After two straight losses the panic button is being hit more than the bell on a cable car in San Francisco as QB Colin Kaepernick has struggled and now they have a Thursday Night road game. Last year the 49ers were not able to beat the Rams, a loss here and the panic will get even. The Rams have seen Kaepernick and contained him, so the best way the 49ers can get back on track and hand the ball to Frank Gore. On Sunday the Rams allowed 178 yards to DeMarco Murray and I can see Gore doing something similar as the 49ers get back on track.
For the first time last week the Ravens looked like a Super Bowl team as they shut down the Texans and improved to 2-1. The Bills meanwhile, ended their game with the Jets having more questions than they did before the game. The Bills expected these issues, as does nearly every team that starts a rookie quarterback. Perhaps the most troubling part of E.J. Manuel’s game is the lack of touch and accuracy. The Ravens defense is playing strong and will take this one on the road rather easily.
Last week the Browns delivered the biggest surprise of the season as they went into Minnesota after the trade of Trent Richardson and upset the Vikings. The Browns did it with Brian Hoyer at quarterback in just his second career start. The Browns usually save their best for their Buckeye State rivals, but this time it will be the Bengals that deliver their best and bring back the despair to Cleveland. In their win over the Vikings, Hoyer and the Browns used trick plays and gimmicks that will not work against a strong defense like Bengals. Look for Andy Dalton and A.J. Green to really hit their stride this week, after last week’s comeback win.
Last week the Lions ended nearly 80 years of frustration by winning in Washington for the first time in franchise history. The Lions have had similar struggles against the Bears in recent years, though they have had some occasional success when playing at home. The Bears come in 3-0 and Quarterback Jay Cutler is off to the best start in his career with new Coach Marc Trestman. The Bears defense has been good at creating turnovers, scoring in each of their first three games. However, they have shown vulnerability to the pass and with Matt Stafford also off to a good start, look for a big day from Calvin Johnson as the Lions win a thriller.
The Seahawks have the best home field advantage in the NFL and any team that has designs on beating them, must do so when they are at home. This week the 12th man will not be in Houston, but the Texans will need to play much better than they have in the first three weeks to have a chance. The big key will be QB Matt Schaub who has had an interception returned in the all three games this year. That simply can’t happen again. The Texans though should be able to contain Russell Wilson as J.J Watt’s reach will make it hard for the Seahawks offense to get on track, as the Texans get the win.
Coming off an upset of the 49ers on the road and a game next week against the Seahawks the biggest foe for the Colts this week will be compliancy, and looking past the atrocious Jaguars. The Jaguars are no doubt the worst team in the NFL, but they are a professional team and on any given Sunday any team can win, especially with the Colts still being one of the youngest teams in the NFL. One thing that helps is that last year one of the two Jags win came against the Colts, so they should be aware they can lose this one if they are not careful.
Looking at the Giants now and it is hard to believe that this team won a Super Bowl just over 18 months ago. They are playing terrible football in all aspects of the game, as even Eli Manning has been terrible with seven interceptions in the first three games. Injuries and age have weakened the Big Blue defense, while their running game and offensive line have been terrible. That line is even more banged up now, with injuries to Chris Snee and David Baas. The Chiefs are good at pressuring the quarterback and that means more trouble for Eli. The Giants will not get their first win this week as the panic hits Defcon4 in the Meadowlands.
Much like the Giants, the Steelers are 0-3 with a host of problems as they get set for a showdown in the shadow of the original Big Ben against the Vikings. The biggest problem for the Steelers has been that their Big Ben has gotten his bell rung several times with their offensive line and running game in tatters. The Vikings are good at pressuring the quarterback led by Jake Allen and that will continue to make life miserable for Roethlisberger. The Steelers defense meanwhile has looked soft and has yet to force a turnover. Look for Adrian Peterson to have a breakout game, as the Vikings get their first win of the year.
Don’t expect the sparks to fly in this one as both of these teams offenses stink. The Buccaneers at 0-3 are a ship that appears to be sinking as players having begun a mutiny against Coach Greg Schiano. Looking to get things righted the Bucs have benched QB Josh Freeman and turned the wheel over to rookie Mike Glennon. The Cardinals secondary could win this game if Glennon is not careful, but with this one being an early start I sense Tampa escaping with a win in a game decided by the kickers as the Cardinals need to consider their own quarterback change.
So far the Jets have not looked as bad as most had feared as they have won two of their first three games. Rookie Quarterback Geno Smith, despite some growing pains has looked good, while the defense despite some lapses in discipline has been strong. Of course the Jets two wins have come at Met Life Stadium and it is much harder for young teams to maintain that success of the road. The Titans are also off to a strong start, and should be able to continue it as their improved defense gives problems to Geno and the Jets all day.
Just two years ago they were writing the epithet for Peyton Manning’s career a series of nick surgeries forced him to miss the entire 2011 season, and led to his exit from Indianapolis. In Denver he has found the fountain of youth and may be set to embark on his best season ever at the age of 37. The Broncos offense has looked like a machine so far with Manning having perhaps his best group of receivers. The Eagles defense is not very good and their up tempo offense will only play into the hands of the Broncos who win another laugher.
It is clear that the Redskins botched the rehab of Robert Griffin III, as their second year quarterback has looked rusty and has had trouble getting used to playing with a knee brace. This is Week 4 and RG III has started to play better as he came close to completing game winning Touchdown pass, when replays showed Aldrick Robinson was unable to hold on to the ball in the endzone. The key for the Redskins is getting better play on defense. Raiders QB Terrelle Pryor enters this game banged up after suffering a concussion on Monday Night. This sets up perfectly for the Redskins to earn their first win of the year.
The Chargers with better 4th Quarter play could be going into this game with a 3-0 record, as both of the early season losses have come in the game’s final seconds. Even their win was in the closing seconds after nearly blowing fourth quarter lead. Continuing that pattern the Chargers will get the early lead again as Philip Rivers is off to a good start working with Eddie Royal under Mike McCoy’s system. However, once again that lead will be in peril late in the game, but this time Tony Romo will do what he does best and that is throw a bad interception late in the game to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.
Sometimes a team’s record is more a reflection on whom they have played rather than how they played. The Falcons are 1-2 losing two tough road games against teams that are 3-0. The Patriots meanwhile are 3-0 playing teams with rookie quarterbacks and a Buccaneers team in complete meltdown. The Pats were hardly impressive as they could have easily lost their first two. Playing a top notch team for the first time, the Patriots lacking of a reliable receiver will be exposed as the Falcons taking advantage of their home crowd and deliver their best game of the season, with Matt Ryan outplaying Tom Brady.
The Dolphins are a team on the rise, and about to arrive back on the league’s premiere stage. A Monday Night showdown of 3-0 teams gives them a chance to send an early message that they are for real against the resurgent Saints. However, beating the Saints at home is tough enough, let alone beating them in the Superdome. Things are even harder for the Dolphins, as their top pass rusher Cameron Wake will miss a couple of weeks with a knee sprain. To beat the Saints you must get pressure on Quarterback Drew Brees and without Wake that will be a tall task for the Phins.