After two months of summertime Jaguars hype they’re 0-2, and after hearing that the Patriots would be in a deep hole without Tom Brady, they’re 2-0. The NFL stands for Not For Long when you try predicting things in August. But we can still go for it week to week. Here’s what I’ve got for Week 3 after a quick trivia break.
Week 2 record: 13-3
Overall record: 23-9
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Cheat Sheet trivia question of the week
Carson Wentz is the fifth quarterback in NFL history to start his career with wins in Weeks 1 and 2 of his rookie season. Who are the other four? (Answer after the picks.)
Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports
Thursday: Texans at Patriots
Between Bill O’Brien, Romeo Crennel, George Godsey, Larry Izzo, Mike Vrabel, and Vince Wilfork there will be 43 years of New England Patriots experience in that Houston Texans locker room Thursday night. J.J. Watt looked like his old self Sunday against the Chiefs, and there are no varsity jackets making the trip from Houston this time. If the fully healthy Texans can’t beat Jacoby Brissett on a short week, they’re not worthy of AFC title consideration. Tough to bet against Bill Belichick in a Thursday night game, but I like the Texans in this one.
The pick: Texans 27, Patriots 17
Sunday: Cardinals at Bills
The wheels are falling off the covered wagon in Buffalo, and I don’t see the thing getting back on track this Sunday. The 2016 Cardinals are straight up loaded, and they already had their Week 1 wakeup call in the loss to New England. The Bills D allowed the Jets to score on seven of 11 drives, including the first four of the game. I just don’t see how they’ll fare much better against Carson Palmer and the Birds.
The pick: Cardinals 37, Bills 17
Getty ImagesChristian Petersen
Sunday: Vikings at Panthers
Can the Vikings win without Adrian Peterson, Teddy Bridgewater and Matt Kalil? Sure. Can they win this particular game? I don’t see it. Cam and the boys were rolling on offense against the 49ers, exploding for 46 points and 353 yards through the air. Teams need to be absolutely perfect to beat the Panthers in Carolina (no one did it a season ago). I like Minnesota. That’s a tough ask without No. 28.
The pick: Panthers 24, Vikings 16
Getty ImagesStreeter Lecka
Sunday: Broncos at Bengals
The Broncos won the AFC a season ago, and I’ve got Cincinnati winning the conference in 2016. Well, the Bengals need to play a lot better than they did a week ago in Pittsburgh for that to even be a possibility. This was a wild Monday night game a year ago. Brock Osweiler versus AJ McCarron. Well, two different QBs, here, and I like Andy Dalton to get the Bengals back on track and to win their home opener over Trevor Siemian and Co.
The pick: Bengals 19, Broncos 13
Brad Penner-USA TODAY SportsBrad Penner
Sunday: Lions at Packers
I’ll be working the sidelines for FOX on this one and can’t help but think the Lions are enduring a rough week of practice. Detroit committed 17 penalties last week and lost by just one point on a late touchdown pass. That’s a tough pill to swallow, especially at home. Both offenses should get back on track Sunday, but I like the home team to notch a W in its home opener at Lambeau.
The pick: Packers 27, Lions 23
APPhelan M. Ebenhack
Sunday: Ravens at Jaguars
The Jaguars are last in the league in point differential (-28), 30th in the league in third-down defense and 30thin the league in rushing. No one expected the Ravens to be back so fast, but I can see 3-0 in their immediate future. Joe Flacco has a few deep threats now, and that Jacksonville secondary was absolutely torched last Sunday in San Diego. No reason Flacco can’t do the same.
The pick: Ravens 30, Jaguars 24
Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY SportsTommy Gilligan
Sunday: Browns at Dolphins
The Dolphins are 0-2 and have at times this season looked downright putrid. And yet they’re still two-score favorites Sunday. I’ve seen a lot of Cody Kessler at the college level when he played at USC. I would never say I know as much or can even sniff as much quarterback expertise as Hue Jackson. I’ll just say he (and the Browns) liked Kessler a lot more than I did as an NFL Draft prospect. Never count Hue out, but I like the Dolphins here.
The pick: Dolphins 31, Browns 13
Getty ImagesDylan Buell
Sunday: Redskins at Giants
On paper, these are two teams headed in very separate directions. But this was exactly the case back in 2007, when the Giants’ defense had given up a combined 80 points in Weeks 1 and 2 and had Tom Coughlin’s butt on the hot seat. The Giants traveled to Washington for a make-or-break Week 3 matchup, and Big Blue stopped the ‘Skins on a goal line stand and went on to rattle off a few victories and win the Super Bowl. Washington needs this one in the same way. The sharks in the water — the media!!! -- are circling. I think this is a galvanizing one on the road. Washington finds a way.
The pick: Redskins 23, Giants 17
Sunday: Raiders at Titans
Commitment to Excellence has been (at least temporarily) replaced with Commitment to Getting Absolutely Torched. The Raiders have given up more than 500 yards of offense two weeks in a row. A lot was made of the high-priced signings of defensive free agents Bruce Irvin, Sean Smith, and Reggie Nelson in the offseason. Karl Joseph, the first-round pick, was supposed to drop the hammer from the safety spot. It hasn’t clicked yet -- for anyone on the D. Is this the week the Silver and Black come together on defense? I don’t see it.
The pick: Titans 30, Raiders 22
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY SportsKirby Lee
Sunday: 49ers at Seahawks
The 49ers have not beaten the Seahawks since Richard Sherman batted away Colin Kaepernick’s pass to Michael Crabtree in the back of the end zone back in the NFC Championship Game at the end of the 2013 season. I like the way the 49ers responded to falling behind big in Carolina last week. Showed me they’re going to fight every week. Tough one in Seattle this weekend, though. The pick: Seahawks 23, 49ers 17
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY SportsKyle Terada
Sunday: Rams at Buccaneers
The Bucs are without Doug Martin and Robert Ayers and are still licking their wounds from a humbling loss in the desert last Sunday. But this is Jameis Winston in a nutshell. Get knocked the heck down, and get right back up. No Doug Martin? Look for Charles Sims and Jacquizz Rodgers to step up. No Robert Ayers? Noah Spence will have to do more in the pass rush. It didn’t get much press because of the game’s final score, but Roberto Aguayo missed another makeable field goal last week. Home opener, a good week of practice, and the Rams traveling across the country in sweltering heat — I’ll take Tampa Bay.
The pick: Buccaneers 27, Rams 16
Sunday: Chargers at Colts
Indy has to get its groove back, right? Right? I don’t see it. Even without Keenan Allen and Danny Woodhead, the pure team speed of the Chargers could give the Colts fits. Melvin Gordon, Travis Benjamin and Tyrell Williams are three burners who could have their way with that Indianapolis defense. Colts coach Chuck Pagano versus Chargers defensive coordinator John Pagano might not have the same bright-light appeal as the Manning brothers squaring off, but it’s something. I’ll take John on the road. Panic time in Indy… again.
The pick: Chargers 30, Colts 24
Sunday: Jets at Chiefs
Ryan Fitzpatrick went into one of the league’s most hostile environments and lit up the Bills in a 37-31 win last week. I think he can do it again Sunday. Arrowhead is a house of horrors for opposing quarterbacks, but this Jets offense is humming. If you expected Matt Forte to see his production dip in his new digs, think again. 52 carries for 196 yards in two games is no joke. I expect more of the same and a Jets road win.
The pick: Jets 22, Chiefs 17
Sunday: Steelers at Eagles
Wentzylvania or Bensylvania? I enjoyed typing that. I assume you hated reading it. I also have thoroughly enjoyed every moment of the Carson Wentz era. Can he keep it going? Against James Harrison and that Steelers D? Why not? Wentz looks like a seasoned veteran, that crowd will be rocking in Philly on a late Sunday afternoon, and the defense —something assumed to be riddled with question marks — could be up to the biggest challenge they’ll face all year.
The pick: Eagles 27, Steelers 20
Sunday night: Bears at Cowboys
Brian Hoyer versus Dak Prescott! It’s just what the NBC and NFL executives were hoping for when they scheduled this one back in April. Jay Cutler is a big loss, but so is Bears defensive leader Lamarr Houston. Without him in the lineup, I expect Zeke Elliott to get going. Cowboys go 2-1.
The pick: Cowboys 24, Bears 16
Monday night: Falcons at Saints
The ’78 Steelers wouldn’t beat the Saints on the 10-year anniversary of the re-opening of the Superdome.
The pick: Saints 35, Falcons 24
Chuck Cook-USA TODAY SportsChuck Cook
Reader email of the week
Peter, you were way too giddy over Carson Palmer’s Stay Puft Marshmallow Man outfit on the FOX broadcast last Sunday. To me, I’d like to see a quarterback leave that crap behind on gameday. Carson doesn’t seem to get it. Had they lost, this would be a big story all week. The 0-2 Super Bowl preseason favorites with their quarterback dressed like an idiot during pregame. Carson Palmer isn’t known for winning big games, especially up here in Ohio. If the Cardinals were 0-2 right now, all of you sports pundits would be criticizing him for it. Instead, you snicker and cheer him on. Great for Twitter, I guess.
Brad, Cheviot, Ohio
Brad, I know when a Bengals fan is emailing about Carson Palmer it usually isn’t going to be a glowing review. And that Cheviot, Ohio, address isn’t hiding much. I enjoyed the Stay Puft Marshmallow costume, and the story behind it is a great one. All the Cardinals QBs and Patrick Peterson engage in a throwing contest at the end of practices. The last-place finisher has to wear an absurd costume to the game. Palmer was that guy this week. When I asked him about it after the win during the FOX postgame interview, he shrugged his shoulders and said, “I don’t know what you’re talking about.” He’s not doing it for Twitter followers or to expand his brand. Let’s enjoy this stuff when we can.
Cheat Sheet trivia answer of the week
Carson Wentz joins John Elway, Joe Flacco, Mark Sanchez and … Ryan Leaf as the only rookie QBs to win Week 1 and Week 2 games their debut NFL season.