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NFL Pro Football 2010 Week 3 Picks

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Fearless Rick's NFL Week 3 Picks - Early Games

Rick Gagliano | September 26

All times Eastern - Click here for late games.

Sunday, September 26

San Francisco 49ers (-3, 36 1/2) at Kansas City 1:00 pm - On the surface, this seems like an easy pick, but isn't Kansas City suddenly 2-0 and the 49ers 0-2? Could it just be that all of the expectations around San Fran winning the West are suddenly out the window?

Doubtful. The 'Niners played a heck of a game Monday against the Saints, who are, remember, the reigning champs and a pretty good football team. The question is whether the coaching staff will be able to motivate the players on a short week in which they must also travel. Losing on Monday night and having to travel for an early game is usually the death knell and San Fran must guard against an emotional letdown. The truth of the matter is that the 49ers could lose this game and still win the NFC West, that's how bad the division is.

Say what you like about Kansas City, but they have positive momentum and that's worth three points at least no matter where you play. Being at home is worth another three and catching the 'Niners on the road off a Monday night loss is worth three more. So, in order to cover the spread here, San Francisco has to actually be almost two touchdowns better than the Chiefs. At home. In a new stadium. They're not. Beware the special teams, especially KC PR Dexter McCluster.

Prediction: Chiefs 20 49ers 17

Detroit Lions at Minnesota Vikings (-10 1/2, 42 1/2) 1:00 pm - Are we seeing the end of Brett Favre, who, like so many athletes before him (actually from an age long ago, Willie Mays and Mickey mantle played past their prime and it was not pretty) is tinkering with Father Time in a bad way?

Favre tossed three picks against a so-so Miami defense and would up on the losing end of a 14-10 score. Like the Colts and the Saints, everywhere the Vikings go, they have targets on their backs. Teams want desperately to beat them, but the beauty of playing against the spread is that sometimes you only need to be close. Minnesota lost their opener, but covered, in week one, and lost outright on a bogus line that had them a TD favorite on the road. The Vikings still have an excellent defense and Detroit can't run the ball against them, so this could easily turn out to be a rout, but the Lions showed some moxie leading early and coming back late against Philly last week.

Like it or not, Shaun Hill may be a better QB right now than Matthew Stafford, so Detroit has the benefit of at least a modicum of experience at the helm. And the Vikes are averaging a paltry 9.5 points per game, not so hot for a team that has Super Bowl expectations. We'll look back on this game and see whether this statement is right: Favre is dragging this team down and they'd be better off with Tarvaris Jackson as the starting quarterback.

Prediction: Lions 20 Vikings 14

Buffalo Bills at New England Patriots (-14 1/2, 42 1/2) 1:00 pm - The Bills are simply awful. While the coaching staff has demoted QB Trent Edwards and replaced him with Ryan Fitzpatrick, that's not going to solve the problem that really is the offensive line. These guys can't block anybody, so changing who's behind them isn't really a solution.

The Patriots will welcome the weak-kneed Bills to Foxboro after being blown away in the second half against the Jets last week. It wasn't so much that New England fell apart, but the jets' defense that really stepped up. New england will look like champions against one of the NFL's worst teams.

Prediction: Patriots 34 Bills 10

Atlanta Falcons at New Orleans Saints (-4, 50) 1:00 pm - The Saints, 2-0, are the opposite, 0-2 against the spread, but that's about to change as they do battle with a divisional foe. The Saints won both games last season, winning by a field goal at Atlanta, but registering a 35-27 win, earlier in the season, at home. The Saints are very solid when playing in front of the New Orleans faitthful; the fans have a special bond with the players that inspires great play.

New Orleans defenders got run around pretty well by the 49ers on Monday night, but found a way to win, as they usually do. The short work week stigma is negated by the fact that they're back in the Superdome, though there's certainly some concern over the absense of Reggie Bush, who will be out for an extended period, probably six weeks or longer, after suffering a broken fibula in the San Francisco game.

As for the Falcons, after being stymied by the Steelers in their road opening loss, they got the offense back on track in a big way against Arizona, winning 41-7 at home. Matt Ryan looked sharp, throwing for 225 yards and three TDs, but the Falcons will be without Jerious Norwood and wideout Micharl Jenkins. The Saints can win without Bush, and the Falcons have proven they can prosper without Norwood, who is often injured. The difference will be Drew Brees hitting multiple targets and that unique, New Orleans home field edge.

Prediction: Saints 31 Falcons 24

Tennessee Titans at NY Giants (-3, 42 1/2) 1:00 pm - Before the season began, I thought the Giants would find themselves at the bottom of the NFC East. After watching them perform against the Colts Sunday night, I am now sure of it. New York has numerous issues, from the lack of a running game to no linebackers who can run and tackle to a secondary that is simply begging to be beaten. Beyond that, they do have Eli Manning, but he's really missing his tight end, Kevin Boss. There isn't much more to say about the Giants other than they haven't completely fallen apart yet.

The Titans lost by 8 points, at home, to the Steelers. OK, Pittsburgh has a quality defense, but the Titans helped them out quite a bit by turning the ball over seven times (3 picks, 4 fumbles). Now, if they do that against the Giants, or, for that matter, just about any NFL team, they're likely to lose. The fact that the defense only allowed seven Pittsburgh first downs tells you that this is still a good team. They just had a bad day and are unlikely to do that again.

Prediction: Titans 28 Giants 17

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Cleveland Browns at Baltimore Ravens (-10 1/2, 37) 1:00 pm - After being battered by the Bengals, a quick check of the injury report showed that no key players from the Ravens are out this week. Cincinnati is a very physical team, and they amped up the effort against Baltimore. The Ravens have had trouble against the Bengals and now having lost three straight times to them it's safe to say that Cincy has their number. The Browns do not. Baltimore topped them twice last season, 34-3 and 16-0. Expect more of the same as Cleveland is not noticeably improved from last year.

Prediction: Ravens 34 Browns 13

Dallas Cowboys at Houston Texans (-3, 47 1/2) 1:00 pm - Excuse me for making fun of the Cowboys, but they aren't a very good football team right now and their coach, Wade Phillips, isn't much of a head coach either. Now, losing to the Redskins on the road was excusable and actually predictable, but being soundly throttled by the Bears in your own palace of worship was simply a disgrace. The Cowboys are suffering from over-hyper-expectations, thinking of how great it would be to win the Super Bowl in your own stadium! Wow! Somebody forgot to mention that you have to win some games, and probably your division before you can even begin to contemplate such absurdities.

What ails the Cowboys will not be fixed overnight. They have no running game. Their passing game is compromised by their lack of a running game and inconsistent play calling. The Dallas defense is OK, but didn't they give up 27 points to the Bears, who were 1-for-11 on third down and rushed for only 38 yards? The Dallas secondary made Jay Cutler look good. Imagine what Matt Schaub is going to do to them.

As fate would have it, these two met in Week 3 of the preseason, the most important game before the real deal. Houston bombed them, 23-7. Dallas hasn't addressed any of the issues presented by that beating.

Prediction: Texans 24 Cowboys 16


Pittsburgh Steelers (-3, 33 1/2) at Tampa Bay Bucs 1:00 pm - Pittsburgh has been doing it with defense, awaiting the return of starting QB bad-boy Ben Roethlisberger. Last week, they beat the Titans, mostly without their second string quarterback, Dennis Dixon. Charlie Batch came on in the first half and held the offense together and is expected to start against the Buccaneers. Expect to see a lot of Rashard Mendenhall early for Pittsburgh as the Steelers will attempt to jam it down the throats of the 2-0 Bucs.

Did that say 2-0 Bucs? Yes, it did. The Buccaneers are off and running, with wins over Cleveland and Carolina, which isn't saying much, but could they possibly catch the Steelers at a better time? They have a positive attitude, a bunch of young guys everywhere and the chance to stay even with the Saints or, should Atlanta beat New Orleans, actually be leading the division.

The common misconception is that Tampa is a bad team and Pittsburgh is a good one. The truth is that Tampa is an improving team and Pittsburgh is a tough, physical team with a very rugged defense. The Bucs need to manufacture some drives and put up at least ten points, which may be enough to win this one. Can they do it? Probably. They will give their old geezer fans heart attacks.

Prediction: Buccaneers 10 Steelers 7

Cincinnati Bengals (-3 1/2, 38) at Carolina Panthers 1:00 pm - Is there anybody in their right mind who believes the Panthers are going anywhere except to the bottom of the conference with Matt Moore as their starting quarterback?

Carolina has absolutely no chance of beating the Bengals, now that Cincy has a win under their belts and will be looking to pad their stats here. The Bengals defense may not allow the Panthers into the red zone even one time in this game, and even if they do, what is Carolina going to do about the 35 points the Bengals score. Rout of the week, with more to come for the pussycat Panthers.

Prediction: Bengals 35 Panthers 6

All times Eastern - Click here for late games

Copyright 2010, 2011, Rick Gagliano, Downtown Magazine. All rights reserved. Downtown Magazine is located in the Uinted States of America and is not affiliated with the National Football League or the NCAA. For more information, contact us here. Use of this site is for entertainment purposes only.


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