Site Editor Matt Loede’s NFL Picks for Week 3

Brian Westbrook 

Back for another week of picks as week four is upon us. Last week a healthy 8-6-1, bringing my 2007 totals to 21-22-2. Here are my selections for week four.

Baltimore (-4) at Cleveland:

The Ravens held on against the Cards last week, playing a sloppy fourth quarter. The Browns were a blocked field goal away from being 2-1, but had no business winning that game in Oakland anyway. Look for the Ravens to exploit the Browns poor run defense, which allowed chunks of yards to the Raiders last Sunday. The Browns will look to start faster than a week ago, as they were down 16-0 before waking up vs the Raiders. Baltimore has too much defense here and should be able to shut down the Browns without too much effort. Baltimore 21 Cleveland 10

Chicago (-3) at Detroit:

The Rex-periment in Chicago is finally over, as Rex Grossman will watch this game from the bench. Good. The Bears are still a very good team, but can’t win with “Rexy Back” making numerous mistakes week in and week out. Look for Brian Griese to give the Bears a lift. The other big concern though is the Bears defense, which is possibly going to be missing CB’s Nathan Vasher and Charles Tillman. DT Tommie Harris and OLB Lance Briggs also is hurt and could be missing the game or at least not be 10 percent. Detroit is putting up 345 yards a game in the air, and I look for them to attack and try to challenge the Bears downfield. Call it a hunch, but I like the Lions at home. Detroit 20 Chicago 17

Green Bay (-1.5) at Minnesota:

The Packers are turning into the 2006 Saints, a team that has stunned their first three opponents, and is starting to get noticed. This is all going to be on Brett Favre, as despite being 3-0, the Packers have no run game whatsoever. Plus the Vikings stop the run as good as anyone, so it likely wouldn’t have mattered anyway. Minnesota might need to get some more offense going here, as last week they were in the mud vs the Chiefs with Kelly Holcomb under center. I think despite that, we’ll see a big game from Adrian Peterson and the Packers will play down to the Vikings level. Minnesota 19 Green Bay 14

Houston (-3) at Atlanta:

The return of Matt Schaub to Atlanta comes at a bittersweet time for the Falcons, as they look to be one of the worst teams in the league. They finally got some offense last week, but DeAngelo Hall played like a spoiled rich kid, costing the Falcons big yards on a critical drive in a 27-20 loss to Carolina. Look for the Texans D-line to feast on the bad Atlanta O-line, halting the running game and harassing Joey Harrington into numerous mistakes and sacks. Schaub is poised to want to beat his former team, and even without Andre Johnson and Jacoby Jones, he should be able to get it done. Houston 23 Atlanta 13

New York Jets (-3.5) at Buffalo:

Smells like a trap game here, as the Bills sorely need a win and the Jets are a team coming off a win vs Miami. The Bills offense right now though is so bad, and this week Trent Edwards gets the start at QB, which means the gameplan for New York will be to rattle him and force mistakes. The Jets run game got on track vs Miami, and you can expect a heavy dose of Thomas Jones vs the Bills here. The Bills are last in the league in total offense and total defense, and the Jets realize that and won’t fall asleep at the wheel here. New York 30 Buffalo 17

Oakland at Miami (-4):

Dolphins linebacker Joey Porter has guaranteed a win here for the Dolphins, but Raiders QB Daunte Culpepper wants some sweet revenge against his old team. Look for Culpepper to start, have some success, but mostly enjoy watching the running of Lamont Jordan, who has been impressive in three games for the Raiders. We’ll also see plenty of Ronnie Brown, who had his best day of the year last week vs the Jets. This is a true toss up, but I like Daunte’s chances of getting revenge on Miami, while Porter should never promise anything playing for these Fins. Oakland 17 Miami 14

St.Louis at Dallas (-13):

The Rams are so banged up on the O-line, and QB Marc Bulger played last week with broken ribs. How does St.Louis even stick around here is the big question. Can they do enough to halt the Dallas offensive attack? Likely not. Look for Tony Romo and his pals to have another solid day on offense, and for the running tandem of Marion Barber and Juilus Jones to combine for about 150 on the ground. Even with Steven Jackson the Rams would have lost, but without him it’s going to be a blood bath. Dallas 37 St.Louis 14

Denver at Indianapolis (-9.5):

The Colts are super in September, winning their last 11 games and 10 at home. The Broncos laid an egg last week and couldn’t stop the Jags running game, losing at home 23-14. Look for the Colts to try and again exploit the Broncos run defense, and then use their solid play action to catch the Broncos corners and safeties cheating against the run. Indy has played two tough AFC South teams the last two weeks, and I think here they have a breakout game vs a team that seems a bit overrated. Indianapolis 38 Denver 21

Kansas City at San Diego (-11.5):

Talk about a team that needs a breakout game, that would be the Chargers, and they might just get it here. KC is not a good team, and last week the players had to yell at the coaches to finally get them to open up the playbook. It won’t matter this week, as the Chargers will get their offense on track and begin to play better than they have in the first three weeks. Look for L.T. and Phillip Rivers to both have solid games, and for the defense to hound Damon Huard and Larry Johnson. Former Charger Donnie Edwards vs TE Antonio Gates should be fun to watch. San Diego 24 Kansas City 7

Tampa Bay at Carolina (-3):

Looks like David Carr will be going at QB for the Panthers, who last week overcame the Falcons 27-20. The Bucs stuffed the Rams in Tampa, and their defense is starting to grab some headlines. The Panthers have played well vs the Bucs, sweeping the season series last year, and Steve Smith has put up four straight 100-yard plus games vs Tampa Bay. The Carolina secondary can and will give up big plays, and Joey Galloway could take advantage of them all day. This is going to be a tight game, and will likely come down to a last second field goal. Carolina 19 Tampa Bay 16

Seattle (-2) at San Francisco:

If the 49’ers are going to win here, it’s by keeping the game in the teens scoring wise. The 49’ers offense is not very good, and they will try to get Frank Gore more carries and more yards early in the game to set the tempo. Look for Alex Smith to play it safe, and for the 49’ers 3-4 defense to try and keep it close. As for Seattle, it remains to be seen just how much Shaun Alexander’s cracked bone in his wrist is going to be an issue, but as long as he runs, the Seahawks should be okay. This will be a grind it out, close NFC West battle. Seattle 14 San Francisco 13

Pittsburgh (-6) at Arizona:

Cards coach Ken Whisenhunt goes up against his old team, and a team he thought he’d be coaching in 2007. The Steelers have gotten off to a red-hot start playing some bad teams, but they have done what they need to do and look like a contender in the AFC. Ben Roethlisberger has thrown just one pick, and his play vs his old offensive coordinator will be the key to the game. Look for Ben to use a lot of Heath Miller and Santonio Holmes, and for the defense to use tons of different looks vs either Matt Leinart or Kurt Warner. Expect the Cards to use a lot of Edgerrin James and try to wear down the Steelers. Despite that, the Pittsburgh train will keep on rolling. Pittsburgh 24 Arizona 14

Philadelphia (-3) at New York Giants:

Maybe the toughest game of the week to call, as who knows what team will show up on each side here. The Eagles got back to form last week on offense, while the Giants defense made a last minute stand and played much better. So what gives here? I still have more confidence in the Eagles offense than the Giants defense, meaning that I think Philly will score points. The Giants will struggle if WR Plaxico Burress can’t go with his ankle. They will get a boost from Brandon Jacobs being back, and he and Derrick Ward will attack the Eagles run defense. I think the Eagles are better, and will show it here. Philadelphia 23 NY Giants 13

Monday Night:

New England (-7) at Cincinnati:

The powerhouse Pats come to Cincy on Monday night, and you can bet their offense is drooling at the thought of this matchup. Cincy’s D after allowing 51 points two weeks ago played better last week, but are still a weak unit that must create turnovers in order to win. The Bengals offense knows it has to put up between 24-35 points to be close here, so look for Carson Palmer to put the weight on his shoulders to make plays, which could create some turnovers for New England. Plus the Bengals will be without RB Rudi Johnson, meaning that Palmer and his wide outs will need to cash in on every chance. Just a tough matchup for the Bengals to hold their own in. New England 31 Cincinnati 24

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