*Note: This is a continuation of my blog posts on www.fannation.com. I had to wait for “All Star” status on CBS Sports before I could begin posting here. To see my previous posts, go to Fan Nation and search “TheExpertFan” – no spaces.
Here we go. It’s time to start separating the men from the boys, the contenders from the pretenders, and the stars from the flops. If week two was Rebound Week, week three is Reckoning Week. This is the week when those teams with 0-2 starts (Dallas and Minnesota, that would be you) must begin to perform to their preseason expectations, or kiss their seasons good bye. An 0-3 start is a devastating hole to climb out of, but it has been done before. According to ESPN.com, 3 teams in the modern era have overcome an 0-3 start to make the playoffs. The most recent of those teams? The 1998 Buffalo Bills, coached by – you guessed it – Wade Phillips.
But will we see such a feat again in 2010? That will have to be played out, but if only 3 teams have done it, the odds aren’t looking very good.
Also reported today was that Jerry Jones has given Wade Phillips a “vote of confidence,” trying to ensure his coach’s job regardless of this week’s results against Houston. Now I’m no expert (obviously) but isn’t a “vote of confidence” owner-speak for “win now or else?” I’ve already called Phillips’ job if the Cowboys lose this week in my last post. Will Minnesota’s Brad Childress face the same pressure? Rightly or wrongly, no he won’t. Despite Brett Favre coming back, the Vikings just didn’t have the same ungodly high level of expectations to live up to. It’s hard for those kinds of expectations to be placed on a 40 year old quarterback who took the kind of abuse he did in last year’s NFC Championship game, especially when he has no weapons to throw to. Being without Sidney Rice is a much bigger problem than anyone thought.
The other two surprising 0-2 teams, San Francisco and Oakland, still have decent chances, again, because the play in extremely week divisions. So that really puts the target solely on Wade Phillips and the Fightin’ Jerrys.
On to my week 3 picks:
Best Games of the Week
1. Houston Texans vs. Dallas Cowboys
Normally a game featuring a 2-0 team and an 0-2 team isn’t a candidate for best game of the week. But when that 0-2 team was a preseason Super Bowl Favorite now fighting for survival, that tends to bring some panache to the matchup. But really, how can you go against Dallas in this one? Jerry Jones needs this to still have a chance to play the Super Bowl at home. Wade Phillips is coaching for his job. Tony Romo has criticized the running game. The fans in Dallas are foaming at the mouth. A no-brainer, right?
Houston wins, 31-27.
Yes, the defending champs are 2-0. Atlanta laid an egg in week 1 against Pittsburgh. But, the two wins for the Saints were less than inspiring, and Atlanta rebounded nicely last week with a big win over Arizona. I really think Matty Ice will play stellar ball, and the loss of Reggie Bush will hurt the Saints more than expected. The Saints LOVE to throw that screen pass to him, and that will be a huge hole in Drew Brees’ passing game.
Falcons win, 34-28, and serve notice to the champs that things won’t be so easy in the NFC South.
An early fight for a stranglehold on the AFC East, the 2-0 Dolphins, a surprise in their own right, take on the 1-1 Jets who just handed New England a devastating loss under the passing of Mark Sanchez. This is a game that features two young, unproven quarterbacks with teams that are playing stellar defense. Even though Mark Sanchez had a very strong game, I don’t see the Jets putting the game in his hands again. There is a big difference between Miami’s tough defense and New England’s aging, injury-riddled defense. Expect a lot of running in this one. I see this coming down to which team makes the fewest mistakes. The Jets are the more experienced, so they win it, 21-3.
Rest of the Best
5. Minnesota Vikings vs. Detroit Lions – Lions, 21-17
6. New England Patriots vs. Buffalo Bills – Patriots, 35-3
Who Cares Game of the Week
This was going to be a stinker even before Carolina benched Matt Moore in favor of Jimmy Clausen. Cincinnati has looked flat-out lost on offense their first two games, and Carolina has been anemic in that area as well. The Bengals defense played well after being destroyed by the Pats in week one, and now they get to go against a rookie QB making his first career start. That is a recipe for crap football, and this is the king of the crap hill this week.
Bengals win, 17-3.Up Next: Week 3 Results