The games from the second week of the NFL are officially over. This means that we can now look ahead to the third week of the regular season. There are plenty of great games on tap for football fans everywhere. While most teams are still bunched tightly together in the standings, a few teams can start to put some distance between themselves and others who may be competition for a playoff spot at the end of the season. Let’s take a look at the games that you simply cannot miss this week.
Houston At Denver
The Houston Texans have started the season without a true test to see how good they really are. While they are 2-0 to start the season, no one is going to pretend that a victory at home against Miami and a win against Jacksonville makes you a Super Bowl contender. The good news for the Texans is that they are going up against a familiar foe this week in Peyton Manning.
For Denver, it will be critical that the defense steps up and has a good game. Peyton Manning loves to run an uptempo offense that emphasizes scoring points quickly as opposed to keeping the ball for long stretches. This means that the Broncos defense will be on the field for many possessions.
While the Broncos and Texans are in different divisions, it will feel like an AFC South divisional game. For the Texans to win, they will need Arian Foster and Ben Tate to run effectively to control the clock. This is the same strategy that the Steelers used to keep Manning off the field in the first game of the season. The Texans have extra motivation to win because a 3-0 start could put them up two games in a weak division.
Philadelphia At Arizona
Who would have thought that this would be a game featuring two undefeated teams? Arizona went to New England last week just hoping it could survive. Instead, the Cardinals defeated New England 20-18. It could be argued that Arizona controlled the game from start to finish. As far as the Eagles go, they have squeaked out two victories by a combined margin of two points.
The Eagles are going to have to limit their turnovers this week against an underrated Cardinals defense. Coach Andy Reid is going to have to feature LeSean McCoy more prominently in the offensive game plan. He cannot afford to have Mike Vick taking numerous hits or throwing wild passes. If the Eagles turn the ball over four or five times this week, they will surely lose the game.
If Arizona plays a competent game on offense, they should have a good chance to win. They just have to avoid a costly fumble like the one by Ryan Williams that almost lost them the game against New England on Sunday. If Arizona wins, they could become a surprise contender in the NFC. Assuming the Cardinals keep winning, the NFC West could send two teams to the playoffs this year.
New England At Baltimore
Both the Ravens and Patriots lost heart-breakers last week. New England lost a shocker to Arizona while the Ravens lost a tight game to the Eagles. These teams will go into Sunday night looking to put the past behind them while also making their future a little brighter. The winner of this game will be 2-1 with an important tiebreaker in the standings.
New England will be without tight end Aaron Hernandez in all likelihood. He suffered an ankle injury in the game versus Arizona. This means that Rob Gronkowski will face a lot of extra coverage. This will be the case even more if the Patriots don’t target Wes Welker early and often. For some reason, he has been less of a factor in the Patriots offense.
Baltimore will need their defense to confuse Tom Brady and get pressure on him at all times. Historically, the Ravens have had success getting to Brady. What the Ravens have to watch out for is a mistake or bad play late in the game. They have had a knack for losing close games due to silly mistakes or calls going against them.
The third week of games in the NFL should feature some great match-ups between teams who are eager to prove their might. The winners of these games will have taken another step in proving that they will be in the playoff hunt for the majority of the season. The losers will have a lot of ground to make up if they hope to stay relevant. The good news is that the fans will not be losing because great football is always a winning proposition regardless of the final score.
This is a guest post submitted by Don Phan. Don currently writes sports content for blogs part-time and is with FansEdge full-time as a marketing associate. FansEdge is a leading retailer of licensed NFL merchandise and is a premier source for Denver Broncos and New England Patriots NFL gear.