Division races and MVP campaigns should start to separate in week three as the contenders and pretenders do as well. In the topsy-turvy world that is the NFL, what are some bold predictions that might actually come true in this pivotal slate?
Terrell Suggs will sack Matt Schaub four times
The saying goes that when quarterback sacks come, they come in bunches. Two players in 2013, James Houston and Mario Williams, each collected 4.5 sacks in a game. Expect Baltimore Ravens pass rusher Terrell Suggs to join them when he gets after Texans quarterback Matt Schaub. Houston won’t have Pro Bowl left tackle Duane Brown due to injury and the Ravens defense will be fired up after they were humiliated last year in Houston.
Eli Manning will throw six touchdown passes against Carolina Panthers
The New York Giants can’t run the ball so almost everybody knows Eli Manning will have to throw a lot. Good news for him though. The Carolina Panther defense is badly banged up in the secondary. They even had to bring back corner Drayton Florence to stop the bleeding. Anybody with eyes can see Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks will smell blood in the water, and after two turnover-filled losses, so will a laser focused Manning as he throws six touchdown passes.
The New England Patriots will get shut out by Tampa Bay
Say what? Of all the insane predictions, really? Well, readers wanted bold so here it is. Last weeks was a rough ride for the New England Patriots offense against the New York Jets defense. They only managed 13 points the entire game, at home no less. Don’t expect that to get better against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Their secondary comes in with loads of knowledge about the Patriots schemes thanks to Darrelle Revis and Tom Brady will find running the ball won’t work either. With so many rookies starting and no Rob Gronkowski, this will be the first time in eons that the Patriots get shut out.
James Starks will run for negative yardage for Green Bay Packers
All hail the second coming! For the first time since 2010 it seems James Starks has found his NFL groove after shredding the Washington Redskins for 132 yards. Unfortunately it won’t take long for the Green Bay Packers to realize everybody can do that against the Redskins. Going on the road against a stout Cincinnati Bengals front seven, Starks will not only not top 100 yards, he will actually go the opposite direction for negative yardage.
Matt Forte will top 200 yards from scrimmage against Pittsburgh Steelers
Giovani Bernard opened up a door that teams haven’t seen in awhile. In his limited time on the field against the Pittsburgh Steelers he averaged 4.8 yards per carry and caught a pass out of the backfield for a 27-yard touchdown. It clearly showed the Steelers have problems with faster running backs who can be a dual threat. Enter the Chicago Bears with Matt Forte who collected 90 yards on the ground and 70 through the air last week against Minnesota. With Pittsburgh likely to blitz often, expect Forte to see plenty of action, and to have a huge game for over 200 yards from scrimmage.
Robert Griffin III will rediscover scrambling and top 100 yards vs. Detroit
It seems Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III has struggled to find himself early this NFL season. While his passing numbers are good, he has seemed indecisive and vulnerable when trying to run or scramble, likely a product of his knee injury. Well, that will change. Not because RGIII finally starts to have it click in his head though, but because the Detroit Lions front four will make him remember. Their frequent pressure from all angles will force him to abandon the pocket regularly and make plays with his legs. At the end of the day, he will have 100 yards rushing.
Some teams are so bad certain years that they don’t even warrant consideration of being a trap game. That is why the Jacksonville Jaguars will stun a lot of people when they not only hang around against the Seattle Seahawks but actually lead the game going into halftime. Seattle is coming off another dominant win over the 49ers at home. They’re feeling pretty good about how their Super Bowl rings will fit according to Marshawn Lynch. In the meantime they have Gus Bradley, their former defensive coordinator coming in with loads of knowledge about their scheme and coverages. That will serve to help the Jaguars jump on them early while the defense gets after Russell Wilson who just lost Russell Okung on his blindside. Seattle will still win the game, but be served a grim reminder of how the NFL works.