I’m really hoping the return of the referees bring some semblance to this NFL season. Sure, I’ll take my lumps when I pick Washington over Cincinnati, but the 49ers losing to the Vikings was a kick in the groin. 85% of my survivor pool has been eliminated. 85%!! I’m .500 and not upset by it at all. Hopefully the return of Ed Hochuli’s biceps brings better results.
Cleveland Browns @ Baltimore Ravens
The Ravens are riding an emotional victory over the Patriots and need to make sure they don’t overlook the Browns. Baltimore’s run defense isn’t what it was a few years ago, which is why Flacco must score points to force Cleveland to put the ball in the air. The Browns are still missing numerous guys on defense (Joe Haden, Phil Taylor).
Carolina Panthers @ Atlanta Falcons
Despite the chaos that has enveloped the NFL season, the Falcons and Texans have quietly gone about their business. Atlanta dismantled the Chargers as road underdogs last week and now return home to the friendly confines of the Georgia dome. The Panthers got embarrassed at home against a banged up Giants squad. The Falcons offense is better and the Panthers are on the road.
New England Patriots @ Buffalo Bills
At 1-2 the Patriots need to get back in the win column. We’ve seen Brady really struggle against dominate pass rushers – enter the Bills. They have the talent to collapse the pocket with only their defensive line and can drop the remaining seven into coverage. The Pats would be 3-0 if not for a rare miss from Gostkowski and a few inches on the Ravens kick last week. The Bills must go with Tashard Choice this week which limits their explosiveness on offense.
Minnesota Vikings @ Detroit Lions
The Vikings pulled off the giant upset over the 49ers last week and will be riding an emotional high. On the flip side, the Lions lost a heart breaker in Tennessee and now sit at 1-2. Christian Ponder looks like the most improved sophomore QB of the bunch. Adrian Peterson at 95% is better than 95% of running backs and the young defense is playing well under Leslie Frazier. Stafford is banged up, the Lions D can’t stop anyone, calling the upset.
San Diego Chargers @ Kansas City Chiefs
What to make of the Chiefs? They beat the Saints, but how good are the Saints? The Chargers got leveled at home by the Falcons who appear to be one of the best teams this season. Kansas City’s run game will be one dimensional this week as Peyton Hillis is likely out. Look for Jon Baldwin to have a big game, as he did last year against the Chargers when they attempted to shut down Dwayne Bowe.