It’s rare for a highly anticipated matchup to live up to its billing like Denver Broncos-Seattle Seahawks did last week, so give Peyton Manning and Russell Wilson credit for delivering on our expectations.
Apart from that overtime thriller, though, Week 3 was a relatively straightforward round for picks. All three NESN.com “experts” posted double-digit win totals, even with absolutely nobody anticipating the New York Giants’ victory.
This week might not be as easy to call.
The Giants and Redskins are both in need of a win. The Bears could make an early-season statement against the Packers. The Chiefs will test the Patriots’ porous pass protection. The Eagles put their undefeated record on the line against the Niners.
In other words, strap in for what promises to be an intriguing weekend of football.
Ben Watanabe: 10-6 (18-14 on season). Came within a blown 21-point Rams lead and a last-second Ravens field goal of a dominant week.
Darren Hartwell: 11-5 (19-13). Did what he had to do to post a solid record in an easy-to-call week.
Mike Cole: 10-6 (19-13). Last week’s leader falls back to the pack after trusting Colin Kaepernick and the Niners.
New York Giants (1-2) at Washington Redskins (1-2), Thursday, 8:25 p.m.
Ben’s pick: Giants. Not exactly kicking off this week’s slate with a bang. I’ll hold my nose and take the Giants, mainly because I think South Park’s portrayal of the Redskins franchise was closer to real life than most people believe.
Darren’s pick: Giants. The Redskins played a heck of a game last week, but they also lost DeAngelo Hall and Duke Ihenacho to season-ending injuries. Eli and the Giants will do just enough to hand Washington its second straight division loss.
Mike’s pick: Redskins. This seems like a toss-up. That being said, it makes most sense to go against the team traveling on a short week.
Buffalo Bills (2-1) at Houston Texans (2-1), Sunday, 1 p.m.
Ben: Bills. I’ll take C.J. Spiller and the dynamic Fred Jackson against Houston’s defense versus a banged-up Arian Foster against Buffalo’s defense, but it’s close.
Darren: Texans. Foster is listed as “day-to-day,” but if he plays, the Texans pull this off thanks to a strong run game and a solid defense. If he doesn’t play, I’m taking the Bills. Just kidding, I’ll take the Texans anyways.
Mike: Texans. It’s incredible to think that there are people in this country right now who can’t wait for this football game to start. Regardless, I’ll take the home team and pray Houston’s porous run defense (141.7 rushing yards allowed per game) doesn’t come back to bite me.
Carolina Panthers (2-1) at Baltimore Ravens (2-1), Sunday, 1 p.m.
Ben: Ravens. Steve Smith punched a few Panthers, literally, when he played for them. This weekend, he’ll punch them figuratively, most likely to the tune of a couple touchdowns.
Darren: Ravens. The Ravens finally get to play someone outside the AFC North, and they get to do it at home. This should be a close one, but the Panthers have too many question marks on offense right now.
Mike: Ravens. Really tried to talk myself into the Panthers, but if Cam Newton’s not 100 percent, it’s becoming fairly evident there’s just not enough around him to make up the difference.
Green Bay Packers (1-2) at Chicago Bears (2-1), Sunday, 1 p.m.
Ben: Bears. True, the Packers really need a statement game to stem the simmering panic among Cheeseheads. But have they really shown anything thus far to believe they have such a statement in them?
Darren: Packers. The Packers’ offense is really struggling right now. … If only they got to play a mediocre defense that just lost its starting safety. Oh wait, they do.
Mike: Packers. If jobs aren’t on the line in Green Bay this weekend, they should be.
Detroit Lions (2-1) at New York Jets (1-2), Sunday, 1 p.m.
Ben: Lions. What’s the opposite of a vote of confidence? A vote of non-confidence? Whatever it is, consider it to apply to the Jets in this case.
Darren: Lions. The Jets keep finding ways to lose, and they’ll find another way against a Lions team that held the Packers to just seven points a week ago.
Mike: Lions. This is tough. On one hand, the Lions are off to a really nice start. On the other, they’re pretty miserable on the road (5-12 away from Ford Field since 2012). Whatever. They should be good enough to beat the Jets. Right?
Tennessee Titans (1-2) at Indianapolis Colts (1-2), Sunday, 1 p.m.
Ben: Colts. Jake Locker could be quarterbacking the ’85 Bears and I still wouldn’t pick him head-to-head against Andrew Luck. OK, maybe I would, but he’s quarterbacking the ’14 Titans, so I’m not.
Darren: Colts. The Colts proved against the Jaguars last week that they’re capable of beating up on the AFC South basement. This won’t be as a big of a blowout, but it’ll be close.
Mike: Colts. There is literally no reason to take the Titans on the road straight up in this game, especially after they were blown out last week in Cincinnati.
Miami Dolphins (1-2) at Oakland Raiders (0-3), Sunday, 1 p.m.
Ben: Dolphins. Can you imagine having to watch this game? I feel bad for Joe Philbin and Dennis Allen, who have to at least watch closely enough to pretend they’re coaching — which is typically what they do every week, I guess.
Darren: Dolphins. Encouraged by their near-win against the Patriots last week, the Raiders will battle to another near-win against the Dolphins on Sunday.
Mike: Dolphins. Really regretting wasting my joke about no one watching the game on an earlier pick.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-3) at Pittsburgh Steelers (2-1), Sunday, 1 p.m.
Ben: Steelers. Fullback Jorvorski Lane had a 54-yard run in Week 1. It’s his only carry of the season, but it’s still enough to qualify him as Tampa Bay’s second-leading rusher. Goodness gracious, the Bucs are bad.
Darren: Steelers. Not only did the Bucs get their doors blown off last week, they also lost their starting quarterback. That’s not a good sign as they go on the road against James Harrison and the Steelers.
Mike: Steelers. I watched the first half of the Bucs game last week, and that was enough for me to pick against them for pretty much the rest of the year — especially when they’re matched up against a hot offense like Pittsburgh (419 yards per game to start the season).
Jacksonville Jaguars (0-3) at San Diego Chargers (2-1), Sunday, 4:05 p.m.
Ben: Chargers. I’m mildly curious to watch Blake Bortles’ first start, so if this game is on TV, I might watch it. (Checks listings.) OK, so it’s not on TV. Looks like I’ll be falling asleep on the couch during Bills-Texans instead.
Darren: Chargers. Bortles’ much-anticipated first start will help, but it won’t be enough to beat a hot Chargers team, even one without its two top running backs.
Mike: Chargers. I haven’t watched a non-Red Zone channel second of the Jaguars this season (a point of pride, really), but they’re in Bucs territory; barring some sort of crazy scenario, I’m probably not taking the Jags for the rest of the season.
Atlanta Falcons (2-1) at Minnesota Vikings (1-2), Sunday, 4:25 p.m.
Ben: Falcons. The Vikings’ best move this week was not having their owner hold a press conference that made the entire organization look completely and utterly inept. Baby steps.
Darren: Falcons. The Falcons aren’t as good as their blowout win last week, and the Vikings could actually be better with Teddy Bridgewater under center. That being said, the gap is still too wide here.
Mike: Falcons. The Vikings are starting a rookie quarterback and they’re without an All-Pro running back and a starting tight end. Next.
Philadelphia Eagles (3-0) at San Francisco 49ers (1-2), Sunday, 4:25 p.m.
Ben: Eagles. Which do you believe in more, the Eagles’ so-far undefeated record or the Niners’ multi-season pedigree? I actually like Nick Foles to pull off what Las Vegas would consider an upset.
Darren: 49ers. Call me crazy, but I can’t see the Niners allowing themselves to start 1-3. If there’s any defense that can slow down the Eagles’ offense, it’s San Francisco. After two tough games, they’ll right the ship.
Mike: Eagles. San Francisco was a trendy pick to take a step backward this season, and we’re seeing that play out. The only chance San Fran has of winning this game is to slow down an Eagles offense that’s averaging 33.7 points per game. Good luck.
New Orleans Saints (1-2) at Dallas Cowboys (2-1), Sunday, 8:30 p.m.
Ben: Saints. Morris Claiborne not playing is arguably the best decision Dallas’ defense has made all season. I initially put myself down for the Cowboys in this game, which would have been arguably the worst decision I’ve made all season.
Darren: Saints. I’m not sure what it is, but there’s something off about the Saints’ offense this year. The Cowboys’ defense should be a cure for what ails them, though, which is why they’ll win a Sunday Night shootout.
Mike: Saints. Dallas allowed a guy named Austin Davis to complete 30 of 42 passes for 327 yards and three touchdowns last week. Drew Brees is better than a guy named Austin Davis.
New England Patriots (2-1) at Kansas City Chiefs (1-2), Monday, 8:30 p.m.
Ben: Patriots. Facing Tamba Hali and Justin Houston is the last thing the reeling Patriots’ offensive line probably wants to do right now, but Bill Belichick is bound to hunker down and figure out a way to get it done with so many people questioning him this week.
Darren: Patriots. The Patriots look pretty terrible right now, and the Chiefs are a significant step above the Vikings and Raiders, but New England will still get the job done somehow. Call it hometown bias.
Mike: Chiefs. The Patriots’ offensive line is a mess and the Chiefs can get after the quarterback (nine sacks through three games). Throw in some crowd noise on the big stage, and you’ve got the recipe for a long night for the Brady Bunch.
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