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Everything you need to know: Week 3

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Palmer needs Doc Brown and a DeLorean to knock off the Saints.
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Joel Beall

Joel Beall is a writer for FOXSports.com and WhatIfSports.com. He lives with a Golden Tee machine and a jump shot that’s currently broken. Reach Joel on Twitter @FOXSportsBeall.

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Who is ready for some football?!?! Here’s a rundown of Week 3’s gridiron itinerary:

 

Houston Texans (2-0) at Baltimore Ravens (1-1)

 

The lowdown: Not exactly an auspicious title defense by the Ravens thus far, coming out on the business end of a 49-27 beatdown by the Broncos and eking out a win versus the lowly Browns. Baltimore’s road won’t be much smoother this weekend, as the team welcomes the Texans into town with offensive catalyst Ray Rice likely on the sidelines.

The absence of Rice is a pleasant surprise for a beleaguered Texans defense. Despite a 2-0 start, the Houston resistance has been anything but against less-than-formidable attacks in the Chargers and Titans. If the Texans plan on making a Super Bowl run, the defense will need a turn of fortune.

Key injuries: HOU WR Andre Johnson – Concussion (Probable), HOU S Ed Reed – Hip (Questionable), BAL RB Ray Rice – Hip (Doubtful)

Line: Houston -3, 44.5

Fake line: Times John Harbaugh yells, “That’s deplorable!” at refs: 8.5

Fantasy impact: With Rice out, the spotlight will be a backup Bernard Pierce. Owned in just 53.5 percent of FOXSports.com fantasy football leagues, Pierce could be an astute pick-up against a Houston unit surrendering 99.5 rushing yards per game.

TV: CBS – 1:00 p.m.

The Texans win if: The dynamic combo of Arian Foster and Ben Tate runs wild on a susceptible Baltimore front seven; Matt Schaub curtails his turnover propensity.

The Ravens win if: Torrey Smith is able to prolong his hot start (11 receptions, 177 yards); Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil pressure Schaub into multiple errors.

Prediction: Ravens 24, Texans 20

 

New York Giants (0-2) at Carolina Panthers (0-2)

 

The lowdown: A loss essentially destroys playoff aspirations for either squad. Can the Giants alleviate their security issues? (A league-worst minus-eight on turnover difference.) Can the Panthers fix their air woes on both sides of the ball? (30th in passing offense, 293.5 yards allowed on defense, 22nd in the NFL.) After a year of stagnation, can Cam Newton progress in his third professional year? Will this format of rhetorical questions fill-up enough space to make this matchup seem intriguing? (Probably not.)

Key injuries: NYG DB Corey Webster – Hip (Doubtful), NYG TE Brandon Myers – Ribs (Questionable), CAR DL Dwan Edwards – Thigh (Doubtful), CAR DB Quintin Mikell – Ankle (Out)

Line: New York -1, 46.5

Fake line: Occasions Eli Manning looks to the heavens after a David Wilson mistake: 3.5

Fantasy impact: Manning’s seven interceptions are garnering attention, but the G-Men quarterback does have over 800 yards and five touchdowns through the first two weeks. Starting in a meager 41.5 percent of leagues, Manning is a must-start against a porous Carolina secondary.

TV: FOX – 1:00 p.m.

The Giants win if: The Giants backfield curbs its miscues, Manning and the aerial assault takes flight.

The Panthers win if: New York’s offensive blunders reemerge, Newton has one of his tour-de-force outings.

Prediction: Giants 34, Panthers 27

 

Detroit Lions (1-1) at Washington Redskins (0-2)

 

The lowdown: After an energizing 2012 campaign, things could turn despondent in Washington in a hurry if Mike Shanahan’s squad starts 0-3. RG3’s stat line conveys success (649 passing yards, five touchdowns), but the former Heisman winner has looked stiff in his return from knee surgery. Washington’s defense hasn’t helped the assimilation process for Griffin III, giving up 35.5 points per game, second-most in the NFL.

Washington could be in for further tough sledding on Sunday, as the Lions offense looks revitalized with the arrival of Reggie Bush. For the first time in Matthew Stafford’s tenure, the Lions have a viable running game, opening up an already-explosive Detroit passing blitz. With Bush’s status uncertain for Sunday, Motown will be looking toward Joique Bell to carry on Bush’s vibrant presence.

Key injuries: DET RB Reggie Bush – Knee (Questionable), WAS WR Leonard Hankerson – Groin (Questionable), WAS DB Brandon Meriweather – Concussion (Probable)

Line: Washington -1, 48.5

Fake line: Shots of Kirk Cousins holding his helmet after Griffin miscues: 2.5

Fantasy impact: Washington is conceding a league-high 201 yards on the ground and the third-most fantasy points to running backs. If Bush cannot go, look for Bell to get a healthy dose of touches against a vulnerable opponent.

TV: FOX – 1:00 p.m.

The Lions win if: Stafford and company make it rain; Ndamukong Suh officially turns into a wrestling villain by body slamming Griffin III into the infirmary.

The Redskins win if: Washington’s defense bends but doesn’t break; Griffin III gets back on track.

Prediction: Lions 31, Redskins 23

 

San Diego Chargers (1-1) at Tennessee Titans (1-1)

 

The lowdown: Imagined to be on the bottom rung of the AFC entering the season, both the Chargers and Titans have put forth valiant efforts in the opening weeks. (Consequently, each has fallen to the Texans by less than a touchdown.) Saying these clubs are viewed as playoff contenders would be a stretch, as major impediments stand in their ventures. Nevertheless, going 2-1 out of the gate would be a step in the right direction.

Key injuries: SD LB Manti Te’o – Foot (Doubtful), SD WR Malcom Floyd – Neck (Out), SD T D.J. Fluker – Concussion (Out), TEN WR Kendall Wright – Concussion (Probable)

Line: Tennessee -3, 43.5

Fake line: Primal yells from Philip Rivers at teammates following a mistake on his part: 1.5

Fantasy impact: Malcom Floyd is expected to miss the next month following a severe neck injury. While Eddie Royal has proved a solid complement to Antonio Gates in the passing game, look for Vincent Brown to step in to Floyd’s role. The Titans are giving up the fourth-highest point total to receivers in the AFC, giving Brown a platform to shine in Week 3.

TV: CBS – 1:00 p.m.

The Chargers win if: Rivers delivers his third consecutive strong display (614 yards, seven scores, one interception), the Lighting Bolts can contain Tennessee’s terrain options.

The Titans win if: Chris Johnson does work on a defense granting 110 rushing yards; Jake Locker continues his poor man’s Trent Dilfer impersonation. That was a compliment, I swear.

Prediction: Titans 17, Chargers 14

 

Arizona Cardinals (1-1) at New Orleans Saints (2-0)

 

The lowdown: You want to avert from making audacious proclamations following just two weeks of action. After all, it was just a season ago the Cardinals started 4-0 before losing 11 of their final 12 contests. Yet it’s hard not to notice the rejuvenation in the Saints’ execution with Sean Payton back on the sidelines. Drew Brees is putting up the good fight against Father Time, throwing for 679 yards in the first two games in spite of turning 34 in the offseason. New defensive coordinator Rob Ryan seems to be making an instant impact, with New Orleans holding opponents to just 15.5 points per game. If the Saints running game can improve its output (a putrid 3.1 yards per carry), New Orleans could make some noise in the NFC.

The addition of Carson Palmer had added stability under center in the desert, and the Cardinals secondary is quietly turning into one of the more effective groups in the league. Alas, the Arizona offensive line remains in shambles, and All-Pro linebacker Daryl Washington is serving a league-sanctioned sabbatical for substance abuse. Taking down the Saints in the Big Easy will be a tall order.

Key injuries: ARZ RB Rashard Mendenhall – Toe (Probable), ARI WR Larry Fitzgerald – Hamstring (Questionable), NO DB Patrick Robinson – Knee (Out), NO RB Mark Ingram – Toe (Questionable)

Line: New Orleans -7, 48.5

Fake line: Sights of Rob Ryan trying to fire-up his defense: 13.5 (take the over)

Fantasy impact: In deeper formats, rookie wideout Kenny Stills is worth the look. Jimmy Graham, Marques Colston, Lance Moore and Darren Sproles are higher on the receiving totem pole, but Brees has a penchant of spreading the love around, and Stills’ deep-threat aptitude could deliver dividends.

TV: FOX – 1:00 p.m.

The Cardinals win if: Arizona’s special teams work some magic; Palmer hops in a DeLorean and saves himself from Kimo von Oelhoffen.

The Saints win if: Brees takes care of business.

Prediction: Saints 37, Cardinals 20

 

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-2) at New England Patriots (2-0)

 

The lowdown: The incorporation of New England’s fledgling receivers has not been a smooth process. With veteran Danny Amendola out and everyone’s favorite loveable lug Rob Gronkowski still recovering from back issues, Kenbrell Thompkins, Aaron Dobson and Zach Sudfeld will look to carry the load for the Pats this weekend.

As for the Buccaneers…Tampa’s two defeats away from a full-scale mutiny against Greg Schiano. Worse, because of player safety concerns, the Creamsicle Bucco Bruce alternate unis won’t be making an appearance in 2013. Hell, indeed.

Key injuries: NE TE Rob Gronkowski – Back (Questionable), NE WR Danny Amendola – Groin (Out), TB G Carl Nicks – Toe (Probable)

Line: New England -8.5, 43.5

Fake line: Brady blank stares at Bill Belichick after Dobson drops another ball: 4.5

Fantasy impact: The Buccaneers are yielding the most points to tight ends through two weeks. Enter Sudfeld, an undrafted rookie from Nevada who had success in training camp but has failed to translate it to the regular season. With Gronk likely out, Sudfeld has the perfect chance to make a statement before Gronkowski returns.

TV: FOX – 1:00 p.m.

The Buccaneers win if: Freeman cuts down on turnovers; Doug Martin turns in a spectacular performance versus a stout New England front seven.

The Patriots win if: The rapport between Brady and his young receivers improves; Josh Freeman keeps doing Josh Freeman things.

Prediction: Patriots 30, Buccaneers 12

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Green Bay Packers (1-1) at Cincinnati Bengals (1-1)

 

The lowdown: The high-octane offense of the Packers travels to Cincinnati to battle one of the best defenses in the NFL. The Cheeseheads lost Greg Jennings in the offseason, but Aaron Rodgers’ arsenal has never been deeper, with Randall Cobb, Jordy Nelson and James Jones fronting his receiving corps. Moreover, Green Bay has bolstered their backfield with the selection of Eddie Lacy in April’s Draft, while James Starks is injury-free for the first time in three years. With this battery, it’s no accident that Rodgers has transformed into the paragon of his position.

If the Bengals hope to have a shot, Cincinnati’s defensive front will have to cause chaos. Featuring All-Pro Geno Atkins, Michael Johnson, Domata Peko, Carlos Dunlap, James Harrison and James Harrison’s scowl, Green Bay’s beat-up offensive line could be in for a struggle on Sunday.

Key injuries: CIN DB Dre Kirkpatrick – Hamstring (Doubtful), CIN DE Robert Geathers – Elbow (Out), GB RB Eddie Lacy – Concussion (Out), GB FB John Kuhn – Hamstring (Doubtful)

Line: Green Bay -3, 48.5

Fake line: Confused looks from Jermaine Gresham after an Andy Dalton overthrow: 3.5

Fantasy impact: Giovani Bernard was a popular pick-up after finding pay dirt twice against the Steelers on Monday night. BenJarvus Green-Ellis endures as the primary rusher for the Bengals, but if Cincinnati finds itself down early, envision Bernard seeing action early and often in passing plays.

TV: FOX – 1:00 p.m.

The Packers win if: Starks posts a second straight bountiful day; the Green Bay secondary limits the contributions of A.J. Green.

The Bengals win if: Rodgers gets lost on the way to the stadium; Dalton improves on his accuracy (25-for-45 on Monday night) to keep the Green Bay offense on the sidelines.

Prediction: Packers 34, Bengals 21

 

St. Louis Rams (1-1) at Dallas Cowboys (1-1)

 

The lowdown: A revamped offensive line has given Sam Bradford new life (651 yards, five touchdowns), and Tavon Austin has shot energy into the St. Louis receiving ranks. The fruition of the Rams ultimately lies in the effectiveness of their defense, one that features a young, dexterous core in Janoris Jenkins, Robert Quinn and Chris Long.

The Cowboys’ loss to Kansas City exposed the Dallas offensive line as a work in progress, and DeMarco Murray hasn’t been able to duplicate his 2011 success this fall after an injury-plagued 2012. While the Cowboys will try to establish the run, a sound receiving contingent in Dez Bryant, Jason Witten and Miles Austin is not a terrible fallback option.

Key injuries: STL RB Daryl Richardson – Foot (Probable), DAL WR Dez Bryant – Back (Probable)

Line: Dallas -3, 47.5

Fake line: Mentions that Tony Romo receives too much criticism for Dallas’ playoff woes: 2.5

Fantasy impact: Daryl Richardson hasn’t flourished as the primary back for St. Louis, and a nagging foot injury could limit his work allotment. This opens a door for Isaiah Pead, who saw 29 snaps of action in Week 3. Pead’s not as sturdy as Richardson between the tackles, but is valuable in the receiving arena. Pead could be a sneaky start in deeper leagues on Sunday.

TV: FOX – 1:00 p.m.

The Rams win if: The St. Louis secondary wreaks havoc on Romo and the passing game; Greg “The Leg” Zuerlein hits six field goals.

The Cowboys win if: Murray shows some semblance of efficiency; Dallas defense suffocates Bradford into two-plus turnovers.

Prediction: Cowboys 20, St. Louis 10

 

Cleveland Browns (0-2) at Minnesota Vikings (0-2)

 

The lowdown: Let’s be honest – you’re watching this contest with the same expectations as a “World’s Most Amazing High-Speed Crashes” show. The Browns were already a mess; now they’re entering this week with a third-string signal caller and a fresh-off-the-streets running back as their backfield starters. And it’s not like the Vikings are a model of stability. Minnesota’s secondary has been a disaster without Antoine Winfield and Christian Ponder’s play has been inconsistent at best. Cleveland’s trade of Trent Richardson has been ridiculed this week, but don’t be surprised if the Brownies put up a fight in the Twin Cities.

(By the way, am I the only one who likes Brian Hoyer starting? It’s not like Jason Campbell is going to take you to the Promised Land, might as well see what you have with Hoyer. However, I take umbrage to the official Cleveland Browns Twitter account proclaiming, “BREAKING NEWS: Browns announce Brian Hoyer as starter.” In these troubling times in the world, pretty sure Brian freaking Hoyer overtaking an injured Brandon Weeden doesn’t necessitate such bulletin status.)

Key injuries: CLE LB Quentin Groves – Ankle (Out), CLE QB Brandon Weeden – Finger (Out), MIN C John Sullivan – Knee (Probable)

Line: Minnesota -7.5, 40.5

Fake line: Browns fans wearing paper bags in the stands: 11.5

Fantasy impact: Josh Gordon returns from a two-game suspension for the Browns. Outside of tight end Jordan Cameron, the Browns have few dependable entities in the receiving game. Available in 40 percent of FOXSports.com leagues, Gordon will see plenty of pigskins in his direction against a dreadful Minnesota secondary.

TV: CBS – 1:00 p.m.

The Vikings win if: Adrian Peterson goes nuts; Ponder minimizes his blunders.

The Browns win if: Um…maybe if Willis McGahee gets some touches…aw hell, who are we kidding…

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Prediction: Vikings 33, Browns 10

 

Atlanta Falcons (1-1) at Miami Dolphins (2-0)

 

The lowdown: The Dirty Birds have been one of the best franchises in the NFL under Mike Smith, winning 56 times in the past five seasons, including earning the No. 1 seed in the NFC last year. So it seems a weird proposition that the Falcons could be 1-2 following this Sunday, but it’s more than possible, as Joe Philbin has instilled the same principles applied in his previous gig as Green Bay offensive coordinator. Though Ryan Tannehill won’t be confused with Aaron Rodgers anytime soon, the second-year field general has been commendable, throwing for 591 yards in the first two games. The Dolphins were viewed as still a year away from contending in the AFC East, but Tannehill’s progression, along with the Patriots’ offensive woes, could make that ambition happen sooner rather than later.

Key injuries: ATL LB Sean Weatherspoon – Foot – (Out), ATL T Sam Baker – Knee (Out), ATL RB Steven Jackson – Thigh (Out), MIA DB Dimitri Patterson – Groin (Out)

Line: Miami -1, 44.5

Fake line: Shots of Arthur Blank on the sidelines: 3.5. Give him credit, the man can rock a suit.

Fantasy impact: Atlanta’s defense was so-so at best entering the season. Now with stud linebacker Sean Weatherspoon out for two months, the unit is especially thin-skinned. Expect Miami’s Charles Clay to take advantage of this culpability over the middle. Clay has hauled in 10 balls for 163 yards this season, and has illustrated a strong rapport with Tannehill. In deeper leagues, Clay deserves a look.

TV: FOX – 4:05 p.m.

The Falcons win if: Jason Snelling and Jacquizz Rodgers are adequate substitutes for the ailing Steven Jackson; Matt Ryan is able to overcome the depleted state of his receiving targets.

The Dolphins win if: Tannehill and the Miami offense keeps Ryan off the field; Lamar Miller and Daniel Thomas step up their collective production from the first two weeks (2.4 yards per carry, third-worst in the league).

Prediction: Dolphins 21, Falcons 20

 

Buffalo Bills (1-1) at New York Jets (1-1)

 

The lowdown: Wasn’t the most aesthetically pleasing of games, yet E.J. Manuel looked every bit the veteran in the Bills’ 24-23 win over Carolina last weekend. Coupled with Buffalo’s near-victory against the Patriots, there’s hope on the horizon in Ralph Wilson Stadium for the first time in…well, awhile. They still have a ways to go, but at worst, the Bills have announced they won’t be going quietly into the night in 2013.

The Jets offense remains a quagmire, as Geno Smith looks extremely raw and undisciplined. Chris Ivory and Bilal Powell have been a decent backfield combination, one that should improve once Ivory fully recovers from a preseason hamstring issue. And though shutdown corner Darrelle Revis is no longer with Gang Green, the defense has stood resolute, relinquishing a modest 15 points per game.

Key injuries: BUF S Jairus Byrd – Foot (Questionable), BUF DB Stephon Gilmore – Wrist (Out), NYJ TE Kellen Winslow – Knee (Probable), NYJ RB Bilal Powell – Illness (Probable)

Line: New York -1, 38.5

Fake line: Shots of angry Jets fans: 15.5

Fantasy impact: Roberts Woods played 72-of-76 snaps last week and pulled in four catches for 68 yards. The Jets’ attention will likely focus on stopping C.J. Spiller, and Stevie Johnson will be the focus in the receiving arena. This approach should open the door for the rookie Woods to experience a breakout afternoon.

TV: CBS – 4:25 p.m.

The Bills win if: Manuel is able to work effectively over the middle; the Bills defense takes advantage of Smith’s erraticism.

The Jets win if: The running game takes the responsibility off Smith; Jets defense holds Spiller’s damage to a minimum.

Prediction: Jets 19, Bills 16

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Jeremy Maclin was the first big name to fall. What other NFL players have suffered major injuries in 2013?

 

Indianapolis Colts (1-1) at San Francisco 49ers (1-1)

 

The lowdown: The Niners are coming off a shellacking at the hands of the Seahawks, while the Colts dropped a tough one to the Dolphins at home. All eyes will be on the Colts offense after the team acquired Trent Richardson earlier in the week. The Indianapolis running game was viewed as a weak link of last season’s Colts team, and the backfield efforts have been futile through two weeks. Richardson’s involvement should keep challengers from converging on Andrew Luck, which should correlate to a reduction in Luck turnovers.

Unfortunately, Indianapolis’ struggles on the defensive side persist. Colin Kaepernick showed he’s far from a dependable asset with his rocky showing in the Emerald City, but his running prowess should be deadly versus a Colts unit giving up 136 rushing yards per game, fourth-worst in the NFL. Combined with a lethal defensive blitzkrieg, topping the 49ers in San Fran will be quite the endeavor for Chuck Pagano’s club.

Key injuries: IND LB Pat Angerer – Knee (Doubtful), IND DB LaRon Landry – Ankle (Out), SF S Eric Reid - Concussion – (Out), SF TE Vernon Davis – Hamstring (Questionable)

Line: San Francisco -11, 46.5

Fake line: Flashbacks to Luck and Jim Harbaugh at Stanford: 2.5

Fantasy impact: Vernon Davis’ iffy status will force the Niners to find a complement to Anquan Boldin in the receiving game. Kyle Williams could be up for such a task, as the Arizona State product has seven catches for 75 yards on the year. The Colts secondary is not much to speak of, supporting this prosperous forecast.

TV: CBS – 4:25 p.m.

The Colts win if: Richardson makes an immediate impact in the rushing and receiving forums; Kaepernick is forced to throw.

The 49ers win if: The Niners rushing game does its job; Richardson’s assimilation slows the Indianapolis offensive tempo.

Prediction: 49ers 27, Colts 13

 

Jacksonville Jaguars (0-2) at Seattle Seahawks (2-0)

 

The lowdown: The Seahawks are riding high after knocking off divisional foe San Francisco, but not all is well in Seattle. Pro Bowl lineman Russell Okung is out for the foreseeable future with a toe injury, and the ‘Hawks vaunted defense took a hit with a hamstring issue to Brandon Browner. Seattle’s defense is still second to none, and Marshawn Lynch highlights an explosive rushing offense. Considering the biggest news deriving from Jacksonville this week involved a campaign for the Jags to sign Tim Tebow…yeah, I think Seattle has this in the bag.

Key injuries: JAC RB Maurice Jones-Drew – Ankle (Questionable), JAC QB Blaine Gabbert – Hand (Out), SEA T Russell Okung – Toe (Out), SEA DB Brandon Browner – Hamstring (Doubtful)

Line: Seattle -19, -41.5

Fake line: Times “game manager” will be dropped on Chad Henne: 0.5. Really, there’s only such much positivity a broadcast booth can exude during a 30-point blowout toward the losing team.

Fantasy impact: If this rodeo gets out of hand early, Lynch might take a rest, bequeathing the rushing touches to Robert Turbin. Turbin had success in abbreviated time against the Niners, accumulating 31 yards on six carries. For those desperate for a running back, Turbin, owned in just three percent of FOXSports.com leagues, is worth the roster stash.

TV: CBS – 4:25 p.m.

The Seahawks win if: Wilson takes care of the ball; Seattle defense smothers Maurice Jones-Drew.

The Jaguars win if: divine intervention.

Prediction: Seahawks 44, Jaguars 10

 

Chicago Bears (2-0) at Pittsburgh Steelers (0-2)

 

The lowdown: There’s no way the Steelers could start out 0-3, right?...RIGHT?

As farcical as the suggestion seems, Pittsburgh has looked completely lost on offense. The exodus of Mike Wallace and injury to Heath Miller has left the receiving corps with few productive options. Le’Veon Bell’s absence has put the running game in fiasco, and an already-maligned protection was dealt a blow with the season-ending loss of Maurkice Pouncey. The Steelers defense has been firm, and you never want to count out Ben Roethlisberger, but this Steel City roster is inundated with deficiencies.

The Bears are on the opposite side of the spectrum, firing on all cylinders under new coach Marc Trestman. Jay Cutler has looked proficient in Chicago’s new offense, and though the defense is not to the pedigree of its historical predecessors, it’s a unit that remains daunting.

Key injuries: CHI WR Brandon Marshall – Back (Probable), CHI DB Charles Tillman – Knee (Questionable), PIT DB Cortez Allen – Ankle (Out), Le’Veon Bell – Foot (Questionable)

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Line: Chicago -3, 40.5

Fake line: First boos from the stands directed at the offense: five minutes into the 2nd quarter. Better believe the taunts will shower after the first three-and-out.

Fantasy impact: He was held to one catch last week, yet Alshon Jeffery could see amplified action in his direction Sunday night, as the Steelers will focus on shutting down Brandon Marshall and Martellus Bennett. Jeffery had an impressive training camp, and brought in five balls in the season opener. Look for Week 3 as his coming-out party.

TV: NBC – 8:30 p.m.

The Bears win if: Chicago’s front seven forces Roethlisberger into ill-advised decisions; Cutler carries on his sound, if not spectacular, play.

The Steelers win if: Troy Polamalu houses a turnover; Bell returns to galvanize dormant offense.

Prediction: Bears 20, Steelers 9

 

Oakland Raiders (1-1) at Denver Broncos (2-0)

 

The lowdown: Denver’s offense was arguably the most explosive unit in the NFL entering Week 2. With Knowshon Moreno finally living up to his heightened expectations, the Broncos attack looks like an unstoppable force. Denver took a major hit with an injury to Ryan Clady this week, and if there was an Achilles’ heel of this team, the offensive line would have been a popular nomination. Oakland’s frail defense won’t expose this flaw, but it’s a development worth watching.

Key injuries: OAK DB Tyvon Branch – Leg (Out), OAK T Menelik Watson – Knee (Out), DEN T Ryan Clady – Foot (Out), DEN DB Champ Bailey – Foot (Questionable)

Line: Denver -16.5, 48.5

Fake line: Utilization of the phrases “excited,” “heck of a play” and “this guy can play for me any day” by broadcast: 34.5. Dear college kids: please don’t play a drinking game employing these words. You will die.

Fantasy impact: Oakland’s going to have to attack from the air, and hey, SOMEBODY has to be on the other end of these attempts. So let’s go with Rod Streater, available in 95 percent of FOXSports.com fantasy football leagues. Champ Bailey is likely out for the Broncos, somewhat easing this foray.

TV: ESPN – 8:40 p.m.

The Broncos win if: Denver contains Terrelle Pryor; Moreno keeps Oakland defense honest off Peyton Manning.

The Raiders win if: Manning plays a joke by letting his brother Cooper suit up.

Prediction: Broncos 37, Oakland 17

Tagged: Falcons, Bills, Bears, Bengals, Browns, Cowboys, Broncos, Lions, Packers, Titans, Colts, Raiders, Rams, Dolphins, Vikings, Patriots, Saints, Giants, Jets, 49ers, Seahawks, Buccaneers, Redskins, Panthers, Jaguars, Ravens, Cardinals, Steelers, Chargers, Texans, Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, Champ Bailey, Ed Reed, James Harrison, Jason Witten, Andre Johnson, Matt Schaub, Ben Roethlisberger, Steven Jackson, Eli Manning, Robert Geathers, Malcom Floyd, Aaron Rodgers, Jason Campbell, John Kuhn, Reggie Bush, Vernon Davis, Greg Jennings, Maurice Jones-Drew, Brandon Marshall, Michael Johnson, Jason Snelling, James Jones, Brandon Meriweather, Ryan Clady, Sam Baker, Eddie Royal, Ray Rice, Chris Long, Matt Ryan, Stevie Johnson, John Sullivan, Danny Amendola, Brandon Myers, Mike Wallace, Josh Freeman, Brian Hoyer, Rob Gronkowski, Dez Bryant, Pat Angerer, James Starks, Ben Tate, Tim Tebow, Sam Bradford, Russell Okung, Daryl Washington, Sean Weatherspoon, Joique Bell, Chris Ivory, Chris Johnson, Brandon Browner, Cam Newton, A.J. Green, Robert Quinn, Torrey Smith, Vincent Brown, Jacquizz Rodgers, Cortez Allen, Charles Clay, Bilal Powell, Mike Smith, Ryan Tannehill, Brandon Weeden, Andrew Luck, David Wilson, Dre Kirkpatrick, Trent Richardson, Isaiah Pead, Bernard Pierce, Robert Turbin, Daryl Richardson, Rod Streater, Josh Gordon

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