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Survivor Guide: Week 3

by Mark Miller
Updated On: October 4, 2018, 4:04 pm ET

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*Team listed in BOLD is my pick to win the game

 

Strong Play:

 

New England (vs. Jacksonville) – After picking apart one of the better defenses in the league, Tom Brady will go up against a Jacksonville team that is averaging 251 passing yards per game. Jacksonville won’t have an answer for Rob Gronkowski, but then again, no team ever does. I don’t expect Brady to target Julian Edelman 19 times again this week, but you can expect 12-14 targets which should equate into 8-10 catches and possibly a touchdown. On the defensive side of the ball, the Patriots will keep Blake Bortles in check with their pass rush, which has tallied 11 sacks on the season. Their pass rush should force him into turning the ball over a couple times. Bortles will struggle, but he may pad his stats in garbage time when the Patriots have the game in hand. Allen Robinson is coming off an impressive 155 yard and 2 touchdown game against the Dolphins, but no one should expect him to put up those type of numbers this week. The Patriots are going to remain focused and will not look past this game before heading into their bye week next week. They should take control of this game right from the start and they won’t look back.

 

Next 3 Games:

Jacksonville: @ Indianapolis, @ Tampa Bay, vs. Houston

New England: BYE, @ Dallas, @ Indianapolis

 

Seattle (vs. Chicago) – The last time Seattle started the season 0-2 was back in 2011 when Pete Carroll was in his second year as head coach of the Seahawks. They’ve played two tough opponents to start the year, and both games were on the road. Seattle must be relieved to return to Century Link Field where they have arguably the best home field advantage in the league. Although the offense hasn’t clicked the way people expected it to, I believe their offense will start to figure things out and it will start with Marshawn Lynch and the running game. Chicago will have a lot of trouble with Russell Wilson and his legs as well, but Doug Baldwin should have another solid performance in this game. Seattle also received great news Wednesday morning, as Kam Chancellor is returning from his holdout. Chicago is going to be without Jay Cutler this week due to a hamstring injury which means Jimmy Clausen may be the one tabbed to take over. Alshon Jeffery sat out against the Cardinals in Week 2 and is questionable again this week against Seattle. If Jeffery doesn’t suit up, I’d move Seattle up in this week’s rankings.

 

Next 3 Games:

Chicago: vs. Oakland, @ Kansas City, @ Detroit

Seattle: vs. Detroit, @ Cincinnati, vs. Carolina

 

Atlanta (@ Dallas) – Could the Cowboys have any worse luck than they are having right now? On a positive side, they are 2-0, which is a good thing, but between losing Dez Bryant for approximately 8-12 weeks and now losing Tony Romo for at least 8 weeks, Dallas is finding themselves in a heap of trouble. Oh yeah, Jason Witten is questionable in Week 3. Talk about taking a punch. Although the Cowboys traded for Matt Cassel, they will be turning to Brandon Weeden to take over for Romo. If Witten doesn’t play, his main targets will be Terrance Williams and Cole Beasley. I’d suspect that the Cowboys will go run-heavy in this game and use the strength of this team, their offensive line, to help the run game. But ultimately, I believe Atlanta will be able move the chains in this game. Matt Ryan will continue feeding Julio Jones, but Tevin Coleman may have the opportunity to pad his stats a little bit due to the fact that Dallas will focus on stopping the pass. Atlanta should remain undefeated after this weekend.

 

Next 3 Games:

Atlanta: vs. Houston, vs. Washington, @ New Orleans

Dallas: @ New Orleans, vs. New England, BYE

 

Decent Play:

 

Denver (@ Detroit) – The good news for the Lions is that they are returning home to Ford Field after spending the first two weeks on the road and losing both games. The bad news is that they are hosting the Denver Broncos. The Lions’ defense has been torched both in the air and on the ground allowing an average of 416.5 total yards per game and giving up 29.5 points per game. Although Denver’s offense hasn’t played great averaging just 5.1 yards per pass and 2.8 yards per rush, the Lions’ defense still has to be concerned about Peyton Manning because he has put up his best numbers when playing indoors. Denver’s offensive line has been shaky this season allowing 7 sacks, but Detroit’s pass rush has been less than stellar, recording just 2 sacks on the season. I’m concerned about Matthew Stafford and how effective he will be against Denver’s defense and their pass rush. If Denver’s defense gets to Stafford and hits him a few times, I think that he may start to rush his throws which could turn into interceptions, leading to scoring opportunities for the Broncos.

 

Next 3 Games:

Denver: vs. Minnesota, @ Oakland, @ Cleveland

Detroit: @ Seattle, vs. Arizona, vs. Chicago

 

Indianapolis (@ Tennessee) – The Colts were one of the favorites to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl this year, but out of the gate they have not played particularly well. Granted, they have played two tough defenses to start the year, but they have made too many mistakes in the first two games. I expect them to turn that around and get back on track this weekend. Frank Gore ran the ball well against the Jets prior to uncharacteristically fumbling the ball on his way into the end zone. I think Gore could see a couple more touches in this game and could punch one in this week. Andrew Luck has turned the ball over 5 times already this season, but he will focus on protecting the football and ensuring that he won’t force balls to receivers. Tennessee has only allowed 339 passing yards this season, but they’ve played against Jameis Winston and Johnny Manziel, and Manziel only threw the ball 18 times in the game last week. I expect a 300 yard, 2-3 touchdown game from Luck this week. The key to the offense will be the health of TY Hilton. If he’s completely healthy, he will open things up for the Colts and maybe we’ll see Andre Johnson have a productive game. Marcus Mariota threw the ball 37 times last week against the Browns because they were down 21-0 to start the game. Mariota will be slinging it a lot this game because I’m expecting the Titans to fall behind early just like last week. The Colts should finally get their first win of the season this week and are a decent play in Survivor Pools.

 

Next 3 Games:

Indianapolis: vs. Jacksonville, @ Houston, vs. New England

Tennessee: BYE, vs. Buffalo, vs. Miami

 

Carolina (vs. New Orleans) – What can you say about the Saints? After losing on the road to a tough Cardinals team in Week 1, they were handed a golden ticket in Week 2 to face off against the Buccaneers at home in the dome. The Buccaneers had just come off an embarrassing loss against the Titans, so this game on paper appeared to be a layup for the Saints. Far from it. In fact, it showed exactly how flawed this team is, especially on defense. Drew Brees suffered a shoulder injury in Week 2 and is now questionable for this game against the Panthers. Even if he does play, I’m not sure how effective he will be. As for Carolina, they will expose the Saints on defense by running the ball with Jonathan Stewart. He is averaging 4.4 yards per carry on the season and should see roughly 20 carries against a Saints team that allows 129 rushing yards per game. Cam Newton doesn’t have to be Superman in this game, he just needs to take care of the football and not turn it over. As long as the Panthers control the clock and protect the football, they should come out victorious.

 

Next 3 Games:

New Orleans: vs. Dallas, @ Philadelphia, vs. Atlanta

Carolina: @ Tampa Bay, BYE, @ Seattle

 

Risky Play:

 

NY Jets (vs. Philadelphia) – All the rage about the Jets has been their defense, which is arguably the best in the league. But their offense has played pretty well and Ryan Fitzpatrick has done a good job filling in at quarterback, completing 64% of his passes and has thrown 4 touchdowns and has been picked off only 2 times so far. Jets head coach Todd Bowles has had a well balanced plan of attack on offense and it has worked out well because the team is averaging 338.5 total yards per game and they have scored an average of 25.5 points per game. Don’t expect any deviation this week and we will see the same type of balanced attack against Philadelphia. The Eagles are going to have problems moving the ball this week against this Jets’ defense. I expect Darrell Revis to cover Jordan Matthews extensively in this game, and I believe the Jets’ pass rush will disrupt Sam Bradford and force him into making mistakes. Don’t expect much from the seldom used DeMarco Murray because the Eagles may give Darren Sproles a lot more snaps in this game as a check-down option for Bradford. I like the home team Jets in this game.

 

Next 3 Games:

Philadelphia: @ Washington, vs. New Orleans, vs. NY Giants

NY Jets: @ Miami, BYE, vs. Washington

 

Arizona (vs. San Francisco) – Following up a good win at home against the Vikings, the Niners decided that they shouldn’t show up for their game in Pittsburgh in Week 2. Their pass defense was not very good and were torched by Ben Roethlisberger for 369 yards with an average of 13.7 yards per pass. Carson Palmer’s offensive line has played extremely well in the first 2 games and hasn’t allowed a sack yet. It is crucial that the Niners get a pass rush, but I think that Arizona’s line will keep them at bay. The Cardinals will feed both Chris Johnson and David Johnson in this game because Andre Ellington will be out until Week 4 the earliest, but I don’t think either running back will be much of a factor this weekend. The Cardinals are 2-10 against the 49ers in their last 12 meetings, but many of those matchups came against the Niners when they were in their prime from 2011-2014. The tables seem to be turning in favor of Arizona and I believe that Arizona will pull out a win against their divisional foe.

 

Next 3 Games:

San Francisco: vs. Green Bay, @ NY Giants, vs. Baltimore

Arizona: vs. St. Louis, @ Detroit, @ Pittsburgh

 

Minnesota (vs. San Diego) – In Week 1 against the 49ers, the Vikings handed the ball off to Adrian Peterson 10 times and lost. In Week 2, the Vikings had AP rush 29 times and he gained 154 yards and the Vikings won. Granted, Teddy Bridgewater played much better in this game, but I don’t think it’s any secret that the key to the Vikings’ success is feeding AP. The Chargers have allowed an average of 122 rushing yards per game and 4.7 yards per rush in the first two games. Vikings know this so they will make sure to give Peterson the ball roughly 25 times in this game. This will also allow them to control the clock and keep the ball out of Philip Rivers’ hands. Rivers has had a nice start to his season, completing 81% of his passes. The Chargers will continue to use Melvin Gordon as their primary runner, but Danny Woodhead will come in for 10 carries and will be in the game on passing downs to catch the ball out of the backfield. Ultimately, I think this game comes down to the Vikings’ defense. If they can put as much pressure on Rivers as they did against Matt Stafford in Week 2, I think Minnesota sends San Diego back home with their 2nd loss.

 

Next 3 Games:

San Diego: vs. Cleveland, vs. Pittsburgh, @ Green Bay

Minnesota: @ Denver, BYE, vs. Kansas City

 

Cincinnati (@ Baltimore) – The Ravens are another team that started the season out with two games on the road, but what’s worse is the fact that both games were on the West Coast. Does that absolve them from losing to the Raiders 37-33 in Week 2? No, it doesn’t. But the Ravens were without Terrell Suggs due to tearing his Achilles, which has ended his season. The Ravens’ defense was picked apart by Derek Carr because they couldn’t get any pressure on him. Cincinnati’s offensive line hasn’t allowed a single sack this season which doesn’t bode well for Baltimore’s defense. I’m expecting Andy Dalton to have a lot of time in the pocket to find A.J. Green and Tyler Eifert. One thing to keep an eye on is how many carries are split between Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard. No matter who handles the load, these two are a good tandem in the backfield that should combine for close to 100 yards in this game.

 

Next 3 Games:

Cincinnati: vs. Kansas City, vs. Seattle, @ Buffalo

Baltimore: @ Pittsburgh, vs. Cleveland, @ San Francisco

 

Pittsburgh (@ St. Louis) – Pittsburgh steamrolled the 49ers in Week 2, both in the air and on the ground. Antonio Brown was open all day and DeAngelo Williams rushed 20 times for 77 yards and 3 touchdowns and Ben Roethlisberger was enjoying himself. Pittsburgh gets another reinforcement with Le’Veon Bell coming back from his 2 game suspension this week, and he should provide another spark to this offense. The Rams defense will have their hands full and will have to make sure they don’t allow as many big plays as San Francisco allowed last weekend. The Rams failed to generate any offense last week and were forced to punt 8 times. I am worried that they will struggle to move the chains again. I think Pittsburgh will find ways to beat the Rams’ defense in this game whether it’s Roethlisberger airing it out to Brown or Marcus Wheaton, or running the ball with Bell. They’ll put up enough points on the scoreboard to outlast the Rams in St. Louis in Week 3.

 

Next 3 Games:

Pittsburgh: vs. Baltimore, @ San Diego, vs. Arizona

St. Louis: @ Arizona, @ Green Bay, BYE

 

Avoid:

 

NY Giants (vs. Washington) – The Giants could easily be 2-0 on the season, but due to bad play calling and poor execution, they find themselves 0-2 to start the season instead. The good news for New York is that the division is still within reach, especially because of the injuries that the Cowboys have suffered. The Giants host Washington in what is an important divisional game early on this season. Despite being 1-1, Washington has played well. They played well in their loss against the Dolphins and then defeated the Rams which shocked some people. The key to their success has been controlling the football and dominating the time of possession. They are accomplishing this by running the ball so well. Stopping the run has been one of the Giants’ strong suits, allowing just 3.0 yards per attempt and 68 yards per game. If they can keep Alfred Morris and Matt Jones from running wild, the Giants should see their luck turn around and win this game. But with the way that the Giants’ season has gone thus far, I don’t think they are a lock at all, which is why I recommend avoiding this game.

 

Next 3 Games:

Washington: vs. Philadelphia, @ Atlanta, @ NY Jets

NY Giants: @ Buffalo, vs. San Francisco, @ Philadelphia

 

Buffalo (@ Miami) – Buffalo’s defense stymied Andrew Luck and the Colts in Week 1, but in Week 2 they were picked apart by Tom Brady for 466 yards and 3 touchdowns. Miami’s defense hasn’t played the way I thought they were capable of playing and have been a bit of a letdown early on this season. Lamar Miller has also been a disappointment these first two weeks, averaging just 2.9 yards per carry. He injured his ankle in Week 2 and didn’t practice on Wednesday, but he says that he will be ready to go against the Bills. If he does play, I believe he will struggle for a 3rd straight game. I believe this game will be close from start to finish and could end up being a very low scoring game and may come down to which team makes the least amount of mistakes on offense.

 

Next 3 Games:

Buffalo: vs. NY Giants, @ Tennessee, vs. Cincinnati

Miami: vs. NY Jets, BYE, @ Tennessee

 

Houston (vs. Tampa Bay) – A week after getting blown out by the Titans 42-14, the Buccaneers traveled into New Orleans and defeated the Saints 26-19 in a game that shocked many people. Jameis Winston’s improved play was definitely a factor, but I think it also helped that he went up against the Saints’ defense. Now he faces a 0-2 Houston team that is hungry to get their first win. The Houston defensive front should have a much easier time dominating the Bucs’ offensive line in this game. I am expecting Jameis Winston to see a lot of J.J. Watt in this game. I like Houston at home in this game, but I think this game is too risky due to the fact that Tampa Bay’s defense has played better than anticipated. As of right now, Ryan Mallett will continue to start despite his awful play against the Panthers. If he continues to struggle, the Texans could opt to make a change during the game and go back to Brian Hoyer. I think it’s best to just avoid this game altogether this week.

 

Next 3 Games:

Tampa Bay: vs. Carolina, vs. Jacksonville, BYE

Houston: @ Atlanta, vs. Indianapolis, @ Jacksonville

Oakland (@ Cleveland) – Derek Carr had arguably his best game as a pro last week against the Baltimore Ravens, completing 30 of 46 passes for 351 yards and 3 touchdowns, the last of which was a 9 play 80 yard game-winning touchdown drive with 1:44 left on the clock. Although Derek Carr was very good, the Raiders’ pass defense continued to be less than stellar and has now allowed an average of 327 passing yards per game. On a positive note, they play against Johnny Manziel and the Cleveland Browns this week. I’m not expecting Manziel to light up the scoreboard, but as long as the Raiders can keep Travis Benjamin from making another 54+ yard play for a third straight game, Raiders should win their second game of the season.

 

Next 3 Games:

Oakland: @ Chicago, vs. Denver, BYE

Cleveland: @ San Diego, @ Baltimore, vs. Denver

 

Green Bay (vs. Kansas City) – Kansas City is coming off a heartbreaking loss to the Denver Broncos on Thursday night whereas the Packers are coming off a strong win against the Seattle Seahawks. The Packers get to play host again this week, but the status of Eddie Lacy remains in the air after he injured his ankle Sunday night. The Packers are favored in this game, but a few things worry me. First is the fact they can’t stop the run, allowing an average of 5.3 yards per carry. Assuming Jamaal Charles has put his 2 fumbles behind him, he should be the main focal point for the Kansas City offense this week. The second is the Chief’s pass rush, most notably Justin Houston. I’m not certain the Packers’ offensive line will be able to contain that pass rush. My recommendation is to avoid this game this week.

 

Next 3 Games:

Kansas City: @ Cincinnati, vs. Chicago, @ Minnesota

Green Bay: @ San Francisco, vs. St. Louis, vs. San Diego

 

Week 3 Survivor Pool Rankings:

 

1.    New England Patriots

2.    Seattle Seahawks

3.    Atlanta Falcons

4.    Denver Broncos

5.    Indianapolis Colts

6.    Carolina Panthers

7.    New York Jets

8.    Arizona Cardinals

9.    Minnesota Vikings

10.    Cincinnati Bengals

11.    Pittsburgh Steelers

12.    New York Giants

13.    Buffalo Bills

14.    Houston Texans

15.    Oakland Raiders

16.    Green Bay Packers

Mark Miller
Mark Miller writes the Survivor Picks column for Rotoworld. He can be found on Twitter.