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NFL Picks for Week 3
by John Canton (NFL)
Posted on September 23, 2006, 4:58 PM

John: Welcome to week three of our weekly NFL picks column. This week I've got Drqshadow to write an intro and Berliner's going to talk quickly about last week as well. Then I'll show you how we did last week, what our records are on the season, give you our picks for the week and then I'll finish it with my four picks against the spread. So here's the Q man.

drq: Last week seemed to be a great week for just about everyone, which means I didn't close any ground between my own record and that of the twin football prediction geniuses, (is it geniuses, or genius? Maybe genui...) JC$ and B to the power of two. Myself, I'll take an 11-5 record like I had last week any time, but I really would've liked for my wild underdog pick of NYJ over New England to come true. Maybe if the Jets had realized that the run was a lost cause a little earlier in the game. Anyway, I can't imagine that this week's picks will be anywhere near as easy as last week's were. There are some true marquee matchups here, with some real key games between divisional rivals at the top of the pile. Chicago / Minnesota, Pittsburgh / Cincy, Buffalo / NYJ, Indy / Jacksonville and Atlanta / New Orleans could all be for a share of, if not outright control of, the early lead in their respective divisions when the dust settles. This is where things start to get really interesting, and the overall picture of the 2006 season begins to come a little bit more into focus.

Brett: Another good week for me. It's going to start to get harder here, but that's the fun of picking.

John: Before we go onto the picks for the week, here are the current results:

Last Week:
John Canton: 13-3
Brett Berliner: 12-4
Drqshadow: 11-5

John Canton: 25-7
Brett Berliner: 24-8
Drqshadow: 19-13

Yes, I have a HUGE lead. Eat it, suckers! I'm gonna gloat while I can. This week doesn't look easy. Also please note there's 14 games this week with the following teams having the week off: Dallas, Kansas City, Oakland and San Diego.

Onto the picks!

Carolina at Tampa Bay 1:00 p.m.
drq: Carolina should, by all rights, be 1-1 at this point, while Tampa genuinely deserves the hole they currently find themselves in. It took a ridiculously bad decision on a punt return, a faked field goal and overtime for the Panthers to fall to the Vikings, sort of an aligning of the planets moment, while the Bucs were just playing rotten football throughout their matchup with the Atlanta Falcons. Their defense gave up a franchise-worst 350 yards on the ground, and their offense couldn't make progress on the ground or in the air. I think a lot of their issues stem back to Chris Simms, who is beginning to show that he has no business playing the role of leader on this football team, but it takes a team effort to fail as spectacularly as they have thus far. I don't see brighter days in their near future, either, with this brutal schedule. Carolina 24, Tampa Bay 10

Brett: I really did not forsee the complete collapse by the Buccaneers. They have not only lost both of their games, they looked terrible doing so. I don't think that they're as bad as they looked in either of their first two games. I still think Chris Simms has enough talent to be a strong NFL QB, and their defense should be way better than it really is. Either way, even though Carolina has struggled, they played a better Minnesota team tough enough that I think they can waltz in and squeak away with a victory. It won't be pretty, but it will count, which is what matters. Carolina 19, Tampa Bay 13

John: I wasn't a fan of the Bucs at all heading into this season. I just thought last year they only got in due to an easy schedule and other good teams like the Eagles and Falcons falling off. The Panthers are hard to figure. Yes, they miss Steve Smith, but should they really be 0-2 right now with a defense like the one they have? Since Tampa's offense blows that's enough for me to pick the Panthers. Panthers 24-17

Chicago at Minnesota 1:00 p.m.
drq: I like both of these teams. Minnesota has been playing a very emotional style, while Chicago is has a much more focused, distinct gameplan, and it'll be really interesting to see how the two styles counteract one another on the field Sunday afternoon. The Vikings really shouldn't even be in this game, but they've been playing just well enough to squeak out the win in precisely the same kind of circumstances through weeks one and two, so I like their chances of keeping it close right down to the wire here, as well. They're one of those clubs that seems to play up (or down) to the level of their competition, and the Bears are about as stiff as the opposition gets in the NFC North. I like the Chicago D in a nail biter. Chicago 17, Minnesota 13

Brett: The Vikings have really impressed me so far. Most would agree that they downgraded their overall talent level, and they're breaking in a new coach and system, but so far, so good. Still, the Bears are the Bears. Rex Grossman looks fantastic, and they're rolling. The next time these two teams play each other, it will be a lot closer, but this time, the Bears walk. Chicago 31, Minnesota 17

John: I doubted the Bears before the year. I thought the offense wasn't good enough and that they'd struggle to do what they did last year. After two weeks I can sit here, admit I was wrong and confidently say that I see them winning this game. The Vikes escaped the Panthers. They won't this week. Bears 23-10

Cincinnati at Pittsburgh 1:00 p.m.
drq: These two teams had some colossal brawls last year, and both come into their first 2006 meeting with something to prove. The Steelers will no doubt be cranky, following the rough treatment they received in Jacksonville Monday night, while the Bengals are out to prove that their offensive sparks in 2005 were more than just a freak one-time occurrence. The real key to this game is T.J. Houshmandzadeh, (wow, I can't believe I spelled that right on the first try) and not only his status as active or inactive, but his contributions on the field if he does get into the lineup. I think the Bengals are going to need the extra ammunition against a Steelers defense that's looked very good against two fairly strong offensive units. I think Housh plays, and that'll open up the passing game enough for a comfortable win. Pittsburgh 20, Cincinnati 31

Brett: Tough game to pick here. On one hand, the Bengals are absolutely already banged up, they don't play spectacularly on the road, and the Steelers are coming off of a tough loss, likely firing them up. On the other hand, Roethlisberger doesn't look 100%, the Bengals may have really strong emotion, after what happened last year in the playoffs, and they're playing pretty well. I'd like to think that Cincy gets a modicum of revenge after Ligament-Gate, but I don't think that'll happen until Pittsburgh comes to Paul Brown Stadium. I think that the injured Cincy D will be the weak link, and Palmer will outplay Roethlisberger, but those pesky Steelers will find a way to squeak it out. Pittsburgh 23, Cincinnati 21

John: In my opinion this is the game of the week because these teams have hatred for one another. Cincy won the division last year, but Pittsburgh beat them in the playoffs on the way to winning the Super Bowl. Then you've got the Palmer injury that we've heard about regularly for months now. He hates them, he wants to beat them and this is his first chance at doing it. I like Pittsburgh, though. Last week they got humiliated on Monday night, scoring no points and playing like crap. They're better than that and they'll show it this week. I think it's the game of the week that comes right down to the wire. Steelers 21-20

Green Bay at Detroit 1:00 p.m.
drq: Two teams who are already beginning to realize that a playoff run might not be in the cards for them this season. The Packers actually put up a hell of a fight against New Orleans last week, and I'd consider the Saints to be a better team than the Lions at this point. This won't be a beautiful game, but at the very least it should be entertaining. Brett Favre is either going to throw four TDs and continue to fight his age, or he'll throw four interceptions and give the impression that he should've hung them up in the off-season. Either way, it won't be boring. Detroit 20, Green Bay 28

Brett: These are two BAD football teams. Yeah, you heard me. I'm not afraid to comment on the state of a team, and when I say that they are bad, you listen. Green Bay actually had some offense last week, and the Lions have shown an okay defense and an anemic offense. They will be able to move the ball some on Green Bay's weak D, but the Pack should put up quite a few more points than they do. Green Bay 24, Detroit 13

John: What's there to say? These teams suck just like the Lions have forever and the Packers have the last couple years. I like Detroit's defense better so I think they'll create some scoring chances that way. Lions 24-13

Jacksonville at Indianapolis 1:00 p.m.
drq: I owe the Jaguars an apology. I fully expected them to come out this season and stink up the joint, especially with games against Dallas, Pittsburgh and Indianapolis to open the year, but they've hung in throughout. More than that, they've blossomed. This defense is beginning to prove that they're a force to be reckoned with, and the offense is being drug along for the ride. The Colts, meanwhile, have a lot of key injuries on defense that the Jags should be able to exploit, enabling them to keep up with a fast-paced Indy offense. As a Colts fan, I'm worried about this game. As an objective observer, the nod goes to the home team. Indianapolis 27, Jacksonville 21

Brett: The trend, of course, is to really believe in the Jags, which, admittedly, is easy to do, after they beat the Steelers. I don't, quite yet. Sure, a 9-0 victory over the defending Super Bowl Champions is pretty impressive, but Pittsburgh is vulnerable and they aren't even close to full strength. Both teams look like a ER right now, with a ridiculous amount of players dinged up, but I tend to think that it isn't going to matter. The Jags won't be able to stop Peyton to Marvin, Reggie and now Joseph, and that's what matters. I think this could be a lot closer, though, if some of the dinged up Jags are fine while the Colts have a key loss or two, but right now, I think the Colts roll. Indianapolis 28, Jacksonville 14

John: Tough call. Indy's running game is questionable at this point while the Jags rush defense is great. The story, as expected, is the Indy passing game against the Jags pass defense. The best way to stop Indy's passing is to blitz all over the place the way the Chargers and Steelers did in beating them last year. The Jags don't blitz much at all, they use their front four and their very good DB's to play physically on the outside. I don't think that'll work against Manning. Close game here, but I see Indy pulling it out because their offense is more dynamic and their defense should be able to contain a Jags offense that is average at best. Colts 20-13

N.Y. Jets at Buffalo 1:00 p.m.
drq: Both teams have been playing much better than expected, with the Bills silencing Miami in their own stadium, the Jets squashing Tennessee on the road, and both giving the Patriots a legitimate scare. This week, we'll see who's for real and who is just an imposter with a few lucky plays under their belt. I'm among the few that thinks they're both solid, under the radar-style teams. I'm anticipating a big day for Willis McGahee, against a Jets defense that gave up 150 yards and two touchdowns on the ground last week. Buffalo 17, New York Jets 14

Brett: I'm really looking forward to this one, honestly. These two young teams have surprised so far, both of them looking relatively competent, even with their new head coaches and new styles. They both have their strengths, with Buffalo's revamped defense looking nasty, and the Jets surprisingly devestating passing attack has come alive. I think they both have a lot of room to grow, but I'm liking what I'm seeing. I have to go with the experience of the Jets passing attack, but I think this could be a good one. N.Y. Jets 23, Buffalo 19

John: When two teams play that are better than I thought before the year it's tough for me to gauge who the better is of the two. I don't like picking this game because both teams have had similar starts to the year. Both beat really bad teams (the Jets over Titans and Bills over Raiders) while both hung in there with the Pats for all four quarters of the game with both teams having a viable argument that they should have won their game. I think the Bills have the better defense, but the Jets have the better QB play right now with Pennington, so I'm going to pick the visitors here. Jets 17-16

Tennessee at Miami 1:00 p.m.
drq: The Dolphins are the paradox of the NFL at this moment. They have so many weapons on offense, but seem to be misaligned and narrowly missing one another. If and when Culpepper regains his confidence, Ronnie Brown discovers his consistency and Chris Chambers gets on the same page as his QB, the rest of the league is in for a shock. Especially with a defense that's still solid to back them up. This could be the game where it all sort of clicks for the Fins, or it could be the latest in a series of embarrassing failures. I'm choosing the former. Miami 34, Tennessee 20

Brett: Boy, is this one going to be ugly. Tennessee can't stop anyone or move the ball, and Miami just looks lost out there. I do think we'll see a steady dose of Vince Young from the Titans, and I predict he'll make at least two big plays that make it clear why the Titans drafted him, along with one huge mistake that has the pundits calling him a bust already. If he doesn't play, it's dumb, because they have nothing else to lose. The Dolphins struggled the past two weeks with putting it all together. At times, their offense looked decent, and at times, their defense dominated, but they can't play together. If they treat this game as a building game, rather than a 'must-win', it will put them in a position to improve. I think at 0-2, though, they really can't afford to do that. Miami 16, Tennessee 6

John: I've stopped trying to figure out Miami. As for the Titans, they suck in a lot of areas. Lots of Ronnie Brown here should be enough for the Dolphins to get their first win. Also, I continue to laugh at anybody that picked Daunte Culpepper on their fantasy team. How is that working out for ya? Dolphins 27-7

Washington at Houston 1:00 p.m.
drq: Two 0-2 teams, with one key difference: folks actually expected the Redskins to be could this year. Houston has nowhere to go but up at this stage, and if they had their big playmaker at RB on the field, they could actually be surprising a lot of people. I still think they have that potential, as their multiple scores late in the game against Indy shows, and a win here could be a motivational moment for a franchise that really needs it. God help me, I'm choosing the Texans. Washington 17, Houston 21

Brett: Can't imagine this one being much prettier than the last. I hate to say 'I Told You So', but did I not tell you so about the 'Skins? They added a whole bunch of nothing in the offseason, and as a result, they aren't cohesive or explosive. I mean, their spending habits are just stupid. Can anyone tell me right now that the Redskins would rather have Andre Carter than Antonio Pierce? Just to run down someone they let go recently and someone they signed. Poorly managed. The Texans are showing some signs of life. David Carr is still getting killed, but he looks light years ahead of last year, and he actually has some receiving talent with Eric Moulds and Andre Johnson looking good. Even with a healthy Clinton Portis, I don't see the Skins having the firepower to get it done on the road against a young, hungry team like Houston. Houston 17, Washington 13

John: I hate the Skins for many reasons. One of them is that the media is on their nuts so much. The other is that they spent all this money bringing in receivers and a new coordinator yet the offense looks as boring, as stale and as unproductive as ever. The defense isn't doing much either. The Texans are due. David Carr is playing well and they'll be able to move the ball on these guys. I have a hunch. Texans 23-20

Baltimore at Cleveland 4:05 p.m.
drq: The Ravens are absolutely rolling right now, and while part of that can be attributed to the talent level of the squads they've been beating up on. Nobody expected them to shut out the Bucs on the road, but the Tampa Bay offense did them a lot of favors in that game, and Baltimore came out sparkling. Oakland can barely be considered an NFL-quality team this year, and I can't see the Browns putting up much more of a fight. Until they play an upper-echelon team, (they've got San Diego next week) it's going to be tough to get an understanding of where this team really is in the scheme of things. I think the Browns stand a better chance here than the Raiders did last week, but not by much. Baltimore 28, Cleveland 9

Brett: Again, I've said, time and time again, that I hate picking Browns games. If I go for them, they lose, and I blame myself. If I go against them, they lose, and I blame myself for not having faith in my team. Moral of the story - the Browns are likely to lose. I honestly believe they have a shot at this game, though. The Ravens are playing pretty good football, but to date, they've played two of the worst teams in the NFL. I don't think their offense is a whole lot better than it was last year, and the defense isn't either. They seem to be playing more inspired football, is the difference - they want to win and play with emotion. I think if the Browns come out with that same, fired-up emotion, they can win, but it's hard to expect them to do so, when they haven't in either of their first two games. However, if some of the players on the Ravens injured list (Ray Lewis, Jamal Lewis and Jon Ogden, most notably) can't make it, we could be seeing a very different result. Just depends on what the Browns want to do. Baltimore 20, Cleveland 16

John: I have no reason for this pick except to say that I don't think Baltimore is as good as their record suggests (they can't run or pass very well) and I think Cleveland is better than their record suggests. Plus, I needed to pick a few upsets this week. This is one of them. Browns 16-13

N.Y. Giants at Seattle 4:15 p.m.
drq: Seattle's been really struggling to move the ball this season, and I think they're in for a rude wake-up call against the Giants. Matt Hasselbeck completed less than 50% of his passes last week, including two dangerous late interceptions, and Shaun Alexander has yet to crack 100 yards in a game this season. Unless they improve drastically, this New York defensive unit is just going to eat numbers like that for lunch. The Giants roll, and Deion Branch has a disappointing debut in Seahawk colors. Seattle 10, New York Giants 24

Brett: Honestly, as much as I liked the Giants last week (and thanks for rewarding me, boys), I can't feel the same way this week. For one, the Giants have been having some issues with their corners, and I can't be the only one who feels that the Seahawks have to break out of their offensive slump, can I? I'm a fan of their top three receivers (not individually, but as a group) in Burleson, Branch and Jackson, and I think this is a good matchup for them. If they play 3 receivers most of the time, as they should, with Jerramy Stevens out, I think somebody's open on nearly every play. I look for Hasselbeck to have a big day as the Seahawks beat the Giants. After such an emotionally draining win vs. the Eagles, I think the Giants are due for a little bit of a letdown. Seattle 31, N.Y. Giants 21

John: I have to ride the Giants bandwagon a bit because they are my Super Bowl pick. The problem is their defense hasn't really shown up the first two games, especially the secondary. Last week they pulled one out thanks to the Eagles choking in the end. This week I think the G-Men play more solid football, they have a back and forth game with the Seahawks and they pull it out in the end with a Jay Feely field goal. That's fitting considering the ones he shanked last year when these teams played. Giants 23-21

Philadelphia at San Francisco 4:15 p.m.
drq: You can pretty much copy and paste my description for the Arizona / St. Louis game here. Neither one of these teams really seems to know who they are and where they stand. The Eagles looked very impressive for three quarters against New York last week, but utterly collapsed under pressure at the end. Meanwhile, San Fran has been completely hit and miss on both sides of the ball, occasionally showing signs of greatness through the air, on the ground, or on defense, but then following up with a flat three-and-out. At this point I think the Eagles are the better team, especially with Donte Stallworth lighting up the secondary, but neither team has the defense to keep the game in hand early. Philadelphia 24, San Francisco 20

Brett: I've seen that some people have the 49ers winning this one, wow. I don't see it. Sure, the first two weeks, Alex Smith has looked much improved (and even last year, I've been saying that I liked this kid), but they haven't shown me anything yet. I get annoyed that people always try to jump on the next bandwagon without really thinking about it. They're young, they lack talent in a lot of places, and they lost to a so-so Arizona team and beat a St. Louis team that they beat last year, even as bad as they were. They certainly look much improved, but I just think that they aren't quite ready. The Eagles look pretty good so far. They did lose a big one to the Giants and collapsed, but they have a lot of talent on that team and I still think they're in a class above the Niners. Philadelphia 26, San Francisco 17

John: Philly's going to be pissed after last week's debacle ending to the Giants while the Niners are riding a high after beating my Rams. San Fran is a physical team that beat up the Rams, but Philly's the same way. They're probably going to miss Jevon Kearse since he's out for the rest of the year. However, I still like their defense against a Niners offense that has impressed. Keep in mind, they played the Cards and Rams - not exactly defense giants. I think the difference here is McNabb. He's playing very well and they need to avenge last week's loss. I think they do that rather comfortably. Eagles 30-14

St. Louis at Arizona 4:15 p.m.
drq: Two teams that haven't really figured themselves out yet. The Cardinals haven't really given the running game much of a chance to get rolling, but have managed to hang in all the same with an outstanding passing attack. The Rams, meanwhile, looked phenomenal defensively against the Broncos, but then fell hard against the 49ers. That's the same San Francisco team that the Cardinals snuck by at home two weeks back. This should be a tooth-and-nail war, and though history tells me it's a bad idea to do so, I'm taking the Cards. Arizona 20, St. Louis 17

Brett: I still have faith in the Rams. I think their defense is better than it showed last week, and I still think they can get their passing going, although they'll miss their injured lineman. That said, I don't like them, sans-Pace, on the road against an Arizona team I think feels like this is a must win. I know the difference between 2-1 and 1-2 isn't huge, but for a team who wants to make the playoffs after the drought they've had, this is as close to a 'must-win' as the third game of the season will ever be. Arizona 31, St. Louis 20

John: The Rams are my team and I love them as much as ever, but I don't feel comfortable picking them on the road at this point in the season. Too many injuries on the offensive line, the passing game isn't there yet due to the new system and aside from Steven Jackson there haven't been too many bright spots. I think the Cards offense is better at this point although I don't see Edge James having a huge game here just because their line, even when healthy, is pretty damn bad. Still, I think the Cards can pass the ball and cause enough problems that they should win the game. It always pains me to pick against the Rams, but I'm going with head over heart here. Cardinals 27-20

Denver at New England 8:15 p.m.
drq: I like picking against the Pats this season. They look like half a team, who's kicked and screamed their way to a 2-0 record with shaky victories against lower-tier Buffalo and Jets squads. Playing against a regular playoff team in Denver should be a huge challenge, especially considering this is basically the same team that sent them home early in the playoffs last year. The problem with that logic, though, is that the Broncos have had similar problems this season. They were shamed by a Rams team that wasn't expected to make the playoffs this year, and narrowly escaped a Chiefs club without a starting quarterback. Once again, I'm predicting a close game, and in that indecisive situation, I once again go with the home team. New England 10, Denver 17

Brett: I was really impressed last week, with the grit of the Broncos, as well as their opponent, the Chiefs. Fun game to watch. I'm not sure Denver really has 'it' this year. I don't know what it is, their team seems to be upgraded from last year, but something about them.. maybe Plummer is shook from his playoff performance, I don't know. They don't look AWFUL, but I haven't been impressed. Same with the Pats. I think year after year of losing that kind of talent is going to catch up with any team, and it has started to, finally, with the Pats. I still think they have enough to hold off the Broncos, but it could be a long season if you're a Patriots fan. Or it couldn't. I'm not sure yet. New England 10, Denver 7

John: I could see an upset here because the Pats aren't playing so great and Denver is playing poorly, but I'm going to end up taking the Pats. It's just hard to like that Bronco offense right now. Plummer's playing like crap, the running game is just okay and it's obvious that Shanahan is apprehensive about throwing the ball down the field. Even though the Pats are starting slow I think they'll come around because they got a solid running game and Brady's going to get more comfortable with the WR's he's got. It's hard for me to pick against the Pats at home. I won't do it. Patriots 23-20

Atlanta at New Orleans 8:30 p.m. (Monday)
drq: The big emotional rush of returning to their home field could light a fire under the Saints, who haven't exactly looked like a 2-0 team on their way to just such a record, but the Falcons have looked too dominant of late to write off. With Michael Vick and Warrick Dunn alternating 20-yard runs, it's going to be tough for any team to slow these guys down and I don't think the Saints have the answer to that. I might be underrating the home team's offense, but I can't imagine this will be a game. Atlanta 28, New Orleans 7

Brett: Ah, poor New Orleans. They've won two in a row to start the season, so you'd have to think, if you're a Saints fan, that things are going well. That's going to stop on Monday. The Saints are weak in the run defense, and Atlanta has been GASHING teams. I don't see this one ending in a very pretty fashion. Atlanta 35, New Orleans 16

John: I know the Saints story is a cool one to tell. I'm very happy for the people in that city, in that state and it should be inspiring to see those players run on that field considering what happened in New Orleans last year. With that said, I've seen the Falcons run all over two teams that are supposed to have good defenses. The Saints don't have a good defense. Lots of points, lots of highlights and lots of fun. Just as this game should be. Falcons 30-20

JC vs. The Spread
I'll use the line that Yahoo provides and I'll pick four games that I think you should bet on for the week.

Last week: 4-0! Oh yeah. Made some nice cash last week.
Season: 6-2

Atlanta (-3.5) over New Orleans
It's tough going with a road favorite, but I think Atlanta's the more complete team that is going to run all over a weak Saints defense.

N.Y. Jets (+5.5) over Buffalo
Somebody remind me why the Bills should be almost six point favorites? They beat the freakin' Dolphins. I think this is a close game, so I'll take the Jets to cover.

Chicago (-3) over Minnesota
The Bears have won me over. I believe in them.

Houston (+4) over Washington
Mario Williams, welcome to the NFL. Meet Mark Brunell, the guy who loves to duck into the turtle position.

To be honest I really only like three games to bet on: the first three I put. The last one I have less confidence in, but I'm so down on the Skins that I'll bet against them. It's a tough week. Lots of good teams playing on the road, which it makes it tougher to predict the winners. I almost picked Philly, but two road favorites are enough. I had to pick a couple home underdogs. Plus no Raider game this week. There goes the sure win.

Until next week, when we are back for hopefully a Friday morning posting, for Drqshadow and Brett Berliner this is John Canton saying enjoy the games. You know we will.

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