NFL Week 3 Predictions
The Pats lose at home to Arizona?! Eli and Peyton both throw three picks in the first half?! The Rams won a game?! As Vince Lombardi would say, "What the hell's going on out here?" Let our experts indulge you.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-1) at Dallas Cowboys (1-1)
Jeremy Bergman: Buccaneers 17, Cowboys 10
The Bucs beat the Panthers. The Giants beat the Bucs. The Cowboys beat the Giants. So, by the transitive property, Dallas is sure to beat Tampa…right? Fools, football doesn’t play by rules - ask the Falcons-Broncos replacement refs. Schiano's D returns to its dominance following its hiccup in Jersey and shuts down the Romo-to-Ogletree juggernaut.
Evan Budrovich: Cowboys 23, Buccaneers 16
Coming off a mystifying loss to the Seattle Seahawks, Jerry Jones' boys will come out firing against the Bucs. Expect Kevin Ogletree to be featured this week in the offense, leading to more points and consistency from Tony Romo. The Boys' D has been solid this season and will amp up their run defense against Doug Martin. The Bucs, in scrappy style, will keep the game close, but the Cowboys' killer instinct will allow them to prevail.
Aaron Fischman: Cowboys 27, Buccaneers 17
I like the Cowboys to win their home opener against a team with a much worse defense than the Seahawks, whom they played last week.
Jacob Freedman: Cowboys 30, Buccaneers 21
It's fair to say the Buccaneers are being torched so far on defense, allowing over 400 yards per game. The Cowboys laid an egg last week in Seattle, but they’re back at the Jerry Dome against a Bucs squad struggling to stop anything that moves. It's the perfect situation for Tony Romo to quickly regain his mojo, so look for a bounce-back performance.
Max Meyer: Cowboys 38, Buccaneers 17
Tony Romo and the Cowboys' offense will roll in their home opener. The thing I'm looking forward to most is how the Bucs will defend Romo's kneel down this week.
Law Murray: Cowboys 24, Buccaneers 17
The Cowboys should be ready to play this game after laying an egg against the Seahawks. Dez Bryant and Miles Austin have to be licking their chops after seeing the assault laid down against the Buccaneers secondary last week. I don't think Tony Romo will be taking a kneel down to end this game though.
Matt Tufts: Cowboys 27, Buccaneers 23
The Cowboys and Buccaneers have been far from consistent this season, losing last week after signature wins in Week 1. Tampa Bay's offense put up a surprising number against the Giants, despite the loss, but their defense is a major liability. Tony Romo will squeak out the win in a close one, but don't expect this to be a pretty game.
Bergman: Falcons 31, Chargers 24
Atlanta forced the great Peyton Manning to throw three picks last week…in the first quarter! Philip Rivers is for sure no Peyton; and while I don't expect him to throw that many interceptions early on, he is historically prone to the pick and very hotheaded. This Falcons defense is feisty and they're going to get under Rivers' skin early and often.
Budrovich: Falcons 24, Chargers 17
Matt Ryan has been the most efficient quarterback this season and he will continue his torrid pace, leading the Falcons to victory. San Diego is playing strong football early in the season, which is rare, but on this night they will be stifled by the Falcons secondary. Philip Rivers will not be able to sling the ball around like his first two games this season. This will lead the Falcons to victory and will continue their undefeated season.
Fischman: Chargers 31, Falcons 27
In this match-up of undefeated teams, the Chargers will prevail. It’s not the biggest deal that Atlanta will have one fewer day to prepare, but Ryan Matthews’ return for San Diego should not be overlooked.
Freedman: Falcons 31, Chargers 24
I don't know about you, but Matt Ryan is looking like an elite quarterback nowadays. The Chargers pass defense? Not quite as elite. The Falcons increasingly irrelevant running game is a major concern, but the same concern applies to the Chargers ground game without Ryan Mathews. Considering Ryan has Julio Jones and Roddy White (possibly) to throw to, I'll give him the edge this Sunday.
Meyer: Falcons 24, Chargers 18
For the first time in his career, Norv Turner has coached a team to a 2-0 start. However, he won't make it to three after dealing with one of the most dynamic wide receiver duos in the league, in Roddy White and Julio Jones.
Murray: Chargers 28, Falcons 24
Assuming Chargers RB Ryan Mathews and TE Antonio Gates hold up, the Chargers will finally have some balance to their offense. The key for the Chargers will be taking care of the ball and not letting the Falcons' passing attack go off.
Tufts: Falcons 27, Chargers 14
When these two offenses matchup, it is sure to be a high-scoring affair. Philip Rivers has done well with many new faces in San Diego, but it'll take more than Rivers alone to derail the start to the season Matt Ryan has been having. Atlanta will continue to find success on the road and remain undefeated heading into its first divisional matchup next week against Carolina.
Bergman: Broncos 20, Texans 17
Houston has cruised through and over AAA-ball opponents so far, in the Dolphins and Jaguars. This is their first contest versus a formidable opponent and they're playing in the high altitude of Denver, always a difficult adjustment. If Denver's D, and more specifically Champ Bailey and Von Miller, can shut down Andre Johnson and Arian Foster - and I think they will - the underworked and overachieving Houston defense will fold against Peyton and the balanced Bronco attack.
Budrovich: Texans 31, Broncos 13
In a very revealing contest, the Texans will flex their muscles over the Broncos. Matt Schaub and Arian Foster will get the chance to legitimize themselves as the class of the AFC after demolishing the suspect Broncos defense. Peyton Manning will be efficient but will struggle to put up enough points against Wade Phillips' defense to keep the Broncos in the contest. Brooks Reid will sack Manning numerous times on the afternoon.
Fischman: Broncos 24, Texans 21
It’s tough to pick the Broncos, given how good the Texans are, but I think Denver will bounce back after its Monday night loss. I’d be very surprised if this game wasn’t close.
Freedman: Texans 23, Broncos 17
One major key to Peyton Manning's success is the ability to get into a rhythm after staying on the field for a while. The Texans ground-and-pound running game with Arian Foster and Ben Tate specializes in keeping opposing offenses on the sidelines, while Andre Johnson will team up with Matt Schaub for at least one or two big plays each week. Don't expect three more interceptions from Peyton, but the Texans will give Manning little room for error and grit out a tough road victory.
Meyer: Texans 20, Broncos 13
The Texans have looked very impressive in their first two games, establishing themselves as an elite team. The defense, led by early Defensive Player of the Year candidate JJ Watts, will give Peyton Manning fits. I'm very excited for a battle between Andre Johnson and Champ Bailey, especially since it's not often fans get to see them healthy at the same time.
Murray: Texans 23, Broncos 21
Houston hasn't been challenged yet, but they're going to have their hands full dealing with an old nemesis in Peyton Manning. Manning has a 16-2 record against the Texans and has thrown 42 TDs and only 8 INTs against them. But Peyton's never had to go up against this version of the Texans defense, which has allowed 21 TDs and has 23 INTs in the 20 games since Wade Phillips became defensive coordinator.
Tufts: Texans 20, Broncos 10
Two forces will collide in the Mile High City when the shutdown Texas defense meets Peyton Manning and the Broncos' highly touted receiving corps. Both teams have been trendy dark horse candidates for the Super Bowl. If it's true that "defense wins championships," then after shutting down Denver this game, other teams may take notice of the Texans.
Bergman: Patriots 23, Ravens 17
You can't hold Tom Terrific down for long. Last week was a random anomaly, never to occur again. Belichick and the boys have already moved on; and they know, what everyone is overlooking, that their defense is a top ten unit. In fact, they're currently 2nd in the league. The vaunted Baltimore D? 25th. Good news is for the Ravens, they won't need Billy Cundiff to lose this one.
Budrovich: Ravens 17, Patriots 13
In a matchup of teams looking to regain their swagger, Joe Flacco’s boys will take the victory. If losing to the Patriots in the AFC Championship was not enough, coming off a head-scratching loss to the Eagles should give the Ravens plenty of motivation. The loss of Aaron Hernandez will be the downfall of the Pats offense this week in Baltimore, revealing some troubling signs about the Patriots passing game.
Fischman: Ravens 27, Patriots 21
New England has beaten Baltimore by the same score (23-20) in the teams’ last two meetings. But with the Patriots still figuring out their offense, the Ravens have the edge.
Freedman: Patriots 35, Ravens 23
All signs point to a tough, defensive-minded team prevailing over a squad loaded on offense with questions galore on defense. Nope, not happening. Even without Aaron Hernandez, I refuse to bet on Brady and Belichick struggling to put up points two weeks in a row. The running game has teeth with the emergence of Stevan Ridley, so look for the Patriots to blast through a less than impressive Ravens defensive front.
Murray: Ravens 21, Patriots 20
The "playoff atmosphere" will be bumping in Baltimore. This may be the game where we learn if the Patriots have an offensive identity problem or not. The Ravens were gashed by Eagles TE Brent Celek and WR DeSean Jackson for 271 yards receiving last week. If Patriots QB Tom Brady plays like he did last year against the Ravens, this will not end well for New England.
Meyer: Ravens 27, Patriots 24
The Patriots have beaten the Ravens by 3 points in each of their last two meetings, including in the playoffs last season (thanks to Billy Cundiff). However, the Patriots' offense did not look the same last week without Aaron Hernandez. This is the perfect game for the Ravens to get their revenge.
Tufts: Patriots 28, Ravens 18
Baltimore and New England were both upset in Week 2 and a loss will drop the respective team to 1-2. The Ravens have been known to give the Patriots problems, but Bill Belichick is among the best in the business at firing up his team after a loss. The Brady Bunch will pick apart a struggling Baltimore pass defense and set a pace Joe Flacco cannot match.
Bergman: Packers 26, Seahawks 10
Aaron Rodgers vs. Russell Wilson. Really? This shouldn't even be a question if it weren't for the fact that the game is being played at the 12th Man on Monday night and that Seattle made Dallas look like amateurs last week, holding them to seven points. All that considered, it's still a battle between two QBs; against two aggressive defenses, the veteran and Super Bowl champion comes out on top.
Budrovich: Packers 28, Seahawks 20
Watching Seattle beat Dallas last week makes them a sexy selection for this week, but I see the Packers coming out strong and taking this road contest. Clay Matthews is on a tear, with six sacks on the season, and will be Russell Wilson’s Achilles heel all night. The Seahawks’ fans and running game will keep the game competitive, but, in the end, Aaron Rodgers will be too much to handle.
Fischman: Packers 27, Seattle 14
Since it’s a Monday night game, I have to go with the more experienced Green Bay Packers. With that said, Seattle’s defense dominated last week against the Cowboys.
Freedman: Seahawks 23, Packers 20
The Seahawks boast the NFL's best rushing defense so far, so Aaron Rodgers will need to show why he's considered the league's top signal-caller since his ground game might be non-existent. The Seahawks are 17-8 on Monday nights, and the presence of the 12th Man will be felt at CenturyLink Field, as Dallas saw last week. The Packers are the better team overall, but Marshawn Lynch and the Hawks rise to the occasion and defend home turf.
Meyer: Seahawks 21, Packers 20
Upset special of the week! The Seattle crowd will be amped up and will rattle Green Bay's no-huddle offense. Seattle's defense is amongst the league's best, and there will be several people wondering about Aaron Rodgers' early season funk after another subpar performance this week on Monday Night.
Murray: Packers 24, Seahawks 16
Do not sleep on the Seahawks secondary. These guys are going to try and manhandle the Packers' WRs, and might even have the referees to pull it off!The Packers are going to have to show they can overwhelm the Seahawks offensive line much the same way they beat up on the Bears offensive line. I trust Seahawks rookie QB Russell Wilson to take care of the ball, but can he make the plays necessary to beat the Packers at the same time?
Tufts: Packers 24, Seahawks 10
Seattle was very impressive in their Week 2 win over Dallas, holding the Cowboys to under 50 yards rushing. Unfortunately for the Seahawks, the Packers rely heavily on an aerial assault led by a spread offense. Look for Aaron Rodgers to expose Seattle early and not allow the Seahawks to keep the ball on the ground.
Matthew Tufts 8-3
Jacob Freedman 7-4
Jeremy Bergman 6-5
Aaron Fischman 6-5
Evan Budrovich 4-7
Max Meyer 3-8