Unless you're a Colts or Chiefs fan, these are still exciting times for most teams in the NFL. Great young quarterbacks are emerging on needy teams while others are soaring high with good records. Lots of optimism abounds, even on the 0-2 Panthers and week three will continue that for some and begin to ruin it for others. Such is life week to week in the NFL as the season eventually reveals the winners and losers.
That said, we try our best each week to also predict what will go down. Thus far, we're not doing that great (17-15) but soldiering on is what we do. Here's our Week Three Picks:
Jacksonville @ Carolina
The must-not-watch game of the week. Even if you enjoy Cam Newton's high numbers (and who doesn't), this is going to be a boring, sloppy game. This is a good chance for Carolina to get into the win column, however, so expect Panthers fans (and those who root for the underdog) to tune in with their hearts. Jacksonville has their own rookie in Blaine Gabbert and while he won't be as good as Newton, he has a much better team at this stage.
Jaguars 13, Panthers 10
Detroit @ Minnesota
This is one of those great match-ups of industrial teams and fan bases. Expect every player and coach to be amped for this one, but the tale of two franchises could not get any worse. Somehow Leslie Frazier's team is falling apart late in games, and that won't happen again. He's too good of a coach for that. The Lions are on a roll, but they're not the dominant team everyone is making them out to be just yet. Expect some normalcy to return with a Vikings home win.
Vikings 21, Lions 20
San Francisco @ Cincinnati
Colin Kaepernick must really not be ready since Alex Smith doesn't help a team in any way at this stage. Andy Dalton has another winnable game in front of him at home and he's savvy enough to take advantage. Expect Jermaine Gresham to come up big in this contest and exploit SF's defense for one or two touchdowns.
Bengals 24, 49ers 14
Miami @ Cleveland
I'd rather watch this game get simmed in Madden football. Actually, I like the direction that Cleveland is heading, although their conference is brutal. (It's like saying the Blue Jays are promising. Doesn't really matter in the AL East.) There's no denying this is a boring match-up, but Browns fans won't be bored with a win of any kind in their pocket.
Browns 21, Dolphins 7
New England @ Buffalo
This game went from uninteresting to must-see in just two weeks. Ryan Fitzpatrick looks like the real deal and New England's secondary is still rather infantile in their chemistry. This could be a high-flying back and forth... wait, that's the type of game Tom Brady just won against the Chargers? Did the Bills give up 35 points to Jason Campbell? Oh yeah, Bills stand no chance.
Patriots 38, Bills 21
New York Giants @ Philadelphia
Nice divisional match-up features a Giants team hurting more than an NFL team should have to endure and an Eagles squad ready to come home and right the ship after losing in Atlanta on primetime TV. Expect Michael Vick and company to roll in convincing fashion here. If so, you can also expect rumors to start about Tom Coughlin's job security (which would be stupid, but that's what happens).
Eagles 34, Giants 14
Denver @ Tennessee
I haven't gotten much right this season, but I did call Tennessee the winner of the AFC South this year, and I'm sticking to that prediction. I love the Titans core and their ability to take every opponent by surprise. I like Orton as a solid QB, but the Broncos have no running game which means this comes down to Tennessee pass rush vs. Orton. I'll take Tennessee 10 times out of 10.
Titans 17, Denver 14
Houston @ New Orleans
The Texans are 2-0. The Texans have also played the Colts, Dolphins and the Washington Generals. No one should jump on the bandwagon just yet. Yet as good as the Saints offense can be in all facets, the Texans defense is no joke. Jonathan Joseph was acquired for games just like this, so the Texans are hoping. My guess is that they're not quite ready yet.
Saints 24, Texans 21
New York Jets @ Oakland
The poor Raiders lost a heartbreaker on the road in Buffalo last week and now have to face a Jets team that took control last week. But remember they took control of Luke McCown. I'm pretty sure you can't brag about it when that happens. But as good as Jason Campbell looked last week, I'm going to believe in the previous several seasons to tell me who he really is, and Rex Ryan will enjoy this quick West Coast trip.
Jets 27, Raiders 20
Baltimore @ St. Louis
The Rams could use a break, or at least a bye. With so many injuries and Monday night's sloppiness, the Rams could use a little breather of any kind. Instead they get a revved up Ravens' squad who laid an egg last week. This is a prime chance for them to turn it around. Expect the Rams to go to 0-3. It gets worse before it gets better.
Ravens 30, Rams 10
Kansas City @ San Diego
The Chiefs had the worst first two games of any NFL season in a long time. Historically poor. Then they go to a San Diego team who need a win after being taken down by Tom Brady and company. Nitpicking at various subjects might create points of optimism for the Chiefs, but sometimes these things are too simple.
Chargers 30, Chiefs 14
Atlanta @ Tampa Bay
The Falcons are flying high after reeling off a win against the Eagles. The Bucs are too after coming back impressively against the Vikings. This will come down to which quarterback can get settled and, thus far, the Bucs pass rush doesn't even come close to the Falcons. I'll take a steady Matt Ryan over a hurried Josh Freeman (barely).
Falcons 27, Bucs 24
Arizona @ Seattle
Is it too much to ask the NFL to just give this entire NFC West conference a few first round picks before anyone else can go just to keep things from being so boring?
Seahawks 10, Cardinals 7
Green Bay @ Chicago
The Bears were just embarrassed by a high-octane offense last week against the Saints. Here comes an even better version of that. The Bears rely on big plays from Matt Forte and that won't happen this week. The Bears offensive line is weakened and the Packers will fully exploit it. The Bears are susceptible to the big play and Aaron Rodgers delivers those like pizza. For a rivalry game, this won't even be close.
Packers 37, Bears 7
Pittsburgh @ Indianapolis
What was once a featured Sunday night match-up has turned into a reason to go to bed early. Kerry Collins is not going to suddenly find a rhythm against a Pittsburgh defense intent on showing everyone they're not "old." The veterans will have a field day with the Colts offensive sieve, er, line.
Steelers 28, Colts 7
Washington @ Dallas
The Redskins are 2-0, but they've played the same level of competition as the Texans. Hard to tell the character of a team when they win at the closing seconds against the Cardinals at home. Mike Shanahan has to be pleased with 2-0 -- who wouldn't? -- but can they handle Dallas? I just don't believe the Skins are a 3-0 team in the slightest.
Cowboys 21, Redskins 17