NFL Week 3: The Couch Potato Guide to the 10 Games To Watch

Elliott Pohnl@@ElliottPohnl_BRFeatured ColumnistSeptember 22, 2010

NFL Week 3: The Couch Potato Guide to the 10 Games To Watch

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    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    NFL week three boasts an assortment of potentially exciting games and features a few interesting contests involving teams heading in opposite directions.

    The Texans have opened the season with two wins by torching opposing defenses, while the Cowboys have made critical mistakes and been oddly opposed to even trying to run the ball.

    Elsewhere, the NFC North has a divisional flavor this week as Green Bay travels to Chicago to face the surprising Bears and Detroit journeys to the Twin Cities to face the struggling Vikings.

    Here's a closer look at those games and other intriguing contests of NFL Week 3.

No. 10: Detroit at Minnesota

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    Jamie Squire/Getty Images

    Metrodome, 1 PM EST, FOX

    Star Power: If Brett Favre, Adrian Peterson, Jared Allen, and Calvin Johnson aren't enough for you, then tune in for the chance to see rookie Jahvid Best go crazy.

    Coming off his thrilling three-touchdown performance last week against Philadelphia, the Lions will again turn to him early and often against the Vikings.

    He might not be able to run the ball, but as evidenced by his 154-yards receiving against the Eagles, Best clearly has the ability to make an impact in the passing game.

    Potential Drama: Favre needs to play better and the Vikings can't afford to drop to 0-3 with Chicago and Green Bay playing so well. The pressure is on to avoid the upset.

    Playoff Implications: Unless the Vikings start winning, there won't be any playoff implications. Minnesota needs to get things figured out and Week 3's game should give the Vikings a chance to right the ship.

    Prediction: Minnesota 27, Detroit 13

No. 9: Cincinnati at Carolina

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    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    Bank of America Stadium, 1 PM EST, CBS

    Star Power: The Bengals have plenty, with Chad Ochocinco and an aging Terrell Owens leading the way.

    DeAngelo Williams has yet to get started this season and dynamic receiver Steve Smith needs a quarterback. Help could be on the way in the form of rookie Jimmy Clausen, who will make his first start against Cincinnati's strong defense.

    Potential Drama: John Fox's decision to promote Clausen makes this game worth a look. The Bengals have been far from perfect this season and could overlook the Panthers, making the game closer than it probably should be.

    Playoff Impact: If the Bengals really want to make a dash towards the Super Bowl, this is the type of game the team absolutely cannot lose.

    Prediction: Cincinnati 23, Carolina 13

No. 8: San Francisco at Kansas City

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    Matt Sullivan/Getty Images

    Arrowhead Stadium, 1 PM EST, FOX

    Star Power: The Chiefs might not have established stars quite yet, but speedsters Jamaal Charles and Dexter McCluster are certainly worth watching.

    Vernon Davis and Frank Gore are likely to have big games for the 49ers and linebacker Patrick Willis is quickly becoming one of the NFL's best.

    Potential For Drama: With two teams headed in opposite directions, there is plenty. The 49ers' defense gives it a big advantage, but the Chiefs have been opportunistic in the first two wins of the season. The home crowd could prove to be the equalizer, while Mike Singletary's team could once again make mistakes at the wrong times.

    Playoff Impact: The NFC West looked weak heading into the season and looks even weaker now. San Francisco can afford some losses this year, but eventually will need to start collecting wins to emerge as the class of the division.

    Prediction: Kansas City 21, San Francisco 20

No. 7: Pittsburgh at Tampa Bay

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    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    Raymond James Stadium, 1 PM EST, CBS

    Star Power: Troy Polamalu leads a star-crossed Steelers defense that has dominated this season.

    The Bucs boast an improved Josh Freeman and exciting fourth-round pick Mike Williams, who spent most of his inglorious college career at Syracuse getting into trouble. Williams has been electric early in his rookie season and provides a jolt for the Bucs' offense.

    Potential For Drama: With both teams coming in at 2-0 and having a slim margin for error, it seems likely the game will be very close. Ugly, but close. Tampa Bay's confidence could be enough to edge the Charlie Batch-led Pittsburgh squad that will likely struggle to move the ball once again Sunday.

    Playoff Impact: Don't look now, but a win by Tampa would give them a very early spot in the playoff picture at 3-0. The Steelers are happy to be 2-0 and another win could solidify their position at or near the top of the AFC all season long.

    Prediction: Pittsburgh 12, Tampa Bay 10

No. 6: Tennessee at New York Giants

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    Joe Robbins/Getty Images

    New Meadowlands Stadium, 1 PM EST, CBS

    Star Power: Chris Johnson is arguably the most electric player in the NFL, and he should have plenty of success Sunday against the Giants' front seven. Eli Manning will need another big game until his team figures out a way to run the ball.

    Potential for Drama: Vince Young appears to be on a short leash with Jeff Fisher. The leash would be shorter if 56 year-old Kerry Collins wasn't the backup quarterback. Could Fisher bring in the veteran to face his former team? If Young is careless with the ball again it could happen.

    Playoff Impact: Both teams are expected to be serious contenders for the postseason this year. After two games, the Giants have looked vulnerable on defense and haven't established Ahmad Bradshaw or Brandon Jacobs in the running game.

    Meanwhile, Vince Young hasn't shown any improvement. Lots of questions need to be answered, and that starts Sunday.

    Prediction: New York Giants 24, Tennessee 16

No. 5: Atlanta at New Orleans

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Superdome, 1 PM EST, FOX

    Star Power: Drew Brees and the Saints will be missing Reggie Bush, but there are still plenty of playmakers to watch for. Matt Ryan and Roddy White should find success against the Saints' secondary.

    Potential Drama: Sunday's game could be a potential trap for the Super Bowl champs, still riding high on a short week following Monday night's win in San Francisco. The Falcons have played well against the pass this season and could shock the Saints.

    Playoff Impact: The Saints are the front-runners in the NFC and the Falcons are one of the front-runners to snag a Wild Card spot. A win would be huge for Mike Smith's Atlanta squad.

    Prediction: Atlanta 27, New Orleans 24

No. 4: Philadelphia at Jacksonville

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    Leon Halip/Getty Images

    EverBank Field, 4:05 PM EST, FOX

    Star Power: Mike Vick dazzled in his first career start in nearly four years and he looks to build on Sunday's performance in Detroit against a Jacksonville defense that looks vulnerable. Vick's presence makes the game worth watching.

    Potential For Drama: Vick isn't likely to perform poorly enough to get yanked by Andy Reid, but if he gets injured the Eagles would be forced to turn to Kevin Kolb. The tension of the quarterback controversy would increase dramatically if Kolb entered the game.

    Playoff Impact: The Eagles have been crushed by injuries but still have a shot in the NFC East given the struggles of the Cowboys. Meanwhile, the Jaguars remain mired in rebuilding mode.

    Prediction: Philadelphia 24, Jacksonville 16

No. 3: New York Jets at Miami

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    Al Bello/Getty Images

    Sun Life Stadium, 8:20 EST Sunday, NBC

    Star Power: Rex Ryan and the Jets bring the reality show to South Beach with Mark Sanchez leading the way coming off the best game of his career. The Dolphins have a dynamic running back duo and the Chad Henne-to-Brandon Marshall connection, which should flourish if Darrelle Revis isn't able to play.

    Potential For Drama: With the Jets there is always potential for drama. This pivotal AFC East game could come down to the wire and will be worth watching, even if it isn't pretty.

    Playoff Impact: The Dolphins could gain a big advantage by winning to improve to 3-0 and sending the Jets to a 1-2 start. Later in the season this type of win might be a huge factor in determining the playoff picture.

    Prediction: Miami 13, New York Jets 10

No. 2: Green Bay at Chicago

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    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Soldier Field, 8:30 PM EST Monday, ESPN

    Star Power: An intriguing quarterback battle also features an interesting clash of linebackers. Brian Urlacher has looked like his old self this season having recovered from his wrist injury, and Clay Matthews is playing like a Defensive Player of the Year, already having collected six sacks on the young season.

    Potential Drama: When the Bears and Packers clash, anything can happen. Both teams are playing well and should be ready to produce a classic Monday night.

    Playoff Impact: A spot atop the NFC North is on the line. Beyond that, the Bears still need to show they belong and could do so with a win Monday.

    Prediction: Chicago 24, Green Bay 21

No. 1: Dallas at Houston

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    Larry French/Getty Images

    Reliant Stadium, 1 PM EST, FOX

    Star Power: Matt Schaub is playing like an MVP, and Tony Romo is playing below his ability. Despite his impressive yardage totals last week against the Bears, Romo made mistakes and missed some throws.

    Elsewhere, Andre Johnson gets a chance to show why he is the best receiver in the NFL and rookie Dez Bryant looks to have a big game for the Cowboys.

    Potential For Drama: America's Team is in trouble. Wade Phillips is already calling the week three contest a must-win and all the pressure is on the Cowboys. The Texans will give up yards and points, which means the game should be a Texas-sized shootout.

    Playoff Implications: The Cowboys can't keep losing without some heads starting to role. A loss sending them to 0-3 would be devastating.  Meanwhile, the Texans could take another step towards the top of the NFL with a win.

    Prediction: Houston 35, Dallas 31