NFL Picks Week 3: Can Texans, Redskins, Bills Pull Upsets?

September 25, 2011 by

The 2011 NFL regular season has featured its fair share of landslides, thrillers, earth-shattering production on offense, especially through the air and its also been jam-packed with surprises.

We may only be two weeks in, but who would have guessed the Bills would be 2-0 and scoring 40 points per game, the Chiefs would be at the forefront of the Andrew Luck sweepstakes, the Houston Texans would lead the league in total defense and against the pass and Cam Newton would be breaking records set by legends like Peyton Manning?

Here’s to another amazing weekend of action filled with more of the same!

New England (2-0) at Buffalo (2-0) (CBS, 1:00pm EST)

Is there anything sweeter in the NFL than a marquee matchup between unbeatens who also happen to be division rivals and are recognized for high-scoring affairs?  Get your popcorn ready.  If history repeats itself—and it often does—we’re in for a treat.

Last year these two met at Gillette Stadium again in Week 3 and the Bills gave the Patriots a heck of a game, falling, 38-30.  This test will have analogous results, as Tom Brady leads the Pats past Ryan Fitzpatrick and the up-and-coming Bills in an incredibly entertaining, hard-fought inner-division thriller.  Prediction: New England 38, Buffalo 27

Jacksonville (1-1) at Carolina (0-2) (CBS, 1:00pm EST)

This cat-fight features the first get-together of the season between rookie signal-callers.  Cam Newton has installed instantaneous confidence in Carolina, already having shattering multiple records for rookie quarterbacks despite an offseason plagued by an impenetrable lockout.

On the other side, Blaine Gabbert gets his first chance to shine on Sunday after Luke McCown’s run was cut short following a poor performance in Week 2 at the Jets.  Carolina has the home-field edge, more confidence and better talent on both sides of the football.  The Panthers prevail in surprising, one-sided explosive fashion.  Prediction: Carolina 28, Jacksonville 10

Houston (2-0) at New Orleans (1-1) (CBS, 1:00pm EST)

Drew Brees and the high-flying New Orleans Saints are already fairly battle-tested, while Matt Schaub and the Houston Texans are relatively well-rested coming into this Week 3 matchup.  Both teams are equipped with stellar, high-powered offenses and opportunistic defenses.

NFL Network’s Jason La Canfora points to the defensive coordinators as the key to the game.  “The defensive coaches know each other very well and whichever one comes up with the big play and turnovers here will be the victor.”  Well-said, as always, Jason.

Injuries: Wide out Marques Colston is out, both Lance Moore and Jacoby Jones are questionable and Arian Foster is ruled as a game-time decision.

The Texans are listed as 5th and the Saints rank just ahead at 4th in the latest NFL.com power rankings, so it’s no secret this contest will come down to the wire.

Houston’s defense has exceeded expectations thus far this season, but New Orleans is on another level than Miami and Indianapolis.  I wouldn’t be the least surprised to see an upset, but I have to use my head and go with the Saints.  Prediction: New Orleans 27, Houston 24

Denver (1-1) at Tennessee (1-1) (CBS, 1:00pm EST)

Sure, Tennessee’s 4th-ranked scoring defense (14.5 PPG), home-field advantage, veteran presence and overall talent are superior to Denver.  Nevertheless, the Titans’ biggest edge is the Broncos’ biggest weakness—instability.  Prediction: Tennessee 24, Denver 10

Miami (0-2) at Cleveland (1-1) (CBS, 1:00pm EST)

Similar to the Broncos, Miami has won its last three meetings against its Week 3 opponent in Cleveland.  The Dolphins’ 32nd-ranked defense hopes to have a much better day going up against Colt McCoy and the Browns’ 26th-ranked offense.  Prediction: Cleveland 21, Miami 18

San Francisco (1-1) at Cincinnati (1-1) (FOX, 1:00pm EST)

Andy Dalton threw for 300 yards last week and is showing signs of promise in a repugnant-riddled organization.  But why wouldn’t he—when the first three games are against Cleveland, Denver and now San Francisco.  Jim Harbaugh’s coaching position is already slightly on the rocks and almost has to win in Cicny.  Prediction: San Francisco 23, Cincinnati 7

Detroit (2-0) at Minnesota (0-2) (FOX, 1:00pm EST)

Who would have imagined the Lions would start the year 2-0 and the Vikings would be 0-2?  Well, I did.  However, I also picked Minnesota to win here just before the season.  While I expect Adrian Peterson (aka A.P. or A.D. for “All Day”) to have a banner day (has 814 yards in eight games vs. the Lions), the Vikings’ passing game will be limited once again, facing a ferocious Detroit pass rush.  Expect Matthew Stafford and Megatron to hit on all cylinders and win a pretty tough, hard-fought road test.  Prediction: Detroit 30, Minnesota 20

N.Y. Giants (1-1) at Philadelphia (1-1) (FOX, 1:00pm EST)

Ever seen the movie the Fast and the Furious?  Well, if you haven’t, here’s your chance.  The Eagles have Michael Vick, LeSean McCoy, DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, Brent Celek, Jason Avant and yes, even ex-Giant Steve Smith.  And the injury-plagued Giants are furious about it.  Doing more pathetic fake injury acting will benefit Big Blue very little this week in Philly.  Prediction: Philadelphia 35, N.Y. Giants 17

Kansas City (0-2) at San Diego (1-1) (CBS, 4:05pm EST)

Kansas City has been outscored by Buffalo and Detroit by 79 combined points.  Doesn’t that just say it all?  It’s as if Charlie Weis came into the organization with a magic wand and left by placing a curse on the team.  Everyone knows San Diego has sluggish starts to the season, and if any team can find some one to blow a gimme like this, it is probably the Chargers.  However, they’d have to be struck by lightening for that to actually happen.  Prediction: San Diego 44, Kansas City 14

N.Y. Jets (2-0) at Oakland (1-1) (CBS, 4:05pm EST)

This is a trendy upset pick among pundits with the Raiders playing at home and the Jets without the services of star center Nick Mangold.  Moreover, Rex Ryan and Hue Jackson have some insight on each other from their days in Baltimore together.  I like Oakland’s odds….to make the game interesting, but no cigar.  The Raiders front seven is very good; the Nnamdi-less secondary is pretty shabby and could be feasted on like a pack of wolves by veteran receivers Santonio Holmes, Plaxico Burress and Derrick Mason.  Prediction: N.Y. Jets 31, Oakland 24

Baltimore (1-1) at St. Louis (0-2) (CBS, 4:05pm EST)

Joe Flacco and co. pummeled Pittsburgh and turned right around and got rocked by Tennessee in Nashville.  Sam Bradford and the Rams are still my favorites to win the NFC West, but boy has St. Louis looked unimpressive in the first two weeks.  Look for the Rams to hang with the Ravens for a while and make this contest closer than expected, but Baltimore bounces back.  Prediction: Baltimore 27, St. Louis 16

Arizona (1-1) at Seattle (0-2) (FOX, 4:15pm EST)

Pete Carroll and Seattle swallowed haggis after falling apart in back-to-back road trips to San Francisco and Pittsburgh.  The quarterback experiment has been less successful than the first attempt at creating the light bulb and the state of the offensive line is in worse shape our economy.  OK, all of those are a stretch, but you get what I’m saying.  Nevertheless, the addition of Sidney Rice and the 12th man gives Seattle a ray of hope for a looming upset.  Prediction: Seattle 20, Arizona 17

Green Bay (2-0) at Chicago (1-1) (FOX, 4:15pm EST)

The last seven meetings between Green Bay and Chicago have been decided by seven points or less.  Jay Cutler has been beaten senseless, suffering 11 sacks already this season.  The Bears will rely heavily on dual-threat Matt Forte.

Rodgers and the Packers are hitting on all cylinders and show no signs of slowing down.  Nonetheless, Cutler and company will keep this extremely entertaining in one of the better games of the week.  Prediction: Green Bay 27, Chicago 20

Atlanta (1-1) at Tampa Bay (1-1) (FOX, 4:15pm EST)

Yet another marquee matchup with all kinds of potential playoff ramifications that looks to boil down to the final minutes.  In the scorching September sun on the Florida coast, I like Josh Freeman and the Buccaneers’ shot, but Matt Ryan has ice in his veins and a plethora of weapons.  Still without the services of Tarnard Jackson and three rookie starters, the Bucs defense is also still a work-in progress.  Prediction: Atlanta 26, Tampa Bay 17

Pittsburgh (1-1) at Indianapolis (0-2) (NBC, 8:20pm EST)

I’m still under the impression everyone is underestimating the impact of the offseason distractions for the Pittsburgh Steelers.  It’s not clear-cut to distinguish, but it’s there.  Sure, the Ravens inevitably came out with much to prove, but that doesn’t excuse or even begin to explain why they were given an earth-shattering 35-7 Baltimore beatdown.  Pittsburgh followed the poor performance with a 24-0 win over Seattle in shutout fashion, yet the game was less one-sided than the score indicated.  With all of that said, the Colts won’t have much of answer, even in Indianapolis, regardless of who’s under center.  Prediction: Pittsburgh 20, Indianapolis 6

Washington (2-0) at Dallas (1-1) (ESPN, Mon, 8:30pm EST)

Did anyone take Rex Grossman’s bold statement seriously that Washington would win the division?  I sure as heck didn’t.  I actually laughed when it happened and some people are still laughing.  Don’t look now—but the Redskins are 2-0, the only unblemished team in the NFC East.  In addition, the ‘Skins are facing a Miles Austin and Dez Bryant-less Dallas Cowboys.  Furthermore, Tony Romo is damaged goods and the secondary is still very vulnerable.  Prediction: Washington 13, Dallas 10

 

Oren’s Quick Picks: I feature GridironGrit.com Analyst Oren Shiri’s take in a segment we like to refer to as Oren’s Quick Picks at the end of my weekly predictions.  He hands in his picks and I add a little light-hearted, less in-depth overview on each of the games.

NE at BUF: The Pats pat themselves on the backs with a hard-fought win in Buffalo.

JAC at CAR: Cam Newton and Carolina shine under the spotlight, while Jack Del Rio and the Jaguars leave with their tails between their legs.

HOU at NO: The Texans always make everything extremely entertaining, but the Saints get the “w.”

DEN at TEN: The Titans suit up for a date with Denver and its quarterback quandary in Nashville, Tennessee.  Britt, CJ2K and all of the sounds from the Music City will be too tough to contain.

MIA at CLE: Cleveland takes care of business at home, as Tony Sparano starts to worry if before the end of the season he’s going to be watching the games from his own home.

SF at CIN: Andy Dalton and company claw and scratch their way to a win over the Niners.

DET at MIN: The Vikes have some fight, but the Lions have more might.

KC at SD: No shock here—the Bolts strike the Chiefs where it hurts.

NYJ at OAK: Mark Sanchez better buckle his chin-strap because the Raiders defense will be ready to give him a warm and fuzzy welcome, maybe even a hug, before attempting to knock his teeth out and completely shaking his confidence early.

BAL at STL: The Rams will have something for the Ravens, but Flacco & co. won’t fly out 1-2.

GB at CHI: Until the Packers are missing Aaron Rodgers or an asteroid hits Wisconsin, don’t pick against these defending champions—even against a competitive Chicago team at home.

ARI at SEA: Arizona’s flying under-the-radar and might just have something for Sam Bradford and St. Louis this season with new signal-caller Kevin Kolb leading the charge.  The Cardz take care of business in Seattle in an NFC West bird battle.

ATL at TB: My Surprise Pick of the Week I’m eyeing the Pirates at home.  The Bucs have outscored their opponents 21-3 in the 4th quarter.

PIT at IND: The Steel Curtain close the window further on the Colts with a win on Sunday Night Football.

Verse of This Piece: “As a tree gives fruit, healing words give life, but dishonest words crush the spirit.”—Proverbs 15:4

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