NFL Predictions: Week Three

Brad Vipperman@TeamVip33Correspondent ISeptember 26, 2009

ATLANTA - AUGUST 11:  Quarterback Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots looks to the sideline during their NFL preseason game against the Atlanta Falcons on August 11, 2006 at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo By Streeter Lecka)

Tennessee Titans @ New York Jets (-3)


The Jets are riding an incredible wave of enthusiasm right now.  The combination of Rex Ryan and Mark Sanchez has transformed them from Jersey boys, into national darlings.  The talk of the league has been how staunch their defense has been and how they've shut down two prolific offenses so far in Houston and New England.  I'm not convinced.

It's not that I think the Jets are bad.  Far from it.  I'm just not ready to hand the AFC East to a team with a first year coach, a rookie quarterback and no visible receiving targets.

The Titans, on the other hand, are in fight or flight mode.  Dropping to 0-3 in a difficult division would all but kiss their playoff hopes goodbye.  Jeff Fisher is going to have to pull out all the stops for this one.

It seems impossible that a team who had a running back score three touchdowns from 50-plus yards in one game would lose...but that's how things have gone for the Titans so far.

I'm going with the upset this week though because of the differences in mindsets.  The Jets are riding high on a euphoric opening run.  The Titans are the grizzled veteran that has been knocked down.  Think Rocky Balboa in Rocky III during the second Clubber Lang fight.  If the Titans are a decent football team they'll beat the Jets this weekend.

Pick:  Titans, 24-17



Jacksonville Jaguars @ Houston Texans (-3.5)


This spread I don't understand.  The Jaguars are awful.  Their offense has no direction and their usually tough defense is non-existent.  The Texans are going to score points like they always do and I'm not sure Jacksonville has any answer for that.

Another aspect of this game that is getting undervalued is the fact that the Houston Texans are a very good team at home.  Over the last three years only the Steelers and the Patriots have better home records than the Texans.

Combine that with the fact that Mario Williams is getting to go up against a pair of rookie offensive tackles and things don't look good for the Jaguars this Sunday.

Pick:  Texans, 31-16



Kansas City Chiefs @ Philadelphia Eagles (-7.5)


The Eagles are the better team here.  There's no doubt about that.  Whether they have Donovan McNabb, Kevin Kolb, Jeff Garcia or Michael Vick under center is going to make no difference in the outcome of tomorrow's game.  Defensively the Eagles will just be too tough for the struggling Chiefs to score on.

Speaking of the Chiefs...have any of you ever seen a team and a fan base waffle on a new free agent "franchise quarterback" faster than the Chiefs have with Matt Cassel?  Is there something I'm missing here?  Cassel has played in one game Kansas City.  One game.  And he's still recovering from an injury.  It would make more sense if the backup they were calling for was an established starter or a youthful fan favorite.  But Brodie Croyle?

Croyle has never won a game as a starter in the NFL.  Cassel won 11 last year.  I think Kansas City should give him a chance to lose nine in a row before calling for Croyle again.  Never mind the afterthought that is Tyler Thigpen right now.  A man who single-handedly won hundreds of fantasy leagues for appreciative owners (myself among them) last season.

KC is a mess.  Philly is going to be riding an electric crowd who will be feeding off the enthusiasm of seeing Michael Vick's first action since 2006.  They are going to roll in this one.

Pick:  Eagles, 34-13



Cleveland Browns @ Baltimore Ravens (-13.5)


This game is always fun.  The new Browns vs. the old Browns.  Unfortunately for Cleveland fans, this game is going to feel like seeing an ex-girlfriend a few years down the road; only she's gotten about three times hotter and is dating a guy who is better looking and makes more money than you.  In other words...agony.

The media has been having a field day talking about all the irony in Baltimore.  They've giggled and joked about what a powerhouse offense the Ravens have in contrast to a mediocre defense.  This does two things:

1)  It shows just how short the memory span of the national media is.

2)  It has to have infuriated Ray Lewis to the point that he might eat one of the Browns on Sunday.

As far as the game goes, the Ravens should make quick work of the directionless Browns.  Brady Quinn is so lost as a quarterback. Virtually through no fault of his own (Mangini is turning out to be a colossal flop as a head coach).  The rest of the Browns offense just seems to be going through the motions.

The Ravens, on the otherhand, look like they are building towards something special.  I'm always hesitant to jump on the Baltimore bandwagon though.  As anyone who has lived in DC or Maryland and has spent time in Baltimore (like I have) you know just what a terrible city it is.  Inner harbor is the only redeeming quality of that dirty and downtrodden town. 

But they have a good football team this year.  Ravens win.

Pick:  Ravens, 31-12



New York Giants @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+6.5)


This line seems a little strange to me.  The Giants are a fantastic team that makes every team it plays conform to it's style. 

The Bucs have been frisky so far this season and it's nice to see Cadillac Williams running strong again...but you've got to like the G-Men in this one.

There's not really much else to say here, the Giants should have no trouble with the Bucs on Sunday.  I'd be shocked if this one was close.

Pick:  Giants 27-14



Washington Redskins @ Detroit Lions (+6.5)


As a Redskins fan this game terrifies me.  The 'Skins have nothing to gain.  If they win...great.  They were supposed to.  If they lose...well...I don't even want to go there.

Some good news for the Redskins is that Clinton Portis is listed as questionable for the game.  You read that right.  Portis always seems to do well when he shows up on the injury report.  Don't ask me why.

Pick:  Redskins, 31-17



Green Bay Packers @ St. Louis Rams (+6.5)


The Packers should cover the spread in this game easily.  Just because the Rams only lost to the Redskins by two points last week (and they could have won) doesn't mean that this team is ready to hang with the big boys yet. 

First of all, the Redskins should have won that game by over ten points (if they'd been able to get anything going in the redzone) and the Packers are not nearly as bad as they played last week.

Green Bay is looking to bounce back after a poor showing that saw Cedric Benson run all over them and Greg Jennings be held without a catch.  The Packers defense creates a lot of pressure and should force at least two errant Bulger interceptions.

I like the Packers to cover in this one...a lot.

Pick:  Packers, 28-17



San Francisco 49ers @ Minnesota Vikings (-7)


Brett Favre's first "home game" at the Metrodome.  Should be very interesting to watch.  After putting on his best Trent Dilfer impression through two weeks, Favre might actually be forced to make some plays this weekend against a hungry 49ers defense.

San Francisco comes into this game looking to build on the success they've had so far.  Frank Gore has been great as of yet and Shaun Hill continues to refuse to lose.

This game should be hard fought until late in the fourth quarter where I think the team with the ball last will win.  I expect the 49ers to cover the spread but I think Minnesota gets the game amass a sea of Purple No. 4 jerseys.

Pick:  Vikings, 23-20



Atlanta Falcons @ New England Patriots (-4.5)


No game has caused me more pause this week in contemplating the victor.  On one hand, the Falcons are everything we all thought they could be with Tony Gonzalez...and more.  On the other hand, the once dominant Patriots look shockingly mortal.  Like Captain Barbosa's crew in Pirates of the Caribbean once all the gold is returned to the chest.  They look just as surprised too.

This could be a defining game for Matt Ryan.  If he is able to lead his team into New England and beat Tom Brady and the Patriots that would mark a new step in his career.

For Brady and the injury plagued Patriots, they have never needed a double-digit victory more than they do now.  NFL teams are like sharks...they can smell blood.  If the Pats fall to Mark Sanchez and Matt Ryan in consecutive weeks, after being a mental error away from losing to Trent Edwards...the wheels might come off.

Word is that Wes Welker AND Randy Moss are questionable for this game but I would be amazed if both didn't play.  The Pats need this one bad.  Much like the Minnesota game, I expect the Falcons to cover but the Pats to pull out a win in dramatic fashion.

Pick:  Patriots, 27-23



Chicago Bears @ Seattle Seahawks (+2.5)


If I was a gambling man, which, of course I'm not (because, you know, gambling is illegal...most places), I would be betting the Bears hard this weekend.  Once again, is there something I'm missing here?

The Seattle Seahawks looked totally lost last week once Matt Hasselbeck went down, and nothing against Seneca Wallace but playing the Bears is hard for any QB.  Julius Jones, Edgerrin James and Justin Forsett aren't exactly a three-headed monster and have been shut down for the most part this season too.  It's gonna be tough for Seattle to find ways to score against the Bears even without Urlacher patrolling the middle.

Phewwwwwwwwww. Phewwwwwwwwww.  The Windy City was straight blustery this week from the exhaling of Bears fans.  They finally got to see the quarterback they practically mortgaged their franchise to trade for.  He showed that he is going to win them some games with his arm which no one has been able to do there for a long time.

I also think that this is the game that Matt Forte remembers how to play football.  If you took him in the first round of your fantasy draft you must be harboring a pretty intense grudge to this point.  But fear not.  Forte is too talented to be stymied all year long.  I expect a big game from the Bears against a Seattle team that just can't seem to catch any breaks (aside from the ones in their quarterbacks ribs).

Pick:  Bears, 27-17



New Orleans Saints @ Buffalo Bills (+6)


I'm not even going to write about this game.  How the Saints are only favored by six sends up all kinds of red flags to me.  Vegas must know something about this game.  On paper, Brees and co. should murder the Bills.  And yet the line is less than a touchdown.  Amazing.  I got nothing guys...I think the Saints are gonna smash 'em.

Pick:  Saints, 34-23



Miami Dolphins @ San Diego Chargers (-6)


I like the Chargers in this one.  The Dolphins were devastated last Monday night and now have to fly across the country and play a tough San Diego team on a short week.  That's enough to scare me away.

Pick:  Chargers, 24-13



Pittsburgh Steelers @ Cincinnati Bengals (+3.5)


I'm starting to drink the Bengals Kool-Aid just a little bit.  Cedric Benson is a completely different running back than he was last year and Ochocinco found his mojo.  Cincy has an offense that can move the ball and is building confidence by the drive.

Pittsburgh, on the other hand, seems a little lost.  The entire identity of their team seems to have changed since last year and it's not working out so well for them.

I'm having a tough time deciding which side of the fence I'm going to be on for this game but in the end I think I would kick myself for not taking the Steelers.  Gotta go with the champs.

Pick:  Steelers, 23-17



Denver Broncos @ Oakland Raiders (+1.5)


Are enough people really betting on Oakland to keep the spread at less than a field goal?  How is this possible?  JaMarcus Russell is easily the worst starting quarterback in the league and the Raiders are the most inept franchise, maybe in professional sports.

The Broncos defense is better than expected and Orton is doing what he completely average.  If Knowshon Moreno can get something going on the ground and Brandon Marshall and Eddie Royal can turn back the clock to last year they should smash the Raiders.

Pick:  Broncos, 24-16



Indianapolis Colts @ Arizona Cardinals (-2.5)


I'm surprised the Cardinals are favored in this one.  Not that I don't think it's merited, it's just still a little surprising to see that Arizona is favored over Indy.

That being said the game should be very close.  Arizona has more weapons and they're healthier whereas Indy has the experience and "The General."  Seriously though, how ridiculous is that nickname?  Can you even give a player a nickname 10-plus years into their career?  Is that allowed?  Let's just stick with Peyton or "that guy from the Sony commercials" for now okay America?

Pick:  Cardinals, 27-20



Carolina Panthers @ Dallas Cowboys (-8.5)


Haha.  Man it brings me joy that the Cowboys blew the opener in their new billion dollar stadium.  That must have left a terrible taste in Jerry Jones' mouth.  Luckily for them they get lowly Carolina this week.

The Panthers rebounded from their week one catastrophe last week but I think everyone knows that their potential this year is no greater than 8-8.

The Cowboys usually take care of over-matched opponents and I expect that big scoreboard to be buzzing next Monday night with Cowboy highlights.  'Boys win.

Pick:  Cowboys, 34-20


-Brad Vipperman


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