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NFL Week 3 viewer's guide

The Atlanta Falcons made a statement with a thrashing of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Thursday, but there's still a full slate of games on Sunday. Around The NFL's Kevin Patra fills you in on the key storylines for each matchup. Here's your guide as you settle into your couch for all the NFL action.

EJ Manuel has displayed a better feel for stretching the field. Through two games he has completed 66.7 percent of 20-plus air yard passes, the highest completion percentage in the NFL on such throws (minimum 5 attempts). He'll need to do it again against an underrated Chargers defense.

The Bills have allowed only one of 16 passes of 15-plus air yards to be completed against them, for an NFL-low 6.3 completion pct. However, if might not matter to Philip Rivers, who is content to dice up teams with a plethora of short, precise passes.

 **Pregame reading material** 
 Sammy Watkins is one of 
 four players to watch on Sunday 

Where does Sammy Watkins figure into the rookie watch?

Who will win? Four of the five Around The NFL writers pick the Chargers.

DeMarco Murray's 285 rushing yards are the most in Cowboys history through the first two games of a season. That's a pretty damn good history to be on top of. Murray should have another good game against a Rams defense that has been gashed on the ground.

On the flip side, the Rams still insist the starting quarterback job is Shaun Hill's if he is healthy. However, we'd like to see more of Austin Davis, who displayed toughness against pressure last week. Whoever gets the start will face a surprisingly not terrible Dallas defense that has yet to allow 320-plus yards in a game.

Pregame reading material
Bucky's best: Robert Quinn vs. Tyron Smith
Rams' starting QB could be a game-time decision
DeMarco Murray is one of Sunday's four players to watch
Elliot's picks: How close does Elliot Harrison have this one?

Who will win? All five Around The NFL writers pick the Cowboys.

DeSean Jackson expects to make his comeback to Philadelphia. You have to love grudge matches. There is no doubt Jackson has a lot of residual feeling remaining from being cut. We won't know until game time how much he plays with a shoulder injury. Regardless of his snap count, we never underestimate a fired up veteran with something to prove.

Nick Foles must put two bad games behind him against a Washington defense that has allowed only 234.5 YPG this season (best in the NFL). Foles has missed more plays than he's made in two weeks, but thankfully he has Darren Sproles and LeSean McCoy to lean on. One of these games, however, the quarterback needs to make the plays himself.

 **Pregame reading material** 

Backup quarterback Kirk Cousins sees a lot of another passer in himself.

 Jay Gruden thinks the 
 Eagles' handling of releasing 
 DeSean Jackson 
 was 'curious.' 

Who will win? Four of five Around The NFL writers pick the Eagles.

Arian Foster has been the heart and soul of the Texans' offense through two weeks, allowing Ryan Fitzpatrick to merely manage the game. He'll have a stiffer time Sunday against a Giants front in the top six in yards per carry (3.4 average). If Foster can't keep the Texans ahead of the chains it will put much more pressure on Fitzpatrick.

Eli Manning and the Giants' passing attack took a step forward last week, but still suffered from breakdowns. Manning, Victor Cruz and Co. must make another leap against a stellar Texans' squad. We'd suggest Manning steer clear of second-year safety D.J. Swearinger, who has been flying around the field through two weeks.

 **Pregame reading material** 
 Bill O'Brien sees more touchdowns 
 in J.J. Watt's future. 

Adam Schein says the Texans have a chance to prove they're for real this week.

Michael Fabiano thinks fantasy owners would be wise to sit Victor Cruz.

The Giants will need receiving help, but they won't have Odell Beckham.

Who will win? Three of five Around The NFL writers pick the Giants.

Weakness meets weakness in New Orleans. The Saints have the worst passing defense in the league this season. Meanwhile, Matt Cassel has shown he can't carry a team with his arm. Last week the quarterback did not complete a pass of 10-plus air yards, throwing three interceptions on passes of that distance.

Perhaps more surprising is that Drew Brees has also struggled with his deep ball, completing only three of his 12 passes traveling 15-plus yards. We expect that to change this week with some home cookin'.

 **Pregame reading material** 

Who will win? All five Around The NFL writers pick the Saints.

Giovani Bernard has 52 offensive touches through two games this season. That number is 23.0 percent of his total touches (226) from 2013. The Bengals will need to lean on him again with the glut of injuries ransacking Cincy's offense.

Jake Locker struggled mightily last week. His reward is facing a Bengals defense that has made Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco look mediocre. Expect the Titans to pound the ball on the ground early to try and protect their quarterback.

 **Pregame reading material** 

Cincinnati's offense shines despite unremarakble QB play.

Adam Rank admits fault in suggesting fantasy owners start Jake Locker.

Michael Fabiano advises fantasy owners to sit the Titans' defense.

Who will win? All five Around The NFL writers pick the Bengals.

Will the real Joe Flacco please stand up? The Ravens' offense couldn't have looked more different from Week 1 to Week 2. Flacco went from inaccurate and herky-jerky to smooth and refined in Gary Kubiak's offense. In Week 3, Flacco faces a Browns defense that has allowed 900 yards through two weeks (31st in NFL).

Brian Hoyer has not thrown an interception in his last 132 attempts, which is the second-longest active streak in the NFL (Peyton Manning, 151). The quarterback needs to continue protecting the ball against a Ravens defense that hasn't allowed 100 yards rushing this season and only given up 29 points in two games. If the ground game doesn't show for the Browns, the ball will be in Hoyer's hands a lot.

 **Pregame reading material** 
 John Harbaugh has kept his players focused in a 
 football cocoon. 

Who will win? Three of five Around The NFL writers pick the Ravens.

The last time the Packers visited Detroit they were stomped on Thanksgiving -- figuratively this time. However, in this game Aaron Rodgers will play. The quarterback has feasted on the Lions -- 9-0 with 19 TDs, 4 INTs in his last nine games with a minimum of 15 attempts against Detroit. Keep an eye on Jordy Nelson -- who accounts for 40.5 percent of the Packers' targets -- he should eat well again this week.

The rushing games for both teams have struggled. Detroit's difficulty has been particularly troublesome. Reggie Bush has gone four straight games without a rush of 10-plus yards, the longest drought of his career. The Lions need Bush and Joique Bell to soften up a Packers defense that has been susceptible to the ground game through two weeks.

 **Pregame reading material** 
 Jordy Nelson is among Chris Wesseling's 
 top red-zone threats. 

Who will win? Three of five Around The NFL writers pick the Lions.

The Colts got ground-heavy last week. It will be interesting to see if Pep Hamilton continues to insist on being a ground-and-pound team or if he will put the ball in Andrew Luck's hands against a porous Jags secondary.

Jacksonville made some changes to a struggling offensive line this year. We'll be interested in seeing if those moves have any influence on Toby Gerhart's poor start to the season. He faces a Colts' run defense giving up 114.5 yards per game.

 **Pregame reading material** 

The stable of Colts running backs will share carries.

 Andrew Luck is the league's "most misunderstood" quarterback, 
 writes Gregg Rosenthal. 

Jacksonville will have a new-look offensive line Sunday.

Who will win? All five Around The NFL writers pick the Colts.

Derek Carr needs help from his ground game. The quarterback is the Raiders' leading rusher after two weeks with 57 yards. If Oakland can't establish the ground attack, it's going to be another long day.

Part of that long day for Carr would be due to a Patriots defense that has allowed just one-of-13 passes over 15 air yards to be completed in the first two weeks. Against a rookie quarterback, the Pats' secondary should have another good day.

 **Pregame reading material** 

Despite losing his starting job, Matt Schaub isn't considering retirement.

Who will win? All five Around The NFL writers pick the Patriots.

Frank Gore has rushed for 100-plus yards in only three of 17 career games against the Cardinals. He faces a team that allows an average of 2.61 yards per rush, second-best in the NFL. If the ground game is stymied, the 49ers will need Colin Kaepernick to awaken from whatever funk he was in last week.

Drew Stanton is in line to start Sunday, unless Carson Palmer's shoulder nerve wakes up before game time. Stanton was average in his first game since 2010. He had a poor completion percentage, but on the positive side he didn't turn the ball over. Whoever is under center, watch how the Cards use Larry Fitzgerald this week. Last season the wideout was injured and he still earned 100-plus receiving yards in both games versus the Niners.

 **Pregame reading material** 

Is it time to start worrying about Carson Palmer?

Who will win? Four of five Around The NFL writers pick the 49ers.

Lost in the Super Bowl slaughter was Demaryius Thomas' record 13 catches for 118 yards and 1 TD on a career-high 18 targets. It will be fascinating to see how the Seahawks defense adjusts to take Thomas away. Getting Wes Welker back should help the Broncos' cause.

After last week, Seattle has now lost 33 games in a row when allowing 27 or more points. Peyton Manning's Broncos have scored 27 or more in 19 of their last 21 regular season games. We'll see if Manning can make the adjustments he failed to during the Super Bowl.

 **Pregame reading material** 
 Broncos are 
 not same team that lost 
 Super Bowl XLVIII 

Who will win? All five Around The NFL writers pick the Seahawks.

In the first two weeks, Alex Smith has been running like a wild boar from a medieval hunting party. And he's looked fantastic doing it -- as much as people hate on Smith, he's actually really fun to watch on the move. The quarterback was the main reason the Chiefs almost completed a comeback last week in Denver. We don't expect the protection to be much better against a good Dolphins defensive line, so Smith needs his receivers to help him out more this week.

For the Dolphins, Ryan Tannehill must take advantage of a Kansas City defense that has allowed 23-plus points in eight of their last nine games (five straight), is one of eight teams without an interception in 2014 and has allowed 72.9 completion percentage through two weeks. Tannehill has talked about improving, now it's time for him to show it.

 **Pregame reading material** 

Who will win? All five Around The NFL writers pick the Dolphins.

Le'Veon Bell ranks second in the NFL with 152 scrimmage yards per game, behind only DeMarco Murray. The second-year back faces an almost immovable force in the Panthers' front seven. Imagine the collisions we'll be in for when Bell meets Luke Kuechly in the hole. Can't wait!

The Steelers' defense has zero takeaways. The Panthers have zero giveaways. Cam Newton should be able to move the ball against a soft Steelers defense. If he doesn't turn the ball over, it should be a good afternoon in Carolina.

 **Pregame reading material** 

Start 'Em, Sit 'Em: Quarterbacks for Week 3

Roethlisberger still hurting after Upshaw's takedown

Who will win? All five Around The NFL writers pick the Panthers.

Jay Cutler better be prepared to sling the ball Monday night. The Bears rank 30th in the NFL with 66 rushing yards per game, while the Jets' defense ranks first, allowing only 52.5 rush yards per game.

Chris Johnson loves the spotlight. Johnson has 100-plus rushing yards in three straight MNF games. The Bears are giving up 161 rush yards per game. Whether it's Johnson or the more impressive Chris Ivory, it should be a good night for the Jets' ground game.

 **Pregame reading material** 

Ryan: 'Totally untrue' Santonio Holmes was a problem

Mornhinweg on timeout fiasco: 'I've got to trust Geno'

Who will win? All five Around The NFL writers pick the Jets.

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