Time to Press the Panic Button (?): Week Three NFL Predictions

Josh McMullenCorrespondent ISeptember 25, 2009
For nine teams, this is already make-or-break week. Since 1990, only three teams (the ’92 Chargers, the ’95 Lions, and the ’98 Bills) have started 0-3 and made the playoffs.
Who will make it and get that first win this week? Who will be broken and have a very tough road to the playoffs? We break out the crystal ball once again for our Week Three predictions!


Kansas City Chiefs (0-2) vs. Philadelphia Eagles (1-1)

The Eagles proved last week that they can win, with or without Donovan McNabb. However, this will be the big test for Michael Vick this week, and everyone will be wondering if he’s shaken off all the rust. 

However, there is a laundry list of injuries for the Eagles to get over, including McNabb.

The Chiefs might have just gotten lucky by getting this game this early in the season, as they might very well get Matt Cassel back this week (questionable with an ankle injury). With the Eagles’ miserable showing against the Saints last week, this may be the week the Chiefs need to turn their season around.

Prediction: Chiefs 30, Eagles 20.


Washington Redskins (1-1)  vs. Detroit Lions (0-2)

Every week, I hold out hope that the Lions will finally get that elusive first win, and now, that week looks like it’s finally here. The Lions seem to finally be hitting their stride, while the Redskins struggle to beat the Rams last week.

Even Redskins defensive lineman Albert Haynesworth isn’t looking past the Lions, saying that they’re better than the Rams this year.

If the Lions rush defense can stop Clinton Portis like they did Adrian Peterson last week (holding him to only 91 yards after running for almost double that in Week One), they’ll stop that losing streak at 19, and the way Washington has been playing the past couple weeks, that looks very likely.

Prediction: Lions 20, Redskins 6.


Green Bay Packers (1-1) vs. St. Louis Rams (0-2)

The Rams have only scored seven points in two games, while their opponents have scored 37. They’ve lost their last 12 games, and are 5-29 since 2007. They struggled against Washington, which was a game that they should have won, but managed to lose.

That certainly doesn’t have the ring of a team who has the skill to make the playoffs. This is a team in extreme disarray, and they look intent on matching the Lions’ record of 0-16 set last year.

While the Packers certainly don’t look like they can challenge Minnesota for the division title just yet, they should easily win this game. Even if their defense is slightly banged up (CB Atari Bigby is out with a knee injury and DT B.J. Raji is questionable with an ankle injury), there is absolutely no way the Packers should lose this game.

Prediction: Packers 37, Rams 10.

San Francisco 49ers (2-0) vs. Minnesota Vikings (2-0)

This is the matchup everybody’s been waiting for this week: San Francisco’s Frank Gore, who broke off two huge touchdown runs last week against the Seahawks, against Adrian Peterson, who has seven more rushing yards than Brett Favre has passing yards (272-265).

I like the Vikings this week, because what it’s really going to boil down to in this game is defense. The Vikings have the better defense, with Jared Allen and Antoine Winfield being the core  of that dominating defense, who have only allowed 23 points in two games.

They should be able to hold Frank Gore, allowing Adrian Peterson to win the battle of the running backs.

Prediction: Vikings 20, 49ers 17 in overtime.


Tennessee Titans (0-2) vs. New York Jets (2-0)

The current Titans have suffered two hard-luck losses over the past two weeks, but they need to get back on track if they hope to avoid an 0-3 start.

However, to do that, they’ll need to fix the holes in their porous defense, which, if not fixed, could be exploited by a Jets defense that held an explosive Patriots offense to only nine points.

The former Titans (aka the Jets) have seen a great amount of growth in quarterback Mark Sanchez. The bug question is whether or not he will be able to maintain his composure with the defensive duo of Jevon Kearse and Kyle Vanden Bosch.

With the composure he’s shown in two games so far, I expect he will show the same composure and pick apart the current Titans’ defense in this clash of the Titans.

Prediction: NY Titans 23, Tennessee Titans 17.


Atlanta Falcons (2-0) vs. New England Patriots (1-1)

The Patriots meet up with another young quarterback in the Falcons’ Matt Ryan. Will this be a repeat of last week for New England? The answer to that question is a very emphatic “no.” 

The Falcons simply do not have the weapons to run with the Patriots, and it will show this week.

The Falcons are disadvantaged on the other side of the ball as well, as the Patriots have a lot of weapons on offense, all led by Tom Brady. It is not a very hard thing to say that New England will get back on track and make Ryan’s homecoming in Boston a very rough one.

Prediction: Patriots 17, Falcons 9.


Jacksonville Jaguars (0-2) vs. Houston Texans (1-1)

The Texans will be without one of their biggest men on the offensive line. Chester Pitts, who started every game for Houston until now, will miss the rest of the season after undergoing microfracture knee surgery.

Second-year starter Kasey Studdard will start in his place, and the Jaguars will try to take full advantage of the fact that this will be Studdard’s first start.

However, the Jaguars are a team in disarray. Running back Maurice Jones-Drew has only rushed for 163 yards in two games. They need to reestablish their running game if they are going to get back on track this season.

Without a very good offensive line, and nothing behind Drew at the running back position, this could be a very long game for the Jaguars.

Prediction: Texans 30, Jaguars 7.


New York Giants (2-0) vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-2)

The Giants have been dominating the past couple of weeks, taking out the Redskins and Cowboys in very close games. The offense has been clicking under the leadership of Eli Manning, and the defense has been dominant under the leadership of Osi Umenyiora.

On the other side of the scoreboard, the Buccaneers are an absolute mess, losing both their games in humiliating fashion. It’s looking more and more dire by the week, and it’s not looking any better, as they have to go up against a Giants defense who looks in mid-season form. This one will turn very bad, very quickly.

Prediction: Giants 43, Buccaneers 10.


Cleveland Browns (0-2) vs. Baltimore Ravens (2-0)

This game is a tale of two teams going in completely different directions.

The Browns looked absolutely miserable in two losses, with the team not racking up even one interception in those games. In the same vein, Jamal Lewis is their leading rusher…with only 95 yards.

They’ve only scored 26 points as well, with 20 of those coming in a loss to Minnesota. Add on all the injuries, and the Browns could challenge the Rams for the worst record in the NFL.

On the other hand, the Ravens are undefeated, and have looked very dominating in the process. They have scored 69 points in two games, second in the NFL only to the Saints’ 93.

Their dominating defense shut down Phillip Rivers, LaDainian Tomlinson and the Chargers last week. The question this week for the Ravens is not if they will win, but by how much.

Prediction: Ravens 59, Browns 0.


Chicago Bears (1-1) vs. Seattle Seahawks (1-1)

More than half of the Bears’ 32 points scored this season came in last week’s win against Pittsburgh. They still don’t look like they’ve found a viable replacement for Brian Urlacher (wrist), and that doesn’t bode well for the Bears’ defense. Fortunately, they’re going up against…

…the Seattle Seahawks, who defeated a horrible Rams team in Week One, but were embarrassed by the 49ers last week. This is another team that doesn’t have an interception yet, but it gets worse.

Not only is Lofa Tatupu, one of their defensive stars, questionable for the game (hamstring), but T.J. Houshmandzadeh and Deion Branch are also banged up (back spasms and hamstring, respectively). This looks like the beginning of another long day for the Seahawks.

Prediction: Bears 23, Seahawks 6.


New Orleans Saints (2-0) vs. Buffalo Bills (1-1)

The Saints have looked absolutely overwhelming in their first two games, scoring 46 points per game to this point. In that stretch, Drew Brees has thrown for 669 yards, the defense has racked up six interceptions, and both kickoff returners have combined for over 200 yards returning. New Orleans looks like a well-rounded team, and it seems only a Mack truck can stop them now.

The Bills scored almost 60% of their 57 points in their win against the hapless Tampa Bay Buccaneers. However, they did look tough against the Patriots, seeing victory slip through their fingers.

With quite a few defensive players possibly sitting out this week, it will look like the Bills need the same Hand of God that helped Diego Maradona in the 1986 World Cup to bat down a couple of Drew Brees’ passes.

Prediction: Saints 42, Bills 20.


Miami Dolphins (0-2) vs. San Diego Chargers (1-1)

Over 75 percent of the Dolphins’ points were scored in Monday night’s game against the Colts. They did look pretty good against the Colts, controlling every aspect of the game…except the final score.

Like the Seahawks and Browns, the Dolphins have not intercepted a pass yet this season either. However, unlike the Browns and Seahawks, the Dolphins actually have a pretty solid defense. If they keep spreading the ball around, the Wildcat should roar in San Diego on Sunday.

On the other side, San Diego has split two close games, winning in Oakland and losing in the last minute to Baltimore. With LaDainian Tomlinson not playing this week (ankle), and 10 other players nursing some sort of injury, it does look very tough for the Chargers against a tough Dolphins defense.

All of the onus falls on Darren Sproles, and to ask him to carry the team is a very tall order that I honestly don’t think he can fulfill.

Prediction: Dolphins 21, Chargers 7.


Denver Broncos (2-0) vs. Oakland Raiders (1-1)

Neither team seems to have any injuries that will hurt their chances this week. The silver lining for the hapless Raiders is that they have shown improvement, and it was evident against the really bad Chiefs.

The defense has been especially good, racking up five sacks and three interceptions in two games. The only weakness that’s evident is in the passing game. JaMarcus Russell has only completed over 35% of his passes, and has only thrown one touchdown against two interceptions.

After getting extremely lucky in Cincinnati, the Broncos destroyed the Browns in Cleveland. Their defense, led by Elvis Dumervil (four sacks in two games), has been smothering, and that could make for a long day for Russell.

Kyle Orton has adjusted well to the move from Chicago, completing over half his passes for a little over 500 yards. With the leadership of Orton and the dominance of the defense, the Raiders could be in for a long day.

Prediction: Broncos 21, Raiders 9.


Pittsburgh Steelers (1-1) vs. Cincinnati Bengals (1-1)

The Steelers are a little dinged up coming into this game. Troy Polamalu is still out for another couple of weeks (knee). Meanwhile, Limas Sweed, one of the big options at wide receiver, is out as well (foot).

This might destroy other teams, but not the Steelers. They still have a few options at receiver in Santonio Holmes and Hines Ward, and they still have one of the best rushing attacks in the NFL.

The Bengals got back on track after that bad bounce in Denver by defeating the Packers in another close game. Their defense has looked extremely good, with nine sacks in only two games. However, they face a very smart quarterback in Ben Roethlisberger.

With all of the weapons the Steelers still have, even without Polamalu, it’ll be hard for the Bengals to squeak by with a win this week.

Prediction: Steelers 20, Bengals 3.


Indianapolis Colts (2-0) vs. Arizona Cardinals (1-1)

The Colts barely got out of Miami with a win on Monday night, and they have to quickly turn around and prepare for the Cardinals. Peyton Manning has looked great so far, completing almost 70 percent of his passes for slightly over 600 yards.

The only problem seems to be in the rushing game, which has only totaled 132 yards. They could have another rough game like Monday night if they have a tough time rushing.

Kurt Warner set the completion percentage record in a Cardinals win against the Jaguars. The only glaring problem for them is Beanie Wells’ fumbling problems (two forced fumbles last week).

The defense has looked really good so far, racking up 8 sacks. If Wells learns to hold on to the football, it might be just enough for a Cardinals victory this week.

Overall, this looks to be a pretty evenly-matched game. It will all boil down to whose rushing attack breaks out this week. With two very good running backs splitting time in Arizona, it looks like the Cardinals have the edge, and that will be the difference-maker.

Prediction: Cardinals 16, Colts 10 in overtime.


Carolina Panthers (0-2) vs. Dallas Cowboys (1-1) (Monday)

When this game was scheduled, everybody expected the game to be the marquee matchup of Week Three. Instead, we are treated to two teams who have a combined two sacks (Carolina has both).

Jake Delhomme has looked absolutely awful in the past two weeks, throwing one touchdown and five interceptions. On top of that, the Panthers’ defense has lost quite a few of their starters, which could make it easier for Tony Romo and Company to romp all over the Cowboys Stadium field. It’s certainly not looking good for Carolina.

Dallas, on the other hand, played in a high-scoring game against the Giants, only to see victory slip through their fingers. The Cowboys have a very balanced offense, and that might be a problem for a depleted Panthers’ offense.

The defense is also good, even though they have no sacks or interceptions so far this season. That will most likely change this week, as the Cowboys will put the Panthers into panic mode.

Prediction: Cowboys 26, Panthers 3.


Week 2 Record 12-4

Overall Total:  21-11

So there you have it: Week Three in the NFL. Who will go 0-3 and have to push the panic button? Who will get that first win and can breathe (slightly) easier? Those questions and more will be answered in the games of Week Three! Tune in and find out what happens!


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