Week three of the NFL season is always very telling, as we start to see who the real contenders are, and we begin to separate teams into very clear categories based on how they have started the season. This week features several marquee match-ups, along with a couple of divisional games that could go a long way in deciding a team’s postseason fate.
Los Angeles Rams at San Francisco 49ers:
This Thursday night match-up looks ugly on paper, with both teams coming off losses and playing on a short week. The Rams have looked better of the two squads in this divisional contest, and I fully expect the LA squad to clean up the 49ers handily.
Baltimore Ravens at Jacksonville Jaguars:
Baltimore has gotten off to an impressive 2-0 start, which has been led greatly by a once again dominant defensive unit. Jacksonville will need to play mistake-free football to even have a chance. I don’t trust Blake Bortles at all, so Baltimore should grab this one.
Cleveland Browns at Indianapolis Colts:
Could it be that the Browns are not as bad as we think they are? Are the Colts really as bad as all indications show? The answer to both is a resounding yes, as Cleveland will likely grab their first win of the year, and may give head coach Hue Jackson a reason to celebrate in the early season.
NY Giants at Philadelphia Eagles:
The Eagles have been incredibly impressive early on this season, despite losing to a solid Kansas City team on the road. New York can’t seem to get out of their own way on offense, even with a suddenly healthy Odell Beckham Jr. I predict for Philadelphia to win this game mightily in a statement game to cement their status as a contender in the NFC East.
Miami Dolphins at NY Jets:
Miami was able to steal a game against the LA Chargers in their own stadium, and start their season 1-0. Next up, the Dolphins have a favorable match-up here against the sinking ship known as the Jets. Quarterback Jay Cutler will put up career numbers here, as he will lock in a win easily against the hapless Jets.
Denver Broncos at Buffalo Bills:
Denver’s defense was incredibly impressive and dominant against the Cowboys last week, and I don’t expect anything to change against an underwhelming Bills roster. The home team will have a fighting chance here, but Denver will pull away with a defensive stop near the end of the game.
New Orleans Saints at Carolina Panthers:
Despite their 2-0 record, I have a hard time believing in this year’s Panthers squad. I would look for Drew Brees and New Orleans to have a bounce-back game here against the Panthers, and steal one on the road. It won’t be pretty, but the Saints will grab their first win of the year in an upset.
Pittsburgh Steelers at Chicago Bears:
The Pittsburgh Steelers have done an excellent job in cleaning up the mess laid in front of them this season, and I don’t see any of that changing against the 0-2 Bears. Watch for the Bears to make a quarterback change to Mitchell Trubisky in order to gain a spark in their offense. The comeback will come up just short, as Pittsburgh improves to 3-0.
Atlanta Falcons at Detroit Lions:
In the marquee game of the 1pm (est) time slot, Matt Ryan and Matthew Stafford will be ready to put on a show. The Falcons will do everything in their power to sustain a lead and pull away against a formidable foe in the Lions. Ultimately, Atlanta will improve to 3-0, and will cement their status as the one to beat in the NFC.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Minnesota Vikings:
The Vikings can’t catch a break at the quarterback position, and it will continue to plague this team if Sam Bradford can’t heal fast. Either way, the Buccaneers showed enough during their first contest for them to keep the train rolling here in Minnesota. The Bucs will grab this one in a close game.
Houston Texans at New England Patriots:
There is absolutely no way the Patriots will fall to 0-2 in Gillette Stadium. The Texans have a great defense, but their inexperienced quarterback Deshaun Watson will plague them here in Foxboro. The Patriots will start to roll and improve to 2-1.
Seattle Seahawks at Tennessee Titans:
Seattle is another team I have a hard time picking week in and week out, as their offense has yet to click. I would watch for the Titans and Demarco Murray to get momentum in this game by blowing out the Seahawks, as Tennessee improves to 2-1.
Cincinnati Bengals at Green Bay Packers:
Think Aaron Rodgers is smiling about the fact that his team is “on to Cincinnati?” That’s what I’m thinking too, as the turmoil will continue to plague the Bengals at Lambeau Field. The Green Bay Packers will embarrass the Bengals, and we will hear even more rumblings about Marvin Lewis’s job security.
Kansas City Chiefs at LA Chargers:
Kansas City has played two really solid teams to start their season, and have come out unscathed. Do you really think anything will change against the Chargers? The kicking game will continue to haunt this LA squad, as the Chiefs improve to 3-0.
Oakland Raiders at Washington Redskins:
Derek Carr vs. Kirk Cousins in the Sunday Night Football game should be a lot of fun to see unfold, unless you live in the DC Metropolitan area, that is. The Raiders will find multiple ways to score at FedEx Field, and primetime games will continue to be the Redskins achilles heel.
Dallas Cowboys at Arizona Cardinals:
If for some reason the Cowboys lose to the Cardinals here in Arizona, it’s time to stop believing in their squad. Fortunately for Dallas, they will do enough to leave Arizona in turmoil, as running back Ezekiel Elliott gets back on track rushing for over 100 yards and two touchdowns, as “America’s Team” stomps the Cards.
Photo Credit: Mike Stobe