Reid Fischer's World of Rants

Looking at the sports world through orange colored glasses

Week Three Picks

Posted by mizzou1028 on September 19, 2008

It never fails every year, the NFL offers us surprise after surprise.  Early 2-0 teams include the Cardinals, the Titans, the Broncos and the Panthers.  This does not mean any of them are guaranteed a spot in the playoffs (the Broncos actually started 2-0 last year too before finishing 7-9), but it does go with the theme of things turning upside down every year in the NFL. 

Meanwhile, THREE of my playoff picks, Minnesota, Jacksonville and San Diego sit 0-2, in addition to another team expected to do well by many (but not by me), the Browns.  Each of these teams has its entire season on the line already here in week three.  Just because any of these teams began 0-2, it does not mean that they are down and out.  In fact, one win can be all it takes to get things jump started.  I bring this up because the Giants started 0-2 last year after a tough loss at Dallas in week one and getting blown out at home by Green Bay in week two.  The Giants were staring 0-3 in the face with trip to Washington to play the division rival Redskins, and found themselves up by seven with 58 seconds to play, and the Redskins with first and goal at the 1.  The G-men were desperate.  A Redskins touchdown would send the game into overtime, and the fate of New York’s season could very well have depended on a coin toss to determine possession in overtime.  The Giants could have easily folded but the didn’t:

– First and Goal: Jason Campbell spikes the ball to stop the clock

– Second and Goal: Jason Campbell fade route to the corner of the end zone incomplete, well defended

– Third and Goal: Ladell Betts run for no gain, Giants defense steps up

– Fourth and Goal: The Giants defense blows up the line of scrimmage, stopping Clinton Portis for a two yard loss to preseve the win and save the season. 

The Giants win in Washington jump started a six game winning streak and sent them on their way to season that culminated in a Super Bowl victory.  Now, this is not to say that any of the 0-2 teams are guaranteed to have that kind of run if they pull out a win Sunday, but it does show that they are not necessarily dead and buried just yet.  One win is all it can take to jump start a season.  I suppose this could also apply to Miami, Kansas City, Cincinnati and St. Louis, who all sit at 0-2, but let’s not get too carried away here.  The teams mentioned above with playoff expectations are good teams that have simply stubbed their toe early and still have enough talent to rebound.  Bad teams are just bad and they have dug themselves a hole for a reason. 

 Now on to the picks.  We haven’t exactly been stellar the first two weeks but it’s still early. 

Last Week: 8-7 (.533)   Season: 17-14 (.548)

– Bills over Raiders: The Bills are quickly emerging as the surprise team of 2008.  If you take a look at their early season schedule, they could be a very hot team indeed.  Last week’s tough road win in Jacksonville proved the Bills are a team to be reckoned with.  The Raiders? Lane Kiffin is still very much on the hot seat, and let’s be honest: a win in Kansas City doesn’t really count right now.

– Patriots over Dolphins: It’s amazing really.  The Patriots never cease to amaze me.  Every time I think they’re done, they go and pull out a win they’re not supposed to.  It really doesn’t seem fair they get to take advantage of this complete mismatch on Sunday.  Is this perhaps a week Bill Belichick opens up the offense for Matt Cassel? The Dolphins seem like they’re playing for 2010, not 2008. 

– Giants over Bengals: The Giants continue to prove everyone wrong who said they were not going to return to the playoffs this season.  They went on the road last week, in a trap game to boot, and blew the Rams out of the stadium.  Now they get a Bengals team that has no identity whatsoever right now and is coming into a hornet’s nest.  Where exactly has Chad Johnson (or Ocho Cinco whatever the hell he is called now) disappeared to anyway? The only question here is the margin of victory for the G-men.

– Ravens over Browns: One of my upset picks of the week.  The Ravens are coming off an unexpected bye and will get Willis McGahee back.  The Browns offense has sputtered for a whopping 16 points in two games, and now gets the Ravens ballhawking defense on the road?  The Ravens at 2-0 seems bizarre and very misleading, but I don’t see how the Browns will be able to move the ball on them.  Yes, the Browns are desperate and their season is on the line, but this never had the feel of a contending team this year.  The Brady Quinn watch is on along Lake Erie.

– Eagles over Steelers: One of the top two games of the week without question.  I’ve gone back and forth on this game so much, I might as well flip a coin to make the pick.  Pittsburgh is clearly one of the top teams in the AFC, especially on the defensive side of the ball.  Philadelphia showed it can plays with the big boys in Dallas, and their offense is averaging 36 points over the first two games.  It’s really the unstoppable force versus the immovable object here.  I say home field advantage sways the unstoppable force and the Eagles offense to a win by a field goal.

– Titans over Texans: Tennessee would improve to 3-0 with a win, which would have to rank among the season’s early surprises.  The Titans defense has been terrific in the early going, which is a trademark of a Jeff Fisher coached team.  Kerry Collins gave a serviceable performance at QB last week, but the Titans did struggle to move the ball against Cincinnati’s suspect defense.  The Texans should be anxious to play after last week’s surprise bye, and it would not surprise me to see them put up some points.  I still say Houston is at minimum an 8-8 team by the end of the season.  Tennessee ultimately wins this game, but an upset is not out of the realm of possibility here. 

– Jaguars over Colts: Another upset alert.  Jacksonville has nothing less than its entire season on the line here, for they can’t afford to go 0-3.  They have always played the Colts very tough, even in Indy.  The Colts offense is still struggling to find itself, and Peyton Manning will have to once again work behind a patchwork offensive line that is looking to get healthy.  Jacksonville will look to run the ball, particularly with Colts’ run stopping safety Bob Sanders out of the lineup due to injury.  Even after pulling out the win last week, the Colts still seem very vulnerable. 

– Broncos over Saints: This could very well be another high scoring game.  The Broncos are averaging 40 points a game, and they’re facing a Saints team with plenty of explosive weapons.  This is a trap game for Denver after two division games and another next week.  The Saints are coming off a loss last week and don’t want to fall to 1-2.  It will be interesting to see if the Broncos have an answer for Reggie Bush after they got carved up by Darren Sproles last week, but it will also be interesting to see if the Saints suspect secondary has an answer for Denver’s passing game.  If Santana Moss ran wild last week, I don’t think the Saints will be able to stop Marshall, Royal and company.  The Broncos at 3-0 would rank as one of the season’s early surprises for sure.

– Falcons over Chiefs: Kansas City is starting Tyler Thigpen at QB, which tells you all you need to know about this game.  KC’s one real offensive threat, Larry Johnson, is upset about the direction of the organization after two games.  Atlanta is returning home where they won in week one, and the Falcons should have enough to beat one of the struggling franchises in football.  I don’t think anyone expected Matt Ryan to start his career 2-1 before the season.  Then again, I’m sure any rookie QB would give his non-throwing arm to face the Lions and Chiefs in two of the first three games of his career. 

– Cowboys over Packers: Besides Pittsburgh-Philly, a top game of the week for sure.  The Cowboys have been arguably the best team in football through two games, and will face a Packers team that is also undefeated, and will be playing under the lights at Lambeau.  If Aaron Rodgers passes this test against the Cowboys defense, then I guess I will have to start eating crow.  I have to admit I didn’t think Rodgers would be successful especially early in the year, but he is starting to prove that wrong in a hurry.  Green Bay will benefit from the Lambeau crowd, but Dallas is a team on a mission this season.  The Cowboys will find a way to pull this one out in a high-scoring thriller.

– Cardinals over Redskins: Something seems very weird about picking Arizona to start the year 3-0, but the Cardinals seem to be finally showing that potential we’ve been hearing about for five years.  The Redskins did show some toughness coming from behind to beat the Saints last week, and they will benefit from playing at home.  This is another game I might as well flip a coin to pick really, but a hunch says the Cardinals passing game will click enough to give Arizona the W.  If Arizona wins this game on the road, we might have to acknowledge for the first time since well, maybe ever, that the Cardinals are for real.

– Bears over Buccaneers: Chicago lost a tough game on the road last week, but their defense seems to be back to the level of two years ago when they went to the Super Bowl.  Tampa Bay is a good defensive team as well, so this should be a low scoring game.  The difference will be the Bears being able to make one play than the Bucs to squeak out a win in their home opener at Soldier Field.  Frankly, I just can’t back Brian Griese on the road.

– 49ers over Lions: Last week San Francisco made me have confidence in my pick that they would be playoff team this year.  As J.T. O’Sullivan settles into the Mike Martz offense, we should see his numbers begin to climb.  The Lions have been dreadful defensively the first two games, so the Niners should be able to rack up the points in this one.  It seems impossible to really back Detroit in any scenerio until they prove they can stop making silly mistakes throughout a game.

– Vikings over Panthers: Minnesota has already hit the panic button, yanking Tarvaris Jackson for Gus Frerotte under center.  The Vikings will be playing at home, and they do have their season on the line in this one, for it would be very difficult to climb out of an 0-3 hole (especially with a trip to Tennessee next week).  The Panthers get Steve Smith back, which should actually help their offense, and Jake Delhomme is playing very well after Tommy John surgery in the offseason, but the Vikings are desperate team playing at home, and Minnesota pulls the mini-upset. 

– Seahawks over Rams: This is much more a pick against the Rams than it is for the Seahawks.  Seattle is a mess at the wide receiver position.  The Seahawks are so banged up there they had to sign Koren Robinson off the street and make a trade for Keary Colbert, who wasn’t being activated on game day in Denver.  Both will get significant time this week, which makes me wonder if the Seahawks will have any cohesion at all offensively.  Yes, the Rams have been awful the last two games, but it’s not like the Seahawks have been anything to write home about.  Seattle gets the win because they’re playing at home, but this will be a very sloppy game and an upset would not come as a complete shock if the Rams offense gets in any kind of rhythm. 

– Chargers over Jets: In the Monday nighter, San Diego goes with the weekend theme of a desperate team with their season on the line already.  The Chargers have suffered two heartbreaking losses in the first two weeks, and are certainly way too talented to end up at 0-3.  LT’s toe could be a lingering issue all year, but Darren Sproles has proven he can be a playmaker.  Brett Favre isn’t exactly going to be afraid of playing on the road, but the emotion of the home crowd and the desperation of the Chargers makes this a no-win for the Jets this week.

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2 Responses to “Week Three Picks”

  1. Angie said

    One question: what is a trap game?

    Seems like you were right on with a lot of these! 🙂

  2. mizzou1028 said

    A trap game is a game that looks easy on paper but in reality ends up being a game that poses a real threat, hence being a “trap” game. In many cases it is a game that sits between two big games and may be game that doesn’t seem as big on paper. The “trap” phrase comes from there being a good chance a team may lose a game its not supposed to.

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