NFL Week 3: Straight-Up Predictions

Chuck StanecContributor IIISeptember 25, 2011

Week 1 Predictions Record: 8-8

Week 2: DNP

After a .500 first week of picks, I was primed to go 16-0 in Week 2. Unfortunately, I had to travel and it was nearly impossible to pick that slate of games and for legitimacy reasons, I refuse to subscribe to making any second week "picks" post-fact.

However, this week, I feel like I'm at the precipice of something great.

It's hard to determine a team's fate in the first week, especially after such an abbreviated offseason. I think we know way more about the 32 squads now than we did six weeks ago.

Get ready for an exciting Week 3!


Houston at New Orleans

The Texans are playing like they really want that playoff spot! Ben Tate has back-to-back 100-yard games and the defense is getting after the quarterback and limiting passing yards. With the Colts out of the picture, this is their division to lose.

The downside for Houston is that they are playing the Saints—a team with more pass-catching weapons than they know what to do with and they are finally getting Lance Moore back. Drew Brees has yet to throw for under 300 yards and the Texans are only giving up 162 yards per game. Something is going to give.

Prediction: I can't see the Saints starting the season 1-2, nor can I see the Texans losing with as well as they are playing on both sides of the ball. A choice must be made. Texans win a high-scoring affair 38-35.


NY Giants at Philadelphia

Two weeks ago, my initial thought on the Giants was, "Pack it up. Better luck next year." I still believe the team has too many injuries to overcome. They looked porous against Washington, then surprised with a win against Sam Bradford and the Rams—minus Steven Jackson. They stop the run, but can't defend the pass. The Eagles are not exactly a run-first team.

If Michael Vick stays healthy, this game may turn out to be a serious beating. I think that if he is knocked out of the game, this is still a serious beating. Too many offensive weapons will rule the day. However, the Eagles have a weak run defense and the Giants have Brandon Jacobs. We'll see who prepares better when Sunday rolls around.

Prediction: Eagles all over Giants, 31-14.


Jacksonville at Carolina

Blaine Gabbert, welcome to your first start.

Cam Newton, welcome to your first win as a starter.

Prediction: Newton throws for a quarter mile. Panthers win 27-13.


New England at Buffalo

Pats are giving up 9.5 points at the books in this game. Oddly, the Patriots have had their early season struggles with the Bills over the past few years. And breaking news, Patrick Chung is out.

The Bills are riding an emotional wave they haven't had since the early to mid-'90s. Ryan Fitzpatrick is engineering drives like Tom Brady. Fred Jackson is playing at a Pro Bowl level.

Prediction: Surprise win of the week, the Bills win on a late kick, 23-21.


Miami at Cleveland

The Fish are 0-2 and have looked like two completely different teams in those losses. The only consistent player has been Brandon Marshall. The running game has been non-existent.

Cleveland is 1-1 in much the opposite fashion as perhaps many would have predicted. Not playing Peyton Manning helps. The defense is playing solid football and is maybe a nap in the 4th quarter against Cincy from being 2-0. The lack of a legit No. 1 receiver is really stunting the offense.

Prediction: Miami is better on the road than at home. With that in mind, they are really bad at home. Cleveland should find enough ways to put points on the board to win this one 24-17.


San Francisco at Cincinnati

The Niners bring the league's top rushing defense across country for a 1:00 game. They've been able to put a fair number of points up and pushed a decent Cowboys team to the brink in overtime last week.

The Bengals are riding the "Red Rifle" as far as he can take them this season. His chemistry with A.J. Green has come along much faster than most expected. If not for the potential loss of Jerome Simpson, I'd say this game is a gimme for the Bengals.

Prediction: The 49ers start off hot, but a Raiders-like second-half collapse is their demise. Bengals win on a late comeback by Andy Dalton, 24-20.


Denver at Tennessee

Kyle Orton is playing as well as can be expected. The receiving corps is so dismantled by injury that Tim Tebow lined up at wide out last week. Eddie Royal is expected out and Brandon Lloyd is far from 100 percent. They are not able to run the ball either. Defensively, they're getting gashed for yards.

Tennessee looks like a serious contender for the AFC title with Matt Hasselbeck under center. Chris Johnson is gaining a meager two yards per carry, but could break out this week. Kenny Britt is really coming into his own and the defense has been better than advertised and is third in the league in total yards allowed.

Prediction: Tennessee will win big, 28-10.


Detroit at Minnesota

The Lions look like a serious contender for more than just a playoff spot so far this season. Keeping Matt Stafford healthy has to be a focal point. This week, they are running into a very aggressive and punishing defense desperate for a win. This is also a week where we see who the Lions really are: a team poised for big things winning games they are suppose to win, or a fledgling upstart still a year away from big things.

Minnesota put up better numbers last week and is developing some continuity with Donovan McNabb. Adrian Peterson is bringing it as he always does. Where is Percy Harvin? This team is far from a finished product. And they are facing a serious challenge on both sides of the football this week.

Prediction: Lions step up and win one (1-13 last 14 years in Minnesota) 35-14.


Baltimore at St. Louis

The Ravens defense has looked like two different teams so far this season. Who shows up this coming weekend is anyone's guess. A lot has been said about the aging nature of the defensive stars, and with a 4 PM kickoff, they should be pretty hungry for the senior dinner special at Denny's by the end of the 1st quarter. Tough to say how the possible absence of Lee Evans will affect the offense.

The Rams' defense, thought to be improved, is being hammered to the tune of 363 yards per game—13th worst, with the worst rush defense in the league. Coming to town, Ray Rice. Probably enough said on that issue.

Prediction: Rams slide to 0-3 and Ray Rice hits for over 200 yards of total offense in the game, 31-16.


NY Jets at Oakland

The Jets haven't been able to find a consistent running game, and I don't think they stumble upon it against the Raiders.

The Raiders are a very solid team. They can run the ball and do enough in the passing game to be successful. The defense gives up a lot of yards statistically, but that is due to the Bills having to throw the ball over and over again to climb back into that thriller.

Prediction: Jets forget to bring their offense to Northern California, and Oakland wins convincingly 27-17.


Kansas City at San Diego

I thought about how to say this many different ways, but there really is only one. The Chiefs are terrible and are going to lose this game. Sorry to the fans. On a fantasy note, Thomas Jones might be a nice value player.

San Diego needs this win. Another sub-.500 start is unacceptable. Without Eric Berry in the KC secondary and one of the league's top passing offenses, this could turn into a route.

Prediction: San Diego 35-3. Take this one to the books.


Arizona at Seattle

Arizona is really coming into their own and the chemistry between Kevin Kolb and Larry Fitzgerald is going to make them one of the best passing duos in the NFL by season's end.

Seattle might be one of the worst-coached and most mismanaged teams in the league and should find an 0-2 divisional record in the NFC West by the end of the day.

Prediction: Arizona dominates an overmatched Seahawks squad 28-10.


Atlanta at Tampa Bay

So early in the season, this is already shaping up to be a very huge game for both teams.

Atlanta was 14-2 last season. They have one loss heading into this weekend. Another loss, to divisional rival Tampa Bay, could only be viewed as a huge setback.

Tampa played the Falcons very tough last season. They'll have the home crowd behind them. I believe they've done enough to gain ground on the Falcons and this is going to be a statement game for them.

Prediction: Tampa wins a close battle, 21-17.


Green Bay at Chicago

The Packers dismantled Chicago in last year's NFC Championship game. I have no reason to believe this will be any different. The loss of Nick Collins was a serious blow, but this team is used to overcoming this type of adversity.

Chicago has an offense built on throwing the ball; they just lack realistic players at the wide receiver position to make a difference. Matt Forte is their top producer, but has been underutilized.

Prediction: The Packers defense, which has surrendered big passing yards so far this season, shuts down the Bears offense enough times to win, 31-17.


Pittsburgh at Indianapolis

As old as the Steelers looked in Week 1, they proved much better last week. Even if they play average, it should be more than enough to win against Indy.

The Colts are really looking for something solid to build off of. Unfortunately, they have yet to find it.

Prediction: 'Burgh rolls to victory on the road, 42-7.


Monday Night: Washington at Dallas

The 'Skins are one of the surprise teams this season. Tim Hightower was a completely underrated addition to this offense. If Rex Grossman can play error free, this is Washington's game to lose.

The Cowboys may have run into Washington at the wrong time. Tony Romo was significantly injured last week. While CT scans are saying his punctured lung has healed, the rib has not. While a cortisone shot is probably next on his to-do list, one serious pop could alter things.

Prediction: Redskins surprise us all—minus me, of course—by winning in Texas, 20-14.


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