Only six teams have started 0-3 and made the playoffs. Will any of the six teams currently sitting at 0-3 (not counting the 0-2-1 Cardinals) join them? Those teams will need a win this week. Only one team, the 1992 San Diego Chargers, ever started 0-4 and made the playoffs.
Last week: 10-6, elevating the season forecast to 32-16
- Philadelphia Eagles at Green Bay Packers (-4): America gets to witness the mighty Packers defense in its revamped and rejuvenated state. Sure, we all watched them in Week 1 stymie the Bears, but most just attributed that performance to Chicago’s relative offensive ineptitude. It turns out the Green Bay defense is pretty darn good in its own right. Now they catch a banged-up Eagles team on the short week. The Eagles looked too mistake-prone and thin in losing at home to Detroit on Sunday, and with no DeSean Jackson or Alshon Jeffery (he’ll be limited at best), Nelson Agholor and JJ Arcega-Whiteside won’t be catching babies or Carson Wentz passes because they will not be open.
I’ve seen enough of Aaron Rodgers dissecting a Jim Schwartz defense to know this one is not going to go well for the visitors, too.
Packers 37, Eagles 16
- Kansas City Chiefs at Detroit Lions (+6.5): The Lions are unbeaten and have accomplished that feat largely by helping opponents shoot their own feet off. That strategy is not going to work against Patrick Mahomes, the best gunslinger in the game. I do think the Lions will get the run game on track against the Chiefs and their league-worst 6.2 yards per carry allowed. But I don’t trust Detroit’s special teams or pass rush enough to keep up with the NFL’s most explosive offense It will be close, but Mahomes and Andy Reid smoke the victory cigars.
Chiefs 30, Lions 24
- New England Patriots at Buffalo Bills (+7): Can the Bills really threaten the Patriots in the AFC East this year? This game will tell us all we need to know on that front. Neither team has lost yet. Neither team has played anyone who will win more than five games all season, either.
The Bills have a chance here at home. Their defense is well-conceived and meshes nicely. Their style of play will limit the Patriots’ explosiveness and force Tom Brady & friends to string together good plays. The problem for the Bills is the Patriots defense. Their cornerbacks are playing tremendous football, which allows the LBs and safeties to focus on curbing Josh Allen’s running without worrying about getting beat down the field by Allen’s improving but still unreliable accuracy. I smell a defensive TD that fluffs the final score to a bigger margin than the actual gameplay would reflect.
Patriots 30, Bills 17
- Minnesota Vikings at Chicago Bears (-2): A critical NFC North showdown at Soldier Field pits two of the most embattled QBs in the league against one another. Kirk Cousins and Mitchell Trubisky both carry the burden of being labeled, right or wrong (but mostly right), as the reason why their respective teams aren’t better. Cousins has the benefit of playing on the road here and watching the home fans turn on Trubisky midway through a 17-of-36, 216 yard, 1 TD and 2 INTs game with a fumble and a rushing TD mixed in. I think Stefon Diggs gets free enough to catch 7 passes for 108 yards and a pair of TDs and that’s the reason Minnesota wins.
Vikings 23, Bears 20
- Carolina Panthers at Houston Texans (-4): Don’t look now but the Texans long-awful offensive line is quietly playing better. Deshaun Watson is helping them out by doing a more responsible job of finding escape lanes and throwing the ball away, two things he’s struggled with in his young career. If that keeps up, and I believe it will against the Panthers, these Texans are not going to be easy to slow down. The Panthers will be game but not able to keep up, with Texans EDGE Whitney Mercilus having a big factor in why.
Texans 31, Panthers 24
- Cleveland Browns at Baltimore Ravens (-7): Baltimore can run away and hide with the AFC North title in Week 4 with a win here. They would be two games up on the Browns with the head-to-head tiebreaker, and neither the Bengals nor Steelers figure to challenge the underachieving Browns for second place.
The Browns' defense has righted the ship after a shaky Week 1 and that gives them a legit chance to pull off the upset and move into the division lead. Myles Garrett and Joe Schobert make a nice foil for Lamar Jackson, and the secondary has depth and skill. But can Baker Mayfield, Odell Beckham, Nick Chubb and the Browns offense avoid even needing to convert a 4th & 9, let alone running a (excuse me while I laugh) draw play in that situation? Of course they can, but I need to see it first before I believe it. I like the Browns quite a bit to cover the 7-point spread here, win or lose.
Ravens 27, Browns 24
- Washington at New York Giants (-3): Two reasons why I’m crazy enough to pick Washington here. First, no Saquon Barkley for the Giants means the visitors will focus completely on stopping Daniel Jones in his second start at QB for the G-men, and they have enough on defense to make that happen. Second, I can see the Washington offense finding success against the tissue-soft Giants defense. The Giants are rightly favored but I smell the upset.
Washington 36, Giants 30
- Tennessee Titans at Atlanta Falcons (-3.5): As inconsistent as these two teams have played in their way to matching 1-2 records, anything seems possible. This is one of those “eeney meeney miney mo” games, like Zed in Pulp Fiction deciding whether he sodomizes Bruce Willis or Ving Rhames first. And why does The Gimp get edited out of the broadcast version of that Tarantino classic? It could easily be a character on The Masked Singer for all we know. And don’t be surprised when Gronk spikes Ken Jeong after revealing himself on episode two this year.
(No I haven’t forgotten the football game. In case you haven’t figured out, I have no idea who is going to win)
Falcons 23, Titans 21
- Los Angeles Chargers at Miami Dolphins (+16.5): Funny how Melvin Gordon ends his holdout just in time to face the hapless Dolphins. He and Austin Ekeler might both top 75 yards and score a TD. Having said that, this might be the Dolphins most viable week to stun the world. It’s tough to trust the Chargers enough.
Chargers 28, Dolphins 14
- Oakland Raiders at Indianapolis Colts (-6.5): Good news for Jon Gruden! There’s a Hooters in downtown Indianapolis within walking distance of Lucas Oil Field. What better way to drown his sorrows than a visit to America’s worst breastaurant chain, the one he used to shill for back when he was still employed at a job he was actually good at…
Colts 31, Raiders 21
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Los Angeles Rams (-10.5): The Rams keep the unbeaten train rolling. Methinks the collapse by the Bucs defense last week against the Giants is a demoralizing glimpse of what’s to come after some strong play early on.
Rams 33, Buccaneers 24
- Seattle Seahawks at Arizona Cardinals (+5.5): Kyler Murray, meet Russell Wilson. He’s your best-case career outcome. Watch him. Study him. Learn him. Inhabit him. Do all of those things and someday you’ll beat him. It won’t be this week…
Seahawks 34, Cardinals 17
- Jacksonville Jaguars at Denver Broncos (-3): The Gardner Minshew experience travels to Denver and faces a defense that can wipe that smug 70s porn star bravado right off his face. He’s played well enough to merit some of the attention, but the inability to run the ball will doom the Jaguars here and force Minshew into mistakes worse than his pregame outfit is sure to look.
Broncos 20, Jaguars 16
- Dallas Cowboys at New Orleans Saints (+2.5): Last week, the Saints beat the Seahawks in Seattle despite losing every conceivable statistical battle. They returned a punt for a TD, and a fumble too. Seattle gained over 500 yards of offense, largely dominated on defense, had fewer penalties and still lost at home. The Saints are not getting that extreme good fortune once again.
Cowboys 32, Saints 21
- Cincinnati Bengals at Pittsburgh Steelers (-4.5): One of these teams will get its first win on the season. Matching winless teams from midwestern cities on Monday night with Booger McFarland enthusiastically stating the obvious and Joe Tessitore just happy to be employed is not my idea of a good time.
Steelers 20, Bengals 17
Notre Dame 30, Virginia 24 in a game I’ll be attending in South Bend
Michigan 52, Rutgers 16. The vultures fly away from the Big House for a week
Clemson 42, North Carolina 21
Washington 30, USC 28
Oklahoma State 36, Kansas State 31
Akron 50, UMass 48 in 3 OTs in the matchup of the two worst teams in FBS