Matt Vensel is in his first year at the Star Tribune after covering the Ravens for the Baltimore Sun for six years. He is a Pittsburgh native and a Penn State grad. Follow him at @mattvensel.


Mark Craig has covered the NFL for 23 years, and the Vikings since 2003 for the Star Tribune. He is one of 44 Pro Football Hall of Fame selectors. Follow him at @markcraignfl.


Master Tesfatsion is the Star Tribune’s digital Vikings writer. He is a 2013 graduate of Arizona State and worked for mlb.com before arriving in Minneapolis. Follow him at @masterstrib.


Week 3 Picks & Power Rankings

Posted by: Mark Craig under Vikings, Bears, Lions, NFC, Packers Updated: September 21, 2013 - 7:13 AM

What would you rather do on a Saturday morning than wake up early and read weekly picks and power rankings involving 32 teams that basically are of equal strength and ability to beat, lose to or tie anyone on any given Sunday, Monday, Saturday, Thursday (and some day, when the revenue ceiling needs to be extended to a gazillion bazillion dollars, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday as well)?

CRAIG'S NFL POWER RANKINGS
BEST OF THE BUNCH
1. Broncos (2-0)
Why:
Because it’s still the regular season and they still have Peyton Manning.

THE REST
2. Seahawks (2-0); 3. 49ers (1-1);  4. Saints (2-0);  5. Bears (2-0);  6. Packers (1-1); 7. Texans (2-0); 8. Patriots (2-0); 9. Falcons (1-1); 10. Bengals (1-1); 11. Chargers (1-1) ; 12. Ravens (1-1); 13. Chiefs (3-0) ; 14. Dolphins (2-0); 15. Bills (1-1); 16. Colts (1-1); 17. Titans (1-1); 18. Raiders (1-1); 19. Cowboys (1-1);  22. Rams (1-1); 21. Cardinals (1-1); 22. Lions (1-1); 23. Eagles (1-2); 24. Jets (1-1); 25. Giants (0-2).

THE VIKINGS
26. Vikings:
Let’s play the “throw-out” game we hear far too often from some people when they discuss NFL games, which often are contests to see which team messes up the fewest number of times. Throw out that Christian Ponder’s pass that was returned 44 yards for a touchdown and he played well. Throw out those two Jay Cutler passes to Martellus Bennett for 39 yards and a touchdown on the last-minute, game-winning drive and the defense played well. Sorry, Roger Goodell says no mulligans in football. That’s three balls in the woods. You’re hitting seven from the tee and the Vikings are still 26th in the power rankings.

THE REST OF THE REST
27. Redskins (0-2); 28. Panthers (0-2); 29. Buccaneers (0-2); 30. Steelers (0-2); 31. Jaguars (0-2).

WORST OF THE BUNCH
32: Browns (0-2):
On paper, the Jaguars are actually worse. But, unlike the Browns, the Jaguars didn’t use that paper to raise as a white flag on the season after two games.  

THE PICKS

VIKINGS
Browns plus-6 at Vikings: Vikings 28, Browns 10
Why:
The Browns can’t protect the passer, and that was before they chose to start their inexperienced No. 3 passer and trade their running game to the Colts. The Vikings’ defense should have few problems, although keep an eye on receiver Josh Gordon, who’s coming back from a two-game suspension. If QB Brian Hoyer gets any time at all – doubtful considering it’s only his second start, it’s the Metrodome, where the Vikings’ pass rush is at its best – Gordon could do some damage. Defensively, the Browns aren’t a joke. The front seven on their 3-4 defense will be difficult for the Vikings’ power running game. And that happens QB Christian Ponder will have to play like he did in the second half last week, not like he played when he threw that pick-six in the first half.

Last week: Vikings plus-6 ½ at Bears. The pick: Bears 28, Vikings 14. The final: Bears 31, Vikings 30. Record: 1-1, 0-2 vs. the spread.

UPSET SPECIAL
Packers plus- 2 ½ at Bengals: Packers 35, Bengals 31.
Why?:
Aaron Rodgers and his receivers are on a roll after last week’s rout of the Redskins. Yeah, stopping Cincinnati’s offense will be difficult. Receiver A.J. Green could have another big game, and Cincinnati has two weapons at running back as well. But the guess here is Rodgers will just score his way through any of the team’s defensive difficulties.

Last week: Bengals plus-3 at Bears. The pick: Bengals 24, Bears 21. The final: Bears 24, Bengals 21. Record: 0-1.

THE REST

Chargers plus-3 at Titans: Chargers by 7.

Buccaneers plus-7 at Patriots: Patriots by 3.

Texans minus-2 ½ at Ravens: Ravens by 3.

Rams plus-4 at Cowboys: Cowboys by 7.

Cardinals plus-7 ½ at Saints: Saints by 3.

Lions plus-1 ½ at Redskins: Redskins by 3.

Giants plus-1 at Panthers: Panthers by 7.

Falcons plus-2 at Dolphins: Falcons by 3.

Colts plus-10 ½ at 49ers: 49ers by 7.

Jaguars plus-19 at Seahawks: Seahawks by 14.

Bills plus-2 at Jets: Jets by 3.

Bears minus-2 ½ at Steelers: Steelers by 3.

Raiders plus-15 at Broncos: Broncos by 10.

Record: Last week: 10-5; 8-7 vs. the spread. Overall: 14-16; 10-19-1 vs. the spread.

ADVERTISEMENT

Cleveland 30 2nd Qtr 8:15
Indiana 27
Washington 30 2nd Qtr 10:19
Philadelphia 28
Golden State 6 1st Qtr 9:37
Toronto 2
New York 3 1st Qtr 11:34
Detroit 0
Orlando 3 1st Qtr 10:10
Atlanta 7
Charlotte 4 1st Qtr 8:56
Boston 6
LA Clippers 7:00 PM
Memphis
Brooklyn 7:00 PM
Houston
Miami 7:00 PM
New Orleans
Minnesota 7:00 PM
Chicago
Utah 8:00 PM
Denver
San Antonio 9:00 PM
Sacramento
Milwaukee 9:30 PM
LA Lakers
Oklahoma City 9:30 PM
Portland
Boston 1 2nd Prd
New Jersey 0
Calgary 0 2nd Prd
NY Islanders 1
Washington 0 1st Prd 2:39
Carolina 1
Chicago 0 1st Prd 15:53
Tampa Bay 0
Colorado 7:30 PM
Dallas
Los Angeles 9:00 PM
Anaheim
Siena 40 2nd Half 10:23
Quinnipiac 61
Harvard 21 2nd Half 16:08
Cornell 27
Penn 22 1st Half 3:40
Brown 36
Fairfield 19 1st Half 5:38
Canisius 28
Manhattan 28 1st Half 3:55
Iona 33
Saint Peters 20 1st Half 3:43
Marist 34
Princeton 35 1st Half 0:32
Yale 32
Ohio 7:00 PM
Akron
Dartmouth 7:00 PM
Columbia
Valparaiso 9:00 PM
Cleveland State
Louisiana Tech 75 FINAL
Texas-El Paso 88
Seton Hall 43 2nd Half
Xavier 21
Cornell 22 1st Half 3:45
Harvard 20
Yale 18 2nd Half
(14) Princeton 33
Elon 19 2nd Half
Drexel 23
Northeastern 21 1st Half 4:20
James Madison 26
St Johns 25 1st Half 2:32
Butler 19
Creighton 36 2nd Half
Georgetown 29
Brown 24 1st Half 1:04
Penn 36
Columbia 13 1st Half 4:34
Dartmouth 22
Canisius 24 1st Half 1:10
Siena 17
St Josephs Brooklyn 10 1st Half 11:45
NJIT 10
Western Carolina 35 1st Half 4:15
UNC Greensboro 18
Colorado 7:00 PM
Arizona
Southern Ill 7:00 PM
Bradley
Drake 7:00 PM
Wichita State
Indiana State 7:00 PM
Evansville
Illinois State 7:05 PM
Loyola-Chicago
Northern Iowa 7:05 PM
Missouri State
Utah 7:30 PM
(10) Arizona State
Providence 7:30 PM
Villanova
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 preseason     
Aug 8 - vs. Oakland 7 pmX10-6
Aug 16 - vs. Arizona 7:30 pmX30-28
Aug 23 - at Kansas City 7 pmX30-12
Aug 28 - at Tennessee 7 pmX19-3
2014 regular season     
Sep 7 - at St. Louis NoonX34-6
Sep 14 - vs. New England NoonX30-7
Sep 21 - at New Orleans NoonX20-9
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pmX41-28
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pmX42-10
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit NoonX17-3
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo NoonX17-16
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay NoonX19-13 ot
Nov 2 - vs. Washington NoonX29-26
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago NoonX21-13
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay NoonX24-21
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina NoonX31-13
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets NoonX30-24 ot
Dec 14 - at Detroit 3:25 pmX16-14
Dec 21 - at Miami NoonX37-35
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago NoonX13-9

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: With Adrian Peterson's suspension overturned, what should the Vikings do?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT