No Punt Intended: NFL Picks Week Three Edition
By Brody Burns
Last Week: 13-2 Season Record: 13-2
San Diego at Tennessee (-3) – The Chargers offense looked pretty dynamic on Sunday in Philadelphia. The Bolts gained more than 500 total yards, Eddie Royal accounted for three touchdown receptions and Ryan Matthews had his best game on the ground since week eight of the 2012 season. The defense struggled to contain Vick and DeSean Jackson, but good news lies ahead. No one on the Tennessee roster resembles Vick or Jackson. The Titans come in as favorites, but the Chargers should win this one. My pick: Chargers 24, Titans 21.
Thursday – Kansas City at Philadelphia (-3) – Andy Reid returns to the city where he coached for 14 seasons, and he brings with him a 2-0 Chiefs team. Those two wins match the entire win total from the 2012 season. The Chiefs are much better than last year, but traveling on a Thursday night is difficult. Since 2006, when the NFL began regularly scheduling games on Thursday nights, the road team has lost more than sixty percent of the time. I’m throwing those statistics out; this is a revenge game, so I’m picking the Chiefs to win in a nail bitter. My pick: Chiefs 28, Eagles 27
Cleveland at Minnesota (-3) – The Vikings have had two hard losses this year. Week one saw them fall in Detroit, while in week two, the Bears snatched victory away from the Vikings in the final seconds. That’s two division losses, on the road, to open the season. Relief comes this week in the form of the Browns. The Vikings are at home, and neither Jason Campbell nor Brian Hoyer leading the Browns strikes fear in the heart of the Vikings. Vikings take this one. My pick: Vikings 24, Browns 13.
Tampa Bay at New England (-7) – The entire sports world has been waiting for the Patriots to show up this season. After two weeks of uninspiring performances, the Patriots are 2-0 with a combined margin of victory of five points. New England has had a long week off, after last Thursday’s win over the Jets. Tampa Bay has been plagued by an inconsistent Josh Freeman, who is reportedly “likely” to request a trade because his relationship with Coach Greg Schiano is “beyond repair.” Yikes. Patriots get this one. My pick: Patriots 24, Buccaneers 17.
Houston (-2.5) at Baltimore – The Cardiac Texans have stolen two victories this season in the fourth quarter. The Ravens are their toughest test yet, while their defense looked good last week in a win over the Browns, their offense behind Joe Flacco and Ray Rice has been sputtering all year. The Texans will win another close one. My pick: Texans 24, Ravens 21.
St. Louis at Dallas (-4) – The Cowboys should bounce back this week in the house that Jerry built. Tony Romo has been solid all year, while the Rams pass defense has been one of the league’s worst. My pick: Cowboys 24, Rams 14.
Arizona at New Orleans (-7.5) – The Saints are off to a 2-0 start, Sean Payton has returned to the sidelines and the Superdome should be rocking on Sunday. Drew Brees will be tested by the Cardinals secondary, but the Saints will send a message to the entire NFC South with an impressive win. My pick: Saints 31, Cardinals 17.
Detroit at Washington (-1.5) – The Redskins have had a difficult start to the season, and 0-3 may be a death sentence for their hopes of returning to the postseason. Washington wins this week, as RG3 thrusts his name back into conversation of supreme sophomore quarterbacks. My pick: Redskins 28, Lions 24.
Green Bay (-2) at Cincinnati – Green Bay was unstoppable last week against Washington. Aaron Rodgers reasserted himself as the best QB in the game. The Bengals defense is better than the Redskins, and they will take some confidence away from finally beating the Steelers at home, but the game will come down to the ability to pressure Rodgers. Watch out for Andy Dalton and A.J. Green to light up a maligned Packers secondary, but the Packers still win. My pick: Packers 31, Bengals 28.
N.Y. Giants at Carolina (-1.5) – This game features two 0-2 teams who are desperate for a win. Panther’s head coach Ron Rivera cannot afford another slow start, 1-6 in 2012 and 1-5 in 2011, and to Panther’s fans, 2013 has the makings of groundhogs day. Rivera is essentially coaching for his job on Sunday, which may already be lost. On the other side the Giants can’t hold onto the ball with 10 turnovers in two games. I don’t think they’ll turn it over as much on Sunday, but with Rivera’s job on the line, I think the Panthers are able to steal a victory. My pick: Panthers 27, Giants 20.
Atlanta at Miami (-1.5) – The Dolphins are the under-the-radar darlings of the season thus far. A 2-0 start, with both wins on the road, and one coming over a 2012 playoff team. The Dolphins are the most pleasant surprise of the early season and Vegas is so enamored with them they are favorites over the Falcons on Sunday. Not so fast though, the Falcons are a really good team, and they won’t fall two games behind the Saints. I’m on the underdogs. My pick: Falcons 27, Dolphins 21.
Indianapolis at San Francisco (-10.5) – Colts Quarterback Andrew Luck comes out West to take on his college coach from Stanford, Jim Harbaugh, and the Niners. Coach Harbaugh should be fuming after Sunday’s embarrassment at the hands of the Seahawks, and the San Francisco defense will be out to prove that they are still the elite of the league. Niners win big. My pick: Niners 31, Colts 17.
Jacksonville at Seattle (-16.5) – In a clash of the league’s best (Seahawks) and undeniably worst (Jaguars) teams, the Seahawks win easily. Look out for the Hawks defense to knock those hideous two-tone Jaguar helmets into a solid color. My pick: Seahawks 35, Jaguars 7.
Buffalo at N.Y. Jets (-2.5) – Buffalo’s season has rivaled the Texans as far as excitement goes, and the Jets have played more competitively than anyone expected. In a clash of two rookie quarterbacks, I like the Bills. My pick: Bills 21, Jets 20.
Chicago (-2.5) at Pittsburgh – Do the Steelers dare fall to 0-3 to start the season? Monday’s loss was the first 0-2 start of Coach Mike Tomlin’s career and the first 0-2 start for the Steelers since 2002. They looked bad again, with a porous offensive line, and non-existent running game. The Bears meanwhile are a surprising 2-0 after coming out on top of two 2012 playoff teams. But this is their first road game, and winning in Pittsburgh is never easy. On Sunday, the Steelers get “off the schnide.” My pick: Steelers 17, Bears 14.
Oakland at Denver (-14.5) – Denver is the class of the AFC, and the Raiders are… not. Denver wins big. My pick: Broncos 35, Raiders 14.