After two weeks of the NFL, fans like myself believe we have all the answers. The Jets are Super Bowl contenders, the Patriots are drastically over-rated, and Drew Brees will shatter every passing record. And in college, we know that just about every week, the unthinkable upset will happen, from Oklahoma to Oklahoma State to USC.
Well, in reality, the pro and college seasons are still to be determined. In this week three of the NFL and week four of college football, upsets and surprises should be bountiful and there should be a lot of college football and fantasy football prospects to watch.
NFL Game Picks
Keep in mind that these games are against the odds and are not in fact the team I project to end the game with a win.
Detroit Lions Over the Washington Redskins (+6)
After playing the best offense and defense in the NFC in weeks one and two, a winnable game at home should get the Lions out of the gutter.
Green Bay Packers Over the St. Louis Rams (-6.5)
The Rams have a week defense and offense, and with Green Bay losing to a poor Bengals team, they should rebound well.
Minnesota Vikings Over the San Francisco 49ers (-6.5)
Peterson has struggled against the 49ers in the past, but at home on the turf, look for a big day for the Vikings' offense as a whole.
New England Patriots Over the Atlanta Falcons (-4)
The Patriots barely beat the Bills and didn’t score a TD against the Jets. This offense is better than that and should take it out at home vs. Atlanta.
New York Jets Over the Tennessee Titans (-2.5)
The Jets have been near unstoppable on defense this year. The Jets allowed no points to the Texans' offense, whereas Tennessee gave up 34. Edge to the Jets.
Philadelphia Eagles Over the Kansas City Chiefs (-6)
Kevin Kolb played pretty well from a scouting standpoint a week ago, and with Vick back in the lineup, 51 passes won’t happen again.
New York Giants Over the Tampa Bay Bucs (-6.5)
With one of the most complete offenses and the best pass rush on defense I’ve ever seen, Leftwich’s solid season start should be coming to a halt.
Cleveland Browns Over the Baltimore Ravens (+13)
The Browns have a chance to pull off an upset if Eric Wright and Brandon McDonald can contain Flacco. Quinn can’t make stupid mistakes either.
Houston Texans Over the Jacksonville Jaguars (-3.5)
After tearing up one of the best secondaries in the AFC a week ago, the Texans are back in high powered offense mode, and the Jaguars are next on the list.
New Orleans Saints Over the Buffalo Bills (-6)
The Eagles have one of the best defenses in the NFC, and Brees still went off on them. Although it’s in Buffalo, I’d be shocked by anything less than three TDs for Brees.
Seattle Seahawks Over the Chicago Bears (+1.5)
The Bears exceeded expectations against the Steelers last week, but playing at Seattle against another stout defense, the Bears won’t repeat that performance.
San Diego Chargers Over the Miami Dolphins (-6)
The Chargers were disappointed by a late loss to the Ravens, and they need to stay in the top of the AFC. The Chargers could have a great rebound here.
Pittsburgh Steelers Over the Cincinnati Bengals (-4)
Even though they are at home, the Bengals' defense likely can’t stop Big Ben, and the Benson should struggle to gain yards vs. Steelers front seven.
Oakland Raiders Over the Denver Broncos (+1.5)
To me, last week is a fluke, and the Broncos' passing game will be drastically shut down against a solid Raiders' secondary.
Indianapolis Colts Over the Arizona Cardinals (+2.5)
Arizona has yet to impress this season, and the Colts' offense is finally getting used to no Marvin Harrison and will only get more comfortable as the season goes on.
Carolina Panthers Over the Dallas Cowboys (+8.5)
I don’t know if they will necessarily win, but the Panthers are in need of a rebound, and the Cowboys secondary has struggled mightily this year.
Fantasy Pickups for the Week
Jake Delhomme- Although he may be on the down slope of his career, he still has solid weapons around him. The Cowboys have a very lackluster secondary, so this is his best shot to gain some respect back.
Fred Jackson- Rumors are that even when Marshawn Lynch returns, Jackson could still get the majority of the carries. If he’s available in any leagues, picking him up would be very wise.
Mewelde Moore- The Steelers are very unhappy with Willie Parker’s unwillingness to block or go up the middle, and Mendenhall has been a disappointment thus far. Moore seems to be a consistent player.
Laurent Robinson- For a team that has only a handful of legit NFL receivers, Laurent Robinson looks to be the best of the bunch, especially in the red zone.
Julian Edelman- With Wes Welker gone last week, Edelman exploded for eight catches and just under 100 yards. Although Welker is back, the Patriots will definitely keep giving Edelman some chances.
Legadu Naane- Vincent Jackson has been living up to the hype this year, but Chambers hasn’t. Naane is a young player who has a great work ethic and is a better red zone target than Chambers.
Kellen Davis- A great athlete in college, Davis has assumed the second tight end role in Chicago. Though he shouldn’t be an every day starter, he will come in handy against the Bears' solid secondary.
Detroit Defense- The Redskins scored a whopping nine points against the Rams, and the Detroit defense is not only hungry for a win, they're just better than St. Louis.
Fantasy Benches for the Week
Jay Cutler- Facing the Seahawks in Seattle against an above average back seven, Cutler should have a Packers' game-type fall back this week.
LenDale White – White has been very lackluster thus far in the season, and with the Chris Johnson explosion coupled with the Jets being their opponent in week three, I’d stay away from LenDale.
Thomas Jones – The Jets' offense has been up and down this season, especially in the run game. The Titans' defense held Steve Slaton to under 50 yards, so I’d stay away this week at least.
Chris Chambers – Has been a huge fantasy disappointment so far this year, and with great safeties in Miami, the deep ball (Chambers’s forte) he likely won’t improve this week.
Reggie Brown – Although DeSean Jackson is possibly out this week, Maclin, Curtis, and Celek, as well as McCoy and Westbrook out of the backfield, mean Brown will be lucky to get three-five catches.
Terrell Owens – Has had a case of the drops so far this season, and with the Bills facing a Saints' defense that has six interceptions in two games, Owens won’t be the top priority for Trent Edwards.
Kellen Winslow – The Giants have impact linebackers and defensive ends that really stir up trouble to start the play for tight ends. And while Leftwich has been very solid this year, he will struggle vs. NYG.
Dallas Defense – The Cowboys' secondary has been a sieve so far, and with Delhomme and the Panthers looking to rebound after a rough start, the Cowboys could feel their vengeance.
College Game Picks
Ole Miss Over South Carolina (-4)
Though it will likely be a close matchup on Thursday night, Ole Miss has too many weapons on offense, and South Carolina doesn’t have enough on their offense.
Arkansas Over Alabama (+18)
Arkansas has one of the best offenses in the country, and regardless of how good the Tide defense is, they can’t slow them down enough to win by 18+.
Iowa Over Penn State (+9.5)
Although the game is in Happy Valley, Iowa has been rather impressive this year, starting with a great offensive line and tough defense. Penn State’s first real test could be an upset.
California Over Oregon (-5.5)
Jahvid Best is already a Heisman contender after his five TD performance last week, and although Oregon is tough at home and just beat Utah, they don’t have the offense to keep up.
Miami Over Virginia Tech (-2.5)
I really hate to pick VA Tech to lose at home, but Miami is red hot so far and Jacory Harris looks like the real deal. The game will depend on the play of Tyrod Taylor.
TCU Over Clemson (+2.5)
I know BYU was the first BCS title contender in some time before they lost to Florida State, but TCU has a win over Virginia. And with Clemson, Utah, and BYU on slate, they could challenge for a top two spot.
Houston Over Texas Tech (-1)
The Cougars are lead by one of the best quarterbacks, who’s not getting enough attention, in Case Keenum. The Houston offense is more balanced than Texas Tech, and they’ll prove it at home.
Georgia Over Arizona State (-11.5)
After losing to a Big 12 school earlier this year in Oklahoma State, Georgia won’t let the SEC fall behind the Pac-10 as well in conference dominate.
Georgia Tech Over North Carolina (-3)
Georgia Tech needs to rebound big here after looking very mediocre against Miami. North Carolina has struggled in recent weeks, and Tech has Dwyer healthy.
Kentucky Over Florida (+21.5)
Possible upset shocker: Kentucky has a few above average players on defense to slow down Florida a little, and if the offense can put up 24+ points, they could give the Gators a game.
NFL Prospects to Watch this Weekend
EJ Wilson and Marvin Austin of UNC vs. Georgia Tech’s Running Game
Austin is likely the more well known of the two prospects, as he was a highly touted recruit out of high school and looks the part of a future NFL first rounder.
Wilson has come on strong to start the season, and his stock will definitely grow as long as UNC looks solid on defense. Dwyer, Allen, and Jones form a backfield that rivals USC’s, and it should be a great battle on the line between these two units.
Kam Chancellor, Stephen Virgil of Virginai Tech vs. Jacory Harris and Miami Passing Attack
Chancellor and Virgil are a part of the always dynamite Hokie secondary, and Chancellor may be one of the best safeties they’ve had in some time.
Jacory Harris made another top safety prospect, junior Morgan Burnett, seem very average last week. So, Chancellor needs to show he’s a cut above, and Virgil needs to show he can hang with the deep receivers.
Brian Bulaga and Kyle Calloway of Iowa vs. Penn State’s Pass Rush
It doesn’t matter what your position is, going into Happy Valley definitely gets to you.
Bulaga and Calloway form the best tackle duo in the Big Ten (possibly the country), and will have to go against a Penn State defense that always provides great pressure from their ends and linebackers. If Bulaga hopes to make his rise to a 2010 Top 10 pick this year, a great performance here may be just what he needs.
CJ Spiller of Clemson vs. TCU’s defense
Of the senior running backs, there’s no question Spiller is the best of the bunch in my eyes. However, with speed backs like Joe McKnight and Jahvid Best likely to declare as well, Spiller has to show he’s just as—if not more—electrifying as they are. And going against one of the nation’s top defenses the past 5-10 years would be a strong indicator that he can live up to that bill.
Arrelious Benn of Illinois vs. Anderson Russell and Kurt Coleman of Ohio State
A top flight player that is already fighting with Dez Bryant as the top junior receiver and possible top receiver eligible for the 2010 draft, Benn causes headaches for opposing secondaries. His deep speed at the slot position will be matched up with the fantastic safety duo of Anderson Russell and Kurt Coleman of Ohio State. Both are very draftable prospects, and scouts will be watching this matchup very closely to see which side may be a bit over-rated.
George Selvie of South Florida vs. Christian Ponder of Florida State
Christian Ponder is starting to gain some respect in scouting circles because of his great mobility and understanding of the pocket. Selvie, on the other hand, is hoping to show scouts that not even the elusive Ponder can dodge a sack by Selvie. Because he is so undersized, he needs his production to scream out success if he hopes to get a look by teams as a late first, second round selection.
Please check out www.NFLHouse.com and the Optimum Scouting Department for more articles and NFL draft information. Email me with any questions or comments at EricG@nflhouse.com.
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