NFL Favorites Week 3: 7 Bullies Who Are Sure To Fall This Week
The first two weeks of the NFL season have proved that anything is possible. Cam Newton has made the Carolina Panthers relevant. The Buffalo Bills look like the real deal. The Tennessee Titans decided the victory parades being planned in Baltimore this February were a bit premature and brought the Ravens back to Earth.
So far only the New England Patriots and Green Bay Packers have been true bullies as a team, but there have been some individuals who have bullied the opposition so far this season. While there have been some dominant performances thus far, at some point, everyone has an off week.
This is a look at those players and teams who will have a wake-up call this weekend.
Miles Austin, Dallas Cowboys
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Miles Austin had a career game this weekend against the San Francisco 49ers. Austin had three touchdowns and 143 yards receiving. He caught touchdowns from two different quarterbacks against a weak 49ers secondary.
While the Redskins are not the world's greatest passing defense, the Redskins-Cowboys rivalry always heightens the level of competition. Expect both teams to go at it hard this weekend.
Austin is currently fourth in the NFL in receiving yards; he should have a much more difficult time this weekend getting open. The Cowboys are a terrible rushing team, the second-worst in the league; this will allow the Redskins to focus on the passing game.
Between the Redskins' focus on Austin and the passing game and the likely return of Dez Bryant, Austin should see his yardage totals slip.
Darren McFadden, Oakland Raiders
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Darren McFadden has shown his versatility in the first two weeks of the season. Against the Denver Broncos, he was dominant rushing the ball, gaining 150 yards on the ground. Against the Buffalo Bills, he did it through the air and on the ground, garnering a receiving and rushing touchdown.
McFadden will face a much tougher matchup this weekend, when the Oakland Raiders face the New York Jets. The Jets are the eighth-best overall defense and while the numbers last weekend might tell a different story, the Raiders offensive attack isn't exactly balanced.
McFadden is a big part of the Raiders' success. The Jets will plan for that and challenge Jason Campbell to beat them. If Campbell falters and the Raiders become one-dimensional, McFadden will be running into a wall. His early season outburst will likely come to an end this week.
Terrell Suggs, Baltimore Ravens
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Terrell Suggs is certainly making an early case for Defensive Player of the Year. With a very balanced defensive stat line, Suggs is making things difficult on offensive lines and should continue to do so for the remainder of the season.
With that said, the St. Louis Rams have a set of young offensive tackles in Rodger Safford and Jason Smith that should provide excellent protection against the Ravens pass rush.
T-Sizzle was able to get into the backfield much more easily against Pittsburgh and Tennessee; that might change against St. Louis. His game against Pittsburgh was truly dominant—three sacks and two forced fumbles made Suggs the early leader for Defensive Player of the Year. He was able to get an interception against Tennessee but not much else.
Suggs should continue to see his production decline this week before getting back into gear for the Sunday night game against the New York Jets.
Tom Coughlin, New York Giants
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Tom Coughlin is known as one of the most no-nonsense coaches in the NFL. He is notoriously tough on his players and very strict about his rules. One of his mantras is "If you aren't five minutes early, you're late." It is very easy to see him as a bully.
The Giants are banged up defensively. This is not helping Coughlin stay off the hot seat. Adding injuries to the mix of playing in the ultra-competitive NFC East, the Giants look like they are looking at a losing season.
Whether they are 1-1 or 0-2 after Monday night's game is of no real significance for their game against the Philadelphia Eagles. While Michael Vick may be out because of injury, they still have enough talent to beat up a depleted Giants team.
Making matters worse for Coughlin and the Giants is that they have to play in Philadelphia. It is going to be a bad week for Coughlin.
Matt Forte, Chicago Bears
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Matt Forte has proven to be even more versatile than some of the other all-purpose backs in the league like LeSean McCoy and Darren McFadden. Forte has had big games in the air so far and has supplemented that with 117 rushing yards.
With the Chicago Bears offensive line still struggling, Forte will likely be more of a threat in the passing game this season but the Bears need him to get it going on the ground. Especially next week as the Bears will face the Green Bay Packers and their vaunted defense.
The Packers have allowed an average of 76 yards against two of the most dynamic rushing attacks in the league in New Orleans and Carolina. As the likes of DeAngelo Williams, Pierre Thomas and Jonathan Stewart have not had success, that likely means a similar fate awaits Forte.
Tom Brady, New England Patriots
Tom Brady is having the best start to an NFL season of any quarterback in history. Odds are that he evens out at some point and his stats fall back to Earth.
While even on his bad days, Brady is better than most, Buffalo Bills fans can hope that Brady is closer to his career average of 242 yards per game. While a drop to that level is unlikely, something in the range of 300 would be considered a victory.
The Bills have not faced a quarterback of Mr. Brady's caliber, but have allowed respectable numbers against two competent veterans. The Bills are allowing the 11th-worst passer rating and giving up the 13th-most yards through the air, something that should be commended considering the passing explosion seen in the first two weeks.
The Patriots generally have their hands full with the Buffalo Bills and this week could be more of the same. A Bills victory isn't likely, but keeping Brady in check will be priority No. 1 this weekend.
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When you think of the Detroit Lions, the last thing you think of is them being bullies. With some smart moves in the past few offseasons, we might be thinking of them as bullies a lot more often.
Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson have been magnificent in the first two games of the season, but that streak might come to an end as they face off against NFC North rival, Minnesota.
After the game against the San Diego Chargers, it was easy to write off Donovan McNabb and the Vikings. While the Vikings fell to 0-2 this week, they showed that they could dominate. The Vikings led the first three quarters of their matchup with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers before losing in the fourth quarter.
The Vikings will be even more determined to prove that they are still a team to be reckoned with. Going on the road for a divisional matchup, the Lions will have their hands full and may be taking a tumble in the standings this weekend.