Week 3 NFL Preview

Fall’s Coming Up & The NFL Is Heating Up!; Week 3 Tops Off With Romo Vs. Rodgers, Favre Vs. Rivers.

Great way to start. Great way to come back.

That can easily summarize developments in the NFL so far that have already packed a season’s worth of surprise and suspense into the league’s first…two weeks.

As autumn looms next Monday, who can imagine what’s in store?

Look at things so far. Three of the 2-0 teams (Buffalo, Carolina and Denver) won only seven games apiece last year. So things are looking up for them.

But, hold on. Just look at last year. The Giants started 0-2 and won the Super Bowl. The Chargers began 1-3 and reached the AFC Championship Game. It’s two weeks down – and a long way to go!

“It’s a great way to start the season,” says wide receiver LARRY FITZGERALD of the 2-0 Arizona Cardinals. “But it would be a lot better to be 3-0. That’s where my mind-frame is.”

If there have been great starts to the season, there have also been great comebacks. Just look at Week 2.

Three teams – Carolina, Indianapolis and San Francisco — overcame deficits of at least 14 points to win – the first time that many teams have done so since Week 13 of 2006. “You have to continue to fight and continue to battle,” says Indianapolis head coach TONY DUNGY. “That’s the way a lot of NFL games are.”

So let’s see what’s in store for Week 3. Five gamesbut far from the only onesthat should provide some fireworks:




STORYLINE: Roethlisberger vs. McNabbParker vs. Westbrookand DeSean vs. Hines.

This Keystone State matchup – the teams have not met since 2004 — just may have it all.


The Steelers are 2-0 and the Eagles – scoring 75 points in their first two games – certainly could be that way after their wild, back-and-forth classic against Dallas Monday night.


The matchup should have the state rocking. The quarterbacks have been fairly flawless this season, with neither throwing an interception. Both have above-100.0 passer ratings, with the Steelers’ BEN ROETHLISBERGER leading the NFL in the category (136.3), while Eagles QB DONOVAN MC NABB has fired for the second-most yards in the league (642 to JAY CUTLER’s 650).


The running backs – Pitt’s WILLIE PARKER and Philly’s BRIAN WESTBROOK – have started the season hot. Westbrook leads the NFL in TDs with five (3 rushing, 2 receiving) and Parker, with the most carries in the league (53), ties Westbrook and Dallas’ MARION BARBER for the most rush TDs (3).


Finally, there’s the matchup between Eagles wide receiver DE SEAN JACKSON — who Monday night tied former Eagle DON LOONEY (1940) as the only NFL rookie to open his career with two consecutive 100-yard receiving games — and the Steelers’ 11-year veteran HINES WARD, who ties for the league lead in TD catches (3).





MONDAY NIGHT MAYHEM: There were seven lead changes in Week 2’s Monday Night Football game won by Dallas over Philadelphia, 41-37. That is the most in an NFL game since seven on December 24, 2006 when Tennessee topped Buffalo 30-29.






STORYLINE: Veteran quarterback, young quarterbackboth adapting well.


And it has produced the kind of results they’ll want to continue this week.


Of course, Cardinals QB KURT WARNER – in his 11th NFL season – has seen it all and knows that each game can call for different tactics. In Week 1 against San Francisco, it was mostly a stay-on-the-ground second half to preserve a 23-13 win. Last Sunday, he brought out the cannons against Miami, throwing for 361 yards and three scores as WRs ANQUAN BOLDIN and LARRY FITZGERALD each had 100-yard receiving efforts for the sixth time in the same game.


New Redskins head coach JIM ZORN – a 12-year NFL QB – sees the same adaptability developing in his young quarterback – 26-year-old JASON CAMPBELL. Twice last Sunday in the Redskins’ 29-24 win over New Orleans, Campbell audibled and completed key passes. The most important was his 67-yard TD strike to WR SANTANA MOSS that produced the winning points.


“I want to see even better play in the weeks to come,” says Zorn. Cards coach KEN WHISENHUNT couldn’t agree more.




STORYLINE: May seem like a division game for Drew Brees!


This will be the first meeting with an AFC West team for New Orleans QB DREW BREES since his San Diego Chargers days (2001-05), and he will be competing against the NFL’s top-rated offense (463.5 yards per game).


The Saints will try to replicate their Week 1 performance when Brees threw for 343 yards and three touchdowns and RB REGGIE BUSH was scooting through the secondary with eight catches for 112 yards and a TD.


New Orleans will face a hot team. QB JAY CUTLER leads the NFL in passing yards (650). Denver’s second-round draft choice, WR EDDIE ROYAL, had 146 receiving yards in Week 1. Last Sunday, WR BRANDON MARSHALL tied TOM FEARS (12/3/50) for the second-most receptions in a game (18) behind TERRELL OWENS’ 20 on 12/17/00.


That all said, Brees is ready for the AFC West Broncos. “We just haven’t hit our stride yet,” he says. “But it’s coming.”


DALLAS COWBOYS (2-0) at GREEN BAY PACKERS (2-0) (Sunday, NBC, 8:15 PM ET)


STORYLINE: Romo vs. Rodgersagain!


Sure, this is Packers QB AARON RODGERS’ first year as an NFL starter, but the four-year veteran received his first extensive career action last year when he replaced an injured BRETT FAVRE in the second quarter of a game on November 29 on the road against…the Dallas Cowboys. Rodgers compiled then-career highs in attempts (26), completions (18) and yards (201), and threw his first NFL touchdown in a 37-27 Green Bay loss.


Fast forward to 2008 and the lone Week 3 matchup of 2-0 teams features Rodgers against the QB he competed against last November, TONY ROMO – who threw four TDs in that game and set the Dallas season record for TD passes with 32.


Rodgers has yet to throw an interception this year and is fresh off engineering his first fourth-quarter comeback win. He will face a Cowboys 3-4 defense that will try to rattle him with its diverse blitzing packages. Wisconsin-native Romo, who grew up a Packers fan, comes off a raucous 312-yard, three-TD victory (41-37) over Philadelphia Monday night. But the Cowboys have never won in five trips to Lambeau Field (including playoffs) since their inception in 1960.


NEW YORK JETS (1-1) at SAN DIEGO CHARGERS (0-2) (Monday, ESPN, 8:30 PM ET)


STORYLINE: Brett likes Mondays, but Antonio and Quentin will be waiting.


Jets QB BRETT FAVRE has had some of his most memorable games on Monday night. He ranks second all-time to DAN MARINO on Mondays in passing yards (7,678 to Marino’s 9,654) and touchdowns (57 to Marino’s 74). Plus he has the longest TD completion ever on MNF (99 yards).


Thing is, he also has thrown 37 interceptions on Mondays (the record) and will face a unit that led the NFL in pickoffs last year with 30, sparked by speedy CBs ANTONIO CROMARTIE (with a league-leading 10) and QUENTIN JAMMER.


The Jets, meanwhile, will have to prepare for an excitable guy who can remind you of a young Favre — Chargers QB PHILIP RIVERS. Coming off a 377-yard, three-TD game in Denver, Rivers ties the Broncos’ JAY CUTLER for the most touchdown passes through two weeks, with six. And he’s not worried about 0-2! “It’s too early to get carried away with an 0-2 or 2-0 record,” says Rivers.


(Home team in CAPS)

Byes: Baltimore, Houston


Sunday, September 14

Sunday, September 14, Cont.’d.

CAROLINA 20, Chicago 17

TAMPA BAY 24, Atlanta 9

Tennessee 24, CINCINNATI 7

ARIZONA 31, Miami 10

Green Bay 48, DETROIT 25

DENVER 39, San Diego 38

Buffalo 20, JACKSONVILLE 16

New England 19, N.Y. JETS 10

Oakland 23, KANSAS CITY 8

Pittsburgh 10, CLEVELAND 6

Indianapolis 18, MINNESOTA 15


N.Y. Giants 41, ST. LOUIS 13

Monday, September 15

WASHINGTON 29, New Orleans 24

DALLAS 41, Philadelphia 37

San Francisco 33, SEATTLE 30 (OT)




(All times local)


Sunday, September 21

Sunday, September 21, Cont.’d.

Kansas City at Atlanta, 1:00 PM

Detroit at San Francisco, 1:05 PM

Oakland at Buffalo, 1:00 PM

St. Louis at Seattle, 1:05 PM

Tampa Bay at Chicago, 12:00 PM

Cleveland at Baltimore, 4:15 PM

Carolina at Minnesota, 12:00 PM

Jacksonville at Indianapolis, 4:15 PM

Miami at New England, 1:00 PM

Pittsburgh at Philadelphia, 4:15 PM

Cincinnati at N.Y. Giants, 1:00 PM

Dallas at Green Bay, 7:15 PM (NBC)

Houston at Tennessee, 12:00 PM

Arizona at Washington, 1:00 PM

Monday, September 22

New Orleans at Denver, 2:05 PM

N.Y. Jets at San Diego, 5:30 PM (ESPN)