NFL Predictions Week 2: Breaking Down the Week's Biggest Clashes
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With Week 1 of the NFL in the books, teams now turn towards the second game on their schedule. Some hope to keep their momentum going after a successful opener while others hope to bounce back from a tough start.
One of the things that makes the NFL so special is the incredible amount of talent present on every team throughout the league. The disparity between the top and the bottom of the pecking order is such that any team can legitimately win any game. For example, the first team to beat the Green Bay Packers last season was the Kansas City Chiefs.
This level of parity in the league allows for great matchups on a weekly basis. Every week there are great teams facing off, and this week is no different.
1. Green Bay Packers vs. Chicago Bears
Aaron Rodgers cocking back for a throw
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There is a very good chance this one ends up being an offensive showdown.
The Green Bay Packers lost their opener against the San Francisco 49ers and now look to get their offensive momentum going. Fortunately for Mike McCarthy, he still has Aaron Rodgers and perhaps the most varied and skilled receiving corps in the league. The Packers have the capacity to score on any play, and they never go away.
The Bears' main strength is also their offense. Matt Forte is an elite running back and Jay Cutler now has Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery to throw to. Better yet, he faces a defense that, while it still makes big plays, was ranked worst in the league last year.
These two division rivals will battle it out all night, but in the end the poise of Aaron Rodgers will make the difference.
Prediction: Green Bay Packers over the Chicago Bears 36-31
2. New York Giants vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Eli Manning looking up the field
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There are better ways to start a Super Bowl title defense. Eli Manning and the New York Giants lost their opener to the Dallas Cowboys and now face the option of getting back to .500 or face an incredibly difficult schedule down two games.
Eli Manning will have to vary the length of his throws in order to keep the swarming Buccaneers defense at bay, but he will also need help from his running game. Ahmad Bradshaw and David Wilson have to keep moving the ball if the Giants want to maintain drives.
For the Bucs, it's all about pass coverage. The offensive line of the Giants has been atrocious, so if Eric Wright and Aqib Talib can stick with Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz, their defense will get to Eli. Offensively however, holding the defensive line of New York at bay will prove to be a nearly impossible task.
At the end of the game, the experience of Eli Manning will lead his team to victory.
Prediction: New York Giants over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 21-13
3. New York Jets vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
Mark Sanchez delivering a throw
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Jets vs. Steelers wasn't supposed to be a big game. The Steelers were supposed to ride their elite defense and solid offense to take down Peyton Manning and the Jets were supposed to be incapable of finding the end zone. Things change quickly in the NFL.
Deemed useless offensively a week ago, the Jets now pose a legitimate threat in the passing game. Jeremy Kerley's routes over the middle combined with the height and speed of Stephen Hill running downfield make Santonio Holmes dangerous again. Better yet for Rex Ryan, his defense won't be giving up 28 points often, so as long as the offensive explosion continues the Jets will threaten.
The Steelers, on the other hand, find themselves in a bit of disarray. The defense was picked apart by Peyton Manning last week and the offense didn't get nearly enough going. Granted, Sanchez is no Peyton, but if the Steelers want to get back on track they need to step it up quickly.
Prediction: New York Jets over the Pittsburgh Steelers 24-17
4. Detroit Lions vs. San Francisco 49ers
Calvin Johnson and Matthew Stafford celebrating
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Last week, the San Francisco 49ers backed up their 2011 NFC Championship Game appearance by taking down the Green Bay Packers. Now they have to do the same against the Detroit Lions.
If the 49ers do what they did against Green Bay, they'll be awfully tough to stop. The defense lived up to the hype and was superb in limiting the explosive Packers offense to 22 points. Frank Gore was great running the ball and Alex Smith completed 20 of his 26 pass attempts en route to an error-free day. Not much more you can ask from a team.
On the other side of the field, Detroit will look to remain unbeaten. The Lions barely beat the Rams, but they are always dangerous. Calvin Johnson is the best wide receiver in the league and Matthew Stafford is more than capable of throwing to him. If the defense can hold up, we're in for a classic showdown.
In the end, however, San Francisco simply won't make enough mistakes to let this one go. The Lions have come a long way in the past few years, but they are still a level beneath the very best.
Prediction: San Francisco 49ers over the Detroit Lions 30-21
5. Broncos vs. Falcons
Peyton Manning dropping back to pass
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In a triumphant return to the NFL, Peyton Manning led his team to a 31-19 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers. Now he will play on Monday Night Football against the Atlanta Falcons and try to add to his successful comeback.
Playing for the Broncos for the first time, Peyton completed 19 of his 26 passing attempts for two touchdowns. He was poised, looked comfortable in the pocket and did what he needed to do. Denver's defense got to Roethlisberger often and managed to get an interception as well. John Elway could not have asked for a better start from his team.
Atlanta also did everything they needed to do, though. Matt Ryan threw for three touchdowns, and has the benefit of throwing to one of the best receiving corps in the game. The defense picked Matt Cassel off twice and finished the day with three sacks. Atlanta is no joke, and the amount of talent on this team is undeniable.
The bottom line though, is that last week Peyton showed he may be the same player he was before the neck surgeries, and if that's the case you just can't bet against him.
Prediction: Denver Broncos over the Atlanta Falcons 32-21