Week 3 in the NFL: Big Love For Every NFC North Team

By Scott Taylor and Dave Petrishen

It would be an understatement to suggest that the Kansas City Chiefs are for real. Real? That team is so real it’s a living, breathing 3-D contender.

Thursday night, Chiefs head coach Andy Reid made a brilliant, dynamic return to Philadelphia – his home for 14 NFL seasons – as he led the Chiefs to town and ripped the Eagles 26-16.

Andy Reid of the Chiefs

Andy Reid of the Chiefs

The Chiefs revamped and now sensational defense — did we ever think we’d say that about the Chiefs D again? – destroyed Eagles quarterback Michael Vick, sacking him five times and forcing five turnovers. This one was a no doubter and even Reid was somewhat taken aback.

“It was good to come back like this,” Reid told the NFL Network after the game. “You never think you’re going to be in these shoes. But at no time has red felt better than today.”

Kansas City is now 3-0 and with Alex Smith at quarterback has not coughed up a turnover. At 3-0, the Chiefs have already won one more game than they did in 2012 when they got the first overall draft, then hired Reid (who had been fired in Philly after going 4-12) and then made a deal to get Smith from San Francisco. In Smith’s last 17 starts he is 14-3 with 24 touchdowns and only five interceptions. He might be as dynamic or exciting as Colin Kaepernick but as we railed on-and-on about last year, he’s a winner.

Alex Smith, Kansas City

Alex Smith, Kansas City

Philly, meanwhile, fell to 1-2 and lost its eighth straight home game. So much for Chip Kelly’s rah-rah college approach to the NFL. That certainly fizzled fast, didn’t it?

With Kansas City’s tremendous win on Thursday night, Dr. Football already has a 1-0 lead over the Coach in a battle that is getting tense and testy after only two weeks.

Last week, in Week 2, The Doctor was an astonishing 14-2 (24-8 overall) straight up, but an unimpressive 8-8 (13-19 overall) against the spread. The Coach, meanwhile, was 13-3 (24-8 on the season) straight up and also 8-8 (14-18 overall) against the spread.

This week, we’ll be even better. Dr. Football captures our brilliant deductive reasoning with his prose while the Coach kicks back in his La-Z-Boy and snoozes.

SUNDAY AFTERNOON

Jake Locker, Tennessee

Jake Locker, Tennessee

San Diego Chargers (1-1) at Tennessee Titans (1-1) 
Line: Titans by 3.

The Titans have impressed many so far taking on two traditional AFC North powerhouses in their first two games and emerging 1-1 despite the fact they’re not very good. Philip Rivers and the Chargers offense will expose them this week. The Coach says: Now I know why Jake Locker. And yes, I’m impressed.

The Doc: TAKE THE CHARGERS IN AN UPSET. 

The Coach: TAKE THE TITANS TO WIN AND COVER.

Cleveland Browns (0-2) at Minnesota Vikings (0-2) 
Line: Vikings by 5.5.

Cleveland traded away Trent Richardson earlier this week; and he’s the best they had. The Browns will need a map and a compass to find the end zone this week with QB Bryan Hoyer getting the start in place of the injured Brandon Weeden. The Vikings hung tough with the Bears last week surprising many. They really aren’t that bad and Christian Ponder always seems to play better at home. The Coach says: The Vikings would win by five touchdowns with a real quarterback. As it is, they win by two.

The Doc: TAKE THE VIKINGS TO WIN AND COVER.

The Coach: TAKE THE VIKINGS TO WIN AND COVER.

Josh Freeman, Tampa

Josh Freeman, Tampa

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-2) at New England Patriots (2-0) 
Line: Patriots by 7.

Tampa Bay is a mess. Josh Freeman is horrible and the rest of his team does not want to play for him. The Bucs defense did however manage to control Drew Brees last week, and should be able to make Tom Brady’s life miserable keeping this one close. The Coach says: The Patriots schedule does not reflect a playoff team, at least not until next week. This might be the first 3-0 team to go 8-8.

The Doc: TAKE THE PATRIOTS TO WIN BUT NOT COVER.

The Coach: TAKE THE PATRIOTS TO WIN AND COVER.

Houston Texans (2-0) at Baltimore Ravens (1-1) 
Line: Texans by 2.5.

The Texans have needed last-second field goals to win their first two games against teams that weren’t even projected to make the playoffs. They’re not the same team they were a year ago. The Ravens aren’t either, but they are at home and Joe Flacco is better there.

The Doc: TAKE THE RAVENS IN AN UPSET.

The Coach: TAKE THE RAVENS TO WIN.

St. Louis Rams (1-1) at Dallas Cowboys (1-1) 
Line: Cowboys by 4

The Cowboys offense has not produced so far this season, so the Rams might just be the fix. St. Louis’s secondary is horrible. Dallas has shown that it can stop the run, forcing Sam Bradford to pass — a lot. This will be a high scoring game. The Coach says: Two quarterbacks who should be better playing a game that probably won’t matter in January.

The Doc: TAKE THE COWBOYS TO WIN BUT NOT COVER.

The Coach: TAKE THE COWBOYS TO WIN AND COVER.

Carson Palmer, Arizona

Carson Palmer, Arizona

Arizona Cardinals (1-1) at New Orleans Saints (2-0) 
Line: Saints by 7.

There’s no tougher offense to stop than the Saints at home. The Cardinals are a different team this year with Carson Palmer behind center, but that might not help them on the road. Another high scoring game, the kind that Drew Brees likes.

The Doc: TAKE THE SAINTS TO WIN AND COVER.

The Coach: TAKE THE SAINTS TO WIN AND COVER.

Detroit Lions (1-1) at Washington Redskins (0-2) 
Line: Redskins by 1.5.

RGIII has yet to prove that he’s the same quarterback that he was prior to his ACL injury, and on the other side of the ball the Redskins defense has allowed more yards than any other team. Reggie Bush’s uncertain status makes things more difficult for the Lions, but despite last week’s loss, they are the better team. The Coach says: At some point Matt Stafford is going to have to find Calvin Johnson. Maybe this is the week.

The Doc: TAKE THE LIONS IN AN UPSET.

The Coach: TAKE THE LIONS TO WIN.

Green Bay Packers (1-1) at Cincinnati Bengals (1-1) 
Line: Packers by 2.5.

Aaron Rodgers with his league leading 146.9% passer rating may be the best QB in the NFL and he showed it last week. The Bengals are improved, but to beat the Packers, Andy Dalton will have to out-duel Rodgers in a shootout. That won’t happen.

The Doc: TAKE THE PACKERS TO WIN AND COVER.

The Coach: TAKE THE PACKERS TO WIN AND COVER.

Cam Newton, Panthers

Cam Newton, Panthers

New York Giants (0-2) at Carolina Panthers (0-2) 
Line: Panthers by 1.

No quarterback has tossed more interceptions than Eli Manning, and the Giants have an atrocious run game. Brandon Jacobs should help Peyton’s little brother and help get the Giants back on track and they’ll be playing hard for Tom Coughlin, who just lost his brother.  Cam Newton is not getting any protection and he’ll continue to struggle. A curious Vegas spread, as the Panthers are terrible. The Coach says: They’re both terrible.

The Doc: TAKE THE GIANTS TO WIN.

The Coach: TAKE THE PANTHERS TO WIN AND COVER.

Atlanta Falcons (1-1) at Miami Dolphins (2-0) 
Line: Dolphins by 2.5.

Atlanta learned this week that they’ll be without defensive end Kroy Biermann and fullback Brady Ewing for the season. Linebacker Sean Weatherspoon has been placed on injured reserve and running back Stephen Jackson won’t play on Sunday. Miami returns home for their fans after surprising the Colts last week and if the Miami O-Line give Ryan Tannehill the kind of time they did last week, they’ll be 3-0 Monday. The Coach says: This is a tough one. The Falcons are the better football team but Miami has played well.

The Doc: TAKE THE DOLPHINS TO WIN AND COVER.

The Coach: TAKE THE FALCONS TO WIN.

Colin Kaepernick, San Francisco

Colin Kaepernick, San Francisco

Indianapolis Colts (1-1) at San Francisco 49ers (1-1) 
Line: 49ers by 10.

Despite getting blown out last week in Seattle, I expect the 49ers and Colin Kaepernick to return to the same form that beat up the Packers in Week 1. Besides that, their D-Line should have Andrew Luck running for his life, even in defeat they sacked Russell Wilson four times last week. And throw in the fact that Jim Harbaugh coached Luck in college and knows him inside out, this will be a long afternoon in San Fran for the Colts. The Coach says: Something is wrong with the Colts. Still not sure what it is.

The Doc: TAKE THE 49ers TO WIN AND COVER.

The Coach: TAKE THE 49ers TO WIN AND COVER.

Jacksonville Jaguars (0-2) at Seattle Seahawks (2-0) 
Line: Seahawks by 19.

It may end up being the largest betting line of the year, but the Jaguars without a doubt are the worst team in the NFL. They have just one touchdown in two games and Chad Henne won’t be able to move the ball against the Seahawks defense. Seattle has the best home-field advantage in football and makes it a habit of blowing teams out. Last season they won three of their last four games by at least 29 points and last week beat the 49ers by 26. The Coach says: Frankly, I think the Seahawks can easily win by 27. But I’d never wager on it. There are certain principles in professional football that you just don’t mess with.

The Doc: TAKE THE SEAHAWKS TO WIN AND COVER.

The Coach: TAKE THE SEAHAWKS TO WIN BUT NOT COVER.

Geno Smith, New York

Geno Smith, New York

Buffalo Bills (1-1) at New York Jets (1-1) 
Line: Jets by 2.5

The Jets defense is their strength so far and they need it as Geno Smith continues to struggle and make rookie mistakes. In an interesting subplot, Bills head coach Doug Marrone had success against Smith in college. The Bills E.J.Manuel has success last week against the Panthers, but Carolina lost key defensive players during the game due to injury, and is turnover prone. Good defense will win this one. The Coach says: Low scoring, Bills prevail.

The Doc: TAKE THE JETS TO WIN AND COVER.

The Coach: TAKE THE BILLS TO WIN.

SUNDAY NIGHT

Chicago Bears (2-0) at Pittsburgh Steelers (0-2) 
Line: Bears by 2.5.

Look for Pittsburgh to break out of their early funk and get into the end zone a few times in front of their home crowd; Big Ben has proven in the past to recover just fine after a few losses. The Bears defense was awful last week against the Vikings, and are on the road for the first time this year. The Coach says: The Steelers offense will have to improve to a level that is probably impossible for thus bunch to reach.

The Doc: TAKE THE STEELERS IN AN UPSET

The Coach: TAKE THE BEARS TO WIN AND COVER.

MONDAY NIGHT

Terrelle Pryor, Oakland

Terrelle Pryor, Oakland

Oakland Raiders (1-1) at Denver Broncos (2-0) 
Line: Broncos by 15.

Manning: Nine TD passes, zero picks. They have beat their opponents this season by an average of 20 points. The Denver defense forces turnovers. Oakland is awful, and may not win again this season (who couldn’t beat the Jags?). The Coach says: I don’t hate Oakland as much as I once did. But they still aren’t good enough to challenge Peyton.

The Doc: TAKE THE BRONCOS TO WIN AND COVER.

The Coach: TAKE THE BRONCOS TO WIN AND COVER.

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