Good things come in threes
Last week was all about proof. As a result, uncertainty is rampant in NFL week three.
First of all, the NFL was full of drama last week with unbelievable upsets that marred SCO staffer records. Teams like the Houston Texans, New York Jets and Cincinnati Bengals proved to be formidable opponents for princes of pigskin like Tom Brady, and reminded football fans everywhere of that old saying "any given Sunday…"
Kurt Warner proved he's still got it, even at 38. Warner led his team to victory last week, completed 24 out of 26 passes and gained 243 yards against Jacksonville. Drew Brees proved that he's one of the most promising quarterbacks in the NFL this year, with nine touchdowns already this season and 311 yards last game alone. Also, the Cowboys proved that everything, especially TV screens, is bigger in Texas. The new Cowboys' Stadium has two monstrous TVs - each 24 yards high and 60 yards wide.
Now comes the uncertainty. With all of the upsets last week, will things in the NFL go back to what's expected? Who knows if New England, the once undeniable powerhouse, will defeat the Falcons? Perhaps Cincinnati can pull off a win against Pittsburgh? In addition to all of the team speculation, Michael Vick is playing his first "real game" since his reinstatement in the NFL, and that's a lot of uncertainty in itself. Football fans and experts alike want to know how Philadelphia will use Vick, how the fans will react and, most importantly, how Vick will play.
Thanks to upsets galore, extraordinary players and the return of a once-dominant quarterback, the NFL is in a precarious position. With all the uncertainty in week three, lack of sure footing will definitely create some high-quality drama and excitement for fans. Luckily, Blazers get a three-day weekend to take in the football frenzy.
Sunday, Sept. 27
Cleveland Browns (0-2-0) at Baltimore Ravens (2-0-0)
Rose - Baltimore
Dennis - Baltimore
Ava - Baltimore
After a predictable loss to the Broncos, Cleveland is looking at a large empty space where their "Ws" should be. The team is also looking at a potential empty space where running back Jamal Louis should be; he may not play due to injury. Against the powerful Ravens, the Browns have no chance.
Baltimore is atop the AFC North and looks to hold onto that spot in Week Three after facing its division rival, Cleveland. Brown's QB Brady Quinn has been struggling early and will need the support of his offensive line to hold up the Raven's impressive pass rush. Accordingly, the Raven secondary really needs to step up this week. Expect to see another strong running performance by the Baltimore runningback trio of Ray Rice, Willis McGahee and Le'Ron McClain. Browns, nevermore.
The Ravens will almost definitely win this week. Even coming out of a close win, Baltimore should defeat Cleveland pretty easily, especially playing at home.
Tennessee Titans (0-2-0) at New York Jets (2-0-0)
Rose - New York
Dennis - New York
Ava - New York
The Titans may have some fight in them (or at least defensive tackle Jason Jones did when he attacked Texan players in an unnecessary mid-game fight last week), but the team as a whole doesn't have enough to conquer the Jets. Some advice: to avoid losing $5,000 within one week like Jones did, don't bet on the Titans for this one.
New York QB Mark Sanchez and his offense have been quite explosive these past two weeks. Also, Jets head coach Rex Ryan was able to shut Chris Johnson down while in Baltimore with his famed defensive scheme. With the same scheme in New York, look for Johnson's production to decrease from last week. New York wins.
My first inclination is to go with the Jets because of Mark Sanchez's great playing and leadership over the last two weeks. Despite Chris Johnson's solid performance so far this season, Sanchez comes in with a lot of momentum and should lead his team to victory. On top of that, the Titans were another team that hurt SCO staffer standings! Last week's upset proved that Kerry Collins, an NFL geezer at 39, should really look at retirement. I mean, c'mon, he dropped the ball after it bounced off his tummy.
New York Giants (2-0-0) at Tampa Bay Buccanneers (0-2-0)
Rose - New York
Dennis - New York
Ava - New York
With the help of Eli Manning and Lawrence Tynes, the Giants managed a win last week at the new Cowboys' stadium. This week, the Buccanneers hope new recruits safety Corey Lynch and cornerback Marcus Hamilton will propel a mediocre secondary. But these novices have no hope against the veteran Giants.
New York QB Eli Manning seems to get better every season. In the Giants' close victory over Dallas, Manning looked calm and poised in every situation. In addition, he's facing a 31st defense rank in Tampa Bay. If RB Brandon Jacobs can step up, look for an easy Giant victory.
The Giants will handle their business this week. First, nobody wants to tackle Brandon Jacobs, and I don't blame them; the man is 6'4,'' 264 pounds and absurdly fast. Secondly, Tampa Bay's running game isn't good, plain and simple.
Jacksonville Jaguars (0-2-0) at Houston Texans (1-1-0)
Rose - Houston
Dennis - Houston
Ava - Houston
The talent is with the Texans on this one. But without old reliable (a.k.a. left guard Chester Pitts who has started in every game in the team's history) due to knee surgery, the game is more debatable. Expect tenacious plays from Jacksonville, but Houston will steal this one.
Houston is coming off an impressive win against Tennessee, partially as a result of Andre Johnson's performance against what seemed like a strong secondary. Now, pair Johnson up with the mediocre Jacksonville secondary and we may see fireworks in September. Keep your eyes on the sky, folks, because the Houston pass attack might just light the stadium up. Jacksonville loses.
To my surprise, Houston's offense was prolific last week considering how badly their defense played. The Jaguars were not good, and will probably come in last in the AFC South. But still, if Maurice Jones Drew comes up big this week, and Houston's offense can't hold up its defense, Jacksonville could win. I'd give Houston the slight edge.
San Francisco 49ers (2-0-0) at Minnesota Vikings (2-0-0)
Rose - Minnesota
Dennis - Minnesota
Ava - Minnesota
Both the 49ers and Vikings definitively wiped out their opposing teams during the last two weeks. The teams are both formidable forces, but the Brett Favre , Percy Harvin and Adrian Peterson trio is simply unbeatable. Minnesota takes the victory.
Arguably the best runningback in the league, Adrian Peterson had his all-time worst performance against the San Fransisco defense last year. Instead, QB Brett Favre is going to have to step up and show the world he still has some deep throws left in him. On the flip side, RB Frank Gore and QB Shaun Hill need to show some explosion in the third week to go 3-0. Still, Minnesota's offense is too much to handle right now.
If Frank Gore gets at least two touchdowns, the 49ers will have a chance against Farve and co. But Adrian Peterson is looking pretty strong and La Farve had a good game last week. Minnesota for the "W," but look for San Francisco to put up a good fight.
Atlanta Falcons (2-0-0) at New England Patriots (1-1-0)
Rose - New England
Dennis - Atlanta
Ava - Atlanta
The Patriots attempted to compensate for their loss against New York last week by adding linebacker Prescott Burgess as a seventh-round draft pick. It might just work. New England has been up against tougher competition than Atlanta, so their win - loss records shouldn't determine this game's victor. The Patriots will succeed.
I'm going to have to go with momentum on this one. Atlanta is 2-0, while New England just lost against the Jets in New York for the first time in about a decade. Also, Tom Brady was struggling enormously with pressure in last week's game; this week he faces John Abraham, a proven master at the pass rush. QB Matt Ryan and TE Tony Gonzalez have proven to be an explosive partnership. Atlanta for the 3-0 record.
Matt Ryan is on a stupendous streak right now, averaging three touchdowns and 200 yards so far. Michael Turner is also on fire and very confident at the moment, which can't hurt Atlanta's chances. Also, the Patriots just lost to the Jets for the first time in nine years, which damaged Rose's, Dennis's and my records! For that, New England, the Falcons get my vote.
Green Bay Packers (1-1-0) at St. Louis Rams (0-2-0)
Rose - Green Bay
Dennis - Green Bay
Ava - Green Bay
Green Bay surprised all three of us with their loss against the Bengals last week. Will they slip up again against a team they should be able to defeat easily? It's hard to say. But I think the odds are with a Packer win.
Both these teams were incredibly disappointing last game. The Green Bay defense was manhandled by the Cincinnati offense and the St. Louis offense seemed to get nowhere on Washington. Nonetheless, I'm going to go with Green Bay for this game. Packer QB Aaron Rodger's mobility is impressive and he may be able to pick apart the St. Louis secondary.
Barring any unforeseen miracle play by Marc Bulger, Green Bay shouldn't have a very hard time beating the Rams. I mean, if the Redskins can do it, so can the Packers (despite their loss to the Bengals last week).
Kansas City Chiefs (0-2-0) at Philadelphia Eagles (1-1-0)
Rose - Philadelphia
Dennis - Philadelphia
Ava - Philadelphia
Philadelphia will be the clear winner in this matchup. The Chiefs are not even on the same level as the Eagles.
The big story in Philadelphia right now is of Michael Vick's return to NFL regular season football. With the Wildcat officially in place for the Eagles, Vick might be able to put up some numbers. Kansas City QB Matt Cassel was also solid in his debut, but they're going to need RB Larry Johnson to produce yards. Philly with the victory.
Michael Vick is playing again. There are so many questions! How will the Eagles use him? We got a hint in the preseason, but not much was revealed. How will he play in his first real game in years? There's already a feature on ESPN.com! How will fans respond to Vick once he's out there on the field in a real game? The Eagles will probably win, but win or lose, Michael Vick will be featured in every single Monday sports story written about the Eagles.
Washington Redskins (1-1-0) at Detroit Lions (0-2-0)
Rose - Washington
Dennis - Washington
Ava - Washington
This is a pretty even matchup, but the Redskins are gaining a player (runningback Anthony Alridge) and the Lions are losing a player (linebacker Ernie Sims). Washington will emerge victorious.
Detroit QB Matthew Stafford, offseason's number one draft pick, hasn't lived up to expectations. He has the lowest QB rating of all starting quarterbacks, and putting that against Washington's strong pass defense means the Lions are in for a difficult matchup. I truly commend Calvin Johnson, arguably one of the league's top receivers, for keeping his cool with a team that may be one of the worst in history. The Lions continue their losing streak this week.
First of all, the upsets last week killed me! Anyway, despite their shaky "victory" over St. Louis, I'd like to think that the Redskins can beat Detroit. Clinton Portis needs to step up his game; winning with only field goals is nothing to be proud of. If Washington is able to put up big numbers on Sunday, and everyone knows that a team-wide confidence boost is really necessary at this point, then they should be fine.
New Orleans Saints (2-0-0) at Buffalo Bills (1-1-0)
Rose - New Orleans
Dennis - New Orleans
Ava - New Orleans
The Saints have proven their potential to fans nationwide. After embarrassing the Eagles in their last game, New Orleans is looking to have yet another victory against the less reliable Bills.
I don't think I can say enough about that rocket launcher equipped on New Orleans QB Drew Brees' arm. He's thrown nine touchdowns already, and has more time with possession as a result of SS Darren Sharper's impressive defensive play. Buffalo needs to show WR Terrell Owens some love and include RB Fred Jackson in even more of the offensive schemes. But the Bills won't stop the Saints' march.
The Bills had a pretty good game last week, and Drew Brees will probably have a record-setting season. Nine touchdowns in two games! Brees could have the most productive season in the history of the NFL. Despite all this, I think New Orleans has the slight advantage.
Chicago Bears (1-1-0) at Seattle Seahawks (1-1-0)
Rose - Chicago
Dennis - Chicago
Ava - Chicago
After an unlikely win against the Steelers last week, the Bears have demonstrated their endurance against top teams. They've faced some intense competition over the past two weeks, and the Seahawks should be no challenge to beat. Seattle's win against St. Louis doesn't say much, so the Bears should emerge from this game with a 2-1 record.
Chicago pulled off a surprise upset against the defending champions, the Pittsburgh Steelers, last week. Bear's RB Matt Forte is off to a slow start this season, but after Frank Gore took apart the Seattle run defense, his numbers should increase. Also, keep an eye out for Jay Cutler. His throwing ability is going to add an element to the offense that will pose a threat to the Seahwaks. The Bears edge the Seahawks.
Chicago was another upset that hurt Dennis, Rose and me last week, but the Bears's defense is still hurting from their loss of Brian Urlacher. It wouldn't be a bad idea to pick the Seahawks, but if Chicago can beat the Steelers, they should defeat Seattle.
Pittsburgh Steelers (1-1-0) at Cincinnati Bengals (1-1-0)
Rose - Cincinnati
Dennis - Pittsburgh
Ava - Pittsburgh
The first Steeler win was luck: the mere result of a field goal at the last second of the game. The second Steeler game was a clear loss. Looks like the defending champs are no longer up to par. Bengals take the win.
Even though Pittsburgh will be playing their second week without star FS Troy Polamalu, their defense has still been holding its own. The offense needs to show major improvement as RB Willie Parker continues to put up mediocre performances. On the other hand, Cincinnati surprised many with its big win over Green Bay. The offense moved the ball down field and Antwan Odom proved himself to be one of the league's best in pass rushing after recording five sacks. Still, the Steelers are tough; maybe a bit too tough for the Bengals.
SCO Staffer or not, no one called Cincinnati beating the Packers last week. If Carson Palmer has another great game, then the Steelers will have a challenge on their hands! But, if Palmer doesn't show up, it'll be the Steelers for the win. I'll tentatively choose Pittsburgh, but I wouldn't be surprised if Cincinnati wins.
Denver Broncos (2-0-0) at Oakland Raiders (1-1-0)
Rose - Denver
Dennis - Denver
Ava - Denver
The Broncos have shown their power and endurance with their two wins. Not so for the Raiders. Oakland's only win thus far has been a slim scrape against the weak Kansas City Chiefs. Denver is the stronger team.
Both Oakland and Denver have shown some improvement since Week One. Denver blew Cleveland out last week and despite preseason doubts, QB Kyle Orton and WR Brandon Marshall have been performing well. The Raiders must see QB JaMarcus Russell complete more passes and will attempt to run the ball down the gut of the Bronco defense.
I like Denver more and more as the season progresses. The Raiders are pitiful this year; there's a big problem with their organization. I just don't see Oakland winning on Sunday.
Miami Dolphins (0-2-0) at San Diego Chargers (1-1-0)
Rose - San Diego
Dennis - Miami
Ava - San Diego
With the recent addition of defensive tackle Alfonso Boone to help the Chargers fill the left void, San Diego should be new and improved. The Dolphins have a weak defense in comparison, and should falter in this Charger matchup.
This may or may not be everyone's pick this week. But Miami showed heart with their wildcat offense and almost succeeded in upsetting Indianapolis. In addition, San Diego's defense seemed a bit sloppy and Dolphin's RB Ronnie Brown might just work wonders this week. Charger's WR Vincent Jackson has been impressive in his last two games and has two touchdowns to show for it. Miami for the win?
I like San Diego this week because Phillip Rivers is still playing well, and the Chargers will certainly be looking for atonement. Though the Dolphins didn't look too bad last week, their "Wildcat" offense was effective against the Colts. San Diego is playing at home and should get a "W."
Indianapolis Colts (2-0-0) at Arizona Cardinals (1-1-0)
Rose - Arizona
Dennis - Indianapolis
Ava - Indianapolis
Indianapolis has been lucky with their competition: Jacksonville and Miami are relatively easy to beat. But the Colts barely scraped out wins both times with scores of 14-12 and 27-24. One could say that the Cardinals lucked out on their win against Jacksonville, but Arizona is the better team so they should expect a victory.
Arizona QB Kurt Warner had a killer game against Jacksonville, connecting on 26 out of 28 passes; however, he faces the top-ranked pass defense in Indianapolis this week. Also on offense, QB Peyton Manning and WR Reggie Wayne will always pose a major threat in any situation. It'll be interesting to see how the Cardinals react to this pass-heavy offense. Colts take the cake.
Primetime NBC Sunday night on a three-day weekend…oh yeah, that'll be a good game. For the second week in a row, Kurt Warner proved he's still very useful in the NFL at 38. On the other hand, Peyton Manning can will his team to win no matter the situation, and used Dallas Clark very well last week. I think it'll be the Colts by a touchdown.
Monday, Sept. 28
Carolina Panthers (0-2-0) at Dallas Cowboys (1-1-0)
Rose - Dallas
Dennis - Dallas
Ava - Dallas
Maybe we can attribute the recent Cowboy loss to the team's unfamiliarity with their new stadium, but that would be pushing it. Nevertheless, Dallas put up a good fight against the Giants last week, so the odds are that the team will pull through against the Panthers. Also, it will be Game Two at the new stadium, and the second time is always a charm.
Both starting quarterbacks for this game, Jake Delhomme and Tony Romo, are on the hot seat this week. They need to prove that they can play a game without consistently turning the ball over. Dallas has the upside because RB Marion Barber has been running harder than ever and WR Patrick Crayton has separated himself from the pack as a viable number one receiver. The Panthers won't be able to fend off the 'Boys this week.
Dallas should win; Carolina has been having problems with Delhomme. Maybe the Panthers will finally figure something out, but it'll be rough for the Cowboys if Romo doesn't shape up his decision-making. This game is definitely an upset alert. A side note: how great is the new stadium? That TV screen is gigantic!
Dennis Chae. Whhaazzaaa, I'm Dennis Chae. I love my Baltimore Ravens and shoes. In fact, I collect sneakers and am always looking for a new pair of Nikes. The Ultimate Fighting Championship is probably going to be the greatest thing ever in a year or so. I … More »
Ava Wallace. More »
Rose Wynn. I love piña coladas, getting caught in the rain and the ladies of the Blair Pom Squad. More »