FOX Sports South walks the plank of potential embarrassment by chronicling seven bold predictions for NFL Week 3 -- an ambitious gallery that could be way off the mark come Monday night. But there's no fear of failure here ... just educated guesses. (Photos: Jeff Hanisch/Greg M. Cooper/Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports
Lightning Strikes Twice
BOLD PREDICTION #1: Keenan Allen will bust a mini-slump and score multiple TDs against the Bills ... REASONS TO BELIEVE: 1) As a rookie last year, Allen rebounded from a slow start to collect 71 catches, 1,046 yards and eight touchdowns. 2) After Week 4 last season, Allen drew eight-plus targets seven times (including three double-digit efforts). 3) The schedule-maker wasn't initially generous to the Chargers, who drew the Cardinals and Seahawks for the first two games. 4) The Buffalo defense will undoubtedly pay extra attention to tight end Antonio Gates this week (three TDs vs. Seattle), leaving more room for Allen to roam.
Last One Standing
BOLD PREDICTION #2: The Bengals will be the AFC's lone undefeated team come Tuesday morning ... REASONS TO BELIEVE: 1) Counting the regular season only, the Bengals have won 10 consecutive games at Paul Brown Stadium. 2) Cincy tailback Gio Bernard (above -- 279 total yards, one TD through two games) has the goods to carry the offense against Tennessee, even if receiver A.J. Green sits with a toe injury. 3) The Bills, Broncos and Texans will fall against the Chargers, Seahawks and Giants this weekend, enabling Cincy to stand tall at 3-0.
The Tie That Binds
BOLD PREDICTION #3: The AFC East will be gridlocked in a four-way tie by week's end (2-1) ... REASONS TO BELIEVE: 1) Tom Brady (far left) and the Patriots are lead-pipe cinches to crush the rudderless Raiders. 2) Mike Wallace (second from left -- three straight games of one TD) and the victorious Dolphins will post a high number on Sunday, forcing the Chiefs to abandon their running game. 3) Geno Smith (second from right) and the Jets pull off a mild upset against the Bears. 4) Sammy Watkins (far right) and the Bills come down to earth after last week's victory/impending sale to Terry Pegula and lose a shootout to the Chargers. (Photos: Steve Mitchell/Brad Penner/Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports)
BOLD PREDICTION #4: Zac Stacy shall account for 60-plus percent of the Rams' total offense against the Cowboys ... REASONS TO BELIEVE: 1) Of their last six games of Stacy (above) collecting 19 or more touches, the offensively challenged Rams are 4-2 (dating back to last season). 2) The Cowboys defense, which looked OK against the Titans last week, doesn't have the talent to dominate (or even sustain) from Sunday to Sunday. 3) The St. Louis offense needs to shorten the game Sunday. The best methods for that: Riding Stacy between the 20s and at the goal line, while occasionally leaning on receiver Brian Quick (14 catches, 18 targets, 173 yards through two games).
BOLD PREDICTION #5: The Saints will put up 40 on the distracted Vikings ... REASONS TO BELIEVE: 1) For the most part, this countdown does its best to minimize outside distractions when crafting predictions. But it would be foolish to pretend like the Vikings haven't had the proverbial Hell Week, in light of the whole Adrian Peterson debacle (deactivated indefinitely). 2) Saints QB Drew Brees has an absurd streak of 12 straight home outings of 300 yards passing and/or three TD passes. His per-game averages during this stretch: 342 yards passing/3.4 TDs. By comparison, Vikings QB Matt Cassel has only seven 300-yard games in his career. 3) New Orleans is due for a gift from the football gods, after losing in Weeks 1 and 2 on last-second field goals (both road defeats).
Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
Bet The Under ... Whatever It Is
BOLD PREDICTION #6: Neither the Ravens nor Browns will score more than one offensive touchdown Sunday ... REASONS TO BELIEVE: 1) Of the last five meetings in Cleveland, the Ravens (20.6 points) and Browns (12.0) have merely averaged 33 combined points. 2) In his last four starts at Cleveland, Baltimore QB Joe Flacco has thrown for less than 200 yards four times. 3) Persistent thunderstorms could wreak havoc on the slick Cleveland turf.
BOLD PREDICTION #7: The Lions and Packers will amass the most combined points of any Week 3 tilt ... REASONS TO BELIEVE: 1) From 2007-13, Detroit and Green Bay averaged 47 total points in games at Ford Field ... and that includes a 10-point clunker in 2010 -- when Aaron Rodgers famously went down with a concussion. 2) Of his last 14 outings, Lions wideout Calvin Johnson (right) has tallied nine games of double-digit targets, seven 100-yards efforts and 12 TDs. 3) Packers tailback Eddie Lacy finally has a realistic chance for 130 yards/one TD on Sunday, after drawing the stout Seahawks and Jets in the first two weeks. 4) Fantasy-wise, QBs Rodgers and Matthew Stafford are easy top-5 picks. (Photos: Jeff Hanisch/Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports)