2010 NFL Week 3 Picks and Predictions

Jake WestrichSenior Writer ISeptember 21, 2010

SAN FRANCISCO - SEPTEMBER 20:  Drew Brees #9 of the New Orleans Saints passes against the San Francisco 49ers during an NFL game at Candlestick Park on September 20, 2010 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

Each Tuesday morning, Whatifsports.com's NFL simulation engine will provide you with predictions, box scores, and statistics for every NFL game that week. The NFL simulation engine generates detailed information including the home team's chances of winning (Home Win Percentage), average score and comprehensive box score link. If you want to share your new found NFL knowledge with friends and family, make sure to check out our NFL Widgets on the WhatIf To Go page or click on the social networking share bar located at the top and bottom of the article.

The statistical inputs to the thousands of NFL games simulated are based on rigorous analysis of each team's roster, depth chart, and statistically based player ranking. Roster modifications have been made for injuries and suspensions and those players are not part of their team's game simulation.

To account for injuries and roster moves announced late in the week, we will be re-simulating some games on Thursdays throughout the 2010 NFL season.

Check out our 2010 NFL Season-to-Date page to follow our accuracy week-to-week and find Locks and Upsets of the Week.

We encourage you to interact with our 2010 NFL SimMatchup feature (which is FREE) to simulate any of the games below as many times as you want. You also have the option of adjusting the depth charts to your liking.

Game of the Week: Falcons vs Saints

NFL fans can be a fickle bunch. Their collective mood varies week to week, quarter to quarter, possession to possession. This sentiment is amplified following a team's season-opening performance. A win correlates into a franchise's followers booking their Super Bowl accommodations; a loss spirals supporters into panic. Case in point: the New York Jets, who arrived with unparalleled hype and hoopla thanks to HBO's Hardknocks and proclamations from pompous coach Rex Ryan. Yet after suffering a defeat to the Baltimore Ravens on Monday night, seemingly the entire football world wrote off Gang Green's title aspirations. Pigskin pundits blasted New York management for cutting ties with running back Thomas Jones, signing washed-up veterans, and welcoming the distraction of a reality series into training camp. Former star Joe Namath took issue with the team, stating the current Jets needed to "shut up and play." Ryan was crucified for his game plan, whose conservative nature seemed to contradict the coach's brash attitude and assertions. Keep in mind, New York lost by just ONE POINT. But in the NFL, there's a thin line between bliss and bitterness.

The Atlanta Falcons were the recipients of similar vitriol after a Week 1 defeat to Dennis Dixon and the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Falcons were expected to bounce back from a disappointing and injury-plagued 2009, and competing against Dixon, a third string quarterback, appeared to be just what the doctor ordered. Unfortunately for the Falcons, Troy Pomamalu and the Steeler defense had a different itinerary in mind, as Pittsburgh came out victorious in a 15-9 overtime slugfest. Soon after, Mike Smith's squad was showered with criticisms and condemnations. Would Matt Ryan fall short of his projected potential? Was Michael Turner's 2008 an aberration? After Roddy White, were there any viable weapons in the aerial arsenal?

Whatever questions abounded, the Falcons answered, and answered with vigor. A 41-7 drubbing of defending NFC West champion Arizona seemed to lay to rest doubts among the Dirty-Bird backers, if only for a week. Matty Ice threw for 225 yards and three touchdowns, with a QB rating of 117.3. The Burner rushed for 75 yards on just nine carries before succumbing to an injury (although not feared to be serious). Receivers not named White accounted for 14 receptions on Sunday. In short, Atlanta looked like the playoff-contending team that many had forecasted.

In reality, the Falcons fate is somewhere between their two performances. The Pittsburgh D, after shutting down Chris Johnson and Vince Young in Week 2, looks to have reclaimed their tenacious tendencies that led them to a Super Bowl in 2008. Meanwhile, the Cardinals are doing their best Little Giants impersonation (well, at least the Little Giants BEFORE they were visited by John Madden). Atlanta travels to the Big Easy this week to tackle the Saints, off to a 2-0 start in their title defense. The WhatIfSports engines give the edge to New Orleans, who come out on top of 75.9 percent of the simulations with an average score of 28-18.

But rest assured, no matter what the outcome, one fan base will be making January playoff plans while the other will willow in its own misery. At least until next week's game.