This Week In: The NFL – Week 3, 2013

It's certainly hard to hear over people talking about how loud the Seahawks fans are
It’s certainly hard to hear over people talking about how loud the Seahawks fans are

One week after they had been anointed as the presumptive NFC representatives in next February’s Super Bowl, the San Francisco 49ers came crashing back to earth in a deafening manner, as they lost 29-3 in Seattle, whose home fans set a new record for decibel level made by a crowd, beating the record that had previously been held by Turkish football club, Galatasary (and they did not come close to regaining during their 6-1 thrashing by Real Madrid on Tuesday).  It was not so much the 12th man of the supporters that propelled the Seahawks to their ninth consecutive regular season home victory – although they undoubtedly contributed to the 12 penalties San Francisco committed – rather it was the defense, which was only outscored 3-2 by the 49ers and gave up just a field goal, while also forcing a safety in the second quarter.  Seattle’s offense added 27 points to ensure they laid down a marker in the NFC West and gained an early edge over San Francisco in the playoff race and also rattled their quarterback, Colin Kaerpernick, who looked nothing like the same player who racked up 412 passing yards and 3 touchdowns against Green Bay in Week 1, as he threw for only 127 yards, no touchdowns, and three interceptions.

Another team who were widely lauded after their opening game, the Philadelphia Eagles were also defeated in their second contest, losing at home to the unfancied Chargers, 33-30.  Both QBs – Michael Vick and Phil Rivers, racked up more than 400 passing yards, but the much vaunted speed of Chip Kelly’s offense had the reverse effect of keeping the Philly defense on the field for more than 40 minutes of playing time.  That workload could prove particularly problematic this week, as they have a shortened period between games as they take on their former coach, Andy Reid and his Kansas City team on Thursday night.  The Chiefs are 2-0 so far, after a narrow 17-16 victory over the Cowboys last Sunday and that win total matches the number they achieved for the entire 2012 season.  The losses for Dallas and Philadelphia were matched by the other NFC East teams, as the Giants were defeated 41-23 by Denver in the matchup of the Manning brothers; and the Washington Mohawks were outclassed by the Green Bay Packers 38-20, with Aaron Rodgers racking up 480 passing yards and four touchdowns.

In the NFC South, the Saints continued their strong start by beating another divisional rival, this time defeating the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 16-14; the Panthers fell to 0-2 after a late comeback win by the Bills helped them overcome Carolina, 24-23 in Buffalo; while the Falcons recovered from their week 1 loss to New Orleans by beating the Rams 31-24, though that score represented a second half recovery by St. Louis, who had trailed 24-3 after two quarters.  Chicago remained top of the NFC North thanks to a 31-30 victory over Minnesota – the Bears are a game ahead of the Packers and the Lions, as Detroit gave away an 8 point third quarter lead over the Cardinals and ended up losing 25-21 to Arizona.

There were seven all-AFC fixtures in Week 2 and in the battle of two South rivals, the Texans required a late touchdown and two point conversion to force their game with the Titans to overtime and Houston eventually prevailed after the extra period, 30-24, to move to 2-0.  In the Thursday night matchup, a rusty looking New England, who were without their first choice receivers, edged the New York Jets 13-10; while the Browns led 6-0 at the break in Baltimore, but the Ravens – led by Joe Flacco, despite his second son being born an hour before game time – came back to score 14 unanswered second-half points, though there was bad news for the reigning Super Bowl champions as their star running back, Ray Rice, injured his hip flexor and is questionable for this Sunday.  Elsewhere, the Miami Dolphins won in Indianapolis 24-20; Cincinnati condemned  divisional rivals Pittsburgh to an 0-2 start with a 20-10 victory on Monday night; and the Jaguars took a step towards the number one draft pick for 2014 by losing to another team expected to struggle this year, Oakland.

This weekend, alongside the aforementioned Eagles and Chiefs game, the Packers are in Cincinnati to take on the Bengals; Washington host Detroit; the Cowboys have a home fixture against the Rams; New England play Tampa Bay in Massachusetts;  and two teams who look better expected in 2013 – though are both 1-1 – meet in Tennessee, as the Titans face the Chargers.  One-sided, cricket-like scorelines will be expected for both Denver, who have racked up 90 points in their first two games and entertain the Raiders on Sunday; and for the Seahawks, who take on the Jaguars in Seattle.  At least two teams will remain winless after this weekend as the Browns are in Minnesota, while the Panthers host the Giants, all of whom have lost their first two games of 2013; while the Steelers will also try to get on the board on Sunday night, but they face the 2-0 Bears in Pittsburgh.  Elsewhere, Baltimore are at home against Houston; the Saints take on the Cardinals in New Orleans; there is an AFC East matchup between the Jets and Bills; the Colts are in San Francisco; and the Dolphins, winners of their first two road games, have their opening fixture of the year in Miami against the Falcons.

Predictions

Last week, 8-8; Season, 16-16

Home teams in bold

Chiefs +3.5 over Eagles

Bengals +2.5 over Packers

Browns +5.5 over Vikings

Rams +3.5 over Cowboys

Lions +1.5 over Washington Cherokee

Chargers +3.5 over Titans

Patriots -7.5 over Buccaneers

Saints -7.5 over Cardinals

Panthers -1.5 over Giants

Texans -2.5 over Ravens

Falcons +1.5 over Dolphins

Bills +2.5 over Jets

49ers -10.5 over Colts

Seahawks -19.5 over Jaguars

Steelers +2.5 over Bears

Broncos -14.5 over Raiders

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