Week two began on Thursday night when the Green Bay Packers defeated the Chicago Bears 23-10 at Lambeau Field. I was foolish enough to pick the Bears in an upset special. I should know by now that Jay Cutler has a bigger mouth than game. Alas I shall try once again with picks, but will probably make a fool out of myself. Here we go.
Kansas City at Buffalo
Both teams enter this game with 0-1 marks after disappointing efforts. The Chiefs lost at home to Atlanta, while the Bills were thrashed by the New York Jets. At least the Chiefs were in their game until the waning moments. The Bills weren’t close last week. I thought the Bills would be better this season, but Ryan Fitzpatrick still likes throwing interceptions. The Chiefs do have Jamaal Charles to carry the ball, while the Bills won’t have Fred Jackson in the lineup due to a knee injury. Buffalo is battered and bruised. Kansas City wins.
New Orleans at Carolina
Two teams looking to rebound. The Saints were shocked at home by Washington. Carolina lost a close one to Tampa Bay. The quarterback matchup of Drew Brees vs Cam Newton should be fun to watch. Brees is one of the most accurate passers in the game. Newton is one of the best athletes in football. The Saints defence was exploited by Robert Griffin III last week, while the Panthers defence had a difficult time stopping the run. This could be a great game that has all the elements of a fun afternoon. I just don’t see the Saints going 0-2. New Orleans wins.
Cleveland at Cincinnati
The battle of Ohio hasn’t been much to scream about the last few years. The Browns lost a heartbreaker to Philadelphia in week one. The Bengals were torn apart by Baltimore on Monday night. Cleveland quarterback Brandon Weeden was horrific in his NFL debut and will need to be much better, if the Browns have any chance of winning this week. It would help the Browns if rookie running back Trent Richardson can find the magic he had at Alabama. Richardson only rushed for 39 yards against the Eagles. The Bengals were up against a Super Bowl contender last week so they should find more success against the Browns. Andy Dalton struggled against Baltimore but look for him to rebound this week against the Browns. Cincinnati wins.
Minnesota at Indianapolis
The Vikings are looking to go 2-0 after a thrilling overtime win over Jacksonville in week one. The Colts lost to Chicago as rookie quarterback Andrew Luck struggled in his debut. The Colts will be without defensive end Dwight Freeney who suffered an ankle injury last week. The Vikings hope to exploit that loss with Adrian Peterson running through holes on that side. Peterson rushed for 84 yards in his first action since tearing up his ACL in the season finale of 2011. Luck did throw for 309 yards against the Bears but tossed 3 picks. If Luck can reduce the interception, Indy has a chance. Call it a hunch here. Indianapolis wins.
Houston at Jacksonville
An AFC South matchup. The Texans looked solid in a win over Miami last week. The Jaguars are coming off a heartbreaking loss to Minnesota. The Texans got solid performance from quarterback Matt Schaub, running back Arian Foster and receiver Andre Johnson. If the triplets continue to do their thing, Houston should be successful. The Jaguars do have some young talent and running back Maurice Jones-Drew has a full week’s practice and should be ready to go. However, Houston looks strong on both sides of the ball and should take care of business on the road. Houston wins.
Oakland at Miami
If this was 1974, this would be the game of the week. Sadly it is 2012 and these two proud franchises are facing uncertain times. The Raiders struggled in their loss to San Diego last week. The Dolphins looked weak in a loss to Houston. The Raiders offence needs to get more from running back Darren McFadden, who rushed for a mere 32 yards last week. McFadden needs to be more effective in the Raider attack. One thing that was encouraging for Oakland was that the defence looked much improved from last year. The Dolphins are leaning heavily on rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill, but his receiver let him down far too many times last week. It would be nice if Mark Clayton and Mark Duper could find the fountain of youth, but that isn’t happening for Miami. I smell a long year in South Beach. Oakland wins.
Arizona at New England
Two teams that are 1-0 but with different mindsets. The Cardinals were considered fortunate to win last week’s encounter against Seattle. Quarterback John Skelton went down with a knee injury, which forced much-maligned Kevin Kolb into the game. Kolb led the Cardinals on a game winning drive in the fourth quarter. Kolb now has his chance to win the starting job for the season with a solid performance. He’ll be in tough against a Patriots team that dismantled Tennessee on the road. Tom Brady looked like the Tom Brady of old, while the defence had a very solid outing last week. Going cross-country to play an early game against a very good team, spells doom for Arizona. New England wins.
Tampa Bay at New York Giants
The defending Super Bowl Champions suffered an early season setback to Dallas and are hoping for a bounce back performance. The Buccaneers are coming off a victory over Carolina, holding the Panthers to 10 yards rushing. The Bucs also got a solid performance from quarterback Josh Freeman who is looking to repeat that performance. The Giants looked sluggish against Dallas, as whispers of a Super Bowl hangover fly around New Jersey. However, I don’t expect Eli Manning and company to start the season 0-2. New York Giants win.
Baltimore at Philadelphia
The battle of the birds. The Ravens looked very impressive in their Monday night rout of Cincinnati. The Eagles were very sloppy, but escaped with a win over lowly Cleveland last week. Michael Vick threw 4 interceptions last week, which was very disconcerting for Eagles fans. If Vick throws 4 picks again this week, it will be a long afternoon in the City of Brotherly Love. Coach Andy Reid must realize that the running game is vital for the Eagles success. LeSean McCoy rushed for 110 yards last week, and should be the focal point of the Eagles offence. The Ravens looked terrific on both sides of the ball and are legitimate Super Bowl contenders. I expect big things from the Joe Flacco, Ray Lewis and the rest of the Ravens. Baltimore wins.
Dallas at Seattle
The Cowboys win last week against the Giants has their fans thinking Super Bowl. Which is very dangerous. Yes, the Cowboys were very impressive last week, especially quarterback Tony Romo, but the issue with the Cowboys in recent years is that they believe their own press clippings, which leads to overconfidence and laziness. The Seahawks lost a tough one to Arizona last week, and are hoping the friendly and noisy of CenturyLink Field. Rookie quarterback Russell Wilson was OK in his debut but has room for improvement. The question will be how can the Cowboys handle success? Upset special. Seattle wins.
Washington at St Louis
One of the big stories last week was Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III. RG3 was simply dazzling in his debut, throwing for 320 yards and 2 touchdowns in Washington’s victory over New Orleans. RG3 may be the next big thing in the NFL but will have to control his emotions and avoid the trappings of instant fame. The Rams lost a heartbreaker to Detroit, despite an excellent showing from the defence. The Rams look to be better this year, but I think RG3 will show off more of his ability. Washington wins.
New York Jets at Pittsburgh
Injuries are dominating the headlines in this one. The Jets will be without All-Pro corner Darrelle Revis who is recovering from a concussion. The Steelers may be without safety Troy Polamalu who is battling a calf injury. Linebacker James Harrison says he will play despite a knee problem. The Jets looked superb in their blowout win over Buffalo but now have to deal with heightened expectations and a much better defence. The Steelers lost to Denver last week and are looking for a rebound performance. I don’t see the Steelers being 0-2. I also don’t see the Jets going 2-0. Pittsburgh wins.
Tennessee at San Diego
The Titans are coming off a loss to New England in which they were outplayed in every single facet of the game. The Chargers won a tough road game at Oakland last week and are hoping to go 2-0. The Chargers are hoping running back Ryan Matthews has sufficiently recovered from a shoulder injury to make his season debut. The Chargers only gained 24 yards on the ground last week, and Matthews presence would be a huge boost to the offence. The Titans also had issues running the football as Chris Johnson rushed for a putrid 4 yards last week. If Johnson doesn’t give the Titans a ground game, it will be a very long game for Jake Locker and company. Plus the Titans defence is shaky at best. San Diego wins.
Detroit at San Francisco
The game of the week. An explosive offence versus a stout defence. The Lions are coming off a close win over St Louis despite Matthew Stafford throwing 3 first half interceptions. It doesn’t get any easier for the Lions, who face a formidable 49ers team that defeated Green Bay on the road. Lions wideout Calvin Johnson was “ticked off” about last year’s encounter in which the 49ers won and his vowing revenge. The 49ers are eager to shut down the Lions offence, as linebacker Patrick Willis and company are looking very strong early in the season. This game is known as the “Handshake Bowl” as coaches Jim Schwartz and Jim Harbaugh got into a shoving match after an aggressive postgame handshake by Harbaugh upset Schwartz last season. I love the Lions, but I fear this game. San Francisco wins.
Denver at Atlanta
Terrific Monday Night matchup. The Broncos defeated Pittsburgh last week. The Falcons looked very impressive in their road win over Kansas City and are looking to make some noise. Matt Ryan had a terrific game throwing for 299 yards and 3 touchdowns. Receiver Julio Jones looks like a breakout star after his 6 catch 108 yard performance last week. The Falcons have plenty of weapons and are very tough to beat at home. The Broncos did look solid, and Peyton Manning showed very little rust last week. But the defence was on the field for a long time and looked tired at times. The Broncos might be able to get away with that at home, but not on the road. Atlanta is better than most people think. Atlanta wins.
Last week 9-7. At least I was above .500
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