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(By Rice World Staff)

by None, Rice, Gerry

*Editor's Note: All is well. =)

     What a crazy season the NFL has turned out to be so far. Every publishing sports magazine is screaming, "Parity, parity!". Who would've thought the standings between the staff here at dead even (not counting the locks)? Looks like parity exists in Rice World too! Oh stop it, I'm starting to hate that word. Anyways, we here at Rice World somehow amazingly pulled of a coordination stunt that resulted in final analysis for all of us. I don't know how much of that you can expect, but enjoy it this week please! The format is one person does the initial analysis, and then the second a follow up, and finally the last. Don't worry, because we will switch roles every week. This week, None provided the initial analysis, and then me, and Gerry, respectively. This is to prevent redundant analysis, so reading these will actually me a learning experience rather than homework. Also internally, we have developed a new system of locks, in which the staff members cannot pick "wussy" locks, i.e. Jacksonville over Cleveland. Each week, we have to be gutsy and prove our manliness by selecting a tight game, such as Jacksonville vs. Miami or something. Picking a wussy lock results in being enshrined in the Rice World NFL Hall of Shame. This is to ensure that you, the audience, will have entertaining picks and locks, and because we dare to do things that Paul Zimmerman of Sports Illustrated don't. Without further ado, here are the latest rankings (a plus denotes successful lock, a minus detones a failure):

Wins Losses Locks Back
None 19 11 2-0 ---
Rice 19 11 1-1 ---
Gerry 19 11 0-2 ---


Week 1 Week 2
Gerry 10-5 - 9-6 -
None 9-6 + 10-5 +
Rice 8-7 + 11-4 -


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Atlanta Falcons @ St. Louis Rams
Gerry: St. Louis
None: St. Louis

Rice: Atlanta

None: The Rams have only played one game to date, and it'll be hard for me to judge them off that performance alone. Atlanta has not looked impressive, and this is really a toss-up. Can no-name Rams quarter Kurt Warner do it again, coming close to his 316 yards throwing in week 1? Against a suspect Falcons defense on a suspect Falcons team? Could the St. Louis Rams -the Rams, for god's sakes, actually be 2-0? Yes, Yes, and...Yes

Rice: It will has been a long time since a Super Bowl team start off 0-3, and Atlanta isn't going to join that group. Dan Reeves will whip the dirty birds in shape for their game against the Rams, and be sure that they pull out a victory. St. Louis has the talent but an untested chemistry. Atlanta has the experience and the nucleus. Chris Chandler may or may not play, but either way, they're not going to be 0-3.

Gerry: The Falcons lost Jamal Anderson for the season. Byron Hanspard just ain't gonna cut. Plus Chandler is still listed as questionable. They'll become a gimmicky passing team now. St. Louis, who kicked my ass Week 1 when I bet against them, looked sharper than I ever woulda thought w/ Trent Green gone for the year. But hey, Kurt Warner is an Arena League veteran, so he can air it out to a formidable 3 WR set of Isaac Bruce, Torry Holt (who had his jersey retired at NC State) and some dude named Hazim who seems to somehow put up good fantasy numbers. Did I mention the Rams also have Marshall Faulk, the best all-purpose back since Roger Craig? St. Louis will score at least 4 TDs, enough to win.


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Cincinnati Bengals @ Carolina Panthers
Gerry: Cincinnati
None: Carolina

Rice: Carolina

None: A couple of bad teams duking it out in a game no one really cares about. But since I like Steve Beurlein more than Jeff Blake, I'm taking the Panthers. Don't watch this one, though; it'll be ugly.

Rice: <no new comment>

Gerry: The Bengals were robbed against the Titans in Week 1, and manhandled in Week2 by the Chargers. Akili Smith is getting his first NFL start since Blake injured his shoulder. This should be interesting, because I thought he was the wunderkind while at Oregon. Carolina has one positive going for itself-- their coach George Seifert, who's not accustomed to sucking ass. Too bad their running game is suspect, or else they'd win this attainable game. But my gut says Akili will shine in his debut, and Carl Pickens will finally show why they give him so much dough.


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Cleveland Browns @ Baltimore Ravens
Gerry: Baltimore
None: Baltimore

Rice: Baltimore

None: Tim Couch finally got the first touchdown of his career last week against the Titans, but the offense has scored a total of 9 points in the first two games. Baltimore might not be a good team, but they're still better than the Brownies.

Rice: <no new comment>

Gerry: I've picked Baltimore the last two weeks and they've raped me each time. No more. It's inexcusable to lose to an expansion team. Tim Couch is good, but he ain't enough to carry the Browns to victory by himself. Plus Baltimore's at home, and oughta be licking its chops and finally winning a game. Stoney Case starts for the Ravens, after Scott Mitchell played himself back into the doghouse, where he frequently resides. Fucking pansy cost me 33 bucks. Look for WR Jermaine Lewis of the Ravens to have a breakout game.


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Denver Broncos @ Tampa Bay Bucaneers
Gerry: Tampa Bay
None: Tampa Bay

Rice: Denver

None: Who would have thought that three weeks into year, the Jets and the Broncos (both in the AFC championship game last year) would be 0-3? What's this? I'm picking Tampa Bay? Yes: Broncos coach Mike Shannahan has picked Brian Griese as his starter again, and I just don't have faith in him.

Rice: For some reason, I just cannot imagine Super Bowl teams, especially ones with the caliber of the Broncos, starting off 0-3. Based on that gut instinct, I will probably eat my words with the help of Tampa Bay's Warren Sapp driven defense. Okay, lemme try to instill a little more confidence... Mike Shanahan is a good coach, and good coaches know what their teams are doing wrong and how to turn things around in a hurry. Plus, the Bucs are still keeping Trent Dilfer, whom I think ought to be dumped into the Atlantic, and I just don't have faith in him. *grin*

Gerry: I feel really stupid for hyping them so much, but this time, I know they gotta win against a Broncos team that's reeling from its first 0-2 start in years. Denver has the longest list of injuries in the league. I don't imagine them being able to put up much of a fight against Tampa, unless Shanahan pulls some tricks out of his sleeves. Don't worry, Griese will perform admirably, but TB's relentless defense will eventually get to him. However, TB can still shoot itself in the foot and choke. Warrick Dunn is underperforming thus far in the year. He needs to me more involved in the defense. What better way than through Denver's much-maligned D?


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Detroit Lions @ Kansas City Chiefs
Gerry: Detroit
None: Detroit

Rice: Kansas City

None: Both teams came over very surprising victories against Denver and Green Bay, respectively. I've always liked the Lions' offense. (Herman Moore, Johnnie Morton) and a young qb with confidence (Charlie Batch) can mean a lot. This is just pure gut, but take the Lions in a squeaker. Who needs Barry Sanders?

Rice: The Lions have indeed become very impressive without Barry Sanders. As a matter of fact, Sports Illustrated featured an entire mini section dedicated to the Lions, which in the interviews, bashed Sanders and plastered the motto, "Barry Who?" for 1999. Not to take away anything from a good team, but they need to deflate their big heads for a while, and Kansas City's Arrowhead will do just that. Charlie Batch is going to get hammered.

Gerry: I hate KC's red uniforms. Burns my retinas. But really, Bobby Ross has his players playing w/ something to prove and nothing to lose, and that's dangerous for any opponent. Herman Moore is out for the Lions, but look for Germane Crowell to step up. Germane who? Crowell. Remember that name. Charlie Batch displays the same improvisational gutsiness as a Jake Plummer. Surround him w/ the right talent, and he'll shine.


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Philadelphia Eagles @ Buffalo Bills
Gerry: Buffalo
None: Buffalo

Rice: Buffalo

None: Donovan McNabb is one of the many young quarterbacks just starting in this league, and he'll face one of the best defenses in the league. Look for Buffalo to stop the run early, forcing McNabb to air it out. Don't worry, Rice, it won't happen. Look for Buffalo to dominate.

Rice: In my opinion, Philadelphia is the worst team in the NFL, next to Cleveland, of course... The Buffalo-led Flutie team has always been underrated. I hope Bruce Smith eats McNabb for lunch.

Gerry: The only thing I like about Buffalo is their chicken wings, but damn, no one can lose to the Eagles. Antowain Smith is coming around, and he wants to silence his critics. Philly just lost Hugh Douglas for 6 weeks, and he was their All-Pro defensive rock. Still, they have one of the best CB tandems in the league in Bobby Taylor and Troy Vincent, and this game should be CLOSE. Buffalo will win through Steve Christie. Whatever happened to Scott Norwood. I loved that guy. (jab at Rice).


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Seattle Seahawks @ Pittsburgh Steelers
Gerry: Seattle
None: Pittsburgh

Rice: Pittsburgh

None: A couple of teams that I just don't really like. Both teams have good running backs (Watters, Bettis), no dependable wide receivers, and inconsistent quarterbacks. I'll just take a stab in the dark here and say Pittsburgh, but that's only because they're playing there.

Rice: The Seahawks are going nowhere fast, and I hope they know they really need Joey Galloway. Maybe Pittsburgh will be their wakeup call....

Gerry: Seattle has been underachieving, and I think it's because of Joey Galloway's holdout and the transition to the Holmgren regime. Still, Seattle has a fast, menacing defense that rivals........... Pittsburgh's....... Jerome Bettis is a little nicked up right now, so the Steelers will once again use their rushing-by-committee system. I don't think it'll work against the Seahawk's defensive studs. Seattle is susceptible at offense though. Jon Kitna should be back to start, but damn it he better pass it to Derrick Mayes more.


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Washington Redskins @ New York Jets
Gerry: Washington
None: Washington

Rice: New York Jets

None: Washington has scored 85 points in their first two games, both against better-than-average defenses (Cowboys & Giants). If New York loses this one, they're basically down for the count in the wild-card already. The AFC is that strong. My pick? 0-3, and the New York papers to call for Parcell's head.

Rice: I'm probably going to eat my words again for this, but I don't believe Parcell will let the Jets go 0-3. As a matter of fact, I believe he's chewing their heads off right now and making the defense practically memorize the Washington playbook. No Vinny? So what? Testaverde has always been a journeyman until Parcell directed him to victory. The Tuna fixed up Phil Simms, Bledsoe, Vinny... hey, Rick Mirer was a Notre Dame all american if my memory serves me correctly.

Gerry: With Brad Johnson, the Redskins actually look explosive. And where the hell did Stephen Davis come from? Pretty soon we'll forget about that other Davis..... Terrell or something. Last week TE Stephen Alexander caught 2 TDs. Look for him to become involved in the offense, which features Michael Westbrook at WR, who's bound for the Pro Bowl this February. The Jets can win this game if they persevere to the end. The defense must hold up at all costs, but I don't see the Jets withstanding Washington's two-prong attack.


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Indianapolis Colts @ San Diego Chargers
Gerry: Indianapolis
None: San Diego

Rice: Indianapolis

None: Indy's offense has looked tremendous in their first two games. However, SD's Jim Harbaugh is facing his old team, and there'll be the revenge factor once more. Also, we'll see if Manning continues his act against last year's top-rated defense. Look for the Chargers #1 run defense to stop Edgerrin James, and their #11 pass d. to harrass Manning all day. This will be tough, but I'm saying San Diego.

Rice: Ooh, how sore Manning must be after working so hard only to see his defense blowing a 28-7 lead. If Peyton can deliver, the Colts won't let him down. The San Diego offense isn't exactly Drew Bledsoe. I expect the Junior Seau driven defense to give them a tough time, so this will be a close match.

Gerry: I'm on the Colts bandwagon, and their disappointing loss last week hasn't compelled me to get off. Edgerrin James has been putting up good numbers, but his yards per carry ain't exactly spectacular. I think he'll run roughshod over the Chargers, who've earned my enmity ever since they couldn't beat a 21 point spread against the 49ers in the Super Bowl many years back. Man, how I paid dearly for that. Still, the Chargers are a decent team, and their rushing platoon of Natrone Means and Terrell Fletcher is enough to pound any defense into submission. But Manning will connect for bombs w/ his favorite targets, particularly Marvin Harrison, who is having a monster year at WR. Colts in a squeaker.


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Tennessee Titans @ Jacksonville Jaguars
Gerry: Jacksonville
None: Jacksonville

Rice: Jacksonville

None: The Jaguars' performance over the 49ers in Week 1 still astounds me. It was a clear domination from start to finish; the 49ers were outmatched from the start. The Titans aren't that bad of a team (witness their victories over the Bengals and the Browns) but I think their defense stinks. Take Jacksonville big.

Rice: The Jaguars semi-struggled against the lowly Panthers last week, so I don't know about taking it BIG... other than that, Jacksonville ought to pull out a victory.

Gerry: Steve McNair is out. Who replaces him? Neil O'Donnell, the Super Bowl goat. He's actually an ok QB, but not good enough to make his team win against Jax, which has the most explosive offense in the league, provided everyone's healthy. Fred Taylor should be back to full strength, but even if he's not, James Stewart is an awesome backup. Combine Mark Brunell with the underrated WR duo of McCardell and Smith, and you have the most prolific passing game in the league. (you can double check that w/ last year's stats).


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Chicago Bears @ Oakland Raiders
Gerry: Oakland
None: Oakland

Rice: Oakland

None: Who would have thunk it? I think Oakland's the best 1-1 team in the league. They dominated Minnesota's offense, and practically did the same to Green Bay until the final drive. Look for another inspired performance (especially at home) by the boys in silver and black.

Rice: <no new comment>

Gerry: Rich Gannon has surprisingly become Oakland's savior. What really impressed me about him is his rushing skills. He actually knows what he's doing on those bootlegs and sweeps. Tyrone Wheatley has also resurrected his career in Oakland. Look for the Raider's hodgepodge of has-beens and wash-ups to carry the team to victory again. This is unless Cade McNown gets a lot of playing time. If he's in there, the Bears have it won. Da Bears.


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Minnesota Vikigns @ Green Bay Packers
Gerry: Minnesota
None: Green Bay

Rice: Minnesota

None: A pair of teams that both didn't look that good in their first two games. Both are very, very lucky to be 1-1; as Minnesota showed uninspired play against Atlanta & the Packers barely beat the Raiders. However, I think GB needs this game more, so I guess I'll pick them at home.

Rice: Green Bay is struggling to hold onto being competitive. Brett Favre has lost his favorite receiving targets, and a broken finger doesn't help matters very much. Did you guys catch the Randy Moss interview afterwards? He was pissed... The Vikings are going to come out to prove they're the same team they were last season.

Gerry: They will come out firing. I guarantee you the first play will be a bomb to Moss, and he makes a living out of lighting GB's DBs. Heh heh. Say that 10x faster. Anyways, Brett Favre is the best QB in the league, but he's also facing his archnemesis John Randle. I'm guessing Favre will get knocked out of the game. But Dorsey Levens is starting to have that monster year everyone predicted he'd have. Could change things around, but it's high doubtful. Look for Haselbeck to replace Favre and stink up the joint.


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New York Giants @ New England Patriots
Gerry: New York Giants
None: New England

Rice: New England

None: A very intriguing matchup. The Giants much vaunted defense were ripped apart last week by the Skins, and the Patriots needed an amazing 24-point turnaround to beat the upstart Colts. The Giants' offense has...well...sucked this year, so I'm saying that if it gets into a shootout, take the Patriots. And it will.

Rice: <no new comment>

Gerry: The Giants will win by virtue of their defense and their receivers. Both Ike Hilliard and Amani Toomer have 100 yard capabilities, and all it takes is for Kent Graham to get them the ball. New England's lack of a running game will kill them in this game, as the Giants will be able to concentrate on taking Bledsoe's head off and handing it back to his momma on a silver platter.


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San Francisco 49ers @ Arizona Cardinals
Gerry: Arizona
None: Arizona

Rice: San Francisco

None: San Francisco is another team that has not looked good. They escaped against a surprisingly good Saints team last week, rebounding from their embarrassing defeat at the hands of the Jaguars. Jake Plummer seems to keep his team in every game, and surprise! I'm going to take Arizona in a close one.

Rice: The 49ers may be a waning dynasty, but they still have Steve Young and Jerry Rice. Admittedly, their offense has looked really ugly for the past 2 weeks, but I believe they will get their act together. They have to save face against the Cardinals.

Gerry: I'm not sure if Arizona has performed well on Monday Nights, but if my memory serves me well, they don't. But still, there has never been a better time to get revenge on the Niners for their past dominance. Steve Young and Jerry Rice are in their twilight years, and all it takes is a rough,dirty defense to make that painfully obvious. Jake Plummer should be able to pass at ease to his WRs, and Rob Moore is due for a huge game, provided he gets over his hamstring injury.


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{ Bye week }
None: OVERALL ANALYSIS- I just realized that all but 2 of the teams I picked are home teams. Damn, that's like never happened (when every home team has won), so I'm guessing I'll have a bad week... oh, well, I like my picks. Anyways, the season has taken a mightily surprising turn already. Teams such as the Saints, Raiders, Colts, and Redskins have all played magnificently in these past weeks, while perennial favorites like the Broncos & Packers have disappointed. Could it be? Parity in the NFL? In the NFC, it seems to have already happened, with the Vikings & Packers being outplayed and humbled by the Raiders. The teams I have mentioned, along with the Cardinals and Lions, could contend for playoff slots. Meanwhile, in the AFC, a pair of big name qbs (Elway & Testaverde) have turned the conference upside down. Jacksonville seems to be the only sure bet, but for the other spots, it's wide open. This year will be different; it's that obvious only three weeks into the year.

Rice: OVERALL ANALYSIS- I think I've heard the word PARITY used more this week than my entire life. However, I still believe consistency wins out over any "surge" that the league might produce. True, the young players are coming into their prime, but until they garner more experience, these freak wins that the teams pull out will be short. As the saying goes, savor the flavor. The NFL may be going to hell, but it ain't gonna go down without a fight. Rice says, "Let there be light! All will be well."

Gerry: OVERALL ANALYSIS- I've always thought "parity" was a word farmers used regarding government subsidies. Anyways, I have nothing to say besides the fact that I'm pissed off at losing my locks. Starting to feel like a bitch donkey. This week my lock is............drum roll............the St. Louis Rams! The Falcons will look like they did 2 years ago. Demoralized and dejected as they lose yet again to a division rival.


Gerry's LOCK OF THE WEEK: St. Louis -> The Falcons will look like they did 2 years ago. Demoralized and dejected as they lose yet again to a division rival.
None's LOCK OF THE WEEK: Tampa Bay ->Two-time defending Super Bowl champs 0-3? Bet on it. They might be the same team, minus one guy, but if that's guy's name is Elway, there's just no-way they're gonna win.
Rice's LOCK OF THE WEEK: Minnesota -> Once more, the Vikings are my pick. They'll take out their bitter loss against Oakland on the hapless Packers.