Week 3 predictions: 49ers trounce Colts; Redskins finally win

Well, you don't see that every day.

This Week 3 picks column was about in the bag when Trent Richardson was dealt from a struggling Cleveland Browns team to a (surprisingly) struggling Indianapolis Colts team. It's not often that a marquee young player with such upside is involved in a trade. If you're into fun facts, the last running back drafted third overall to be traded was Chuck Muncie, whom the San Diego Chargers acquired from the New Orleans Saints during the 1980 season. Reggie Bush (drafted in 2006) and Marshall Faulk (1994) were No. 2 overall picks who were also traded away by the franchises that originally selected them.

While the trade didn't alter my initial predictions for Cleveland and Indy this week, the deal was a shocker nonetheless.

We were discussing this weekend's games on the "Dave Dameshek Football Program" when the word came down, temporarily knocking us off the forecasting rails. That's OK; we've got it all covered below, including the suddenly different feels of Browns-Vikings and Colts-49ers. Bear in mind that one of those teams will also be starting a new quarterback Sunday.

As for the rest of the docket, take a look. And feel free to share your thoughts ... @Harrison_NFL is the place. There are a few close calls, to say the least.

Let's get to it!

Elliot Harrison went 10-6 on his predictions for Week 2, giving him a record of 22-10 so far this season. How will he fare in Week 3? His picks are below, with home teams listed second.

The Kansas City Chiefs' defense has the unenviable task of facing the high-octane Philadelphia Eagles offense on a short week. This will be no small chore; many Kansas City defenders could be seen with their hands on their hips during the first half against the Dallas Cowboys last Sunday, when Tony Romo was pushing the tempo. Perhaps the most impressive aspect of the Eagles offense is the balance -- Philly has run 51.1 percent of the time and passed 48.9 percent. If the Chiefs can stop LeSean McCoy the way they did DeMarco Murray (25 rushing yards in Week 2), they should be in good shape. (Hey, McCoy and Murray both have two capital letters in their first names, so that helps.) Oh, and in case you haven't heard: Andy Reid used to coach in Philadelphia. #KCvsPHI

The Houston Texans will fall short on Sunday. It might seem odd to predict such an outcome, knowing that the Baltimore Ravens got their butts handed to them, to the tune of a 43-13 loss, in Texas last year. This matchup, however, is in Baltimore, which means the Texans can ill afford to sleepwalk through portions of it, as they did in their first two contests of the season. Ray Rice is taking it easy this week, though he'll probably play against the Texans. That will be a big factor when it comes to determining the outcome, though not as big as this one: How uncomfortable can the Ravens' defense make Matt Schaub, who has been sacked just four times thus far? The guess here is that Schaub will go down four more times on Sunday alone, as the Ravens already have eight sacks on the season. Houston running back Arian Foster faces a defense that has allowed 65 yards per game and 3 yards per carry. Elsewhere on offense, receiver Andre Johnson, who is recovering from a concussion, will need to be on his "A" game.

 *Editor's note: All indications point to Ray Rice missing Sunday's game, he officially was listed as doubtful Friday. My sense is that in a game that was to be tight anyway, losing a player of Rice's caliber is too much to surmount for a Ravens team that frankly has not played well through the first two weeks. So we have changed the pick to the Texans winning on the road. (Who by the way haven't played particularly well, either, despite being 2-0).* 

The New York Giants finally steal one on the road. It's hard not to feel for Carolina Panthers coach Ron Rivera right now; his defense has let the team down the past two weeks. Of course, that's because the offense hasn't been consistently productive. The Panthers have scored 30 points through two games while averaging 151 net yards per game. If they want to have a chance at beating the Giants, they should attack New York's depleted secondary -- but then, that strategy would not play to Carolina's strength. Last year, running back Andre Brown and tight end Martellus Bennett carried the Giants to victory in Carolina. This year, New York will ride the outside receivers. The Panthers' secondary is susceptible to quality talent outside -- which Big Blue has. #NYGvsCAR

I'm predicting the Cincinnati Bengals get it handed to them this week. While their 20-10 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers appeared to be a dominant victory, this Bengals team still hasn't put it all together. The offense was solid against the Bears in Week 1, but the club played sloppily overall in the loss at Chicago. Against the Steelers, Cincy's pass rush had to apply pressure, because there were plenty of receivers running free. Aaron Rodgers will challenge the Bengals early and often. Expect Packers coach Mike McCarthy to call an aggressive, up-tempo game. On the other side, Andy Dalton must make more plays downfield; he continues to miss some vertical plays. Most of the Bengals' big plays -- like those by Jermaine Gresham and Giovani Bernard on Monday night -- are coming on short passes; the deep completion to tight end Tyler Eifert was the result of blown coverage. An ability to throw accurately downfield is one thing we have yet to see from Dalton. #GBvsCIN

The St. Louis Rams' pass rush will be a tough matchup for a bad Dallas Cowboys offensive line, and that advantage could stake STL to an early lead. The problem for the Rams is that neither their running game nor their passing game poses a huge threat to Dallas coordinator Monte Kiffin's defense. Other than Jared Cook vs. the Cowboys' safeties, most of the matchups should go Dallas' way. In their Week 2 loss to the Chiefs, the Cowboys were really hurt by Alex Smith's runs out of the pistol -- but that's not Sam Bradford's game. Still, I think Bradford will play smart in Dallas, like he did in the second half in Atlanta last Sunday, when he was able to spread the ball around. The Cowboys will have to max protect Tony Romo more in this game than they would like ... or else. #STLvsDAL

Uh, don't expect "Dan Marino, circa 1984" numbers in this interconference match, as two offenses that have had their difficulties will face off in Minnesota. Being at home should help the Minnesota Vikings' pass rush. Legendary Cleveland Browns coach Paul Brown created the "pocket" -- you know, the cup the quarterback throws the ball from -- and he probably would throw his Otto Graham cards at the wall if he saw the way Brandon Weeden has been manhandled this season. Jared Allen could tee off in this one. New offensive coordinator Norv Turner must somehow get the Browns running game going -- sans Trent Richardson, who was the ball carrier on 31 of the team's 33 rushing attempts over the first two weeks. Hello, Chris Ogbonnaya -- No. 25 in your programs and 25th in Browns fans' hearts. Meanwhile, don't expect Adrian Peterson to rip off 200 yards on this Browns defense. Oh, and with Weeden's thumb sprained, Brian Hoyer is getting the start for Cleveland -- the league is now on notice. #CLEvsMIN

Similar to my inclination to take the underdog Rams against the Falcons last week, I find myself tempted to pick the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in an upset. The Bucs continue to be doomed by their own errors. There was the Lavonte David gaffe against the New York Jets in Week 1, followed by numerous penalties -- like an illegal formation call -- blotting out all hope for a win against the New Orleans Saints in Week 2. As for the New England Patriots, if you thought Tom Brady yelled a lot versus the Jets last Thursday, don't be surprised to see smoke coming out of his ears against the Buccaneers' secondary, which has allowed just two touchdowns and picked off three balls. Did you hear Darrelle Revis got traded to the Bucs? We digress. Josh Freeman must make the Pats' secondary compete downfield, where they can be had. On pass attempts that travel 20 yards or more this season, Freeman is just 1-for-5 with an interception. The Patriots gave up the most big passing plays (20-plus yards) in the NFL last year. #TBvsNE

The Arizona Cardinals can't afford to play in Louisiana the way they did in last Sunday's home win over the Detroit Lions. The Cards must have a healthy Larry Fitzgerald, whose hammy bothered him against Detroit. The New Orleans Saints' defense has been playing surprising well -- I mean, viably, at least -- while their offense had its struggles in Tampa. But this week, look for Saints receiver Lance Moore -- playing at home and on turf -- to catch two touchdown passes, and for New Orleans' attack to roll again. If the Cardinals put Patrick Peterson on Moore, than Drew Brees will simply go to old reliable, Marques Colston. And then there's the Jimmy Graham factor. Consider that Lions tight end Brandon Pettigrew had some chances to make plays against Arizona last Sunday. This just in ... Jimmy Graham > Brandon Pettigrew. #AZvsNO

This might be the closest of any Week 3 matchup. We'll give the edge to the Tennessee Titans based on home-field advantage; otherwise, this one is even. San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers should be able to exploit the Titans' secondary -- even without injured receiver Malcom Floyd. The offensive line, however, will have difficulty combating Tennessee's pass rush, which has been surprisingly effective through two games (collecting seven sacks). San Diego has had some difficulty stopping the run thus far, which plays into the Titans' favor. The key to this game could be how many plays Jake Locker makes out of the pocket. The Titans quarterback has barely run this season, but this might be the week to take off, forcing the Chargers to either spy him or be more considerate of their outside contain. #SDvsTEN

The Washington Redskins will avoid falling to 0-3, partially thanks to the good fortune that they'll be at home and Detroit Lions running back Reggie Bush is not healthy. The Lions, meanwhile, have to avoid making the kinds of mistakes that cost them their Week 2 matchup with the Cardinals. That might sound cliché, but after watching nearly every down, I can tell you Detroit should have won that game. The Lions' front four have played pretty well thus far, but they'll be facing a quarterback in Robert Griffin III that is a far different animal than usually immobile Cardinals signal-caller Carson Palmer. If the Redskins' offense can keep from reenacting their first eight drives against the Green Bay Packers last Sunday -- punt, punt, punt, punt, interception, end of half, punt, missed field goal attempt -- the unit could do a lot for a defense that's been sucking wind. Washington needs to get Alfred Morris and the running game afloat early. #DETvsWAS

This is probably the coolest game on the Week 3 slate. The Atlanta Falcons are coming off a too-close-for-comfort win (does anyone remember Ted Knight in "Too Close for Comfort"?) over the St. Louis Rams in which they had trouble keeping defenders' hands off their franchise man. Well, if Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan thought the St. Louis pass rush was tough, he should get ready for more of the same in Miami. Given the Falcons' protection issues -- and the fact that Steven Jackson won't be around to help out on third down -- it will be interesting to see how much Miami Dolphins defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle uses rookie Dion Jordan in this game. (He played just seven snaps in Miami's Week 2 win over the Indianapolis Colts.) Ryan Tannehill and the offense have converted a surprising 14 of 30 third downs (46.7 percent) thus far. #ATLvsMIA

This is a difficult game to call. The Buffalo Bills are everyone's darlings right now, yet they still have to come out and do it again. Let's be honest: The Bills escaped with their Week 2 win over the Panthers. That's not to say they didn't earn it, but rather that the game could've gone either way. This week, the Bills won't have the home crowd to give them a late boost -- on the flip side, though, it's hard to say how much help random Bruce Harper jerseys will be for a New York Jets receiving corps that was awful last Thursday against the Patriots. Geno Smith -- whose passer rating of 55.2 is the second-lowest in the NFL -- has to be more careful with the football late in the game than he was at Gillette. The Jets can't afford to lose the turnover battle. By the way, only their MetLife roommates have a worse turnover differential; the Giants are at minus-eight, the Jets at minus-four. Buffalo is even, mostly because EJ Manuel has been cautious with the rock. Is he this year's Russell Wilson? #BUFvsNYJ

Yes, I'm sure Seattle Seahawks fans wanted to see 49-9 here. Or 49-0. Or 222-0. The reality is, the Seahawks' offense hasn't exactly been firing on all cylinders. Don't misunderstand me; it hasn't been bad, just a wee bit out of sync. It should be noted that the last time these two teams faced off, it was a real tight affair: 41-0, Seahawks. Edgerrin James led all rushers with 46 yards on the ground, while Torry Holt paced all receivers with seven catches. How things have changed in such a short time. Unfortunately, it doesn't seem that the Jacksonville Jaguars have much of a chance this go-around, either. Their best (healthy) offensive player is Cecil Shorts, and he's going up against Richard Sherman. Oh boy. So, to circle back ... did you know there actually was a 222-0 score once? John Heisman's Georgia Tech squad beat Cumberland by more than 30 touchdowns in 1916. Thought you should know. #JAXvsSEA

The San Francisco 49ers will bounce back in a major way, thwarting an Indianapolis Colts offense that will need to run the football but will have a hard time doing so, even with Trent Richardson. Ahmad Bradshaw ran for 116 yards the last time he played at the 'Stick, but that was last year, and that was for the New York Giants. Richardson, meanwhile, is too new to be expected to get his playbook, learn the offense and rack up 100 yards on the 49ers' defense. On the passing front, Indy must protect Andrew Luck by leaving a tight end in sometimes; don't forget that Dwayne Allen is out for the year. The key for Indy might be the matchup between Reggie Wayne and Niners cornerback Carlos Rogers when the veteran Colts receiver plays out of the slot. As far as the Niners' offense is concerned, we can expect Frank Gore to get 20-25 touches following a rough night in Seattle (nine carries for 16 yards) last Sunday. I don't expect San Francisco's offensive line to have trouble with Indianapolis' defensive front. #INDvsSF

Offensive line play will be an important item for both clubs in this game. The Chicago Bears have fared OK in this area, but now they're playing on the road versus a hungry, winless defense. The Pittsburgh Steelers have encountered issues up front, starting with playing a center they just signed off the street. The Bears will release Matt Forte out of the backfield, much like the Bengals did with Giovani Bernard against the Steelers last Monday. Expect Chicago to isolate tight end Martellus Bennett on a Steelers safety or inside linebacker and exploit the matchup. Steelers cornerback Ike Taylor will have to shut down Brandon Marshall. Ben Roethlisberger needs Le'Veon Bell back. Without him, the Bears can play all-pass defense and create more pick-sixes, like usual. #CHIvsPIT

Close your eyes ... take your fingers off the keyboard ... sit back, relax and imagine a tall, athletic quarterback in silver and black running, running, jumping through orange flashes until the scoreboard says "206" -- a new rushing record for a QB. And above that stat line? This final score: Oakland Raiders 17, Denver Broncos 38. OK, make it 31, as the Raiders' defense has acquitted itself well through two games. Still, Peyton Manning has been playing like he was put back together in 2011 by Cyberdyne Systems. He will not quit until his opponent is, well, you know. By the way, I think Terrelle Pryor will actually run for 59. #OAKvsDEN

Follow Elliot Harrison on Twitter @Harrison_NFL.

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