Week 2 of the NFL season. It’s a weird week being that there are no divisional games this week. After a wild week one, I’ll try to navigate the rough waters of week 2. Here we go.
Oakland at Buffalo.
Both teams are coming off wins in week one. The Raiders are in tough as they played on Monday night and have to travel cross-country for an early game. The Bills were mighty impressive in their thrashing of Kansas City at Arrowhead Stadium. The silver and black will rely on Darren McFadden’s rushing attack while the Bills will counter with Ryan Fitzpatrick throwing the football all over the place. Because of travel and the short week I think the Raiders will suffer a setback this week. Buffalo wins.
Green Bay at Carolina.
The defending world champions travel south to face a young phenom. Cam Newton made an impressive debut for the Panthers as he threw for 422 yards against Arizona. But the Packers aren’t Arizona. I can see Newton struggling in this game as the Packers can and will throw a variety of blitzes and schemes to confuse the young quarterback. Newton will be good, but right now Green Bay is better. Packers win.
Kansas City at Detroit.
Two teams heading in opposite directions. The Lions are on their way up after a 27-20 win over Tampa Bay. Matthew Stafford looked sharp in the opener as he was playing pitch and catch with Calvin Johnson and Nate Burleson. The Chiefs looked awful getting destroyed at home to Buffalo. To make matters worse, second year safety Eric Barry who is a rising star, suffered a season ending Achilles injury. The Chiefs are vulnerable and the Lions are confident. No contest. Detroit wins.
Chicago at New Orleans.
The big story this week surrounded Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher and the passing of his mother. Urlacher did return to practice the following day but his status for the game is unknown. The Bears looked very good in an opening day win against Atlanta but can they fight off the distractions? The Saints lost their opener and are looking for a bounce back game. New Orleans will be pumped for their home opener and will capitalize on the Bears uncertainty. Saints win.
Cleveland at Indianapolis
Two teams coming off embarrassing losses. The Browns were favoured at home against state rival Cincinnati, but laid an egg and lost 27-17 to the Bengals. The Colts were walloped at Houston proving how valuable Peyton Manning is to this team. Both will be desperate to win and it may come down to intangibles. Tough one to call but the Colts have more to prove and too many veterans with pride. Indy wins a squeaker.
Jacksonville at New York Jets
Both teams are coming off close wins last week. The Jags survived a comeback against Tennessee while the Jets scored a stirring comeback victory over Dallas. This should be a defensive battle as both teams are solid on the defensive side. The question will be which team can move the football efficiently and effectively? Never count out Jacksonville but I’ll take the Jets to win a close tough game at home.
Tampa Bay at Minnesota.
While both teams lost their first game, I sense more optimism in Tampa than Minnesota. The Bucs lost a close one to Detroit but showed incredible heart and character by not giving up and nearly tying the game in the closing seconds. The Vikings have quarterback concerns as Donovan McNabb threw for only 39 yards against San Diego. I have more faith in Tampa and while their defence is young, they can shut down McNabb who should consider retirement. Tampa wins.
Seattle at Pittsburgh.
Both teams want to forget week one. The Steelers were destroyed in Baltimore and are looking to bounce back from one of the most embarrassing games in franchise history. The Seahawks gave up 2 kick returns for touchdowns against San Francisco which cost them the game. Yes the Steelers looked horrid last week but historically they fight back from adversity and should do the same at home. Seattle are in the Andrew Luck sweepstakes. Pittsburgh wins.
Baltimore at Tennessee.
The Ravens looked like Super Bowl contenders last week after their demolition of bitter arch-rival Pittsburgh. Joe Flacco looked composed in the pocket while Ray Rice ran the ball down the Steelers’ throat. The defence forced 7 turnovers and looked as menacing as ever. The Titans lost a close in Jacksonville and while Matt Hasselbeck looked solid at quarterback, running back Chris Johnson looked rusty which is to be expected after missing training camp. The Ravens always play well in Nashville and this trend should continue. Baltimore wins.
Arizona at Washington.
Even though both teams won last week, questions remain. The Cardinals pass defence looked brutal against Carolina and they must shore up that area of the game. The Redskins beat an undermanned Giants team and Rex Grossman has a history of being inconsistent. Tough one to call but I never like a team from the west, travelling to the east to play an early game. Close but Washington wins a tight one.
Dallas at San Francisco.
If this was 1994 this would be the game of the week. But alas its 2011 and while this was a great rivalry both teams need work. The Cowboys looked like they were going to win their first game but after a blocked punt and two inexplicable Tony Romo mistakes, America’s Team lost another heartbreaker which begs the question: Are the Cowboys really that good? The 49ers needed 2 Ted Ginn Jr kick returns for touchdown to beat Seattle. The offence struggled in the red zone and I’m not sold on Alex Smith being the man. Another tough one to call. I’ll pick the Cowboys to win but I wouldn’t put a lot of money on it.
Houston at Miami.
The Texans are flying high after they shellacked division rival Indianapolis 34-7. With running back Arian Foster possibly returning to the lineup, the Texans could be loaded on offence with Matt Schaub and Andre Johnson both looking extremely sharp early on. The Dolphins meanwhile lost to New England on Monday night and looked horrible on defence. Good offence vs bad defence = trouble in South Florida. Houston wins.
Cincinnati at Denver.
The big story in the Mile High city is the push by Broncos fans to start Tim Tebow at quarterback ahead of Kyle Orton. While that won’t happen this week, Orton will have to step up his game. The Broncos offence looked anemic against Oakland and if it doesn’t improve, the faithful might be screaming for John Elway to come out of retirement. The Bengals did win last week, but lost quarterback Andy Dalton to a finger injury. The Bengals will start Bruce Gradkowski at quarterback but he’s not an upgrade from Dalton. The Bengals haven’t won in Denver since 1975 and while the Broncos are under pressure, I see them finding a way. Denver wins.
San Diego at New England.
The game of the week. Some people are calling this game a preview of the AFC Championship game. If that’s the case, then this game will go a long way in determining where the game will be played. This game pits the Patriots explosive offence vs the Chargers top ranked defence. The difference might be special teams. The Chargers struggled in the kicking game as they gave up a kickoff return for a touchdown while losing kicker Nate Keading for the season with a torn ACL. I see the Patriots exploiting that weakness and getting an early advantage for home field in January. New England wins.
Philadelphia at Atlanta.
Michael Vick returns home. The reigning league MVP returns to Dixie with the “Dream Team” and oodles of confidence. The Eagles scored a solid road win at St Louis and look sharp on all facets of the game. Atlanta were extremely disappointed in their season opening loss to Chicago and are looking for a bounce back performance. This will be an emotional game and it may come down to how well Vick handles a hostile Atlanta crowd that once loved him. Gut feeling but Atlanta wins.
St Louis at New York Giants.
A Monday Night matchup of two teams looking for better results. The Rams lost to Philadelphia last week, and got a major scare when franchise quarterback Sam Bradford injured his throwing hand. Fortunately for the Rams, there was no significant damage and Bradford should be ready to go. The Giants looked woeful against Washington and injuries are deeply affecting Tom Coughlin’s squad. Some in the New York area have already suggested that this is a lost season for the Giants and I somewhat believe them. Even though the game is in the Meadowlands, the Rams with Bradford win.
Last week 9-7. This week hopefully better.