arizona, and Brees sports a 65.0 career completion percentage. Jared Cook obliterated Arizona to start the season, and New Orleans has its own elite tight end in Jimmy Graham.

This will be a special sight to behold. Anything short of 300 yards and three touchdowns is a lackluster day at the office for Brees and the Saints. Expect him to break both of those barriers.

New York Giants at Carolina Panthers

ARLINGTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 8:  Victor Cruz #80 of the New York Giants celebrates after scoring a touchdown against the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium on September 8, 2013 in Arlington, Texas.  The Cowboys defeated the Giants 31-36.  (Photo by Wesley Hitt/G
Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

Do the Giants have any other choice?

Their running backs have compiled a league-worst 73 rushing yards through two games. Expected to break out, David Wilson has instead run for 36 yards with two costly fumbles.

Brandon Jacobs scored a touchdown in his return that nobody wanted, but that one-yard push to the end zone constituted one of his four yards on the afternoon against the Denver Broncos.

So the Giants have to pass, pass again and then pass some more. At least they have the staff to get that done.

Victor Cruz has already tallied 236 receiving yards and three scores. It's not fair to chalk that up to compiling points in garbage time since the G-Men nearly rallied to beat the Dallas Cowboys in Week 1.

With 197 receiving yards and 21.9 yards per catch, Hakeem Nicks looks healthy and ready to assume his dominant ways for the Giants. Furthermore, Brandon Myers represents an upgrade over anything Eli Manning had last year at tight end.

Although the maddeningly inconsistent Manning leads the league with seven interceptions, he also has 812 passing yards. He can't possibly continue his current pace to finish with 56 interceptions, right?

As long as New York doesn't turn the ball over six times and the Panthers don't trade for Peyton Manning, this game will not get out of hand, allowing the Giants to play smarter football and obtain their first win. 


    Brett Favre Looking to End Youth Tackle Football

    NFL logo

    Brett Favre Looking to End Youth Tackle Football

    Green Bay Packers
    via Green Bay Packers

    LAC Scout Was Why Lamar Didn't Run 40

    NFL logo

    LAC Scout Was Why Lamar Didn't Run 40

    Alec Nathan
    via Bleacher Report

    One Player on Each Team Who Is Set to Disappoint

    NFL logo

    One Player on Each Team Who Is Set to Disappoint

    Doug Farrar
    via Bleacher Report

    Does the NFL Have a Referee Problem?

    NFL logo

    Does the NFL Have a Referee Problem?

    Mike Florio
    via ProFootballTalk