What to Watch in Week 3
By: Kim O'Hara | Posted: September 21, 2012
In advance of Sunday, we once again review developing storylines to watch for in each of the remaining fifteen matchups. Here we go!
St. Louis Rams at Chicago Bears, 1:00pm
After his comments to the media this week, I’m most excited to see Rams cornerback Cortland Finnegan take the field. The guy managed to drive Texans receiver Andre Johnson to violence two seasons ago. If he’s covering Brandon Marshall and the replacement refs are “letting him play”, it’s a meltdown waiting to happen. Otherwise, we’ll obviously all be watching Chicago quarterback Jay Cutler not only to see how he responds after a one touchdown, four interception effort against Green Bay, but whether he’ll make it through the game without mildly assaulting any members of his line.
Buffalo Bills at Cleveland Browns, 1:00pm
Which Buffalo team makes the trip this Sunday? Will Week 1’s defense that allowed Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez to silence the media Tebromance (if only temporarily) let rookies Brandon Weeden and Trent Richardson to put up four hundred collective yards of offense? Or will the offense of Week 2 lead the way, with quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick’s play complementing CJ Spiller’s phenomenal two-week performance, as opposed to detracting from it? The likelihood of the latter increases in the absence of suspended cornerback Joe Haden, as evidenced by last week’s outing in Cincinnati. But either way, watch this game for two emerging superstars in Spiller and Richardson.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Dallas Cowboys, 1:00pm
Look to see how the Cowboys respond after last week’s loss against an extremely physical Seahawks team. Tampa Bay’s secondary was a tale of two halves last week against the Giants, picking up three interceptions in the first half but giving up 510 yards in the air overall. Will Tony Romo be able to find holes to get the offense moving again? Watch running back DeMarco Murray to see whether he is able to rebound after a disappointing Week 2. If Dallas is able to build a comfortable lead, let’s just hope the offense is prepared for Tampa Bay to fight down to the final second. No lazy victory formations against the Bucs from here on out.
Jacksonville Jaguars at Indianapolis Colts, 1:00pm
Two weeks ago, this game looked like it might be an old fashioned suck-off. After each team’s performance last week, though, it looks like it might be an old fashioned blowout. Jacksonville was unable to execute on any level against Houston last week, and while the Colts are a far cry from the Texans (notably on defense and in the rushing attack), don’t expect much from this game. It’s a safe assumption that running back Donald Brown will have an exciting day, as the Jags have struggled to defend the run (among other inadequacies) so far this season.
San Francisco 49ers at Minnesota Vikings, 1:00pm
Watch to see the Niners beat its third NFC North opponent in as many weeks. After making easy work of both the Green Bay Packers and Detroit Lions, the Niners should head into the Metrodome this weekend and hassle Christian Ponder for four quarters. Many want to make a storyline out of receiver Randy Moss’s return to his old team, but so far Moss has been little more than a glorified decoy. I wouldn’t expect him to impact the game in any significant way. The offense is clicking beautifully, as Alex Smith has looked to tight end Vernon Davis and receiver Michael Crabtree early this season.
New York Jets at Miami Dolphins, 1:00pm
In the first two weeks of the season, the AFC East has looked like it’s fielded eight teams. Both the Dolphins and Jets have one terrific game under their belt to go along with one embarrassment. Look for both of them to start settling into a sense of consistency. The return of Darrelle Revis should bolster the Jets’ secondary, which could bring Miami quarterback Ryan Tannehill back to earth. Running back Reggie Bush has started the season wonderfully and could continue to find success. Expect a balanced divisional matchup here.
Kansas City Chiefs at New Orleans Saints, 1:00pm
The Saints continue to shock in the worst way, but the Chiefs aren’t any better. While no one was expecting either of these teams to contend for the Super Bowl, no one could have anticipated this level of underachievement. Chiefs quarterback Matt Cassel started to find a rhythm late against Buffalo’s secondary last week and, if last week’s porous showing against Carolina is any indication, running backs Jamaal Charles and Peyton Hillis could get some momentum against New Orleans. Look for lots of offense on both sides of the ball, but for Drew Brees to continue his Sean Payton-less struggles.
Detroit Lions at Tennessee Titans, 1:00pm
The Lions defense is bound for a nasty breakout game, and the combination of developing quarterback Jake Locker with floundering running back Chris Johnson could be just the ticket. But watch for the debut of second year running back Mikel Leshoure. After missing last season with an Achilles injury and serving a two-week suspension this season, Leshoure will take the field for the first time. Detroit is looking to improve its running game, as there is no timetable for Jahvid Best’s return after a series of head injures. Tennessee is an ideal first opponent, as its run defense has looked suspect thus far.
Cincinnati Bengals at Washington Redskins, 1:00pm
In the matchup of Robert Griffin III in his FedEx Field debut against the Cincinnati Bengal defense, I don’t like the Bengals’ chances. But with significant losses to an already-struggling Redskins defense, I like the Bengals offense. This game should be a high scoring affair, so if you like offense, tune in. Watch to see how much running RGIII does in this outing. In Week 2 he opted to carry the ball himself, limiting the carries of his running backs, especially Week 1 revelation Alfred Morris.
Philadelphia Eagles at Arizona Cardinals, 4:05pm
In one of two battles between undefeated teams, this matchup comes as a bit of a surprise. After a rare win at Gilette Stadium last week, the Cardinals must be bursting with confidence. The Eagles have been forced to rely heavily on their defense, as their offense has turned the ball over a remarkable nine times in two games. Quarterback Michael Vick has embodied a feast-or-famine approach in eight quarters this season; he’s turning over the ball but executing key scoring plays. But the opposing quarterback is Kevin Kolb, so unless he plays with a bravado that’s been uncharacteristic since his departure from Philadelphia, Arizona doesn’t have much of an offensive leg up. This game will come down to defense.
Atlanta Falcons at San Diego Chargers, 4:05pm
He’s protected the ball well so far this season, but Philip Rivers can traditionally be counted on for an embarrassing game or two each year. Enter the Atlanta Falcons, who picked the ball off three times in one quarter last week against the Broncos. It’s rare to see a Norv Turner-coached team start 2-0, even against two weak early opponents, but don’t expect to see them extend their winning streak. Julio Jones, who seems to have inherited the Roddy White drop crown in the first two games, will have a big day.
Houston Texans at Denver Broncos, 4:25pm
The last time Peyton Manning faced the Houston Texans, they’d been his divisional whipping boy for years. But the team he will face Sunday is now fully capable of doing some whipping itself. The Texans agile, hard-hitting defense has impressed so far this season, leading the league in both passing and overall defense. Manning may look to Willis McGahee to get the offense moving, since run defense might be the Texans only weakness. But it’s still a top ten unit. After a stellar start, the Broncos are in sincere danger of dropping to 1-2.
Pittsburgh Steelers at Oakland Raiders, 4:25pm
The Raiders need to get its offense going, after two disappointing games to start the season. Darren McFadden struggled against the Dolphins last week while quarterback Carson Palmer has yet to develop consistent chemistry with any of his receivers. A Pittsburgh defensive unit that’s proven it can play without two of its perennial leaders will look to keep the Raiders’ offensive aspirations at bay. The Steelers offense could have troubles of its own; its underwhelming offensive line will face a tenacious Oakland defensive front. For a team that’s trying to find its own running consistency, that could spell trouble for Pittsburgh.
New England Patriots at Baltimore Ravens, 8:20pm
Watch this game for its all-around awesomeness. After outplaying Tom Brady (but ultimately losing) in the 2011 AFC Championship, Joe Flacco will be playing with a point to prove. Whether or not the team is looking for revenge (it insists it isn’t), the Ravens will take it to Brady early and often Sunday. The Patriots looked lost without one of its two stalwart tight ends last week, bu has now had an entire week to prepare for life without Aaron Hernandez, who is out with an ankle injury. Kellen Winslow was signed this week, ostensibly as a stop gap, but don’t expect him to factor in significantly.
Green Bay Packers at Seattle Seahawks, 8:30pm Monday
The NFC West is being touted as the best division in football after two weeks, and a Seattle win over Green Bay in primetime is a great way to prove it. Watch to see if linebacker Clay Matthews, cornerback Tramon Williams and the rest of Green Bay’s defense can sustain the intensity it displayed last Thursday. Aaron Rodgers and his myriad of receivers have looked positively mortal through two weeks (much to the dismay of many a fantasy owner), and he won’t find any relief against a physical Seahawks defense that has abused its competition so far. But Rodgers is the reigning MVP and that’s no fluke. He’s due for a big game.
Kim O'Hara is the Associate Editor of TheFootballGirl.com. She is an avid fan of sports in general, but the NFL in particular. She has also been a contributor to ESPN the Magazine. Follow her on Twitter: @arahomik
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