Ravens at Steelers, Heinz Field
Sunday, October 3, 1:00pm
It’s going to be tough sledding for the Ravens in Pittsburgh this Sunday even without having to face Ben Roethlisberger. The Steelers’ defense looks strong as ever, which has everything to do with having a healthy Troy Polamalu and Aaron Smith. The No.1 unit in the league has surrendered just two touchdowns and has forced 10 turnovers in three games This could spell trouble for a Ravens team whose offense hasn’t quite lived up to the preseason hype it received. They did get it going against the Browns, though, but then again, it was the Browns. Joe Flacco was finally on target with his throws and utilized his new weapon, Anquan Boldin, to the tune of eight catches for 142 yards and three touchdowns. Boldin and Flacco will need to have another big day if they have any chance at beating the Steelers especially with Ray Rice’s status being up in the air. On the defensive side of the ball, the Ravens need to sure up their run defense or Rashard Mendenhall is going to shred them for more yards than Peyton Hillis did last Sunday. Hopefully that was just a one-time incident for the Ravens, who are usually able to keep opposing running backs in check. Besides Hillis running all over them, the most glaring aspect of Sunday’s game was the lack of pass rush against Seneca Wallace. Now, Charlie Batch isn’t much better than Wallace, but if you give him time he’ll do exactly what he did against the Bucs on Sunday. The game will be close, as most of them are between these two teams, so the game is going to come down to the turnover battle. And I hate to say it, but the Steelers are poised to win that battle. But this is a huge early season divisional matchup and one that the Ravens need very badly, so I see the Ravens putting up quite a fight, which isn’t much of a surprise.
Redskins at Eagles, Lincoln Financial Field
Sunday, October 3, 4:15pm
The big storyline surrounding this game has to do with a couple veteran quarterbacks trying to prove they still have what it takes to win. It is debatable who the bigger story is, though, Donovan McNabb or Michael Vick. McNabb will make his first visit to Lincoln Financial Field wearing a jersey other than the Philadelphia Eagles jersey he wore for 11 seasons. The fan reception will most likely be mixed, but I expect more boos than cheers from the always delightful Philadelphia faithful. McNabb isn’t exactly lighting it up in Washington, like I’m sure their fans expected, but he is at least giving them the chance to win every game. Vick, on the other hand, has shown flashes of his old self when he was slinging the ball all over the field and crossing up defenders left and right. His best days may very well be behind him, but I guess right now Andy Reid and the front office think Vick gives them the best chance to win, and so far, it’s working. Division games are always tough, especially between these two NFC East rivals, but I think the Eagles have a little too much firepower for the Redskins. McNabb’s return to Philly will surely be memorable, but probably not in the way he would like it to be.
Patriots at Dolphins, Sun Life Stadium
Monday, October 4, 8:30pm
The Patriots have no problem scoring, but they have a lot of problems stopping their opponents from scoring. The Dolphins, on the other hand, have been excellent on defense so far and will give Tom Brady and the Pats’ offense trouble this Monday night. The Dolphins’ offense shouldn’t have much trouble scoring against the Pats considering they dropped 23 points and gained 436 total yards against the Jets, which is one of the stingiest defenses in the league. Chad Henne continues to progress as a starting quarterback and seems much more poised in the pocket this season than he was last season. The Wildcat has given Bill Belichick plenty of headaches in the past and there may be more of the same in this one. This is a very important divisional game between two 2-1 teams that are both going to be jockeying for the playoffs come January. The Patriots have been dominant on Monday Night Football recently, winning six of their last seven appearances, but could be in for a tough one against the new-look Dolphins.
Submitted by Steve Giles