Sep 16, 2013; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals running back Giovani Bernard (25) runs the ball during the fourth quarter against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

NFL Week Three Picks and Top Matchups: Can Cincy Protect Home Field?


The Early Slate

Green Bay Packers vs. Cincinnati Bengals

Paul Brown stadium will play host to one of the best games of the week in football, but it might only be close for a few quarters. I am a huge fan of what the Bengals are doing but I just think the Packers will end up being too much. Green Bay has figured out how to run the ball and they can just beat you so many ways offensively. The key is going to be protecting Aaron Rodgers against the Cincinnati pass rush, which won’t be an easy task at all.

The Bengals are going to need some big plays from Andy Dalton in this week’s top matchup if they are going to beat Rodgers and company.

Pick: Packers

St. Louis Rams vs. Dallas Cowboys

Dallas is on the rebound while St.Louis has been sneaky good this year. Sam Bradford is quietly one of the better QBs in the league right now, and the Rams were only seven points off of tying the Atlanta Falcons on the road in week two. They will go on the road again to face a struggling Cowboys team after their week one win against the Giants. I think St. Louis has an edge here, especially as little as Dallas has proven their home field advantage is, well, an advantage.

I’m going to go out on a bit of a limb here, and give you a slight upset pick.

Pick: Rams

San Diego Chargers vs. Tennessee Titans

The Titans have played inexplicably well over the first two games of the season despite ranking 32nd in the NFL in passing the football. This is a passing league. They have home field advantage and some serious positive karma on their side, but I think the Chargers are actually back on the rise.

Philip Rivers is having a nice little comeback this season, throwing for 614 yards and seven touchdowns through the team’s first two games.

Eddie Royal has FIVE touchdowns? What is this, 2008?

Pick: Chargers

Cleveland Browns vs. Minnesota Vikings

The Vikings usually play pretty solid at home, and unless they play down to the competition, they should have this game. Christian Ponder needs to find a way to get his confidence up if the Vikings are going to contend for an NFC North title.

The Browns just traded their best offensive playmaker, though they gain another solid player in Josh Gordon. Brian Hoyer is starting this week for them.

Pick: Vikings

Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. New England Patriots

This has the potential to be a really weird game. The Buccaneers forced a couple of picks off of Drew Brees last week, and have been dangerously close to winning their first two games this season.

I mean REALLY close to being 2-0.

The Patriots on the other hand are REALLY close to being 0-2. Still, I think at Gillette Stadium, you can’t pick against the Pats. If the Bucs pull off the upset here, more power to them.

Pick: Patriots

Arizona Cardinals vs. New Orleans Saints

This is a game that should feature a TON of passing, so of course both teams are going to have 100 yard rushers.

All kidding aside, this is an intriguing matchup featuring two QBs who should do a good job of spreading the ball around. This game also features two defenses that are pretty good with some interesting playmakers.

I can’t bet against the Saints at home until proven otherwise.

Pick: Saints

Detroit Lions vs. Washington Redskins

The Redskins are a mess right now. I can’t figure out what’s going on with them, why they are playing so poorly to start the season, but I have a feeling it has to do a little bit at least with #10.

RG3 hasn’t been his pre-knee injury self, but I haven’t been overly impressed by the Lions either.

This is a really weird game to pick, but I think the Lions and Calvin Johnson are going to have a huge game. The Redskins will start showing signs of life in this game, I think.

Pick: Lions

New York Giants vs. Carolina Panthers

Both of these teams are desperate at this point, but the Panthers are so banged up in the secondary. I think the Giants are due a big, big game here.

Pick: Giants

Houston Texans vs. Baltimore Ravens

This is another weird game, and a really hard one to pick. At this point, it’s hard to believe in the Ravens, but just when you start to count them out, they’ll probably come out and score 38 points or something like that.

Houston has been the cardiac kids story of 2013, coming back against the Chargers in week one and scoring an overtime win against the Titans last week.

I don’t know who to pick in this game, but it’s going to come down to the passing game for Baltimore with Ray Rice out.

Pick: Texans

Afternoon Slate

Atlanta Falcons vs. Miami Dolphins

This is a huge game for the Dolphins to prove that they are for real. The Dolphins are 2-0 and taking on a 1-1 Falcons team that is really banged up right now. This is as good a chance as the Dolphins will have to pull off an upset, being on their home field and early on in the season.

Take the upset here, and see what happens.

Pick: Dolphins

Buffalo Bills vs. New York Jets

The battle of rookie quarterbacks, not quite as big of a storyline as it would have been last year had RG3 and Andrew Luck played against each other.

I really like the Bills’ offensive playmaking ability, but I’m really down on the Jets’ offense. I’m really up on the Jets’ defense, however, and I think playing in front of a home crowd for a rookie QB with a confident defense is a huge advantage. I give a very SLIGHT edge to the Jets here.

Pick: Jets

Indianapolis Colts vs. San Francisco 49ers

I think the Colts–despite their injuries–will really play the 49ers tough. They have a new weapon at running back in Trent Richardson and because of the injury to Dwayne Allen, they’ll be forced to get the ball to Coby Fleener more.

The Niners are hungry for a bounce back win after their embarrassing performance vs. Seattle, and I think they’ll get one.

Pick: 49ers

Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Seattle Seahawks

This is a bit of a trap game for Seattle.

I don’t think the Seahawks will completely overlook Jacksonville, but they’re riding the high from beating San Francisco last week and have a big matchup next week against the Houston Texans.

I still think Seattle comes through here.

Pick: Seahawks

Prime Time Matchups

Chicago Bears vs. Pittsburgh Steelers

The Bears are 2-0 yet again, and have a chance to prove themselves a team worthy of “elite” status with a road win over the Steelers.

Pittsburgh is trying to avoid going 0-3 to start the season. I just don’t think they’re all that good, but they have a chance in prime time to prove to every football fan in the country that they aren’t dead yet.

Pick: Bears

Oakland Raiders vs. Denver Broncos

The Broncos need to stay focused for this game, a rivalry game that has become one-sided with the addition of Peyton Manning. Denver’s offensive attack will likely prove to be too much for Oakland, but the Raiders are the league leaders in rushing and sacks.

They are going to have to control the pace of the game and force turnovers if they want to beat Denver.

Pick: Broncos

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