Sunday, September 24, 2006

NFL Week 3 Preview

Heading into Week #3 there are quite a few games of interest around the league, capped by two great night games tonight & tomorrow. Please pace yourselves.

Panthers (0-2) @ Bucs (0-2), 1PM
So many ways to classify this one: a grudge match between 2 division opponents who have no love lost for each other, to say the least. Probably because the Panthers lately seem to find a way to beat the Bucs (5 straight times thru last season) and always seem to be perennial Super Bowl favorites while the Bucs are basically the NFC South's version of chopped liver. Adding mercurial ex-Tampa Bay receiver Me-shawn Johnson is the equivalent of throwing pure gasoline on an already intense fire. Bets that he screams at Chucky from the other sideline? It is also a match up of win less teams, which few 'experts' thought possible. While both squads got their asses handed to them by Atlanta, Carolina shot themselves in the foot last week at Minny while the Bucs have barely come close to sniffing the end zone, let a lone a win. A lot riding on this one for both clubs- win, and you keep playoff hopes alive. Lose, and start making off season plans early. If star WR Steve Smith does suit up today after missing the 1st 2 games, the Bucs could be booking those January vacation packages by this evening.
MY PICK: Carolina, 17-13

Broncos (1-1) @ Patriots (2-0), 8PM, NBC
Hmmmm, wonder if there's any significance to this one...oh yeah, that small matter of last years' 27-13, 5 turnover debacle in the playoffs when Denver derailed the Pats dynastic hopes for 4 titles in 5 years. You remember, when the Pats were robbed on numerous calls, none more egregious that the 97- yd interception return by Champ Bailey where Ben 'Runaway Train' Watson ran down the speedy DB and knocked the ball out of the end zone, but the refs still gave Bailey the TD? No matter, the Pats played poorly (Brady- 2 INTs), as they historically have in the thin air of the Mile High Madhouse; heck, the Broncs are one of Brady's true nemeses (1-4 career record, 8TDs, 7 INTs.) But tonight's Grudge Match will be in the chilly-but-not-frigid air of the Rockin' Razor Blade, Gillette Stadium, and the Pats will be bound & determined to turn things around, starting with Brady performing like Tom Terrific and Jake "the Snake" Plummer being exposed for what he truly is- Jake The Fake. The Broncos will have a taste of their own medicine when the Pats 2-headed tandem of Clock Killin Corey Dillon and Catchmeifyoucan Lawrence Maroney run it down their throats, while Big Ben catches TD TDs just as payback for running the length of the field last year for nothing.
MY PICK: Pats, 50- 3

Bengals (2-0) @ Steelers (1-1), 1PM
Talk about your "no love lost" game. Remember back to last January when the Steelers were the team to destroy the playoff dreams of the entire Queen City and surround Tri-State area when Pittsburgh lineman Kemo von Oelhoffen rolled up on QB Carson Palmer's leg, exploding both his knee and the Bengal playoff chances in one fell swoop. In the regular season each team won on the others' home turf, so there is no fear factor for the road team. To spice things up Cincy WRs Chad Johnson & TJ "Houshamazilli" did a 2-man rip job of crazy Steeler LB Joey Porter the other day, both professing to have no fear of the fearsome defensive playmaker. Careful guys, Porter may just sic his dogs on you guys!
MY PICK: Cincy, 27- 20

Jaguars (2-0) @ Colts (2-0), 1PM
This matchup has become quite an intense little rivalry; that's what happens when every game comes down to the wire (every meeting since 2002 decided by 10 pts or less.) For some reason the Peyton's just can't seem to shake the pesky Cats from J'Ville. Perhaps it's because Mr. Cut That Meat does not enjoy a healthy dose of in-your-face, smash-mouth football, which doesn't allow him to fully exploit his Rain Man-esque run-around-the-line-screaming-and-yelling fake-calls-before-every-play technique that he enjoys so much. But coming off that psychical battle on Monday Night in which the Jags beatdown & shutout the defending Champs, it's going to be tough to duplicate that effort, especially in the RCA Dome. They'll try, but the Mannings should have just enough to pull it out.
MY PICK: Mannings, 21-14

Falcons (2-0) @ Saints (2-0), MNF, 8:30PM
Who woulda thunk when the schedule was announced that this game would be the marquee matchup at this point in the season. Not only are both teams surprisingly undefeated, with Atlanta's record coming courtesy of 2 dominating wins over division rivals Carolina & Tampa Bay and the Saints squeaking by Cleveland and pummelling Green Bay. But this game marks the return of pro football to the region devastated last August by Hurricane Katrina and to the site that became a symbol of government ineptitude and civil unrest, The Superdome. Fitting that the Red-Headed Stepchild that has become Monday Night Football on ESPN has this game, which is drawing media requests from 500+ sources all over the world and from agencies that have nothing to do with sports. A nice In-Your-Face to the glitzy-but-stale Sunday Night production on NBC (I'll take Kornheiser over Madden ANY DAY.) This one should have everything a fan could want: Undefeated teams?-check. Starpower? Mike Vick, Warrick Dunn, Drew Brees, Reggie Bush-check. Emotional ceremonies?-check. Exciting football- remains to be seen, but with the hype and build up it will be hard to imagine a terrible football games. Look for the sheer emotional lift of 65,000+ hope-starved fans cheering their lungs out in unison for both the return of their beloved Saints and the home debut of Reggie Bush to form a wave of noise and luck that will propel the saints to victory. Nice storyline at least.
MY PICK: Saints, 27-24

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