|E.J Manuel and the Bills could move to 3-0 with a win over San Diego|
Week three is nearly upon us following the beat-down Atlanta handed Tampa Bay on Thursday Night, and with a 21-11 record predicting the games thus far here at American Football Focus we’re feeling pretty good about our crystal ball skills. Will our lucky streak last? Who knows, but here’s what we think will happen as the young NFL season continues.
San Diego @ Buffalo
Nobody expected Buffalo to be 2-0 heading into week three, and no one expected San Diego to beat Seattle last week either, making this a battle between two of the NFL’s surprise packages so far this season. The Bills have looked dynamic on offense in the early going, but San Diego’s all around package makes them the favourites here as they should have enough about them to burst Buffalo’s bubble in a close match-up. Chargers 24, Bills 20
Tennessee @ Cincinnati
The Titans let themselves down against Dallas after a good win against Kansas City in week one, and they’ll face an even tougher challenge in the Bengals tonight as Cincy seeks to prove that they’re the class of not just the AFC North but the AFC as a whole. A.J Green is probable to play and with the Bengals defense as good as ever it promises to be a long afternoon for Tennessee as Cincinnati rolls to 3-0. Titans 16, Bengals 27
Baltimore @ Cleveland
All of a sudden this game has developed into a genuine close contest between the two divisional rivals, with both the Ravens and Browns 1-1. Cleveland overcame New Orleans in a thriller a week ago and appear to have momentum on their side, while Baltimore are struggling to deal with the Ray Rice fiasco. With the Ravens focus elsewhere the Browns take a tight one, led by their stellar defense which has the ability to shut down Joe Flacco and the Baltimore passing game.
Ravens 14, Browns 17
Green Bay @ Detroit
The Packers were a late rally against the Jets from being 0-2 in the early going, with their defense looking worryingly porous even after the off-season addition of Julius Peppers. On offense Jordy Nelson has matured into one of the league’s top receivers, however as good as he is nobody is comparable to Calvin Johnson and the Lions wideout could cause some serious damage at Ford Field later on today. There will be points and lots of them here; I’m backing Detroit to come out on top thanks to their slightly better defensive unit. Packers 30, Lions 34
Indianapolis @ Jacksonville
After a promising week one performance the Jaguars regressed in week two against Washington, with quarterback Chad Henne being sacked an incredible 10 times. Fortunately for them the Colts pass rush is far less fearsome than the Redskins; however that won’t prevent them losing to a Colts teams that is 0-2 and has failed to perform as expected thus far this year. Colts 24, Jaguars 16
Oakland @ New England
This could well be the biggest miss match of the week, with Oakland lucky to be 0-2 while New England returned to winning ways with a resounding victory over Minnesota in week two. At home Tom Brady could enjoy a career day, while Oakland QB Derek Carr will have a had a few sleepless nights this week as he prepares to face Bill Belichick’s well versed defense.
Raiders 10, Patriots 31
Minnesota @ New Orleans
New Orleans face an early season must-win after losing to Cleveland and Atlanta in the opening two weeks of the campaign; fortunately for them they come up against a poor Vikings outfit devoid of the services of Adrian Peterson. Matt Cassel has been terrible in the early going and even though the Saints defense hasn’t been much better Drew Brees and the offense should put up more than enough points to win this one. Vikings 14, Saints 28
Houston @ New York Giants
The Texans are 2-0. The Giants are 0-2. Yet New York are still probably the favourites here at home, with the Texans missing first overall draft pick Jadaveon Clowney and the quality of their defeated opposition not necessarily high end. Eli Manning has already thrown four interceptions this year after tossing 28 in 2013, so it could be an ugly game but it’s one where I think both teams gravitate towards .500. Texans 17, Giants 20
Washington @ Philadelphia
Kirk Cousins is in at QB for Washington with Robert Griffin III crocked (again), while Redskins tight end Jordan Reed is also missing through injury. With Philadelphia 2-0 early on it would then appear that the Eagles should win comfortably at the Linc; however the contest smacks of a trap game and it could be a lot closer than many think. I do think Philly has enough to overcome Washington in the end, though. Redskins 21, Philadelphia 25
Dallas @ St. Louis
Tony Romo rebounded from a tough week one performance versus San Francisco to perform well against the Titans in week two, while St. Louis overcame the terrible Buccaneers to enter this game at 1-1. However there’s a large gulf in quality between the two teams, even if the Rams offense could enjoy a decent day against the Cowboys poor defense. Romo should be able to team up with Dez Bryant regularly and lead Dallas to 2-1 and keep them in the running early on.
Cowboys 24, Rams 14
San Francisco @ Arizona
This NFC West battle could be the game of the week, with two excellent defenses doing battle and the explosiveness of Colin Kaepernick on show. Kaepernick was erratic last week, however, and turned the ball over three times as the 49ers blew a first half lead against Chicago at Levi’s Stadium. San Fran are lucky here that Cardinals QB Carson Palmer is questionable with a shoulder injury, which should nullify the Arizona passing game to the extent that San Francisco’s defense can key on the run. 49ers 17, Cardinals 13
Kansas City @ Miami
The Chiefs have been truly terrible to this point of the year and with star running back Jamaal Charles unlikely to play they could fall to 0-3 against the Dolphins, who have been inconsistent so far this year. Yet with the Chiefs so badly decimated by injuries it figures that the Dolphins won’t even have to be at their best to register a second victory of the young season this evening.
Chiefs 20, Dolphins 27
Denver @ Seattle
Peyton Manning leads the Broncos into Seattle as they attempt to seek some measure of revenge for their Superbowl hammering last February, and after the Seahawks were beaten in San Diego last week they may have an opportunity to do so. Their defense is much improved in itself which will make a world of difference, but whether their offense can step up to the mark is up for debate. Saying that, I think Seattle were found out a touch last week and am plumping for a Denver road win.
Broncos 23, Seahawks 22
Pittsburgh @ Carolina
Cam Newton returned for the Panthers last week to lead them to their second victory of the season, and although Le’Veon Bell has been running the ball well this season he’ll get no joy out of the Panthers run defense led by Luke Kuechley. Newton will have to star again with Carolina short of running options, but against an average Steelers defense he has every chance of carrying his side to another victory. Steelers 18, Panthers 24
Chicago @ New York Jets
The Jets were a blundered time out away from being 2-0 against Green Bay last week, while Chicago came back to equal their record at 1-1 after a rousing comeback over San Francisco. The Bears struggle to contain the run, however, and with Chris Johnson and Chris Ivory in the backfield the Jets offense could move the ball with ease on the ground at MetLife Stadium. It could be a great game, but with the better defense and Alshon Jeffery and Brandon Marshall both banged up I’m siding with Rex Ryan’s crew. Bears 14, Jets 23
What do you think will happen in week three of the NFL season? Have your say in the comments or tweet @fredjstanley