NFL Picks Week 3: 10 Favorites Who Are Going to Have to Sweat
We are already heading into Week 3 of the NFL season, and it is a time for 2-0 teams to make a statement they belong, as well as 0-2 teams to show their year will not be a lost one.
Teams like the Cowboys and Vikings once dreamed about reached the Super Bowl in Dallas, but are now trying desperately to get something for the win column and kickstart their seasons.
This is a strange week in the NFL schedule, as there are not a ton of big-time matchups, but there ARE a ton of dangerous games for favorites playing on the road at inferior opponents. There is reason for a lot of teams to sweat it out this weak, and I will go over the 10 who should worry most.
10. Giants Vs. Titans
This game falls all the way back at No. 10 on the list because other than being the home team, the Giants have not proven to be a better football team than the Tennessee Titans in Week 3.
After being gashed and embarrassed by Joseph Addai and the Colts’ mediocre-at-best rushing attack, the Giants now are forced to clash helmets with speed demon and NFL rushing champion Chris Johnson.
The Giants and their defense are ripe for the picking, and the Titans will be able to control the game and keep Eli off the field. Look for the G-Men to lose their first game in their new digs 27-20.
9. 49ers at Chiefs
While the 49ers were painfully close to knocking off the defending Super Bowl Champions on Monday night, they displayed a clear dependence on Frank Gore for the majority of their offense.
One thing the Chiefs seem to do well is stop the run in 2010, and the home “New Arrowhead” crowd will be raucous and intimidating—making it hard for a rattled Alex Smith to make changes at the line of scrimmage.
The Chiefs, meanwhile, will be able to find holds in their own running game with Thomas Jones, Jamaal Charles, and perhaps even speedster Dexter McCluster. Look for the home team to squeak out a tight game 20-17.
8. Cardinals Vs. Raiders
Let’s be frank here…the Cardinals are not a good football team. They lost Antrel Rolle, they lost Carlos Dansby, and they traded away Anquan Boldin—all while losing their quarterback and leader in Kurt Warner.
The Raiders will not be playing in January any time soon, but they have eliminated their main distraction JeMarcus Russell from the locker room and know now how to create a push in the running game.
Darren McFadden looks like a weapon, and he will be used often against the Cardinals 31st ranked rushing defense. Look for the Raiders to pick up a big win on the road 23-14.
7. Steelers at Buccaneers
The Steelers, even without Ben Roethlisberger, may seem like a surprise here at No 7. The problem is, Charlie Batch is about as unknown a QB commodity as there is this week (aside from Jimmy Clausen).
It is also very tricky any time you are playing a road game in unfamiliar territory, and a confident team is always a dangerous team. Tampa Bay has not played anybody as of yet, but 2-0 is 2-0 and they feel like they can make a run at this game.
Troy Polamalu and the Steelers defense will be too strong, however, and should provide the difference in a game slightly closer than expected. Pittsburgh escapes to 3-0 with a 17-10 win over the Buccaneers.
6. Bengals at Panthers
The Bengals are coming off a huge win over the Ravens, and are flying high emotionally. The Panthers are coming off a brutal loss to Tampa Bay and are starting a rookie QB. This is a guaranteed blowout, right?
As Lee Corso would say, “Not so fast my friend.” As I said earlier, any road game in unfamiliar territory is difficult regardless of the level of opponent, and the Bengals have some key injuries on defense including CB Adam Jones and DE Antwan Odom.
They also struggle a bit against the run, and the Panthers have the ability to run very well—though have yet to show it. The Bengals will win 24-13, but expect some sweat bullets in the third quarter.
5. Vikings Vs. Lions
With Brett Favre struggling as mightily as he is without a top WR option right now, the Vikings will have to rely heavily on their vaunted rushing attack.
The Lions, meanwhile, have generated nine sacks on defense, which is good for 2nd best in the NFL. They will probably yield about 140-150 rushing yards to the Vikings, but so long as they avoid a 200-yard day they should be able to turn some third downs into sacks of the immobile and bruised Favre.
Jahvid Best burst on the scene in Week 2 and may see a few holes in the screen game against a very aggressive Vikings defensive line in getting up field and after the QB. The Vikings win 27-23 as a late touchdown brings the Lions close in the box score.
4. Eagles at Jaguars
The Eagles have been rejuvenated by the athleticism and dynamism of Michael Vick offensively, but their defense has left much to be desired.
They are currently allowed nearly 30 points per game and about 125 yards on the ground per week, and the Jaguars know exactly what to do against soft defenses.
They will pound the rock with Maurice Jones-Drew 30 times at the minimum, which enables them to control the clock and keep Vick from swinging momentum.
The Eagles won’t have their venomous home crowd behind them on the road, and they will fall in a heartbreaker 30-27 on a last-second FG.
3. Packers at Bears
The Bears are very confident, and appear to have jumpstarted the careers of QB Jay Cutler and RB Matt Forte under the guidance of Mike Martz.
Soldier Field is never an easy place to play, especially for the Packers, and they have already lost star RB Ryan Grant for the season.
This will put all of the pressure on the prized shoulder of QB Aaron Rodgers, as there will be no running room for Brandon Jackson against the Bears linebackers.
That said, I still believe that the Bears have weaknesses that can be exploited in the secondary, and Clay Matthews (six sacks in two games) is the most dangerous defensive player in the NFL right now.
Expect a costly sack-fumble by Matthews on Cutler that leads to an easy score, as the Packers snag a tough road win 34-27.
2. Dolphins Vs. Jets
This may turn out to be the game of the week in the NFL, as one of the most heated rivalries in the league kicks off again in Miami.
The Jets broke out of their shell last week offensively, but the Dolphins and their young cornerback duo is the talk of the town and should be able to limit Jets QB Mark Sanchez.
The absence of CB Darrelle Revis should open up a deep ball or two to Brandon Marshall, as he once caught 18 balls for 166 yards against Antonio Cromartie in 2008. The Wildcat may struggle, but the Jets are short on DTs which could allow Ronnie Brown some space late in the game.
The Dolphins will have to rely on the big play to stay in this game, and I think they will get a few. The problem is I think the Jets defense will as well. Look for the Jets to pick up a big road win 24-21.
1. Texans Vs. Cowboys
There are two key motivational elements to this game for the visiting Cowboys. First of all, they are essentially playing for their season in Week 3, as an 0-3 start may be too big a hole to climb out of.
Secondly, Jerry Jones would rather die than lose to an in-state football team, and I’m sure the players have heard all about that this week.
Matt Schaub is an excellent quarterback, but WR Andre Johnson is nicked up and DeMarcus Ware will be out for blood like a shark at the sight of chum.
The Texans are sitting pretty at 2-0 after upsetting the Colts, and the tiniest of complacency without starting LB Brian Cushing (steroid suspension) will cause Houston to lose a nail-biter 31-27 at home.