Sunday, September 25, 2011
NFL Week 3 Picks: Buffalo Bills to End 15 Game Skid Against New England Patriots
It’s only Week 3 and there are some huge divisional matchups already.
The NFC East dukes it out against each other with the Giants looking to get revenge against the Eagles after last year’s fourth quarter meltdown and the Redskins look to remain undefeated and at the top of the division against their archrivals, the Cowboys.
In the AFC East both the Patriots and Bills are 2-0 when they will square off so something will have to give. Can Buffalo overcome 15 straight losses to New England and remain undefeated?
The NFC South will see Atlanta travel to Tampa Bay. Who will be the steadier and more consistent quarterback, Matt Ryan or Josh Freeman? And who will be the bigger workhorse on the ground, Michael Turner or LeGarrette Blount?
And finally in the NFC North there will be a rematch of last season’s NFC championship game between Green Bay and Chicago, which is always a slugfest.
I have my opinion on who will come out on top. Who do you think will win these games and the rest of the Week 3 matchups?
Houston (2-0) at New Orleans (1-1)
The Texans’ defense and their legitimacy as a playoff contender will be put to the test against the Saints high-powered offense.
Drew Brees always seems to come up big in crucial moments, especially at home, where the team has lost only five total games since 2009. And Brees has a ridiculously large collection of weapons in his arsenal that he can use.
New Orleans wins.
New York Giants (1-1) at Philadelphia Eagles (1-1)
Michael Vick was severely banged up last week. But he has been cleared to play.
Working in his advantage is the barrage of injuries the Giants have on the defensive-side of the ball. DE Osi Umenyiora is out and CB Prince Amukamara is questionable. Linebackers Jonathan Goff and Clint Sintim are on injured reserve and their replacements are still in an adjustment period this early. DE Justin Tuck missed the first week and Mathias Kiwanuka missed time in the preseason.
If guys were healthy this defense would be able to get to Michael Vick enough to make him uncomfortable, especially considering how bad the Eagles’ offensive line is. But the Giants are far from healthy, let alone playing well right now.
Jacksonville (1-1) at Carolina (0-2)
Cam Newton has done well so far in his debut NFL season, but last week against the Packers he showed that he wasn’t quite ready to be the go-to-guy on the Panthers. His three interceptions proved costly as Green Bay scored 23 straight points to come back from being down 13-0.
What Carolina needs to do more of is run the ball. Not only does Newton lead the team in rushing yards, but he’s also first in rushing attempts.
If the Panthers DeAngelo Williams better (who they just resigned to a nice contract this offseason—time to earn your paycheck!) than Newton won’t be forced to try and win the game single handedly. His stats won’t be as good, but the record will improve. And that’s obviously more important.
New England (2-0) at Buffalo (2-0)
The Patriots have won 15straight against the Bills. However, this Bills team is pretty strong and to prove that they are a competitive team, this will be the time they finally end the streak thanks in part to home field advantage.
The Patriots will be without tight end Aaron Hernandez, and they released Dan Gronkowski so that leaves them with only one tight end. They have plenty of other options, evident of their No. 1 ranked passing offense, but don’t think the Hernandez injury takes away a wrinkle from that offense.
The Bills can offer something good here though. They have scored the most point in the NFL so far this season (the Patriots aren’t too far behind though to give credit where it is due). The Bills are tied for the biggest point different. Buffalo also has almost half the penalties the Patriots do and 74 fewer penalty yards.
The Patriots pass defense is 31st in the league, so the Bills will be able to pass when they need to and can fight in a shootout. But the biggest help to them will be the running game. They have the top ranked rushing offense, at 193 yards per game and Fred Jackson leads the NFL in rushing yards. So not only will the Bills be able to pass against the Pats defense but they can run the ball, hold onto possession and keep Tom Brady and the Pats prolific offense off the field for good stretches of time limiting the damage they can do.
It’ll be a shootout, but for this game the Bills will at least temporarily end their terrible streak against New England.
Miami (0-2) at Cleveland (1-1)
Since last season Miami is a putrid 1-10 at home. That being said, that also means they are 6-2 on the road. It doesn’t make any sense and they won’t be a good playoff team with that kind of home record but that’s the way things are right now and an away game against a mediocre Browns team could be the trick to earn Miami its first win of the season.
The Dolphins offense is doing well, currently ninth in the league in passing and eighth in rushing. They just need to put the ball in the end zone.
San Francisco (1-1) at Cincinnati (1-1)
The Bengals did some good things last week against the Broncos, but there was a big distraction this week. On Wednesday police seized 2.5 pounds of marijuana from wide receiver Jerome Simpson’s home. Also present—although he denies taking part in any illegal activities—was tackle Anthony Collins.
Add this to Cedric Benson’s three-game suspension and the Bengals are in a lot of trouble. They continue to have off-field issues with the law and that does take a toll on the team’s play on the field.
San Francisco wins.
Denver (1-1) at Tennessee (1-1)
Even with Chris Johnson only rushing for 77 yards in two games, the Titans’ offense looks good. Matt Hasselbeck looks very good throwing the ball this year and Kenny Britt has been beastly the first two weeks of the season.
Britt has 271 yards and three touchdowns in the team’s two games and is finally living up to some of his potential. He could have another good game against an inconsistent and unimpressive Broncos team.
Detroit (2-0) at Minnesota (0-2)
Even with a 120 yard, two touchdown performance from Adrian Peterson and 220-plus passing yards and no turnovers from Donovan McNabb the Vikings still couldn’t win. They still couldn’t beat the Buccaneers even though they held a 20-10 advantage with 9:41 remaining in the game.
The Lions are one of the hottest and most talked about teams in football right now. They’re fun to watch.
Baltimore (1-1) at St. Louis (0-2)
The Ravens should’ve beaten the Titans last weekend, but three turnovers helped to make the Ravens look like they came into the game overconfident. Two of those three turnovers were Joe Flacco interceptions.
The Ravens were also 3-10 on third downs, and the later the game got with the Ravens still behind the more they needed to throw. Flacco completed only 47-percent of his passes.
The point is the Ravens are at their best when they’re running the ball with Ray Rice. Lucky for them so far this season the Rams are last in defending the run, allowing 177.5 yards per game.
New York Jets (2-0) at Oakland Raiders (1-1)
The Jets defense came up huge against the Jaguars in Week 2, picking off four passes and only allowing the Jags to score a total of three points.
The Jets have had their difficulty on offense, but the Raiders are 21st defending the pass and 27th against the run, giving New York a nice opportunity to finally get the offense going in a positive direction.
The Raiders couldn’t even stop the Bills, who many consider to be the third best team in the AFC East, behind the Jets.
New York wins.
Kansas City Chiefs (0-2) at San Diego Chargers (1-1)
The Chiefs have lost their two games by an average of 39.5 points per game. Safety Eric Berry is out for the season. And the only thing the Chiefs can do well---run the ball—has been severely jeopardized with the season-ending injury to Jamaal Charles.
The Chargers have Philip Rivers, Vincent Jackson, Antonio Gates, Mike Tolbert and Ryan Matthews. They are also playing at home.
San Diego wins.
Arizona (1-1) at Seattle (0-2)
The cliché is that defense wins games. Yes, it is important to have a good defense, but technically you can’t win if you don’t put points on the board. And the Seahawks have a lot of trouble even moving the ball into field goal range, let alone scoring a touchdown.
Seattle is second-to-last in points scored (17), 28th in passing yards per game (144) and 32nd in rushing yards per game (47.5). Last week against the Steelers the Seahawks didn’t even get past the 50-yard line until the fourth quarter.
Arizona may struggle defensively, but how bad can the Seahawks really hurt them? The Cardinals at least have a nice offense going with Kevin Kolb, Larry Fitzgerald and Beanie Wells.
Atlanta (1-1) at Tampa Bay (1-1)
It’s a big early season matchup of teams in the NFC South, and it could go either way.
Tampa Bay and Josh Freeman are incredible at leading comeback victories, but that could be difficult against the Falcons and workhorse running back Michael Turner.
The Falcons are ninth in the league in rushing yards per game (124) while the Buccaneers are 31st in the league in defending the run (156 yards per game allowed).
Tampa Bay gets off to slow starts, scoring only 13 first half points so far this season. If the Falcons do in fact enter the fourth quarter with a lead expect Turner to do a lot of damage to kill the clock.
Green Bay (2-0) at Chicago (1-1)
The Packers bested the Saints, who then went and dominated the Bears. The Packers also beat the Bears two consecutive games and five out of the past seven match-ups between the teams.
Expect a big game from Aaron Rodgers and his stable of good receivers against the Bears secondary.
Green Bay wins.
Pittsburgh (1-1) at Indianapolis (0-2)
Pittsburgh shutout the Seahawks last week and didn’t even allow them to play on their side of the field until the fourth quarter.
The Colts are still without Peyton Manning.
Washington (2-0) at Dallas (1-1)
Dallas’s injury list is insanely long right now and it features some very important players.
Wide receiver and Week 2 hero Miles Austin is doubtful with a hamstring injury and didn’t practice Friday. Counterpart Dez Bryant is doubtful with a quadriceps injury, didn’t practice Friday and missed Week 2 because of the injury.
The Cowboys rushing game has not been very good this season early on, ranking 31st in the league with only 54.5 yards per game. Worse news is that leading runner and starting running back Felix Jones is questionable with a shoulder injury.
And then there’s quarterback Tony Romo. His punctured lung has healed but he still has the broken rib. He wasn’t at practice Friday and is listed as questionable. It’s never a good sign though when you have an injury that prevents you from breathing.
If he does happen to play not only will he be without some of his playmakers, he’ll also be hurting in the protection area. Guard Derrick Dockery is out with a fractured tibia and center Phil Costa is questionable with a knee injury. A banged up offensive line means the defense will be able to get to Romo that much easier, and they have already said they’re going to target his ribs.
Last Week: 9-7
Ryan Fitzpatrick: AP Photo/Ed Zurga