Gunn's NFL Week 3 picks: Tough tests for Cowboys, Redskins help Eagles

Gunn's NFL Week 3 picks: Tough tests for Cowboys, Redskins help Eagles

Derrick Gunn makes his picks for Week 3 of the NFL season. 

Giants at Eagles (1 p.m. on FOX)
Both the Eagles and Giants have good defensive fronts. Both Carson Wentz and Eli Manning are going to get hit, Manning probably a lot more. The Giants have no run game and their offensive line is a mess. Odell Beckham Jr. is not at 100 percent health-wise but is expected to play. Speaking of health, the Eagles' secondary is a mash unit right now. Ronald Darby is on the shelf for a few more weeks, but three additional DBs could sit this one out. Will the Eagles commit to the run game? Don't count on it. The Giants could be without their best cover corner in Janoris Jenkins, who missed the G-men's Monday night loss Detroit. New York head coach Ben McAdoo said they will make changes to a lethargic offense, so the Eagles must expect the unexpected. This game could be closer than it should be, with the Eagles pulling away down the stretch.

Pick: Eagles 23, Giants 13

Ravens at Jaguars in London (9:30 a.m. on Yahoo!)
The Ravens are playing solid defense, while it's hard to figure out the Jaguars. Jacksonville's defense got 10 sacks in the season opener, then got smacked by Tennessee last Sunday. The Jags hold the edge over the Ravens in overseas trips five to zero, but that's about it. The Ravens will go to 3-0.

Pick: Ravens

Broncos at Bills (1 p.m. on CBS)
Wow, looks like Broncos QB Trevor Siemian has grown up. He's been accurate and has command of the offense. The Bills will have trouble moving the ball against a stingy defense. Like Sergio Dipp said, Broncos coach Vance Joseph is having the time of his life, and so will his team against the Bills.

Pick: Broncos

Steelers at Bears (1 p.m. on CBS)
The Steelers are off to a great start. The Bears wish they could start the season over. The way the $18-million-man Mike Glennon is playing, he could be benched before the halfway point of the season. The Steelers will remain undefeated, while "Da Bears" stay winless.

Pick: Steelers

Falcons at Lions (1 p.m. on FOX)
A shootout special: Matt Ryan vs Matthew Stafford. You expect it from their offense, but the Lions' defense is also balling with six sacks, four interceptions and three forced fumbles. The Falcons' defense is no slouch with seven sacks. Defense will have to take a back seat in what could be a game with plenty of offensive fireworks. I like the Lions in a mild upset over the defending NFC champs.

Pick: Lions

Browns at Colts (1 p.m. on CBS)
I'm glad I don't have to pay good money to see this mess between two winless teams. Until the Colts get Andrew Luck back, their season is an exercise in futility. Jacoby Brissett will try to get the Colts in the win column, but DeShone Kizer and Cleveland have other ideas. The Colts drop to 0-3.

Pick: Browns

Bucs at Vikings (1 p.m. on FOX)
Both teams are similar in that they have plenty of talent on both sides of the ball. The difference is Tampa Bay has a healthy Jameis Winston and Minnesota has Sam Bradford dealing with a knee injury. Even if Bradford plays I'm not sure he'll hold up against the Bucs' pass rush. Tampa scores a road decision.

Pick: Buccaneers

Texans at Patriots (1 p.m. on CBS)
Don't send a rookie QB into Foxborough to face Bill Belichick, because he's never lost to a first-year QB at home. It will be a good learning experience for the Texans and young QB Deshaun Watson, but the Pats will roll.

Pick: Patriots 

Dolphins at Jets (1 p.m. on CBS)
It's sad days for Jets fans, as they watch their team with little talent and no hope for 2017. Through two weeks, the Jets have given up a league-high 66 points. Enough said.

Pick: Dolphins

Saints at Panthers (1 p.m. on FOX)
The Panthers' defense has given up just six points and looks like their top-10 defense of 2015. The Saints have had a brutal schedule, losing to both the Vikings and Pats. This time, the Panthers will rise in the NFC South.

Pick: Panthers

Seahawks at Titans (4:05 p.m. on FOX)
Both teams are playoff-caliber squads, but the Seahawks have put out an APB on their missing offense. The Titans' power run game vs. the Hawks rock 'em sock 'em D. Remember the Titans at home.

Pick: Titans

Bengals at Packers (4:25 p.m. on CBS)
The Bengals' offense has yet to score a TD while the Packers' D was very generous in Atlanta. The Bengals have offensive line issues, while the Packers have health issues across the board. But the home team still has Aaron Rodgers standing tall. The Pack gets back in the win column.

Pick: Packers

Chiefs at Chargers (4:25 p.m. on CBS)
It's like Groundhog Day for the Chargers. Last year, they couldn't win a lot of close games. This year, they've lost by margins of three and two points. Big Red returns to his hometown and puts a jolt into the Chargers' hopes of pulling off an upset.

Pick: Chiefs

Raiders at Redskins (8:30 p.m. on NBC)
The 'Skins are feeling good coming off a win, but the Raiders — who have scored a league-high 71 points — can leave a team ill in a hurry. Kirk Cousins is still trying to find his groove in the passing game. Derek Carr won't have that problem. The Raiders roll on the road.

Pick: Raiders

Cowboys at Cardinals (8:30 p.m. Monday on ESPN)
The Cowboys got roughed up by Denver. The Cardinals had to sweat out an OT win against Indy. Are the Cards starting to show their age? Dez Bryant vs. Patrick Peterson should be a fun matchup to watch. 'Zona's home opener should send the desert crowd home happy.

Pick: Cardinals

LeGarrette Blount advises Eagles to 'stay humble' after 5-1 start

LeGarrette Blount advises Eagles to 'stay humble' after 5-1 start

With a 5-1 record, the Eagles sit all alone atop the division and conference standings, and are tied for the best mark in the NFL. Their quarterback was recently given the best odds of winning the league’s Most Valuable Player award. So, yes, right now, a trip to the Super Bowl seems to be very much on the table for this squad.

But take it from LeGarrette Blount, somebody who’s won a couple of world championships — the Eagles can’t afford to get caught up in the hysteria right now.

“We could lose 10 in a row,” Blount said Tuesday. “We could go 6-10, so we don't want to jump the gun, jump to conclusions. We want to make sure we take it week by week, day by day, keep a level head and make sure we're going to be ready for whoever the next opponent is.”

Blount is one of only five Eagles players with a Super Bowl ring, and the only member of the roster who owns multiple. The veteran running back won two of the last three years with the New England Patriots organization, which has been a perennial championship contender for the better part of the last two decades.

In other words, Blount knows better than anybody inside the Eagles’ locker room exactly what it takes to not only reach the big game and come away victorious, but also how to sustain that success.

“You have to stay grounded,” Blount. “You have to stay humble and make sure that all the guys that are in the building are on the same page. The coaches, the staff, everybody is on the same page, ignoring the noise, not worrying about what other teams are doing, what other teams' records are – just worrying about ourselves and locked into us.”

Easier said than done given the week the Eagles just had.

After going to Carolina and upending a tough Panthers squad on Thursday night, the Eagles watched as massive blows were being dealt to some of their stiffest competition over the weekend. Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers suffered a broken collarbone on Sunday, potentially crippling one of the NFC’s elites for the remainder of the season. And Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott is awaiting word on the status of a six-game suspension that could seriously hamper the division rival.

But the noise can also be Eagles fans and their exponentially rising expectations, or a media that’s quick to point out any tiny flaw and raise controversy.

Blount has experienced the latter firsthand. Two weeks into the 2017 campaign, he finished a game without a carry — an Eagles’ loss — and was averaging 3.0 yards per carry going back to the preseason. The constant questions coming from reporters about his role easily could have become a distraction.

In the four weeks since, Blount has 344 yards on 56 carries for a 6.1 average. He never allowed the noise to get to him, instead becoming a big reason behind the ongoing four-game winning streak.

“We know what we've been doing to get to this point,” Blount said. “We know what it takes, so we just have to buy in to continue to do that, and continue to do every that it takes to continue winning games.

“A big part of it is just making sure you ignore the noise, don't listen to the outsiders, everything that is in house stays in house, and that you make sure and know that everybody that you see on TV isn't in your corner. Sometimes that can discourage the younger guys. Every now and then you'll hear them say, 'Oh, did you hear them say this,' or, 'Did you hear them say that? Or, 'Did you see this,' or 'Did you see that?'

“The big part is making sure that everybody ignores that stuff.”

Blount has been through extraordinary highs and lows in his football career and learned to maintain an even keel. But Eagles leadership has also done a tremendous job insulating players from the kinds of rumblings that have a tendency to create discord and cause entire seasons to come off the rails.

For evidence, look no further than rumors that defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz was trying to undermine head coach Doug Pederson — and how quickly such talk dissipated.

“The veteran groups have a lot to do with it,” Blount said. “I also think the coaches have a lot to do with it — keeping the guys grounded, keeping the guys to where we have to continue to come here and work if we want to continue the success.

“Most of the young guys, all of them have bought into the program, and everybody's locked in and knows their role and what they want to do.”

While Blount wouldn’t go so far as to draw parallels between the ways the Eagles and the Patriots handle distractions, it’s clear he’s been able to quickly establish a bond with his new teammates and coaches since signing in May.

“Every team is different,” Blount said. “I can't compare this team to the New England teams, or any other team. We have a really close-knit team. We believe in each other. Everybody loves each other and we have each other’s backs.”

As far as Blount’s performance on the field is concerned, the best may be still to come. He’s finished with at least 12 carries in each of the last four games, and looked explosive and elusive while doing it. And with extra rest between a Thursday night game in Carolina and this Monday’s contest at home against Washington, the bruising runner said he’s feeling refreshed.

Most of all, it sounds as though Blount is in a great frame of mind and feeling comfortable with all of his surroundings. And if you’re looking for a great read on the Eagles’ situation through six games, just listen to the guy who’s come to expect confetti and parades in February.

Judge grants Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott reprieve, cleared for 49ers in Week 7

USA Today Images

Judge grants Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott reprieve, cleared for 49ers in Week 7

NEW YORK -- Dallas Cowboys star Ezekiel Elliott has been granted another legal reprieve in the running back's fight to avoid a six-game suspension over domestic violence allegations.

A federal judge granted a temporary restraining order blocking the league's suspension Tuesday night, clearing Elliott to play Sunday at San Francisco.

U.S. District Judge Paul Crotty's ruling comes five days after a federal appeals court overturned a Texas court's injunction that had kept Elliott on the field this season.

Crotty granted the request for a temporary restraining order pending a hearing before the presiding judge, Katherine Polk Fialla.

Elliott, last year's NFL rushing leader as a rookie, was barred from the team's facility Tuesday as players returned from their off week. The NFL placed him on the suspended list Friday, a day after the ruling from the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans.

The Eagles visit Dallas in Week 11 on Sunday night, Nov. 19. They host the Cowboys in Week 17 on New Year’s Eve.