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2014 NFL Top 5 Week 3 Matchups
Week 3 is upon us and I'm finally getting around to my first pick'em blog. What can I say, life has been hectic lately. But I make no excuses! It's been a crazy two weeks in the NFL so far and I'm looking forward to this upcoming week. Since it's so early in the year I won't get into stats and rankings as much as I typically do. Right now it's about what I'm seeing and how I feel.
5. Pittsburgh (1-1) at Carolina (2-0)
Pittsburgh has been a bit of a disappointment so far, clawing out a victory over the Browns and getting blown out by the Ravens. Meanwhile, the Panthers have picked up victories in each of their two games, one of which came without the services of quarterback Cam Newton. They currently sit atop the NFC South.
I expect this to be a physical, low-scoring game. Neither offense is built to put up a ton of points and both teams rely on their defenses to put their offenses in good position and occasionally win games. I think the Steelers will look to put a lot of pressure on Cam Newton and force him to make quick decisions, especially in the passing game. Newton is already dealing with a few injuries, but I think him and Carolina's defense make enough plays to squeak this one out.
Prediction: Panthers 20 Steelers 17
4. Washington (1-1) at Philadelphia (2-0)
Both teams are off to a bit of an odd start, but neither can complain at this point. The Redskins have already lost RG3 for most, if not all of the year, but their better QB may be leading the charge now. Kirk Cousins has looked solid in relief throughout his career and some feel he's a better fit for Washington's system. Philadelphia has sleepwalked through the first half of both of their games thus far, but have pulled off back-to-back double-digit comebacks. Darren Sproles singe-handedly refused to let them lose last week.
I'd be remiss of my duties if I didn't mention that this is Desean Jackson's return to Philly. Jackson left last week's game with a sprained AC joint in his shoulder and didn't return. Jackson has been practicing on a limited basis this week and certainly won't be 100 percent, but he will be doing everything he can to play in this game.
Look for the Eagles to get off to a quicker start than they have been and do their best to confuse Cousins when the Redskins have the ball. I expect Jackson to be extra motivated to make a big play or two this game, but think his injury will prevent him from having the monster game he'd like to put up. I think Washington will hang around for awhile with Cousins at the helm, especially if Philadelphia struggles again, but look for the Eagles to turn it on in the second half again and move on to 3-0.
Prediction: Eagles 30 Redskins 20
San Diego (1-1) at Buffalo (2-0)
San Diego has had a tough first two games this year, having to face the best team to not make the playoffs last year (Arizona) as well as the World Champions. They've responded well though, picking up a win last weekend against the Seahawks and now face a Bills team that has surprisingly gotten off to an undefeated start. The Bills have beaten both the Bears and Dolphins and sit atop the AFC East.
The Bills come into this game as the favorites, most likely due to being the home team. The Bills have run the ball well this year and been able to stop the run, but the Chargers' attack is focused on the passing game. I think they will pass even more in this one, especially with starting running back Ryan Mathews sidelined for the next month or so. I see San Diego controlling the clock just as they did against Seattle and making the most of their scoring opportunities. In Philip Rivers I trust.
Prediction: Chargers 24 Bills 16
San Francisco (1-1) at Arizona (2-0)
The 49ers come into this game after a Sunday night loss to the Bears, in a game that they seemed to be in control of until the fourth quarter. The Cardinals are coming off of a win over the fightless Giants, and currently sit atop the competitive NFC West. This is one of the bigger divisional games we'll see in the early part of the year.
Arizona starting quarterback Carson Palmer won't start in this one, and while the team was able to overcome his absence last week, it will hurt significantly in this one. The Niners will certainly be motivated in this game and I expect them to take full advantage of Drew Stanton starting in place of Palmer. I see the Niners defense giving him fits, and while the Cardinals defense will keep them in the game, Kaepernick and the offense will put enough points on the board to seal the victory.
Prediction: 49ers 24 Cardinals 17
Denver (2-0) at Seattle (1-1)
And here it is, the game of the week. It's not very often that we get a Super Bowl rematch, and this one is sure to be much different than last year's title game. Denver comes into this game after two solid seven point victories. The Seahawks come into this game after a loss to the Chargers last weekend. The Chargers did a nice job of controlling the clock and keeping Seattle's offense off the field.
Both teams want to win this one badly; the Broncos to show everyone last year's blowout was a fluke and Seattle to prove it wasn't, and to avoid dropping to 1-2. I expect Denver's offense to come out with a very different gameplan and Seattle's defense to use a pretty similar one, because their defense doesn't rely on schemes, just being better than the players on the other side of the ball. I expect this one to be much closer than the last, and Denver's revamped defense should hold Russell Wilson and the offense in check much more than last year. But at the end of the day I think Seattle's defense wants to prove it wasn't a fluke just a little more.
Prediction: Seahawks 27 Broncos 20