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RJ’s NFL Picks – Week Three

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I went 12-4 last week, which puts me at 22-10 for the season. (For a comparison, take a look at ESPN's NFL "expert" picks.)

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 ]

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About RJ

  • http://www.roblogpolitics.blogspot.com RJ Elliott

    Calling on the regular crew for their picks…

  • http://www.xanga.com/thetheory The Theory

    Carolina (0-2) at Tampa Bay (0-2)… Hey, neither team is looking good! But I think that I agree with RJ and Carolina will take the V.

    Chicago (2-0) at Minnesota (2-0)… I don’t think I’ve picked Minnesota to win once so far this year… and I predicted Chicago victories twice. I see no reason to halt that train. Chicago.

    Cincinnati (2-0) at Pittsburgh (1-1)… A tough pick. I still haven’t seen much of Cicny, and I have seen way too much of Pittsburgh. But I’m going to go with Cincy here. Pittsburgh is going to have to prove to me that they’re healthy before I can pick them against a high calibur team.

    Green Bay (0-2) at Detroit (0-2)… This is a super hard pick. On one hand, Green Bay has been an utter disaster. On the other, Detroit has been an utter disaster. Flip the coin…. and Green Bay barely squeaks out a win.

    Jacksonville (2-0) at Indianapolis (2-0)… This will be a good game. Indy has looked good, but not stellar… and Jacksonville has performed quite well. But I gotta tip my cap to Indy. It will be demanding quite a lot to go into Indianapolis and take a victory against a team like that.

    N.Y. Jets (1-1) at Buffalo (1-1)… Oh geez. I don’t know. We’ll give the Jets the nod here, I guess.

    Tennessee (0-2) at Miami (0-2)… Miami, who will want to stop underperforming at home.

    Washington (0-2) at Houston (0-2)… Washington has been severely disappointing for their fans this year so far. However, they’ll get the win on Sunday… but I will enjoy when the Redskin fans start gloating about their win that “It was against HOUSTON.”

    Baltimore (2-0) at Cleveland (0-2)… Baltimore. By about a thousand points.

    N.Y. Giants (1-1) at Seattle (2-0)… I think NY will win this one, although it’ll be a good match. I would like to see them lose, though, after last week’s horrific game in Philly.

    Philadelphia (1-1) at San Francisco (1-1)… I was planning to pick against Philly this week… but I just can’t against a team like San Fran.

    St. Louis (1-1) at Arizona (1-1)… Neither team is exactly impressive… but we’ll give Arizona the advantage here. Because if they lose to a team like the Rams in Arizona, their season is over.

    Denver (1-1) at New England (2-0)… I don’t care one iota about this game. But I think you’ve got to pick NE until they stop winning.

    Atlanta (2-0) at New Orleans (2-0)… This is a game to stay up for… UNLESS you are like me and don’t have cable. In which case you can kiss this game goodbye. I would love to see New Orleans win this one… but since I won’t be seeing the game I guess the nod has to go to Atlanta.

  • Emerson

    Carolina by 10
    Chicago by 7
    Pittsburgh by 3
    Green Bay by 6
    Indy by 10
    Buffalo by 4
    Miami by 14
    Houston by 7
    Baltimore by 21
    N.Y. Giants by 13
    Philly by 8
    Arizona by 3
    New England by 17
    New Orleans by 6

  • http://www.roblogpolitics.blogspot.com RJ Elliott

    You’ve got less than 36 hours to post your picks, Suss… ;-)

  • http://mrfootball.weblogs.us Mr. Football

    Philly losing to San Fran? I just don’t see it happening. Obviously if Westbrook can’t play then the offense takes a hit, but I still think they’re superior to the Niners.

    I’m liking the Atlanta pick..I just think they’ll win by more than 4. The Saints played the Browns and Packers; I understand the Falcons past two opponents have been disappointments, but they’re still superior to the teams the Saints played.

  • http://www.futonreport.net/ Matthew T. Sussman

    Okay, okay.

    Carolina over The Bay
    Chicago over Vikes
    ‘Sburgh over ‘Nati
    Lions over The Pack
    Indy over Jags
    Jets over Bills
    Fins over Tenn
    ‘Skins over Texans
    Ravens over Browns
    C-Hawks over New York Football Giants, but not the New York Badminton Giants
    Phiwwy over Saint Francisco
    Errorzona over Saint Lou
    FEMA Falcons over New Orleans

  • http://www.roblogpolitics.blogspot.com RJ Elliott

    What about NE vs. Denver? ;-)

  • SHARK

    WINS

    Bucs
    Steelers
    Lions
    Colts
    Bills
    Dolphins
    Texans
    Ravens
    Seahawks
    49ers
    Cardinals
    Patriots
    Saints

  • http://www.roblogpolitics.blogspot.com RJ Elliott

    Shark: You skipped the Bears-Vikings game…

  • http://www.futonreport.net/ Matthew T. Sussman

    New England, which I guess is Old Iriquois.

  • http://www.roblogpolitics.blogspot.com RJ Elliott

    Final Scores for Sunday’s early games:

    Redskins 31, Houston 15 (RJ 1-0)

    Carolina 26, TB 24 (RJ 2-0)

    Colts 21, Jacksonville 14 (RJ 3-0)

    Bengals 28, Steelers 20 (RJ 3-1)

    Packers 31, Lions 24 (RJ 3-2)

    Jets 28, Bills 20 (RJ 3-3)

    Miami 13, Tennessee 10 (RJ 4-3)

    Chicago 19, Vikings 16 (RJ 5-3)

  • http://www.roblogpolitics.blogspot.com RJ Elliott

    Sure, I’m a little disappointed to be only 5-3 so far, but take a look at how ESPN’s NFL “experts” are doing:

    Theismann 4-4
    Salisbury 5-3
    Hoge 4-4
    Jaworski 5-3
    Schlereth 5-3
    Allen 5-3
    Mortensen 3-5
    Golic 4-4

  • http://www.futonreport.net/ Matthew T. Sussman

    6-2. Hooah.

  • http://www.futonreport.net/ Matthew T. Sussman

    How the fleurk was the TB/Carolina game that close?

  • http://www.roblogpolitics.blogspot.com RJ Elliott

    Carolina went up 17-0 early in the 2nd, and was up 20-7 at halftime. TB took the lead in the 3rd 21-20. They traded field goals to make it 24-23 TB. But Carolina kicked the winning field goal with just 2 seconds left in the game. The highlight of this late drive was a 12-yard scramble up the middle by Delhomme on 4th-and-7 with under a minute left. This was a GREAT game!

  • http://www.futonreport.net/ Matthew T. Sussman

    I noticed Gradkowski got into that game. His only throw was a 16-yard reception.

    He will start a game this year.

  • http://www.futonreport.net/ Matthew T. Sussman

    I know it’s just the first quarter, but all you Giants bandwagonners aren’t lookin’ so hot

  • http://absent-mind.blogspot.com/ Jet in Columbus

    Neither did the OSU Buckeyes yesterday Matt and look how that turned out

    …but that’s only my opinion
    © 2006 Jet in Columbus

  • http://www.futonreport.net/ Matthew T. Sussman

    The Buckeyes were never in trouble. The Giants are down 21-0 right now.

    P.S. – That copyright thing? Lame. But that’s only everyone’s opinion.

  • http://www.roblogpolitics.blogspot.com RJ Elliott

    ROTFL!

  • http://absent-mind.blogspot.com/ Jet in Columbus

    That copywrite “thing” is an inside joke that Christopher Rose started between us that I’ve carried on out of fun… thank you.

    And who the fuck made you high and mighty spokesman for everyone else????????

    Someday I’ll read something civil out of you towards me without an accompaning smart-ass remark about something being lame (which is getting old too) and I’ll have to have CPR. I don’t see you getting pissy with Mark about his Decafinated Voracious or anyone else on this site.

    I don’t know what your problem is with me, and frankly I’m past caring, but I wish the hell you’d get over it.

    People are starting to whisper things…

    …but of course that’s only my opinion
    © 2006 Jet in Columbus

  • http://www.futonreport.net/ Matthew T. Sussman

    Anybody else just hear a cat hiss?

  • http://absent-mind.blogspot.com/ Jet in Columbus

    Ohhhhhh what a snappy retort. I’m soooooo embarrased. at least it wasn’t a pussy

  • http://www.roblogpolitics.blogspot.com RJ Elliott

    Final Score:

    Baltimore 15, Browns 14 (RJ 6-3)

    The ageless Matt Stover kicks a game-winning 52-yard field goal with 20 seconds left…

  • http://www.roblogpolitics.blogspot.com RJ Elliott

    Final Score:

    Rams 16, Arizona 14 (RJ 6-4)

    Kurt Warner commits 4 turnovers, including a fumble deep in Rams territory with under 2 minutes left…

  • http://www.roblogpolitics.blogspot.com RJ Elliott

    Final Score:

    Seattle 42, Giants 30 (RJ 6-5)

    27 points in the 4th Quarter aren’t enough for the Giants…

  • http://www.roblogpolitics.blogspot.com RJ Elliott

    Final Score:

    Philly 38, SF 24 (RJ 6-6)

    Back-breaking play of the game: In the 3rd Quarter, Frank Gore fumbles at the Philly 2-yard line, and it’s returned by Mike Patterson 98 yards for an Eagles TD…

  • http://www.futonreport.net/ Matthew T. Sussman

    Alex Smith is actually quite impressive despite a 1-2 record.

    Psst … 9-3

  • http://www.roblogpolitics.blogspot.com RJ Elliott

    ESPN’s NFL “experts” are looking a little better now…

    Theismann 7-5
    Salisbury 8-4
    Hoge 7-5
    Jaworski 8-4
    Schlereth 9-3
    Allen 8-4
    Mortensen 5-7
    Golic 7-5

  • http://www.futonreport.net/ Matthew T. Sussman

    NBC reports that the Charlotte Observer is reporting (heard it from a friend who heard it from a friend) that Chris Simms was taken to the hospital after the game for dehydration, is listed as critical condition. The team has denied the critical condition part.

  • The Theory

    So far I’m 10-2.

    and I’m more-or-less ok with that. Though I sure would have enjoyed seeing Arizona pull out a win.

    Oh, and I really like how San Francisco looked… Especially their QB. Plus, I closely follwed Penn State last year and I hadn’t realized Robinson had made an NFL team.

  • http://absent-mind.blogspot.com/ Jet in Columbus

    R.J. what would be your point spread for next saturday’s Ohio State Game?

  • http://www.roblogpolitics.blogspot.com RJ Elliott

    Ohio State by 28 (it rhymes!)…

  • http://absent-mind.blogspot.com/ Jet in Columbus

    Good enough, thanks…

  • http://www.literaryillusions.com Dominick

    I don’t know if I’d put you in the same league as pussy Jet. It looks good, it tastes good, and people generally like it.

    As much as I hate to say it though….OSU….is lookin pretty sharp. I’m just hoping they buckle as they have in the past during the Michigan-Ohio game. Of course, got a while to wait for that game.

    -strolls out hummin what’s new pussycat-

  • http://absent-mind.blogspot.com/ Jet In Columbus

    Yeah, like I’m going to take advice from someone humming Tom Jones?

  • SHARK

    RJ,

    Is it too late to pick the Bears?

    ========

    JET,

    re. a little sports nerd with an inferiority complex;

    Don’t worry about being called “lame” by someone who wrote:

    “…not the New York Badminton Giants”

    and

    …”FEMA over New Orleans”

    haha – hehe.

    ========

    PS: Ask him to send you a link to his big YUCKS story about his 9/11 experience!

  • http://www.roblogpolitics.blogspot.com RJ Elliott

    Final Score:

    Denver 17, NE 7 (RJ 6-7)

  • MCH

    What’d the ESPN guys end up at?

  • rich

    kinda took it hard again this week 8-6 with tonights game and the over…just so you know we always have 16 every week….i took N.O. and the over

  • http://www.roblogpolitics.blogspot.com RJ Elliott

    Nightmare week ends: Saints 23, Falcons 3 (RJ 6-8)

  • http://www.roblogpolitics.blogspot.com RJ Elliott

    My only consolation is that several of the NFL “experts” did little better than me, and one actually did worse:

    Theismann 7-6
    Salisbury 8-6
    Hoge 7-7
    Jaworski 8-6
    Schlereth 9-5
    Allen 9-5
    Mortensen 5-9
    Golic 7-7

  • http://www.roblogpolitics.blogspot.com RJ Elliott

    I’m now 28-18 for the season. That’s still better than Mortensen and Golic, and equal to Salisbury, Jaworski, and Allen. (And I am still ahead of Theismann, winning percentage-wise…)

    Anyway, enough excuses. I simply must do better next week. Fluke weeks happen…but two in a row? That wouldn’t be a fluke, that would be a trend…

    Theismann 26-17
    Salisbury 28-18
    Hoge 30-16
    Jaworski 28-18
    Schlereth 30-16
    Allen 28-18
    Mortensen 26-20
    Golic 27-19

  • http://www.roblogpolitics.blogspot.com RJ Elliott

    Just an FYI – The Saints sacked Vick 5 times. FIVE TIMES!!! How the hell does Vick get sacked 5 times in a single game???

  • http://www.futonreport.net/ Matthew T. Sussman

    Herpes.

  • http://www.literaryillusions.com Dominick

    Just say no to herpes! :)

  • http://www.xanga.com/thetheory The Theory

    OH GEEZ. I somehow managed to miss my pick for both Sunday and Monday, making me a less-spectacular 10-4.

    But I think I’m happier to see New Orleans win than to put another notch in my win column.

  • http://www.roblogpolitics.blogspot.com RJ Elliott

    WEEK FOUR is up!