Posted: Thursday September 22, 2011 10:14AM ; Updated: Friday September 23, 2011 12:23PM
Peter King
Peter King>WEEKEND PICKOFF

NFL Week 3
 
Last week: 14-2 (.875); Season: 26-6 (.813)
 
Sunday, Sept. 25
 
1 p.m. ET (CBS) Jacksonville Jaguars (1-1) at Carolina Panthers (0-2)
For his first NFL start, Blaine Gabbert will have these wideouts to throw to, keeping in mind that all six may not be active: Mike Thomas, Jason Hill, Jarett Dillard, Cecil Shorts, Chastin West, Kassim Osgood. (I really like Shorts' potential, by the way. Fast, shifty, good hands; from being in Jacksonville in August, I know how much the staff and scouts love the fourth-round pick from Mount Union, the latter-day Pierre Garcon.) Other than the underrated Thomas, there's not a lot of sure things for Gabbert to target.
 
1 p.m. ET (FOX) Detroit Lions (2-0) at Minnesota Vikings (0-2)
Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford's former high school baseball teammate, Clayton Kershaw, wins his 20th game and becomes a leading candidate for the National League Cy Young. In Minnesota, Justin Morneau and Joe Mauer get shut down for the year with injuries. A coincidence? I think not.
 
1 p.m. ET (FOX) San Francisco 49ers (1-1) at Cincinnati Bengals (1-1)
Guess who's the eighth-rated quarterback in football after two weeks, with a 105.7 rating, completing 66 percent of his throws, with zero interceptions in six quarters? Two clues: He's playing in this game. And he's got red hair. If you can't answer it, you need to click away from this page. Immediately.
 
1 p.m. ET (CBS) Miami Dolphins (0-2) at Cleveland Browns (1-1)
I remember a long time ago -- like, back in August -- when I picked the Dolphins to finish fourth in the AFC East, and I got 4,519 tweets from Dolfans telling me how preposterous that was. The general tenor of the messages was that even if Chad Henne struggled mightily, the D would hold them in games. Well, through two weeks, Miami is dead last in defense, and has allowed 30.5 points per game. Not good.
 
1 p.m. ET (CBS) New England Patriots (2-0) at Buffalo Bills (2-0)
Fabulous game. Fun game. The Bills, as the world knows, have lost 15 straight to the Patriots. The last time they beat New England, 31-0 on opening day 2003 ... now that was a memorable day. Lawyer Milloy, dumped by the Pats in a cap move, ended up with Buffalo for the game. Tom Jackson said on ESPN the Patriots hate their coach. And the players were so united in their contempt for Bill Belichick that, after this game, they won 19 of their next 20 games -- and the Super Bowl. This time, Ryan Fitzpatrick, who used to watch Tom Brady shred foes from his dorm room at Harvard, will go toe to toe with Brady. This will be anyone's game in the fourth quarter.
 
1 p.m. ET (FOX) New York Giants (1-1) at Philadelphia Eagles (1-1)
Cruel and unusual punishment: Steve Smith scores the winning touchdown in the fourth quarter, and the M*A*S*H-unit Giants can only wonder, "Why didn't we sign this guy back in July?"
 
1 p.m. ET (CBS) Denver Broncos (1-1) at Tennessee Titans (1-1)
Stat Most Illustrative of Why Tennesseeans Are Glad Titans Signed Hasselbeck Dept.: Tennessee has the third-fewest rushing yards in football (117), with the highest-paid running back in football (Chris Johnson). You never know.
 
1 p.m. ET (CBS) Houston Texans (2-0) at New Orleans Saints (1-1)
The Texans' defense is better under Wade Phillips, and it just might be good enough to walk into the Superdome and steal a win. Wouldn't surprise me at all. But there's a reason Drew Brees is on the verge of becoming the highest-paid player in the NFL -- or one of the top two or three. He should be able to handle whatever Phillips throws at him.
 
4:05 p.m. ET (CBS) New York Jets (2-0) at Oakland Raiders (1-1)
Why? Just a gut feeling. Oakland's really ticked off about losing the game in Buffalo; the players sound wounded. The Jets are playing a center who's never played, with Nick Mangold down with a high ankle sprain. Oakland should be seething against the league for putting them at Denver on Monday night, late, to start the season, then, after getting home at 4 a.m. Tuesday, flying back out three days later to a city four-and-a-half hours away. Just a hunch, but I bet a few of the players were in a lather over that. Tough spot for the Jets, who are better on a neutral field. Which this will not be on Sunday.
 
4:05 p.m. ET (CBS) Baltimore Ravens (1-1) at St. Louis Rams (0-2)
You know why the Ravens need this game quite a bit? Because they have to prove to their fans and themselves that the resounding Steeler victory in Week 1 didn't take so much out of them for the rest of the year. Oh, and it would help if their corners could cover the way did in Week 1 too.
 
4:05 p.m. ET (CBS) Kansas City Chiefs (0-2) at San Diego Chargers (1-1)
The shock here is not that I pick the Chargers to win by double-digits. It's that I'm picking Kansas City to lose by only 14.
 
4:15 p.m. ET (FOX) Atlanta Falcons (1-1) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-1)
Terrific comeback last week for Josh Freeman, his eighth comeback victory in the fourth quarter or overtime in 27 career starts. There's something about this kid that's impossible not to like. It won't surprise me at all if, in 10 years, we look at the careers of the two quarterbacks in this game and say Freeman's been a better pro than Matt Ryan. And believe me, that's not meant to be a knock on Ryan. It's how strongly I feel about Freeman.
 
4:15 p.m. ET (FOX) Arizona Cardinals (1-1) at Seahawks (0-2)
Smartest thing for a Seattle fan to do these days? Watch the games on Saturday, not Sunday. And monitor Andrew Luck, Matt Barkley and Landry Jones. If your teams keeps sliding, those are your best bets for 2012 quarterback.
 
4:15 p.m. ET (FOX) Green Bay Packers (2-0) at Chicago Bears (1-1)
In the Caleb Hanie Revenge Bowl, Jay Cutler plays for four quarters, and somehow, some way, Mike Tice and Mike Martz scrape together an offensive line and a quick-throw gameplan that keeps Cutler relatively clean. They'd better figure something out, or the Pack will blow the Bears out.
 
8:20 p.m. ET (NBC) Pittsburgh Steelers (1-1) at Indianapolis Colts (0-2)
Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth, Fred Gaudelli and Drew Esocoff -- in the booth and truck, respectively, for NBC on Sunday night -- gather in the hotel in Indianapolis Saturday night. Someone says, "Okay, let's go over all our 'B' material." As in "blowout."
 
Monday, Sept. 26
 
8:30 p.m. ET (ESPN) Washington Redskins (2-0) at Dallas Cowboys (1-1)
Sounds like Tony Romo will play and Miles Austin will not. You know what that means? Jesse Holley riding into Dallas Cowboys Stadium on his white steed Monday night, the reality TV star to the rescue again for Dallas. Maybe. Who knows about the shifts and turns of this game, but the Redskins will be sending pressure constantly at Romo, and it's likely he'll be throwing quick to Jason Witten and intermediate stuff to the wideouts, because he's not going to want to get hit. That's where Holley -- if the ESPN storytellers have their way -- comes in.
 

 
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