The NFL's Week Three features four games between teams without a win, and three games between undefeated teams (including the Monday Night matchup).
Without further ado, here are my NFL picks for Week Three:
Sunday, September 24
Carolina (0-2) at Tampa Bay (0-2) – 1:00 p.m.
Division rivals Tampa Bay and Carolina are both experiencing a disappointing start to the season. The reason for their woes is simple: Both teams have embarassingly-bad offenses. They have scored a combined 22 points thus far, an average of under 6 points per game.
For Carolina, QB Jake Delhomme is completing just over half his passes, and hasn't thrown for a single TD. However, it looks likely that WR Steve Smith will be able to play for the first time this season against the Bucs. With Smith and WR Keyshawn Johnson on the field at the same time, the Panthers should be able to put some points on the board. Also, Rookie RB DeAngelo Williams looked quite good last week against the Vikes.
Meanwhile, Tampa Bay QB Chris Simms has been abysmal this season, throwing 6 INTs and zero TDs. His passer rating stands at 40.0, which is just plain ugly. RB Cadillac Williams is averaging just 2.6 yards per carry, and FB Mike Alstott has only ran the ball one time (for two whole yards). The one bright spot is WR Joey Galloway (161 yards receiving on nine catches). Head coach Jon Gruden has expressed confidence in Simms, so he is expected to start on Sunday. But if he is unable to drive the ball down the field effectively and limit his mistakes, don't be surprised if Rookie QB Bruce Gradkowski starts the 3rd quarter.
PICK – Carolina by 4
Chicago (2-0) at Minnesota (2-0) – 1:00 p.m.
Undefeated division rivals Chicago and Minnesota are set to face off at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in Minneapolis this Sunday. This game is a must-see.
Chicago's defense has been incredible this season, allowing a total of just seven points through two games. Of course, everyone expected them to have a strong defense. What has been surprising is their offense, which has put 60 points on the board in two blowout wins. QB Rex Grossman has been masterful, completing 72% of his passes for 551 yards and a passer rating of 128.7, which is phenomenal. However, it is worth mentioning that he has put up these numbers against two teams with highly-suspect defenses (Green Bay and Detroit).
Minnesota, on the other hand, has just barely eked out victories in both their games, winning by three points each time, once in OT. And QB Brad Johnson has not looked terribly impressive in either game. The home crowd better be loud, because the Vikings will surely need the 12th Man to have a chance of winning this one.
PICK – Bears by 10
Cincinnati (2-0) at Pittsburgh (1-1) – 1:00 p.m.
Another big game between division rivals. Should be a good one.
Cincinnati appears to be an offensive juggernaut, although their competition has been weak (Cleveland and KC). QB Carson Palmer has thrown for nearly 500 yards, and RB Rudi Johnson has gained almost 250 on the ground (with 3 TDs). Their defense is more of a question mark, however.
Pittsburgh suffered an embarrassing defeat last week, getting blanked by Jacksonville 9-0 on Monday Night. They could only manage 26 yards rushing, and QB Ben Roethlisberger looked rusty in his first game back from an emergency appendectomy. Head coach Bill Cowher will surely make some neccesary adjustments by Sunday, Roethlisberger will be healthier, and the Steelers won't be facing a defense nearly as potent and Jacksonville's.
PICK – Steelers by 6
Green Bay (0-2) at Detroit (0-2) – 1:00 p.m.
Yet another division rivalry. Two winless teams that have both been crushed by fellow division rival Chicago.
Detroit's defense looked good in Week One against Seattle (in a losing effort), but it was picked apart in Week Two against Chicago (in another losing effort). QB Jon Kitna has been competent, passing for 459 yards with no INTs but also no TDs. Detroit's running game has been completely impotent. Seriously, it's been so bad that Bob Dole looks virile by comparison.
As for Green Bay, their defense has been worse, and their offense more erratic. QB Brett Favre will not last the entire season. If he doesn't sustain a serious injury on the field, he'll probably "accidentally" shoot himself in the kneecap with a shotgun one of these Monday mornings. Hey, whatever it takes to make the pain stop…
PICK – Lions by 3 (And I actually feel good about picking them this week!)
Jacksonville (2-0) at Indianapolis (2-0) – 1:00 p.m.
And we have yet another game between division rivals. This is probably the best game of the week.
Jacksonville is coming off the natural high of beating the Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh Steelers on Monday Night. Not just beating them, mind you, but shutting them out in front of a national television audience. They will need a defensive performance like that again this week, facing Peyton Manning, Marvin Harrison, and Reggie Wayne.
Defense will be the key for Indy as well. They need to put pressure on Jacksonville QB Byron Leftwich, who has been less than stellar this year. If Indy can force a few turnovers, they can start some possessions with good enough field position to squeeze needed points out of a stingy Jacksonville D.
PICK – Indy by 3
N.Y. Jets (1-1) at Buffalo (1-1) – 1:00 p.m.
Another. Freaking. Divisional. Rivalry. Yay!
Buffalo has looked pretty good in both their games so far. This week will be their home opener. QB Losman has been solid, and their defense has only given up 25 points.
Jets QB Chad Pennington has looked spectacular through two games, but the running game has been anemic and the defense questionable.
PICK – Bills by 2
Tennessee (0-2) at Miami (0-2) – 1:00 p.m.
One team that's been playing lousy, and another team that is lousy. You could miss seeing this one and not miss much.
Miami has seriously underperformed so far this season. QB Daunte Culpepper should probably be benched for poor play, but his backup is a guy named Joey Harrington, so he should definitely not be benched! Anyway, I think the Dolphins will turn things around this season, just like they did (a little too late) last year.
Tennessee has given up almost three times as many points as they've scored. And this week they're on the road. This is not looking very promising for the Titans.
PICK – Dolphins by 9
Washington (0-2) at Houston (0-2) – 1:00 p.m.
This is probably the "pooper-scooper" game of the week. In other words, it'll stink.
Washington is arguably the worst team in a strong and highly-competitive division. QB Mark Brunell has been playing poorly, and the defense has disappointed. But not all the news is bleak: RB Clinton Portis should be back in action this week.
Houston sucks. Well, to be fair, QB David Carr has looked awesome, completing 76% of his passes with 4 TDs and 0 INTs for a 123.7 passer rating. But the important thing to remember is: Houston (David Carr excepted) sucks.
PICK – Redskins by 11
Baltimore (2-0) at Cleveland (0-2) – 4:05 p.m.
This one has blowout written all over it.
Baltimore has given up six points. Total. And they've managed to score 55, despite QB Steve McNair's mediocre play.
Cleveland is — well — Cleveland. In other words, terrible. QB Charlie Frye's on-field decision-making has looked, at times, like the equivalent of Sloth from the Goonies trying to make sense of a chi-square distribution.
PICK – Ravens by 14
N.Y. Giants (1-1) at Seattle (2-0) – 4:15 p.m.
This should be a good game between two above-average teams.
Seattle RB Shaun Alexander doesn't look much like they guy who won the MVP award last year. QB Matt Hasselbeck doesn't look so hot either. Seattle's defense has been solid, however.
The Giants have to be feeling great after their come-from-behind OT victory in Philly last week. QB Eli Manning now has over 600 yards passing and 5 TDs (and a passer rating of 101.5). The defense has given up 50 points, but that was against the Colts and the Eagles. Seattle hasn't proved themselves to be the same kind of offensive threat as those teams (at least not yet).
PICK – Giants by 1
Philadelphia (1-1) at San Francisco (1-1) – 4:15 p.m.
Two .500 teams do battle at Monster Park. I smell an upset.
San Fran rode RB Frank Gore to victory last week over the Rams. QB Alex Smith has looked good, but not great. He hasn't thrown any INTs, but he's completing just over half his passes.
Philadelphia was 15 minutes away from going 2-0 when their defense collapsed against the Eli Manning-led Giants. I'm not sure they'll be completely over the shock in time for Sunday's game.
PICK – Niners by 3
St. Louis (1-1) at Arizona (1-1) – 4:15 p.m.
Two inconsistent division rivals meet at Cardinals Stadium in Glendale, Arizona.
The problem with St. Louis isn't that their offense is bad (it isn't). The problem is that their offensive line is bad. Real bad. And the loss of center Andy McCollum for the season doesn't help the cause much. Their defense is questionable, too. And they don't play well on the road. And … well, this post is getting long enough as it is.
Arizona QB Kurt Warner should have himself a fun Sunday against a porous Rams defense. But the question is: Will Arizona's defensive line harass and hurry St. Louis QB Marc Bulger into making big mistakes? In a high-scoring game, turnovers will be the key.
PICK – Arizona by 4
Denver (1-1) at New England (2-0) – 8:15 p.m.
Sunday Night's game features two division winners from last year.
Denver barely escaped with an OT victory at home against KC last week. This, after an error-filled loss to St. Louis in Week One. This is a struggling team, and the schedule-makers have not been kind to them with this matchup.
New England has managed to remain unbeaten despite close games against division rivals in the first two weeks of this season. QB Tom Brady hasn't been his usual self as of yet, but I suspect that will change soon, if not this week.
PICK – Pats by 8
Monday, September 25
Atlanta (2-0) at New Orleans (2-0) – 8:30 p.m.
Monday Night's game is definitely worth staying up for. These unbeaten divisional opponents will battle to decide who sits alone atop the NFC South.
Atlanta has been playing the best football in the NFL up to this point. They've given up a mere 9 points, and between just Vick and Dunn they've gained almost 450 yards on the ground. Unfortunately, they've gained less than 250 through the air.
New Orleans has been surprisingly successful. Sure, they've had a weak schedule so far, but it is perhaps the understatement of the century to say that they've started out on a much more positive note this season than the last. RB Reggie Bush has already made an impact, especially with his receiving. However, the good times are unlikely to last for the Saints.
PICK – Atlanta by 4
[ Bye Week Teams: Dallas (1-1), Kansas City (0-2), Oakland (0-2), San Diego(2-0 ]Powered by Sidelines