NFL Week 3 Preview

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Justin Valentovic, Staff Writer

Week three of the NFL season kicks off on Thursday Night Football with a lackluster matchup between the Los Angeles Rams and San Francisco 49ers. Sunday Night Football features an offensive showcase between the Oakland Raiders and Washington Redskins, while the week finishes with the Dallas Cowboys on the road visiting the Arizona Cardinals Monday night.

Thursday Night Football

Los Angeles Rams vs San Francisco 49ers

Both of these teams are in the process of rebuilding, which means this game will feature many young players that are trying to make a name for themselves in the NFL. The Rams enter the game with a 1-1 record, while the 49ers are 0-2.

On paper both teams are young and inexperienced, but the advantage goes to the Rams. One of the few positive things former head coach Jeff Fisher was able to accomplish during his tenure was build a reliable defense. The Rams feature one of the leagues most athletic front seven, anchored by the NFL’s best defensive tackle Aaron Donald, as well as linebackers Mark Barron and Alec Olgetree and defensive end Robert Quinn.

Jared Goff is finally starting to show signs of living up to his potential, having thrown for 530 yards and two touchdowns thus far. While former Rookie of the Year Todd Gurley seems to be returning to form, finding the endzone twice this season. After evaluating both teams I see the Rams winning this game 20-6, simply because the 49ers do not have the personal keep the game competitive.

Sunday 1 p.m. Games

New York Giants vs Philadelphia Eagles

After two abysmal games the Giants head to Philadelphia with an 0-2 mark, while the Eagles sit at an even 1-1. Last season the Giants offense was hindered by poor offensive line play, and the inability to run the ball. So far this season, those problems have remained prevalent as Eli Manning was sacked five times last week against the Lions. This game is considered a must win for Blue Blue, in order to salvage their season.

The Eagles on the other hand, have made all the right moves in the past years in order to make them a Super Bowl contender. After signing wide receiver Alshon Jeffery and running back  LeGarrette Blount in the offseason it is clear they are going all in this season. The Eagles also added defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan to an already dominate defensive line.

Looking at the Giants offensive line; their biggest weakness and the Eagles defensive line; their strong point, I envision a similar scenario playing out to past weeks for the Giants with Eli Manning constantly being under pressure. This will then let the Eagles control the time of possession, thus  in the process tiring out the Giants defense and walking away with a convincing divisional win. I see the Eagles winning this game 31-10.

Cleveland Browns vs Indianapolis Colts

It is always amazing to see how a single player not playing can drastically change how an entire team performs. This is exactly what is happening with the Colts as quarterback, Andrew Luck remains sidelined as he recovers from offseason shoulder surgery.  The Colts have had one of the worst defenses for several years now, and with the absence of Luck they now have one of the worst offenses in the NFL.

For the first time in years the Browns are a favorite to win a game. Even though the Browns have had a revolving door at quarterback since returning to the NFL, they have been able to build a good offensive line.  The longest tenured Brown, Joe Thomas, and along with free agent signings Kevin Zeiter and JC Tretter, in addition to extending Joel Bitonio, forms one of the best offensive lines in the NFL. By drafting players such as Jabril Peppers, Deshon Kizer, Myles Garret and David Njoku, the Browns now have a solid blend of rookies and veterans and can play competitive football.

The Colts have been unable to build a pass rush that is able to get to the quarterback and with the Browns having a very good offensive line they will be able to effectively move the ball on a few drives. Last week the Colts were led by former Patriots QB Jacoby Brissett who played well until throwing a costly interception in overtime. Looking at both teams I see the Browns being able to play a good enough of a game to scrape by for win by a score of 17-10.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs Minnesota Vikings

This is one of the more interesting matchups this week because both teams have the potential to be playoff teams. After having their first game postponed, the Buccaneers enter this game 1-0 while the Vikings are 1-1. Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer has been able to build one of the top defenses in the NFL as well as put together a very efficient offense led by Sam Bradford and Stephon Diggs. Much like the Vikings the Buccaneers have been able to build a very productive defense and a very effective offense.

Looking at the Buccaneers they have built one of the best offenses around quarterback Jameis Wintson. Mike Evans is still one of the best deep ball wide receivers in the league, along with the addition of Desean Jackson they have the potential to be a top wide receiver tandems this year.  Last season Bucs tight end Cameron Brate had a breakout season in addition they drafted O.J. Howard who is able to help out more in the run game with his ability to block as well as his pass catching ability adding more depth and weapons for Winston to use.

This game is a classic case of offense vs defense and in this case offense wins the game. One of the biggest red flags coming into this game is that of Sam Bradford health. Last week he was a game day scratch, and at the time of this article he has not been named the starter officially. Either way, I see the Bucs offsense being too much for the Vikings to handle ans see the Bucs winning this game 31-24.

Denver Broncos vs Buffalo Bills

Trevor Semien shocked the world last week by leading the Broncos to a win over the Cowboys to advance to 2-0. The Bills on the other hand struggle to find their footing going 1-1 in their first two games. Both teams are built with the same game plan in mind by having a strong defense and run offense that is run heavy.

Last week the Broncos defense that is still playing at a Super Bowl level was able to Ezekiel Elliot to only eight yards on nine rushing attempts. At the same time the Broncos secondary had field day picking off Dak Prescott two times, and returning one for a touchdown. Also the Broncos were able to score 42 points lead by running back CJ Anderson, while the Bills were only able to socre three points against a struggling Panthers team.

Looking at how the Broncos were able to absolutely dominate the leagues top offense last season I see the Bills struggling to amount any type of offense. Even though LeSean McCoy is still one of the best running backs in the league the Broncos defense will overwhelm the Bill. The Broncos will win this game 20-0 shutting out the Bills.

 Houston Texans vs New England Patriots

After being shocked on opening night the Patriots came back and proved that they are still one of the best teams in football by beating the Saints convincingly. As long as the Patriots have both Tom Brady and Bill Belichick, they will always remain to be one of the top teams in the NFL. The Texans on the other might have finally found their long term answer at quarterback in Deshaun Watson.

Last season the Texans were able to get by in a weak division by taking care of the football on offense, and relying on their defense to close the game for them. It is a little different so far this season though after losing star corner back AJ Bouye to free agency, drafting Watson and pairing him with Deandre Hopkins, the Texans are looking to finally have their offense take the next step. Even though the Texans have a new quarterback the Patriots will find a way to shut down this up and coming offense.

The Patriots added veteran cornerback Stephan Gilmore to what is an already elite defense. On the offensive side of the ball the Patriots added speedy wide receiver Brandin Cooks and power back Michael Gillislee to an already explosive offense. In this game the Patriots’ offense will be too much for the Texans defense to handle, making this an easy win for the Patriots by a score of 34-17.

Baltimore Ravens vs Jacksonville Jaguars

If there is anything that quarterback Blake Bortles has proven so far to Jaguars front office, is that he is not the franchise player that they were hoping for. By building through the draft and signing big name free agents the Jaguars are trying everything they can to try to become a contender, but are being held back by Blake Bortles. It is clear that the Jaguars are looking at ways to take the ball out of Bortles hands and let the rest of the team manage the game for him.

In the past two weeks the Jaguars have implemented the LSU offense, which is give the ball to running back Leonard Fournette and throw the ball as little as possible. This posses a huge problem for them as the Ravens defense is starting play like a top defense. The Ravens’ front seven is anchored linebackers Terrell Suggs and CJ Mosely, while safeties Tony Jefferson and Eric Weddle hold down the secondary.  The shear fact that the Jaguars offense is one dimensional will cost them this game. Losing to the Ravens 17-3, with the Ravens advancing to 3-0 and the Jags falling to 1-2.

Pittsburgh Steelers vs Chicago Bears

There nothing really to say about the Bears other then they are just a bad football team. Since they have just started the rebuild process now they do not have the players they need to play competitive games. This can be seen in their 0-2 record, while the Steelers are primed and ready to make a title run and have started off this season 2-0.

The Steelers offense is loaded with talent led by veteran quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, star running back Levon Bell and arguably the best wide receiver in football in Antonio Brown. In this game the Steelers offense will overwhelm the weak Bears defense and will pile on the points, with the Steelers winning 42-9.

Atlanta Falcons vs Detroit Lions

This is easily one of the best games to watch this week, featuring two of the most explosive offenses in the league with the Falcons and the Lions. Both teams come into this game with undefeated records standing at 2-0. This game stands out because it could very well be a future playoff game, and both teams are able to put up a ton of points and score in many different ways.

The advantage though has to go to the Falcons for this game, for the sole reason that they have the better defense.  The Falcons defense top to to bottom is filled with young, fast, and athletic play makers. I see this game becoming a shootout but in the end the Falcons defense will make a key stop, to hold on to a win, with a score of 31-27.

New Orleans Saints vs Carolina Panthers.

New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees is showing now signs of slowing down and is able to make the most out of what he has. Since the Saints won the Super Bowl in 2009 they have failed to give Drew Brees a defense that can help him win another championship, and that is the same thing this year. Coming into week three the Saints carry a 0-2 record, and division rival the Carolina Panthers are 2-0.

A few years ago the Panthers defense was widely considered be one of the leagues top defensive units, but since the departure of cornerback Josh Norman their ability to defend against the pass drastically declined. Even though the Panthers defense can still effectively stop the run, it will not make a difference this week as Drew Brees, and the rest of his offensive weapons will pick apart the Panthers secondary. Led by Drew Bress passing attack the Saints will beat the Panthers 35-31.

Miami Dolphins vs New York Jets

The New York Jets have finally decided to blow up their roster and begin the grueling task of rebuilding their franchise. As a result of the rebuilding processes many of the players on the Jets are young and inexperienced. The biggest story coming into this game is will Jay Cutler play good enough football that will put his team in position to win the game.

Last season Jarvis landry, Devante Parker, and Jay Ajayi all had phenomenal seasons for the Dolphins and appear to carrying last years success over to this year. Even though the Dolphins are without their normal starter Ryan Tannehill, the offense has not missed a beat winning their first game this season. Looking at this game it is clear that the Dolphins are far more skilled on both sides of the ball and will easily win this week 28-9. This will give the Jets their third consecutive loss dropping them to 0-3.

Sunday 4 p.m Games

Seattle Seahawks vs Tennessee Titans

Russel Wilson has proven to the world that he is becoming one of the leagues top quarterbacks, when give the right tools to succeed. Even though it is a few years since the Seahawks have won the Super Bowl, their defense is still playing at an elite level, while the offense has taken a few steps backs. Wilson has been given many offensive weapons such as Jimmy Graham, Doug Baldwin, and Thomas Rawls, but they are being held back due to the poor offensive line play, because it does not matter how many weapons a quarterback has if they are not given enough time to utilize those weapons.

The Titans are my personal favorite to win the AFC South because of how complete their offense has grown to become. With the recent off season accusations of  Eric Decker, Ben Jones, and Corey Davis, it filled the remaining holes in the Titians’ offense. Ben Jones improves the offensive line, while Davis and Decker give the wide receivers that Marcus Mariota desperately needed. At the same time the Titans running remains strong as Derrick Henry and Demarco Murray go into to their second year as a running back tandem.

The Seahawks have struggled to score points in their first two games and that can be credited to the poor play of the offensive line, and in this game the streak will continue causing the Seahawks to lose 20-13 dropping them to 1-2 and giving the Titans their second win of the season putting them at 2-1.

Kansas City Chiefs vs Los Angeles Chargers

The Chargers have had a rough start in their new home of L.A., with two heartbreaking losses, losing both games within a field attempt. while the Chiefs on the Other hand have started off hot winning both of their games by being carried by a great defense and rookie sensation Kareem Hunt. At only two games into his career  Hunt has show he is more then capable of being a three down back for the Chiefs excelling in both the passing and rushing game.

Along with Hunt the Chiefs have star tighend Travis Kelce and wide receiver Tyreek Hill making their offense one of the hardest ones to stop, and paired with a very good defense even without Safety Eric Berry. Its extremely hard to argue that Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers is not one of the top passers, and Melvin Gordon has the ability to make big plays the Chiefs defense is far better then the Chargers offense. Unfortunately for the Chargers I see this game being another close loss to a tough division rival losing this game 20-14.

Cincinnati Bengals  vs Green Bay Packers

Andy Dalton has taken massive steps backwards and has played absolute terrible so far this season. Due to his terrible play the Bengals offense as a whole has suffered and as a result they have yet to score a touchdown this season. Last week the Packers lost one of Aaron Rodgers‘ favorite targets in Jordy Nelson to an apparent leg injury, but surprisingly their defense has played much better then I believed they would.

Aaron Rodgers remains to as the NFL’s top quarterback, and regardless of who he has at his disposal on offense he will find a way to win this game and advance to 2-1, while the Bengals will fall to 0-3. In this game I see the Bengals offense playing significantly better then they have these past weeks but will still fall short of a win. The Packers will win this game 27-17.

Sunday Night Football

In this weeks Sunday Night Football match up we see the Oakland Raiders taking on the Washington Redskins. The Raiders are picking up right where they left off last season before losing Derek Carr to a season ending injury last year. With the addition of Marshawn Lynch in the off season made the Raiders offense even more dangerous then what they already were. While the Redskins on the off-season lost both of their 1,000 yard receivers, but singed Terrelle Pryor Sr., in free agency.

This game has the ability to turn into a shootout fast as both quarterbacks are extremely capable of throwing the ball down field and scoring a lot of points. Kirk Cousins has a history of cracking under the pressure of having to perform under pressure and this is a must win game for the Redskins in order to make any run at the division. Raiders’ defensive end Khail Mack will take control of this game make will apply constant pressure to Kirk Cousins, giving the rest of the Raiders to make plays on defense.  The Raiders will be able to take an lead in this game and not look back as the defense will keep the Redskins in check giving them 35-20 win.

Monday Night Football

Dallas Cowboys vs Arizona Cardinals

Week three wraps up with a good match up between the Arizona Cardinals and the Dallas Cowboys. Last week the Cowboys shockingly lost to the Broncos as there offense was shut down, with Ezekiel Elliot only rushing for eight yards on nine attempts. Even though the Cardinals have an elite secondary their lack of a run defense paired with the absence of star running back David Johnson the Cardinals will have a hard time trying to win this game.

Ezekiel Elliot will lead the way for the Cowboys by having a bounce back game and give the Cowboys a much needed win. In both games so far this season Carson Palmer has started off slow often having to play a game of catch up. If Palmer has a similar start the Cowboys will win this game 24-17.