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#403495 - 09/19/18 05:09 PM NFL Week 3
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New York Jets vs. Cleveland Browns

The Cleveland Browns find themselves in an unfamiliar place after continually discovering painful - and often creative - ways to escape without a victory dating to the 2016 season. The beleaguered Browns, who are winless in their last 19 games (0-18-1), find themselves as the favored team at home for the first time since 2015 heading into Thursday's game against the New York Jets.

"Our players are not going to quit. ... Our guys have the grit and toughness. What we have to do is find a way to win," Cleveland coach Hue Jackson said on the heels of Zane Gonzalez misfiring on his second field-goal attempt and fourth overall in the waning seconds of Sunday's 21-18 setback at New Orleans. Gonzalez was given the boot in favor of former Miami castoff Greg Joseph on Monday before the Browns traded troubled wide receiver Josh Gordon to New England for a fifth-round pick in the 2019 NFL Draft. While top overall selection Baker Mayfield remains on the bench in Cleveland, No. 3 pick Sam Darnold became the youngest NFL player to eclipse 300 yards in a game in Sunday's 20-12 loss to the Dolphins. Coach Todd Bowles believes his team is in for a stern test with the Browns, saying that: "They're definitely not an easy out. The two last games they lost went down to a nail-biter at the end."

TV: 8:20 p.m. ET, NFL Network. LINE: Browns -3. O/U: 39.5

ABOUT THE JETS (1-1): Quincy Enunwa has proven to be Darnold's most trusted target with 13 receptions for 155 yards and a touchdown. Former Browns wideout/quarterback Terrelle Pryor had four catches for 84 yards versus Lions, matching the total number of receptions of Robby Anderson over the first two games. As for the favorite/underdog status, Pryor downplayed any notion that the players are buying into it. "It means nothing to me," Pryor said. "It means nothing to Cleveland; it means nothing to the Jets. Paper is paper. There are so many teams that are underdogs and they're coming out and beating guys. It really doesn't matter."

ABOUT THE BROWNS (0-1-1): Tyrod Taylor nearly ended Cleveland's long and winding road of failure by connecting with rookie Antonio Callaway on a game-tying 47-yard touchdown with 1:16 remaining the fourth quarter before the Saints booted the go-ahead field goal under one minute later. "It's big-boy football, and that's what we expect out of (Callaway) to do. You're going to hear a lot more out of him this year," said fellow wideout Jarvis Landry, who has at least five receptions in 19 consecutive contests. The 25-year-old Landry has recorded 90-plus yards and a touchdown in three of his last five encounters with the Jets, including his last such meeting while playing for Miami on Oct. 22.

EXTRA POINTS

1. New York RB Isaiah Crowell, who spent four seasons in Cleveland, answered a 102-yard, two-touchdown performance in his team's 48-17 rout of Detroit on Sept. 10 by being held to just 35 yards on Sunday.

2. Browns RB Carlos Hyde, who has scored a touchdown in four straight games dating to last season, rushed for career-high 193 yards while reeling in a scoring strike in his only career meeting versus the Jets.

3. New York S Marcus Maye, who is not expected to play as he nurses a foot injury, recorded his first career interception in his team's 17-14 win over Cleveland last season.

PREDICTION: Jets 20, Browns 16
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#403675 - 09/21/18 01:04 AM Re: NFL Week 3 [Re: FREAK]
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Indianapolis Colts vs. Philadelphia Eagles

The City of Brotherly Love is set to welcome back Carson Wentz with open arms as the franchise quarterback returns to lead the Philadelphia Eagles against Frank Reich and the visiting Indianapolis Colts on Sunday. Wentz watched as Nick Foles led the Eagles to the franchise's first Super Bowl title as well as a 1-1 mark this season while recovering from an ACL and LCL tear sustained in December.

"We expect to go out and start fast, play fast, be clicking, and so I truly believe that's a realistic expectation," said Wentz, who is setting the bar high after the team was limited to just 39 points in its first two games. While Wentz returns, the Eagles have several other question marks on offense with injuries to Jay Ajayi (back) and tackle Jason Peters (quad) as well as a banged-up wide receiver corps. While Philadelphia is coming off a 27-21 setback to Tampa Bay, Indianapolis presented new head coach -- and former Eagles offensive coordinator -- Reich with his first win following Sunday's 21-9 triumph over Washington. Andrew Luck tossed a pair of touchdown passes for the second straight game and aims to exploit the Eagles' 28th-ranked pass defense that was shredded by Buccaneers quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick.

TV: 1 p.m. ET, FOX. LINE: Eagles -6.5. O/U: 47.5

ABOUT THE COLTS (1-1): Four-time Pro Bowl wide receiver T.Y. Hilton recorded a touchdown pass in his first two games this season before providing even more good news to the fanbase on Thursday by downplaying the severity of a quad injury that has forced him to miss two days of practice: "I'm feeling good. I'm still getting there. I should be fine. Nothing to worry about," Hilton said on NFL Network. While Hilton hasn't missed a game since the 2014 season and believes he'll be set to suit up for Week 3, running back Marlon Mack may not be as fortunate as he nurses both a foot and hamstring injury. Jordan Wilkins had 61 yards rushing against the Redskins while fellow rookie Nyheim Hines celebrated his first career rushing touchdown, but the two will face the league's top-ranked rush defense (58.5 yards per game).

ABOUT THE EAGLES (1-1): Ajayi shares the NFL lead with three rushing touchdowns this season, although he was limited to just seven carries for 23 yards and a score against the Buccaneers on Sunday. With Ajayi and Darren Sproles (hamstring) nursing their respective injuries, Corey Clement could see an advanced workload out of the backfield against the Colts with Wendell Smallwood contributing as well. Nelson Agholor, who has reeled in eight receptions in both games this season, leads a depleted group of wide receivers that was bolstered by the return of Jordan Matthews this week. Matthews was summoned after Mike Wallace was placed on injured reserve for the Eagles, who anxiously are awaiting the return of Alshon Jeffery (shoulder).

EXTRA POINTS

1. Indianapolis rookie LB Darius Leonard earned AFC Defensive Player of the Week honors after collecting 18 tackles, a sack and a forced fumble on Sunday.

2. Philadelphia LB Jordan Hicks has a team-leading 16 tackles and 1.5 sacks this season.

3. Like Hilton, Colts TE Eric Ebron has a touchdown reception in both games of 2018.

PREDICTION: Eagles 21, Colts 17
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#403676 - 09/21/18 01:05 AM Re: NFL Week 3 [Re: FREAK]
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Cincinnati Bengals vs. Carolina Panthers

The Cincinnati Bengals will try to weather a storm of injuries and remain among the ranks of the unbeaten when they visit the Carolina Panthers on Sunday. Consecutive 34-23 wins over Indianapolis and Baltimore have the Bengals on the verge of their third 3-0 start in the last five years, but health is becoming a concern.

Starting running back Joe Mixon is out up to four weeks following knee surgery, backup Giovani Bernard (knee) was limited in practice Wednesday and rookie center Billy Price is out at least two weeks due to a foot injury. "It's just the next-man-up rule," Bernard told reporters of the running back situation. "When one guy goes down, you just have to pick it up and get ready for it. ... It is what it is. When your opportunity comes up, just take advantage of it." The Panthers will be trying to bounce back from a 31-24 loss at Atlanta last week. They lead the NFL in yards per carry (5.4) and running back Christian McCaffrey is making a big contribution in the passing game with 20 receptions, second-most in the league entering Week 3.

TV: 1 p.m. ET, CBS. LINE: Panthers -3. O/U: 44

ABOUT THE BENGALS (2-0): Andy Dalton threw for 265 yards and four touchdowns - three to A.J. Green - in the win over the Ravens in last week's Thursday night game, and he has confidence in Bernard's ability to help keep the machine working. "Gio is such a smart player," Dalton told reporters. "He understands every aspect of the position. He knows what we are doing in the run game, pass game, protections and all of it. I definitely have a comfort level with him back there." The Bengals signed former Seattle running back Thomas Rawls on Wednesday to back up Bernard.

ABOUT THE PANTHERS (1-1): Cam Newton was 32-of-45 for 335 yards and three TDs while contributing a team-high 42 rushing yards in last week's loss to the Falcons, and the former NFL MVP is completing 69 percent of his passes in new offensive coordinator Norv Turner's system. "He's made a lot of good decisions these first two games," coach Ron Rivera told reporters. "I'm real excited about the progress Cam has shown in terms of understanding and getting a feel for what coach Turner wants." McCaffrey matched the franchise record with 14 receptions against Atlanta and also tied for the most catches by a running back in a game since 1981.

EXTRA POINTS

1. The last meeting in 2014 resulted in a 37-37 tie.

2. Green needs two TD catches to tie Carl Pickens (63) for second on the franchise's all-time list. Chad Johnson tops the list with 66.

3. Panthers LB Luke Kuechly, a Cincinnati native, enters Week 3 ranked fourth in the NFL with 21 tackles, while Bengals LB Nick Vigil is tied for fifth with 20.

PREDICTION: Panthers 26, Bengals 21
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#403677 - 09/21/18 01:05 AM Re: NFL Week 3 [Re: FREAK]
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Tennessee Titans vs. Jacksonville Jaguars

The Jacksonville Jaguars made a statement last week with a dominant performance against the defending AFC champions and can improve to 3-0 for the first time since 2004 when they host the Tennessee Titans on Sunday. Blake Bortles outplayed Tom Brady with 376 passing yards and four touchdowns to lead the Jaguars to a 31-20 win over the New England Patriots in Week 2.

Jacksonville had a 480-302 advantage in total yards to avenge a loss to the Patriots in the AFC Championship Game in January, and it has payback on its mind this week as it prepares for the Titans, who won both meetings in 2017. "Losing to a team twice, at their house and here, that wasn't cool," linebacker Myles Jack told reporters. "We're not too happy about that. That's obviously being talked about this week. The New England game was one thing, but this is a team that literally beat us twice in one year. We've got to fix that." Tennessee bounced back from a season-opening loss at Miami to defeat Houston 20-17 in its home opener last Sunday. Quarterback Marcus Mariota continues to feel tingling in his fingers from an elbow injury suffered in Week 1 and his status remains uncertain.

TV: 1 p.m. ET, CBS. LINE: Jaguars -6.5. O/U: 39.5

ABOUT THE TITANS (1-1): Mariota, who ran 16 times for 84 yards in the two wins over Jacksonville last year, was limited at practice Wednesday while throwing with a glove. "It's getting better, but it is frustrating," he told reporters. "It is hard because it's one of those things where you can't really do a whole lot. ... I think it's close but we are going to take it one day at a time." Blaine Gabbert threw for 117 yards in relief of Mariota at Miami and finished with the exact same total - as well as a TD pass - in a starting role against the Texans.

ABOUT THE JAGUARS (2-0): Bortles was 29-of-45 against the Patriots in perhaps his best overall performance as a pro and he continues to develop chemistry with second-year wideout Keelan Cole, who hauled in seven catches - one with one hand that the league is still buzzing about - for 116 yards and a TD. "He does stuff like that all the time in practice and kind of just showing off," Bortles told reporters of the circus catch. "He's got unbelievable abilities, so to watch him go out there, have fun and make plays like that is pretty special." The Jaguars hope to have another weapon on the field Sunday in the form of running back Leonard Fournette, who missed last week due to hamstring injury but has been practicing on a limited basis.

EXTRA POINTS

1. Jack has a team-high 18 tackles and the Jaguars' only interception.

2. Titans WR Corey Davis has been targeted 20 times, 11 more than any of his teammates.

3. Tennessee has won four of the last five meetings overall, including the 37-16 rout in Jacksonville last year.

PREDICTION: Jaguars 23, Titans 13
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#403678 - 09/21/18 01:06 AM Re: NFL Week 3 [Re: FREAK]
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New Orleans Saints vs. Atlanta Falcons

In what figures to be a competitive NFC South race, division matchups are going to carry extra weight. Even though it's only Week 3, the stakes feel high as the Atlanta Falcons prepare to host the New Orleans Saints on Sunday with both teams off to 1-1 starts.


The rivalry has been a competitive and contentious one over the years, and the teams have combined to win six of the last nine NFC South titles, so their head-to-head meetings always loom large. The Falcons are aiming for a second consecutive division win after holding off Carolina 31-24 last week. "I think it's going to be one hell of a division, and the team that leaves with winning the division will have damn sure earned it because they would have to beat some excellent football teams to take that, but that's a long way away," Falcons coach Dan Quinn told reporters. "I just think right now these four teams in this division are really on their game, and I think it's going to be a hell of a battle." New Orleans is trying to avoid dropping to 0-2 against division rivals after losing a 48-40 shootout against undefeated Tampa Bay in Week 1, and it was fortunate to escape with a 21-18 win over Cleveland last week.

TV: 1 p.m. ET, FOX. LINE: Falcons -3. O/U: 53.5


ABOUT THE SAINTS (1-1): New Orleans hasn't gotten its ground game going with Mark Ingram suspended to start the season, but the passing attack is clipping along as usual. Michael Thomas is off to a record-setting start with an NFL-record 28 receptions through two games, and he has hit double digits in receptions and topped 100 yards in each of his last two meetings with the Falcons. The secondary was much improved against the Browns after being lit up for 417 passing yards by the Buccaneers, but it will face another tough test in Atlanta.

ABOUT THE FALCONS (1-1): Despite Devonta Freeman being limited to six carries in the season opener and missing last week with a knee injury that is likely to keep him out again on Sunday, the Falcons have been able to establish the run as Tevin Coleman is averaging five yards per carry. Matt Ryan and Julio Jones have hooked up 15 times for 233 yards, although the star wide receiver has yet to find the end zone. The defense has been solid despite missing two stars in linebacker Deion Jones (foot) and safety Keanu Neal (knee), but the Saints' high-powered passing game will provide its toughest test to date.


EXTRA POINTS

1. New Orleans QB Drew Brees has topped 300 passing yards in six of his last eight games against Atlanta.

2. Ryan has averaged 333.5 passing yards with 10 touchdowns and four interceptions in his last four home meetings with the Saints.

3. Saints CB Marshon Lattimore has made an interception in each of his last two games versus the Falcons.


PREDICTION: Falcons 27, Saints 24
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#403679 - 09/21/18 01:06 AM Re: NFL Week 3 [Re: FREAK]
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Denver Broncos vs. Baltimore Ravens

The Denver Broncos vie for third straight victory to start the season and fourth in a row in the all-time series against the host Baltimore Ravens on Sunday. Case Keenum has guided the Broncos to back-to-back comeback wins at home in his first year with the club, including last week's 20-19 triumph over Oakland.

Denver is hoping to continue its early success on the road, where it won just one of its eight contests last season. After trouncing Buffalo at home in its season opener, Baltimore came out on the wrong side of a 34-23 decision at Cincinnati last week. The Ravens' pass defense will need to tighten up as Andy Dalton threw four touchdown passes in the contest, including three to A.J. Green on consecutive possessions that gave the Bengals a 21-0 lead. Joe Flacco completed 32-of-55 passes for 376 yards and two touchdowns but committed three turnovers, throwing a pair of interceptions and losing a fumble.

TV: 1 p.m. ET, CBS. LINE: Ravens -5.5. O/U: 44

ABOUT THE BRONCOS (2-0): Keenum was held out of Wednesday's practice due to a sore knee, but coach Vance Joseph told reporters his quarterback would be on the field Thursday. Tackle Jared Veldheer likely will not follow suit as he remains in concussion protocol and could miss the matchup versus Baltimore. Linebacker Von Miller leads the league with four sacks while wideout Emmanuel Sanders ranks third in the AFC with 231 receiving yards.

ABOUT THE RAVENS (1-1): Alex Collins, who missed practice on Wednesday with an illness, leads the team in rushing despite gaining only 48 yards on 16 carries. Collins has been more productive coming out of the backfield, registering 61 yards on only four receptions. Javorius Allen has rushed for a touchdown in each of the first two games while John Brown has caught a scoring pass in both of the team's contests.

EXTRA POINTS

1. Broncos rookie RB Phillip Linsday recorded 111 yards from scrimmage last week to become the first undrafted player in NFL history to eclipse the century mark in each of his first two career games.

2. Baltimore K Justin Tucker has converted 22 consecutive field-goal attempts, the second-longest active streak in the league behind the 29 straight by San Francisco's Robbie Gould.

3. Denver rolled to a 34-17 victory in its last visit to Baltimore on Dec. 16, 2012.

PREDICTION: Ravens 27, Broncos 20
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#403680 - 09/21/18 01:07 AM Re: NFL Week 3 [Re: FREAK]
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New York Giants vs. Houston Texans

There are only seven 0-2 teams remaining in the NFL and two of them will square off Sunday afternoon when the New York Giants visit the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium. It will mark the home opener for the Texans, who rank 26th in the league in scoring at 18.5 points while the Giants are tied for 29th with the Dallas Cowboys at 14 points per game.

The teams combined for only seven wins in 2017 but injuries were a huge factor -- New York lost its best offensive player in Odell Beckham Jr. while Houston quarterback Deshaun Watson suffered a torn ACL just before the midway point of the season. The Texans scored 162 points in their last four games with Watson under center a year ago but they have scored just 13 first-half points in the first two contests this season. "We can't compare ourselves to last year," said Watson, who finished 22 of 32 for 310 yards with two touchdowns and an interception in a 20-17 loss at Tennessee last week. "We're really close to being where we want to be offensively." The Giants may make a concerted effort to feed rookie running back Saquon Barkley, who was held in check on the ground in a 20-13 setback to the Dallas Cowboys.

TV: 1 p.m. ET, FOX. LINE: Texans -6. O/U: 42

ABOUT THE GIANTS (0-2): Eli Manning has thrown for one touchdown and one interception over the first two games and couldn't get the passing game untracked against the Cowboys, with 14 of his 33 completions going to Barkley out of the backfield. The No. 2 overall pick this year, Barkley was held to 28 yards by Dallas after going for 106 yards and a score versus Jacksonville in the season opener. Beckham also had a strong opener with 11 receptions for 111 yards but he was bottled up by the Cowboys for much of the game and wound up with four catches for 51 yards. New York's defense is 29th in the NFL against the run (137.5 yards per game) as it prepares to face Houston's top-ranked rushing attack (157.5).

ABOUT THE TEXANS (0-2): DeAndre Hopkins carried the passing game last season with 94 catches and an NFL-leading 13 touchdowns and is off to another fast start with 14 receptions, but fellow wideout Will Fuller also went over 100 yards and had a touchdown catch last week. While Lamar Miller leads the team with 166 yards rushing, Watson has bolstered the ground game by chipping in with 84 yards. Houston has only three sacks and is focused on getting its past rush untracked, particularly after Manning was taken down six times by the Cowboys. Former No. 1 overall draft pick Jadeveon Clowney, who had 9.5 sacks in 2017, sat out last week's game but insisted he will be in the lineup against the Giants.

EXTRA POINTS

1. Beckham has 46 receptions for 620 yards and five touchdowns in six career road games versus the AFC.

2. Watson had 12 touchdown passes versus two interceptions in his last three home games.

3. New York has won the past three meetings against the Texans.

PREDICTION: Texans 23, Giants 20
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#403681 - 09/21/18 01:07 AM Re: NFL Week 3 [Re: FREAK]
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Oakland Raiders vs. Miami Dolphins

The Oakland Raiders seemingly have received nothing but doom and gloom to start the season in the new Jon Gruden Era while the Miami Dolphins conversely have enjoyed sunny skies to begin the 2018 campaign. The Raiders aim to change their outlook on Sunday when they visit Hard Rock Stadium to face the Dolphins, who are off to a 2-0 start for the first time since 2013.

The Raiders have been left reeling after trading away 2016 NFL Defensive Player of the Year Khalil Mack, with the team averaging an NFL 31st-ranked 154.0 rushing yards to opponents while recording just two sacks -- matching Mack's total with Chicago. "We have to do something. We got to make improvements there," Gruden said of his team's pass rush on the heels of a 20-19 loss to Denver on Sunday. "Across the board we got to make improvements. It was pretty obvious." What might not be as obvious is Miami quarterback Ryan Tannehill is 9-1 in his last 10 starts -- a stretch that is sandwiched around a serious knee injury that sidelined him for the 2017 season. The 30-year-old Tannehill threw two touchdown passes for the second time in as many weeks in Sunday's 20-12 triumph over the New York Jets.

TV: 1 p.m. ET, CBS. LINE: Dolphins -3. O/U: 44.5

ABOUT THE RAIDERS (0-2): Derek Carr completed 29 of 32 passes for 288 yards and a touchdown against the Broncos, with wide receiver Amari Cooper recording 10 receptions for 116 yards. Jared Cook, who leads all NFL tight ends with 229 yards receiving and is second with 13 catches, had eight receptions for 126 yards in a 27-24 win over Miami last season. While Cook has been fast out of the blocks, veteran wideout Jordy Nelson has been limited to just five grabs for 53 yards in two weeks. "We're using a lot of receivers. We expect to see more and more from Jordy as the weeks unfold," Gruden said. "Cooper had a big week last week, Cook had a big week in Week 1, hopefully Jordy has one this week."

ABOUT THE DOLPHINS (2-0): While Kenyan Drake leads the team in carries (25) and rushing yards (101) and has the team's lone rushing touchdown, the ageless Frank Gore is averaging a robust 4.8 yards per carry. Gore, who totaled 468 scrimmage yards in four career encounters with the Raiders, surpassed Hall of Famer Curtis Martin for fourth place on the NFL's all-time rushing list (14,112) last week. Miami's aerial attack features a number of receivers in play, with Danny Amendola leading the team with just eight catches while Kenny Stills has a club-best 123 yards receiving and two touchdowns. DeVante Parker has participated in practice this week, but the Palm Beach Post reported that coach Adam Gase has a murky outlook toward the wide receiver playing in Week 3.

EXTRA POINTS

1. Miami LB Kiko Alonso recorded two forced fumbles last week and had one in the last encounter with Oakland.

2. Raiders RB Marshawn Lynch returned from a one-game suspension to collect two touchdown runs against the Dolphins last season.

3. Miami S Reshad Jones (shoulder) participated in individual drills on Thursday to move a step closer toward playing against Oakland.


PREDICTION: Raiders 20, Dolphins 18
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#403682 - 09/21/18 01:08 AM Re: NFL Week 3 [Re: FREAK]
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Green Bay Packers vs. Washington Redskins

The Green Bay Packers rely heavily on superstar quarterback Aaron Rodgers, and his lingering knee issue is a point of concern for the team. The Packers hope to have Rodgers as close to full strength as possible when they visit the Washington Redskins in Week 3 on Sunday.

Rodgers suffered a left knee injury in a Week 1 win over the Chicago Bears and played throughout last week's 29-29 tie against the Minnesota Vikings with a brace, and he is still not a full participant in practice. "It just depends on how the week goes with the rehab and the recovery," Rodgers told reporters of his ability to play through the injury again on Sunday. "Obviously, I'd love to be better than I was last week as far as health-wise but there's some factors that are out of my control." The quarterback chosen ahead of Rodgers in the 2005 draft, Alex Smith, suffered his first loss with his new team in Washington's 21-9 setback at home against Indianapolis in Week 2. "I think any good team has got to be able to handle both (wins and losses) and all the stuff in between," Smith told reporters. "I think it's the tale of the season is how you handle all these situations, emotions, stress, all the stuff that comes with this game. You have to be able to handle all that stuff."

TV: 1 p.m. ET, FOX. LINE: Packers -3. O/U: 45.5.

ABOUT THE PACKERS (1-0-1): Rodgers expressed concern that his knee injury could worsen with further play but still intends to tough it out if possible. "It's a combination of understanding your body really well and knowing your weaknesses based on whatever is ailing you," Rodgers told reporters. "For me, as a leader, I want to be out there with the guys. That's my motivation, is to lead and be on the field and contribute." Rodgers passed for 281 yards and a TD with the injury against Minnesota last week, but the defense was shredded for 425 yards and four scores by opposing quarterback Kirk Cousins.

ABOUT THE REDSKINS (1-1): Smith lost a weapon on offense when Washington placed running back Rob Kelley on injured reserve Tuesday with a toe injury, giving the team three running backs on IR. [censored] of adding to the running game, the Redskins elected to beef up the passing attack by signing veteran receivers Michael Floyd and Breshad Perriman. "I think the fact that they're both veteran guys and have played helps with that," Smith told reporters of building a relationship with the two new receivers. "We'll see. We're not going to forecast anything for either of the guys. Get out on the practice field, put our work in and we'll see where it goes."

EXTRA POINTS

1. Redskins OT Trent Williams (knee) was a limited participant in practice on Wednesday and is questionable.

2. The Packers activated RB Aaron Jones (two-game suspension) and released CB Deante Burton.

3. Green Bay rookie LB Oren Burks (shoulder) could make his season debut on Sunday.

PREDICTION: Packers 31, Redskins 27
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#403683 - 09/21/18 01:08 AM Re: NFL Week 3 [Re: FREAK]
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Buffalo Bills vs. Minnesota Vikings

The Minnesota Vikings claim they are taking the Buffalo Bills seriously as they prepare for Sunday's home contest against the beleaguered squad. Buffalo has been outscored 78-23 in its first two games and is throwing first-round pick Josh Allen into the fire.

The Vikings feel the Bills' defense is better than it has shown this season and is capable of causing problems. "I think they have a very good front," Minnesota quarterback Kirk Cousins told reporters. "I think they showed that last year, having been a playoff team, taking the (Jacksonville) Jaguars all the way to the final play in the (AFC wild-card game). We have great respect for them, and we know we're going to have to be at our absolute best to have a chance because it's a really good front, and they're a really aggressive and attacking defense." Allen made his first career start as Buffalo's quarterback in last Sunday's 31-20 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers, completing 18-of-33 passes for 245 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions. The status of running back LeSean McCoy (torn rib cartilage) likely won't be determined until Friday or Saturday.

TV: 1 p.m. ET, CBS. LINE: Buffalo -16.5. O/U: 40.5

ABOUT THE BILLS (0-2): McCoy has gained just 61 yards on 16 carries over the first two games and said he will wear protective equipment over the ribs if he is cleared to play. "(I'll see) if I can actually go out there and run full tilt, full speed with no pain," McCoy told reporters. "But it might be some pain. I'll have to deal with it." The defensive issues led to coach Sean McDermott taking over the calls from defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier at halftime last week, and the two plan to share the responsibilities against the Vikings.

ABOUT THE VIKINGS (1-0-1): Cousins passed for 425 yards and four touchdowns with one interception in last Sunday's 29-29 tie with Green Bay and has made six scoring passes through two games. Wide receivers Adam Thielen (12 receptions, 131 yards, one touchdown) and Stefon Diggs (nine, 128, two) combined for 21 catches for 259 yards and three touchdowns against the Packers. Safety Harrison Smith (one interception) leads the defense with 15 tackles while defensive end Danielle Hunter has recorded two sacks to raise his total to 27.5 in 48 career games.

EXTRA POINTS

1. The Vikings hold an 8-5 advantage in the all-time series, but the Bills have won three of the last four meetings.

2. Buffalo DE Shaq Lawson (hamstring) could miss his second straight game while CB Phillip Gaines (elbow) hopes to play despite being injured last Sunday.

3. Minnesota signed K Dan Bailey to replace rookie Daniel Carlson, who missed three field goals in the tie against Green Bay.

PREDICTION: Vikings 37, Bills 20
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#403684 - 09/21/18 01:09 AM Re: NFL Week 3 [Re: FREAK]
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San Francisco 49ers vs. Kansas City Chiefs

The Arrowhead Stadium faithful will get their first live look at their electric young quarterback when the Kansas City Chiefs host the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday. It will be the first home start for Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, who has set an NFL record with 10 touchdown passes through his first three starts - all of which have come in two games this season.


Mahomes has been named the AFC Offensive Player of the Week in each of the first two weeks of the 2018 campaign, and although he's facing a San Francisco secondary that has been lit up for 556 passing yards in two games, the Chiefs know the league is bound to find a way to slow him down eventually. "As defensive coordinators study and see these things, they will throw different wrinkles at you, and you have to rise up every week," Chiefs coach Andy Reid told reporters. "That's not a simple part of this. In this business, it's not so much about what you did the week before, it's about what you do today. We have to keep answering these different challenges." The 49ers also are excited about their quarterback, as Jimmy Garoppolo is in his first full season as the team's starter. They were derailed by four turnovers in a season-opening 24-16 loss at Minnesota but rebounded with a 30-27 triumph over Detroit last week.

TV: 1 p.m. ET, FOX. LINE: Chiefs -6.5. O/U: 55.5


ABOUT THE 49ERS (1-1): Garoppolo's numbers have been pedestrian thus far, but the 49ers have benefited from having a solid backfield duo in Matt Breida - the NFL's leading rusher with 184 yards - and Alfred Morris (86 yards). The defense has been a mixed bag, with a solid pass rush led by DeForest Buckner - who ranks second in the league with 3.5 sacks - but a suspect secondary. Getting back linebacker Reuben Foster from a two-game suspension will help solidify the middle and give the 49ers another pass-rushing threat.

ABOUT THE CHIEFS (2-0): The Chiefs possess one of the league's most explosive offenses, but also one of the NFL's most combustible defenses. Mahomes has thrown touchdown passes to seven different players, including three to speedster Tyreek Hill, who has made 12 catches for 259 yards to go along with a punt-return touchdown. The secondary has been dreadful, however, as the Chiefs rank last against the pass as they have surrendered 860 yards through the air over two games.


EXTRA POINTS

1. Mahomes is trying to become just the fourth quarterback in history with at least four touchdown passes in three consecutive games.

2. San Francisco rookie LB Fred Warner has reached double digits in tackles in each his first two contests.

3. Chiefs LB Anthony Hitchens ranks second in the NFL with 26 tackles over his first two games with the team.


PREDICTION: Chiefs 33, 49ers 27
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#403685 - 09/21/18 01:09 AM Re: NFL Week 3 [Re: FREAK]
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Los Angeles Chargers vs. Los Angeles Rams

The Los Angeles Rams and Los Angeles Chargers are destined to share a home someday but for now the two teams will settle for sharing a stadium once this season, when the Rams host the Chargers on Sunday. The Rams are undefeated and look every bit like a Super Bowl contender while the Chargers are coming off their first victory entering the contest at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

The Rams won their first two games by a combined score of 67-13 and have a defense full of imported stars that is catching up to the offense in terms of explosive plays and production. "I feel like we can even get better," defensive tackle Aaron Donald, who signed a record six-year contract with a reported $87 million guaranteed on the eve of the regular season, told reporters of the defense after a 34-0 win over Arizona in Week 2. "That's the scary thing." That defense, which added cornerbacks Aqib Talib and Marcus Peters in the offseason, will go up against Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers, who is completing 73.1 percent of his passes for 680 yards and six touchdowns. "Two really, really good corners, obviously," Rivers told reporters of Peters and Talib. "Peters has had his share of interceptions the last handful of times we've gone against him. Talib is a heck of a corner. I've always thought going against him twice a year now for however long it's been, that I'd put him up there as one of the top corners in the league. Both those guys (actually)."

TV: 4:05 p.m. ET, CBS. LINE: Rams -7. O/U: 48.

ABOUT THE CHARGERS (1-1): Rivers never lacks confidence and is excited to go up against a Rams' defense that looks like the best in the league. "They don't try to trick you with their scheme," Rivers told reporters. "They just line up and say they're better than you. That works for them a lot of the time. So, it will be a heck of a challenge. You've seen what they've done the last two weeks, but the last six quarters really not giving up a score. They're a good defense." The Chargers are not quite as sharp on defense and are allowing an average of 29 points after facing the Kansas City Chiefs and Buffalo Bills in the first two weeks.

ABOUT THE RAMS (2-0): Los Angeles added wide receiver Brandin Cooks to the offense as part of its active offseason, and he is in the top five in the NFL with 246 receiving yards. "When you've got guys that can make plays all over the board, it doesn't matter if you're the guy or not," Cooks told reporters. "As long as we've got the weapons out there and continue to show that, I think it makes it a dangerous offense to stop." Another of those weapons is running back Todd Gurley, who ran for three scores in last week's 34-0 victory.

EXTRA POINTS

1. Rams LB Mark Barron (Achilles) is unlikely to make his season debut this week.

2. Chargers DE Joey Bosa (foot) has yet to return to practice.

3. The Rams added Jamon Brown (two-game suspension) to the active roster.

PREDICTION: Rams 35, Chargers 17
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#403687 - 09/21/18 01:10 AM Re: NFL Week 3 [Re: FREAK]
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Chicago Bears vs. Arizona Cardinals

The Arizona Cardinals struggled mightily on offense in their first two games of the season, and things don't figure to get much better when they host the Chicago Bears and their dynamic defense on Sunday. Arizona avoided being shut out by Washington in its opener by scoring a late touchdown but recorded 137 total yards while being blanked by the Los Angeles Rams last week.

Sam Bradford threw for 90 yards and the Cardinals mustered only 54 on the ground as they registered a mere five first downs and didn't get into Rams territory until the final minute in the 34-0 defeat. The club will be hard-pressed to improve those numbers against the Bears, who rank eighth in the NFL in total defense and lead the league with 10 sacks. Khalil Mack has lived up to the hype - and his $141 million new contract - in his first two games with Chicago, recording two sacks, two forced fumbles and an interception return for a touchdown. Danny Trevathan and Prince Amukamara were forces in Monday's 24-17 triumph over Seattle, with the former notching a pair of sacks and the latter returning an interception for a score.

TV: 4:25 p.m. ET, FOX. LINE: Bears -5.5. O/U: 38

ABOUT THE BEARS (1-1): Trevathan was named the NFC Defensive Player of the Week after recording the two sacks, eight tackles - six solo - and a forced fumble in the win over the Seahawks. He became the first Bears linebacker to receive the honor since Brian Urlacher in Week 9 of the 2012 season. Chicago hopes to get its ground game going this week as Jordan Howard gained just 35 yards on 14 carries against Seattle after recording 82 on 15 rushes in the season opener versus Green Bay.

ABOUT THE CARDINALS (0-2): Larry Fitzgerald suffered a hamstring injury in the fourth quarter last week after making three catches for 28 yards and did not practice on Wednesday but is expected to play against Chicago. The veteran receiver's next touchdown reception will tie him with Tony Gonzalez (111) for seventh place on the all-time list. Arizona received some solid performances on defense last week as cornerback Patrick Peterson recorded a career high-tying eight tackles and an interception while defensive end Benson Mayowa registered seven tackles and a pair of sacks.

EXTRA POINTS

1. The Cardinals, whose longest play last week was a 15-yard gain, are 0-2 for the first time since 2005.

2. Chicago QB Mitchell Trubisky, who has rushed 12 times for 56 yards in the first two games, threw two touchdown passes for the first time in his career last week.

3. Arizona released DT Garrison Smith, who recorded one tackle in two games, and signed LB Joe Walker from Philadelphia's practice squad.

PREDICTION: Bears 30, Cardinals 9
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#403688 - 09/21/18 01:11 AM Re: NFL Week 3 [Re: FREAK]
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Dallas Cowboys vs. Seattle Seahawks

The Seattle Seahawks look to avoid their first 0-3 start since 2002 when they play their home opener against the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday. Seattle, which opened the campaign with back-to-back losses in Denver and Chicago, hope the home-field advantage will help them top the Cowboys and begin a turnaround.

Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said his team is feeling the urgency to win this week as he is totally aware how hard it would be to have to dig out of an 0-3 hole. "Every single game is a freaking championship opportunity," Carroll said at a press conference. "We've got to go. There's only a couple of undefeated teams in the NFC right now and let's hang with them. I don't want to get behind that number right now, so we've got to get a win." Dallas, which defeated the New York Giants 20-13 last Sunday for its first win, has been terrific defensively as it has allowed just 29 points. "We want to hold offenses to the minimum, so we go out there with that expectation - and when we fall short, it's upsetting," Cowboys defensive end Tyrone Crawford told reporters. "Obviously, we're going to get in there and look at it and take it hard on ourselves, because that's what we do - and we'll just come out better next time."

TV: 4:25 p.m. ET, FOX. LINE: Seahawks -1.5. O/U: 41.5

ABOUT THE COWBOYS (1-1): Quarterback Dak Prescott has thrown for just 330 yards in two games and running back Ezekiel Elliott has rushed for only 147 after efforts of 69 and 78 to open the season. "I think we're really close to where we need to be," Elliott told reporters of the rushing attack. "We're just one block away from hitting some big ones, so we've just got to keep working, keep staying disciplined, stay focused and keep grinding." Linebacker Sean Lee injured a hamstring against the Giants but insists he will play on Sunday, while defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence has registered two sacks as he looks to follow up on last season's career-best 14.5 total.

ABOUT THE SEAHAWKS (0-2): Quarterback Russell Wilson has passed for 524 yards and five touchdowns but also has thrown three interceptions while being sacked 12 times behind shoddy play by the offensive line. The rushing attack is averaging just 69 yards per game and 3.6 per carry as first-round pick Rashaad Penny (17 carries, 38 yards) has been unable to make an impact thus far. The defense has been hit hard by injuries, with outside linebacker K.J. Wright (knee) slated to miss his third straight game, but there is good news as middle linebacker Bobby Wagner (groin) is expected to return after missing Monday's loss to the Bears.

EXTRA POINTS

1. The Seahawks have won three of the last four meetings.

2. Seattle WR Doug Baldwin (knee) didn't practice Thursday and likely will miss his second straight game.

3. Only three Dallas players have more than 30 receiving yards, with WR Cole Beasley the leader at 86 on nine receptions.

PREDICTION: Seahawks 19, Cowboys 17
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#403690 - 09/21/18 01:11 AM Re: NFL Week 3 [Re: FREAK]
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New England Patriots vs. Detroit Lions

Matt Patricia had one of the best coaching gigs in the NFL, serving as defensive coordination under Bill Belichick on the staff of the New England Patriots. Patricia parlayed his success in that post into his first head coaching job with the Detroit Lions, but he will have to beat Belichick and the visiting Patriots on Sunday night to earn his first career victory.

Aside from matching wits with his mentor Belichick, Patricia must find a way to slow three-time NFL MVP Tom Brady, who is coming off a rare clunker in a 31-20 loss at Jacksonville. "Patriots are a great team, great ownership, great head coach, great players and we've got a huge challenge in front of us," said Patricia, who spent 14 seasons with New England, six as defensive coordinator. "You know, you just try to keep it to the game." Sunday's game could mark the Patriots debut of wide receiver Josh Gordon, who has been a limited participant in practice since he was acquired from the Cleveland Browns earlier this week. New England is 45-6 after a loss since the 2003 season, last dropping back-to-back regular-season games in 2015.

TV: 8:20 p.m. ET, NBC. LINE: Patriots -6.5. O/U: 53.5

ABOUT THE PATRIOTS (1-1): New England's defense looks like it could use Patricia back in his previous role after it allowed Jacksonville's Blake Bortles to throw for 376 yards and four touchdowns in last week's romp. Trey Flowers, the team's top defensive lineman, was knocked out of last week's game with a concussion and safety Patrick Chung also suffered a concussion -- both have yet to practice this week and their availability looks increasingly in question. Brady did connect with wideout Chris Hogan for a pair of scoring passes but James White was the leading receiver with seven catches for 73 yards. Rookie running back Sony Michel rushed for a team-high 34 yards on 10 carries in his NFL debut.

ABOUT THE LIONS (0-2): Detroit was shredded by the New York Jets 48-17 in the season opener at home and fell behind by 17 points in the fourth quarter before Matthew Stafford threw a pair of touchdown passes in the three-point defeat. Stafford has attempted 99 passes as the revamped running game has sputtered, with rookie Kerryon Johnson managing a team-high 60 yards on 13 carries. While Golden Tate and running back Theo Riddick share the team lead with 14 catches, Kenny Golladay is emerging at a dangerous weapon for Stafford with 13 receptions for a club-high 203 yards and a score. The Lions could be without one of their top defenders with cornerback Darius Slay unable to practice this week due to a concussion.

EXTRA POINTS

1. Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski has 10 receptions for 143 in the last two matchups versus Detroit.

2. Stafford has thrown for 2,900 yards and 20 touchdowns in his last 10 home games.

3. New England is 52-13 against the NFC since realignment in 2002, the NFL's best inter-conference record in that span.

PREDICTION: Patriots 30, Lions 23
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#404155 - 09/23/18 05:50 PM Re: NFL Week 3 [Re: FREAK]
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Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

It hardly has been a smooth start for the Pittsburgh Steelers, who have yet to crack the win column and been embroiled in controversy swirling around the team's top offensive playmakers. The Steelers will face a red-hot quarterback for the second time in as many weeks when they visit Ryan Fitzpatrick and the undefeated Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Monday night.

Star running back Le'Veon Bell continues to be a holdout for Pittsburgh while All-Pro wide receiver Antonio Brown caused a stir for being a no-show one day after last week's 42-37 home loss to Kansas City. "It has to die," Steelers guard Ramon Foster told reporters regarding the off-field distractions. "Way too much stuff going on not to learn from this. Nobody is invincible. Nobody is shunned from any bad things happening, whether that's on the field or off the field." The surprising Buccaneers already have knocked off a pair of 2017 playoff teams behind fill-in quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, who is the first player to open the season with consecutive 400-yard, four-touchdown performances. "His numbers are off the charts," Buccaneers coach Dirk Koetter told reporters. "So how would you expect everybody to respond? Of course, our team is playing well. They're doing something not many thought they could."

TV: 8:15 p.m. ET, ESPN. LINE: Steelers -1.5. O/U: 53.5

ABOUT THE STEELERS (0-1-1): Despite the absence of Bell and Brown's brief walkout, leading to disciplinary action from coach Mike Tomlin, Pittburgh's biggest issues are on the other side of the ball. After failing to protect a 14-point, fourth-quarter lead en route to a tie at Cleveland in the season opener, the Steelers were carved up by Kansas City and quarterback Patrick Mahomes, who threw for 326 yards and six touchdowns in Sunday's shootout. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger rebounded from a five-turnover debacle in Week 1 by throwing for 452 yards and three scores last weekend - with JuJu Smith-Schuster hauling in 13 passes for 121 yards and a TD. Running back James Conner was limited to 17 yards on eight carries last week after rumbling for 135 and two touchdowns in Week 1.


ABOUT THE BUCCANEEERS (2-0): Fitzpatrick was supposed to simply mind the store while starting quarterback Jameis Winston was serving a three-game suspension to open the season, but after throwing for eight touchdowns and a league-high 819 yards, the job is his - for now. "With the way the team is rallying behind him and just playing lights-out football, you have to kind of honor it," wideout DeSean Jackson, who has nine receptions for 275 yards and three touchdowns through two games, told reporters. "You can't take the hot man out. You got the hot fire right now." Mike Evans has been the favorite target of Fitzpatrick with 17 catches for 230 yards and two scores. Tampa Bay's defense received a boost when defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul and cornerback Brent Grimes were full participants in Friday's practice.

EXTRA POINTS

1. Fitzpatrick is bidding to become the first QB in NFL history with at least 400 passing yards in three straight games.

2. Brown, who made nine catches in each of the first two contests, has 70 receptions and seven TDs in his last eight games versus NFC foes.

3. Tampa Bay rookie DT Vita Vea, the team's first-round draft pick, could make his NFL debut.

PREDICTION: Steelers 30, Buccaneers 26
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