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2017 NFL Picks, Week Three: Easy wins and close upsets

We predict the final score for every week three game.

NFL: Chicago Bears at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
On to Minnesota? Yes!
Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports

Oh yee of little faith….Sander can put the orangutan with the dart board and the Sunday paper back in the wild. To the applause of Jane Goodall I reversed my terrible week 1 by picking 13 of 16 matchups correctly. That certainly makes the season a bit better, upping me to 19-11 (63 %)

Group Pickem Play:

Week 2 Winner: My 13-3 was pretty good but top prize has to go to WI Bucs Fan who went an astounding 15-1. Like me he missed on Texans vs. Bengals. However, he went perfect the rest of the way. Including Atlanta over Green Bay (the most missed game in our contest), Denver over Dallas (the second most missed), and he joined me on the upset special from week 2 of Miami over the Chargers.

If you have not signed up yet there is still time; the winner each week will get their 4 seconds of fame and we’ll be keeping season long track (with the worst 2 weeks of predictions dropped):

Yahoo go to

Enter Group #: 39438

Password : bucs (all lower case)

If you would just like to see the scores and talk smack :

Games of the Week

NFL: Green Bay Packers at Atlanta Falcons
Matt Ryan was the “Game CEO” against the Pack
Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Atlanta at Detroit (Sunday 1PM)

The Lions dismantled the Giants offensive line on Monday Night Football. Eli Manning was under more pressure than a cold fusion centrifuge and he certainly got spun like he was in one. Meanwhile Matt Ryan was picking apart the Packers; mixing and matching his offensive weapons, the 1TD stat line was highly misleading for Ryan, whose first half was nearly flawless.

If the Packers played two deep safeties Ryan took the soft middle, when they played tight bump and run he opened it up, if they somehow managed to get pressure he dumped off to Coleman or Freeman and really never let the Packers see him sweat. For a long time the conversation on “Elite” QBs (aside from Flacco’s fantasy land) has been Brady, Manning, Rodgers, Brees. Matt Ryan is starting to make a case. Against the Detroit Lions, though, the Falcons are the better team defensively, and that’s the difference in a 35-28 birds trip to 3-0.

Seattle at Tennessee (Sunday 4:05 PM EST)

Expect an old school slobber-knocker here. These are two teams that are physical on opposite sides of the ball, the Titans ground game versus the Seahawks defensive front four. You have to give the edge on QB play to Russell Wilson but neither team seems to carry a top-flight WR, though the Titans are holding out hope on Corey Davis.

This is on my “must watch” list not because I think this is an easy prediction but because we are going to find out a lot about both teams here. Are the Seahawks a Super Bowl contender? If so this is the kind of game where you have to go on the road and get an easy victory; are the Titans more than an AFC South title contender? If that’s the case this is a game they must prevail in. I’m going with the home team in a squeeker Titans 18-16.

Other Games

Houston at New England. If Deshaun Watson pulls an upset here , he really should start calling himself DeShaun “Michael Jordan” Watson. In fact, he should petition the NFL to be a QB allowed to wear 23. As good as Houston’s defense is, it’s not good enough to go on the road here and make a play to upset the defending champs without serious scoring support from the Houston offense which just isn’t ready for all that. Patriots 31-15.

Denver at Buffalo. The question is not can Buffalo upset the Broncos because the answer to that is an easy no. The question is will Bills starting QB Tyrod Taylor survive the game physically and metaphorically. The Bills beat the Jet’s back in Week 1 but not much went right for them against the Panthers as they were held to a whopping 3 points. I don’t expect it to be much different this week, with the final score Denver 21-6.

Pittsburgh at Chicago. Oh poor Mike Glennon, the entire stadium calling for your head and your first three games are Atlanta, Pittsburgh and Tampa while your top receiver is a RB? Jordan Howard is limping? Think it’s going to get better Mike? A road trip to Lambeau on a short Thursday night is next. That’s clearly “not what the doctor ordered”. Pittsburgh rolls 30-3.

Miami at the NY Jets. Well it’s a divisional matchup so you might say the Jets have a punchers chance. You would be wrong, Phins 23 Jets 0.

NY Giants at Philadelphia. Nothing about this game should make the G-men feel good, plenty of Eagles with sack incentive clauses in their contract are undoubtedly out looking at luxury cars this weekend. Eagles 20 Giants 7.

New Orleans at Carolina. I have no idea what the Saints are offensively at this point, the problem is neither do they. Are they a balanced club or a let-Brees-fire-it-off-40-times kind of club? That’s their problem: they start each game trying to establish a run, but whether it works or doesn’t work, their DNA just seems to compel them to let Brees flip it all over the field. Maybe it’s time to go back to the drawing board for them. Carolina can’t seem to score at all, however I expect that will stop this week against the defensively inept Saints. Panthers 33-18.

Cincinnati at Green Bay. Andy Dalton was never a great QB, but he certainly wasn’t this bad. Right now he’s in YIP city on some of these throws and quite frankly with their run game sputtering there have not been enough throws. Ken Zampese was just fired as OC, usually I find those convenient excuses, however Zampese was trying to get way with outfoxing people, rather than to thine own self be true. This is a team without much character as for years the Bengals have drafted the who’s who list of miscreants. If this game goes sideways on them who steps up to rally the troops? They just got beat by the Texans, don’t have a TD yet, and don’t have much intestinal fortitude. It’s going to be a long season for the Bengals. Meanwhile the Packers are unhappy with their performance against the Falcons. Packers get healthy here 42-12.

Oakland at Washington (Sunday Night). Don’t be so quick to dismiss this as any pick, the Redskins have two great corners to matchup against Crabtree and Cooper. Their weakness is underneath and the Raiders don’t really have a TE or dynamic pass-catching back. The problem for Captain Kirk and crew in Washington is that they don’t have enough offensive weapons to scare the Raiders. I think the Raiders get to 3-0 by a score of 24-21 but it’ll be a great deal closer than most expect, and if the Raiders are impatient they won’t walk away with a victory.

Dallas at Arizona (Monday Night). The Cardinals would need a pair of defensive scores to pose a real threat to Dallas in this game and Dak Prescott is simply too careful with the ball to give them that sort of chance. Cowboys 30 Arizona 10.

Worst Matchup of the Week

LA Rams at San Francisco 49ers (Thursday Night)

NFL: San Francisco 49ers at Seattle Seahawks
Hoyer threw for just 99 yards against the Seahawks
Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

Just a thought, but perhaps the NFL should consider putting some offensive teams in the Thursday night spot. They always seem to pick teams whose offense looks as sturdily constructed as a Tim The Tool Man Taylor home improvement project. Last week saw Houston vs. a touchdownless Cincinnati. The game was 59 minutes 30 seconds of snooze and a 30-second electrifying Deshaun Watson run (man that was good). This week features stellar QB matchup of Jared Goff vs. Brian Hoyer, the check downs will be flowing fast and furious.

On the plus side, it should provide some empirical research for the Neil DeGrasse Tyson and Mike Brown of Cal Tech types. What happens when an object that refuses to go in motion (49ers) collides with an object that appears to be in perpetual sideways motion (the Rams)? For those who don’t know, Mike Brown is the “Pluto Killer” who had the scientific community remove Pluto from the list of planets. Primary reason, Pluto lacks sufficient mass and gravity to exclude other objects from its orbital path.

It’s like the key to this game, which is: who can keep the opposing team honest with regards to the number of objects in either Carlos Hyde’s or Todd Gurley’s way? Since I have to make a pick, I’m going with the Rams 25-12.

Upset(s) of the Week :

Baltimore vs. Jacksonville (Sunday 9:30 AM in London)

NFL: Tennessee Titans at Jacksonville Jaguars
Fournette headed to London
Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

This game is going to be physical. The Jags bring Leonard Fournette and looked pretty good against a physical Houston team, but very bad last week against the Titans. Though they were not overpowered it was Bortles mistakes that finished the Jags. Baltimore is even tougher, but to the Jags London is home away from home. 2-0 is nice, but 2-0 against whom? The Ravens have not really been tested as Cleveland and a bad Cincinnati team don’t quite count. If Bortles can avoid too many mistakes the Jags pull off a big one in their second home. Jags 21-19.

Kansas City at San Diego. (Sunday 4:25 PM)

So the bolts have lost by a blocked field goal and an iced kicker missing a field goal. Meanwhile the Chiefs have beaten the Pat’s handily and prevailed against the Eagles. So easy win for the Chiefs, eh? No way! This is not a good matchup for the Chiefs because their offense is predicated on play action and while the running game has looked great, the San Diego front seven has been equally stout. I also believe that desperation is a powerful weapon. Victories tend to go to the most desperate and right now the Chargers are desperate. Chargers 24 Chiefs 13.

Bucs Game of the Week

NFL: Chicago Bears at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Evans and Jackson too much for Vikings
Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports

As of the time of this writing I can’t tell you if Sam Bradford or Case Keenum is starting this game for the Vikings. There certainly is a difference and if there could be one area for the Vikings to pull an upset, they are two very different signal callers and uncertainty could breed opportunity. However the real game buster to watch is the Vikings’ stretch zone run to the outside with Dalvin Cook. The Vikings are not as hapless as the Bears in terms of offensive production but I don’t see a bad matchup anywhere for Tampa defensively. Stefon Diggs is containable and no other Vikings receiver presents a clear danger to our secondary, between our speed at linebacker and TJ Ward we should be able to bottle up the boundary.

How the offense will fare is the better question in this game. The Bucs looked unstoppable by land or air once the game got rolling against Chicago, though we did leave some long balls on the table. To make matters worse for the Vikings Xavier Rhodes was limping last week. If he’s not the man covering Mike Evans this could be a long, long game for the Vikings. I’m not sure Tampa can run the ball but I’m also not sure we need to do so effectively to handle the Vikings. Given the disparity in offensive firepower, Tampa walks 27-13.