NFL: Week 3 Recap and Week 4 Picks

Seven teams remain undefeated while four remain winless.  We’ve come to the first of the bye weeks, with the Patriots and Titans both off this week.

Most Impressive Teams From Week 3

  1. Arizona Cardinals (3-0): I still think the Patriots are the best team in football right now simply because they’re the defending champs, but it’s close.  The offense is flourishing as Larry Fitzgerald continued his resurgence with another two TD night. Carson Palmer continues to not skip a beat after missing the second half/playoffs last season.  But the real story was the defense this week. The secondary took advantage of every 49er mistake and helped put the game out of reach before most people were comfortable in their seats.
  2. New England Patriots (3-0): I mean what is left to say about this team that hasn’t been said this season? Tom Brady looks about as good as he ever has, thanks in part to a number of offensive weapons flourishing in big ways.  But to get the running game going in week 3 takes this team to another level.  New England’s offense under Belichick and Brady has always been pass first, run later.  But if LeGarrett Blount can build off his week 3 performance, it adds another level of doubt against opposing defenses, making this team even more formidable.
  3. Seattle Seahawks (1-2): I know, I know, it was just their 1st win and I could’ve chosen any of the 5 other 3-0 teams.  But coming off a Superbowl appearance, we all expected this team to start off better than 0-2.  So when they bounce back and take care of business in such a dominating fashion for win number 1, I had to take notice and give credit. The return of Kam Chancellor sparked the Legion of Boom to the first shutout of the NFL season.  Even more impressive than forcing the Bears to lay a goose egg, is that Chicago never even got close to field goal range. The offense wasn’t as sharp early as this team would want, but another boost on special teams from Tyler Lockett, as well as a big day on the ground for Thomas Rawls helped give them cushion in the 2nd half.

Most Disappointing Teams From Week 3

  1. New York Jets (2-1): After having a lights out defense in their first two games, the Jets at home allowed a desperate Eagles team to run all over them… literally.  Without DeMarco Murray, Ryan Matthews went off for 108 rushing yards, while Darren Sproles made the Jets special teams look silly with an 89-yard punt return TD.  Ryan Fitzpatrick had an up-and-down performance, throwing for three scores, but also throwing three interceptions.  And don’t get me started on the attempted lateral that became a turnover by Brandon Marshall.  It was an ugly loss for a team that has the potential to make the playoffs in the AFC this season.
  2. Detroit Lions (0-3): It’s hard enough to win in this league when you do everything well.  But through three weeks, Detroit isn’t really doing anything to make them feel better about themselves going forward.  Their running game managed just 28 yards while Matthew Stafford turned the ball over three times, including two in the fourth quarter to help Denver pull away.  And with the Seahawks up next, things don’t get any easier from here.
  3. San Francisco 49ers (1-2): Colin Kaepernick is a run first type QB and that’s fine, if you use that to your advantage.  But when you forget that, and he throws four interceptions, including two pick sixes, that’s a problem. Kapernick was just 9-19 for 67 yards, though he did make his line a bit better with a rushing TD, San Fran’s only score of the day. Sure, they ran into a far superior Cardinals team, but this was one of the ugliest, most lopsided games you’ll see, especially between division rivals.

Most Surprising Performances from Week 3

  1. Indianapolis Colts (1-2): The Colts got their first win of the season, but it wasn’t pretty.  It took vintage Andrew Luck in the fourth quarter to overcome a 27-14 deficit to win by two.  Both of his TD passes came in the final frame, after two more turnovers helped put them in the hole early.  The running game showed up in the form of two rushing scores from off-season acquisition Frank Gore. Indy’s defense had its moments, but almost bent enough to allow Marcus Mariota to get his second career win.  The Colts got a win, but there’s still a lot of work to be done.
  2. St Louis Rams (1-2): Their week 1 win over the Seahawks is starting to look more like a fluke than a jumping off point.  34 points scored in their one win, 16 in their two losses. The defense did its job holding a combination of Ben Rothelisberger and Mike Vick to just 12 points, but the offense couldn’t sustain anything.
  3. Miami Dolphins (1-2): For a team that made a conscious effort to improve their defense in the off-season, they looked awful allowing the Bills to rack up 429 yards after a down week 2.  But the most concerning part of the Dolphins so far this season is the offense. Ryan Tannehill threw three interceptions and the running game hasn’t been utilized/effective enough.

Now it’s time for my picks. I rebounded from a bad week 2 to go 13-3 last week, bringing my season total to 28-20.

Thursday Night Football

  • Ravens @ Steelers: One team needs this more than the other.  One team is in a better position to win this game than the other.  And I think they’re the same team.  Baltimore enters at 0-3 but they have gotten better every week.  And with Pittsburgh needing to rely heavily on the running game without Ben Rothelisberger, the Ravens know who they have to stop.  Of course that doesn’t mean it will work, as most have had trouble stopping Le’Veon Bell.  Joe Flacco over Mike Vick will be the difference in this one. BALTIMORE WINS

Sunday 1PM Games

  • Jets @ Dolphins: Both teams are coming off home losses.  A win keeps the Jets very much in playoff contention and with a chance to catch the Patriots.  A loss means another week in the cellar for the Dolphins.  Ryan Tannehill was abused by one AFC East defense last week, and coming off a bad week of their own, look for the Jets to come out firing on D.  Also, I expect to see more from the run game for New York, with Chris Ivory another week removed from injury. NEW YORK WINS
  • Jaguars @ Colts: Both of these teams enter action at 1-2, but with very different ideas on how this season was supposed to start.  Jacksonville is a young team that showed signs late last season, but we all knew they’d be a work in progress all year. As for the Colts, many, myself included, had them going far into the playoffs.  Instead Andrew Luck continues to be a turnover machine, while Jacksonville continues to be very, very inconsistent.  So who moves to .500 on the young season?  Give me the Colts to look more like the 4th quarter of week 3 than the first 11 quarters of football.  INDIANAPOLIS WINS
  • Giants @ Bills:New York picked up their first win of the season last week, finally putting everything together, without shooting themselves in the foot.  Buffalo took out their week 2 frustrations out on the Dolphins.  The Giants need to generate some pass rush against the Bills this week, but if they build off a great day in the secondary they will overcome the lack of one again.  Meanwhile the Bills need to figure out how to slow down Odell Beckham Jr.  The Giants might get Victor Cruz back, which would only help the offense.  So can the Giants move to .500, or will Buffalo move to 3-1? While I think Eli Manning’s first interception of the season could come in this game, give me the G-Men to get their first road win of the season. NEW YORK WINS
  • Panthers @ Buccaneers: The Panthers have been great to start the season. Tampa has been very up and down, but their defense wasn’t the problem in week 3.  I still don’t know how I feel about the Panthers long term, but I never thought they’d be in a position to open the season 4-0.  I’m taking a leap here, but I think the offense for the Bucs picks up this week and they find a way to eek one out at home. TAMPA BAY WINS
  • Eagles @ Redskins: The Eagles woke up in week 3 while the Redskins looked outmatched.  Division games are always interesting and in the NFC East, they’re usually competitive.  But give me the road team to even up their recordon the stretch of their ground game.  PHILADELPHIA WINS
  • Raiders @ Bears: Oakland has been pretty impressive through three weeks, having nearly equaled their win total from 2014. Derek Carr has shown great improvement, as has the defense.  As for Chicago, tough times continue.  Jay Cutler is out, and they’ve already started trading off pieces at 0-3.  And I don’t see things getting better for the Bears this week. OAKLAND WINS
  • Texans @ Falcons: After a rough 2014, the Falcons have come out of the gate with their offense running on all cylinders.  They’re 3-0, dominating the NFC East with a combination of a healthy Julio Jones, some luck and a revamped running game.  Houston has struggled early, but got the defensive help they needed to get their first win a week ago.  Give me the home team to continue their hot start. ATLANTA WINS
  • Chiefs @ Bengals: Kansas City had its worst game of the season on Monday Night, and should be 2-1, but sit at 1-2.  Cincinnati has been on point in all three of their games to start the season.  If both teams play up to their abilities this will come down to the wire.  Even if that does happen, I still like the Bengals at home to stay undefeated.CINCINNATI WINS 

Sunday 4/425 PM Games

  • Browns @ Chargers: On paper, San Diego is confusing, because they’re in the top 5 of total offense and top 10 in total defense, but sit at 1-2.  But turnovers and a middle of the pack running game have doomed that.  Cleveland has looked ok, but it baffles me the best they’ve looked was with Johnny Manziel at the helm, yet he is not starting.  That being said, I like the Browns to get the road victory. CLEVELAND WINS
  • Packers @ Niners: This is probably the most lopsided game of the week.  Aaron Rodgers can do no wrong.  The Packers defense has looked championship caliber at times.  And with Eddie Lacy despite injury concerns was able to play, the run game did its job in week 3. As for the 49ers, their week 1 win looks like it will be more of an anomaly than anything to build on as they turn the ball over too much and can’t stop any phase of the opponent’s game.GREEN BAY WINS
  • Rams @ Cardinals: I had higher hopes for the Rams defense.  I questioned bringing Nick Foles over as their offensive line isn’t as strong as the Eagles was last season.  And now they face the red hot Cardinals.  It’s another possible trap game for Arizona, and while I don’t think they’ll dominate quite the same way they did San Fran a week ago, I don’t see this being much of a game either. ARIZONA WINS
  • Vikings @ Broncos:Minnesota has  their star running back and just as good as ever. Teddy Bridgewater isn’t having a stellar start to his sophomore season, throwing for under 200 yards a game, with just one TD. But he is at least limiting turnovers and giving Adrian Peterson a chance.  The defense has been great at limiting damage and that’s why they sit at 2-0.  Denver has gotten better in every game, but still don’t look like your normal Peyton Manning led team. So what gives?  I’m going to go with the road team because eventually, that mistake the Broncos have been getting away with will cost them, and this will be the week it does. MINNESOTA WINS

Sunday Night Football

  • Cowboys @ Saints: I almost made Dallas one of my surprising teams from week 3 as Brandon Weedon got off to a crazy good start in his first start for Dallas.  But the team broke down in the second half against the Falcons and dropped their first game of the year.  New Orleans continues to struggle in every phase, but they at least gave themselves a chance against Carolina a week ago. Luke McCown turned the ball over late to seal the 0-3 start, but played well before hand.  Dallas showed an inability to stop the run last week, so if the Saints can get the ground game going, they can pick up their first win.  And I think they do just that. NEW ORLEANS WINS

Monday Night Football

  • Lions @ Seahawks: If the Packers-Niners match-up is the most lopsided this week, this is probably the second.  With no running game to speak of, they can’t overcome turnovers and a defense that is having trouble stopping anyone.  Seattle feels good coming off a shutout and they looked good in every phase last week.  Not to mention Stafford’s struggles on the road coupled with the 12th man. SEATTLE WINS
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NFL: Week 3 Picks

So… can we get back to football now?  With so many off-the-field issues plaguing the NFL right now, it can be tough to focus on the game.  But the beat goes on and we are already entering week 3.  There are some very good teams at 0-2 including 2013 playoff teams the New Orleans Saints and Indianapolis Colts.  They have quite the uphill climb if they want to make the postseason this season, as just under 12% of teams that start 0-2 have made it in NFL History.

I went 7-9 in my picks last week, and move to 17-15 overall overall.  Now here’s my predictions for this week’s slate of games.

Thursday Night Football

  • Buccaneers @ Falcons: This is a tough game for me.  The Falcons aren’t as good as the team that beat the Saints in week one, and Tampa isn’t very good offensively.  So what gives?  A strong Bucs defense, or the home fans looking for another big win from their birds? Give me Atlanta in a close game.  ATLANTA WINS

Sunday 1PM Games

  • Chargers @ Bills: Who had Buffalo getting out to a 2-0 start to the season? Not many.  But here they are looking to stay perfect at home.  San Diego meanwhile, is coming off an impressive 9-point win over the defending champion Seahawks. I’m not in love with either of these teams, but experience wins out here for the Chargers on the road in this one.  SAN DIEGO WINS
  • Cowboys @ Rams: Dan Bailey and a solid run game helped Dallas get their first victory of the year.  St. Louis found a way to get a comeback road win against a good defense.  Tony Romo hasn’t been good to start the year, and with a back injury that has had him miss practice this week, who knows what the Boys will be able to do against an upstart front 7 for the Rams.  That’s why I’m going with the home team on Sunday.  ST LOUIS WINS
  • Redskins @ Eagles: Philly likes to take a half to get things rolling.  Washington got going early and often against the Jags in week 2.  In this NFC match-up, the Eagles will continue to fly high at home and improve to 3-0.  PHILADELPHIA WINS
  • Texans @ Giants: The good news for big blue?  Eli Manning looked very good on Sunday.  The bad news, they shot themselves in the foot to drop to 0-2.  Now with JJ Watt and company in town, Manning needs his o-line to protect him better than they’ve done in years.  If they can do a decent job of this, I think, despite Houston looking worlds better than last season’s 2-14 squad, the Giants get win number 1 at home.  NEW YORK WINS
  • Vikings @ Saints: Adrian Peterson is on the exempt list, taking away Minnesota’s best weapon again.  New Orleans is a surprising 0-2, despite being in both games til the end.  No way the Saints lose 3-in-a-row to open the season, especially with this one in the Superdome.  And I’d say this even if AP was suiting up for the Vikings. NEW ORLEANS WINS
  • Titans @ Bengals: I think the Bengals are finally primed to advance in the playoffs.  It’s a home game.  That’s about all I can come up with for this game.  CINCINNATI WINS
  • Ravens @ Browns: Baltimore knows it can win without Ray Rice.  Cleveland knows it can win with Brian Hoyer.  So what sways the balance of power in this one?  The Browns are banged up at the skilled positions, to go along with missing Josh Gordon.  The Ravens have more weapons, and experience, even without Rice on the field. BALTIMORE WINS
  • Packers @ Lions: It’s an NFC North battle, and a battle to move above .500 on the young season.  Detroit has looked very good, and very bad this year, while the Packers were a badly timed called time out away from possibly falling to 0-2.  These are always hard fought games, and this will be no different.  And while I think the Lions are finally starting to put things together, I think Aaron Rodgers and company use their winning experience to get the road victory. GREEN BAY WINS
  • Colts @ Jaguars: I never thought Indy would be 0-2, but that’s what happens when your defense isn’t very good, and your quarterback looks average.  Andrew Luck is anything but average, and that’s the biggest reason I think the Colts get their first win.  Sure Jacksonville has an impressive defense, and are the home team, but I’m sticking with the reigning AFC West Champions.  INDIANAPOLIS WINS
  • Raiders @ Patriots: Charles Woodson called out his Oakland squad for their poor start.  Tom Brady hasn’t been very good to start the season and yet the Pats are 1-1.  So what gives?  Give me the Pats to be the Pats at home.  NEW ENGLAND WINS

Sunday 4:05/4:25PM Games

  • Niners @ Cardinals: San Fran is coming off a Sunday night collapse, while Arizona is without their running back Jonathan Dwyer as a part of the on-going domestic dispute arrests plaguing the league.  The Cardinals are 2-0, but wouldn’t be if not for New York gift-wrapping a week 2 win.  Arizona’s defense has been solid, but with Carson Palmer possibly out again, and the 49ers looking for redemption, I think San Francisco can eek out a road win and get to 2-1. SAN FRANCISCO WINS
  • Broncos @ Seahawks: It’s a Superbowl rematch as the defending champs look to shake off a loss to the Chargers in Week 2, and as Denver looks to stay undefeated on the young season.  I know it’s a home game for Seattle, but I’m taking a leap of faith that the Broncos use the Superbowl loss as fuel.  DENVER WINS
  • Chiefs @ Dolphins: Kansas City has gotten off to a horrible start as another playoff team that has started off 0-and-2.  Miami continues to be an up-and-down team.  So what gives?  I don’t think the Chiefs are as bad as they’ve looked on either side of the ball as they’ve shown in the first two weeks of the season, so I think Alex Smith finds a way to avoid an 0-3 start.  KANSAS CITY WINS

Sunday Night Football

  • Steelers @ Panthers:  Pittsburgh is 1-1, but after a fast start in the opener, they haven’t looked good for 6-straight quarters of football. Carolina has been very good, led by their vaunted defense, and in spite of a banged up Cam Newton. While it’s hard to win 3 games in a row in this league, I think Carolina does so, to improve to 3-0 on the young season.  CAROLINA WINS

Monday Night Football

  • Bears @ Jets:  The Jets were in a position to start 2-0, if not for a poorly timed called time-out, while Chicago needed a huge 2nd half performance on Sunday night to avoid an 0-2 start. In the end, both enter at 1-1.  As much as I loved the comeback from Chicago, I think the home crowd and the knowledge they blew a possible win couple to motivate the Jets to move their record to 2-1. NEW YORK WINS

Hope we can put the off-the-field story-lines to bed, and just enjoy some good games this weekend! Enjoy scoreboard watchers.