Both the New England Patriots and the Baltimore Ravens weren’t expecting to be 1-1 at this point, but the Ravens have an excuse of playing a stronger opponent in their loss. Still, the losses put an extra weight of pressure in their AFC championship game rematch going down in Baltimore, as the focus game of week 3.
The San Francisco 49ers, our pick for the best team in the NFL, play the Minnesota Vikings but the bigger deal is probably the meeting of undefeated sides – Atlanta playing San Diego and the Eagles playing the Chargers. Either the Kansas City Chiefs or the New Orleans Saints will remain win less, facing each other in the Superdome, after this week.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-1) at Dallas Cowboys (1-1), 1:00 PM
The Dallas Cowboys will be trying to get their running game going again after only 49 yards in the week 2 loss in Seattle, while the Bucs are also coming in to Dallas with a loss behind them to the New York Giants, and plenty of controversy around head coach Greg Schiano. The Bucs have lost their last 8 road games by an average of 19.8 points and have lost their last five games against the Cowboys.
St. Louis Rams (1-1) at Chicago Bears (1-1), 1:00 PM
Chicago’s offense can’t be any worse than it was against the Packers 10 days ago, and Jay Cutler should have an easier time finding his receivers and tight ends against a Rams defense that isn’t great against the pass. On the other hand, the Rams were aggressive with their defensive line in the win over the Redskins, hoping to expose a weakness in the Bears’ offensive line that allowed Cutler to be sacked 7 times last week. The Rams have lost their last three against the Bears. Chicago should have the advantage in this one, with Cutler and co. regrouping.
Buffalo Bills (1-1) at Cleveland Browns (0-2), 1:00 PM
It’ll be about the Bills’ ability to stop the run, allowing 134 yards on the ground per game so far this season. Trent Richardson of the Browns averaged 5.7 yards per carry in week 2, and will be looking forward for plenty of carries against Buffalo. The Bills’ key will be getting to Brandon Weeden and avoiding turnovers, having none in their win over Kansas City last week. With the Browns having an awful pass defense, this one feels like a Buffalo win, but they haven’t won on the road since September 11, 2011.
Detroit Lions (1-1) at Tennessee Titans (0-2)
The Titans have to start getting something going on offense, either from Jake Locker or from Chris Johnson, who has run for only 21 yards on 19 carries so far this season, with the Titans scoring only 11.5 points per game. The Lions haven’t been exactly explosive as well, and a banged up secondary might give Locker a chance to finally put some numbers on the board. The Lions should try and mix it up with Kevin Smith at running back, and as long as the Titans’ offense doesn’t suddenly kick-start back into life, this should be Detroit’s game.
Jacksonville Jaguars (0-2) at Indianapolis Colts (1-1), 1:00 PM
Another chance for Andrew Luck to show his improvement (hopefully a fast one) as a pro quarterback, as the impotent Jaguars come into town, bringing with them an offense that has averaged only 236 yards this season, as defenses mostly focus on Maurice Jones-Drew who can’t carry this team alone. The Jags have allowed 170 rushing yards per game so far this season, so expect the Colts to move away a bit from Luck’s arm and try to see if Donald Brown can finally put up some big numbers.
New York Jets (1-1) at Miami Dolphins (0-2), 1:00 PM
It’s going to be about the Dolphins trying to put the pressure on Mark Sanchez, who is 2-4 in his career, with nine touchdowns and four interceptions in his career against Miami, and Jets looking for ways to stop Reggie Bush, who has accounted for more than 40% of the Dolphins’ offense so far this season, rushing for 241 yards and two touchdowns so far. Life against something that’s not the Steelers defense should make it easier for the Jets after producing only 219 yards last week.
San Francisco 49ers (2-0) at Minnesota Vikings (1-1), 1:00 PM
After the 49ers handled Matthew Stafford and Aaron Rodgers so well in the opening two weeks, allowing an average of only 247 passing yards, it’s hard not to look at them as the early favorites to win the NFC. Both rely on their running game to get them the win, with Adrian Peterson amassing 144 yards and three touchdowns so far, facing off against Frank Gore with 201 yards and two touchdowns, but Christian Ponder should have a much harder time than in the previous couple of weeks. Niners, who are better in pretty much everything defensively, should come out on top again.
Kansas City Chiefs (0-2) at New Orleans Saints (0-2), 1:00 PM
Drew Brees isn’t off to the best of starts, intercepted four times in the first two games, but the big problem has been the defense, allowing 461 yards per game and 186 rushing yards, both the worst in the NFL. The Chiefs mostly rely on Jamaal Charles (90 yards on 22 carries) to lead their rushing attack (150 yards per game), while finally facing a not so mobile quarterback in Matt Cassel should make life a bit easier for the Saints.
Cincinnati Bengals (1-1) at Washington Redskins (1-1), 1:00 PM
Robert Griffin III showed his skin isn’t made of stone after complaining that the Rams took cheap shots at him during the Redskins loss at St. Louis. The improvising quarterback will probably have another aggressive front 7 to handle, but the Bengals allowing 435 yards per game so far should mean that Griffin will post big numbers again, especially if he sees a lot of one-safety coverage in the secondary.
Philadelphia Eagles (2-0) at Arizona Cardinals (2-0), 4:05 PM
The Philadelphia Eagles are one of only four teams in the past 50 years to turnover the ball at least 4 times a game and go 2-0. Michael Vick has already thrown six interceptions, and it’s not going to get easier against the Cardinals defense, that doesn’t allow much to get by. The Eagles have also been relying on their D, keeping teams at 268 yards per game so far. The Eagles, once again, will rely on Vick, who has thrown twice for over 300 yards and has run for 66 more so far.
Atlanta Falcons (2-0) at San Diego Chargers (2-0), 4:05 PM
The Falcons rarely lose to the Chargers (only once in the last 8 meetings), but the Chargers enjoy a quarterback who’s back on top of his game, second in the NFL in completion percentage so far, and a defense that has allowed only 42 rushing yards per game so far. The Falcons have Matt Ryan, with the highest quarterback rating in the NFL so far, and Michael Turner off some DUI joyride, so far allowing more yards than they’ve gained this season, but finding ways to win, like intercepting Peyton Manning three times in one quarter.
Houston Texans (2-0) at Denver Broncos (1-1), 4:25 PM
It’s going to be interesting to see how the Broncos react to Manning’s nightmare game against the Falcons, and if they simply stop throwing deep. The Texans are first in the NFL in total defense (196.0 yards per game) and scoring defense (8.5 per game), but they faced the Dolphins and the Titans to open the season, so the numbers should be that impressive against a better offense this time. The Broncos are very good at stopping the run, so Arian Foster might see a bit less of the ball, with the focus going to Matt Schaub and Andre Johnson.
Pittsburgh Steelers (1-1) at Oakland Raiders (0-2), 4:25 PM
The Steelers will try to do it again without Polamalu (strained calf) and Harrison (knee surgery), although they did do pretty well against the New York Jets last week. The Raiders have got to try and get Darren McFadden going, running for only 54 yards on 26 carries so far, while Carson Palmer carries most, probably too much, of the load.
New England Patriots (1-1) at Baltimore Ravens (1-1), 8:25 PM
The rematch of the AFC championship game is going down in Baltimore with both teams coming in carrying an unexpected early season loss. Tom Brady looked a little less than perfect against the Arizona Cardinals and especially after tight end Aaron Hernandez went down, as the team signed Kellen Winslow to fill his shoes. The Ravens need a better performance from Joe Flacco than he had last week, finishing with only 22-42 in the 24-23 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles.
Green Bay Packers (1-1) at Seattle Seahawks (1-1), 8:30 PM on Monday Night Football
The Packers will probably avoid the blitz and stick to man coverage and changing packages against young Russell Wilson, at the helm for the Seahawks, while hoping that their run defense does better than usual against Marshawn Lynch and a Seattle running game that averages 149 per game. The Packers are having a little quarterback controversy, with suddenly an agent of a player speaking out against his leadership ability amid the disappointing numbers and sacks up to this point, but Rodgers should start posting big stats at some point.