By Joel Deering and the Fourth Quarter Sports Staff
Overall Prediction Records:
Week 2 of the NFL had some great games for us, and we here at Fourth Quarter Sports expect much of the same in Week 3. Last week was our first week of our friendly season long competition to see who can predict the most games correctly. After the first week of picks, Adam Hatlan has the early lead on us all with a record of 11-4-1. Everyone got a tie on their record because of the Vikings and Packers game. Close behind Adam is Cullen Jekel, with 10 games predicted correctly. For the rest of us, we already have some catching up to do. Let’s take a look at all the Week 3 matchups and find out who we’ve all picked.
Jets vs Browns (Thursday)
What do we make of these two teams? The Jets score 47 points in Week 1 and look like a team to be reckoned with, but then in Week 2 they score 12 points. Cleveland almost came away with a win in Week 1 against the Steelers, but ended up tying. They also came close to a victory over the Saints, but were plagued by their kicking. They released their kicker, so hopefully that phase of their game is better. Despite not having a win yet, the Browns look competitive. They’ve been in both games they’ve played, which have both been against playoff teams from last season. Can they get it right this week? Most of us think so.
Bills vs Vikings
I think it’s pretty obvious as to why we’re all picking the Vikings to beat the Bills. I can see rookie QB Josh Allen getting eaten alive by this defense. They didn’t play their best against Aaron Rodgers, but does anyone? There’s a big difference between Rodgers and Allen. I’m not sure if my fellow writers will agree with me on this, but I’m going to predict multiple turnovers for the rookie QB, which will set up the Vikings with good field position and easy scores. The Bills look like they’re going to be one of the worst teams this season. Don’t forget they had a player retire at half time of their game last week too.
Giants vs Texans
Did you see Eli Manning get destroyed by the Dallas Cowboys Sunday night? Dallas had 6 sacks and 8 QB hits in that game. Now he’ll have to go against JJ Watt and friends. Surprisingly though, the Texans have only 3 sacks in their first two games. They’ll need to get a little more pressure on Eli if they want him to feel as uncomfortable as he did last week. For the Texans’ offense, it’s about protecting Deshaun Watson. The offensive line has given up 7 sacks this season, but the good news is that they’re facing a Giants defense who has only recorded 1 sack. The weapons Watson has are far more dangerous than those of Dak Prescott’s, so with a little time, Watson should be able to make some big plays.
Packers vs Redskins
Aaron Rodgers almost gave us another miracle win last week, but the field goal that would have won the game was missed. Rodgers was hobbled by his injury and didn’t have the best game, but when they needed to him to perform at a high level, he did. That should be the case again against the Redskins. This Redskins offense didn’t look great against the Colts last week, scoring only 9 points. If you do that, you’re losing to Rodgers every time. It looks like we all think Aaron Rodgers, even an injured Aaron Rodgers will be too much for the Redskins this week.
49ers vs Chiefs
How many TDs will Patrick Mahomes throw this week? 7? 8? Okay, maybe he’ll only throw 4. I say that as if 4 isn’t a lot. Here’s what’s interesting about the Chiefs: Their offense has scored the most points in the NFL so far, but their defense has given up the fourth most points. If they ever have a bad offensive day, it doesn’t look like the defense will help them out much. Are the 49ers going to be able to slow down Mahomes? The defense hasn’t been necessarily bad so far, but it hasn’t been great either. Last week they allowed Matthew Stafford to throw for 347 yards and 3 TDs. They’ll have to figure something out if they’re going to stop Mahomes, Kelce, Hill and company.
Raiders vs Dolphins
Miami is 2-0. Surprise! Not trying to take credit away from them, but their two victories have been over the Titans and Jets, who haven’t been the strongest teams this year. Now they play the Raiders, who don’t have a win yet. Oakland has played well at times, but they can’t put together a complete game. For example, they hung in there with the Rams for a half, but then got destroyed. They almost beat the Broncos, but couldn’t do enough when it mattered most. Will the Dolphins continue their surprising start to the season? Can the Raiders play a complete game?
Colts vs Eagles
Most of us picked the Colts to lose to the Redskins last week, but they surprised us with a 21-9 victory. There are still concerns about Andrew Luck, for me at least. Luck has always throw a lot of interceptions, and he’s still doing it. He may have been able to get away with throwing 2 INTs against the Redskins, but he probably won’t get away with it against the Philadelphia Eagles. The Eagles look to be getting stronger with the return of QB Carson Wentz this week, but we’ll see how he performs. Even if he doesn’t have a great game, the Eagles should be carried by their defense.
Titans vs Jaguars
The Titans got tricky on us last week by pulling off a fake punt for a TD, which helped them beat the Houston Texans. We’re not so sure the Jaguars will fall for that if they try to pull it again. Jacksonville is coming off a huge victory over the Patriots, so their confidence has to be high right now. They’ve got one of the best defensive units in the NFL, and none of us expect them to have a tough time handling the Titans. A bright spot for the Jaguars last week was QB Blake Bortles. He threw 4 TD passes and looked like a legit QB. He probably won’t need to do that again to beat the Titans, but Jaguars fans certainly won’t mind if he does.
Bengals vs Panthers
Cincinnati has started the season off hot. After their second win, I wrote about the two biggest reasons for their 2-0 start. Those two reasons are their offensive and defensive lines. Last week against the Ravens they got after Joe Flacco. This week they face a different kind of QB in Cam Newton. It will be interesting to see if they can put the pressure on Cam and still contain him. Cam Newton has 100 yards rushing in two games. The Bengals will need to find a way to stop Cam from extending drives with his legs. The more Cam can extend drives, the greater the chances of a Panthers win.
Broncos vs Ravens
Last week the Ravens couldn’t handle the defense of the Cincinnati Bengals. They gave up 4 sacks and 8 QB hits, forcing the Ravens into several turnovers. Those turnovers really set them back. The Ravens offense better be careful this week because Von Miller and the Broncos are coming for Joe Flacco. If they can get to Flacco like the Bengals did, it could be another rough day for the Ravens. Although the Ravens did get behind in their game last week, the made a comeback attempt and at least put themselves in a position to have a chance. Joe Flacco’s weapons seem to be a lot better this year. A key to this game for the Ravens will be how well they run the ball. Last week their leading rusher ran for 35 yards. It’s easier to run the ball when you’re not playing down 21 points in the first half.
Saints vs Falcons
The Saints are lucky they didn’t take a loss against the Browns. A couple missed kicks turned into makes and they’d be 0-2. There hasn’t been a whole lot to be excited about with the Saints this year. Alvin Kamara hasn’t been running the ball well, and the defense hasn’t looked that great. Where the Saints have been good is in the passing game. QB Drew Brees has completed 81.3% of his passes, which earned himself a spot on my Week 2 MVP list. He and WR Michael Thomas seem to have a real connection. Thomas is leading all receivers with 28 receptions, and he’s also second in receiving yards with 269. Atlanta struggled in Week 1 against the Eagles, but bounced back nicely against the Panthers, scoring 31 points. QB Matt Ryan had 4 total TDs (2 passing and 2 rushing). Not having Devonta Freeman didn’t seem to hurt them much, as RB Tevin Coleman ran for 107 yards on 16 carries. Will the Falcons be able to stay hot on offense?
Chargers vs Rams
The battle of the LA teams is upon us! The Chargers rebounded nicely against the Buffalo Bills last week to get to 1-1 after being shredded by Patrick Mahomes in Week 1. Now they face a Rams offense who currently ranks fifth in scoring. Does the fact that they gave up 20 points to the Bills concern anyone else? It’s obvious this defense is missing Joey Bosa. They have 6 sacks on the season so far, but with Bosa it’d likely be 9 or 10. They need that pressure on opposing QBs. It’s going to be tough to get that pressure on Jared Goff when they have to focus on stopping Todd Gurley.
Bears vs Cardinals
So the Cardinals scored 0 points last week. Sam Bradford has been complete trash. In two games, Bradford has 243 passing yards, a completion percentage of 60.7%, 0 TD passes, 2 INTs, and a passer rating of 55.6. Maybe it’s time to make the switch to rookie QB Josh Rosen?? Regardless of who the QB is for the Cardinals, it’s going to be tough against the Bears. Chicago currently leads the NFL in sacks (10). Khalil Mack and his teammates are a force to be reckoned with, and it’s likely they’ll have a field day against the Arizona Cardinals.
Cowboys vs Seahawks
This game should be interesting. Seattle hasn’t won a game yet, while the Dallas Cowboys are 1-1, but haven’t looked great offensively. The winner of this game will likely be whoever takes advantage of the other teams’ weaknesses the most. In Week 1 against the Carolina Panthers, Cam Newton was able to keep his team on the field by using his legs. The Cowboys’ defense was pretty good against the pass, but they couldn’t seem to stop Newton until it was too late. Now they face Russell Wilson, who can also pick up a lot of yards with his legs. Can Russell Wilson make enough plays with his legs to keep his offense on the field? For the Dallas Cowboys, this matchup is all about their defensive line making plays. They currently rank 2nd in the league with 9 sacks. The Seahawks have given up 12 sacks in two games, which is the most in the NFL. Can Dallas take advantage of the bad offensive line in Seattle and contain Russell Wilson?
Patriots vs Lions (Sunday Night)
Lions Head Coach Matt Patricia faces his old team this week. I bet he wishes the first two weeks would have gone a lot better leading up to this game. Last week the Patriots struggled against the Jaguars and that tough defense. The Lions’ defense has been anything but tough so far this season. In two games they’ve allowed 78 points, which is tied with the Bills for the most points allowed so far. The next closest team is the Saints, who have allowed 66 points on the season. New England has recently acquired WR Josh Gordon from the Browns, which seems to make them stronger. If he will play in this game, I don’t know, but I do know we’d all love to see him play with Tom Brady. After a tough loss to a tough defense last week, it doesn’t look like the Patriots will have trouble with the Lions.
Steelers vs Buccaneers (Monday Night)
If the Steelers scored 37 points against any other team in the league last week, they would have had a victory. Unfortunately for them they played against red hot QB Patrick Mahomes of the Chiefs. Now they play red hot Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Will Fitzpatrick continue to take the league by storm and shred the Steelers? The key for the Steelers is to find a balance of productive running and passing. In Week 1, James Conner ran for 135 yards and 2 TDs, but it was Roethlisberger who plagued the Steelers with his 3 INTs. Last week was the opposite, as Roethlisberger threw 3 TD passes and scored a rushing TD, but the Steelers only had 33 total rushing yards. Pittsburgh needs to do well in both the running and passing game, not one or the other. If they can do that, they might be able to keep Fitzmagic off the field long enough to get a win.