There are a lot of questions heading into week 3 for major contenders. The Seattle Seahawks have scored one touchdown in 22 possessions. ONE. The Green Bay Packers have looked underwhelming in two weeks, even with Jordy returning. Aaron Rodgers does not look like the Aaron Rodgers we are used to seeing. The Bengals looked solid after a week one win in New York, but the offense stalled last week. AJ Green and the run game looked nonexistent. Many thought the Redskins could repeat as division champs, and they have looked lackluster after two weeks. The Raiders defense has been sloppy the past two weeks, and they don’t look like the Raiders we expected so much of this year. The Chiefs had to come back against San Diego and got shut down at Houston. Can these teams respond and reestablish themselves. Let’s find out in this week’s picks.
Last Week: 10-6
This Week: 0-1
Cardinals 27, Bills 14
The Bills offense continues to have questions, especially with Sammy Watkins’ health up in the air. The defense isn’t fairing much better as of late, as the Jets torched them through the air and thrashed them on the ground. With Marcell Dareus and Shaq Lawson still out, I don’t expect them to do better against an explosive Arizona offense. Carson Palmer and company responded to their loss to the Pats in week one with a dominant performance over the Bucs. I expect David Johnson to be all cylinders this week, and they have so many receivers for the Bills to cover. It will be especially hard for the Bills to move the ball if Watkins doesn’t play, and the run game may not find many holes. Arizona should have hold of this game from the beginning.
Raiders 27, Titans 23
The Raiders defense needs to wake up. After being ripped to shreds through the air the first two weeks, they will get a softer matchup against Marcus Mariota and a weaker receiving corps. This will be the chance for Sean Smith to find himself. As for Khalil Mack, he’s looking for his first sack of the season. A young Titans’ offensive line is his big opportunity to make a statement. The Titans are coming off a good comeback win in Detroit, where they continued to be dominant on the defensive line. If they get the ground game rolling and make Oakland one dimensional, this will be a great game. I’m banking on the Titans not having an answer for Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree. It’ll be tougher than they thought, but Oakland will come out on top.
Dolphins 23, Browns 10
The Browns have struggled at the quarterback position for a very long time, but they have hit new lows in the past two weeks. Both RGIII and Josh McCown suffered injuries in their first starts this season, and now rookie third rounder Cody Kessler will get the start on the road. Miami’s defense played very well against the Seahawks week one, but were outplayed by Belichick and Jimmy Garoppolo. This week, they get a Browns offense with a rookie quarterback and no Corey Coleman. This should be a tee off game for the front led by Ndamukong Suh. On the other side, Adam Gase should have the offense rolling against the Cleveland defense. With Arian Foster out, this could be a breakout game for either Jay Ajayi or Kenyan Drake. This could be a very long day for the Browns.
Jaguars 24, Ravens 21
Among the teams that have started 0-2, I think the Jaguars have the best shot to regain their composure and make the playoffs. This week won’t be an easy task, as the Ravens are out to a 2-0 start. The Jaguars young talent on both sides of the ball will need to step up in order to knock off the Ravens. Blake Bortles will need to push the ball down the field to Robinson and Hurns, and look for Julius Thomas to find open seams with those two being focused on. The key for Jacksonville on defense is to keep Baltimore’s receivers in check and not let them roam free in the secondary. They gave up a lot to Philip Rivers last week, and this week they’ll need to tighten up. There’s enough talent on each level to keep the Ravens in check, so Gus Bradley needs to have his team finally put it all together to pull out a win against playoff-minded Baltimore.
Packers 31, Lions 17
It’s time for Rodgers and company to respond in a big, big way. There might have been more media attacks on Rodgers than there has ever been. His last 13 games show that he’s been the epitome of average recently, and it’s time for him to find himself. This would be a great week to do so. The Lions are as depleted as any team on defense, with Ziggy Ansah and DeAndre Levy out. Plus, this game is back in the friendly confines of Lambeau Field. I expect to see a Rodgers with a serious chip on his shoulder and a performance that brings us back to his MVP season. That wouldn’t have been a bold prediction a year ago, but it feels like one now. The Lions will put up a fight with their improved offense under Jim Bob Cooter, but the Packers defense has slowly improved at every level the past few seasons. If the offense could kickstart themselves, we can start talking about a deep playoff run for the Pack.
Bengals 20, Broncos 17
There isn’t a better game on the schedule this week. Two AFC heavyweights will do battle in what should be a defensive struggle. Trevor Siemian has been serviceable through two games, and the running game looks great with CJ Anderson leading the charge. The difference is that the Bengals aren’t the Colts or even the Panthers. They are solid everywhere on defense. Siemian will have to make more plays than he did in the first two weeks. As for Andy Dalton, he is hoping the AJ Green from week 1 shows up to Paul Brown Stadium. That AJ Green made Darrelle Revis look like he needed to transition to safety immediately. Against the best defense in football, Green will need to have a great performance, as well the other weapons at Dalton’s disposal. It would be good for the Bengals to get a run game going, as they have struggled running the ball this year. In a defensive struggle that could come down right to the end, I’m taking the Bengals.
Panthers 23, Vikings 14
This a new look Vikings squad, isn’t it? Would you have guessed that Sam Bradford and Jerick McKinnon would be starting by week 3? It’s okay, you aren’t alone. This week will be a big test for the Vikings, as the Panthers’ defensive line won’t take it easy on the run game or Sam Bradford, for that matter. The offense might once again be carried by Stefon Diggs’s ability to get open against a young and inexperienced Panther secondary. Carolina will struggle to run it against one of the best front sevens in the league, but Cam has lots of weapons to use against a secondary that even of which Green Bay’s struggling offense took advantage. Kelvin Benjamin, Devin Funchess, and Greg Olsen are all big and physical, which will a problem for Minnesota. The ball will once again be in Bradford’s hands to make plays, and I don’t think he will make enough of them.
Giants 28, Redskins 20
A lot of analysts are surprised by Washington’s 0-2 start, especially last week at the hands of Dak Prescott and the Cowboys. They will face an even stiffer test this week. The Giants boast a vastly improved defense, starting up front. The Redskins may have a tough time running the ball, with Damon Harrison and Johnathan Hankins patrolling on the interior. The Giants also have enough corners to challenge every one of the Skins’ weapons. Kirk Cousins will have to be patient in moving the ball down the field. The Giants also need to make their offense wake up. They only scored 16 points against a bad New Orleans defense, and this Skins defense boasts a very good cornerback duo in Josh Norman and Bashaud Breeland. Still, I expect an improvement this week, especially with the emergence of Sterling Shepard and the solid resurgence of Victor Cruz. The better defense that finds a way to stop the opposing offense wins this game, and I have the Giants moving to 3-0.
Buccaneers 20, Rams 13
This has all the makings of a defensive battle, all thanks to the Rams. Their defense is very good up front, while their offense looks like it will struggle all year long. I expect Gregg Williams to challenge second-year pro Jameis Winston. Mike Evans won’t have an easy day against Trumaine Johnson, and it will hard for the run game to get any traction with All Pro Aaron Donald in the middle. As for the Rams offense, this task won’t be much easier than their first two contests. The Bucs boast an underrated defense, with playmakers at every level. Rookie cornerback Vernon Hargreaves looks like the real deal, and Gerald McCoy’s presence up front will make it hard for Todd Gurley to find any lanes to run. At the end of the day, Winston’s playmaking ability and his willingness to take chances will propel the Bucs past the Rams late.
Seahawks 19, 49ers 6
Seattle’s offense certainly isn’t the same without Marshawn Lynch and a good offensive line. They have now scored one touchdown in 22 possessions, as mentioned above. It is key to find some semblance of balance against a good Niner defense. With Thomas Rawls’s availability in doubt, Christine Michael will get the bulk of the carries. I don’t expect the run game to get going much, but Wilson should have a chance to make plays against the Niners’ secondary. As far as the Niners’ offense goes, Blaine Gabbert won’t see the same secondary that he saw last week. Seattle’s defense is as stingy as it gets, so points will be at a premium. Seattle will find ways to get points by being creative, but the fixes that their offense needs will take time. If you are a fan of offense, don’t watch this one.
Jets 20, Chiefs 16
The Chiefs don’t seem like the playoff team I was hoping to see right out of the gate. They didn’t have much luck against Houston’s defense, and the Jets have the similar dominant front seven. The Chiefs need Jeremy Maclin and Travis Kelce to make plays in order for the Chiefs to move the ball down the field, and they might have to rely on that. The Bengals weren’t able to run well on the Jets, and the Bills had to rely on big plays to move the ball. Spencer Ware will get enough touches to try to make something happen, but I don’t think he will find much daylight at all. The Chiefs also haven’t been able to put much pressure on the quarterback with Justin Houston’s absence, and if they give Ryan Fitzpatrick all day, he has enough weapons to move the ball. Having Matt Forte really helped change the dynamic on offense, and his pass catching ability will be huge this week. The Jets will go in to Arrowhead and win in one of the toughest places to play on the road.
Colts 33, Chargers 30
Andrew Luck has not gotten much help from his team at all. The Colts couldn’t stop the Lions at all in week one, and last week he had to make too many plays and forced the issue too many times, leading to an Aqib Talib pick six. This week, however, the Colts get a seriously depleted Charger offense. They have lost Keenan Allen and Danny Woodhead in consecutive weeks with ACL tears. Rivers still found a way to dominate the Jaguars last week with fill-ins like Tyrell Williams and Dontrelle Inman. With how thin the Colts secondary is, Rivers should put up points all week long. Melvin Gordon has found his stride in his second season, and pairing him with a productive Rivers should scare opposing defenses. This will be a shootout, but Andrew Luck will put up similar numbers that he did in week one, and he will have to carry the Colts to victory.
Steelers 28, Eagles 17
Carson Wentz has done a very good job through two weeks, but now he will see a defense that is a level up from what he’s seen so far. The Steelers will run a sophisticated zone blitz scheme, and Wentz may not have the run game help that he’s had the previous two weeks. The good news for him is that the Steelers secondary is its weakness, and that should help him find Jordan Matthews a bunch. The Eagles defense should hold its own, but Pittsburgh’s offense is as explosive as there is, even without Martavis Bryant and LeVeon Bell. Sammie Coates and Eli Rogers have been very solid filling in, and DeAngelo Williams is a wonder at 33 years old. With all of these weapons, it will only be a matter of time before the Steelers pull away in this one.
Cowboys 24, Bears 17
The Bears will have a tough test without Jay Cutler playing. Brian Hoyer gets the start, and you know the Cowboys will make him go and win the game, and won’t allow the run game to flourish. The Cowboys have played more opportunistic defense as of late, holding the Giants to 20 points in week one. This week, they should be able to dial up more blitzes and get more creative to confuse turnover-machine Brian Hoyer. Ezekiel Elliott should be able to make it easier on Dak Prescott, and expect Dez Bryant to show up under the lights on Sunday night.
Saints 30, Falcons 28
If a shootout doesn’t occur on Monday night, I will be shocked. The Falcons defense was supposed to improve on defense under Dan Quinn, but they are nowhere near where they need to be. The Saints’ defense has been mediocre for years now, and Julio Jones should run free in their secondary. The two-headed monster of Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman will give them headaches all night long. The difference in this game is that the Saints are at home and celebrating the anniversary of Steve Gleason’s blocked punt in the season opener after Hurricane Katrina. The dome will be electric, and the Saints offense will follow suit. Expect great things out of Brandin Cooks and Willie Snead. Mark Ingram should find plenty of running room as well. The Saints will hang on late to find their first win.
Enjoy week three of football everyone! And remember, check out this week’s podcast! Also, check in on Tuesday as we see if Nate and I have to do our challenge! See you guys later, and thanks for reading!