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NFL Picks. Week 3, 2014
Finally things are starting to shape up. Now things are starting to make sense and the cream is starting to rise to the top...
The Saints and Colts are still winless while the Texans and Bills have yet to lose... I have a hard time imagining that stays true as the season progresses.
But I've gone from 6-10 to 14-18.
It's not great, but it's an improvement.
This is the week I turn it around and break .500 as I came oh-so-close to doing last week.
Tampa Bay @ Atlanta- Atlanta.
This one is easy for me.
The Buc's are pathetic.
We're talking "couldn't beat the Panthers without Cam" pathetic.
We're talking "couldn't outscore the Rams without Chris Long" pathetic.
Somewhere in a dark office, Jay Cutler is laughing maniacally about the struggles of Josh McCown and Lovie Smith.
"Who made who look good?"
Even if the Falcons did have an embarrassing game against the Bengals, they're back home in the good ol' Georgia dome, where I can't imagine they have any problem steamrolling the Yuks.
San Diego @ Buffalo- San Diego.
As Michael Scott once famously said, "Fool me once, strike one, fool me again, strike three"
I'm simply not ready to accept the Bills as a serious contender.
The impressive wins over Miami and Chicago are impressive, don't get me wrong, but I'm not ready to ruin my credibility by saying they've arrived.
The weather in Buffalo isn't harsh enough to derail the Chargers offense and the Bills secondary is a significantly easier task for Rivers than the Legion of Boom that he picked apart the week before.
Look for the Chargers to finally put a blemish on the Bills' undefeated record.
Dallas @ St. Louis- Dallas.
The Cowboys have gotten lucky over the last week or two.
After shooting themselves in the foot over and over against the 49ers, they've gotten the Titans and the Rams.
I don't see Kurt Warner anywhere and Jeff Fischer isn't on the right sideline for those teams to be relevant in 2014.
The Cowboys stick to the run game and outscore the lowly Rams by a significant margin, lighting a very small flame under the seat of the Rams coaching staff.
The only way I see the Rams coming away with a win is if they can get something out of the passing game and really get in Romo's face.
But I have a hard time believing that's possible without a NFL quality starter at QB or with Chris Long in recovery.
Washington @ Philadelphia- Philadelphia.
Another easy pick for me.
While the Redskins defense has perked up this year, and Kirk Cousins looks like he's gunning for RG3's job, they're just a little predictable.
They're not nearly as dynamic as their division rivals, the Eagles.
While I'm far from sold on Nick Foles, it's apparent that they have enough special playmakers to move the ball down the field, and a good enough secondary to frustrate even the most gifted of passers.
Let's be honest, Kirk Cousins is no Andrew Luck, and while they've struggled against the run, pressuring the young QB into making a mistake or two should let them give the Philly Faithful something to discuss over cheese-steaks next week.
And by the way, just because Darren Sproles is a little guy, that doesn't mean arm tackles work.
Far too slippery.
Houston @ New York (Giants)- Houston.
This is a weird pick for me.
The Texans haven't really been tested by a good team this year, and they've shown weaknesses against the minimal opposition they've faced.
The Redskins' lack of an identity made it impossible to get any consistent production on offense, and the Raiders gave the ball away on four impressive drives.
But the pieces are there.
JJ Watt is still a freak, Andre Johnson has plenty left in the tank, DeAndre Hopkins is progressing nicely, and Ryan Fitzpatrick is...
Well, he's still Ryan Fitzpatrick.
Ultimately, I had to pick Houston because I believe the Giants are in the same realm as the first two teams that the Texans played.
Eli still has that nasty turnover bug, and the secondary has been atrocious.
I mean, I'm still shocked that they let Calvin Johnson get open that many times!
He's Megatron for Bob's sake!
I think it will be a close and low-scoring game, but one where the Texans win the turnover battle and have more points on the scoreboard.
Minnesota @ New Orleans- New Orleans.
Finally, Drew Brees gets a home game, all of his fanboys can relax.
Heh, how'd you guys like the game last week?
You all mocked me for picking Cleveland, remember?
At the end of the day, this much is true, no-one's last name is more ironic than Drew's.
Get it? Brees? Breeze? He can't play outside?
Small ball only kindof works in the NFL?
Thankfully for the Saints, they're home, and they're playing a distracted and pitiful Vikings team.
Who knows if Cassell will get to keep the starting job if he struggles early, or how well AP will play given his off the field issues.
The Saints dink and dunk their way to their first win of 2014.
Tennessee @ Cincinnati- Cincinnati.
Okay, the Bengals win.
Is that it? Can I go home?
I have to explain why?
Even if they are beat up, they're a superior team.
Other than Jurrell Casey and maybe a couple receivers, the Titans are team completely devoid of NFL level talent, and the Bengals are one of the most efficient and talented offenses in the league.
The Bengals may have to adjust to compensate for injuries at some point this year, but it won't be against the likes of Tennessee, especially not in Cincinnati.
Also- These two teams are #'s 1 and 2 on my "Most irritating cities to spell" power rankings.
Baltimore @ Cleveland- Baltimore.
As much fun as the Browns have been to watch this year, Dogpound, this is where I leave you.
The reality is this.
The Ravens coaches like to let Flacco air it out a little, and that would be great against your secondary, but at the end of the day, they prefer to pound it on the ground.
Pierce and Forsett both looked capable last week as they alternated carries and the Browns are giving up somewhere around 5.5 yards per carry.
The Ravens are going to chew clock and exploit the defense on play action passes on their way to an impressive win while the coaching staff continues to find clever ways to undermine Brian Hoyer's confidence.
Seriously? You're beating the Saints and you're going to let Manziel come in to throw a pass?
Gee, that worked out well...
Green Bay @ Detroit- Detroit.
This should be a really good game.
I'm excited to see these two teams go at in the dome.
I'm picking Detroit and I'm not sure about it.
It came down to this.
Offensively, it's a close draw.
Both teams know how to move it through the air.
One has one of the best QBs in the game with some talented receivers, and the other has a talented QB with perhaps the best receiver of all time.
Both offensive lines are adequate.
Both running games have shown flashes of brilliance.
Here's the problem.
That Detroit defensive line is good, and the Packers defense is dreadful.
Did you see how many points the Jets ran up last week?
The New York Jets?
They couldn't stop Geno Smith and Eric Decker but they're supposed to shut down Calvin Johnson?
It'll be a fun, high scoring game that should've been on national television, and the Packers will blow it in the fourth.
Indianapolis @ Jacksonville- Indianapolis.
Andrew Luck has been streaky so far this year, but can you blame him?
Young guy in back to back primetime games against good teams with little to no help from his defense?
Now he gets a break.
The Jags are bad.
Nick Foles tried to make them look good in week one, but the Redskins did them no favors last Sunday.
Something tells me the Jags scouts are already competing with Giant and Raider scouts to get the scoop on next year's first rounders.
Colts win big.
Oakland @ New England- New England.
I don't wanna talk about it.
Seriously, please don't make me.
I'd rather not.
We all know this is a lock, can we please?...
The Raiders can't run the ball (Derek Carr is their leading rusher), they can't catch the ball (James Jones has had a good season on paper but two fumbles on one play, and another drop that turned into an interception?) and the defense has given up big games to three different runningbacks in two games.
The Raiders are bad.
I don't know if I'll ever pick them again.
Not just this year.
I mean ever.
If I ever meet Doc Brown, I'm gonna hop back to the day I became a Raiders fan and beat the hell out of myself.
THE BRONCOS WERE RIGHT THERE, YOU WOULD BE SO HAPPY RIGHT NOW!
It's IN New England, and something tells me they may pull Tom Brady before all is said and done.
San Francisco @ Arizona- San Francisco.
The Cardinals have been skating by so far, and it's about time somebody put that to an end.
The Cardinals aren't amazing, the Giants are just that bad.
If you guys were watching last week, you saw that their "very best player" in Patrick Peterson was benched because he just kept getting beat.
Look for tons of pressure from the 49ers leading to Carson Palmer (Or Drew Stanton) turnovers leading to 49er points.
I still think the 49ers are going to fall apart, but I'll be damned if Arizona isn't the worst 2-0 team in the NFL.
Denver @ Seattle- Seattle.
Somebody tell me how this isn't a primetime game.
Somebody justify how the ancient Steelers vs. the offensively inept Panthers is a better game than a Super Bowl rematch 3 games after the championship.
These rosters haven't changed much folks.
They still really don't like each other.
I don't understand the world.
A. As a rule, I never pick against the Seahawks in Seattle.
B. The Broncos should be 0-2.
Why do I say that?
Because they've started games with huge leads (which they won't get against the Hawks) and given up late points to put the game in danger, only to win by a questionable call.
The Colts got hosed, the Chiefs got hosed, and I'm thinking it's time to turn off the water.
Peyton complained about crowd noise in New Jersey?
Yeah... Haha... Have fun dealing with the real deal.
Kansas City @ Miami- Miami.
I'd say that these two teams are on the same level right now.
Lots of offensive and defensive questions that nobody wants to answer.
Both coming off of heartbreaking defeats.
The Miami offensive line is still awful, and their special teams didn't look too special last week.
But the Chiefs can't win without Jamaal Charles carrying the offense. That high ankle sprain will turn into back problems for Alex Smith, a guy who has never been more than a game manager.
The Dolphins have more talent on offense, are playing at home, and have a decent enough secondary to shut Bowe down.
Pittsburgh @ Carolina- Carolina.
The Panthers' real strength is on defense, specifically, anything that Luke Kuechly is involved in.
The Steelers' real strength is handing the ball off to Bell.
Unfortunately, handing the ball to Bell means he runs into Kuechly.
It'll be a low scoring game that the Panthers will have to win by using Cam like the glorified H-back that he is to exploit a grossly overrated front seven while waiting for Big Ben to compensate for the lack of a run game by forcing throws.
Not Detroit vs Green Bay?
Not Seattle vs Denver?
Chicago @New York (Jets)- Chicago.
Last week we finally got a taste of the Chicago team I thought we'd see week one against the Bills.
Brandon Marshall put on an incredible show, and the defense picked of Colin Kaepernick three times.
Meanwhile, the Jets ran up a huge lead on the Packers, only to choke it away.
This is another game that has no business being in a prime-time spot, and I honestly can't see how anyone ever thought the majority of Americans would care about this game.
Bears win big.
I came oh, so, close to knocking him off last week!
Damn you Andrew Luck!
As it stands, Fleegle's 16-16 record is still better than mine!
BARELY leading Ryan in the total picks so far. Might have to step out on a limb and try to add a game or two. Here's my picks for this week, and I found quite a few of these games to be difficult to pick.....
Tampa Bay @ Atlanta: There's 3 games this week that were no brainers for me to pick. This is one of them. Atlanta won't be in a good mood coming off that loss in Cincy, and I think Tampa Bay will feel that wrath Thursday night. Besides, have you seen anything from Tampa Bay so far that makes you think they have a chance? I don't really have a level of excitement for this game. Falcons roll to the win.
Baltimore @ Cleveland: To say that this game, as a Ravens fan, scares me, is saying something, because in the past I've never really been nervous for a Cleveland game. But I tell you what, the Browns have showed me something the last 2 weeks. They almost pulled off that comeback against Pittsburgh, and then last week they pretty much contained Drew Brees to short dumpoff passes (and killed my fantasy team in the process) and got a very impressive win. However....that magic ends this week!!! The Ravens, in the midst of the turmoil from last week, put a whooping on the Steelers for a national audience to see. I think we see the balanced offensive attack again this week as the Ravens wear down the Browns. Wonder if the coaching staff has the stones to throw Heil Manziel out there against this defense? Ravens get the win.
San Diego @ Buffalo: One of the harder games for me to pick this weekend. It's rare that I praise Philip Rivers, but he had no fear attacking that Seattle defense last week to the tune of 284 and 3 TD's. No turnovers for the Chargers either as they were able to beat Seattle. Then there's the AFC East leading....Buffalo Bills? Did I just say that? They dominated Miami last week and did exactly what I think they need to keep doing: establish the run game and let Manuel develop. If this weeks game was in San Diego, I would say Chargers. But alas, it's not. I debated for a while, but, I'm rolling with the Bills at home this week. I think they can make enough plays to get it done.
Dallas @ St. Louis: The Cowboys did what they had to do last week at Tennessee, just take care of business and win. That game was the coming out party for Demarco Murray (167 yards, YOWZA). Will he run like that against the front 7 of the Rams this week? Probably not, but St. Louis hasn't really given me any reason to pick them this week. As long as Romo doesn't implode, the Cowboys roll to 2-1.
Washington @ Philadelphia: Washington's season might have been saved last week when RGIII got hurt. Cousins, in my mind, is clearly the better QB in DC because of the offensive system they have in place. I think him starting this week makes this game even more interesting. The Eagles, on the other hand, have looked TERRIBLE in the first half the first 2 weeks, but have rebounded strong in the second half and (somehow) sit at 2-0. The LeSean McCoy/Darren Sproles combination is LETHAL and will continue to be so as the year goes on. If Philly falls behind early in this one, I think they could be in trouble against the DC sack machine (10 sacks last week), but, I still think the Eagles take control of the division and move to 3-0 this week.
Houston @ NY Giants: The Giants have to win at SOME point, right? Houston is off to a surprising 2-0 start, but Ryan Fitzpatrick still hasn't looked overly impressive to me. Arian Foster can still run the hell out of the ball though. If the Giants don't win this week, someone is gonna have a head rolling. Bold Prediction: 0 INT's for Eli Manning this week. Bolder Prediction: Giants get win #1.
Minnesota @ New Orleans: My second no brainer pick of the week. Boy, I would NOT want to be Minnesota this week! All the turmoil surrounding them with Adrian Peterson, and now they get to go play a pissed off New Orleans team that could very easily be 2-0, but instead has their home opener sitting at 0-2. Drew Brees and company are gonna be in no mood to play around. Saints win, BIG.
Tennessee @ Cincinnati: Not too much for me to think about here. Tennessee has absolutely no running game right now, which means they're going to have to trust Jake Locker to throw the ball against that difficult Bengals secondary, which has already pretty much shut down Joe Flacco and Matt Ryan. Meanwhile, the Bengals offense finally figured out how to score a red zone touchdown last week after settling for 5 field goals against Baltimore. I think the Titans will keep it close for a little while but ultimately the Bengals win.
Green Bay @ Detroit: I think we have the makings of an offensive shootout on our hands in this one. Green Bay struggled, but found a way to beat the Jets last week. Meanwhile, Detroit went to Carolina and had, in my mind, an absolute head scratcher of a game. No rushing attack and 3 turnovers killed the Lions last week. But this week, they get back home and on the fast turf. The only problem? Green Bay gets to take advantage of the fast turf too. I think this is a game where both teams are in the 30's and whoever has the last possession will win. Give me the Packers, yes the Packers, on the road this week.
Indianapolis @ Jacksonville: The Colts are 0-2. Andrew Luck has lost back to back games for the first time ever in his career.....let THAT sink in for a second. Jacksonville, on the other hand, is still who we thought they were (in my Dennis Green voice). Luck won't lose his third game in a row this week and the Colts will roll.
Oakland @ New England: Sorry Ryan, but, this is my third no brainer pick of the week. Look, Carr really hasn't looked too bad for Oakland, but he's got no help around him. He has no run game to work with, which is the exact opposite of what you want for a team with a rookie QB. Throw that in with the fact that they have to fly across the country and play, oh yeah, that Tom Brady dude, and I don't see a favorable ending this week. Patriots roll at home.
San Fransisco @ Arizona: An extremely tough game to pick this week. The 49ers had that game against the Bears in the bag last week, and then they just completely came apart, thanks to Colin Kaeperchoke. Meanwhile, Arizona went across the country, with a backup QB, and WON! Albeit against the Giants, but still. This is a huge game. If Arizona could win and get to 3-0, it would send a message to the rest of the division. That being said, I see the 49ers having a bounceback effort this week on the road. I don't have a particular reason why, it's just a gut reaction, but I think the 49ers win.
Denver @ Seattle: The Super Bowl rematch! This game actually wasn't as tough for me to pick as it apparently is for everyone else in the NFL world. Seattle is gonna be in a foul mood after the showing they had against San Diego last week. Plus, they're at home, with The 12th Man behind them. Plus, you all remember what happened the last time these two teams played, right? Although, it will be nice to see Richard Sherman get some work this week, because Peyton Manning won't be afraid to throw at him like Aaron Rodgers was. Seahawks pick up another win against the Broncos.
Kansas City @ Miami: Kansas City, the team full of injuries, and kicking problems, and an overpaid quarterback, and an oversized head coach.....see where I'm going with this yet? I don't really have any intrigue in this game. I just think that Miami will take advantage of the heat and humidity and win the game at home.
Pittsburgh @ Carolina: The Steelers offense right now is TERRIBLE. Absolutely terrible. 0 TD's in the last 6 quarters. Meanwhile, Carolina didn't have much of a run game last week, but Cam Newton returned, looked good, and that defense forced 3 turnovers. Nothing is going to make me happier than watching the Panthers destroy "Big Ben" and the Steelers on Sunday Night Football. Panthers get the W.
Chicago @ NY Jets: First off, Brandon Marshall is a man beast, and single handedly saved my fantasy team last week in that second half. Second off, the Bears defense looked good when they had to and shut down Kaeperchoke when it counted the most. Third, they're playing the Jets. And the last I checked, the Jets still have Geno Smith as their Quarterback. Look, I think the Jets defense is still okay, but they don't have any offense to back them up. Therefore, Da Bears get the win on Monday Night.