It shouldn’t be a surprise to many that teams like the Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks have completely dominated opponents thus far but sleepers like the Miami Dolphins and Kansas City Chiefs have bursted onto the scene in a hurry. Peyton Manning is quite possibly the best he’s ever been and has the tools to win big. Colin Kaepernick and the San Francisco 49ers have struggled far more than expected. Drew Brees is back to Jesus-like form…Breesus.
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Note: Teams in BOLD are picked to win.
San Francisco 49ers at St. Louis Rams
The 49ers have had a rough couple of weeks. Huge losses to both Seattle and Indy are going to light the fire under the asses of the San Fran offense—though I’m sure Harbaugh has already done so. QB Colin Kaepernick and the Niners offense has completely aborted the read-option offense of last year and resorted to becoming more of a pocket passer. If defenses have not been able to stop the read-option or pick up on it, why stop?! “If it ain’t broken, why fix it?!” Loosen the reins on Kaepernick and let him run free against this mediocre St. Louis defense while Aldon Smith drunk drives his way to rehab. Cowboys RB DeMarco Murray had a huge game against this defense last week. Expect the same for the rushing attack of the Niners in this matchup. Rams QB Sam Bradford has been stellar this season, but he could have some serious trouble with the Niners secondary. Lean more heavily on the legs and versatility of RB Daryl Richardson (if healthy and ready to go) to control the tempo and slow down this game if you’re going to have any shot at dethroning the defending NFC Champs. The shuffle of Richardson, Pead, and Stacy has been too inconsistent. Stick to your premier back.
Chicago Bears at Detroit Lions
Detroit Lions have surprised me in a couple huge wins—most notably last week in Washington as they beat up RGIII and the Redskins. Their defensive line took a hit last week as they lost DE Jason Jones for the year with a knee injury. Reggie Bush should be back this week after tweaking his knee, but he wasn’t missed too much as second string Joquie Bell succeeded vastly in the role during last week’s promotion. And kids, be careful while eating pizza and driving. Nate Burleson could be sidelined for the year after suffering a broken arm in a single-car accident on I-696 while trying to eat his pizza on his drive back from a MNF watching party with teammates. Detroit looks to replace Burleson and add to their arsenal as they have been in touch with representatives of both Free Agent WR Randy Moss and Cleveland Browns management in talks to acquire WR Josh Gordon. Adding another monster like Moss opposite of Calvin could be ridiculously dangerous. Matt Stafford and Megatron gotta be excited. Until then, they’re going to struggle this week with the beastly presence of bi-polar Brandon Marshall, Matt Forte, and Martellus Bennett.
Baltimore Ravens at Buffalo Bills
Manny Lawson and Mario Williams can’t do everything for this Buffalo defense—though, these two all-stars have proven to be worth the cash that was coughed up for them. On the offensive side of the ball, EJ Manuel hasn’t been the most accurate of quarterbacks this season, but he’s not afraid to throw the ball—that’s for sure. In regards to the running game, CJ Spiller has yet to step up and have a HUGE game. For a guy that was taken in the first round in just about every fantasy league, you’d expect bigger things. You know you had a rough week when the amount of carries you had exceeds the number of yards you acquired. Carrying the ball 10 times for 9 yards last week against the Jets, EJ Manuel’s big bulky ass surpassed him by 31 yards. If you can’t run the ball against the Jets, good luck this week against the Ravens. Though their defense has been hit with players moving on in Free Agency and to ESPN, they don’t seem to have lost a step.
Cincinnati Bengals at Cleveland Browns
Ah, the Ohio rivalry. Led by DT Geno Atkins, the Bengals have proven to have one of the best defenses in all of football. With that being said, it looks as though the Cleveland Browns have already given up on this season and their current Quarterbacks as they look to be attempting to nab both Clowney and Bridgewater in first round of this upcoming draft. Trading #3 overall draft pick Trent Richardson for a mid-round pick was possibly the worst move of the franchise. Get this team out of Cleveland, clean house, and start over. Andy Dalton and AJ Green have a field day on this Browns secondary.
New York Giants at Kansas City Chiefs
Led by Head Coach Andy Reid, this Chiefs team is for real. They proved this in providing a beating on his old team last week in Philly. Intrusting QB Alex Smith with the helm was a bold move, but it seems to be panning out. Keep RB Jamaal Charles and the Chiefs secondary healthy and good things are bound to come from this squad. Brandon Flowers, Eric Berry, and company are for real. They’ve just gotta get their linebackers and D-Line in check to stop the run game after LeSean McCoy had another huge game on the ground. But when it comes to getting the “W”, they can shut down even the most prolific offenses—Exhibit A: Chip Kelly’s Eagles. The New York Giants have started 0-3 on the season. Eli Manning needs to start watching big brother’s game tape in film sessions.
Pittsburgh Steelers at Minnesota Vikings
Big Ben’s struggles continued as the Steelers got outplayed by the Chicago Bears last week. Ben has turned into a turnover machine with fumbles and interceptions left and right the past few weeks. Starting 0-3 is not exactly where Mike Tomlin imagined he’d be, but ultimately, I feel he can turn things around. They’ve got a young team and they’re banged up. Once Bell is healthy, then can finally manage a balanced offense and lighten the load for Big Ben. Antonio Brown seems to be the only viable option in the spread offense they currently run—he’s the only playmaker left on the offensive side of the ball. If Matt Forte can have a huge game against Pittsburgh’s defense on only 16 carries, look for Adrian Peterson to dominate this team single-handedly. Let Christian Ponder sit this one out and just hand the ball to AP 30 times.
Arizona Cardinals at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Tampa Bay continues its offensive struggle. QB Josh Freeman is clearly not the guy he has been in past seasons as he continues to be inconsistent and inaccurate. Missing the team photo, constantly arguing with Head Coach Schiano, and going 19-for-41 last week against New England earned him a spot as the designated clipboard holder and water boy. Rookie QB and second round pick Mike Glennon from NC State will take the helm against a beastly Cardinal secondary. Good luck, kid. You’re gonna need it. Lean heavily on Doug Martin if you know what’s good for ya.
Indianapolis Colts at Jacksonville Jaguars
Jacksonville clearly has the worst offense in football. MoJo isn’t what he used to be, Gabbert is injured (not that it matters) and WR Justin Blackmon is still suspended. The Colts proved they could hang last week when they tore apart a great San Francisco team. With the addition of RB Trent Richardson, it makes them that much more dangerous. Andrew Luck is still getting in-sync with a little sophomore slump, but he’ll bounce back and get on target with his receivers and injury-riddled Tight Ends. Even though the Colts added Richardson in the steal of the decade, look for Ahmad Bradshaw to have a continued role in this offense.
Seattle Seahawks at Houston Texans
Houston’s defense isn’t what it was a year ago. Their secondary has been allowing more points than recent years and their pass rush has been less than stellar. Seattle, on the other hand, has the most dangerous and well-rounded defense in all of football. They tore apart San Fran’s offense in Week 2 and then took the week off last week by allowing 17 points from Jacksonville, continuing to get the job done though. Their stacked defense and great offense continue to do the deed as Russell Wilson has been on point. Houston’s defense doesn’t have a chance unless the offense actually utilizes Arian Foster for once to put up some serious points to compete in this shoot-out. With Matt Schaub at the helm, Arian splitting carries, and Andre Johnson battling an injury, the Texans offense is at a stalemate.
New York Jets at Tennessee Titans
Tough matchup to pick this week as both teams suffer from delusional starting quarterbacks. Geno Smith is starting to get a feel for the Jets offense and has finally gotten comfortable airing the ball out as he found Santonio Holmes and Stephen Hill for big games. RB Chris Ivory has been out with a hamstring injury but that doesn’t seem to have an impact as Bilal Powell has stepped up in the starting role. The Jets offense is finally coming together, slowly but surely—only took a decade to figure things out. The Titans, on the other hand, have struggled with inconsistencies while Jake Locker is in the game. The Titans offense ranks 30th in the league in passing yards and I don’t see that changing anytime soon unless they bring in a QB with a better passing skill-set. Having the 7th ranked rushing offense just solidifies the case that the team needs to keep the ball in Chris Johnson’s hands. You have the fastest running back in all of football. Use him at all costs.
Philadelphia Eagles at Denver Broncos
Without a doubt in my mind, the Denver Broncos have the best offense in all of football. Sure, they struggle with a trio of running backs sharing the load, but with Peyton Manning under center and ridiculously talented receivers, they don’t need a running game. Manning needs to continue doing what he has with Welker, Thomas, Decker, and the rookie Tight End standout Julius Thomas. Who woulda thought that Manning would spread the love all over the field?! He has his targets, but they all seem to be his favorites. No one can catch on to this stellar passing offense. The Eagles secondary doesn’t stand a chance, especially after losing DBs Rodgers-Cromartie and Asomugha this past offseason. I would really love to see this team play the best defense in the NFL (Seattle) in the Superbowl.
Washington Redskins at Oakland Raiders
RGIII continues to struggle and that was apparent last week against the Detroit Lions. They brought the heat and he couldn’t handle it. It’s obvious to me that Griffin is hesitant to use his legs this year and take a hit after having surgery on his torn ACL this past offseason. Last year, when he got into trouble, he ran. Now, he just throws the ball away or into traffic. Teams haven’t figured out the read-option entirely. Continue to use the offense to catch defenses sleeping. Don’t be afraid to take a hit, Robby Boy. That’s why you get paid the big bucks. Oakland could come out with a different look on their offense as Terrelle Pryor may be sidelined after suffering a concussion towards the end of the game last week at Denver. Matt Flynn has been patiently waiting for his chance to shine for the past few seasons. Now’s your chance (maybe), Huck Flynn.
Dallas Cowboys at San Diego Chargers
Tony Romo is slinging with some consistency as of lately. Leaning heavily security blankets Jason Witten and WR Dez Bryant is what he’s needed to do all along as well as getting a supporting role out of RB DeMarco Murray as he blew up the scene with 175 yards on the ground last week against the Rams. The Chargers have also gotten some serious accuracy out of QB Philip Rivers this year. Even though their offense is battered and bruised on IR and the sidelines, their defense seems to be the issue. Last week, Danny Woodhead finally burst out with a big game out of the backfield and it’s been needed, considering Ryan Mathews isn’t carrying the load (as usual). Continue to use Woodhead in that Sproles-like role and good things will continue to happen to this offense. Their “D” must make moves in order to lighten the load for Rivers and the Charger offense.
New England Patriots at Atlanta Falcons
Here are two teams that have struggled offensively this year. Tom Brady has an excuse with a young receiver-core and injuries at Tight End and Halfback, but Atlanta doesn’t. Sure, Roddy White has been battling an injured ankle, but Matt Ryan has had his new #1 Julio Jones, TE Tony Gonzo, and veteran Harry Douglas to lean on. Stephen Jackson is still out with his injury, which means Matt Ryan needs to step up in a hurry. New England shut down a shabby Tampa Bay offense last week, look for them to do the same this week against Atlanta. Their linebackers and secondary are top-notch, but the guys on the offensive side of the ball need to step up. Stevan Ridley, where have you been?!
Miami Dolphins at New Orleans Saints
As a surprise to many, the Miami Dolphins are off to a 3-0 start. Despite having a lackluster running game after losing Reggie Bush to the Lions, Ryan Tannehill and the offense has stepped it up and outperformed. Any guy that can make Brian Hartline and Brandon Gibson look like Pro Bowl’ers is alright in my book. Running Backs Lamar Miller and Daniel Thomas need to step up—Tannehill can’t keep this pace forever. New Orleans appears to be in old form. I may not have been right about everything thus far, but in regards to the turnaround of the Saints, I was spot-on. Drew Brees can work magic at any point. Give him guys like Jimmy Graham and Marques Colston to sling to, he’s the second coming of Christ. Miami’s secondary won’t be able to hang in this one.
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