The Armchair Quarterback’s Week 3 Predictions
After a very “meh” week one where I went 9-7 in my predictions, I redeemed myself last week going 13-3 including predicting the exact score of the Bills/Panthers game and coming close on the Raiders/Jaguars (I had Oakland 19-13). Let’s hope it just took a week for me to get my bearings on the 2013 season and that last week was more typical of my overall accuracy.
Chiefs at Eagles
(Homer Alert) It’s a good thing that this game is on Thursday night, because it means we won’t have to hear about Andy Reid returning to Philadelphia all week long. This really is an intriguing match up. The Eagles have offensive fire power and the Chiefs appear to have an up and coming defense. Lost in the media hype of Andy Reid and Alex Smith coming to KC is how well their defense is playing. Through two games, they are only allowing 9 points and 54 rushing yards per game. They are also tied for the league lead in sacks. While part of this is due to picking on Jacksonville in week one, containing a talented Cowboys offense in week two does say something. For those that haven’t been paying attention, nose tackle Dontari Poe has been flat out dominant thus far. He’s tied for third in the NFL with 3.5 sacks in two games. 3.5 sacks is a decent season total for a NT. Poe came into training camp already in peak physical condition and that combined with new defensive coordinator Bob Sutton’s attacking style has turned Poe into one of the NFL’s best young defensive tackles.
Meanwhile, Chip Kelly’s offense, while still good, hasn’t looked especially “high octane” since that opening half against Washington. This game will come down to what happens when Philly has the ball. If they can score 30+ points like they have in the first two games, then the Alex Smith led KC offense may not be able to keep up. If KC’s defense can contain Kelly’s offense, then Smith and company have shown that they can put up enough points to win, especially against a Philly defense that has struggled the last three halves. In what will come as a shock to no one, I think the KC defense is the real deal and therefore am taking the Chiefs to win.
Texans at Ravens
This game is hard to get a read on. Originally, a match up between the defending Super Bowl champs and a team considered to be an AFC power house would be a great match up. The problem is that neither team has played a great game yet after two weeks. Baltimore was blown out by Peyton Manning and the Broncos and then won an ugly game at home against the Browns. The Texans on the other hand have had to come back late to win against two teams that most people thought weren’t very good (those predictions may prove to be wrong, we’ll see). So what to do here? Baltimore is at home, but they struggled at home with Cleveland and their best offensive player, Ray Rice, is day to day with a hip flexor. Even if Rice plays I have a hard time seeing the Ravens pound him up the middle at JJ Watt and company 25 times. With the running game in question that puts the weight of the offense on Joe Flacco and I’m just not sure they have enough weapons in the passing game to pull it off. Andre Johnson is also a question after a concussion last week took him out of the game. However, rookie DeAndre “Nuke” Hopkins gives Houston a legit target to throw to even if Johnson can’t go. Despite Houston’s non spectacular start to the season, look for them to pull this one out and drop the defending champs to 1-2.
Giants at Panthers
The Giants have been a turnover machine on offense so far this season. They are averaging a crippling 5 turnovers per game. That having been said, in those games the offense had the pressure of keeping pace with the other team’s offense. The Panthers simply lack the offensive firepower of either Denver or Dallas. In fact, through two games the Panthers rank 27th and 28th respectively in Yards Per Game and Points Per Game. The Giants defense has been bad thus far, but this is still a team that is averaging 27 points and 427 yards thus far. Plus, the Giants blew out the Panthers in Carolina last season by the score of 36-7. This one shouldn’t be that lop sided, but look for the Giants to break their losing streak in this one.
Lions at Redskins
A LOT has been made about the play of Robert Griffin III thus far. However, let me share some numbers with you regarding the Washington defense. They have given up 35.5 points per game, have allowed opposing QBs to complete 73% of their passes with 6 TDs and 0 INTs and a QB Rating of 135.4. Now Calvin Johnson is coming to town. Make no mistake, the Redskins are capable of winning this game, but they must run the ball with Alfred Morris to keep the Skins defense off the field and take some pressure off of RG3. If the Lions get a couple of scores early and the Skins start throwing every down to play catch up, this game could get away from them. On the other side of the ball the Lions will be greatly effected by Reggie Bush’s status. Without Bush they become more one dimensional and easier to defend. This game is a toss up, but I’m giving the home team a slight edge because of the question marks around Bush’s health.
Chargers at Titans
This is another tough game. Both of these teams lost very close games against the Texans. The Titans went on the road and beat the struggling Steelers and the Chargers knocked off Chip Kelly’s Eagles team in Philly. Normally in an evenly matched game its smart to look at who has home field advantage (Titans) and who has the better quarterback (Chargers), but since those are split, it’s still a toss up. Ultimately, I think the fact that the Titans have been better on defense will be the difference in a close game.
Cardinals at Saints
This one is pretty simple. Neither the Cardinals or the Saints have great defenses (although the Saints have been better than I thought they would be) or running games. These teams are built around their passing games. Ultimately, you have to take Drew Brees playing at home over Carson Palmer playing on the road. End of story.
Buccaneers at Patriots
A team can’t win in today’s NFL if the head coach and the starting quarterback aren’t on the same page. It’s gotten so bad in Tampa that there was a report out on Monday that Josh Freeman may request a trade because of his broken relationship with coach Greg Schiano. The problem is that rookie Mike Glennon is no lock to even be able to play as well as Freeman. Now there is even a report that new star CB Darrelle Revis is unhappy with Schiano as well. This has the makings of a mutiny (ironic given the pirate ship in their stadium). It’s a shame, because with an improved defense and two great offensive weapons in RB Doug Martin and WR Vincent Jackson the Bucs have the makings of a good team. The Patriots are the opposite. They are set at QB and coach, but the supporting cast leaves a LOT to be desired. The Patriots’ wins against the Bills and Jets were far from the offensive performances that we have all come to know from this team. However, do you really want to pick against Tom Brady and Bill Belichick at home against a team on the verge of a mutiny? I didn’t think so.
Packers at Bengals
After getting beat by the 49ers in week one, Aaron Rodgers and the Packers got right against the Redskins and their poor pass defense last week. The Bengals rebounded from a close loss at Chicago by beating the Steelers on Monday Night Football. While Andy Dalton is no Aaron Rodgers, he does have a better all around team around him, especially on defense. The Packers defense is giving up staggering numbers against the pass again this season. Also, despite James Starks good day on Sunday, you have to give the edge in the rushing game to the Bengals with Eddie Lacy likely out this week with a concussion. The Bengals will make a statement here that they are for real this season.
Rams at Cowboys
Will the real St. Louis Rams please stand up? In the first half on Sunday they had their doors blown off by the Atlanta Falcons, being outscored 24-3. Then in the second half they were the superior team outscoring Atlanta 21-7. Did they just get off to a horrible start or did the Falcons just mail it in after they got a big lead? Sam Bradford on his current pace is set for 5,200 yards passing and 40 TDs and has yet to be sacked after getting sacked 105 times in his first three seasons. So I’m picking the Rams to upset the Cowboys, right? Well, no. If Bradford can go into Dallas and out duel Tony Romo, I’ll officially get on the band wagon. In the mean time, the Rams were absolutely torched by Julio Jones and now have the equally talented Dez Bryant to deal with.
Browns at Vikings
The Vikings lost a heartbreaker in Chicago last week and are likely glad to be headed home after beginning the season with two road games. Cleveland has played well defensively, but the offense has really struggled. The quarterback match up of Christian Ponder versus Brandon Weeden definitely leaves a little something to be desired. A low scoring game is probably to be expected. Ultimately, this will probably come down to which running back can find success between Adrian Peterson and Trent Richardson. The Vikings were a playoff team last year and are playing at home, so give them the edge.
Falcons at Dolphins
I’ve picked against the Dolphins in each of their first two games and they proved me wrong both times. Third times the charm, right? I am 100% on board with Miami being an improved team, but I still feel like they are a step below the better teams in the NFL, like the Falcons. If the Dolphins defense can shut down the high powered Atlanta passing game then I’ll officially get on board and promise to pick them to win next week. Although, if the Dolphins are 3-0 at that point, Miami fans may not want me to jinx it by actually picking them to win.
Bills at Jets
These teams both went toe to toe with the Patriots and ultimately lost close games and then beat an NFC South team by one point. It’s also a battle of rookie QBs in Geno Smith and EJ Manuel. Look for another close game here. The Jets deserve the benefit of the doubt in this one since its at home and they have the better defense.
Colts at 49ers
There were varied opinions on the Colts coming into this season. Some believed they would take a step back from their emotionally charged season last year. Others believed Andrew Luck and the gang would only get better in his sophomore season. The early signs are that they may be regressing a little after having barely escaped the Raiders and losing to the Dolphins (and both games were at home). Now they have to go on the road to face a 49ers team that was embarrassed on Sunday night against Seattle. Look for Jim Harbaugh to get the better of his former college quarterback.
Jaguars at Seahawks
The Seahawks have allowed only 10 total points in two games. The Jaguars have only scored 11 points in two games. This game could be over mid way through the first quarter. Hide the women and children, this is going to get really, REALLY, ugly.
Bears at Steelers
The Steelers offense has only scored 8 more points than the Jaguars. It’s not been pretty in the Steel City thus far. Meanwhile, the Bears have found ways to win two close games against the Bengals and Vikings. Are the Steelers really 0-3 bad? Are the Bears really 3-0 good? I don’t know, but it’s hard to imagine the Steelers offense fixing its issues against a still very talented Chicago defense. This game may end up looking a lot like the Steelers/Bengals game on Monday night.
Raiders at Broncos
I get that this is a classic rivalry, but this is a bad Monday Night Football match up. The Raiders have scored 36 combined points against the Colts and Jaguars. The Broncos are averaging 45 points per game. Wherever you hid the women and children during the Seahawks/Jaguars game, send them back on Monday night.
Now on to my tailgating/food/drink tip of the week…….
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