NFL Picks Week 3: New Orleans vs. Houston and 4 Can't Miss Games

Alex JosephAnalyst ISeptember 23, 2011

NFL Picks Week 3: New Orleans vs. Houston and 4 Can't Miss Games

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    As we enter Week 3 of the NFL, teams are finally a little easier to read. This makes it easier to pick the week's best matchups.

    Even though Week 3 is going to deal out a plethora of good games to watch, it's my job to tell you what four games are going to be the absolute best to watch. These games will be the most hyped, the most competitive and the most fun.

    One thing is for sure, football is football, so even if you happen to miss one of these four games, you can at least be reassured that you'll still have a whole lineup of good games to watch.

    I'm warning you, though, these are going to be the best, so don't miss them.

Philadelphia Eagles vs. New York Giants

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    Final Score Prediction: 35-21, Eagles

    Rivalry week! The banged up New York Giants travel to Philadelphia to take on their rivals, the Eagles, in what is likely to be a heated Week 3 matchup.

    Former Giants WR Steve Smith made his season debut with the Eagles last week, catching two passes for 29 yards in an Eagles' loss in Atlanta. This will be his first matchup against his former team, and that will likely be one of the featured story lines before the game.

    This may not be a very exciting story line, but it kind of has to be. Even though this is a big rivalry game with inner-conference implications, the Eagles are just a better team. Hands down. It doesn't help that the Giants are as banged up as they are.

    Giants WR Domenik Hixon is out and fellow WR Mario Manningham is doubtful, leaving Hakeem Nicks as QB Eli Manning's only receiving threat. Brandon Stokley is going to have to step up in a big way, but it will be tough to do against the Eagles' secondary. 

    Eagles' QB Michael Vick has been cleared to play, and even though he should stay in the pocket more this weekend and play more conservatively, there's no chance that he will. Vick will play his normal style of football, mixing in the pass and the run, and he should finish with a well-balanced stat-line.

    Vick and his weapons on offense, especially RB LeSean McCoy, will be too much to handle for a Giants' defense that will be without CB Prince Amukamara and DE Osi Umenyiora.

    This is a big game for the rivalry, but the Eagles should have no problem getting a win.

Cleveland Browns vs. Miami Dolphins

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    Final Score Prediction: 30-21, Miami

    The winless Miami Dolphins head to Cleveland to take on the 1-1 Browns in what promises to be one of Week 3's most exciting games.

    Wait, what? Did I really just say that? Yes, I think I did.

    There are just too many good matchups in this game for it to go unnoticed. First off, the Browns have, statistically, the second best pass defense in the NFL through two weeks. That could be because they have only faced Andy Dalton and Kerry Collins, so it will be interesting to how the Browns deal with Chad Henne and the Dolphins passing attack.

    Speaking of the passing attack, it will be fun to watch Dolphins' star WR Brandon Marshall battle Browns' up-and-coming CB Joe Haden all day. Marshall has said that he's been looking forward to this matchup for months. Marshall, who has 13 receptions for 218 yards and one touchdown through two games, might be the most underrated receiver in football.

    The Dolphins' offense has nothing to worry about, it's the defense that has to step up in order for them to win this game. Their pass defense is No. 30 in the league, and their run defense isn't much better at No. 22.

    Browns QB Colt McCoy and RB Peyton Hillis should both have good stat days. This game is really going to come down to who plays better defense, or who can out score the other opponent.

    The Browns would normally get the nod since their defense is likely better, but I just think Miami is going to have a big game on the ground from Daniel Thomas, which will open up the passing for Henne and Marshall.

    The Dolphins will win this game, but it's going to be one of the more competitive games of the weekend.

Chicago Bears vs. Green Bay Packers

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    Final Score Prediction: 27-20, Green Bay

    In a rematch of one of last year's NFC semifinal games, the defending Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers head to Chicago to take on the Bears.

    This game is not only important for the Bears because of redemption, but it also has inner-conference implications on the line. Both the Bears and the Packers are fighting to get back of the playoffs, and the easiest way of getting there will be to win the NFC North.

    Green Bay is currently 2-0, while Chicago is 1-1 after losing to New Orleans in Week 2. If Chicago wins, they will likely take over as No. 2 in the NFC North behind the Detroit Lions, who travel to Minnesota this weekend to take on the Vikings.

    There will be a few things to watch in this game, starting with the Bears' defense. Normally one of the best defenses in the NFL, the Bears are off to a rough start this season after facing two good offenses with the Atlanta Falcons in Week 1 and the Saints in Week 2. They are currently allowing 270 passing yards per game and 114 rushing yards per game.

    Green Bay QB Aaron Rodgers should be able to throw against the Bears without a problem, but they really need to get RB James Starks going in this game. Playing in Chicago, the Bears are going to be pumped, the fans are going to be crazy and the Bears' defense is going to play better than they have so far.

    In order for the Bears to have a chance, and I do think they will, QB Jay Cutler has to play well, and they have to get some production out of somebody other than Matt Forte.

    Forte has been Cutler's go-to receiver in the first two weeks, catching 15 passes already for 207 yards and one touchdown. Forte has also rushed 26 times for 117 yards, but he has zero rushing touchdowns.

    Cutler is going to have to play better than his Week 2 performance in New Orleans, where he completed just 19 of his 45 pass attempts.

    This will be a competitive game, and it will likely be won in the fourth quarter.

New Orleans Saints vs. Houston Texans

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    Final Score Prediction: 27-24, Saints

    This will be the best game of Week 3. In an old-school battle of offense vs. defense, the undefeated Houston Texans will travel to New Orleans to take on Drew Brees and the 1-1 Saints.

    If this game weren't being played in New Orleans, I might actually give the edge to Houston instead of the Saints. However, here is my bold predictions for the game:

    The game will either be tied or in the Texans' favor throughout the first three quarters. In fact, the Texans will take a lead into the fourth quarter of at least seven points. During the fourth quarter, momentum will start to shift, the crowd will get back into the game and Drew Brees will march his offense down the field, eventually winning the game with his patented unstoppable two-minute offense.

    The Texans certainly can't stop Brees' passing attack, but they can slow him down. Houston is currently the best pass defense in the league, allowing just 162.5 passing yards per game. Their run defense isn't as good as they'd like it to be, but I can guarantee the Saints' running back committee won't rush for over 70 yards collectively.

    The Texans will be prepared, they just won't have enough win it gets down to the end. Texans' star RB Arian Foster is a game-time decision, and they would love to have him back for a big game like this, but they can't rush his healing process.

    If Foster is unable to play, the Texans should be more than happy to use second-string RB Ben Tate again. Tate has really been the surprise of the Texans' offense this season. In two games, Tate has 219 yards rushing.

    If Tate is running well, and QB Matt Schaub is finding open receivers, this game could go in the Texans' favor. However, I still believe the Saints are going to pull it out in a close one.

    If you're going to watch just one game this weekend, make this one it.