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Duke's Game Picks: Week Three

Week two was bad. Just bad. Can I turn it around in week three?

He deserves the front page after last week's performance.
He deserves the front page after last week's performance.
Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

Yikes! What a week. A record of 7-9 is not good, but let's be honest about it: this NFL season is weird. Seattle and Indianapolis both played in last season's conference championship games and both are 0-2 this season. The Ravens look like a mess on offense and are 0-2. The Buccaneers and a rookie QB went into the Superdome and beat the Saints. The Browns are in contention The Titans and Jaguars picked 2nd and 3rd respectively in the draft and now are tied for the AFC South lead. Like I said... weird.

Washington at New York Giants

In both games the Giants have played, they have given up the game in the final minutes. That can't happen again can it? Nope! The Redskins have displayed some offensive prowess on the ground, leading the league in rushing. Kirk Cousins looks decent at the QB position and continues to run the quick passing game well. The Redskins come in on a short week and take it to the Giants with a possible share of the NFC East lead on the line for them. Wait... what?

Redskins 20 - Giants 17

Atlanta at Dallas

Two teams at 2-0 but heading in different directions. The Cowboys lost Dez Bryant and Tony Romo in consecutive weeks. That's going to hurt their offense. Matt Ryan and Julio Jones are going to hurt their defense. The loss of Dallas' two best offensive players will be too much to overcome at this point and Atlanta's offense will give them enough to get over the edge.

Falcons 24 - Cowboys 14


Indianapolis at Tennessee

This amounts to a must-win game for the Colts. They surely can't expect to compete for a championship with an 0-3 start. Everyone has jumped on the Andrew Luck bandwagon. But if quarterbacks were the only reason teams won a title, then Green Bay would get the ring every season. The Colts' offensive line is offensive and so is their defense. They catch a little bit of break here with a rookie QB. However, they've been lit up by Ryan Fitzmagic and Tyrod Taylor. Plus the Titans are 6th in the league in rushing while the Colts are tied for 23rd in run defense. I think the Titans hang on at home and sends the Colts and the #MagicalQBWorld into a panic. This doesn't really qualify for upset of the week because, well, the Titans have the better record. But of all the games this week, it's the best looking choice.

Titans 20 - Colts 17

Oakland at Cleveland

The Browns and Raiders look frisky in some big home victories and one of these teams will leave this week with a winning record. Unless they tie, which is totally not out of the question for these teams. But where's the fun in that? Josh McCown is starting for the Browns, so there's that in favor of the Raiders. But it's a west coast team traveling east to play a 1:00 EST game. The Raiders are improving, but not enough to overcome that factor. Advantage: home team.

Browns 20 - Raiders 14

Cincinnati at Baltimore

Another 0-2 team on the precipice of disaster, the Ravens need to find a way to win against the Bengals. Unfortunately, they won't as their offense isn't good enough right now. The Bengals have a solid defense and an offense good enough to overcome the Ravens defense.

Bengals 24 - Ravens 21

Jacksonville at New England*

If this game had been in Jacksonville, it would be more interesting. The Jaguars beat our Dolphins last week, but it took a perfect storm of penalties and miscues from the Dolphins for that to happen. Unless the Patriots* forget they have a game, they should take care of business at home.

Patriots 38* - Jacksonville 17

New Orleans at Carolina

I almost picked this as the upset of the week. Cam Newton would LOVE to have Miami's 2012 WR unit right now. His receiving weapons are Greg Olsen and... that's it. However, the Saints' defense is still the Saints' defense and Drew Brees is banged up and may not play. If he doesn't play, Carolina gets to 3-0. If he does play, Carolina still gets to 3-0. You can't lose to the Bucs AT HOME and expect to the get the nod over Cam Newton and the Panthers defense.

Panthers 24 - Saints 14

Philadelphia at New York Jets

If you looked at this game on the schedule before the season and thought one team would be 2-0 and the other 0-2, you would have been correct. You probably would have gotten the teams wrong though. Fans complain that the Dolphins abandon the run game too early. The Eagles have forgotten it completely. There are four QBs in the NFL with more rushing yards than the entire Eagles offense. You know, the one with DeMarco Murray, Ryan Mathews, and Darren Sproles? Tony Romo had more yards on one rush last week than the Eagles accomplished all game. Now they have to face the Jets' stout run defense? Have fun with that Chip. Sam Bradford is on pace for 712 pass attempts which is 15 shy of the all time record. He's facing a tough secondary this week. This could get ugly.

Jets 24 - Eagles 17

Tampa Bay at Houston

The Bucs stole a win in New Orleans last week. It helps that the Saints have a weak to non-existent pass rush. Not so for the Texans. The Bucs O-line is bad and they get the J.J. Watt-Jadaveon Clowney combo this week. Watt may set the record for sacks in a single game this week. If not, it's because he was triple teamed or taken out of the game early due to the mercy rule. Clowney will pick up the slack if Watt is somehow neutralized. This WILL get ugly for the Bucs.

Texans 21 - Buccaneers 10

San Diego at Minnesota

This is a tough game to predict. The Chargers may be a little better overall than the Vikings, but they have to travel east for a 1:00 EST game and that never bodes well, especially in consecutive weeks. Otherwise, it's an even matchup in my opinion. I'm thinking a close game where the home team takes a tight win.

Vikings 24 - Chargers 21

Pittsburgh at St. Louis

I fully expected the Rams to have a let down game against the Redskins after their week one win over Seattle. They have another tough game against a Steelers offense that can and will put up a bunch of points. The Rams have a formidable front, but their secondary isn't good at all. Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown should feast. The Rams will put up points on a bad Steelers defense, but it won't be enough. Le'Veon Bell returns this week and that's enough to put the Steelers well over the edge.

Steelers 35 - Rams 21

San Francisco at Arizona

Arizona looks down right nasty right now. They are a contender as long as Carson Palmer stays healthy. The 49ers got a big win opening weekend, but were pummeled by the Steelers in week 2. They just lost too much talent to contend, especially with a dangerous Cardinals team playing at home.

Cardinals 35 - 49ers 20

Chicago at Seattle

Seattle strong safety Kam Chancellor ended his holdout this week and the Legion of Boom gets it's enforcer back. His reward? He and that defense get to face Jimmy Clausen at home. Seattle gets back on track this week.

Seahawks 31 - Bears 14

Denver at Detroit

It appears that Matthew Stafford will play this week after getting banged up against the Vikings last week, His reward? Facing a Denver defense that likes to get after the passer. Peyton Manning isn't PEYTON MANNING anymore, but he'll do enough to get the win over Stafford and whoever his backup is.

Broncos 27 - Lions 21


Kansas City at Green Bay

The Chiefs lost a heartbreaker at home to the Broncos, but look to rebound against the Packers. The Chiefs defense facing Aaron Rodgers will be a fun matchup to watch. On the other side, Jamaal Charles will look to make amends for that costly fumble and will face a Packers defense that has allowed 308 yards rushing this season (only Cleveland has allowed more). Fun matchups everywhere.

Packers 28 - Chiefs 21

Buffalo at Miami

It has been said, but not nearly enough: 13 penalties for 112 yards. That's what Miami managed to pull off against the Jaguars. You can't win against ANY team when you give away free yards like that. The Dolphins scored on their opening drive of the second half. Then managed to ruin everything with those penalties and negative plays. Each failed drive in the second half had at least one down of over 10 yards. That CANNOT happen and expect to win. The offensive line crumbled late forcing Tannehill to run for his life. To Tannehill's credit, he did all he could to drag this team to a win, but they wouldn't let him. This was epitomized in a 4th quarter drive where Tannehill was sacked in less than 2 seconds after the line totally collapsed. After a delay of game penalty, it was 2nd and 23. He fires a 17 yard pass to Rishard Matthews to make it 3rd and 6. Then the normally sure handed Jarvis Landry can't hang on to the pass on a slant forcing 4th down. That was the kind of day it was for Tannehill and the Dolphins. Road games are always tough in the NFL and you can't make a bunch of mistakes and expect to win on the road. If the team makes fewer mistakes on some of those drives, they likely win at Jacksonville.

Now they come home to face a Bills team that has many fans nervous. The Bills have a formidable front and much will depend on whether Branden Albert plays or not. If not, then Jason Fox gets the call and that could be bad. The Dolphins have faced this front before however and beat them. Last year, in a Thursday night home game, the Dolphins beat the Bills 22-9. They rushed for 125 yards on 24 carries, led by Lamar Miller with 86 on 15 carries (5.7 YPC). They did this with arguably a worse offensive line. Yes, Rex Ryan is a good defensive coach, but it's still blocking and tackling. If the Dolphins did it before, they can do it again. Another positive for the Dolphins is they have upgraded the receiving weapons. Rishard Matthews is at the very least, an upgrade over Brian Hartline. He and Tannehill are on the same page. Jarvis Landry is still doing his thing. The biggest addition has been Jordan Cameron. He's on pace for a 1000+ yard season. Unfortunately, he, along with Albert and Lamar Miller, was listed on Wednesday's injury report as a DNP or "did not participate". That's bad news on all fronts. However, if Cameron cannot play, then that opens the door for Miami to break out DeVante Parker. The last time he faced Bills CB Ronald Darby, he had 8 catches for 214 yards.

On the other side, the Bills looked like world beaters against the Colts. But that was against a bad defense at home with a raucous crowd. They were humbled against the Patriots*, but that's not unusual. New QB Tyrod Taylor has looked decent, but did throw 3 INTs against the Pats* secondary. The Pats* also picked up 8 sacks last week. The Bills are banged up too on offense with LeSean McCoy and Percy Harvin listed as DNP on the injury list. They were rested in hopes of keeping them as healthy as possible for the game.

This game will come down to injuries. If Miller, Albert, and/or Cameron cannot play, it will be tough for the Dolphins. Ultimately, I see Miller and Cameron at least trying to go. DeVante Parker will need to be the guy to step up for Miami. It's time young fella! The secondary is the most vulnerable part of the Bills defense that doesn't have too many deficiencies. Tannehill will need to attack it. On defense, the Dolphins finally need to assert themselves. The Bills' O-line isn't bad, but it still isn't great by any means. They finally need to get some pressure. The Pats* defensive line isn't more talented than Miami's, so now's the time for them to make something happen. The linebackers are the biggest weakness, and Karlos Williams will be a tough back to handle, regardless of what McCoy does. Taylor is still an inexperienced QB and that means mistakes. If the front can get to him, the secondary's job SHOULD be easier. None of that has happened yet and they're running out of time to make something happen.

It's a division game at home. The game time temperature is expected to be in the low 80s, so that and the humidity should help wear down the Bills' big guys. Both teams need a win and no one really knows what Buffalo will be like on the road. Both teams have tough defensive fronts and this could turn into a defensive struggle. It's probably going to be a low scoring affair anyway.

Dolphins 20 - Bills 17

Duke's Record: 17-15-0