2012 NFL Week 3 Picks and Predictions From WhatIfSports.com image

2012 NFL Week 3 Picks and Predictions

NFL Week 3 box scores and stats included

By Joel Beall and Jake Westrich - WhatIfSports.com
UPDATE: September 20, 2012

Each Tuesday, WhatIfSports.com's NFL simulation engine will provide you with predictions, box scores and statistics for every NFL game that week. The NFL simulation engine generates detailed information including the home team's chances of winning (Home Win %), average score and comprehensive box score link. If you want to share your new found NFL knowledge with friends and family, make sure to check out our NFL Widgets on the WhatIf To Go page or click on the social networking share bar located at the top and bottom of the article.

The statistical inputs to the thousands of NFL games simulated are based on rigorous analysis of each team's roster, depth chart and statistically based player ranking. Roster modifications have been made for injuries and suspensions and those players are not part of their team's game simulation.

To account for injuries and roster moves announced late in the week, we will be re-simulating some games on Thursdays throughout the 2012 NFL season.

Check out our 2012 NFL Season-to-Date page to follow our accuracy week-to-week and find Locks and Upsets of the Week.

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Game of the Week: Falcons at Chargers

A mere two weeks of NFL action are in the books, yet only six teams harbor hope of running the table for an undefeated campaign. A tussle between two of these unconquered crews will ensue in San Diego, as the Chargers host the Atlanta Falcons in our WhatIfSports.com Game of the Week.

Regardless of the overabundance of overreaction the league facilitates, one would surmise that even the most fervent of fan bases would reserve themselves from hyperactivity in regards to a 2-0 start. Yet given the Lightning Bolts' struggles in September the past five seasons, the significance of a strong start cannot be overstressed, as this marks the franchise's first unblemished two-week mark since 2006.

Scoring 60 points in their first two contests, the catalyst for the Chargers offense lies with San Diego signal caller Philip Rivers. Rivers, who has averaged over 4,500 yards in the air the past three seasons, was envisioned by some pigskin pundits to take a step back in 2012, as the departure of primary target Vincent Jackson and ailments to running back Ryan Mathews and perennial Pro Bowler Antonio Gates clouded the quarterback's forecast. Despite working with an inexperienced backfield and unfamiliar receivers, the N.C. State product has not shown signs of regression in the early going, tossing for 515 yards and four touchdowns. With Mathews and Gates set to return for Week 3, the offense could be scratching the surface of its potential.

Of course, the best offense is a stout defense, a sentiment that certainly applies to the San Diego resistance, holding adversaries to 12 points per game. Bolstered by a solid secondary, the Chargers have suffocated the opposition to a meager 266.5 yards per contest, third-best in the NFL. Given the stumbles from the other AFC West teams, the dexterity on both sides of the ball makes the Chargers the early favorite for the division crown.

The same outlook is apropos for Atlanta, as the offensive and defensive units seem to be firing on all cylinders. The Falcons have forced a league-high seven turnovers, with new coordinator Mike Nolan's aggressive attack wreaking havoc. That this controlled chaos has flourished without Curtis Lofton, who left for New Orleans, and Brent Grimes, sidelined for the season with a torn Achilles, is that much more impressive.

"Impressive" is a word that has been utilized more than once to describe Atlanta's new up-tempo offense, as fifth-year quarterback Matt Ryan seems in total control of his environment. Blessed with one of the deeper receiving corps in the NFL, Ryan has racked up six scores (five passing, one rushing) and led the Falcons to 67 points, second-best in the conference. If Matty Ice can continue this command, the Dirty Birds will be a tough out in 2012.

Not that all is well in the Georgia Dome, as the ground game has been stagnant through the first two weeks. Worse, running back Michael Turner, whose trepidation and lack of burst have been attributed for this sluggishness, was arrested on Monday night. For now, Turner is set to start on Sunday, but the horizon is not bright for Turner's season prospects.

So who wins this clash of Super Bowl aspirants? According to the award-winning WhatIfSports.com simulation engine, the Falcons come out on top 59.9 percent of the time by an average margin of 25-21. For the rest of this week's predictions, check below:

Please note: The Buccaneers-Cowboys, Patriots-Ravens, Giants-Panthers, Steelers-Raiders, Lions-Titans and 49ers-Vikings games were resimulated on 9/20 to account for injuries and roster updates.

NFL Week 3
MatchupWin%Avg Score
Tampa Bay Buccaneers33.021Boxscore
@ Dallas Cowboys67.026Simulate Game
St. Louis Rams37.221Boxscore
@ Chicago Bears62.826Simulate Game
Kansas City Chiefs46.226Boxscore
@ New Orleans Saints53.827Simulate Game
Jacksonville Jaguars46.722Boxscore
@ Indianapolis Colts53.323Simulate Game
New York Jets49.418Boxscore
@ Miami Dolphins50.619Simulate Game
Philadelphia Eagles57.322Boxscore
@ Arizona Cardinals42.720Simulate Game
New York Giants58.025Boxscore
@ Carolina Panthers42.022Simulate Game
Atlanta Falcons59.925Boxscore
@ San Diego Chargers40.121Simulate Game
New England Patriots60.624Boxscore
@ Baltimore Ravens39.421Simulate Game
Buffalo Bills63.625Boxscore
@ Cleveland Browns36.420Simulate Game
Houston Texans65.025Boxscore
@ Denver Broncos35.019Simulate Game
Pittsburgh Steelers65.326Boxscore
@ Oakland Raiders34.721Simulate Game
Cincinnati Bengals68.924Boxscore
@ Washington Redskins31.117Simulate Game
Detroit Lions69.627Boxscore
@ Tennessee Titans30.421Simulate Game
Green Bay Packers71.222Boxscore
@ Seattle Seahawks28.814Simulate Game
San Francisco 49ers75.325Boxscore
@ Minnesota Vikings24.717Simulate Game

Joel Beall is the Assistant Content Manager for WhatIfSports.com. He can be reached at jbeall@whatifsports.com.

Jake Westrich is the Digital Content Coordinator for WhatIfSports.com. He can be reached at jwestrich@whatifsports.com.

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