NFL Picks Week 3: 5 Live Underdogs That Will Pull off Upsets
Everybody loves an underdog.
They're scrappy and resourceful, and there's something about seeing the little guy chipping away at the big guy triggers an impulse inside fans to make them instinctively root for it to happen.
Each of the teams I'm picking to lose next week has been one of the "power" teams of the last few years.
It's always fun to watch them go down.
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The New England Patriots have beaten the Buffalo Bills in Buffalo an amazing seven times in a row. They have outscored the bills by a total of 204-53.
That all comes to an end this year.
The Buffalo Bills have the magic this season. They showed it in a Week 1 drubbing of the Kansas City Chiefs, and they showed it in a wild shootout victory over the Oakland Raiders in Week 2.
Ryan Fitzpatrick, Fred Jackson, Stevie Johnson and previously unknown Scott Chandler are leading a resurgence of a once-great franchise. Fitzpatrick has thrown seven touchdowns through two games, building off his surprising 23 touch down campaign a year ago.
But the Bills have Fitzpatrick. And this year, they have the Fitz-magic.
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The Houston Texans have had one of the best offenses in the league for a few seasons now, but it was not until this year that their defense stepped up.
The Texans had the league's 29th ranked scoring defense last year but have given up just 20 points so far this season.
Wade Phillips might not have fared well as head coach of the Dallas Cowboys, but he has turned around the defense in every stop he's made as a defensive coordinator.
Houston also picked up cornerback Jonathan Joseph this offseason, finally solidifying the back end of their defense.
The Saints had a nice bounce-back win against the Chicago Bears this week, and Drew Brees continued to play excellent football, but they can be exploited in the secondary.
Aaron Rodgers carved them up the first week of the season, and Matt Schaub and Andre Johnson will do the same this week.
New York Giants
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The last time the New York Giants lost their first game of the season, they went on to win the Super Bowl.
While that will be much more difficult for them to pull off this season with the injuries that have been piling up, the Giants are still good enough to get a win off the Eagles at home in what is an extremely important early season game.
The only way to beat Mike Vick is to knock him down consistently and force him into bad throws, and the Giants have one of the NFL's best pass rushes.
If Vick can't go, then the Giants should be able to pressure Mike Kafka into making mistakes by mixing up their coverages and who they bring to rush the passer.
Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs will be the key players for New York on offense. If they have a strong game running the football, the Giants will be able to keep the Eagles defense off balance through play-action passes to Hakeem Nicks and Mario Manningham.
Eli Manning must protect the ball and move the Giants down the field methodically. Keeping the ball away from Vick and the explosive Eagles offense will help the Giants' defense stay fresh and able to keep coming after Vick time after time.
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Darren McFadden has 299 total yards and two touchdowns on 50 touches through two games this season and has helped the Raiders light up the scoreboard to the tune of 58 points in those games.
Oakland lost a heartbreaker last week, but the Buffalo Bills had the Fitz-magic on their side, so we're calling it an excusable loss.
Oakland can control the clock against the Jets with the backfield combination of McFadden and Michael Bush.
Rookie Denarius Moore showed he is a force to be reckoned with in a breakout performance against the Bills, making acrobatic plays in double coverage and racking up five catches for 146 yards and a touchdown.
Oakland held the Denver Broncos to 38 yards rushing in Week 1, and neither of the Jets' running backs have shown the ability to to do much of anything this year. Shonn Greene has totaled 75 yards on 26 carries, while LaDainian Tomlinson has rushed for just 24 yards through two contests.
Oakland squeaks by the Jets in a home upset.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
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The Atlanta Falcons are missing their top two defensive tackles, and Tampa Bay running back LeGarrette Blount just had a nice bounce-back performance against the Minnesota Vikings.
Blount carried the ball 13 times for 71 yards and two second-half touchdowns, helping the Bucs come back from a 17-0 halftime deficit to secure a 24-20 victory.
Josh Freeman rebounded from a terrible start to throw for 243 yards and a touchdown and furthered his reputation as a quarterback who performs well in clutch situations.
Freeman led the Buccaneers to five come-from-behind victories last season and has already added one this year.
Next week's opponent Atlanta is coming off an emotional win against their former franchise player, Michael Vick.
The Buccaneers will be able to control the clock in this one and force the Falcons to play from behind, which means less Michael Turner pounding the ball into the heart of their defense.
This time, they won't have to make a comeback.
You can follow Jared Dubin on Twitter: @JADubin5