Week 1 played out about the way I expected, with a few upsets here and there. There are a few games in Week 2, however, that should make it challenging to predict winners.
Here’s a look at this week’s matchups and how I think they’ll play out.
Last Week: 12-4
This Week: 8-8
Carolina Panthers (0-1) at Atlanta Falcons (1-0)
In the last two meaningful games — Week 1 of this season and last year’s playoffs — Jake Delhomme has had 11 turnovers. Nobody in the league deserves to hold that honor more than him. The Panthers were in disarray from the get-go last week against the Eagles and were never able to establish their dominant run game because they were playing catchup all game. If they want any chance of winning this week against an overrated Falcons team, they’ll have run the football effectively. I truly believe the Panthers are the more talented team, but I can’t, in good conscience, side with a quarterback who looks awful.
Prediction: Atlanta 24, Carolina 20
Actual Score: Atlanta 28, Carolina 20
Minnesota Vikings (1-0) at Detroit Lions (0-1)
As much as I’d like to see the Lions end their growing losing streak this week against the Vikings, I don’t have any rational explanation for how that would happen. The Vikings have one of the best defenses in the league and the most explosive runner. Oh yeah, and they have a competent quarterback, too.
Prediction: Minnesota 31, Detroit 14
Actual Score: Minnesota 27, Detroit 13
Cincinnati Bengals (0-1) at Green Bay Packers (1-0)
The Packers’ victory over the Bears last week was an ugly one in which they managed only 226 yards of total offense. However, that’ll probably be their worst outing of the season. They have too many playmakers on offense not to put up some big numbers this season. The Bengals couldn’t run the football very effectively last week against the Broncos and will face a stiffer challenge this week. I think the Packers win big.
Prediction: Green Bay 30, Cincinnati 13
Actual Score: Cincinnati 31, Green Bay 24
Arizona Cardinals (0-1) at Jacksonville Jaguars (0-1)
The Super Bowl curse will live on as the Cardinals could be destined to fall into the long line of Super Bowl runners-up that don’t make the playoffs the following year. They still have some pop in their offense, sure, but it’ll all be for show when it’s all said and done. The Jaguars played the Colts tight in Week 1 but failed to get anything going offensively. I think Maurice Jones-Drew will have a big game this week en route to a Jaguars victory.
Prediction: Jacksonville 20, Arizona 14
Actual Score: Arizona 31, Jacksonville 17
Oakland Raiders (0-1) at Kansas City Chiefs (0-1)
The Raiders actually surprised me last week with how close they kept their game with the Chargers. I didn’t actually think they’d win the game, but they came close. They have some young playmakers on offense and the addition of Richard Seymour has certainly improved a very bad defensive unit. On the road, though, I don’t think they’ll be able to handle a Chiefs offense that is underrated. The Chiefs put up 24 points in a losing effort to the Ravens last week, and they’re capable of putting up big numbers at any time. They just have a hard time stopping other teams.
Prediction: Kansas City 23, Oakland 16
Actual Score: Oakland 13, Kansas City 10
New England Patriots (1-0) at New York Jets (1-0)
I’d like to think that the Jets can stay competitive against a Patriots team that did not look as good as originally thought in Week 1 against the Bills. After all, Jets defensive tackle Kris Jenkins called this week’s matchup the team’s “Super Bowl” and there’s a hatred between the two teams. But then free safety Kerry Rhodes opened his mouth and said he wanted to embarrass the Patriots and that the Jets “will hit [Tom Brady] more than six times.” I don’t care who you are, you don’t say that about Brady. During the Patriots’ 2007 undefeated regular season, former Steelers safety Anthony Smith guaranteed a victory and he got embarrassed. Brady and Bill Belichick are stubborn, proud people and will go out of their way to prove people wrong. As much as I’d like to see a Jets victory, I don’t think it’s in the cards.
Prediction: New England 27, New York Jets 17
Actual Score: New York Jets 16, New England 9
New Orleans Saints (1-0) at Philadelphia Eagles (1-0)
This is going to be a battle. I only wish Donovan McNabb was healthy so we could get the full effect of two of the NFC’s top dogs, but it should be a good one to watch regardless. The Eagles haven’t lost much on defense despite the loss of safety Brian Dawkins and defensive coordinator Jim Johnson. They managed to get Jake Delhomme to commit five turnovers last week. The Saints are still an offensive juggernaut and they’ve made some improvements to their defense. If anybody can slow down the Saints’ offense, it’s the Eagles. But I don’t know how I feel about Kevin Kolb leading the Eagles’ offense. I can’t really make a “contingent” prediction, saying the Eagles will win if McNabb plays, so I’ll just have to go with my second choice and say the Saints pull off the road win.
Prediction: New Orleans 27, Philadelphia 20
Actual Score: New Orleans 48, Philadelphia 22
Houston Texans (0-1) at Tennessee Titans (0-1)
If I had to predict this game before the season started, I’d tell you the Texans had a shot at producing a road upset because the Titans appeared to be on the decline after last year’s improbable run and the Texans were on the upswing. Now, after one week of action, I can say the opposite is true. The Titans still feature a solid run game with a tough defense. The Titans feature one of the league’s best run defenses, and if the Texans cannot establish the run — as was their problem last week when they finished with a net 38 yards rushing — then it’ll be awfully difficult for them to get any rhythm going through the air. I like the Titans here.
Prediction: Tennessee 21, Houston 10
Actual Score: Houston 34, Tennessee 31
St. Louis Rams (0-1) at Washington Redskins (0-1)
Washington was upset by the Rams last year at home and now they have a shot at revenge. I don’t anticipate the Redskins overlooking the Rams this year. Julius Jones had 117 rushing yards last week against this Rams defense and I think Clinton Portis can have just as big, if not a bigger game this week. As long as the Redskins protect the football, I think they’ll come out victorious.
Prediction: Washington 24, St. Louis 13
Actual Score: Washington 9, St. Louis 7
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-1) at Buffalo Bills (0-1)
The Bills should be 1-0 right now. They outplayed the New England Patriots nearly the whole game last Monday but a fumble on a kickoff return cost them the victory. That kind of thing happens from a team that isn’t well coached and lacks common sense. Playing at home against a rebuilding Buccaneers team will give the Bills that extra edge they need to pull off the win.
Prediction: Buffalo 27, Tampa Bay 17
Actual Score: Buffalo 33, Tampa Bay 20
Seattle Seahawks (1-0) at San Francisco 49ers (1-0)
I was happy to see the 49ers steal a victory on the road from the defending NFC conference champion Cardinals. They did it with tough defense, which is what they’re going to need to do against the Seahawks this week. Seattle seems to have a bit of a resurgence and although it’s tough to gauge how good they really are because they shut out a bad Rams team last week, I think they have too much in the bag for the 49ers.
Prediction: Seattle 23, San Francisco 16
Actual Score: San Francisco 23, Seattle 10
Pittsburgh Steelers (1-0) at Chicago Bears (0-1)
A matchup between two teams featuring their defensive centerpieces. The Steelers, minus safety Troy Polamalu, are still the top defense in football while the Bears, without Brian Urlacher, are somewhere in the lower half of the league. I don’t want to say that the Bears have no chance at winning this game, because they do. But it would take a superb effort from Jay Cutler and the offense, plus a constant pass rush from the defensive line that would get after Ben Roethlisberger, for the Bears to take the ‘W’. I don’t think they have that in them yet.
Prediction: Pittsburgh 23, Chicago 17
Actual Score: Chicago 17, Pittsburgh 14
Cleveland Browns (0-1) at Denver Broncos (1-0)
The Broncos are not a very good football team right now, but they survived on a fluke touchdown pass at the end of last week’s game. The Browns, although they hung with the Vikings early in Week 1, are just as bad, though. Choosing between these two teams is like picking the electric chair or lethal injection. I’ll go with the latter based on more talent and home field advantage.
Prediction: Denver 20, Cleveland 14
Actual Score: Denver 27, Cleveland 6
Baltimore Ravens (1-0) at San Diego Chargers (1-0)
The Chargers are tough to beat at home. They don’t have LaDainian Tomlinson this week but Darren Sproles ought to step in and do okay. The Ravens have a tough defense, though, and I think they’ll get after Philip Rivers and rattle his cage a bit. The thing that worries me about my prediction for this game is Joe Flacco and the Ravens’ offense. I’m not a believer in him yet. But I’m going with the road team here.
Prediction: Baltimore 23, San Diego 20
Actual Score: Baltimore 31, San Diego 26
New York Giants (1-0) at Dallas Cowboys (1-0)
I’m excited about seeing this game in the Cowboys’ new stadium. These are two teams that could butt heads all season long as they jockey for first place in the NFC East — with the Eagles, of course. Aside from NFC North rivalries, there are no other divisional games I like to watch in the NFL more than NFC East showdowns. I love the Giants’ defense and run game, and those are usually the two keys to winning football games. But I think the Cowboys’ offense is just on right now and I give them the edge at home.
Prediction: Dallas 24, New York Giants 20
Actual Score: New York Giants 33, Dallas 31
Indianapolis Colts (1-0) at Miami Dolphins (0-1)
Once again, the NFL schedule-makers are better historians than prognosticators. Why do they insist on telling us what to watch based on last year’s results, instead of predicting what will be a good game? The only reason this will be a close game — and the Dolphins do have a legitimate shot at winning because the Colts didn’t look so good last week — is because it’s a home game for Miami. I don’t care about the Wildcat offense. I think it’s a garbage offense and a fake team that relies on trickery will be exposed sooner or later.
Prediction: Indianapolis 20, Miami 14
Actual Score: Indianapolis 27, Miami 23