With the Green Bay Packers beating up on the Chicago Bears on Thursday night, Week 2 of the NFL season is already underway.
Some ugly football took place at Lambeau Field, but if there was a MVP award to hand out, the runaway winner would be Green Bay’s outside linebacker Clay Matthews.
It is easy to hand out MVPs after the game has been played, but predicting the MVP leading up to the game is a bit harder.
Much like with fantasy owners, matchups and history play a large factor into who to choose. The MVP can also only go to a player on the winning team, so, in essence, the prediction is twofold.
Here are my predictions of the MVP for each game this coming week. (By the way, had I published this Thursday morning, I would have selected Clay Matthews, of course.)
The Bills secondary got scorched last weekend by the New York Jets, and that trend does not look to end with the Chiefs coming into town. Bills cornerbacks Aaron Williams and rookie Stephon Gilmore are talented players, but they are young and raw.
The Bills produced zero pass rush last week against the Jets, and the Chiefs offensive line is very solid. With ample time to throw the football, Chiefs quarterback Matt Cassel will hook up with his powerful No. 1 target, Dwayne Bowe, all game long.
Look for Bowe to have over 100 yards receiving and at least one score.
With the suspension of Browns cornerback Joe Haden, the secondary took a major hit. Backup Dimitri Patterson is now the starter, and this greatly weakens what was a solid unit before Haden’s absence.
Andy Dalton had a decent outing against a tough Baltimore Ravens defense last week. He will not see the same pressure or blitz package from the Browns that he saw in Week 1.
Dalton has weapons in wide receivers A.J. Green, Armon Binns and Andrew Hawkins. Look for him to exploit Patterson and the young safeties of the Browns for an MVP-winning day.
The Colts secondary struggled last week in their matchup with the Chicago Bears. The Bears passing attack looked horrible on Thursday night against the Packers.
Tight end Kyle Rudolph should be the beneficiary this week.
Cornerbacks Jerraud Powers and Vontae Davis were exposed in Week 1, but they will not be matched up with Rudolph much. Safeties Tom Zbikowski and Antoine Bethea will be, and neither is a very good coverage player.
Without Colts outside linebacker Dwight Freeney due to injury, quarterback Christian Ponder will have more time in the pocket. Rudolph could end up with two long scores before the day is done.
The Saints defense gave up 320 yards passing to rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III last week at home. Going on the road against one of the most dynamic playmakers in the NFL will not make life easier on the Saints defense.
Cam Newton is surrounded by offensive weapons and will be able to use them well against a Saints defense that needs to find itself.
Getting starting cornerback Jabari Greer back will help, but the Saints may also be without cornerback Johnny Patrick due to injury.
Look for wide receivers Steve Smith and Brandon LaFell to have productive days and for Newton to walk away with the MVP and the win.
The Jaguars offensive line is a mess due to injuries and may be without two starters, left guard Eben Britton and right tackle Cameron Bradfield. Right guard Uche Nwaneri is expected to start but is battling an ankle injury as well.
J.J. Watt is a playmaker all the time, and the injuries along the Jacksonville offensive line only add fuel to the fire.
In Week 1, Watt had 1.5 sacks, three tackles and three pass breakups, two of which resulted in interceptions. He should have another field day and could challenge Packers’ Clay Matthews for the most sacks in Week 2.
The rookie Chandler Jones had a solid debut against the Tennessee Titans with five tackles, a sack and a forced fumble. Jones has continually impressed throughout the preseason and has now proven when the games count, the former Syracuse Orangeman can be counted on as well.
The Cardinals offensive line that was shoddy at best in the preseason was actually above average in Week 1 against the Seattle Seahawks. The unit only allowed one sack, but the offense did lose starting quarterback John Skelton.
Kevin Kolb takes the reins as starter this week, and he is the reason Jones will be the MVP.
Kolb holds the football too long and is indecisive in the pocket. With journeyman D’Anthony Batiste starting at left tackle and a banged-up left guard in Daryn Colledge, Jones will be a force and will help the Patriots get the win.
As Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo proved in Week 1, the Giants secondary can be exposed. The Giants' best cornerback, Corey Webster, struggled mightily against the Cowboys.
Vincent Jackson is a tough matchup for most cornerbacks, but with Webster struggling and Michael Coe and Prince Amukamara less than 100 percent heading into Week 2, Jackson will have a huge game.
Look for the former San Diego Charger to have his breakout game as a Buccaneer with over 100 yards receiving and at least one touchdown.
The Eagles escaped with a Week 1 win against the Cleveland Browns, but they will be tested greatly in Week 2 at home when they take on the Ravens.
The Eagles defense played solid against the Browns, but the front seven showed they are susceptible to the running game.
The Wide 9 alignment is not built to be a great run-stopping defense and showed this in Week 1 by giving up 4.5 yards a rush.
Look for Ray Rice and the Ravens offensive line to create cutback lanes all along the Eagles defensive front and for Rice to be at the second level for a majority of the game.
The Rams offensive line has had their struggles this entire offseason and preseason, but when starting left tackle Rodger Saffold left on a body board in Week 1, the season looked lost. Thankfully, Saffold only suffered a sprained neck and will play Week 2, but his injury only proved how poor the Rams offense is.
Starting left guard Rokevious Watkins may miss the game against the Redskins, and even if Saffold plays, the Indiana Hoosier product will have to be monitored closely.
Not being 100 percent on the left side against Brian Orakpo is opening Rams quarterback Sam Bradford up for a long day. Orakpo will finish the day with more than one sack and will make a play that forces a turnover.
The Seahawks defense was not tested last week in the running game by the Arizona Cardinals. Their Week 2 matchup will be quite the opposite.
DeMarco Murray is coming off a 131-yard rushing performance against the New York Giants and will be looking to take over as the top rusher in the NFL this season.
The Cowboys have shown they are capable of opening up running lanes for Murray, and the two young linebackers for the Seahawks, K.J. Wright and Bobby Wagner, will be tested all day.
Murray is a powerful runner, and if he can break the initial contact, the former Oklahoma Sooner will be in the Seahawks secondary all game long.
Look for Murray to go over 100 yards for a second straight week and to get in the end zone against Seattle.
Darren McFadden is coming off an awful rushing performance, but a great one as a receiver. He had 13 receptions in Week 1 for 86 yards. As a rusher, he only gained 32 yards.
The Dolphins defense was solid in the first half against the Texans, but they simply wore down as the game progressed. Linebackers Koa Misi, Karlos Dansby and Kevin Burnett do not have the speed to handle McFadden one-on-one in space.
Look for McFadden to have a much better rushing performance against the Dolphins, and though he will probably not catch 13 passes again, he will be a weapon in the Raiders passing attack.
Ben Roethlisberger played a solid game in Week 1 against the Broncos until he threw a hitch that was intercepted by Tracy Porter for a pick-six. He will bounce back from that loss on the road and lead his team to a win at home in Week 2.
The Jets defense wasn't that sharp against the Bills, and though they did record three interceptions, the Steelers have more offensive weapons than the Bills. The loss of cornerback Darrelle Revis is a killer for the Jets secondary.
Look for Roethlisberger to share the wealth with tight end Heath Miller and wide receivers Antonio Brown and Mike Wallace. He will pass for over 300 yards against the Jets.
Antonio Gates is coming off a Week 1 performance where he caught four passes for 43 yards. Though Gates has been cautious this week with a rib injury, he always seems to find a way to play come game day.
The Titans look to be without one of their defensive stars, linebacker Colin McCarthy. The former Miami Hurricane is one of the best coverage linebackers in the game, and his loss is why Gates will have a big day.
Look for Gates to exploit the middle of the Titans defense, and though he may not get huge gains, he will produce in the red zone.
Alex Smith is coming off a solid week against the Green Bay Packers, where he passed for 211 yards and two touchdowns on 20-of-26 attempts.
The Lions defense only gave up a total of 250 yards last week in the win over the St. Louis Rams, but the Rams offensive line was completely reshuffled and not nearly as dominant as the 49ers line is.
The Lions may also be without four defensive starters: defensive tackle Corey Williams, safety Louis Delmas and cornerbacks Chris Houston and Dwight Bentley. Smith is an accurate passer who has the ability to find the open wide receiver downfield.
The Lions defense will need to play great team defense, but expect wide receivers Randy Moss and Michael Crabtree to both have big days. Smith will end the day with over 300 yards passing and at least two touchdowns.
Matt Ryan was in command in Week 1 in a blowout win in Kansas City and will look to duplicate that effort at home against Denver in Week 2.
The Broncos boast a solid pass rush and an overall good defense, but Atlanta simply has too many offensive weapons for the Broncos to deal with.
Wide receivers Julio Jones and Roddy White can stretch the field, and tight end Tony Gonzalez understands how to get open inside the hashes.
Running backs Michael Turner and Jacquizz Rodgers are playmakers who force mismatches in the defense.
Ryan is just the beneficiary of all this talent. All the former Boston College product has to do is deliver the ball to the playmakers and reap the MVP benefits.