"Last Week’s Record: 9-7 (unchanged)
"Season Record: 24-24
"In the interest of brevity, I’ll simply address a short list of items that caught my attention this week before moving into my football picks:
"Honestly, who would have thought that the final three undefeated teams this season would be the Pittsburgh Steelers, Chicago Bears and the Kansas City Chiefs? As a Chiefs fan, I’m encouraged, but prepared for a quick reversal of fortune. With Charlie Weis and Romeo Crennel running the offense and defense respectively, I expected results, just not so quickly. The other two are surprises as well. Pittsburgh, who has found a way to win even in the absence of Ben Roethlisberger, and Chicago, who find themselves atop the NFC North division despite preseason projections that had the Minnesota Vikings and Green Bay Packers as division favorites. Julius Peppers has had a humongous impact on Chicago’s defense.
"Is it just my imagination, or is the Donovan McNabb trade looking like it worked out better for the Philadelphia Eagles? Don’t get me wrong, I love McNabb and I wish he was still leading the charge in Philly. However, Michael Vick has thrown for an astonishing 750 yards and seven touchdowns as well as rushing for 170 yards and another touchdown. Meanwhile, McNabb and the Redskins exhibited the same lack of urgency that the McNabb-led Eagles demonstrated in the Super Bowl five years ago. I was slightly disheartened to see that coach Mike Shanahan was unable to guide this sluggish team to a more efficient two-minute drill. Next week, McNabb makes his return to Philadelphia. It’ll be interesting to see both the reception he gets as well as how many receptions his fellow Redskins get during the game. Suddenly Eagles coach Andy Reid is looking pretty smart in this one.
"There seems to be an epidemic of unreliable kickers lately. Even as recently as Monday night, Bears kicker Robbie Gould missed a field goal at a critical juncture (Chicago still won 20-17 on a field goal from a shorter distance by Gould). Until trends move toward the position returning to its once automatic accuracy, no points can be taken for granted.
"Brett Favre made me eat my words last week by putting the Detroit Lions in the NFC North cellar. So much for Detroit improving in the offseason. Favre did concede that he’s still fatigued, however. He’s been playing for 20 seasons and has blown off training camp since his first retirement, so he’s been unable to reach the conditioning of the rest of his teammates. I sincerely hope he’s aware that he’s done this to himself.
"Is this the New York Jets team we can expect for the rest of the season? Maybe. But I’m still not sold on Rex Ryan’s squad. They’ll have an interesting test hosting the Green Bay Packers in a few weeks, but this week’s performance against Buffalo will be taken into consideration during next week’s quarterly evaluation.
"It looks like the New York Giants just gave up after Peyton Manning throttled them in Week 2. It doesn’t get any easier for them, the 3-0 Bears are on the opposite end of the field this week. Eli Manning really needs to get the G-men back to the grindstone this week.
"What happened to Houston? Even Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo thinks that the win isn’t something to get excited about. Luckily, they enter their bye week with a win and will be able to regroup their 0-2 start.
"Finally, the bye weeks begin this week. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Chiefs, Cowboys and Minnesota Vikings will have a week to formulate a game plan for the rest of their season while the other 28 lobby for position in their respective divisions. How will this week’s games play out? Here are my picks:
"New York Jets (2-1) over Buffalo Bills (0-3); 27-22
"Cincinnati Bengals (2-1) over Cleveland Browns (0-3); 34-16
"Baltimore Ravens (2-1) over Pittsburgh Steelers (3-0); 19-14
"Tennessee Titans (2-1) over Denver Broncos (1-2); 26-17
"Green Bay Packers (2-1) over Detroit Lions (0-3); 23-13
"Atlanta Falcons (2-1) over San Francisco 49ers (0-3); 44-9
"New Orleans Saints (2-1) over Carolina Panthers (0-3); 20-10
"Seattle Seahawks (2-1) over St. Louis Rams (1-2); 31-19
"Indianapolis Colts (2-1) over Jacksonville Jaguars (1-2); 35-6
"Houston Texans (2-1) over Oakland Raiders (1-2); 24-19
"Philadelphia Eagles (2-1) over Washington Redskins (1-2); 30-21
"San Diego Chargers (1-2) over Arizona Cardinals (2-1); 21-16
"Chicago Bears (3-0) over New York Giants (1-2); 23-8
"New England Patriots (2-1) over Miami Dolphins (2-1); 37-24