By Josh Kramer
Every team is done with an eighth of their games at this point and I can safely say that the first two weeks have been anything but predictable. The Bills, the Redskins, and the Lions are all 2 and 0 (who saw that coming outside of Rex Grossman?). Little known Harvard-gunslinger Ryan Fitzpatrick is gaining traction around the country, while Cam Newton is living up to all the hype and more. Plus the Colts may be the worst team in the NFL. Lastly, on this day ten years ago, little-known Tom Brady subbed in for an injured Drew Bledsoe. Talk about a crazy scenario. I know that I for one am extremely excited to see what Week 3 has in store.
As has become the tradition, we are once again having “TheSportsKraze Pick’em Challenge.”
The participants this season are as follows:
TheSportsKraze (TSK) (defending champion)-Josh Kramer-Founder/Editor-In-Chief of “TheSportsKraze” and former ESPN intern.
CV3-Chad Vordenberge-An elite high school wide receiver and a very successful business owner.
CB-Craig Baker-A former collegiate baseball player and current special education teacher.
DC-David Clark-A dedicated sports fan who was coached by TheSportsKraze on his fraternity flag football team. After playing for TheSportsKraze, he has developed a slow but steady motivation to show his coach who the real pick’em champion is.
After Week 2, here is the scoreboard.
Week 3 Slate:
Houston Texans (CV3) at New Orleans Saints (TSK, CB, DC)
-The Word: Can Houston’s revamped secondary handle Drew Brees and the vaunted New Orleans aerial attack?
New York Giants at Philadelphia Eagles (TSK, CB, CV3, DC)
-The Word: With or without the electric Michael Vick, this slugfest will not be lacking in excitement due to newly discovered talent, Mike Kafka.
Jacksonville Jaguars at Carolina Panthers (TSK, CB, CV3, DC)
-The Word: A matchup of the rookie QB’s: Gabbert versus Newton. Cam Newton has lived up to all the hype and more thus far. Can he nab his first career W against the Jags?
New England Patriots (TSK, CB, CV3, DC) at Buffalo Bills
-The Word: Who would have thought that a Brady/Fitzpatrick matchup would be a duel between two of the NFL’s elite QBs?
Miami Dolphins (TSK, CB, DC) at Cleveland Browns (CV3)
-The Word: I never thought that I would see the day where the Browns were favored over the course of three straight weeks.
San Francisco 49ers at Cincinnati Bengals (TSK, CB, CV3, DC)
-The Word: The 49ers let one slip away last week. Now they head to Southwest Ohio to try their luck against Andy (Dalton) and the boys.
Denver Broncos at Tennessee Titans (TSK, CB, CV3, DC)
-The Word: This may be the week where we start to see the Chris Johnson of old.
Detroit Lions (TSK, CB, CV3) at Minnesota Vikings (DC)
-The Word: The Vikings live and die on AP while the Lions appear to be one of the NFL’s most well rounded teams.
Baltimore Ravens (TSK, CB, CV3, DC) at St. Louis Rams
-The Word: The Rams struggle to generate any positive yardage off of the ground while the Ravens stop the run as well as anyone. The key matchup of this game will be between the St. Louis aerial attack and the mediocre Baltimore secondary.
New York Jets (TSK, CB, DC) at Oakland Raiders (CV3)
-The Word: Oakland has come up empty handed in two straight nail biters. Will the Raiders drop their home-opener too?
Kansas City Chiefs at San Diego Chargers (TSK, CB, CV3, DC)
-The Word: Many expected these teams to duke it out for the AFC West crown. At this point, the Chiefs are praying to win a game or two this year.
Arizona Cardinals (TSK, CB, CV3, DC) at Seattle Seahawks
-The Word: Will Tarvaris Jackson and the abysmal Seattle offense begin to click in their home opener against a very vulnerable Arizona secondary?
Atlanta Falcons (TSK, CB, CV3 at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (DC)
-The Word: Atlanta will look to ride Michael Turner to a major road victory against a Tampa team that is full of potential.
Green Bay Packers (TSK, CB, CV3) at Chicago Bears (DC)
-The Word: Soldier Field will be electric in a rematch of last year’s NFC Championship game.
Pittsburgh Steelers (TSK, CB, CV3, DC) at Indianapolis Colts
-The Word: Going into the season this appeared to be a primetime matchup. Since the Colts have gone “Peyton-less,” none of their games warrant much attention anymore.
Washington Redskins at Dallas Cowboys (TSK, CB, CV3, DC)
-The Word: “Sexy” Rex Grossman will look to keep the Skins rolling as they head to take on their bitter rival in the Big D.
Game of the Week: New England Patriots at Buffalo Bills
-I will admit that this was not a game circled on my calendar a even a week ago. But with the sudden emergence of Ryan Fitzpatrick, Fred Jackson, and the electric offensive unit in Buffalo, this game has some serious implications. Both of these AFC East teams are currently 2 and 0. They will meet again on New Year’s Day (Week 17), and could still be fighting for the AFC East crown then. Head to head is always the first tiebreaker and this game will go toward the head to head count.
-Tom Brady and the Pats have one of the most potent aerial attacks I have ever had the pleasure of watching. Buffalo on the other hand has really developed a balance, but can pound the rock on the ground behind their horse Fred Jackson with the best of them. Can Ryan Fitzpatrick continue to make the big play and shred a very lackluster Patriots secondary? If so, Buffalo has a chance. Sadly though, the Patriots are the best team in the League in my opinion and nobody knows how to win like Tom Brady. Despite being on the road, I am taking Brady, Belichick, and Co.
Stat of the Week:
-The Buffalo Bills have lost 15 consecutive games against their divisional foe, the New England Patriots. Sadly, the last time the Bills defeated New England was September 7, 2003, over eight years ago. Amazingly, four Buffalo Bills remain from that time, a surprising number considering how frequently players move from team to team these days. The four players who still remain from that Bills team that shocked New England 31 to 0 are Rian Lindell (kicker, hit a 44-yarder that day), Brian Moorman (punter, blasted a 71-yard punt that day), Chris Kelsay (defensive end then, linebacker now, had 3 solo tackles that day), and Terrence McGee (cornerback, was inactive for that game).
CV3: A lot of intriguing games this week. The NFC East and NFC North have divisional rivalries playing out. Look for the stats to be thrown out the window with these bitter rivals matching up. You never know what to expect in these divisional throwdowns, faking injuries, broken ribs, bulletproof helmets, or absence of defense. Will we see an injured Romo and Vick on the field? If we do, these games will be even more dramatic and fun to watch. Enjoy the NFC this week.
CB: How real are the Buffalo Bills? Are they contenders or pretenders? Even though it’s only Week 3 of the NFL season, I think that this game will show a lot about the Bills and how they compare to their division rival. I look for there to be a lot of offense from both teams in this game. My “X-Factor” player of the week is Ryan Fitzpatrick. The Harvard graduate needs to use all the brains he has on Sunday to pick apart the New England defense to be successful this week because we know Tom “Pretty-boy” Brady will pick apart the Bills defense!
DC: A decent week of picks puts me right in the thick of things. If you haven’t noticed, I like picking some underdogs every now and then to spice things up. This week, my dogs are Minnesota and Tampa Bay- two home teams hungry for a victory over a solid opponent. I think they both show up this week huge to throw a mini shock wave through the National Football League. In other news, I hope the ACC was watching last night’s beatdown at Nippert!
TSK: This week has more primetime matchups than either of the first two weeks. The four top games in my eyes pit the Patriots/Bills, Packers/Bears, Giants/Eagles, and the Redskins/Cowboys. In addition, on September 23, 2001, Tom Brady took over for an injured Drew Bledsoe against the New York Jets. Since then, no player has had a larger impact on the game. Take it all in and enjoy.
Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze.