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ATPF Preview Week 3

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Week two of the 2013 season saw the Broncos further enhance their claims as the pick of the AFC, the Patriots also advanced to 2-0 even with virtually no healthy receivers, they could be a force to be reckoned with later in the year when they get players back. Seattle put down a huge marker by overwhelming their rivals San Francisco, Chicago and New Orleans won nail biters to also remain unbeaten. The Steelers, Giants and Redskins are all big names who remain winless. Things start to get serious now, 3-0 puts a team in a great position to make the playoffs, 2-1 can be built on, 1-2 piles the pressure on and 0-3 leaves the proverbial mountain to climb.

At ATPF we went 10-6 last week, a suicidal final 2 minutes from Tampa Bay and a remarkable game winning drive from Bills rookie EJ Manuel hurt us, a 12-4 week would have been far more satisfactory. Still we are hoping that the jigsaw is beginning to piece together a little now and the formbook can be called upon with a little more confidence.

Kansas City Chiefs @ Philadelphia Eagles

A tough one to call this, two more different teams you couldn’t find. The 2-0 Chiefs leant on their defense to outlast Dallas last week whilst the 1-1 Eagles lost a shootout at home to San Diego. The Eagles up tempo, high powered offense will test a Chiefs defense which is full of playmakers and starting to get consistent play from them. The Chiefs offense is conservative but focuses on not turning the ball over and against a weak Eagles defense they will get rewards for their patience. Andy Reid’s return to Philadelphia is the headline here but while he knows the players he doesn’t know the system so his knowledge won’t be a huge advantage. The key battles in our opinion are the Eagles offensive tackles Jason Peters and rookie Lane Johnson against the Chiefs dynamic duo of outside linebackers Tamba Hali and Justin Houston and the Chiefs stuttering rushing attack versus the Eagles sketchy front seven. The Chiefs can edge both and have more wins in September than they had all last year.

ATPF PredictionAndy Reid has the last laugh as the Chiefs win by around a touchdown.

Green Bay Packers @ Cincinnati Bengals

One of these very good teams is about to be 1-2, with the Bears start that could put the Packers a long way back early on. Green Bay showed that their offense is still a powerhouse as they gouged the Redskins at will in a one sided win while the Bengals did a professional job on an average Pittsburgh team. Key here is whether the Packers questionable offensive line can keep all pro quarterback Aaron Rodgers upright against the Bengals dominating defensive line led by Geno Atkins. If they can do Rodgers and his quartet of big time playmakers, Randall Cobb, Jordy Nelson, James Jones and Jermichael Finley can put up points against a solid secondary. Andy Dalton has a great rapport with A.J. Green, one of the league’s best receivers but can he consistently find his other receivers when teams double cover Green? He has to prove it. Slowing Green Bay’s offense comes down to more than just winning upfront, the Bengals will be faced with short passes, long bombs, screens and all manner of formations, Green Bay simply find a way to score on you. The Bengals offense will get some joy but can they outscore Rodgers and co?

ATPF PredictionGreen Bay win narrowly, edging out the Bengals by less than a touchdown.

St. Louis Rams @ Dallas Cowboys

The Cowboys let a chance to be 2-0 slip in Kansas City while the Rams were narrowly edged out by a good Atlanta team. Both teams are struggling to run the ball and will be anxious to get more from their run games here. Dallas’ offense hasn’t got going yet this year, once teams zero in on star receiver Dez Bryant they seem to be able to nullify the Cowboys too easily. The Rams have put up points twice with Sam Bradford finally surrounded with playmakers, now Bradford needs to prove he can look after the football and lead his team to victory in the close ones. Defensively the Rams have yet to play to last year’s level and their secondary looks vulnerable to Romo and Bryant. Dallas defense forced five turnovers in week one and held Kansas well enough on the road last week but they are thin upfront. The keys here are whether Dallas can get consistent pass rush in their new 4-3 defense to help against Bradford using his arsenal of weapons and whether the Rams can contain Bryant who is unplayable at times.

ATPF PredictionHomefield advantage is worth around 3 points and that’s all big D wins by.

New York Giants @ Carolina Panthers

Two winless sides face off at the Bank of America stadium. Carolina couldn’t hold on in Buffalo last week while the Giants found the might of the Denver offense too much in the second half. Turnovers have been the single biggest issue for the Giants, six in Dallas on opening night and four more last week are alarming. Tom Coughlin and his staff will no doubt be prioritising ball security this week. Carolina haven’t been able to run the ball with the kind of success that you would expect given the depth of their backfield, they need big plays from DeAngelo Williams and co. Carolina saw Knowshon Moreno have success on the ground against the Giants and they will hope for plenty themselves at home. Carolina gave up nearly 300 yards passing to rookie E.J. Manuel last week and Eli Manning will expect big numbers himself, he already has nearly 800 yards passing but has thrown seven picks. The key to the Giants chances has to be those turnovers, if they win or tie the turnover battle they will fancy a road win. The Panthers need more from their entire offense, scoring under thirty here likely has them at 0-3.

ATPF PredictionThe Giants are too talented to be 0-3, they outscore the Panthers by a touchdown

Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ New England Patriots

The Patriots have battled to a 100% start. With Hernandez and Welker gone, Gronkowski missing and Amendola already injured Tom Brady is surrounded by inexperienced receivers, their growing pains clearly annoyed Brady last week. Tampa coach Greg Schiano is losing the locker room and a suicidal final two minutes saw them lose a key divisional game at home to New Orleans last week. Quarterback Josh Freeman’s tenure as starter could be about to end, he was abysmal against the Saints and has never taken the next step. The Patriots defense is much improved this year and has had to be, they are healthier than recent years and need to remain so with the offense struggling. Bottling up dynamic second year runner Doug Martin and protecting against big play receiver Vincent Jackson will be the two priorities this week. Tampa will want to get after Tom Brady and chance Darrelle Revis and co. in man to man against the Patriots inexperienced receivers. The Patriots have leant on all of Brady and coach Bill Belichick’s knowledge of how to win football games to twice win ugly early this season. They have twice been able to hold modest offenses to manageable totals with sound defense and the good news is that in the Buccaneers they host another distinctly average offense.

ATPF PredictionPatriots again grind out a win, beating the struggling Bucs by around a touchdown

Houston Texans @ Baltimore Ravens

The Superbowl champions have had a rough start, overwhelmed by Denver in week one, they eventually overcame the struggling Browns last week but lost star running back Ray Rice to injury in the process. The Texans meanwhile must wonder how they are 2-0, they came back from the dead against San Diego in week one before winning in overtime latest versus the Titans. Houston certainly haven’t hit the ground running like last year but perhaps they are looking to peak later in the season. This is a big game given that both teams have aspirations of being major players in January yet neither has to win it, Houston will still be in a decent position if they drop to 2-1 and Baltimore at worst could be a game back on Cincinnati if they lose. Key to this game is which team gets more from their ground game. The Texans offense is built around Arian Foster but he hasn’t got going yet and doesn’t appreciate splitting carries with Ben Tate. For Baltimore Bernard Pierce will start, he has always taken the chances he’s been given in Baltimore but he can’t replace Ray Rice who is the total package as a back. Both are solid against the run so yards on the ground will be hard fought here but if either team has success they will have a significant advantage in a game likely to be hard fought and low scoring. With Foster and Tate healthy we think Houston are the more likely to establish their ground game so we make them favourites.

ATPF Prediction– The Texans win a brutal one by under a touchdown.

Detroit Lions @ Washington Redskins

Washington have made a terrible start to the season, with last year’s rookie of the year Robert Griffin III still some way off 100% their offense has looked predictable and their defense has been torn apart on the ground by Philadelphia and in the
air by Green Bay. With the Lions meanwhile there are still more questions than answers, they were outlasted by an inferior Arizona last week to drop to 1-1 and they lost Reggie Bush to injury which was huge. If the ‘Skins can get back to 1-2 they will be bang in contention again in a poor NFC East, the Lions though know that 1-2 in the NFC North is not good enough so they must win this to keep pace. The two key factors here are how Washington does against Calvin Johnson with their porous secondary and on the other side of the ball who wins the battle at the line of scrimmage between a hugely talented Lions front four and a Redskins offensive line which has quietly become one of the better units in the league. We think Washington can win this one, the Lions give the suspicion they are always going to be vulnerable on the road and with no Reggie Bush the Redskins will surely key in on Calvin Johnson all day with double and triple coverage. Alfred Morris should have success running the ball as usual for Washington and RG3 can still perform to a high level even if he is confined to the pocket.

ATPF Prediction- Washington get a much needed win, by around a touchdown.

Arizona Cardinals @ New Orleans Saints

The Saints are 2-0, a goal line stand in the opener was followed by a game winning field goal in Tampa after the Bucs missed a relative chip shot with barely a minute remaining. Arizona are 1-1 but like New Orleans are outplaying expectations. They threw away their opener in St. Louis but came from behind themselves to beat Detroit last week. The Saints defense has been huge to both wins this season and coordinator Rob Ryan has turned the unit round after being the league’s worst a year ago. For the Cardinals having a serviceable quarterback in Carson Palmer has made all the difference and they can now at least compete more often than not even though this is still a team some way off challenging in the brutal NFC West. New Orleans in the Superdome are a tall order for anyone and realistically this looks a certain home win. The Cardinals have to attempt to pressure Drew Brees and force turnovers but if they can’t the Saints could put up big points.

ATPF PredictionSaints win by double figures

San Diego Chargers @ Tennessee Titans

Both of these teams are 1-1 but will think they could so easily be unbeaten. San Diego got a nice win on the road in Philadelphia last week after surrendering a huge lead to Houston in week one. The Texans also robbed Tennessee of victory by clawing their way back last week before winning in overtime. Through Houston we see how closely the two teams are matched here and both will fancy their chances. Crucially for San Diego quarterback Phillip Rivers looks back to somewhere near his best, he passed for 400 yards and three touchdowns in Philadelphia. The biggest difference thus far in Tennessee is the excellent play of their defense which was frequently picked apart last year; certainly Rivers will find them tougher than he did the Eagles. The two factors we are looking at here are whether Chris Johnson can come back to life against a Chargers defense that defended Shady McCoy excellently last week, if he can’t it will be on Jake Locker and from what we have seen that wouldn’t bode well for Tennessee. For the Chargers it comes down to whether Rivers can continue to look after the ball, turnovers have plagued him in recent years and he is vulnerable to them when pressured.

ATPF PredictionThe Chargers continue their solid start and win comfortably on the road.

Cleveland Browns @ Minnesota Vikings

The Browns are 0-2, have already lost their starting quarterback, traded their star running back away and seemingly given up on the season. Minnesota are one of the better 0-2 teams, they have lost two away division games to start but should get going at the Metrodome this week. Cleveland’s defense has actually played pretty well so far but they wear down late as we saw last week in Baltimore due to the fact they are back on the field so quickly. Minnesota’s problem is quarterback Christian Ponder, he had a horror start in Detroit and was inconsistent against the Bears last week. The Browns will focus the majority of their attention on Adrian Peterson but the best you can do with him is slow him down like Chicago did. The Browns may keep Minnesota to a manageable total but where they score any points from themselves is hard to see.

ATPF PredictionMinnesota win comfortably, a shutout is possible.

Atlanta Falcons @ Miami Dolphins

It was business as usual for Atlanta against the Rams latest after a disappointing defeat in week one against the Saints. Miami upset the Colts on the road and at 2-0 are looking ready to challenge New England for the AFC East this year. Atlanta need to keep pace with New Orleans who should remain unbeaten this week but with receiver Roddy White and running back Steven Jackson injured their offense has lost a lot of firepower. For Miami, sophomore quarterback Ryan Tannehill looks to have taken the leap and is rewarding the front office for surrounding him with talent. This game will be close and will be won and lost by the following battles. Firstly, whether Miami can protect Tannehill better, he was sacked five times in Indianapolis last week and the Falcons will hope to create turnovers through pressure. Also key will be whether Miami can contain Julio Jones, the Dolphins inexperienced corners have started ok but in Jones face a dynamic deep threat who will be the focus of Atlanta’s offense. If Miami can keep Jones from beating them only Tony Gonzalez is a proven big weapon in the passing game for Matt Ryan so the Dolphins may be able to contain the Falcons offense.

ATPF PredictionMiami takes advantage of Atlanta’s injuries and wins by under a field goal

Indianapolis Colts @ San Francisco 49ers

San Francisco had a rude awakening in Seattle last week and saw their bitter rivals leapfrog them as NFC favourites. The Colts offense was ineffective as they were upset at home by Miami so both teams are at 1-1. The Colts lost running back Vick Ballard to a season ending knee injury but traded their first round pick to Cleveland for Trent Richardson who should be an upgrade; we haven’t seen the best of him just yet. The Colts now hope to have a legitimate threat on the ground to help ultra talented quarterback Andrew Luck, there are still doubts however as to how good Luck’s receivers are. San Francisco’s offensive juggernaut broke down in Seattle with the Seahawks defense (arguable the league’s best) and the infamous Century Field 12th man able to hold them to just three points. Most alarming thus far for the 49ers has been the ineffectiveness of their usually dominant rushing attack, Frank Gore and co haven’t got going at all in the first two weeks. The Colts have started well against running backs but had major problems with quarterback Terrelle Pryor in week one when he ran the ball, that bodes very badly against Colin Kaepernick, arguably the league’s best dual threat QB. With the Colts offense stuttering so far they could have big problems against one of the league’s top units on the road and with Kaepernick likely to have plenty of success this could be a long day for Indy.

ATPF Prediction49ers get back on track and win by around a dozen points.

Buffalo Bills @ New York Jets

All four AFC East teams have gotten decent starts and these two will both hope to remain in contention by getting to 2-1. The Bills saw rookie quarterback E.J. Manuel lead them to a sensational game winning drive against the Panthers latest while the Jets lost a bruising defensive encounter in New England. Both teams have rookie quarterbacks at the helm so mistakes will be made but both are physically gifted enough to make plays on the ground as well as in the air. The Bills will hope their superior running attack led by the dynamic C.J. Spiller and powerful Fred Jackson can carry them to victory while the Jets will look to their stout, well coached defense to lead the way. Tipping Buffalo to win on the road is rarely wise but they can get a crucial victory at the Meadowlands here. Their rushing attack is amongst the league’s best, they have a top receiver in Stevie Johnson and their defense is playing to the potential it has on paper, as long as Manuel looks after the football they should win this one.

ATPF PredictionBuffalo win by around a touchdown.

Jacksonville Jaguars @ Seattle Seahawks

Unless you have just been beamed down from Mars you know that this should be an annihilation. Arguably the league’s worst team travel to arguably the league’s best. The hapless Jaguars are 0-2 and have no reason for optimism; they have lost their starting quarterback and starting running back and have to now visit a team who held the hugely talented 49ers to just three points last week. Seattle meanwhile know the opportunity they have going forward after that crucial win over San Francisco. If they can keep winning and get homefield advantage in the playoffs it will take a monumental effort by any team to keep them from the Superbowl.

ATPF PredictionName the score, let’s take a wild guess at Seattle 37 Jacksonville 0.

Chicago Bears @ Pittsburgh Steelers

Da Bears are unbeaten and look strong favourites as they travel to Heinz field to take on the Steelers who are winless and in what Pittsburgh classes as a crisis. Chicago have twice won close ones, beating Minnesota by one last week and beating Cincinnati by three in week one. Pittsburgh lost to Tennessee and were no threat to the Bengals on Monday night. Key to Chicago’s success is that their offense have began well, giving their very strong defense help. Quarterback Jay Cutler has begun well even taking into account his three interceptions thus far; he has a strong rapport with star receiver Brandon Marshall and is seeing better protection from a heavily upgraded offensive line. The Steelers line meanwhile couldn’t deal with Cincinnati’s top drawer defensive line and they are lacking offensive talent apart from quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. Mike Tomlin will no doubt have read the riot act to his Steelers this week and Dick LeBeau knows his defense needs to be near impregnable for Pittsburgh to win consistently this season.

ATPF PredictionThe Bears hold all the aces here, Pittsburgh keeps it close but Chicago prevail.

Oakland Raiders @ Denver Broncos

Close to Seattle and Jacksonville on the mismatch scale. Peyton Manning has thrown nine touchdown passes in Denver’s opening two wins, the future hall of famer knows that he has a real chance of an overdue second Superbowl ring this year. The loss of left tackle Ryan Clady could be huge for Denver going forward although doubtful it makes much impact this week. The Raiders are playing with real heart to make up for their lack of talent, they came real close to upsetting the Colts in week one and easily beat Jacksonville last week. Keeping spirits high could be tougher here though when Denver inevitably begin to build a big lead.

ATPF PredictionDenver cruises to victory, winning by around 20 points.

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Author: Dave

I have been an NFL fan since my first visit to the USA where I stayed in both Dallas and Houston. I have also visited New York, Chicago, Atlanta, Philadelphia and Kentucky. I was hooked the first time I watched a Cowboys game whilst out there although I must confess I had little idea what was going on! Like a lot of British fans I just kept picking more and more up and now follow the NFL news daily and hopefully have a decent level of knowledge myself! I am a Cowboys fan for my sins, I loved the twin cities of Dallas-Fort Worth in my time there and the iconic Cowboys were of instant appeal. First and foremost however I'm a football fan and all my articles will be written impartially. I hope you enjoy our site, feel free to leave us your comments and opinions.

2 thoughts on “ATPF Preview Week 3

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