NFL Weekly Predictions: Week 3
September 20, 2012 by Jeffrey Boswell • Print Story •
Note: the quotes in this article are fictional.
NY Giants @ Carolina (+2½)
It's Thursday night in Charlotte, and two teams that combined for 76 points last week collide at Bank of America Stadium, home of the 1-1 Panthers. The Giants overcame a slow start last week before KO'ing the Buccaneers 41-34, led by 510 yards passing from Eli Manning.
"I'm sure we'll air it out again," Tom Coughlin said, "as will the Panthers. Why wouldn't they? We've given up 5 touchdown passes, tied for worst in the league. It appears the Southwest Airlines blimp will provide the only 'aerial coverage' of the night.
"I'll do anything to defend my quarterback. If that means getting in the face of an opposing coach, I'll do it. If fans really want to see two people 'exchange pleasantries' after a game, they should find out what sleazy bathroom bar the two horniest Panther cheerleaders will be in."
The Panthers will likely force the Giants to run, and thereby keep Manning from finding a rhythm. Jon Beason anchors a defense looking to slow the New York passing attack.
"There's no way Manning gets 500 against us," Jon Beason said. "Not yards. It's possible he'll say 500 'Omaha's.' In fact, I'd put money on it. That would of course be called 'Pari-Mutual of Omaha.'"
Carolina wins, 27-25.
Tampa @ Dallas (-9)
The Cowboys rolled into Seattle last week with the confidence of a team that had just beaten the defending Super Bowl champions (or had just won big at Party Casino). They left just as they went in after getting rolled by the Seahawks, 27-7.
"It's funny how quickly 'Big D' becomes 'lower case,'" Tony Romo said. "It's like they say six or seven times per year in Dallas: 'No guts, no glory holes.'
"To say the Cowboys are 'chronic underachievers' would be accurate, but would also be a disservice to Nate Newton. That cat moved more marijuana than reggae music."
The Bucs lost a shootout to the Giants, 41-34, but Greg Schiano and his young squad served notice that they will fight to the end, much to the chagrin of Tom Coughlin.
"Eli Manning didn't show it in the second half," Schiano said, "but he plays like Joe Pisarcik sometimes. For that reason, we had to come after him on the kneel down. Coughlin didn't like it, but Herm Edwards was all for it. As Herm says, 'You play to win the game.' It most cases, Herm said that after a loss."
Dallas bounces back, and bum rushes Josh Freeman, forcing 3 Tampa turnovers.
Dallas wins, 24-17.
Jacksonville @ Indianapolis (-1½)
After a 23-20 win over the Vikings last week, Andrew Luck and the Colts are 1-1, alone in second place in the AFC South. They'll face the 0-2 Jags, who fell to the Texans last week.
"Facing a No. 1 pick should prepare the Jags for the future," Luck said, "because they'll be staring one in the face at season's end."
The Jags were totally dominated in last week's 27-7 loss to the Texans, as Jacksonville managed just 117 total yards on offense. Blaine Gabbert completed only 7-of-19 passes, and the Jags lost the time of possession battle 43:17 to 16:43.
"We'll be intensely working with Blaine on his drops" Mike Mularkey said, "because he surely takes too many steps back. We were hoping he would show vast improvement from training camp until now. It didn't happen. Our owner Shahid Khan quipped that Arab women have made more progress in the last six months than Gabbert."
Indianapolis wins, 20-13.
Buffalo @ Cleveland (+3)
C.J. Spiller rushed for 123 yards and 2 scores, his second consecutive two-touchdown game, as the Bills pounded the Chiefs 35-17 to even their record at 1-1 this year. With 292 yards on the ground, Spiller leads the NFL in rushing.
"I think I stand up well among great Buffalo running backs," Spiller said. "And I haven't lost my freedom or my helmet, so that gives me the edge."
Despite losing 34-27 to the Bengals, the Browns saw promise and improvement in the play of rookie quarterback Brandon Weeden. After a miserable Week 1 performance, Weeden threw for 322 yards and 2 touchdowns.
"My passer rating went from 5.1 to 114.9," Weeden said. "If I could have seen that kind of improvement in baseball, I'd still be pitching, Colt McCoy would be the starting quarterback, and everyone but Jim Brown would be happy.
"My confidence is soaring, but I'm sure the Bills will try to shake me up with their redesigned defensive line. Buffalo spent loads of money on that new line. But so far, Mario Williams and Mark Anderson have recorded no sacks. It looks like the Bills got exactly what they hoped for — a 'bull' rush."
Williams records his first two sacks of the year, and Weeden sees his passer rating plunge to a spot somewhere between single and triple digits. Ryan Fitzpatrick tosses 2 touchdown passes, and the Bills win, 30-23.
NY Jets @ Miami (+3)
Reggie Bush went wild on the Raiders' defense last week, rushing for 172 yards and 2 touchdowns in the Dolphins' 35-13 win.
"Reggie played like a Heisman Trophy winner," Joe Philbin said. "And, just like in his college days, he's being paid like one."
After dropping 48 points on a soft Buffalo defense, the Jets hit a wall in Pittsburgh, losing 27-10 while managing only 219 total yards.
"There's no need to be alarmed," Sanchez said. "We debuted a new wrinkle in our offense on Sunday. It's called the 'mildcat.' I hear Rex Ryan is upset about being asked so many Tim Tebow questions. At least when asked about Tebow, as opposed to me, Rex has answers."
Ryan and offensive coordinator Tony Sparano simplify the Jets' offensive game plan to such a degree that it's written in crayon. Sanchez and Tebow still ask for clarification, and get it with a run-heavy game plan that later leads to play-action and several overthrown passes.
New York wins, 31-14.
Kansas City @ New Orleans (-9½)
The struggling Chiefs suffered their second straight blowout loss, falling 35-17 in Buffalo last week. In two games thus far, the Chiefs have surrendered 75 points.
"We're making the 'Trip To Bounty-ville,'" Matt Cassel said, "which is often what opposing offenses say when they reach our side of the field. One of these defenses will have to make a statement on Sunday. That statement will determine which is the 'Biggest Easy.'"
The Saints are 0-2 after dropping a 35-27 contest to the Panthers last week, and now occupy last place in the NFC South.
"It's not time to panic," Drew Brees said. "The last thing we need is a players-only meeting; Roger Goodell is watching those like a hawk.
"Of course, if we had a players-only meeting, this team is comfortable enough with each other to say what's on their mind. Constructive criticism is accepted here. It seems far-fetched, but Saints do tell the truth when it can benefit them. We're not afraid to put a head on a platter; it doesn't always have to be an opponent's, though."
New Orleans wins, 34-27.
Cincinnati @ Washington (-2)
The Bengals beat in-state rival Cleveland 31-24 last week, powered by Andy Dalton's three touchdown passes. Now, Cincy heads to the nation's capitol to face Robert Griffin III and the 1-1 Redskins.
"I hear RGIII was a world-class hurdler," Dalton said. "And, apparently, so are the Redskins — they had to jump through hoops just to draft him."
Griffin has shown great leadership, and Mike Shanahan says Griffin reminds him of John Elway, who led the Broncos to two Super Bowls.
"There are those that say I wouldn't have won two Super Bowls without Elway," Shanahan said. "Mitt Romney says 47% of the people believe this. In truth, the number is likely twice that many."
Cincinnati wins, 30-24.
St. Louis @ Chicago (-10)
Jay Cutler threw 4 interceptions and was sacked 7 times in the Bears' humiliating 23-10 defeat in Green Bay last Thursday.
"Chicago's had its share of great leaders," Lovie Smith. "Jim McMahon and Gale Sayers come to mind, as does Peter Cetera. I'm not sure Cutler can be mentioned with those greats yet, although I'd love to hear him sing 'You're the Inspiration.' Better yet, I'd like to hear his teammates sing 'You're the Inspiration.'"
The Rams' comeback 31-28 victory over the Redskins last week gave Jeff Fisher his first victory as the Rams' head coach. In two games, St. Louis has four interceptions, and the improving St. Louis defense will look to pressure Cutler into mistakes.
"We're going to do something unprecedented," Fisher said. "Before the kickoff, we'll let one of the Bears announce Cutler in pre-game introductions. That way, another Bear can say he's 'called out' Cutler."
Cutler meets with his teammates before the game, and accidentally criticizes them on their selfishness as opposed to their selflessness. As punishment, Cutler is 'bench-slapped' by Lovie Smith, and sits out the first series. Cutler returns, and as one would expect, leads the Bears to an uninspiring 24-20 win.
San Francisco @ Minnesota (+6)
The 49ers vanquished their second consecutive NFC North team, validating their Week 1 win over Green Bay with a 27-19 victory over the Lions on Sunday night. San Fran held Matthew Stafford to 230 yards passing and only 1 touchdown.
"Our defense has a way of making the great look ordinary," Jim Harbaugh said. "Our offense has a way of making the ordinary look great. Just ask Alex Smith. He's doing things that Joe Montana and Steve Young never did. Most amazingly, he's doing it with Randy Moss."
The Vikings are off to a 1-1 start, and will have their hands full with the 49ers, considered by many the NFC's, in not the NFL's, best team.
"We've got one thing in our favor," Leslie Frazier said. "And that's home-field advantage. But we're only six-point underdogs, which means our home-field advantage is a lot more than I thought.
"Moss is making his second return to Minnesota. Fortunately for me, he'll be leaving for the third time."
Moss receives a hero's welcome in Minnesota, and is presented with a key to the city of Minneapolis, which immediately changes its locks.
Moss catches a touchdown pass, and the 49ers roar back from a slow start to win, 27-13.
Detroit @ Tennessee (+3½)
Detroit's Jim Schwartz returns to Tennessee, where he forged his reputation as the Titans' defensive coordinator for eight years. The 1-1 Lions will try to bounce back after a tough loss to the 49ers.
"Albert Haynesworth may claim it," Schwartz said, "but the turf at LP Field is my old stomping ground. Don't get me wrong. I don't condone feet on faces, or hands on backs, for that matter."
The 0-2 Titans are winless on the year, and, more importantly, 0-2 in games decided by 28 points or less. As is often the case, Tennessee will need more production from Chris Johnson, who has rushed for only 21 yards on 19 carries so far this year.
"I can't fault Chris' work ethic," Mike Munchak said. "He's trying his damnedest to return to form, one inch at a time. In fact, he's playing like the greatest short-yardage back of all-time."
Detroit wins, 28-24.
Atlanta @ San Diego (-3½)
The 2-0 Chargers are clicking on all cylinders, winners of two in a row after blasting the Titans 38-10 last week. Standing in their way of a 3-0 start are the Falcons, who feature arguably the NFL's best wide receiver duo in Julio Jones and Roddy White.
"We won't be phased," Norv Turner said. "It's not like we haven't dealt with similar situations at home before. This is San Diego. There are millions of 'Julio's' in San Diego, and even more 'whites.'"
The Falcons face their third AFC West team of the young season after success against the Chiefs and Broncos. Matt Ryan outplayed Peyton Manning in Atlanta's 27-21 Monday night win over the Broncos.
"That could have been the biggest win of my career," Ryan said. "Too bad it didn't come in February.
"Hey, there's only one thing better than playing an AFC West schedule, and that's playing that schedule as a member of the division. We started with the Chiefs, and have progressively played tougher AFC West opponents. By that rationale, we should have played the Raiders in June."
The fired-up Chargers come out blazing, and Rivers throws 2 early touchdown passes to give San Diego an early 14-0 lead. The Falcons battle back, but Nate Kaeding wins it with a late field goal.
San Diego wins, 30-27.
Philadelphia @ Arizona (+4)
Kevin Kolb faces his former team as the 2-0 Eagles visit the Cardinals, who shocked the Patriots 20-18 last week in Foxborough. Arizona is 2-0 and tied atop the NFC West with San Francisco.
"I've got a little something for the Eagles," Kolb said. "I think that's why I was traded in the first place. If there were another installment of The Expendables filmed, I would certainly be in the cast, although I wouldn't be the least-known star in the film.
"But I certainly have something to prove, and at home against my former team is the best place to do it. I don't miss my former home. You can say 'I've had my Phil.'"
The Eagles are 2-0 after a dramatic 24-23 win over the Ravens last week, as Michael Vick scored on a quarterback draw with 1:55 left for the deciding points. Vick atoned for 2 interceptions with crucial plays in crunch time.
"I realize I have to limit my turnovers," Vick said. "I've got six in two games. That has to stop. As history has proven, even one 'T.O.' in Philadelphia is too many."
Arizona jumps on the Eagles early, as Darnell Dockett takes to Twitter on Friday for some grammatically incorrect trash talk. Come Sunday, the Cards are talking even more, and two quick turnovers by the Eagles give Cards great field position, which Kolb and the offense cash in for field goals. The 6-point lead holds up, and Arizona wins, 19-13.
Pittsburgh @ Oakland (+4)
The Steelers bounced back from their Week 1 defeat in Denver with a convincing 27-10 win over the overmatched Jets. Now the Steelers head to Oakland's Black Hole where the reeling Raiders await.
"This should be an interesting matchup," Dennis Allen said. "Not the game necessarily, but having Ben Roethlisberger and Sebastian Janikowski in the same place at the same time? Those two like surrounding themselves with 'yes men,' because they won't take 'no' for an answer."
What's the Raiders' best hope for victory? A healthy 53-player roster in uniform? No, Troy Polamalu and James Harrison in street clothes.
Pittsburgh wins, 23-16.
Houston @ Denver (+1)
Matt Schaub and the Texans are 2-0, and travel to Mile High Stadium to face longtime AFC South nemesis Peyton Manning, who now suits up for the Broncos.
"I'm going to Denver to prove something," Matt Schaub said. "That's because in order to prove something, I have to go where Manning is. His shadow follows me more than my own does."
Peyton Manning threw 3 interceptions in the first quarter, and the Broncos dug an early hole from which they couldn't escape, eventually losing 27-21 to the Falcons.
"Houston's J.J. Watts said he learned the Dolphins' snap count by watching Hard Knocks," Manning said. "I learned that the Texans' scout opponents by watching HBO. That's not how I do it. I'm not wired for cable, but my neck is."
Prior to the game, Manning scoops the Broncos' defense on what they can expect from Schaub. It's the shortest motivational speech of Manning's career.
Denver loads up the box to stuff the Texan run game, placing the pressure on Schaub to beat them. Champ Bailey's eyes light up, and a late interception seals Houston's fate.
Denver wins, 24-22.
New England @ Baltimore (-3)
In a rematch of last year's classic AFC Championship Game, the Ravens host the hated Patriots, who, like the Ravens, are 1-1 after a Week 2 loss. The Patriots' offense was lethargic in a 20-18 loss to the Cardinals in Foxborough, managing only 1 touchdown. Stephen Gostkowski pulled a 42-yard field goal as time expired that would have won the game.
"Gostkowski's kick was so wide," Tom Brady said, "it not only missed the goal posts, in missed the television screen. I haven't seen a miss that bad in a Patriot game since Mike Vanderjagt."
The Ravens' defense will have to do better than the 486 yards they surrendered to the Eagles last week.
"We can't simply be good on Sunday," Ray Lewis said. "We have to be great. And speaking of great, Baltimore is now home to two great authors. Edgar Allan Poe is now joined by Tony Siragusa, whose book, Goose: The Outrageous Life and Times of a Football Guy just came out. For an equally entertaining read, check out Mother F'n Goose by Rich Gannon."
New England wins, 29-27.
Siragusa later announces plans to write the sequel to Poe's The Purloined Letter, called The Purloined Donut.
Green Bay @ Seattle (+3)
The Seahawks sent the Cowboys packing last week after a dominating 27-7 Seattle win at Qwest Field, establishing themselves as legitimate playoff threats. A win over the Packers would put the Seahawks among the NFC's elite.
"I'm sure the Packers will come after Russell Wilson," Pete Carroll said, "and force him to make mistakes. I can deal with a few mistakes. If Russell continues to make the same mistakes, then I have a problem. And his problem is even larger, which would be dealing with the nickname 'JaMarcus Russell Wilson."
The Packers bounced back from a Week 1 loss to the 49ers with a dominating 23-10 win over the Bears. With a divisional road loss already on their record, the Pack needs a solid effort in Seattle to avoid another.
"We plan to do with Wilson what we did with Cutler," Clay Matthews said. "And that's make him play like a rookie. Jay's good at throwing one thing — blame. And he's better at catching one thing — hell."
Green Bay wins, 23-19.