After a phenomenal opening weekend to start the 2013 NFL season, Week 2 features a schedule loaded with exciting matchups.
In a classic AFC East battle, the New York Jets visit the New England Patriots on Thursday night to get this week kicked off in style. Both teams won their openers, and given the fierce rivalry between the two clubs this upcoming matchup is must-see TV.
Andrew Luck and Ryan Tannehill will meet again for the second straight season on Sunday, as the Indianapolis Colts host the Miami Dolphins. Luck engineered a fourth-quarter comeback to win by three points last year, but Tannehill played well in defeat.
There are plenty of great matchups all day long on Sunday, but the one everyone is waiting for is the finale on Sunday Night Football.
The San Francisco 49ers will hit the road to face the Seattle Seahawks at CenturyLink Field, where the 12th man will attempt to break a Guinness World Record for the loudest crowd in sports history, as noted by Ryan Wilson of CBSSports.com.
Finally, we'll be treated to an AFC North battle on Monday Night Football, as the Cincinnati Bengals host the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Here's a look at my prediction for all 16 games on the schedule, followed by a closer look at a few underdogs who will shock their opponents.
Rams vs. Falcons
Atlanta had trouble scoring points on the New Orleans Saints in Week 1, which doesn't bode well for the Falcons in Week 2 against the Rams.
St. Louis features a dynamic front seven that can get after the passer as well—if not better—than any other team in the league.
Third-year pass-rusher Robert Quinn is blossoming into an elite player. He logged 10.5 sacks last season, and he began this year by sacking Carson Palmer three times last week, forcing two fumbles. Chris Long provides equal pressure on the other side, while Michael Brockers and Kendall Langford plug up the middle.
The Rams also feature a trio of athletic linebackers who love to attack downhill, as rookie Alec Ogletree joins James Laurinaitis and Will Witherspoon this year.
Atlanta isn't running at full strength, either.
All-Pro receiver Roddy White is dealing with a high-ankle sprain, as noted by D Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. As such, he was ineffective in Week 1, catching just two passes for 19 yards, and nobody should expect more from him this week.
The Rams have the offensive firepower to stay with the Falcons, even if Matt Ryan starts lighting things up on his end. Sam Bradford loves his new tight end, as Jared Cook caught seven passes for 141 yards and two touchdowns in Week 1. If rookie Tavon Austin gets more involved, this offense will take off.
St. Louis will walk away from this game with two wins, while Atlanta will start the season 0-2.
Browns vs. Ravens
After getting frustrated by the Miami Dolphins in Week 1, Brandon Weeden and his offense will have a much easier go of it against the Ravens this Sunday.
Tight end Jordan Cameron caught nine passes for 108 yards and a touchdown, and he'll have a huge game against the defense that allowed Julius Thomas to run wild in the middle of the field.
Trent Richardson will certainly get more than 13 carries against the Ravens. He was wildly underutilized in the team's first game, but Norv Turner won't forget about his workhorse this week, which will open up passing lanes for Weeden.
Cleveland's defense will pose problems for Baltimore this week, too.
Two of the team's big free-agent acquisitions this spring have already shown their worth. Desmond Bryant and Paul Kruger combined for three sacks in Week 1, and the Ravens are in trouble on the offensive line right now.
Michael Oher is dealing with "one of the worst sprains" he's ever had, as noted by Aaron Ross of the Baltimore Sun, and he's not sure if he'll be ready to play.
Denver sacked Flacco four times last Thursday without Von Miller in the lineup, and Ray Horton will have his defense attacking him on a regular basis this Sunday.
The Super Bowl champs are going to start the 2013 season with a record of 0-2.
49ers vs. Seahawks
The Seahawks annihilated the 49ers the last time these two teams met, winning at home by a score of 42-13. Marshawn Lynch rushed for 111 yards and a touchdown, Russell Wilson threw four touchdown passes and Richard Sherman scored a touchdown on a pick-six by Colin Kaepernick.
It was complete domination on the part of the Seahawks, and you can be sure the 49ers haven't forgotten about being humiliated by their divisional rivals.
Justin Smith didn't play in that game as he was resting a triceps injury, but he—and the entire 49ers defense—is healthy and ready to prove last year's performance was an aberration.
Kaepernick has raised his game to another level this year. It really started in the playoffs last year, as he showed signs of becoming an elite passer. Then, in Week 1, he shredded the Green Bay Packers for 412 yards and three touchdowns.
I don't believe he'll come close to 400 yards this week against the Seahawks, but he will continue to play turnover-free football, and the 49ers will establish a running game with the read-option.
Anquan Boldin and Vernon Davis provide Kaepernick with an elite one-two punch, and rookie tight end Vance McDonald will likely see more action this week as well.
San Francisco will win this game to move to 2-0 and establish a firm grip as the top team in the NFC West.
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