NFL Week 3 Previews and Predictions

San Diego Chargers (1-1) at Buffalo Bills (2-0):

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During the first two weeks of the young season, the Bills and Chargers are the two biggest surprises in the NFL. The Bills are the most surprising team to start 2-0 as they defeated two quality teams, @Bears and Dolphins. While the Chargers lost week 1, they came back with vengeance and defeated the defending Super Bowl Champions, Seattle Seahawks, 30-21. After a shaky week 1, Philip Rivers had one of his best games of his career as he threw for 284 yards and three touchdowns against the Legion of Boom. Due to the Bills’ average secondary, Rivers should have another solid game, especially with the reemergence of former All-Pro Antonio Gates. The Bills are building around a new, young, and explosive nucleus of EJ Manuel, CJ Spiller, and Sammy Watkins. The trio’s performance significantly improved last week, but the experience and skill of Rivers and company will likely be too much for the Bills at home.

Chargers win 27-20

Dallas Cowboys (1-1) at St. Louis Rams (1-1):

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After losing both their first games in embarrassing fashion, the Boys and Rams were able to obtain their first win of the season in impressive fashion. The Cowboys’ offense looked as explosive as advertised with DeMarco Murray rushing for 167 yards and a touchdown. The Rams’ tenacious defense was able to contain the Bucs and their solid offense to only 17 points. This week, the story-lines will revolve around the Cowboys’ high flying offense and the Rams’ deep and talented front four, but it will likely be their weaknesses that determine the outcome of the game. The lack of talent and experience on the Rams’ offense will ultimately cost them the game in a low scoring, close affair.

Cowboys win 20-17

Washington Redskins (1-1) at Philadelphia Eagles (2-0):

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The Eagles have been one of the strangest teams in the NFL yet they have the best record in the league. During the first half of their first two games, they have been outscored by 31 points, but outscore their opponents by 48 points in the second half. This unique circumstance can be attributed to their cutting edge fitness and technology, which has them significantly fitter than their opponents. The talent on offense and the underrated players on the Eagles’ defense make it an extremely challenging matchup for the Redskins this weekend. After a disastrous week 1 and start to week 2 with RG3, Kirk Cousins took the reins of the offense and led them to a win over the Jacksonville Jaguars. Although Cousins has provided the Redskins with new energy, enthusiasm, and stability at quarterback, their defense cannot match the Eagles’ speed and playmakers out of the backfield, McCoy and Sproles, at Lincoln Financial Field.

Eagles win 31-17

Houston Texans (2-0) at New York Giants (0-2):

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While Houston has surprised fans around the league with their efficient passing game and impressive running attack, the Giants have struck little fear into their opponents. During the first two games, Eli has resembled his ineffective 2013 season as he has thrown 4 interceptions and only 3 touchdowns. Along with Eli’s inefficient play, the offensive line has been disastrous, which has led to countless pressure on Eli and the running game as been virtually non-existent.  Although Ryan Fitzpatrick has been known for his inaccuracy, he has yet to throw an interception compared to three touchdowns. The Texans’ offense has been successful because Bill O’Brien has decided to put the ball in the hands of their best playmakers, Foster (55 carries), Johnson (12 catches), and Hopkins (7 catches). Along with their impressive offense, the defense should contain the Giants’ offense to under 17 points with studs like JJ Watt, Brian Cushings, and Jonathan Joseph. Although O’Brien has stated that he wants to limit Foster’s carries, they will continue to run the ball in order to set up the play action pass and have one-on-one match-ups on the outside.

Texans win 24-13

Minnesota Vikings (1-1) at New Orleans Saints (0-2):

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The Saints have lost their first two games in heartbreaking fashion, but will finally return to one of the best home field advantages in sports to play the disjointed Vikes. This season, Drew Brees has started very well and should continue his hot play on the turf in the Superdome. The Saints hope that their fifth ranked defense last season will return to past form against the Adrian Peterson-less Vikings. For the second straight week, the Vikings will be without their best player due to the ongoing controversy about him and his son. Last week, the Vikes were a disaster on offense as Matt Cassal was forced into making numerous throws into tight windows and threw 4 interceptions. Like the game against the Patriots, this one should be over at the half, if the Vikings are lucky.

Saints win 34-10

Tennessee Titans (1-1) at Cincinnati Bengals (2-0):

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The Bengals entered the season as one of the favorites to win the AFC and have not disappointed so far. Over the past two weeks, the Bengals have shown that they can win in a multitude of ways: passing, rushing, and defense. Although AJ Green may be hampered this week with a toe injury, the Bengals have more than enough weapons, Gio Bernard, Mohammed Sanu, Jeremy Hill, to score enough points and win the game. Similar to the Dallas Cowboys last week, Andy Dalton should have an efficient day and the Bengals should march up and down the field against the Titans. After an impressive win at Arrowhead Stadium against the Chiefs, the Titans were handled by the Cowboys’ atrocious defense at home. Jake Locker and company will need to take their game to another level this weekend if they are even going to reach 20 points against one of the most talented defenses in the league.

Bengals win 26-17

Baltimore Ravens (1-1) at Cleveland Browns (1-1):

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Amid the Ray Rice controversy and saga, the Ravens were easily defeat the Pittsburgh Steelers at home last Thursday night.  The Ravens were able to have success because they established a ground game with Bernard Pierce, Joe Flacco was able to hit on 21 of his 29 passes for two touchdowns, and the defense played a great game against a talented Steelers’ offense with Bell and Brown. Although the Ravens surprised many experts, nobody saw the Browns giving the Saints their second loss of the season last week. Due to the late game heroics of Brian Hoyer and the emergence of a running game, the Browns scored a game winning field goal on the final play of the game. The victory over the Saints quieted the Johnny Manziel chatter for at least another week, even though he came into the game to throw an incompletion. Dealing with another week of the Ray Rice saga, may eventually wear on the Ravens as they play their first game away from M&T Bank Stadium.

Browns win 24-21

Green Bay Packers (1-1) at Detroit Lions (1-1):

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After losing to the Seahawks on opening night and falling down 21-3 against the Jets in the first half, the Packers nearly fell to 0-2. However, Aaron Rodgers was able to make a connection with Jordy Nelson and the Packers finished the game on a 28-3 run to collect their first win of the season. Although the Pack were able to win, they have yet to establish a running game with second year back Eddy Lacy, although they have played two of the best rush defenses in the league. This week, Green Bay is set to play another ferocious front four at Detroit’s Ford Field. After the first week of the season, the Lions looked like one of the best teams in the NFL as they overpowered the Giants on defense and the connection between Matt Stafford and Calvin Johnson seemingly could not be stopped. However, they were unable to find the same success in Cincy. Playing again at home against a soft Packers’ secondary should allow Stafford to throw for big numbers against their NFC North division rival. However, the Pack seem like a hotter team after a great second half and should continue their hot play this week.

Packers win 37-33

Indianapolis Colts (0-2) at Jacksonville Jaguars (0-2):

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In a competition between 0-2 teams, the Colts need to add a 1 in the win column, if they are going to win the AFC South division. The Colts played one of the hardest schedules through the first two weeks of the season, @Broncos and Eagles. Although Luck has become one of the seven best quarterbacks in the league, they have not reached great heights on offense because the running game is simply non-existent. During the first half of last week’s game, the Colts were able to run effectively and are hoping to create a stable rushing attack this week against the Jags. Although the Jaguars started the season with a 17-0 lead at the start of the second half against the Eagles, they have been outscored by by 65 points in the last game and a half. While the Colts’ running game is poor, the entire Jaguars’ offense is horrible because Henne is an incompetent quarterback, Toby Gerhart has not met expectations, and the offensive line allowed 10 sacks last week. The Colts’ offense should be able to overpower the lackluster Jaguars and claim their first win of the season.

Colts win 28-13

Oakland Raiders (0-2) at New England Patriots (1-1):

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The Pats started the season with a disappointing loss against the Dolphins, but rebounded last week to romp the Minnesota Vikings. Although the Patriots scored 34 points, the offense was not very intimidating. The Pats’ defense recorded four turnovers and blocked a field goal and returned it for a touchdown. The Pats have enforced a conservative offensive attack as Tom Brady has thrown for only 400 yards and 2 touchdowns on 55% passing. While the Brady-led offense has underachieved, Oakland’s offense is absolutely horrible. For example, the current leading rusher is quarterback Derek Carr with 57 yards on 5 carries. As a passer, Carr has not been impressive, but has not thrown away games for the Raiders. However, the experienced Patriots secondary will record at least two picks against the young signal caller. The Patriots have been a great home team since Belichek and Brady joined forces and will continue their dominance.

Patriots win 27-13

San Francisco 49ers (1-1) at Arizona Cardinals (2-0):

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The Cardinals are 2-0 this season, but are at risk of falling out of playoff contention, if Carson Palmer does not return from injury. The Cards will able to defeat the Giants on the road last week behind their physical defense and rushing attack. However, the Cardinals will have an extraordinarily difficult time scoring with Drew Stanton at quarterback in the future when they play some of the toughest defenses in the NFC. Unfortunately, the Cards have two of the best defenses in the league in their division and one of those teams are the San Francisco 49ers. The 49ers seemed to lock in another win last weekend against the Bears before they blew at 20-7 lead in the fourth quarter. The 49ers are attempting to dread water on defense until they can return some of their injured and suspended players on defense. On offense, the 49ers paid Colin Kaepernick big money, but they should remain a ground and pound team with Frank Gore, a great offensive line, and Vernon Davis and Anquan Boldin on the outside. The 49ers will answer the challenge from Jim Harbaugh and defeat the Cardinals in a physical slugfest on the road this Sunday.

49ers win 17-14

Denver Broncos (2-0) at Seattle Seahawks (1-1):

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In the marquee matchup of the weekend and probably the season, Peyton Manning and the Broncos will attempt to achieve revenge against the Super Bowl champion at CenturyLink Field. The Broncos have won their first two games, but have not shown the same dominance on offense, especially in the second half. Although the Peyton Manning has thrown for 6 touchdowns and zero interceptions, he has not posted the same yardage and Montee Ball has not been able to replicate the performance of the departed Knowshon Moreno. Although the Broncos’ defense has not been dominant, it has been clutch as they have stopped two game winning drives the past two weeks against Andrew Luck and Alex Smith. The defense will need to continue their clutch play, if they are going to slow down the Seahawks at home. The Seahawks’ home field advantage is the best in sports, which makes the Broncos’ task even more difficult. Although the Seahawks lost last week and many are questioning the legitimacy of the Legion of Boom, they have always been known to answer their critics during the most important games. On offense, the Seahawks will attempt to put the ball in the hands of their best playmakers, Marshawn Lynch and Percy Harvin.

Seahawks win 27-17

Kansas City Chiefs (0-2) at Miami Dolphins (1-1):

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After starting the year 9-0 last season, the Chiefs have underachieved and their team does not look as explosive or intimidating. On offense, the Chiefs took a major hit when Jamaal Charles went down due to an ankle sprain. Although Kniles Davis filled in admirably last week, Charles is one of the best running backs in the game because he can catch the ball out of the backfield, runs with power, and has elusiveness to make opposing defenders miss their tackles. Without Charles, Alex Smith may need to expand his repertoire and throw deeper throws to Dwayne Bowe and the other playmakers on the outside. Along with their lackluster offense, the defense has not forced as many turnovers or set fear into opposing offenses as last season. Although the Dolphins played a fantastic game against the New England Patriots in week one, they were horrible against the Buffalo Bills last week. The Dolphins were unable to reproduce their offensive success and the defense could not stop one of the youngest and least effective offenses. In one of the least entertaining match ups this weekend, the Chiefs will win their first game of the season and reproduce the same success as last year.

Chiefs win 24-17

Pittsburgh Steelers (1-1) at Carolina Panthers (2-0):

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After playing a great first half against the Browns, the Steelers’ last game and a half has been horrible. The trio of Le’Veon Bell, Ben Roethlisberger, and Antonio Brown make the Steelers incredibly dynamic and explosive on offense. On defense, the Steelers have not been the same physical unit as the dominant defenses in the past decade. While the Steelers’ defense has steadily declined, the Panthers’ defense continues to improve. Behind Luke Keuchley and Charles Johnson, the Panthers were able to hold the great Lions’ offense to only 7 points and Calvin Johnson to 83 yards and no touchdowns. The Panthers should be able to slow down the Steelers offensive attack and move to 3-0 on the young season.

Panthers win 24-16

 

Pics and Stats from ESPN.com

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