Through three weeks the Bengals have yet to earn their stripes as they were fortunate just to win one game. The Bengals should get a boost on Thursday Night with the return of Vontaze Burfict who served a three game suspension for his dangerous play in the Wild Card round. The Dolphins are coming off a win, but it was a lucky win as they did all they could to lose to the atrocious Browns, a team that is beyond terrible. If the Dolphins are bad enough to lose to Cleveland they surely have no chance in Cincinnati.
Neither team has been particularly impressive as the Jaguars have yet to win a game, while the Colts finally broke through on T.Y. Hilton’s big catch and run. Still there is plenty of concern for the Colts as Andrew Luck has had little to no time to throw, and their defense has not gotten much pressure on the quarterback. The Jaguars have been a big letdown after entering the season with high hopes. However, with the experience of playing in London and the Colts new to the process this sets up well for the Jaguars to get an upset.
Coming off a MVP season, Cam Newton has been very carless with the ball as the Panthers have started 1-2. Carolina lost just once in the regular season in 2015 and that loss came at the Georgia Dome. The Falcons meanwhile have won two straight on the road after losing their opener at home. The Falcons are still erratic and their defense has been soft despite their two wins. Motivated by revenge the Panthers and Cam Newton get on track with a big effort.
The Raiders might start getting use to early starts after playing in the East for the third time in four games. The Raiders have won the previous two, only to have lost at home. The Ravens meanwhile have scrapped their way to three straight wins to start the season. The Raiders defense has been less than stellar but their offense has been sharp. The Ravens are the toughest team they have faced and match up well on both sides of the ball. This one should be close, with Baltimore getting another close hard fought win.
Oh my have the Bears been brutal. Three straight ugly losses have fans wondering if they should change their name to the Chicago Chipmunks. The Lions are used to poor play and have yet to put forth a full 60-minute effort. As they had strong first halfs in the first two weeks and a strong second half last week, leading to a 1-2 start. Ordinarily it would be hard to pick the Lions in that situation at Soldier Field, but the Bears have been just that bad. Brian Hoyer has a chance to take over the starting job from Jay Cutler, the only problem is he is not good enough to get that win.
No team has had a worse week than the Houston Texans as they laid an absolute egg in Foxboro last Thursday, and as they prepared for this week got the news that J.J. Watt’s season is over after their three-time Defensive Player of the Year reinjured his back. The loss of Watt will eventually cripple the Texans. Though home against the Titans they should still manage to win even without Watt as their offense should be just enough to outduel the Titans often mistake prone play schemes.
With Tom Brady still one game away from returning, while Jimmy Garropplo’s shoulder and Jacoby Brisett is ailing it is unknown who the Patriots will have a quarterback. Some say it could even be Julian Edelman who played the position in college. Of course the Patriots knowing how teams can be spied upon are more secretive than the CIA. At least with the CIA you can hack emails and find those plans. The Patriots no such luck. Not that it matters the Patriots beat the Bills like a drum, only winning three games since 2000.
Last week the Seahawks finally got their offense on track as they dropped 37 points on the 49ers. The win came with a price as Quarterback Russell Wilson already dealing with a tender ankle, suffered a knee sprain. Wilson’s status is highly questionable going into game at the Meadowlands against the Jets. The Jets are coming off an ugly loss in Kansas City and need a bounce back to prevent their fans from going full panic. Even if Russell Wilson was 100% the Jets would have a fighting chance, with him hobbled or out completely the Jets should get the win at home.
Last week the Browns had every opportunity to win as the Dolphins Quarterback Ryan Tannehill was in a giving mood, with three turnovers. However, the Browns looked the gift horse in the mouth and said nah I’m ok you take the game as Codey Parkey missed his third field goal as regulation ended. The Browns took rotating quarterbacks to a new level as Terrell Pryor and Cody Kessler alternated plays. Pryor did it all for the Browns receiving and running too. Next home game he will even sell hot dogs. The problem with a plan like that is it works only once than teams prepare and you are crushed.
Trevor Siemian has made a monkey out of NFL experts who said the Broncos had no chance to repeat without a true quarterback, winning his first three games highlighted by a four touchdown game in his first road game in Cincinnati last week. The Broncos defense meanwhile has continued to dominate, with Von Miller making life miserable of other quarterbacks. Jameis Winston has struggled the last two games, after the Buccaneers won their season opener as he has yet to get his game under control. Facing a defense like Denver that is the recipe for disaster for Tampa.
The Cardinals had a trip to Buffalo they want to forget as they turned the ball over five times and suffered a 33-18 loss to the Bills. Coming home the Cardinals season could be in serious jeopardy if they lose to the Rams. The Rams have done just enough so far, winning their last two games after an embarrassing Week 1 shutout. The Rams finally found the endzone in Tampa in Week 3, beating the Buccaneers to start 2-1. It’s hard to believe the Cardinals are as bad as they looked last week, and returning home should get them back on track.
The Saints just don’t seem to have any idea what to do on defense, as teams have gone up and down the field on them in the first three weeks. Drew Brees has added to the woes by turning ball over when forced to make big plays to make up for the 96 points they have allowed in their first three games. The Chargers have had their ups and downs, but Phillip Rivers has been strong so far and should be able to take advantage of the Saints porous defense.
Last week Christine Michael sliced and diced the 49ers run defense leading the Seahawks to a 37-point breakout win. Facing the Cowboys expect the Niners to get flattened again as Ezekiel Elliott has a breakout game on the road. The Cowboys have played well so far without Tony Romo, as Dak Prescott has been mistake free. Prescott should also be able to take advantage of the soft Niners defense and put up big numbers behind the Cowboys monstrous offensive line.
Last week the Steelers had a rare stinker as they were embarrassed by the Eagles in the battle for state bragging rights. With the return of Le’Veon Bell the Steelers should get a boost against the Chiefs on Sunday Night Football. The Chiefs are coming of a throttling of the Jets that saw the pick off Ryan Fitzpatrick six times. The Chiefs secondary is strong, but the Steelers have too many weapons and will emerge victorious in the end.
The Vikings defense has been tremendous so far as they have shutdown Marcus Mariota, Aaron Rodgers and Cam Newton in the first three games. The Vikings crushed the Giants in a meeting last year and have always seem to give Eli Manning fits. This game is the second at the Vikings new stadium and another chance for them to impress in primetime. The Giants have been too mistake prone to trust on the road against a Vikings defense that is playing as well as it is.