09/21/14 by Matthew S. Vandriak
The NFL season is starting to separate the lackluster from the championship caliber, and Week 3 is no different. One thing that is always the same in the NFL is the season is always full of surprises in the form of teams that are undefeated early or early marquee matchups that have playoffs or Super Bowl written all over them.
Here we go:
San Diego at Buffalo
The Buffalo Bills have been the surprise of the NFL so far in 2014. The Bills are coming off of an impressive 29-10 win over Miami. Rookie WR Sammy Watkins had his NFL coming out party last week, catching 8 passes for 117 yards and a touchdown. A big part of the Bills early season success has been their run defense, which is 5th best in the NFL. That could be a problem for San Diego, who will be without RB Ryan Matthews. The Chargers come in off of a stunning upset win over defending Super Bowl champion Seattle. Phillip Rivers passed for 284 yards against the vaunted Seahawks defense, throwing three TD's, all to Antonio Gates. The Chargers will need to use the aerial attack against the Bills, who's passing defense has been less than stellar through the first two weeks of the season. If San Diego can overcome the loss of Matthews and establish enough of a rushing attack to open up the passing game, Buffalo could be in trouble, as the Bills passing defense has been less than stellar so far in 2014. I think the loss of Matthews and the cross country trip could be too much for the Chargers to overcome.
The Pick: Buffalo 23, San Diego 17
Green Bay at Detroit
It's a big early season showdown in the NFC Central as these two teams flipped scripts in Week 2. After being beaten soundly by Seattle in their opener, the Packers rebounded with a come from behind win over the New York Jets. The Jets led 21 to 3 in the 2nd quarter before the Packers roared back for a 31 to 24 win. WR Jordy Nelson had 9 catches for 209 yards and a TD in the win. For Detroit, after an impressive opening week win over the New York Giants, the Lions were grounded by Carolina last week, losing 24 to 7. Detroit brings in the league's 4th best passing defense and 2nd best rushing defense. Can Green Bay find a way to at least slow down Calvin Johnson? The Packers defense hasn't been very good so far this season, giving up 60 points through two games. I think the Lions have enough offense to exploit the Packers again in what should be a high scoring game.
The Pick: Detroit 31 Green Bay 27
San Francisco at Arizona
Another surprise in 2014 has been the Arizona Cardinals, who have the early season lead in the NFC West. After an impressive win over Dallas in Week One, the 49ers blew a lead against Philadelphia last week in the inaugural game at their new home, Levi's Stadium. This could be a statement game for the Cardinals that they should be mentioned in the same breath as the 49ers and Seahawks when talking about the NFC West. But the Cardinals will be without QB Carson Palmer for the second week in a row. San Francisco's defense is much better than the Giants, who Drew Stanton beat under center for the Cardinals last week. The distraction factor could hurt the Cardinals as well, after RB Jonathan Dwyer was deactivated after being arrested for allegedly head butting his wife. Colin Kaepernick and the 49ers will rebound this week.
The Pick: San Francisco 30 Arizona 13
Pittsburgh at Carolina
The Sunday night lights will be shining on these teams, but the Steelers have been dimmed after an explosive first half against Cleveland in Week One. The Steelers led 27-3 at halftime, before the Browns roared back to tie the game. Pittsburgh won on a Shaun Suisham field goal as time expired. Baltimore pummeled the Steelers 26 to 6 in Week Two on Thursday night. The Steelers haven't scored a touchdown in six quarters while being outscored 50 to 9. The biggest problem has been the Steelers can't stop the run, as they come in with the 30th ranked defense against the run. Carolina's defense was solid win last week's win over Detroit. Cam Newton returned under center for the Panthers after missing the season opener with bruised ribs. The Steelers have yet to force a turnover in 2014...Carolina has yet to turn the ball over. Not good for Pittsburgh.
The Pick: Carolina 24 Pittsburgh 10
Denver at Seattle
The game of the week is the much anticipated Super Bowl rematch between the Broncos and the Seahawks. Of course everyone remembers Seattle dominating Denver 43-8 in the title game as the Seahawks defense was too much for Peyton Manning and the Broncos. However, the Seahawks defense was somewhat exposed in last week's 30-21 loss to San Diego. The Chargers successfully used underneath passing routes against the Seahawks while TE Antonio Gates had a huge game. Broncos TE Julius Thomas is one of the best in the NFL, and could provide another matchup problem for Seattle. The Broncos also get WR Wes Welker back from suspension. Seattle is the toughest place to play in the NFL, and I feel a rebound is in the works for the Seahawks this week.
The Pick: Seattle 24 Denver 17
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