I had a terrible week of predictions in Week 2; there’s no way to sugarcoat it. I could blame Ed Hochuli for blowing a critical call as so many Chargers fans have. I could blame a moment of insanity for picking the Jets to knock off the Patriots. And who knew upsets by Buffalo (over Jacksonville) and San Francisco (over Seattle) were in the cards? But I won’t make any excuses. I dropped the ball, plain and simple.
This week, I’m looking to change things up a bit, pick a few upsets, hopefully get back on track. The important thing is that I still went over .500 last week and remain over .500 for the season. If I need to flip a coin, cut the deck, draw straws, throw darts, or seek advice from my dogs, I’ll leave nothing on the table in this week’s predictions.
Last Week: 8-7
This Week: 11-5
Kansas City (0-2) at Atlanta (1-1)
Last week, the Chiefs let me down by losing to a bad Raiders team. Will they repeat this week against a bad Falcons team? The one thing the Falcons do well is run the football and the one thing the Chiefs do worst is defend the run. It’s the recipe for success.
Prediction: Atlanta 23, Kansas City 16
Actual Score: Atlanta 38, Kansas City 14
Oakland (1-1) at Buffalo (2-0)
How ’bout them Bills? I knew they’d upset the Seahawks in Week 1, but I failed to believe in them last week against the Jaguars. This week, in the friendly confines, I say they pummel the Raiders. Dicky J’s group wins this handily.
Prediction: Buffalo 24, Oakland 16
Actual Score: Buffalo 24, Oakland 23
Tampa Bay (1-1) at Chicago (1-1)
I had this one going for the Bears prior to the regular season, before we even knew what kind of running game they’d have and how their defense would play. Now, I maintain that the Bears are the better team. It’s quite simple: if the Bears play the way they did through the first 6 quarters of this season, they’ll win rather easy. If they play the way they did in the previous 2 quarters, they’re in for more of the same trouble against a good running team. Six is greater than two, so I have a feeling the former is more accurate than the latter.
Prediction: Chicago 20, Tampa Bay 17
Actual Score: Tampa Bay 27, Chicago 24
Carolina (2-0) at Minnesota (0-2)
The Vikings finally sent Tarvaris Jackson where he belongs: to the bench. Running quarterbacks do not succeed in the NFL; but quarterbacks that can run do succeed. For instance, Donovan McNabb is a quarterback that can run, but he’s not a running quarterback. Steve McNair was another example. On the flip side, Jackson, Michael Vick, Kordell Stewart… these are guys that are running quarterbacks and could not play the position. But anyway, I digress; back to the game. Even with the switch to Gus Frerotte, the Vikings are struggling mightily this season and Adrian Peterson is ailing — shocker, huh? — with a hamstring injury. Carolina, meanwhile, just got Steve Smith back from suspension. That spells trouble for a Minnesota team that can’t stop the pass.
Prediction: Carolina 24, Minnesota 17
Actual Score: Minnesota 20, Carolina 10
Miami (0-2) at New England (2-0)
Why do some players in the NFL — and other professional leagues, for that matter — insist on sticking a foot in their mouths? I learned my lesson last week and Miami linebacker Joey Porter will learn his this week. The lesson? Tom Brady does not make the Patriots. The Patriots are pretty loaded from top to bottom. And for an 0-2 team that is averaging just 256 yards and 12 points per game to go into enemy territory and knock off a team that hasn’t lost a regular season game since the 2006 season, that would be a historic upset. And I just don’t see that coming.
Prediction: New England 24, Miami 10
Actual Score: Miami 38, New England 13
Cincinnati (0-2) at NY Giants (2-0)
I’ve got to be honest here, I just didn’t see the collapse of Cincinnati’s offense coming. We all knew the Bengals defense would struggle. They haven’t put together a solid defense in quite some time, and that’s surprising coming from a defensive-minded head coach in Marvin Lewis. The Giants, meanwhile, are playing better now than they did during their Super Bowl season last year. To win this game, the Bengals would have to suddenly turn it on like a light switch and the Giants would have to implode.
Prediction: NY Giants 24, Cincinnati 10
Actual Score: NY Giants 26, Cincinnati 23
Houston (0-1) at Tennessee (2-0)
I’m not saying the Texans can’t win this game, because I believe they could. It’s just hard to pick a team that hasn’t played a game in two weeks against one of the hottest teams in the league right now. The Titans are firing on all cylinders. They’re 6th in the league in rushing and 2nd in the league at stopping it. Having home field advantage is added ammunition.
Prediction: Tennessee 24, Houston 17
Actual Score: Tennessee 31, Houston 12
Arizona (2-0) at Washington (1-1)
For me, this is the toughest game to predict this week. I don’t think Arizona is for real despite their 2-0 record, and Washington seems to have a bipolar football team. One week, they can look like a semi-pro team and the next week they can beat a very good Saints team. The key to this game is whether or not the Redskins can stop the Cardinals’ offense. As I’m writing this sentence, I’ve been stuck on this game for more than 10 minutes. The only thing holding me back from outright declaring the Cardinals the winner is the presence of Clinton Portis, who can be lethal at home. The Cardinals are currently 10th against the run, though, and equally impressive (12th) against the pass.
Prediction: Arizona 24, Washington 17
Actual Score: Washington 24, Arizona 17
New Orleans (1-1) at Denver (2-0)
There’s more than a good chance this will be the last of the afternoon games left on TV. Two teams that like to wing the football around the field means a lot of clock stoppage. The difference between these two teams is that Denver’s defense is just a smidge better than the Saints’ banged-up unit. To win, the Saints will have to outscore the Broncos, and I won’t bet against Denver’s offense, who is playing really well as of late.
Prediction: Denver 33, New Orleans 27
Actual Score: Denver 34, New Orleans 32
St. Louis (0-2) at Seattle (0-2)
If this game were played in St. Louis, I might spring for the upset, but for as bad as the Rams have been playing, I don’t see them heading into one of, if not the loudest stadium in the league and pulling off the upset. What a great storyline it’d be if Rams kicker Josh Brown nailed a game-winning field goal against his former team. But the Rams’ defense is dead-last in the NFL, giving up 481 yards per game. The Seahawks’ unit isn’t much better, but it usually plays better at home, where it is aided by the 12th man. Expect a shootout regardless of who wins.
Prediction: Seattle 30, St. Louis 20
Actual Score: Seattle 37, St. Louis 13
Detroit (0-2) at San Francisco (1-1)
I think Detroit has hit rock bottom, if they hadn’t already before this season. One would think the Lions have something to show their former offensive coordinator, Mike Martz, who is now in the same position with the 49ers. I haven’t seen many people pick the Lions to win and this is not the game I want to go out on an island to pick an upset. I think the Niners are coming into their own with this offense.
Prediction: San Francisco 31, Detroit 24
Actual Score: San Francisco 31, Detroit 13
Cleveland (0-2) at Baltimore (1-0)
Baltimore has only played one game this year, but they looked solid defensively. They’re going to struggle offensively all season with a rookie quarterback, but they get Willis McGahee back this week and have a 3-headed monster at running back with McGahee, rookie Ray Rice and fullback Le’Ron McClain (who had 19 carries for 86 yards in Week 1). The game plan of ball control and solid defense should be enough to lead them to a victory over a bad and overrated Browns team.
Prediction: Baltimore 17, Cleveland 13
Actual Score: Baltimore 28, Cleveland 10
Jacksonville (0-2) at Indianapolis (1-1)
What looked like a don’t-miss game before the season began has turned into a question mark due to slow starts from both of these teams. It still should be a good rivalry game, but it won’t have as big an impact as it would have had these teams been 2-0, as they both should be right now, with all respect to the Bears and Titans, who beat the Colts and Jaguars, respectively, in Week 1. It’s a tough game to predict because the Jaguars have struggled at running the football, but it’s something the Colts can’t defend well. Plus, Bob Sanders is out and the Colts’ defense is never the same without him. This could be an upset for the Jaguars, whose backs are up against the wall, but I like the Colts here because the Jaguars’ offensive line hasn’t done anything this year to appease me.
Prediction: Indianapolis 17, Jacksonville 14
Actual Score: Jacksonville 23, Indianapolis 21
Pittsburgh (2-0) at Philadelphia (1-1)
A great game to watch between two solid Pennsylvania rivals. As much as I’ve liked the way the Steelers have played this year, particularly Willie Parker, the Eagles have impressed me more. Plus, Parker will have a hard time running against the Eagles’ stout run defense, which is yielding just 52 yards per game and 2.7 yards per carry, both tops in the NFL. I don’t know if this game is on cable, but if it’s not, I’ll have the NFL Ticket tuned into it. If it is, I highly recommend you watch it if you want to see some good football.
Prediction: Philadelphia 24, Pittsburgh 20
Actual Score: Philadelphia 15, Pittsburgh 6
Dallas (2-0) at Green Bay (2-0)
For Bears fans, such as myself, who have a hard time swallowing Packers success, this game could make or break your weekend. If the Packers somehow come out and shock the football world with an upset over the Cowboys, the Packers will be 3-0, on top of the NFC, and we’ll see nothing but Green and Gold all over the TV and the Internet. And I don’t know about you, but I’m sick of seeing those two ugly colors mixed together. A lot will be made of Aaron Rodgers’ solid performance in last year’s regular season game against the Cowboys, when Brett Favre had to leave the game because of an injury to his throwing arm. And just this week, I made an admission that I was wrong when I thought Aaron Rodgers would be a complete bust. However, I also said that I’d like to see him succeed against a defense that wasn’t 31st or worse against the pass last year, as were the Vikings and Lions, whom Rodgers beat in the first two weeks this year. The Cowboys, who are as physical a team as any in the league, will bring something different the Packers haven’t seen yet this year. I don’t think they can stop Terrell Owens, and they’re currently 28th against the run, which spells good news for Marion Barber and Felix Jones. I do think the Packers can win this game, but I don’t think they’re ready for the Cowboys just yet.
Prediction: Dallas 31, Green Bay 24
Actual Score: Dallas 27, Green Bay 16
NY Jets (1-1) at San Diego (0-2)
We go from the Cowboys-Packers on Sunday night to Jets-Chargers on Monday night? My, how the balance of power in the NFL has shifted from the AFC to the NFC this year. Still, Brett Favre thrives under the lights and it should be an entertaining game to watch. If anyone in the league can give the Chargers a third straight heartbreaking loss, it’s Favre. However, as bad as the Chargers defense has been playing, I don’t know that the Jets have enough firepower to keep up with San Diego.
Prediction: San Diego 24, NY Jets 17
Actual Score: San Diego 48, NY Jets 29