Week 2 NFL Picks: Last-Minute Predictions for Every Game

Zach Kruse@@zachkruse2Senior Analyst ISeptember 15, 2012

Week 2 of the NFL season features a number of really good matchups, including both of the prime time night games to cap the week off. 

Revenge of the Handshake on Sunday night, followed by Peyton Manning-Matt Ryan on Monday? These kinds of games are the reason why every week in the NFL season is so anticipated. 

Below, we make our last-minute Week 2 predictions, including both prime time night games. 


Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New York Giants

The Buccaneers do have the pieces in place to pull off the road upset here. Tampa Bay can run the football on offense and pressure the quarterback up front on defense.

But the Giants are still the better football team overall, and I'm not making the same mistake twice in picking a better-looking team in Week 1 over the rusty-looking team that needs a win in Week 2 (See: Bears-Packers). 

Prediction: Giants 30, Buccaneers 21

Final: Giants 41, Buccaneers 34


Houston Texans at Jacksonville Jaguars

A year ago in Houston, Blaine Gabbert completed just 33 percent of his 30 passes for 97 yards and two interceptions. If the Jaguars want to have a pulse in this AFC South clash, he needs to complete passes underneath and move the chains against one of the game's best defenses. 

Gabbert will play better—even with the Texans' pressure package—but there's no answer to Arian Foster on the defensive side. Expect him to go over 100 yards as the Texans roll late. 

Prediction: Texans 30, Jaguars 17

Final: Texans 27, Jaguars 7


Cleveland Browns at Cincinnati Bengals

The only way Cleveland goes into Cincinnati and leaves with a win is if the running game shows up, which it absolutely did not in Week 1. Trent Richardson had little for holes, and he couldn't break a tackle to save his life.

If the Bengals keep Richardson under 100 yards, this is a comfortable win. The Bengals are better talent-wise on both sides of the ball, and are playing at home. 

Prediction: Bengals 20, Browns 9

Final: Bengals 34, Browns 27 

Kansas City Chiefs at Buffalo Bills

Both teams need to avoid turnovers after combining for seven in Week 1 (Buffalo four, Kansas City three). Getting Tamba Hali back helps the Chiefs, who need to pressure Ryan Fitzpatrick into more mistakes after getting shredded by Matt Ryan opening weekend.

Both teams need a win, but Buffalo gets the small advantage playing at home. 

Prediction: Bills 24, Chiefs 20

Final: Bills 35, Chiefs 17

Baltimore Ravens at Philadelphia Eagles

This game is in the running for the best of the weekend. These teams are mostly even, but the big advantage for the Ravens actually comes at the quarterback position. 

Joe Flacco looks to be taking the next step as an NFL quarterback, but Michael Vick was erratic with his decision-making against the Browns. Advantage Ravens, especially with Baltimore having the ability to pressure Vick both on the edge and through the interior (Haloti Ngata two sacks in Week 1). 

Prediction: Ravens 27, Eagles 24

Final: Eagles 24, Ravens 23


Minnesota Vikings at Indianapolis Colts

Not having Dwight Freeney available is a big blow for the Colts defense. With him in the early goings against the Bears, Indianapolis was able to pressure Jay Cutler and force a pick-6. Once he went out with an ankle injury, the Bears went on to score 41 points.

The Vikings aren't on the Bears' level offensively, but they aren't a pushover with Adrian Peterson, Percy Harvin and Kyle Rudolph as weapons. Vikings get to 2-0 with a win on the road. 

Prediction: Vikings 27, Colts 21

Final: Colts 23, Vikings 20

Oakland Raiders at Miami Dolphins

The Raiders face the dreaded West-to-East Coast trip, and they'll play an early afternoon game. That scenario almost always favors the home team, but do the Dolphins have the horses to make it work? It's so hard to find big plays for that offense.

The Raiders are better everywhere besides offensive line and defensive back. Picking the West Coast team goes against most trends, but the Dolphins aren't ready to beat this team (barring some major special teams breakdown). 

Prediction: Raiders 20, Dolphins 10

Final: Dolphins 35, Raiders 13

New Orleans Saints at Carolina Panthers

The Panthers couldn't run the football worth a lick in Week 1, and it killed them on the road in Tampa Bay. As long as there is a commitment to the run Sunday at home (just 13 runs in Week 1), Carolina should find more success against the Saints. New Orleans gave up over 150 against the Redskins last Sunday.

A heavy dose of Jonathan Stewart and DeAngelo Williams shortens the game and Cam Newton makes one or two big plays to sneak by the Saints.

Prediction: Panthers 28, Saints 24

Final: Panthers 35, Saints 27


Arizona Cardinals at New England Patriots

Find a position group where the Cardinals are better than New England. It's a difficult task, as the Patriots look like the better football team across the board. 

Add in the fact that Arizona has to travel across the country to Foxborough, and we have a recipe for a blowout. Only turnovers from the Patriots' offense would keep this game close. 

Prediction: Patriots 34, Cardinals 13

Final: Cardinals 20, Patriots 18

Washington Redskins at St. Louis Rams

A battle between two teams who played really well on the road to kick off the 2012 season. Although, the Redskins were able to leave their visiting dome with a win. The Rams return home in an attempt at their first win under Jeff Fisher.

That said, Robert Griffin III should feel plenty comfortable in another dome setting after burning the Mercedes Superdome down last Sunday. He had as good a rookie debut as you can ask for against the Saints. 

However, I'm going against the grain and taking the Rams here. Fisher and defensive coordinator Jim Fassell will have a plan for RGIII. Quarterback Sam Bradford looked good in Week 1. Redskins come back down to earth on the road. 

Prediction: Rams 20, Redskins 17

Final: Rams 31, Redskins 28  


Dallas Cowboys at Seattle Seahawks

A fan of cornerback play will love this matchup, as the Cowboys emerging duo of Morris Claiborne and Brandon Carr take on the physical, underrated Seahawks duo of Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner.  

Of course, cornerbacks don't cover other cornerbacks, and that's where an advantage may come for Dallas. The Cowboys have much better receivers on the edge for quarterback Tony Romo to work with. 

Seattle really needs a strong effort on the ground to beat a Cowboys team that has had plenty of time to plan for this one. Russell Wilson still isn't capable of taking over a game, especially against a revamped Dallas defense. 

Prediction: Cowboys 27, Seahawks 21

Final: Seahawks 27, Cowboys 7

Tennessee Titans at San Diego Chargers

Most consider the Chargers a poor run-stopping team, but let's not overlook the 45 yards they surrendered in Week 1 to a Raiders team that featured Darren McFadden. It was an impressive performance. 

On the other side, the Titans need to be much better running the football Sunday to have a chance at the road upset. Chris Johnson needs 15 or more productive carries, at the very least. Four total rushing yards obviously won't cut it. 

If the Chargers keep Johnson in check, Philip Rivers and the offense have enough firepower—especially with Rivers looking more pre-2011 in Week 1—to get to 2-0 at home. 

Prediction: Chargers 30, Titans 20

Final: Chargers 38, Titans 10


New York Jets at Pittsburgh Steelers

Losing cornerback Darrelle Revis makes a big difference here, as Rex Ryan may have to tone down some of his zone and man blitzes. So much is expected of Revis in both looks when the Jets blitz. 

That said, the Steelers have injury issues of their own, especially on defense. Part of the lack of pressure last Sunday against Peyton Manning was injury, but this defense needs to be much better against a still unproven Mark Sanchez. Rattle Sanchez, and we all know the result. 

Toss-up game, but I'll take the hungry Steelers at home over the feeling-good-about-themselves Jets. 

Prediction: Steelers 20, Jets 13

Final: Steelers 27, Jets 10


Detroit Lions at San Francisco 49ers

Handshake Game II gives us two 2011 playoff teams that started the 2012 season with 1-0 records. But the 49ers are riding high after knocking off the Green Bay Packers on their own turf, while the Lions might have underwent a confidence check at home against the 2-14 Rams. 

Like most games, this matchup will be decided in the trenches, where both teams have excellent front sevens. When push comes to shove, it's hard not to like the 49ers' offensive line a little better than the Lions'. 

There won't be any post-game shenanigans between the coaches, but the result will be the same: a 49ers win. 

Prediction: 49ers 27, Lions 23

Final: 49ers 27, Lions 19


Denver Broncos at Atlanta Falcons

The schedule makers hit a home run for Week 2's Monday night matchup. The Peyton Manning-led Broncos, who confidently walked through the Steelers in Week 1, face one of the up-and-coming NFL offenses in the Falcons, who scored 40 points in a really tough place to play in Kansas City.

Most are going to lean towards Atlanta in this game, mostly because of the home field success Matt Ryan has had as the quarterback of the Falcons.

But there's no betting against Peyton Manning in prime time. The Broncos defense is better at pressuring the quarterback, too. 

Prediction: Broncos 30, Falcons 24

Final: Falcons 27, Broncos 21


This week (including picking Bears over Packers): 9-7

Last week: 9-7


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