NFL Picks Week 3: Bleacher Report's Expert Consensus Picks

Gary Davenport@@IDPSharksNFL AnalystSeptember 23, 2015

NFL Picks Week 3: Bleacher Report's Expert Consensus Picks

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    Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    Week 2 of the 2015 NFL season was an object lesson in what makes the league so great.

    You can't take anything for granted.

    The two-time defending NFC champion Seattle Seahawks fell to 0-2. So did the Indianapolis Colts and Philadelphia Eagles, teams tabbed by many pundits entering the season as Super Bowl contenders.

    Like upsets? Try this on for size. The Oakland Raiders, Jacksonville Jaguars, Cleveland Browns and Washington Redskins—arguably the NFL's four worst teamsall won.

    It was a wild and wacky weekone that left the writers here at Bleacher Report with more than a little egg on their collective faces.

    However, our esteemed scribes have scraped off the omelettes and are once again ready to offer their take on how Week 3 will play out across the NFL.

    If last week was any indication, just bet the opposite in Vegas and you'll make a few bucks.

Roll Call/Standings

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    Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

    Well, you see, what had happened was...

    I have been writing this article every week since the beginning of the 2014 season. Week 2 was easily the worst week our panel has ever endured at picking games. It isn't close.

    Not one writer finished the week above .500. Two (including me) went a pitiful 5-11.

    The week can be summed up fairly easily. Every writer picked the Baltimore Ravens to beat the Raiders, the Miami Dolphins to down the Jaguars, the New Orleans Saints to beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the St. Louis Rams to defeat the Redskins.

    Wrong, wrong, wrong and wrong.

    (Overall season standings in parentheses.)

    Gary Davenport: NFL Analyst 5-11 (15-17)

    Mike Freeman: NFL National Lead Writer 8-8 (19-13)

    Brad Gagnon: NFL Analyst 5-11 (15-17)

    Matt Miller: NFL National Lead Writer 8-8 (16-16)

    Ty Schalter: NFL National Lead Writer 7-9 (16-16)

    Brent Sobleski: NFL Analyst 6-10 (16-16)

    Mike Tanier: NFL National Lead Writer 6-10 (17-15)

    Sean Tomlinson: NFL Analyst 7-9 (16-16)

    Consensus: 7-9 (18-14)

Washington Redskins (1-1) at New York Giants (0-2)

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    Bill Kostroun/Associated Press

    The Pick: New York Giants (6-2)

    Someone might want to get New York Giants head coach Tom Coughlin a Chillow, because his seat's getting a tad warm.

    Twice in 2015, the Giants have been in a position to win a football game late. Twice, the team has snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.

    For the third straight season, the Giants sit at 0-2. But Coughlin isn't freaking out, per Paul Schwartz of the New York Post:

    The situation in our division is very obvious to all of you. I’m going to point that out to our team, how important this upcoming game is. Sooner or later, we just have to settle down and play the way we’re capable of playing when the game is on the line. I don’t know how to say it any simpler. The information comes forth from the sideline, you have ‘X’ amount of time to digest it all, but then you have to go pull the trigger.

    Ah, nothing says confidence like, "Hey, the rest of the division sucks too."

    Still, the NFL's oldest head coach had better hope our writers shake off last week's funk and their pick of the Giants is correct.

    Or the only trigger that's apt to be pulled is the one costing Coughlin his job.

    Redskins: Schalter, Sobleski

    Giants: Davenport, Freeman, Gagnon, Miller, Tanier, Tomlinson

Atlanta Falcons (2-0) at Dallas Cowboys (2-0)

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    Chuck Burton/Associated Press

    The Pick: Atlanta Falcons (7-1)

    The Dallas Cowboys are easily the NFL's most miserable 2-0 team.

    Both wins by the team have come at a high price. Week 1's victory over the New York Giants cost the team wide receiver Dez Bryant (broken foot). Last week's win over the Philadelphia Eagles came at the expense of quarterback Tony Romo, who fractured his clavicle.

    That means Brandon Weeden will run the Dallas offense for the foreseeable future. Luckily, Weeden told Rainer Sabin of the Dallas Morning News back in August that he's supremely confident he can lead the Cowboys to victory if called upon:

    I love my role here. I really do. I have been in Cleveland. I faced a lot of adversity up there, didn’t really win a lot of games and I am in an environment where we’re competing to win divisions and make a run at things. It’s fun winning games. I know I have the ability to play. I never doubted my ability to play in this league. But again I love it here. I love my role in this offense…As a backup quarterback, things could be a lot worse.

    God forbid I am forced to play.

    No, really. He said that last part. Out loud.

    Oh yeah. This is going to end well.

    Falcons: Davenport, Freeman, Gagnon, Miller, Schalter, Sobleski, Tomlinson, Weeden

    Cowboys: Tanier

Indianapolis Colts (0-2) at Tennessee Titans (1-1)

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    Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

    The Pick: Indianapolis Colts (8-0)

    Entering the 2015 season, the Indianapolis Colts were a trendy pick in many circles to represent the AFC in Super Bowl 50.

    The team advanced to the AFC title game last year and added a number of veteran free agents in wide receiver Andre Johnson, running back Frank Gore and outside linebacker Trent Cole.

    Well, things haven't gone at all according to plan. And Gregg Doyel of the Indianapolis Star noted finger-pointing has already begun:

    Colts coach Chuck Pagano, who nudged (Andrew) Luck toward the bus last week when he said "the offense" and even "the quarterback" needed to stop throwing the ball so much – "Everyone knows that," Pagano said – threw Luck under the bus after the game Monday, then backed the bus up and left tread marks all over Luck's No. 12 jersey.

    Pagano noted that the Colts "can't turn the damn ball over," which is the most agitated I've seen Pagano in almost a full calendar year. When someone in the media tried to give Luck an out, asking Pagano if his quarterback is under too much pressure behind a leaky offensive line, Pagano refused to go along.

    "He has been dealing with that for three years now," Pagano said.

    Granted, the Colts started last year 0-2 and righted the ship. And they are the unanimous pick of our panel to defeat the Tennessee Titans in Week 3.

    But this team is starting to take on a lot of similarities to the 2014 San Francisco 49ers, from the bickering between coach and general manager to the regressing quarterback.

    And that ended with a 49ers team some had pegged as a Super Bowl contender completely imploding and missing the playoffs altogether.

    Colts: Davenport, Freeman, Gagnon, Miller, Schalter, Sobleski, Tanier, Tomlinson

    Titans: Given how we did last week, you might want to take Tennessee and the points.

Oakland Raiders (1-1) at Cleveland Browns (1-1)

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    Jason Miller/Getty Images

    The Pick: Cleveland Browns (5-3)

    Jimmy Carter was president the last time the Cleveland Browns and Oakland Raiders faced one another with both teams at .500 or better.

    OK, I made that up. But it's certainly not fiction that both of these fanbases have suffered for a very long time under the yoke of quarterback play that has drifted from awful to putrid to words my editors won't let me use.

    However, both the Raiders and Browns were winners last week, thanks in no small part to the play of young signal-callers Derek Carr and Johnny Manziel.

    Carr, who led the Raiders on a game-winning drive against the Baltimore Ravens, told Scott Bair of CSN Bay Area (sic) that he and the Raiders are beginning to believe:

    I just looked in the huddle, and it was just a great to see a confident look on everyone’s face. It felt like we were just at practice. We worked on moment like this. We practiced against this. We practiced against these looks. It was just a confident look toward everyone in that huddle, and I just thought "Hey man, I better not screw it up. These guys are ready to go."

    Meanwhile, after leading the Browns to a win over the Tennessee Titans in Week 2, Nancy Armour of USA Today believes the Browns would be wise to stick with Manziel under center even if veteran Josh McCown is able to return this week:

    The Browns have to stick with Manziel as their starter. Cleveland is almost two decades into its search for a quarterback who can carry the franchise and, solid a citizen as McCown is, the 36-year-old journeyman isn't it.

    Manziel may not be, either. But he showed enough glimpses of the athleticism and resourcefulness that made him a first-round pick in 2014 in Sunday's start against Tennessee that the Browns owe it to themselves and their fans to find out.

    The Browns were the narrow pick here, but regardless of the winner, one long-suffering fanbase is going to get at least one more week of optimism before reality sets in later this season.

    Of course, the pick was also made before Mike Pettine named Josh McCown the starter for the Browns in Week 3—because of course he did.

    Can't have fans in Cleveland getting too hopeful, after all.

    Raiders: Freeman, Miller, Sobleski

    Browns: Davenport, Gagnon, Schalter, Tanier, Tomlinson

Cincinnati Bengals (2-0) at Baltimore Ravens (0-2)

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    John Grieshop/Getty Images

    The Pick: Cincinnati Bengals (4-4) ***COIN FLIP***

    On one hand, this might seem like an easy call. After all, the Bengals have looked very good in dispatching a pair of AFC West foes to open the season, while the Baltimore Ravens just lost to Oakland—a team the Bengals waxed in Week 1.

    However, rivalry games are never as simple as the team records indicate, and this game is no exception. With the Ravens sitting at 0-2 for the first time in a decade, Bengals cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick told Coley Harvey of ESPN.com that he expects a desperate and hostile Ravens team to take the field in Baltimore Sunday.

    "I'm going to look at it as any other game, but this is a division game," Kirkpatrick said. "They don't like us and we don't like them. So I know it's going to be ramped up just a little bit."

    Quarterback Andy Dalton, who was 1-4 in his first five career starts against the Ravens before reeling off three straight wins (including a season sweep a year ago), echoed those sentiments.

    "Their record doesn't show what type of team they are," Dalton said. "We're going to get their best show and we know that."

    If the Ravens fall to 0-3, their odds of making the playoffs are essentially nil, but thanks to a coin flip, that's exactly what our panel expects to happen.

    Bengals: Davenport, Miller, Sobleski, Tomlinson

    Ravens: Freeman, Gagnon, Schalter, Tanier

Jacksonville Jaguars (1-1) at New England Patriots (2-0)

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    Michael DeHoog/Sports Imagery/Getty Images

    The Pick: New England Patriots (8-0)

    Back in 2007, the Patriots entered the season under a dark cloud. Pundits snickered. Fans sneered. The team was a bunch of dirty opponent-filming cheaters.

    The Patriots went 16-0 that season, and quarterback Tom Brady threw 50 touchdown passes.

    In 2015, the Patriots entered the season under a dark cloud. Pundits snickered. Fans sneered. The team was a bunch of dirty ball-deflating cheaters.

    And as Mike Reiss of ESPN.com reports, former Patriots star Rodney Harrison thinks Brady intends to show the entire NFL just what he thinks of being labeled a villain in the wake of Deflategate:

    I always said when you attain a level of success that Tom Brady has attained, you need something to push you. I think this was a mistake by the entire league. I think he's out for vengeance.

    He's not going to ever come out and say anything, but it's a focus that even when I was on the field on opening night, I saw it in his eyes. I saw that special look. I saw that same look that I saw in '03 and '04 in the Super Bowl. It's scary when Tom Brady gets like that.

    Next up on Brady's list of victims—the Jacksonville Jaguars.

    Jaguars: Yes, no one picked the Jags last week. Yes, they beat the Dolphins. This ain't the Dolphins.

    Patriots: Davenport, Freeman, Gagnon, Miller, Schalter, Sobleski, Tanier, Tomlinson

New Orleans Saints (0-2) at Carolina Panthers (2-0)

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    Sean Gardner/Getty Images

    The Pick: Carolina Panthers (7-1)

    So, about all those changes the New Orleans Saints made in the offseason...

    The Saints made a bevy of moves, dealing away wide receiver Kenny Stills and tight end Jimmy Graham. This was ostensibly done to improve the team's defense.

    Through two games, that improved defense ranks 25th in the NFL, and the Saints are winless.

    But wait, it gets better!

    Quarterback Drew Brees bruised his rotator cuff in last week's loss to Tampa, and while Brees gutted out the rest of the game, the 36-year-old clearly wasn't himself.

    Head coach Sean Payton told ESPN.com's Mike Triplett that he's hopeful Brees will be a go against the undefeated Panthers Sunday:

    He's someone, you know as well as anyone, he's gonna be a competitor. He's gonna be smart about it as well. But I think we'll have a better idea come Wednesday.

    It's not gonna be something where it's long-term. I think both he and the doctors are all optimistic. A lot of it is gonna be on the treatment and his ability to come back and really feel like he's got the strength he needs.

    Oh yeah. A hobbled quarterback with fewer weapons forced to attempt to compensate for a defense that made Jameis Winston look good a week ago.

    What's not to be optimistic about?

    Saints: Schalter

    Panthers: Davenport, Freeman, Gagnon, Miller, Sobleski, Tanier, Tomlinson

Philadelphia Eagles (0-2) at New York Jets (2-0)

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    Al Pereira/Getty Images

    The Pick: New York Jets (7-1)

    Year 3 of the reign of King Chipster of Phillyus isn't going according to the script.

    After gaining control of the team's personnel decisions, head coach Chip Kelly remade the Eagles roster in his image. Out went Nick Foles, replaced by Sam Bradford. Out went LeSean McCoy, replaced by DeMarco Murray. Jeremy Maclin...gone. Guard Evan Mathis...gone.

    After a preseason in which the Eagles looked like an offensive juggernaut, Kelly was hailed by some as a genius.

    Then the games started to count, the Philly offense imploded and, according to Chris Korman of USA Today, suddenly Kelly's reign as grand poobah in the City of Brotherly Love appears to be in real trouble:

    That hasn’t worked in the NFL. As much as he wants it to, Kelly’s system doesn’t erase talent deficiencies, and he keeps making his team worse by getting rid of guys who dare to question him or hold a different thought. His offensive scheme, it has turned out, is a fairly typical set of plays that, when run quickly against a flagging defense, sort of works. When offensive players who are as likely as the defense to tire — because there are fewer substitution options with a smaller squad — rush through those plays, the scheme looks sloppy and unsophisticated.

    Meanwhile, the New York Jets are coming off an impressive Monday night win over the Indianapolis Colts, and with one dissenter, our experts believe these teams will continue trending in their respective directions in Week 3.

    Long live the king. The king is dead.

    Eagles: Gagnon

    Jets: Davenport, Freeman, Miller, Schalter, Sobleski, Tanier, Tomlinson

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-1) at Houston Texans (0-2)

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    Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

    The Pick: Houston Texans (4-4) ***COIN FLIP***

    Last year the Houston Texans were something of a pleasant surprise in Bill O'Brien's first year as head coach. Led by running back Arian Foster and force of nature J.J. Watt, the Texans went 9-7. The belief was that with a break or two the Texans might even be a dark-horse playoff contender in 2015.

    The problem is that the only breaks the Texans have gotten are bad ones. First, veteran wideout Andre Johnson departed in free agency. Then Foster tore a groin muscle.

    Oh, and the team may have the worst quarterback situation in the NFL. Brian Hoyer didn't make it an entire game before being benched for Ryan Mallett, who looked just as bad in attempting 58 passes against the Carolina Panthers in Week 2.

    However, O'Brien told Drew Dougherty of the team's website (sic) he has a solution for the 0-2 Texans.

    Play better:

    Look, we’ve got to play better as a team. We have to play better complimentary football. On defense, we have to tackle better. We’ve got to communicate better. We’ve got to challenge receivers more. We’ve got to pressure the quarterback more. There’s just a lot of different things that we can all do better.

    See? Problem solved.

    Two bad teams in a game no one cares about. Coin flip indeed.

    Buccaneers: Davenport, Freeman, Gagnon, Tomlinson

    Texans: Miller, Schalter, Sobleski, Tanier

San Diego Chargers (1-1) at Minnesota Vikings (1-1)

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    Genevieve Ross/Associated Press

    The Pick: Minnesota Vikings (6-2)

    When the Vikings take the field Sunday against the San Diego Chargers, there will be a big change on the field, borne of the harsh financial realities of the modern NFL.

    Ragnar, the "human mascot" of the Vikings since 1994, won't be riding his Harley onto the field at the beginning of the game. Or any game ever again. And as ESPN.com's Ben Goessling reports, the reason has to be read to be believed:

    A man who has prowled the sidelines at Minnesota Vikings games since 1994, purported to be the modern-day embodiment of an ancient Norse pillager, should surely be expected to take a hard line in contract negotiations. The contract for the "human mascot" with the Vikings was up before this season, and Ragnar wasn't just looking for a raise: He wanted a bounty. According to a person with knowledge of the situation, Joe Juranitch -- the Ely, Minnesota, man who plays Ragnar -- wanted $20,000 per game to continue in the role, up from the $1,500 per game he was making. That adds up to $160,000 per year, or $200,000 if the pay applied to preseason games.

    From $1,500 a game to 20 grand? I think you may have overshot the mark just a touch, bud.

    However, most of our panel expects the Vikings will somehow, some way, dig deep and down the Chargers without Ragnar.

    Unless, of course, the players all demand 1,000-plus percent raises before the game.

    Ragnar no like math.

    Chargers: Freeman, Sobleski

    Vikings: Davenport, Gagnon, Miller, Schalter, Tanier, Tomlinson

Pittsburgh Steelers (1-1) at St. Louis Rams (1-1)

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    Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press

    The Pick: Pittsburgh Steelers (8-0)

    After serving a two-game suspension related to a 2014 marijuana arrest, tailback Le'Veon Bell will return to action Sunday against a Rams team that was just gashed for 182 yards on the ground by the Washington Redskins in Week 2.

    Bell wasn't completely ostracized from the team during his timeout. He couldn't attend games or practices, but Bell was allowed to work out at team facilities and attend meetings. The third-year pro told Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that he's grateful to be back at it in earnest.

    "I think it was a good thing, obviously not to be gone for two whole weeks. I’ll still be caught up on everything so when I get thrown back in there I’m not lost and have to catch up on things," Bell said. "I’m just glad to be back on the field."

    In Bell and wide receiver Antonio Brown (who has been a machine the first two weeks of the season), the Steelers have arguably the NFL's top tailback and wideout, but this game may hinge on the ability of Pittsburgh's offensive line to hold off one of the NFL's best defensive lines.

    Our panel is unanimous in their belief Pittsburgh will do just that.

    Steelers: Davenport, Freeman, Gagnon, Miller, Schalter, Sobleski, Tanier, Tomlinson

    Rams: Not for nothing, but I almost picked them. This one has the smell of a trap game with the Steelers facing the hated Ravens in Week 4.

San Francisco 49ers (1-1) at Arizona Cardinals (2-0)

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    Tony Avelar/Associated Press

    The Pick: Arizona Cardinals (8-0)

    Maybe it's because the team is located out West. Maybe it's because they play in the same division as the two-time defending NFC champion Seattle Seahawks. Maybe it's just because they're the Arizona Cardinals, a team whose legacy (at least in the modern era) is one mostly of mediocrity.

    Whatever the reason, the Redbirds aren't generally mentioned among the NFL's elite teams. And Bucky Brooks of NFL.com thinks it's time that changed:

    The Arizona Cardinals have emerged as a legitimate contender in the NFC behind a high-powered offense that's clicking on all cylinders and leading the NFL in scoring. Bruce Arians has Carson Palmer playing the best football of his career and the two-time Coach of the Year has found a way to rejuvenate Larry Fitzgerald on the perimeter. With the running game slowly coming around, it is time to consider the "Bird Gang" as a serious threat to the Seattle Seahawks for NFC West supremacy. After all, Arizona's already two games up on the two-time reigning division champs.

    The Cardinals were as impressive as any team in the league in dropping 48 points on the Chicago Bears in Week 2, and all eight of our voters expect the good time to keep on rolling this week against a San Francisco 49ers squad that came crashing back to Earth in Pittsburgh last Sunday.

    So long as Palmer can stay healthy, the Cardinals are the real deal, folks.

    Not just to contend for a division title, but to make a trip to Santa Clara in February.

    49ers: Chin up, Niners fans. It was the unanimous calls that killed us in Week 2.

    Cardinals: Davenport, Freeman, Gagnon, Miller, Schalter, Sobleski, Tanier, Tomlinson

Buffalo Bills (1-1) at Miami Dolphins (1-1)

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    Alan Diaz/Associated Press

    The Pick: Buffalo Bills (6-2)

    After an impressive win over the Indianapolis Colts in Week 1, the Buffalo Bills came back to Earth a bit in a sloppy, penalty-filled loss to the New England Patriots in Week 2. One would think that setback might have quieted head coach Rex Ryan where the top dogs in the AFC East are concerned.

    However, as Shalise Manza Young of Yahoo Sports reports, one would be wrong:

    They outplayed us, they outcoached us, they outdid whatever. But there's different ways of chatting and of all that type of stuff, too. Let's face it: New England is not exactly the Boy Scouts of America. All right? So you can say what you want, but the tape doesn't lie either.

    Of course, the Bills aren't the only AFC East also-ran with problems at the moment. According to Adam Beasley of the Miami Herald, the honeymoon between the Miami Dolphins and the NFL's highest-paid defensive player may already be over:

    The Miami Herald has learned that [Ndamukong] Suh freelanced at times Sunday, creating confusion on the defense. By taking matters into his own hands, the Dolphins' $114 million man took a bad situation and made it worse.

    "I couldn't tell you," Suh said, when asked to explain his uninspired play. "At the end of the day, we have to go back to the drawing board and figure out what we want to run so guys can make plays and go from there."

    Not to sound overly dramatic, but with the Patriots likely winners Sunday, the loser of this game will already be in deep you-know-what where the division race is concerned. Never mind that the Jets enter Week 3 at 2-0.

    The AFC East is shaping up to be a dogfight in 2015, and if our writers are correct, the Dolphins may be out of that fight before it really gets started.

    Bills: Davenport, Miller, Schalter, Sobleski, Tanier, Tomlinson

    Dolphins: Freeman, Gagnon

Chicago Bears (0-2) at Seattle Seahawks (0-2)

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    John Froschauer/Associated Press

    The Pick: Seattle Seahawks (8-0)

    It's not exactly a huge surprise that the Chicago Bears are 0-2. The team fielded one of the NFL's worst defenses a year ago. After giving up 48 points to the Arizona Cardinals in Week 2, it doesn't appear that defense is much better in 2015.

    It is, however, a surprise to see the Seattle Seahawks sporting that same record. It's the first time since 2002 that a Super Bowl-defending team opened a season 0-2, but Alex Marvez of Fox Sports thinks there are two steps that can get the Seahawks back on the winning track:

    Build cohesion along the offensive line: Position coach Tom Cable is a wizard, but he's working with a unit that features new starters at three spots and only one blue-chip player in left tackle Russell Okung. The growing pains are reflected by the fact running back Marshawn Lynch has just 114 yards through the first two games.

    Resolve the contract impasse with Kam Chancellor: Chancellor's holdout has led Seattle to start two different strong safeties. The drop-off is significant. The vaunted "Legion of Boom" secondary has surrendered three touchdowns without an interception and is allowing opposing quarterbacks to complete 71.7 percent of their passes in Chancellor's absence.

    Fortunately for Seattle, the Chancellor impasse may soon come to an end, per ESPN's Adam Schefter and Stephen A. Smith, but the offensive line isn't going to come together overnight.

    Playing a bad Bears team at home doesn't hurt either.

    Bears: Did I mention that the Bears are bad?

    Seahawks: Davenport, Freeman, Gagnon, Miller, Schalter, Sobleski, Tanier, Tomlinson

Denver Broncos (2-0) at Detroit Lions (0-2)

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    Jack Dempsey/Associated Press

    The Pick: Denver Broncos (8-0)

    The Denver Broncos aren't exactly racking up style points doing it, but the team is 2-0 and once again in first place in the AFC West.

    However, Peter King of the MMQB sees trouble afoot in the Mile High City:

    The crux of the numbers: Manning is on pace to be sacked 56 times (more than triple his sack number from last year) and on pace to be under significant pressure 224 times, 69.7 percent more than he was pressured a year ago. Now, Manning has taken to collapsing when he sees the inevitable sack coming, so that's less punishment than a normal quarterback taking 56 sacks would endure. But at his age and with his lack of mobility—if this continues—Manning would be so battered by December with all that pressure that it'd be an upset if he made it through the season.

    Of course, not as much trouble as King sees brewing in the Motor City:

    Detroit is 0-2, and this is the Lions' reward: consecutive prime-time dates with Peyton Manning and the 2-0 Broncos Sunday at home, then at Seattle eight nights later in a game the Seahawks will have to have. Tremendous reportage by Mlive.com's Kyle Meinke in the losers' locker room Sunday at Minnesota, when The Franchise, Matthew Stafford, looked like a guy who'd just gone 12 rounds with Tyson in his prime.

    Wrote Meinke of Stafford: "There was a blood-soaked bandage on his left forearm, near the elbow. He began picking at a bandage around his left wrist. His throwing arm looked beat up too. It's no wonder he put on long sleeves for that press conference. The big toe on his left foot was blue. Two toes on his right foot were taped … Stafford just kept sitting there in the corner, breathing just right, trying to soothe his battered ribs. He had X-rays for those ribs. There's no word on the results." Yow. It's Sept. 21. How in the world will Stafford last through 14 more of these three-hour survival tests? And as Stafford goes, so go the Lions.

    If King's right, neither of these quarterbacks may last the season. But if our writers are right and Denver prevails, the Lions will be all but toast anyway.

    Lions: Sorry, Detroit fans. Better luck in 2016.

    Broncos: Davenport, Freeman, Gagnon, Miller, Schalter, Sobleski, Tanier, Tomlinson

Kansas City Chiefs (1-1) at Green Bay Packers (2-0)

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    Tom Lynn/Associated Press

    The Pick: Green Bay Packers (7-1)

    King was also on quite the roll where Kansas City Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles was concerned, saddling Charles with "Goat of the Week" honors after his late fumble did the Chiefs in last Thursday against Denver:

    I know, I know. Andy Reid called the play with 35 seconds left in a tie game at his own 20, and Charles fumbled the ball, and Denver’s Bradley Roby ran it in for the win. Just kneel down, coach, and play for overtime. I agree. But Charles, to me, is the no-doubt GOTW. He had huge gaffes at the beginning and the end of the 31-24 loss to Denver. On Kansas City’s first series, he took a pass from Alex Smith at the Denver six-yard line in a scoreless game. Denver safety David Bruton punched it out, and the Broncos recovered. That’s either a three-point or seven-point loss there. And at the end, Charles has to know the Broncos are going to be punching at the ball, trying to force a fumble. Linebacker Brandon Marshall did just that, and Bradley Roby recovered. Charles is a great player, but he cost the Chiefs seven points early, and he cost them the game late. "I caused us the loss," Charles said. "I tried to put the team on my back, and I ended up losing the game."

    It was a devastating play. A devastating loss. The sort of gaffe that can haunt a team or sink a season.

    And now the Chiefs have to travel to Lambeau Field to face Aaron Rodgers, who is essentially unstoppable on his home field.

    Reid told BJ Kissel of the team's website that the team has already moved on from the Denver heartbreak and are ready for this next test:

    We've moved on. That's where I'm at. If you're still on that game, you and I are in a different place. We love the challenge of playing good football teams. You work like crazy to be a good team yourself and you cherish those opportunities to be challenged.

    We'll see if Reid and the Chiefs feel the same way next Tuesday, as they could find themselves in a two-game hole in the AFC West, where 10-6 might not even warrant a playoff spot in 2015.

    Chiefs: Schalter

    Packers: Davenport, Freeman, Gagnon, Miller, Sobleski, Tanier, Tomlinson