Week 3 NFL Predictions: Winless Teams That Will Get on Track
There are eight winless teams left in the NFL and, with two matchups between such teams this week, that number will decrease to six by Week 4 at the very least. More than just two winless teams will be victorious, though, as this will be the week that those teams begin to get back on track.
The Cleveland Browns, Minnesota Vikings, New York Giants, Carolina Panthers, Washington Redskins, Pittsburgh Steelers, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Jacksonville Jaguars comprise the list of winless teams. Of those eight teams, four were .500 or better in 2012. Their 0-2 starts this season are surprising, though they certainly haven't played like teams deserving of victory.
In Week 3, many of the matchups allude to victories for some 0-2 teams. At this point in the season, being winless doesn't completely count a team out. Once Week 4 or 5 rolls around, teams without victories may not have much hope at the playoffs.
If some of the more talented 0-2 teams can get back on track in Week 3, their playoff aspirations will still be warranted. Making the playoffs at 1-2 is no easy task, but it's certainly easier than doing so at 0-3.
New York Giants (0-2) at Carolina Panthers (0-2), 1:00 PM EST
Both the Giants and Panthers are 0-2, so obviously one will pick up a victory this week. A victory doesn't necessarily mean that the winning team is back on track, though. In a game like this, the team moving forward at 1-2 could win in such a way that keeps them on the same track as they are already on.
Both teams are in need of a decisive win, but the Panthers don't seem to have the firepower to do so. Eli Manning and the Giants, despite an NFL-high seven interceptions through two games, will rip Carolina apart through the air and move to 1-2. At 1-2, the Giants' playoff hopes are very much alive in the wide open NFC East.
The Giants boast one of the most talented receiving corps in the NFL. Victor Cruz, Hakeem Nicks, Rueben Randle and Brandon Myers give Manning plenty of weapons both in the middle of the field and over the top of defenses. Even though their suspect running game likely won't see much success against the defensive line of the Panthers, Manning is set to pick up his first win of 2013.
Cam Newton and Co. need to focus on taking care of the football and capitalizing on the mistakes that the Giants secondary will inevitably make. The Giants secondary has allowed big play after big play in 2013, and Newton will have to look to Steve Smith to get open down field.
Newton has the arm strength to make the Giants pay, but his accuracy has come into question after his rookie season. If the Giants can force errant passes by getting pressure in the pocket, this game should be a breeze for head coach Tom Coughlin.
The Giants will win against Carolina by a score of 28-13. Newton's inconsistencies will continue to hold back the Panthers this season.
Detroit Lions (1-1) at Washington Redskins (0-2), 1:00 PM EST
Robert Griffin III has looked rusty in his first two starts of 2013, and sitting out the preseason has proven to be detrimental to both his and the team's early success. He's thrown five touchdowns and three picks, but his 25 rushing yards show that he's been tentative to test his knee.
Against a Detroit Lions defense that ranks 14th in the NFL in rushing yards allowed per game (96.0), expect Griffin to break out. He may not tally 100 yards rushing, but he and running back Alfred Morris should rack up around 150 yards on the ground in this one.
This will give the Redskins the offensive versatility necessary to really exploit Detroit through the air. Griffin runs one of the best play actions in football, so establishing the run early and often will benefit his overall numbers.
Griffin should be starting to near end-of-preseason form given the fact that his first action of the season came in Week 1. With this being the case, expect a more refined and polished playmaker this week. Washington will surely benefit from a huge performance on his end.
Washington's defense will have a tough time keeping tabs on Calvin Johnson, but getting pressure on Matthew Stafford will be the key to doing so. Flushing him from the pocket will make it harder for Johnson to make plays after receiving the ball. Plus, Reggie Bush's absence this week makes their job that much easier. Look for Ryan Kerrigan to have a big game coming off the Redskins' defensive line.
It'll be a tough game for both teams, but Washington will ultimately win 28-21 on the strength of Griffin's arm and legs.
Chicago Bears (2-0) at Pittsburgh Steelers (0-2), 8:30 PM EST
The Pittsburgh Steelers have certainly played like an 0-2 team. They have no running game whatsoever, and that has shown in their inability to generate any sort of offense. The Steelers may not be a playoff team with this kind of production, but they'll get back on track with a tough victory against the Chicago Bears.
The Bears have defeated the Cincinnati Bengals and Vikings by a combined four points, and their wins haven't exactly been pretty. Quarterback Jay Cutler has done a fine job of leading is team in high-pressure situations, but the Bears have had problems kicking into a higher gear until late in the fourth quarter.
Which 0-2 team has the best chance at the playoffs?
A balanced and consistent attack from the Steelers will be enough to hand the Bears their first defeat of the season. They've scored just 19 points combined against the Tennessee Titans and Bengals, but Ben Roethlisberger will look to Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders this week to get the offense moving.
Running back Isaac Redman will have to fight for yardage against a tough Bears defense, but a 50-yard performance with a few receptions out of the backfield would be considered a productive day for a team that has received no production from its backs.
If the Steelers can score a touchdown each quarter and limit Cutler's production in the first half, then they have every chance to win this game. It'll be close and it won't be pretty, but Pittsburgh will win 21-17.
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