During the course of a season, most football fans construct a mental map of the NFL teams. After last season for example, most football fans would have agreed that the Seahawks and Broncos would be virtually unbeatable this year. Yet after just three weeks, both teams have already dropped a game.
In the NFC, the 49ers, Saints and Packers are struggling to stay relevant after they all stumbled to 1-2 records. A loss this weekend and all three are virtually eliminated from playoff contention.
It's still early in the season, and the teams off to a slow start can still rebound, while the teams off to a strong start could still hit a slump. But like every season, the NFL landscape is changing, and with it we fans have to readjust our mental map of NFL teams.
The reality of the 2014 season is taking shape right before our eyes, and that reality doesn't have much to do with with the 2013 season.
Case in point: the formerly formidable Saints defense, which was ranked fourth in points allowed last year, now finds itself ranked 22nd with 72 points allowed in three games, right around the corner from the 19th-ranked Cowboys defense that's allowed 69 points over three games.
Offensively, both teams also rank close to each other. The Saints rank seventh with 78 points scored, the Cowboys rank eighth with 77 points scored. Two strong offenses against two suspect defenses, that has all the makings of a shootout. And the oddsmakers agree. The over/under for Saints @ Cowboys is set at 53, the highest value for any game this week. Will we see a shootout on Sunday, and do the Cowboys stand a chance in a shootout?
At the end of the day, sucessfully picking winners for the weekend games hinges on our ability to accurately assess the 2014 landscape and forget about what happened in 2013. Can we do that? Have a look at the picks below to find out - and don't forget to enter our Pick 256 challenge this week.
|Dave||Dawn||Gary||Joey||Keg- bearer||Neithan||OCC||rabble||Tom||BTB Users||Con- sensus|
|Record Week 3
|NYG @ WAS (-3.5)||WAS: 89%|
|MIA (-4) @ OAK||MIA: 74%|
|GB (-1.5) @ CHI||CHI: 55%|
|BUF @ HOU (-3)||HOU: 56%|
|TEN @ IND (-7.5)||IND: 99%|
|CAR @ BAL (-3.5)||BAL: 51%|
|DET (-1.5) @ NYJ||DET: 83%|
|TB @ PIT (-7.5)||PIT: 97%|
|JAC @ SD (-13)||SD: 99%|
|PHI @ SF (-5)||SF: 79%|
|ATL (-3) @ MIN||ATL: 96%|
|NO (-3) @ DAL||DAL: 63%
|NE (-3.5) @ KC||NE: 75%|
Pick 256 is a season-long contest in which BTB members and readers get to pick the straight-up winners for all games each week. If you haven't yet submitted your picks, now would be a good time, here's the link to the entry form.
If the link above doesn't work for whatever reason, use the following alternative, which does not autopopulate your BTB user name into the entry form.
The Excel file attached below lists all participants from whom we've received a submission by 9:30 am ET today. If your name's not on the list, submit your pick now.