The Good, the Bad, and the Other Stuff
Some Teams Face Must-Win Games
Update [2006-9-24 14:0:28 by tommasse]: Late game predictions added.
It's Separation Sunday!
Week 3 is always kind of interesting, because you usually see a few excellent matchups between teams you know will be fighting for playoff position at the end of the season, and these games really count. See Jacksonville vs. Indianapolis and Atlanta vs. New Orleans. But you also see a few matchups between teams that are going to be fighting for draft pick position. See Green Bay vs. Detroit and Washington vs. Houston. Those games are good for blooper reels and, um, well, that's it.
There also almost always seem to be a few do-or-die battles for 0-2 teams who shouldn't be 0-2 and desperately need a win or consider foregoing their seasons as "rebuidling" years. See Carolina and Miami.
Then there are the other games. (Thank you, Captain Obvious.)
Here are the prognostications:
Sunday, Sept. 24
Carolina (0-2) at Tampa Bay (0-2), 1 p.m.
Clearly, both teams desperately need a win if they have any desire to make the playoffs. No, it's not impossible for a team to make the playoffs after an 0-3 start, but it ain't easy. Tampa Bay is deeply in trouble with Chris Simms, who apparently has no confidence anymore, and with "Jalopy" Williams and his 2.6 yards per carry and 29.5 yards per game. Carolina has their own problems: injuries, most notably to WR Steve Smith, who is listed as questionable with a thigh bruise. Unlike Tom Brady, Jake Delhomme is one of those quarterbacks who just seems lost without that one great receiver. Carolina played well enough to win last week in Minnesota, but the coaches blew the game. Don't expect John Fox to make those mistakes all the time.
Prediction: Panthers, 24-6.
Chicago (2-0) at Minnesota (2-0), 1 p.m.
Chicago starts with one of the easiest opening schedules in the history of sports, and it gets only a little tougher this week. Minnesota stole one from Carolina, but they're playing pretty good ball. This is an important division game, especially for the stretch run. It could be close between these two teams. It's the Brad Johnson - Rex Grossman show! How odd does that sound? It's hard to judge where Chicago is, since they haven't played anyone. It should be interesting to see if they're ready to play a mediocre team, and if Grossman is ready to play anything but a Swiss cheese defense.
Prediction: Vikings, 16-14.
Cincinnati (2-0) at Pittsburgh (1-1), 1 p.m.
Cincinnati is behind the 8-ball with a spate of injuries and having to hit the road. Drew Bled ... I mean, Ben Roethlisberger should be more or less normal after playing on a day in which he earlier had a 104 .. er, 100.4 .. er, was complaining. WR Hines Ward is nursing a hamstring, which could impact his game if it gets worse. Cincinnati hasn't done anything special since eliminating Kansas City's Trent Green, so this is a big test for them. Pittsburgh is just happy the beating has subsided.
Prediction: Steelers, 27-10.
Green Bay (0-2) at Detroit (0-2), 1 p.m.
Prediction: Packers, 56-5.
Jacksonville (2-0) at Indianapolis (2-0), 1 p.m.
Game of the Century! (Please note: Game of the Century valid only during the 1 o'clock games during Week 3 of the 2006 NFL Season.) Seriously should be a good one, if the refs play it straight. While some teams suffer a letdown after a big game, I can only imagine Monday's brilliant win over Pittsburgh fueled a burning desire in Jacksonville. But will the short week take a toll? Indianapolis had a bye week in drubbing Houston, but Adam Vinatieri is one of six players out, and he has a basketful of teammates who are hurting from .. um, playing chess or something. If they're hurting now and Jacksonville is really prepared, Indianapolis could be really suffering by 5 p.m. Martin Gramatica wins the game on a 28-yard field goal.
Prediction: Colts, 24-23.
N.Y. Jets (1-1) at Buffalo (1-1), 1 p.m.
Is the battle of the upstate team no one like to say is a New York team because they don't play in the city hosting the team New Yorkers claim even though they play in New Jersey. Is Buffalo for real? Could be. That defense is pretty solid, they way they're supposed to be and haven't been. They're certainly better than New York. Does that mean they're better than themselves? New York has a Fung Wah busload of injuries, and that's not going to help. Neither will that Fung Wah drive up to that "other part of New York." Fung Wah doesn't go upstate? Oh, well, maybe New York will be OK.
Prediction: Bills, 24-9.
Tennessee (0-2) at Miami (0-2), 1 p.m.
I'm sure Nick Saban would like to see his team beat someone better than Tennessee, but a win is a win, and without one this week, they can forget about competing for the playoffs -- and Saban will need see if Joe Gibbs can get him one of those NASCAR-sytle fire-retardant coveralls. Meanwhile, Jeff Fisher better start thinking about who will need an defensive coordinator next year. Or a defensive backs coach. Or a water boy. How good do you think replay works at games like this and Green Bay vs. Detroit? They have, what, two or three cameras there?
Prediction: Dolphins, 26-12.
Washington (0-2) at Houston (0-2), 1 p.m.
Man, this is like torture. Neither of these teams should be as utterly inept and clueless as they are. But, they are. Do you think anyone in the Houston front office is thinking, "You know, maybe we should have thought about that draft pick think a little more"? Hmmm. I don't think I've ever predicted a tie before. Meh. Why start now?
Prediction: Redskins, 15-8.
Update [2006-9-24 14:0:28 by tommasse]: Here are the late games.
Baltimore (2-0) at Cleveland (0-2), 4:05 p.m.
I'd like to say Romeo Crennel's boys have a chance here. Meanwhile, Willie McGinest must simply be happy collecting his paycheck after leaving a door crasher for a doormat. Is Baltimore really that good? It's going to take a lot more than wins over Tampa Bay, Oakland and Cleveland to convince me.
Prediction: Ravens, 24-13.
N.Y. Giants (1-1) at Seattle (2-0), 4:15 p.m.
New York's schedule is a tough as Baltimore's is easy. New York looks like they got New England's schedule from last year. Seattle has been less than impressive against weak teams, but good teams find ways to put up W's when they're not playing well. Good teams also find ways to win big games, and both of these teams want to fit that bill. Seattle can better weather a loss, but I don't think Mike Holmgren is thinking that way. Seattle's offense hasn't started clicking, and New York's defense has been bending. Meanwhile, Seattle's defense has been rock solid against dismal offenses, and New York's offense has been gaining momentum against some good competition. It's all about who shows up to play, wants to win more, has their game faces on, and employs the greatest number of cliches.
Prediction: Giants, 30-26.
Philadelphia (1-1) at San Francisco (1-1), 4:15 p.m.
San Francisco beat St. Louis last week? Is San Fran getting better, or is St. Louis getting worse? Or was it just one of those things? It doesn't matter in this one.
Prediction: Eagles, 34-10.
St. Louis (1-1) at Arizona (1-1), 4:15 p.m.
It matters a little in this one. Kurt Warner should shred his former team's defense. But then again, Marc Bulger should shred Warner's new team's defense. Has anyone ever heard of some of these players?
Prediction: Cardinals, 46-38.
Denver (1-1) at New England (2-0), 8:15 p.m.
See separately posted preview.
Prediction: Patriots, 20-17.
Monday, Sept. 25
Atlanta (2-0) at New Orleans (2-0), 8:30 p.m.
Personally, I would have loved to see the Giants go to New Orleans for this one, considering the league screwed New Orleans last year by forcing them to play a "home" game against New York in the Meadowlands. But anyway. New Orleans hasn't been tested against a good team, but they've played twice on the road already. It will certainly be an emotional game in the Big Easy, but few NFL games are won on emotion alone. New Orleans is definitely on the upswing as their front office is still thinking about the draft in somewhat stunned, happy disbelief. There's a lot of potential there. Atlanta, as usual, is almost impossible to read, because they're so unpredictable, even they don't know what they're doing. (As opposed to "The Unpredictable" Johnny Rods, who Bobby Heenan [I think] said "is so unpredictable, he's predictable." I don't think New Orleans is going to give up 300 yards rushing. Run blitz, run blitz, run blitz, run blitz. Think that would work? If Atlanta's defense is up to the take, it could make things interesting.
Prediction: Saints, 24-17.
Open Date: Dallas, Kansas City, Oakland, San Diego
Last week: 13 - 3.
After an expectedly horrible Week 1, my picks were gold, Jerry, gold in Week 2. This week will probably be somewhere in between. (Captain Obvious is on a roll. Oh, yeah!)
Season: 19 - 13.