Even though it’s only Week 3, there are a few 0-2 teams that are already in must-win situations if they want to have a shot at the postseason (Vikings, Cowboys, 49ers). There are some key early season divisional matchups as well, highlighted by the Falcons and Saints, Jets and Dolphins and Packers and Bears. These games could prove to be very important in deciding who wins their respective division. Here is a look at a few matchups worth noting in Week 3.
Cowboys (0-2) at Texans (2-0), Reliant Stadium
Sunday, September 26, 1:00pm
This is a classic case of an overachieving team (Texans) facing an underachieving team (Cowboys). The Cowboys can’t seem to do anything right and have been plagued by penalties, mental miscues and missed opportunities. They can’t establish the run, they don’t have a reliable kicker and they don’t have an established coach who takes control of his team. Needless to say, they are in big trouble. The only thing that I’ve noticed with the Cowboys, though, is they always play well when they’re underdogs (see Week 15 of last season when they beat the Saints in the Superdome 24-17). This will definitely be a tough test for Romo and the Cowboys as they face a Texans team that is playing with a ton of confidence after blowing out the Colts and coming back from a 17-point deficit to beat the Redskins in overtime. Matt Schaub came back from a sub-par performance in Week 1 with a 497-yard, three-touchdown performance against the Redskins and got back on track with his top receiver Andre Johnson, who caught 12 passes for 158 yards and a touchdown. The duo will most likely have to put up big numbers if they want to beat Dallas because the Cowboys are very good at stopping the run (63.5 rush yards per game). I see Romo and the Cowboys getting back on track and squeaking out a close one in Houston on Sunday.
Falcons (1-1) at Saints (2-0), Superdome
Sunday, September 26, 1:00pm
If the Falcons want any shot of winning the NFC South, it starts Sunday against the Saints. And of all the teams that could give the Saints a run for their money in that division, the Falcons have the best chance. The Saints didn’t look particularly strong in their first two games this season after sneaking by both the Vikings and the 49ers. Their offense has looked erratic at times and it won’t get any better with Reggie Bush going down with a broken right leg. The Saints won’t be able to replace Bush and the type of threat he brought to opposing defenses. He was hands-down the Saints’ biggest threat and defenses always knew where he was on the field. Bush’s injury coupled with the short week from playing on the West Coast on Monday could help level the playing field for the Falcons, who are coming off a 41-7 shellacking of the lowly Cardinals. The Falcons aren’t a very strong road team so if they can pull out a win in New Orleans, it will be a big early season statement. It will be tough treading, though, considering Drew Brees is 7-1 against the Falcons since he joined the Saints in 2006.
Jets (1-1) at Dolphins (2-0), Sun Life Stadium
Sunday, September 26, 8:20pm
Mark Sanchez threw a career-high three touchdowns and the Jets’ offense finally got it going last week, scoring 28 points in a rout of the Patriots. This was a complete turnaround from Week 1 where the Jets had just six first downs and 176 total yards against the Ravens. Their defense held down Tom Brady and the Pats’ offense even after losing star cornerback Darrelle Revis in the second quarter. The Dolphins came away with a 14-10 victory over the Vikings in Minnesota after stopping Adrian Peterson on fourth-and-goal from the one-yard line. The revamped Dolphins’ defense forced Brett Favre to turn the ball over four times (three interceptions, one fumble) despite allowing the Vikings to accumulate 22 first downs and 364 total yards. Points will be very hard to come by between these two very good defensive teams, so turnovers will be the key to the game. I see the Dolphins taking care of business at home this week, setting up another key divisional matchup next week when the Patriots come to town on Monday night.
Submitted by Steve Giles