Mike's Week 3 NFL Picks

With Week 2 in the books it's time I bring you my first edition of weekly pickem! This week brings us a number of interesting matchups and it should prove to be an exciting one for the ordinary fan and especially for the fantasy enthusiasts. I'm going to keep my eye on our surprise 2-0's in Buffalo and especially Washington, as they head to Dallas for what should be a Monday Night Football classic. Enjoy my take on this week's action, and as always: don't be afraid to leave your $.02!

(Home Team in CAPS)

San Francisco (+2.5) over CINCINNATI – Cincinnati led by rookie Andy Dalton, have looked good in the first two weeks of the season. He seems to mesh well with fellow rookie A.J. Green and Jermaine Gresham, both good signs for this young Bengals offense. The 49ers, however, have shown a good deal of promise save the fourth quarter meltdown they suffered at the hands of Tony Romo in week 2. Jim Harbaugh has shown great confidence in a less-than-consistent Alex Smith, and Frank Gore looks, at the very least, healthy. Losing Braylon Edwards for the next 3 weeks to knee surgery will hurt the passing game so the biggest key for San Francisco going into Cinci this week will be Frank Gore playing like the multiple Pro Bowler he is.

New England (-8.5) over BUFFALO – Buffalo is undoubtedly one of the top surprises so
far this season. Ryan Fitzpatrick looks like a real starting quarterback and he has weapons around him in Fred Jackson and Steve Johnson. But even with the Bills playing better than they have in a decade, there’s simply no effing way they pull out a win over New England. Tom Brady and Co. are simply too powerful of an offense for Buffalo to overcome. I’ll take the over in this one.

Houston (+4) over NEW ORLEANS – This was probably the hardest winner for me to pick this week. Houston has come out of the gates strong, showing everybody that they are a serious Super Bowl contender, while the Saints have consistently been one of the top contenders in the NFC for the last 5 years. With Wade Phillips calling the plays, Houston has become one of the top defenses in the league. This, combined with Matt Schaub, Andre Johnson and Ben Tate proving they can more than compensate for the loss of Arian Foster
will be too much for Drew Brees and the Saints to overcome.

PHILADELPHIA (-7) over NY Giants – Even with Michael Vick’s concussion and the possibility of Mike Kafka starting, Philly is just too much for the Giants to handle. Kafka looked solid in Atlanta and has what it takes to lead the Eagles’ offense if it Vick can’t go. New York has by far the most banged up defense in the league with 4 defensive starters on IR, and Eli Manning really hasn't shown he has what it takes to lead his Giants back to the postseason. LeSean McCoy and Philly’s WR corps will prove more than New York can handle – the Eagles will win this rivalry match without much trouble at all.

Miami (+2.5) over CLEVELAND – Chad Henne has been a pleasant surprise for many Dolphins fans. He’s put up one hell of a fight against a great Patriots team in week one, and did what he could against the league’s best passing defense vs. Houston last week. Reggie Bush has picked up right where he left off in New Orleans, and Daniel Thomas is getting more comfortable as proven by his 100+ yard game last week. Colt McCoy, however, hasn’t shown enough promise against bad Cincinnati team and an even worse Indianapolis squad to instill much confidence in Browns fans. It’s going to be another long year in sports for the city of Cleveland.

TENNESSEE (-6.5) over Denver The Titans are still going through a rebuilding phase, but Matt Hasslebeck has brought a new dimension to the typically run-first offense in Tennessee. The 2009 rushing champion Chris Johnson has gotten off to a slow start, yet they still found a way to beat a very good Baltimore Ravens team last week. The verdict is still out on this intriguing Tennessee team but one thing’s for sure—they’re much better than they were in 2010.

Detroit (-3.5) over MINNESOTA After going from one washed up quarterback to another, it looks like the Vikings are doing everything they can to avoid an inevitable rebuilding period. If things don’t change, and change soon, Christian Ponder will be starting by their bye week. Detroit is a team with a lot to prove, and they’re off to a good start after the punishment they put Kansas City through in week 2. The schlacking they put on New England in the preseason is starting to look more like the real deal, and so is Detroit.

CAROLINA (-3.5) over Jacksonville As everyone predicted, Cam Newton won’t throw for 422 yards every week. Apparently sometimes he’ll throw for 432. Newton looked phenomenal against Dom Capers’ 2010 league-leading pass defense, making very few mistakes and putting up impressive numbers on the defending Super Bowl champions. For the first time since the 2003-2004 season, Carolina fans have something to look forward to other than NCAA basketball. Jacksonville’s woes at quarterback continue; only 2 weeks since cutting David Garrard, Luke McCown has been benched and rookie Blaine Gabbert gets the start in week 3. It will take Gabbert a few weeks to adjust to the NFL speed, and Carolina’s defense will look to take advantage of the first time starter’s likely mistakes.

SAN DIEGO (-14.5) over Kansas City Where to begin? Kansas City was boat raced by both Buffalo and Detroit in the first two weeks of the season and now they’ve lost Jamaal Charles for the season thanks to a torn ACL. San Diego is a good football team, and playing Kansas City at home will be a walk in the park. I will gladly take the over.

NY Jets (-3.5) over OAKLAND The Jets have been playing well, but it will be interesting to see how their new pass-first offense works out in the weeks to come. After a hard fought win over Dallas in week one and an impressive handling of Jacksonville last week, there are again plenty of positives for Rex Ryan’s crew in 2011. Oakland is only a quality quarterback away from a division title with Darren McFadden’s aggressive running and a solid coach in Hue Jackson so long as Al Davis keeps his hands out of the proverbial cookie jar.

ST LOUIS (+3.5) over Baltimore There’s a reason Sam Bradford won Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2010—he really is that damn good. If Steven Jackson can manage to stay on the field, there’s no doubt they won’t challenge San Francisco for the NFC West title. They can pull an upset over Baltimore by giving Bradford time in the pocket, and eliminating dumb mistakes. Last week’s game was lost because of foolish turnovers. Steve Spagnuolo will make sure the Rams are prepared, and won’t let them start the season in an 0-3 hole.

Atlanta (+1.5) over TAMPA BAY Matty Ice has a lot to prove after a surprisingly shaky start to the season. Atlanta had the best record in the NFC last season but Ryan hasn’t played in the same form he did in 2010. If it weren’t for Vick going down last week, there’s a good chance Atlanta would have started the year with one less loss than they had all of last year. If they want to beat a very good Tampa Bay team this week, the O-line needs to give Matt Ryan time in the pocket, and Michael Turner needs to continue posting 100 yard games.

Green Bay (-3.5) over CHICAGO – I’m clearly looking forward to this week 3 matchup the most as the oldest rivalry in the NFL continues at Soldier Field. I will do my best to keep my objectivity, but no promises. Super Bowl MVP Aaron Rodgers has picked up this season right where he left off 2010, leading his team to victory over the Saints and the Panthers. Chicago simply must do a better job at protecting Jay Cutler if they want him to make it through the season. Green Bay’s defense has some question marks after giving up 400+ yards in the first two weeks of the season, but Clay Matthews and the Packers’ pass rush will ultimately prove too much for Chicago’s shaky offensive line and Cutler will spend more time on the ground than in the pocket. Again…

Arizona (-3.5) over SEATTLE – Arizona isn’t a very good team, but good news for them is that Seattle is much, much worse. This will be the first of oh-too-many sloppy NFC West matchups to come. On the plus side, Kevin Kolb should get some much needed confidence with an opponent like this, as will Arizona’s defense after a rough start to the season. I’ll take the over.

Pittsburgh (-10.5) over INDIANAPOLIS – A year ago we all would have been touting this as the prelude to the AFC Championship game. This year: not so much. Pittsburgh’s week 1 disaster was a fluke—they’re the defending AFC champs but you can bet that Mike Tomlin’s team feels like they still have something to prove. They’re going to come out strong and hard against an Indianapolis team that hasn’t felt this way since the 1997 season

Washington (+5.5) over DALLAS The Redskins have been called a surprise team by many, but is it really a surprise that a Mike Shanahan coached team is seeing success? Rex Grossman is playing like he knew that his promise of bringing an NFC East title back to Washington would be easy and if he keeps it up he’ll make good on it. With DeAngelo Hall making it clear the ‘Skins will be targeting Romo’s injuries, I doubt he will be at the top of his game, and Washington will squeak it out at the wire.

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