History is cruel. Throughout all 96 NFL seasons only 5 teams have ever made the playoffs after a 0-3 start. This Sunday eight teams with the 0-2 record will do everything they can to make it to the history books and among them are four who were in the playoffs last year – Detroit Lions, Baltimore Ravens, Indianapolis Colts and the Super Bowl runners-up Seattle Seahawks.
Both Seahawks and Colts were mentioned among the Super Bowl contenders prior to the season so they must rise now if they’re still up for a title race. However, the main week 3 game will take place in Texas. It will be the only one featuring two teams with a 2-0 record.
Atlanta Falcons (2-0) @ Dallas Cowboys (2-0)
The Cowboys started the season with sky high expectations, but their first two victories came along with painful loses. In the very first game the Cowboys lost their star wideout Dez Bryant who broke his foot bone and will miss at least two months. Then in week 2 victory against Philadelphia Eagles they lost their main man – quarterback Tony Romo who fractured his left collar bone and will miss at least eight weeks.
He will be replaced on the field by the Cowboys’ No 2 quarterback Brandon Weeden. You would probably think the team that lost their two main players for half of the regular season would have no hopes to reach playoffs, but Cowboys are willing to prove otherwise.
With the 2-0 record they are lone leaders in the NFC East division and it is already clear that even if they lose against Falcons they would keep this position as in week 3 Thursday Night Football match New York Giants won at home against divisional rivals Washington Redskins and both of these teams now share the same 1-2 record.
The fourth team in the NFC East is Philadelphia Eagles who started their season with two defeats. One more important thing is that both of Cowboys’ victories were achieved against divisional rivals so these points have additional value. Cowboys are still hoping to win the division if Weeden will be able to keep at least .50 record until Romo’s return.
The Falcons are ready for a comeback season after the disastrous 2014. The team has improved in most components of the game – their offensive line is protecting the star quarterback Matt Ryan way better this season and wide receiver Julio Jones is looking as powerful as ever. In week 3 Falcons will have to play without the rookie running back Tevin Coleman, but sophomore RB Devonta Freeman should carry the temporary load without any problems.
Prediction and pick: TonyBet gives a +1 handicap for the Cowboys even at home and we can also see the Falcons victory here. It is really hard to predict how the replacement QB Brandon Weeden will fit in his new role at the Cowboys wheel. On the other side Matt Ryan and the Falcons are looking really solid.
Buffalo Bills (1-1) @ Miami Dolphins (1-1)
Classic rivalry between the two AFC East teams. Both are coming into week 3 with the same 1-1 result, but the mood must be very different.
The Dolphins had really high expectations before the new season. They signed the No 1 free agent – defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh; the fourth-year quarterback Ryan Tannehill is more mature than ever before and has solid weapons in the form of talented wideouts Jarvis Landry and Davante Adams. But that’s just they’re appearance on paper.
The first two weeks on the field they seemed pretty blank and unimpressive. In the season opener they somehow managed to beat the Redskins 17-10, but their week 2 visit to Jacksonville ended with a 20-23 loss against Jaguars, who have been among the NFL outsiders for the better part of the last decade.
Meanwhile Buffalo Bills underwent massive changes this offseason. New coach Rex Ryan, new star running back LeSean McCoy and even a new quarterback Tyrod Taylor. No one knew what to expect, but everyone liked what they saw on the field for the first 2 weeks.
On week 1 Bills were widely considered as the underdogs against Indianapolis Colts, but managed to celebrate a solid 27-14 victory. Week 2 game against the reigning champions New England Patriots was lost 32-40, but Bills weren’t too bad that day, it’s just that the Patriots were unstoppable. Now the Buffalo team is going for their first away game in Miami and this match will show the real direction both teams are going.
Prediction and pick: TonyBet gives +3 handicap for the Bills and we like it. There are more unanswered questions in the Dolphins game for sure. In Bills we believe.
Chicago Bears (0-2) @ Seattle Seahawks (0-2)
The Seattle fans are celebrating even before the start of the week 3 match and they have a good reason for that. Strong safety Kam Chancellor is back. Probably the most important player on the Seahawks defense was holding out of the first two games because he was trying to get a new contract extension.
The team management stood strong even when Chancellor’s replacements in the defense secondary failed and the team suffered two loses. The experts were pointing out that Chancellor is the real team leader in the locker room and his absence had a devastating effect. After two weeks with no results the player gave up his holdout. So the Seahawks are more than ready to rebound and restore their playoff hopes.
You would see a totally different picture on the Chicago Bears’ side. The team is struggling in all aspects of the game. In the first two matches the Bears defense allowed their opponents to score a total of 79 points – the worst record in the league. The team offense has the same amount of problems. During the preseason their main wide receiver Alshon Jefferey suffered an injury and will most likely miss the game on Sunday. Even worse news came this week – quarterback Jay Cutler pulled his hamstring and won’t be able to help the team for at least two weeks.
Prediction and pick: TonyBet is predicting Seahawks victory by 14-15 points and we feel that the gap might be even bigger as the Bears are just hopeless.
Cincinnati Bengals (2-0) @ Baltimore Ravens (0-2)
Another important matchup between the two AFC North divisional rivals. At first look 2-0 Bengals should have no problems with the 0-2 Ravens even on the road. But that’s not exactly the case.
Ravens have proved they are the force to be reckoned with last postseason when they beat the AFC North champions Pittsburgh Steelers in the wild card round and fought to the very end against eventual champions New England Patriots (31-35) in the divisional playoffs.
Meanwhile the Bengals have one of the most talented squads in the league but there’s something missing. Quarterback Andy Dalton and head coach Marvin Lewis are yet to win their first playoff game. While this is only the start of the season divisional matches between Bengals and Ravens are always fought till the last drop of blood.
Prediction and pick: TonyBet gives Ravens a -2.5 handicap and we can see why. Still Bengals have more explosive power and in the last season opener they beat Ravens on their own turf so we like Bengals with a +2.5 handicap more.
Other week 3 games:
Washington Redskins @ New York Giants – in Thursday Night Football match Giants scored their first victory. Both teams now share the same 1-2 record.
Jacksonville Jaguars (1-1) @ New England Patriots (2-0) – The Jaguars are looking much better than most expected, but they stand no chance against the Super Bowl champions on the road.
Philadelphia Eagles (0-2) @ New York Jets (2-0) – Eagles have many unanswered questions, the non-existing running game and a new QB Sam Bradford who hasn’t found the connection with the receiving corps. The Jets defense is one of the best in the league while their offence was a pleasant surprise for the fans. Bad news for the Eagles.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-1) @ Houston Texans (0-2) – the first two weeks have shown that the Bucs and the Texans will most likely once again find themselves at the bottom of their divisions when the regular season is over.
San Diego Chargers (1-1) @ Minnesota Vikings (1-1) – an intriguing matchup between an experienced QB Phillip Rivers (Chargers) and a sophomore QB Teddy Bridgewater. The Vikings’ star running back Adrian Peterson is looking more solid each week.
Oakland Raiders (1-1) @ Cleveland Browns (1-1) – two teams in search for their face. The Raiders management have invested their hopes in the young QB Derek Carr while the Browns head coach Mike Pettine does not believe in Johnny Manziel. The latter led the team to victory in week 2, but the latest reports are stating that QB Josh McCown is cleared from the concussion protocol and will start this match.
Pittsburgh Steelers (1-1) @ St. Louis Rams (1-1) – two ambitious teams. The Rams are a big force at home, but the Steelers led by the “Big Ben” Roethlisberger are coming to Missouri with high hopes. Star running back Le’Veon Bell will finally be able to help the team after a two-game suspension.
San Francisco 49ers (1-1) @ Arizona Cardinals (2-0) – the NFC West rivalry between 49ers and Cardinals is relentless. The 49ers literally lost half of their starters this offseason but in the season opener they showed flashes of talent by defeating Minnesota Vikings at home. Still at the moment Cardinals are just a better team.
Indianapolis Colts (0-2) @ Tennessee Titans (1-1) – another divisional rivalry. The Colts are pushed into a corner and they must win. But the Titans led by the overall 2nd draft pick QB Marcus Mariota may be stubborn in this case and prepare some surprises for the Colts.
New Orleans Saints (0-2) @ Carolina Panthers (2-0) – one more divisional matchup. In the NFC South face-off the Panthers must do what they’ve been doing pretty consistently lately. They won 3 of the last 4 games against the Saints. And there is a big chance that the Saints will play without their QB Drew Brees.
Denver Broncos (2-0) @ Detroit Lions (0-2) – the Broncos QB Peyton Manning is 39 and his arm is lacking previous power, but he still has a year or two left in his tank. The Lions’ yet disappointing performance should encourage the Denver players.
Kansas City Chiefs (1-1) @ Green Bay Packers (2-0) – Week 3 will end with the Monday Night Football Match in Green Bay. The Chiefs is a good team but the Packers are unbeatable at home. At least not yet.