Last Week: 9-7
Chicago at Green Bay
Lovie Smith and the Bears’ defense have always given Mike McCarthy and the Packers problems on offense, but the Packers moved the ball well against them last year and should do so again. The Bears have more playmakers on offense and should be able to put up points against a reeling Packers defense. Desperation gets the Packers a close victory.
Kansas City at Buffalo
Two teams coming off disappointing showings in Week 1. The Bills are dealing with big-time injuries on offense (Fred Jackson will miss at least a month and David Nelson is done for the year) and poor play on defense, while the Chiefs are getting Tamba Hali back from suspension. The Chiefs are the better team and send the Bills to 0-2.
Cleveland at Cincinnati
The Browns have a defense that will keep them in games, but not one that can win games. You have to wonder how long the Browns can stick with Brandon Weeden if his play continues to be as pathetic as it was in Week 1. The Bengals have a decent defense of their own and a true playmaker on the offensive side of the ball in A.J. Green, along with a good young quarterback in Andy Dalton.
Minnesota at Indianapolis
The Vikings pulled out an overtime win against the Jaguars, but they showed their limitations on both sides of the ball. Adrian Peterson and Christian Ponder will keep the Vikings in this one, but Andrew Luck, Coby Fleener and Reggie Wayne will surprise the Vikes and, most likely, the majority of the NFL viewing world by getting their first win of the 2012 season.
Oakland at Miami
This could get out of hand quickly if the Dolphins don’t figure out a way to get Ryan Tannehill to throw OVER the defensive lineman. Seriously though, the Dolphins have so little playmaking ability on offense, it’s hard to see them keeping up with most teams on their schedule. The Raiders will run early and often, then take to the air off playaction.
Arizona at New England
Tom Brady and company hit the ground running (and passing) on offense, as they do every year. Defenses will certainly have to pick their poison when it comes to focusing their attention on Gronkowski or Hernandez. The Cardinals will start Kevin Kolb—I probably should have started there, because that tells you all you need to know.
The Giants will have waited 10 days to get the bad taste out of their mouth after losing to the Cowboys on opening night. Eli Manning should have opportunities downfield, but so should Josh Freeman against a badly undermanned Giants secondary. Throw in Doug Martin, and the Bucs pull off the upset.
Baltimore at Philadelphia
Michael Vick threw another interception while you were reading this sentence. Unless Vick can start making better decisions with the football, the Ravens defense will eat him up. On offense, Baltimore is not the team we’ve grown accustomed to over the years. They will air it out, though perhaps not as much as you think. They still have Ray Rice, after all.
New Orleans at Carolina
The Saints start 0-2? That’s what it says here when you look at how RGIII took apart their secondary in their own house. Now here comes Cam Newton off a stinker of a game. Expect Newton and the Panthers offense to get back on track by featuring Greg Olsen a bunch. The Saints and Drew Brees will keep it close, but Cam and friends pull it out in the end.
Houston at Jacksonville
It took a while for the Texans to get going against the Dolphins, but don’t expect a repeat against the Jaguars. Arian Foster and the ground game will keep up what Adrian Peterson and the Vikings started while Matt Schaub will make the throws Christian Ponder couldn’t. The Jaguars have to be encouraged by what they saw from Blaine Gabbert, but life is going to be rough against the Texans' front seven.
Dallas at Seattle
Russell Wilson struggled some against the Cardinals, but should look much better at home with the crowd noise in his favor. That said, Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne will be tough to work against and the Cowboys look legit against the run. Dez Bryant will have a much tougher test this week, but look for him to keep making big plays.
Washington at St. Louis
The Redskins unleashed RGIII on the NFL and now you can expect defensive coordinators to start reacting to what they’ve seen on tape—namely, that they have to get after this kid and beat up his receivers off the line, a job perfectly suited to Courtland Finnegan. Sam Bradford and a healthy dose of Steven Jackson help the Rams pull out a close one.
New York Jets at Pittsburgh
The Jets got to laugh at their many detractors after destroying the Bills. Mark Sanchez looked like a legitimate NFL quarterback. However, history suggests that Sanchez will revert to form against a Steelers defense reeling from it’s showdown with Peyton Manning. Getting safety Ryan Clark back will make a big difference for the Steelers and Big Ben will avoid the mistake that cost his team the game against Denver.
Tennessee at San Diego
The Titans are in the dreaded position of being a better team than they were last year that will probably end up with a worse record. Philip Rivers and the Chargers offense will be able to move the ball against the Titans and have enough on defense to add to Chris Johnson’s frustrations.
Detroit at San Francisco
The 49ers looked like the best team in the league during their dismantling of the Packers. The front seven is unblockable and the secondary likes to hit almost as much as the linebackers. Matthew Stafford had all sorts of problems at home against the Rams—things will be twice as tough out west.
Denver at Atlanta
The Broncos looked like a well-balanced team against the Steelers, but the Falcons looked like they could put up 40 on anyone during their beatdown of the Chiefs. Peyton Manning should be able to work things downfield, especially with Brent Grimes out for the Falcons. However, Matt Ryan and his receivers will be too much at home for the Broncos.