We are in the early stages of the 2016 NFL season, with Week 3 set to get underway tonight in the Thursday Night Football Game between the Texans and the Patriots. With some really tough games to call this week, I am hoping to keep myself in double digit wins again to keep my record strong. Last week we saw some upsets and some blowouts, and this week is looking to bring more drama than the last. One of the best matchups to watch will be the much anticipated rematch between Josh Norman and Odell Beckham Jr. in New York. I look forward to that and much more this week, so let’s go ahead and look at my predictions for week 3 in the NFL. Always love hearing your feedback!
GAME OF THE WEEK
Vikings (2-0) vs. Panthers (1-1)
Preview: This game is poised to be one of the best early games of the season. The Vikings go to Carolina to battle the Panthers. Both teams playing great football to begin this season, they look like early playoff contenders and this matchup looks to be a battle. I am going to give the nod this week to Carolina, they are not only playing well, but at home they have been unbeatable. The Panthers have not lost at home since November 16, 2014. Look for the Panthers to jump on the Vikings from the get-go and grab a lead in the first quarter. In a game where we have two top notch defenses battling, the Panthers have the edge because of their weapons on offense. This is also Bradford’s second game in a Vikings uniform, and this time he is facing a tough challenge in the Panther defense. The Vikings were dealt a huge blow last week losing Adrian Peterson for several months with an MCL injury in their win against Green Bay. Other members of the team need to step up in his absence and make an impact on the field. Expect Cam Newton to be the difference in this game. He looked fantastic last week and I don’t see him slowing down in this matchup.
THURSDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL GAME
Texans (2-0) vs. Patriots (2-0)
Preview: This would be my game of the week if it were not for the Patriot injury in Garoppolo. He was a great fill-in option for Tom Brady (suspension) and has led the Patriots to two solid wins to start off this season. The Patriots will be yet another team this week to start a rookie quarterback in Jacoby Brisset, the third round pick out of North Carolina State University. Jacoby was able to lead the Patriots to a victory once Garoppolo went down last week, but in his first start he is going up against a much improved Texans team looking to put together yet another solid win for their 2016 campaign. Look out for the Osweiler to Hopkins and Fuller connection this week against the Patriots. I think that this will be a close game, but the Texans will have enough to edge the Patriots this week in the battle of the unbeatens in Foxborough. The Texans are lucky to catch the Patriots Brady-less and possibly without Gronkowski as he is still listed as a game-time decision in this one. This will be a good game to watch.
Cardinals (1-1) vs. Bills (0-2)
Preview: I think we have our first blowout in the making this week as the Cardinals visit the Bills in Buffalo. The Cardinals started slow against a good Patriots team in week one, and as I picked last week, they came out of the gate firing in week two in route to a 40-7 win against the Buccaneers. Look for more of the same from Palmer and the Cardinals as they take on a Bills team that is in disarray. Rex Ryan is in full on panic mode and he is only two games in this season, the Bills have invested heavily in this team and expect results from Ryan. Last week after the Thursday night game Rex Ryan fired offensive coordinator Greg Roman in order to find a way to get more out of their offense. Unfortunately for Ryan and the Bills, offense is not the issue as they have struggled defensively to start the year and this week will not be any easier as they face a potent Cardinal offense. Look for Palmer to torch this Bills defense in route to another big win for the Cardinals. Larry Fitzgerald will continue his fine form in this one as well as he is my start of the week for receivers in fantasy.
Raiders (1-1) vs. Titans (1-1)
Preview: My first tough call this week comes in the form of a game between the Titans and the Raiders in Tennessee. Both teams have looked good and then bad in their first two games as they search for consistency. Two young quarterbacks square off in what seems to be an offensive battle between the two teams. The edge this week for me will go to the Raiders as they bring a young and talented group to Nashville. Amari Cooper and Derek Carr have been excellent this year connecting for over 200 yards in two games and this week they do not look likely to be slowed down at all. The Titans bring a very good rushing attack into this one with DeMarco Murray (an old favorite of mine) and a newly restructured offensive line to ground it out in this game. The Raiders have the edge because of the amount of weapons they have on offense and their ability to strike through the air as well as run the ball. The Raiders have struggled defensively this season, but their defense has gone up against two of the games best quarterbacks in Drew Brees and Matt Ryan. The Raiders will get their second win of the season this week.
Redskins (0-2) vs. Giants (2-0)
Preview: The re-match we have all been waiting for. Since the explosion last year on the field and the complete meltdown of Odell Beckham Jr. Along with the free agent addition of Josh Norman to the Washington Redskins. Two times a year we now get to watch these two talented athletes go at it on the field. I expect that the Redskins will go about their defensive strategy as usual in this game with Norman sticking to one side of the field until otherwise needed. I doubt he will follow Beckham Jr. the entire game. The key in this game is Kirk Cousins, he shows flashes (very quick ones) of the greatness we saw from him last year, and then bone-headed mistakes right after. If he is able to play a complete game in this one, the Redskins will win. If not, I believe that the Giants will take this game. Now the last thing that I want is Cousins to start playing well, but I believe that his Head Coach putting him on blast this past week in front of the media will be enough for him to get his head right and bounce back in this game. The Giants much improved defense will be a tough match for this Washington team, but I believe they can push through it and take this contest. What we know of NFC East matchups is that they are almost always close, I see the Redskins trying to get out of possibly going 0-3 to start the season and take this game in New York. I predict that Cousins will show up big for his team. Or…he might just crash and burn. We’ll find out on Sunday.
Browns (0-2) vs. Dolphins (0-2)
Preview: I feel bad because of all of my Browns bashing this season, but they are in full re-build mode and do not look like they are going to do much this season. They blew a 20-0 lead last week, and lost their second string quarterback to injury. They bring a rookie quarterback into this game to lead the charge in Cody Kessler out of USC. Then on top of that, they lost top rookie receiver Corey Coleman to a broken hand in practice on Wednesday. Poor Hue Jackson, I like the guy, an old school no nonsense type of coach trying to reboot a broken franchise. He keeps taking blow after blow this season, I just hope that they give him the chance he deserves to try and build his team in Cleveland. The Dolphins, who have struggled both on offense and defense this year will come into this game looking to bounce back and get the offense clicking on all cylinders. Look for the Dolphins to win this game by at least two touchdowns.
Ravens (2-0) vs. Jaguars (0-2)
Preview: This game was another interesting call for me to make, you see, I put my faith in the Jaguars last week against the Chargers and they got blown out, and the Ravens almost lost to the Browns after going down 20-0 so I have my reservations about both teams. I actually see this one being a close game that could go either way. The Ravens look the better of the two, and have actually won a game this season. I am loving the Flacco to Wallace connection that is building up in Baltimore so I look to them to secure this victory. But WATCH OUT, Bortles and co. are due for a break out game, he is too talented and those young receivers are ready to go nuts. This just might be the game that rights the ship for the Jaguars, but I think that the experience of the Ravens will be the difference in this one.
Lions (1-1) vs. Packers (1-1)
Preview: What I want to happen and what I think will happen are two different things this week to consider in this matchup. I have grown tired of the Packers dominance of the NFC North over the past few years, and nothing would bring a smile to my face more than to see them go to 1-2 after this matchup with the Lions in Week 3. Now that’s my wish, but honestly I just do not see that happening. Yes, Aaron Rodgers has struggled, and yes the defense has not looked great, but this team is way too talented to keep sliding. I see the Packers picking up the win this week on the arm of Rodgers and the hands of Jordy Nelson in Green Bay to get back on track. The Lions lost a heart breaker last week against the Titans and they are looking to bring it to the Packers in this game. Stafford has been great in his last few meetings with the Packers so don’t expect this team to be pushed over. The loss of Abdullah will hurt them, but they will still put up a fight. I expect this game to be a close one with the Packers coming away with the victory.
Broncos (2-0) vs. Bengals (1-1)
Preview: The hard opening schedule continues for the Bengals this week as the Broncos come to town in this week 3 matchup. The Bengals, who opened the season with the Jets and the Steelers take on a Broncos team that has continued their great run of form from last season. The Broncos aren’t much to look at on offense, but dang, that DEFENSE tho. Von Miller is worth every penny of his new contract and has looked like an early season MVP candidate (yea I said it). The Broncos have committed to C.J. Anderson as their lead back and it has paid off with him getting off to a fast start this year with 166 yards on the ground, 66 through the air and 3 total touchdowns. I see the Broncos pounding this one out and getting the victory in Cincinnati. I like the Bengals, they are my brother’s favorite team, but they have struggled offensively, and I just don’t see them getting it done against this Broncos defense. The Bengals will be the best 1-2 team in football, and I will keep them in my top 15 in week 3 power rankings barring a huge blowout by the Broncos.
Rams (1-1) vs. Buccaneers (1-1)
Preview: Another intriguing matchup this week between the Rams and the Buccaneers in Tampa Bay. I was eating my words this past week when my hometown team the Rams were able to upset the Seahawks in LA for their first win back in the City of Angels. Now 9-3 is not a very exciting score line by any means, but a win is a win, especially in your division. I see the Rams getting jump started this week on offense behind their star running back Todd Gurley. He is due for a big game, and I believe this is the one. The Buccaneers do not have the talent on defense to just pack in the box on the Rams, and Gurley will be able to run a bit more than he has in past games. This will take the pressure off of Case Keenum and allow him to hit open receivers. The Buc’s who I have labeled “the Builders” because of their young talent, were hit by injury news to Doug Martin this week as he is due to miss a couple of weeks. They will try to depend on the arm of Winston, but I think this Ram’s defensive line will give him trouble and cause turnovers. I see this contest going in favor of Los Angeles.
49ers (1-1) vs. Seahawks (1-1)
Preview: Two NFC West teams battle in Seattle (no rhyme intended) this week as the 49ers take on the Seahawks. Both teams won their first games of the year only to lose last week as they both went against strong defenses. Seattle shocked the world by losing to the Rams in LA last week, and they look to try and bounce back in this game. The Niners have really played poorly on offense this year putting up awful numbers as Gabbert has little talent surrounding him. The Seattle defense is too good to lose in this game and they will shut down this 49er offense in route to a win at home. Wilson did not look himself last week, but he faces easier opposition this week, and as his ankle continues to heal we will see more and more of his game changing abilities start to come out. As a result, we will see more impressive score lines from the Seahawks.
Jets (1-1) vs. Chiefs (1-1)
Preview: Another candidate for game of the week, as the Chiefs face off at home against the New York Jets. Both teams have looked great at moments this season in route to their 1-1 records. The Chiefs have a big boost this week as it looks like Jamaal Charles will return from injury in this game, he is not likely to carry the workload alone with Spencer War likely to take on much of the carries as well. This will be a close game in Kansas City, with two journeyman quarterbacks in Fitzpatrick and Smith looking to bring playoffs (and hopefully more) to their respective franchises. Matt Forte has been on a tear as of late and is a must start in fantasy again at this point in the season, but I believe that in this matchup the Chiefs have the slight edge defensively and will ultimately win this game. The Chiefs’ struggles have been on offense this season, but with the return of Charles they are going to continue to get better. Alex Smith will have a big game connecting with Maclin and the Chiefs will win a close one at home.
Chargers (1-1) vs. Colts (0-2)
Preview: This matchup between the Colts and the Chargers looks to be a good contest in which two gun-slinging quarterbacks go against each other in week 3. The Chargers are unlucky, they should be 2-0 going into this week but they lost a heart breaker in week one against a good Chiefs team, then they blew out the Jaguars last week without star wide out Keenan Allen. This past week they lost Danny Woodhead for the season, but they are liking what they are seeing from Melvin Gordon and he will take on the bulk of the carries this week in Indy. Luck tried to rally his team last week against the Broncos, but ultimately came up short and his team has gone 0-2 to start this season. The Colts will do all that they can in order to avoid going 0-3 and we will see improvements on both sides of the ball this week as the Colts will be able to pull this one out at home. Rivers has looked fantastic in the first two weeks, but I believe that teams will start to catch on to these receivers and this will be a harder game for the Chargers. Luck will be the difference in this game and will put the team on his back and will them to victory.
Steelers (2-0) vs. Eagles (2-0)
Preview: It’s the battle for the best in Pennsylvania as the Steelers take on the Eagles in Philadelphia this week. Pittsburgh has looked great through two games, winning in solid fashion in week one against the Redskins and an impressive win against the Bengals in Week 2. Ben Roethlisberger looked poor last week as he threw a pair of interceptions, but ultimately got the job done and won the victory for his team. This week they take on an Eagles team that has looked impressive with their rookie signal caller Carson Wentz under center. Wentz has been efficient and full of confidence in his first two games against the Browns and Bears. This week is different, he faces a very strong Steelers team who are Super Bowl contenders. Personally, I do not think this game will be even close. Look for the Steelers to jump out to an early lead with Antonio Brown returning to form, and DeAngelo Williams dominating on the ground. The Steelers will win by two touchdowns or more.
Bears (0-2) vs. Cowboys (1-1)
Preview: America’s team will be at home this week against a Bears team who were embarrassed by the Eagles this past week on Monday Night Football. Wentz went to work on the Bears on Monday getting the easy win for the Eagles. They face yet another rookie quarterback in Dak Prescott this week in Dallas. Prescott has been very impressive in his first two starts for the Cowboys this season earning his first win last week against a good Redskins team. Prescott set the rookie record for most pass attempts without an interception (75) and he does not seem likely to be slowed down this week against a depleted Bears team. Jay Cutler took himself out of the game on Monday with an injury to his hand and it looks like he will miss this week’s Sunday Night game against the Cowboys. I love this matchup for the Cowboys as I believe it will be a great game to open up the playbook for Dak and get the offense scoring more touchdowns. Expect Dez Bryant to be heavily involved in the game plan again, and Ezekiel Elliott is my breakout candidate for this game, he will go for over 100 yards on the ground in this game in which the Cowboys will win. Prediction: Dak will throw his first NFL touchdown pass. Elliott will run for 100+ yards on the ground.
MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL GAME
Falcons (1-1) vs. Saints (0-2)
Preview: Yet another great game looking to happen this week in New Orleans as the Falcons come to town to take on the Saints. Both quarterbacks have looked great so far this season posting good numbers in leading their teams. The Saints lost a close game to the Raiders in week one and then again in week 2 to the Giants. The Falcons, led by the Matt Ryan to Julio Jones connection are favorites to win this game, but I think that Drew Brees will be on his game this week and will prevent the Falcons from grabbing a win in New Orleans. He deserves to be 2-0 at this point, but has not been able to finish the win in each of the first two games. I believe this one will be a high scoring matchup between these two teams, but the Saints will pull away in the end and grab their first win of the season on Monday Night Football.