Hammering it Out – Week 3 Predictions

After two weeks of picks, Jared leads the pool by one game, having picked 18 of 32 games correctly to Travis’ 17 of 32.

What I’ve learned:

Frankly, picking according to the lines is a fool’s errand. I’m essentially +2 over the course of 32 games. This is not good.

Obviously, what we’ve learned so far is that anything can happen.

By anything, I mean the much scrutinized Cam Newton has absolutely teed off on defenses his first two weeks, the second of which was against the defending Super Bowl Champion Green Bay Packers.

I mean a team like Baltimore can absolutely destroy virtually the same Pittsburgh Steelers team that lost in the Super Bowl and then turn around lose badly to the AFC South doormat Tennessee Titans.

That said, I’m going to start tailoring my picks around the possibility that crazy might happen.

Or at least I’m going to try.


New England Patriots at Buffalo Bills (+8.5)

So we’ve learned so far (or at least I can assume) that New England cannot be stopped on offense and cannot stop anyone on defense. Flatly, the same can be said for the Bills. If I was betting, I would take the over. I’m not going to stick my neck out and say that Buffalo is going to win. They should, however, make it interesting. I’ll leave it at that. -Jared

The Patriots going into this game are a -8.5 point favorite. The line may be a bit high given that it is a Division game and that the Bills have started out doing well. However, as good as the Bills have been playing, the Patriots have been playing ten times better and, as much as it hurts to say, they have been close to flawless so far. I don’t believe the level they are at continues, but I do think they will open up the weaknesses of the Bills much more than the Chiefs or Raiders did. Patriots win by 10-15 points. -Travis

Jared – Buffalo (+8.5)

Travis – New England must win by at least 9

San Francisco 49ers at Cincinnati Bengals (-2.5)

What we do know is that both teams have a sneaky good defense prone to missing assignments that will result in big plays. Cincinnati rookie quarterback Andy Dalton appears to be finding a sweet rhythm with his young receivers and running back Cedric Benson appears to be serviceable so far. San Francisco quarterback Alex Smith is just a hot mess with weapons and running back Frank Gore is just not as much of a threat with no passing game to set up the run. This game is going to be close and ugly. I can’t wait. -Jared

The line in this game is at -2.5 in favor of the Bengals. This one has some interesting twists that we don’t know the story on yet with legal issues. However, it seems only Jerome Simpson isn’t going to play this week. This game comes down greatly to the quarterback situation. In both cases, it seems their quarterbacks are hurt. 49ers quarterback Alex Smith seems like he will play but did suffer a concussion in Week 2 and if we know anything about that the status of a player with a concussion can change at any time, though, as of now he is cleared to play by doctors. Cincinnati quarterback Andy Dalton had a wrist injury although it appeared it was minor and is of no worry. Out of the two,  Dalton is the better quarterback who could make the most of his targets and offense. Bengals win! -Travis

Jared – San Francisco over Cincinnati (-2.5)

Travis – Cincinnati (-2.5) over San Francisco

Miami Dolphins at Cleveland Browns (-2.5)

In this game, we are going to see what appears to be young, underrated quarterbacks at the helm of moderately capable offenses. On the other side of the ball, neither of these teams can defend. I like Miami rookie running back Daniel Thomas (who supplants Reggie Bush as the workhorse running back) and Cleveland’s tight ends to have good games considering what New England did to Miami in Week 1. -Jared

This is probably going to be a close game and if it is, Cleveland wins. I have seen very little from Miami so far to make me believe they can stop anyone at all and until they do so I can’t get on there train. Browns win! -Travis

Jared – Miami over Cleveland (-2.5)

Travis – Cleveland (-2.5) over Miami

Denver Broncos at Tennessee Titans (-6.5)

Denver is one of those teams that looks completely different week in and week out. The same can be said for Tennessee. Frankly, I think Tennessee quarterback Matt Hasselbeck has better weapons and running back Chris Johnson is going to go off on Denver’s soft run defense. Kenny Britt is emerging as an elite wide receiver for the Titans. Denver quarterback Kyle Orton is relying on broken weapons. However, look for wide receiver Eric Decker to have the game Brandon Lloyd would normally be projected to have. -Jared

I hate to say it, but the Titans are not horrible this year. Their defense has played well up to this point and the offense, although they haven’t gotten Chris Johnson going, are bound to at some point here. On the other hand, you have Kyle Orton who is seemingly lost in his offense and is struggling to throw the ball. Something else is that Orton has a head coach who is a run first guy and they may not have Knowshon Moreno back for a second game in a row. Denver is a mess I see the Titans walking over them. -Travis

Jared – Tennessee (-6.5) over Denver

Travis – Tennessee (-6.5) over Denver

Detroit Lions at Minnesota Vikings (+3.5)

I’ll admit it. I am quickly jumping on the Detroit Lion bandwagon. Detroit’s aggressive defensive front and an offense that is just blowing up opposing defenses make for a bad matchup against a team with a weak offensive system. Minnesota quarterback Donovan McNabb is on the downswing of his career and is missing wide receiver Sidney Rice. Look for Minnesota running back Adrian Peterson to do his damage, but watch Detroit quarterback Matt Stafford run up and down the field all day. -Jared

This game could very well be a blow out. Detroit has a very stubborn defense and Minnesota has been very flawed. Then when we look on offense we have Stafford, who seems to have developed a good rapport with his receivers. The Vikings are relying solely on Peterson with McNabb hardly throwing the ball. I am starting to wonder if McNabb, for some reason, can’t grasp the offense or is just at the end of his career and is not going to be able to play at a competitive level. Also, in the next few weeks, if McNabb’s performance continues to be horrible, the Vikings may go to their rookie Christian Ponder, as the Jaguars have done with Blaine Gabbert. -Travis

Jared – Detroit over Minnesota (+3.5)

Travis – Detroit over Minnesota (+3.5)

Houston Texans at New Orleans Saints (-3.5)

Drew Brees is still Drew Brees. There really isn’t much else to say. If Arian Foster were healthy or if I had any faith that Ben Tate is much more than a placeholder, I think this game plays out a lot different. This is simply not the case. -Jared

Both teams are solid, but both have some big question marks for me. For the Saints we know that their defense can and has been good in the past and although it’s not likely to be fixed going into this game, the offense of the Texans is the one issue for them right now. Ben Tate is a talented back but he isn’t a guy I’d rely on for a full season and Arian Foster, with his hamstring, is a big question mark from week to week.  I believe in this game that the Saints offense will prevail over the Texans defense and that will decide the game.

Jared – New Orleans (-3.5) over Houston

Travis – New Orleans (-3.5) over Houston

New York Giants at Philadelphia Eagles (-7.5)

If the Giants were healthy AND still had Kevin Boss, this game would be close. That said, they’re not healthy and they don’t have a tight end a la Tony Gonzalez (who tore the Eagles defense up last week for Atlanta). If Michael Vick plays the whole game, this game is over early. If Mike Kafka has to play, my pick goes to the Eli Manning led New York Giants. At the time this article was written, Michael Vick still looks probable to start this Sunday. Enough said. -Jared

The Eagles (Vick did practice Thursday) win this game partly because of all of the injuries to the Giants. The Giants are still scoring  so I don’t think the Eagles will win by 8 or more so I have to take the Giants here. -Travis

Jared – Philadelphia straight up

Travis – Philadelphia straight up

Jacksonville Jaguars at Carolina Panthers (-3.5)

If I’m a Panthers fan, my expectations for Cam Newton are steadily increasing due to back to back games with 400+ yard passing. If I’m a Jaguars fan, what better defense to put Blaine Gabbert in for his first start than the paper bag defense of Carolina? Jacksonville bottled up running backs Chris Johnson and Shonn Greene in back to back games. “That’s great”, says anyone who’s seen Carolina’s first two games with just a tinge of sarcasm. The Panthers are a passing team, just like every other decent team in the NFL, so watch for Cam Newton to have another big game. If you’re a Colts fan, watch Blaine Gabbert for Jacksonville. You’ll be seeing him for years to come (if he proves to be worthy of a first round selection). -Jared

This game should be interesting and I’ll definitely be paying attention to who wins. Sure, it’s not a great matchup between two good teams but what it does have is Cam Newton who has, in his first two weeks, shown a lot of people to be wrong about him and is ready to win his first game with the performances he has had. It also gives us a team that is in the dumpsters of its Division even without Manning playing and now is using their rookie Blaine Gabbert (who I tend to think will be a good quarterback) after 2 games. Newton wins his first game of his career. -Travis

Jared – Carolina (-3.5) over Jacksonville

Travis – Carolina (-3.5) over Jacksonville

Kansas City Chiefs at San Diego Chargers (-14.5)

Kansas City is simply the whipping boy for the league and is just decimated with injuries to star players on both sides of the ball. San Diego, fresh off a spanking by New England, is looking to rebound and who better to play than a team that couldn’t defend a girls’ powder puff team in Kansas City? Every offensive player you would expect to have a big game for San Diego will, from Philip Rivers to Antonio Gates to Ryan Mathews to Vincent Jackson. For Kansas City, I’m interested to see who emerges to take over the starting running back job in Thomas Jones or Dexter McCluster. My money is on McCluster. This game is over by halftime. -Jared

In this game, the Chargers are favored with a line of -14.5. It hurts me a little to say it, but the Chiefs are done for the season and in my eyes have no chance of competing even within its own Division. San Diego has a great offense while the Chiefs have shown the opposite. The same can be said for both defenses. Expect it to be over by half time. -Travis

Jared – San Diego (-14.5) over Kansas City

Travis – San Diego (-14.5) over Kansas City

New York Jets at Oakland Raiders (+3.5)

I really like Darren McFadden. I’m also starting to see Denarius Moore as a real playmaker. However, this week they run into the New York Jets, who are steady on offense and more than capable defensively. Watch the Jets control the line of scrimmage as well as the clock and just wear down the Raiders defensive front. -Jared

This game should be good. I see this being a low scoring game and close, so I think the line of Jets as -3.5 point favorites isn’t bad. I disagree that they will win. Jets offense is definitely more proven than the Raiders and defense is more well known. However, I think the Raiders defensive line is underrated and if they can get to the quarterback, as I think they will, they could very well force Sanchez into some mistakes. If they can take advantage of those mistakes. they could very easily win this game. -Travis

Jared – New York over Oakland (+3.5)

Travis – Oakland (+3.5) over New York

Baltimore Ravens at St. Louis Rams (+3.5)

I like Sam Bradford. The guy is going to be a great quarterback. The problem is that the St. Louis offense has suffered injuries to key offensive players Stephen Jackson and Danny Amendola, whose status is unknown. Baltimore is coming off of a game they absolutely should not have lost. I have a feeling this game is going to be ugly. Watch for Baltimore running back Ray Rice to have another nice game and the Raven’s defense to stymie the St. Louis offense. -Jared

I really like the Rams and what they are building, however they have started this season off on a bad foot and though they will turn it around, that moment isn’t this week. Baltimore will win this game especially with the Rams not having a running game at the moment. -Travis

Jared – Baltimore over St. Louis (+3.5)

Travis – Baltimore over St. Louis (+3.5)

Atlanta Falcons at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-1.5)

Atlanta is coming off an emotional win against Philadelphia (and frankly, that would have never happened had Michael Vick not gone out with a “concussion”). Tampa Bay is coming off a great comeback win over Minnesota. Atlanta has too much going right for them. I give them an edge on both sides of the ball. Watch for Michael Turner to keep the chains moving and Roddy White to get back to his usual self after a pretty weak performance last week thanks to Nnamdi Asomugha’s coverage. -Jared

Tampa Bay struggled last week, but I’ll guarantee you one thing and that is that they will not go a full game against Atlanta and only give their two best wide receivers a total of 6 catches again (and if they do, I, as their fantasy football owner will be mad :) ). Atlanta is the better team, and though it should be a very good game, I’ll be taking the Falcons in this matchup. -Travis

Jared – Atlanta over Tampa Bay (-1.5)

Travis – Atlanta over Tampa Bay (-1.5)

Green Bay Packers at Chicago Bears (+3.5)

I’m probably stealing this from someone else, but if I’m Jay Cutler, I’m taking my offensive lineman off my Christmas list. They don’t deserve anything but a how-to book on how to block the pass rush. Clay Mathews is going to have a fun day seeing how hard and how frequently he can hit Jay Cutler. Watch Chicago’s running back Matt Forte. Watch for the Packers putting 30+ points on Chicago’s defense, who simply does not have the ability to get Green Bay ‘s offense off the field in a timely fashion. -Jared

Chicago has been very inconsistent on offense and that isn’t going to change with their abysmal offensive line that has already let Cutler be sacked 11 times going against a Packers defense that has Clay Mathews and 7 sacks overall on the season. The Packers offense is about what I expected. They are at this time my SuperBowl pick and they are not going to be losing this game. -Travis

Jared – Green Bay over Chicago (+3.5)

Travis – Green Bay over Chicago (+3.5)

Arizona Cardinals at Seattle Seahawks (+3.5)

If I’m saying anything, I’m saying that Seattle is in the Andrew Luck running. Arizona is settling in with Kevin Kolb at the helm. While I can admit that Arizona’s secondary is swiss cheese, Seattle doesn’t have much to cut with. Cardinals running back Beanie Wells is surprising everyone so far and frankly, Larry Fitzgerald is still Larry Fitzgerald. -Jared

This one isn’t close. Seattle has nothing and Arizona has the quarterback, targets, an average defense, a strong offense that continues to improve with Kolb under center and will win big. -Travis

Jared – Arizona over Seattle  (+3.5)

Travis – Arizona over Seattle (+3.5)

Pittsburgh Steelers at Indianapolis Colts (+10.5)
I’m resorting to this thought process – while I keep seeing improvements on both sides of the ball for the Colts, so long as Peyton Manning is not under center, Indianapolis does not beat very many teams. The Steelers are a Tier 1 team. Look for the Colts running game to be challenged as well as, obviously, the passing game and the offensive line that is still learning to work together. We’ll see if we still have anything positive to say come Monday. -Jared

As much as I want to see it, I just don’t see Indy pulling this game out. However,  I pick the Colts because as much as I think we will lose, I don’t believe it will be a blow out on Sunday Night. Keys to this happening are going to be the Colts pass rush on the Steelers tackles, and that Collins has improved from the first two weeks and is able to make the throws easier. -Travis

Jared – Pittsburgh over Indianapolis (+10.5)

Travis – Indianapolis (+10.5)

Washington Redskins at Dallas Cowboys (-6.5)

Frankly, I see the Cowboys the same way I see the Cardinals. Pass first offense and a second rate defense. Washington, thus far, has shown that they can run the ball and pass downfield. With Tony Romo hurt, I’m not getting anywhere near that spread. -Jared

I don’t think Romo is in good shape. I also don’t buy that him playing through pain last week absolves him from they way he normally plays in the fourth quarter. This week my pick isn’t based off of their end game it has to do with the fact that Dallas is hurt in every area on the offense while Washington has been playing good though the first two weeks. This will at worst be a close, physical Division game that the Redskins will prevail in. -Travis

Jared – Washington

Travis – Washington