NFL Week 2 Picks: Preseason Contenders Who Will Continue Slow Start

Andrew GouldFeatured ColumnistSeptember 12, 2013

LANDOVER, MD - SEPTEMBER 09: Quarterback Robert Griffin III #10 of the Washington Redskins stiff arms linebacker Connor Barwin #98 of the Philadelphia Eagles in the third quarter at FedExField on September 9, 2013 in Landover, Maryland. The Philadelphia Eagles won, 33-27. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Reality is about to sink in fast for these NFL squads entering season with unbridled hope of winning a Super Bowl.

Instead, a 0-2 start awaits.

The beauty and monstrosity of the early season is that fans of every team can believe their squads resides in the playoff hunt. Hey, the Tennessee Titans are currently neck-and-neck with the Houston Texans and Indianapolis Colts at 1-0, so what's stopping them from taking the division?

Whether resulting from success last season or franchise prestige, these three squads garnered some high hopes of making the postseason and perhaps trudging farther. Slugging starts, however, will test that early optimism.

With tough opponents waiting, these squads are in grave danger of dropping another game this weekend.


Washington Redskins (at Green Bay Packers)

One of these reigning NFC playoff squads will kick off the season with a 0-2 mark. The safe money is on the one without Aaron Rodgers.

Robert Griffin III returned from ACL surgery with 329 passing yards and two touchdowns, but much of that was accrued with Washington already facing a towering deficit. He also tossed two picks and took a beating in the pocket from a fierce Philadelphia pass rush.

Griffin's mere presence on the field after his painful departure in the postseason is remarkable in itself, but fans are making the mistake of assuming anyone can dust off major surgery like it's nothing because super-freak Adrian Peterson defied the odds in 2012.

His game will continued to be stymied with Washington terrified of him getting clobbered out of the pocket, and Alfred Morris might not offer much help after Green Bay limited Frank Gore to 2.1 yards per carry. 

Even if Griffin displays his rookie dominance, the Packers are a great team that simply lost to a greater one at San Francisco. If Rodgers can compile 333 passing yards and three touchdowns against an elite defense, just imagine what he can accomplish against a defense that rated 30th against the pass last year.

Prediction: Packers 34, Redskins 23


New York Giants (vs. Denver Broncos)

Yes, the quarterbacks from each perspective team happen to be brothers. Riveting stuff. Rather than worrying about how Eli Manning can live up to his brother's legacy, everyone in New York should be wondering how the heck the Giants' defense is going to stop Peyton Manning.

The siblings combined for 912 passing yards and 11 touchdowns during Week 1, but the younger brother obtained most of stats while climbing out of a hole he helped dig. Eli presented DeMarcus Ware with the ball on his first pass.

Peyton, on the other hand, dominated all night, gifting scores to his teammates like they were cheap pens at a bank. He found a dangerous new target in tight end Julius Thomas while quickly becoming best pals with Wes Welker.

The Dallas Cowboys could have easily broken the game wide open before halftime, but they could not parlay their turnovers into points. If Eli opens the game with an interception and whoever is playing running back fumbles, Peyton will not exhibit the same mercy.

While the Giants have a fighting chance of hashing out their sneak it at 9-7 shtick in a wide-open division, they're about to dig the hole even deeper.

Prediction: Broncos 37, Giants 29


Pittsburgh Steelers (at Cincinnati Bengals)

Well, yikes. That sure went poorly for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Forecasts for the Pittsburgh Steelers bounced around all over the place. Some said Super Bowl, some said 7-9. On Week 1 alone, those seven wins are a bit generous.

The defense dominated on queue, recording eight sacks while limiting the Tennessee Titans to 229 total yards. Yet that was not enough as their offense matched the Titans' ineptitude broken play for broken play.

Ben Roethlisberger has no time in the pocket, suffering five sacks on his own, and a barren rushing offense managed a bleak 32 yards on 15 carries.  

Although the Cincinnati Bengals brandish an identical record with larger expectations, they at least suffered a close loss to a formidable opponent. They lost to the Chicago Bears in an evenly matched contest, but Pittsburgh does not possess an offensive weapon like Brandon Marshall to make big plays.

If you're enamored by the unveiling of up-tempo offenses bringing a Madden style of play to real life, this defensive battle is one to skip.

Prediction: Bengals 13, Steelers 7