Posted: Thursday September 20, 2012 12:37PM ; Updated: Thursday September 20, 2012 5:16PM
Peter King
Peter King>WEEKEND PICKOFF

NFL Week 3
 
Last Week: 8-8 (.500); This Season: 17-15 (.531)
 
Thursday, Sept. 20
 
8:20 p.m. ET (NFLN) New York Giants (1-1) at Carolina Panthers (1-1)
Through two weeks of the season, NFL teams have scored 54 points more than any other season in history through the first two weeks. These two teams did their part last Sunday. The Giants won 41-34 over Tampa Bay, and Carolina shredded New Orleans 35-27. But the Giants will be without two of their top four wideouts tonight, so expect the Panthers to blanket Victor Cruz and make Eli Manning use one of his inexperienced receivers to try to make things happen. I've been impressed with the development of Cam Newton as a total player. He's completed 69.8 percent in the first two weeks, and keeps getting better at reading things that should be confusing for him, like overload blitzes. I say he makes enough plays to win against a tough New York front.
 
Sunday, Sept. 23
 
1 p.m. ET (FOX) St. Louis Rams (1-1) at Chicago Bears (1-1)
The Rams led the Lions in the final minute at Ford Field. The Rams beat the Redskins at home in St. Louis. Something's happening here. What it is ain't exactly clear. There's a coach with a plan over there, and before I ruin the good name of Buffalo Springfield, let me just say that I think Jeff Fisher and his staff are doing a heck of a job -- and I think the Bears are in trouble with that offensive line and without Matt Forte.
 
1 p.m. ET (CBS) Buffalo Bills (1-1) at Cleveland Browns (0-2)
After the Bengals put up 34 on the Browns last week, I'm tempted to just say the Bills will hand it to C.J. Spiller 23 times, get 468 yards out of him and rout the 0-2 Brownies. But the Browns are better defensively than they showed last week. They had six sacks of Andy Dalton -- pretty soon, we're going to recognize D'Qwell Jackson as one of the best defensive players in football -- and will force the action enough to make up for another shaky offensive day by a rookie-led offense.
 
1 p.m. ET (FOX) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-1) at Dallas Cowboys (1-1)
Pretty weird game when the thing we're most looking forward to is how the Fighting Schianos will play Dallas' victory formation in the final minute.
 
1 p.m. ET (CBS) Jacksonville Jaguars (0-2) at Indianapolis Colts (1-1)
So impressed with the poise and presence of credit-deflecting Andrew Luck. I asked him Sunday what he'd remember most about his first win in the NFL, the 23-20 last-minute victory on Adam Vinatieri's 53-yard boot against Minnesota. "Adam's kick," he answered quickly. And from the Recent Legendary Colts Quarterbacks Dept., this note: Peyton Manning won his second game as a Colt, on Nov. 15, 1998. He started his career 2-11. As Laura King would say, I'm just saying!
 
1 p.m. ET (CBS) New York Jets (1-1) at Miami Dolphins (1-1)
One of these weeks Tim Tebow will have the bubble wrap taken off and will make three or four plays to help the Jets win one. I think it'll be this week as New York offensive coordinator Tony Sparano returns to Miami knowing where to attack a defense he was head coach for last year. Over/under on Tebow offensive and special teams plays Sunday: 13.
 
1 p.m. ET (FOX) San Francisco 49ers (2-0) at Minnesota Vikings (1-1)
The last time these teams played, three years ago this week, the 2009 Favre Magic Show began. Remember the touchdown pass to the back of the end zone to Greg Lewis with two seconds left to beat the Niners? San Francisco doesn't want a repeat of that scenario. This one won't come down to the last two seconds.
 
1 p.m. ET (CBS) Kansas City Chiefs (0-2) at New Orleans Saints (0-2)
I know what we've seen from the Saints defense the first two weeks, and it is utterly abominable: 72 percent opposing completion rate, a ridiculous 17.4 yards-per-catch average by foes. And when I visited the Chiefs in camp, I thought they had the best combination of skill players I saw all summer. So it's possible the Chiefs could put up 40. But I think the Saints' strategy will be to play ball-possession, and I can't see Drew Brees losing that kind of game against Matt Cassel.
 
1 p.m. ET (FOX) Detroit Lions (1-1) at Tennessee Titans (0-2)
The Titans have allowed 72 points. The pass defense is awful. Matthew Stafford leads all NFL quarterbacks with 2,504 yards since Dec. 1, 2011. Sounds like Jim Schwartz, the former eight-year defensive coordinator of the Titans, is going to have a very pleasant homecoming.
 
1 p.m. ET (CBS) Cincinnati Bengals (1-1) at Washington Redskins (1-1)
Fun with football history: In the last Cincinnati-Washington game, Ryan Fitzpatrick threw a touchdown pass to the late Chris Henry. For Cincinnati. Chad Johnson wasn't even Chad Ochocinco yet. That was four years ago. Without the injuries, I'd have picked the Redskins, but I think losing Adam Carriker and Brian Orakpo changes the face of their defense.
 
4:05 p.m. ET (FOX) Philadelphia Eagles (2-0) at Arizona Cardinals (2-0)
The Eagles have won ugly twice. They're the first team in NFL history to win their first two games by one point each. What can they do for an encore? Shut down their former McNabb heir, Kevin Kolb. I see the Eagles turning the turnover tables, with Mike Vick protecting the ball (finally) and making fewer mistakes than Kolb. That wins this battle of top-10 defenses.
 
4:05 p.m. ET (FOX) Atlanta Falcons (2-0) at San Diego Chargers (2-0)
In a matchup of unbeatens with quarterbacks playing off the charts, Matt Ryan bests Philip Rivers on the West Coast, with the deep ball being the difference. I like Ryan-to-Julio Jones (if he holds on to the ball) better than Rivers-to-Malcom Floyd.
 
4:25 p.m. ET (CBS) Houston Texans (2-0) at Denver Broncos (1-1)
It's not Peyton Manning's arm strength that cost him a victory Monday night, and it won't cost him this game either. It's his decision-making at a time in his life when he doesn't have the arm he did three or four years ago. He can't go sailing the ball down the deep seam hoping Marvin Harrison's going to come flying out of nowhere and pluck the ball away from a corner. He needs to use his tight ends on shorter throws and be a chain-mover, not a mad bomber. Even if he does that in this game, the pressure he'll face from the Texans -- from Connor Barwin, Brooks Read and J.J. Watt, mostly -- will be more than enough to throw him off his game.
 
4:25 p.m. ET (CBS) Pittsburgh Steelers (1-1) at Oakland Raiders (0-2)
With the asinine Week 4 bye (I mean, who wants a September bye?) coming up, the Steelers do get one benefit out of it: getting their old defensive players healthy, and playing a team they should be able to beat without their full complement of defensive starters -- given that James Harrison (knee) and Troy Polamalu (calf), who didn't practice Wednesday, are out again this week.
 
8:20 p.m. ET (NBC) New England Patriots (1-1) at Baltimore Ravens (1-1)
How can two teams be closer? The Pats have won the last two meetings by identical 23-20 scores, and hearts around the Inner Harbor will not be fully mended until the Ravens wipe away the stink of the 32-yard shanked Bill Cundiff missed field goal, and the pass Lee Evans had knocked out of his hands. I'll tell you how the Ravens win this one -- with better play-calling than last week, when, in the second half, they had five third-and-short plays and Ray Rice touched the ball on none of them. Rice has had 35 touches in the first two weeks, averaging 7.0 yards per touch. He needs more.
 
Monday, Sept. 24
 
8:30 p.m. ET (ESPN) Green Bay Packers (1-1) at Seattle Seahawks (1-1)
Love this game. Sorely, sorely tempted to pick the Seahawks, because I think the noise of that stadium Monday night (the city's on fire waiting for this game, I'm told) will affect the Packers in their no-huddle operation, and because I think the physical secondary's going to knock around the Green Bay receivers. Too many Green Bay weapons, though.
 

 
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