It’s Week Two in the NFL, which means that teams now have had time to work out all of their problems. Who will finish the week confident in their teams? Who will be in full panic mode in Week Three? McMullen’s Musings pulls out the crystal ball once again to predict the second week in the NFL.
Carolina Panthers (0-1) vs. Atlanta Falcons (1-0)
The Panthers are now in full panic mode, as quarterback Jake Delhomme has not been at his best and might possibly be on his way out. Suddenly, the Panthers that everybody predicted would be a very good team this year is on their way to a 0-2 start to their season.
The Falcons looked very good against Miami, especially their defense. John Abraham looked especially dominating, racking up two sacks. If they look as good against the Panthers as they did against the Dolphins, they should have no problem putting Carolina in panic mode.
Prediction: Falcons 23, Panthers 3.
New Orleans Saints (1-0) vs. Philadelphia Eagles (1-0)
The key to this game is whether or not Donovan McNabb (ribs) will play. If he doesn’t, Jeff Garcia will start, but at 39, he is extremely worrisome. After those two is Kevin Kolb, who still hasn’t really proved himself yet.
With all this turmoil at quarterback, the Saints defense could be very dominant this week, especially with two of their biggest defensive threats almost assured of not receiving a suspension. Also, if Drew Brees has another career day like he did last week, expect a big win for the Saints.
Prediction: Saints 27, Eagles 0.
New England Patriots (1-0) vs. New York Jets (1-0)
The Patriots had a tough time with the Bills last week, needing a fourth-quarter comeback to put the game away. Could this mean there are some cracks in the once-impenetrable armor? If there are, Jets coach Rex Ryan is just the man to exploit those cracks.
The Jets’ offense didn’t look exactly great against the Texans, but rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez should be able to shake off those first-game jitters and navigate the Jets to a very big victory in the AFC East.
Prediction: Jets 30, Patriots 24 in overtime.
Oakland Raiders (0-1) vs. Kansas City Chiefs (0-1)
The big question for the Chiefs is if they will get Matt Cassel (knee) back for this big AFC West game. If he can’t, Brodie Croyle is the next option, and he could prove to be a threat against a pretty good Raiders defense. If not, Larry Johnson might carry the load, and that doesn’t bode well if the Chiefs want to win this game.
Richard Seymour finally made it to Oakland, and he should be able to boost the defense to another level. He could be the difference maker in this game, and propel the Raiders to a victory.
Prediction: Raiders 20, Chiefs 14 in overtime.
Arizona Cardinals (0-1) vs. Jacksonville Jaguars (0-1)
The Jaguars lost a really big part of their defense last week, as defensive end Reggie Hayward was lost for the season (broken leg). The Cardinals were bitten by the injury bug as well, with two of their wide receivers hit with injuries.
The X-factor for both these teams will be how they bounce back from these injuries. In that case, the Cardinals have the edge, simply because they have more depth. They still have a good receiver in Larry Fitzgerald and a solid running game in Tim Hightower and Beanie Wells, so the Cardinals should be able to win this one easily.
Prediction: Cardinals 30, Jaguars 20.
Cincinnati Bengals (0-1) vs. Green Bay Packers (1-0)
The Bengals were victims of hard luck last week, after a deflected pass against the Broncos resulted in the game-winning touchdown. The Packers had an easy time with the Bears last week, and this week proves to be no different.
Bengals wide receiver Chad Ochocinco said that he will perform a Lambeau Leap this Sunday. With the way the Packers defense is running, I expect that he’ll be eating those words. I expect that this will be a close game, but it’ll be the Packers defense that makes the difference against a struggling Bengals offense.
Prediction: Packers 17, Bengals 13.
St. Louis Rams (0-1) vs. Washington Redskins (0-1)
This looks to be a pretty even game. The Redskins are all virtually healthy, and so are the Rams, with the exception of Marc Bulger (finger), but he could still start.
The big X factor in this game will be how both these teams bounce back from divisional losses in their opener. Whoever bounces back quickest will win this game, and I believe it will be the Redskins. The Rams simply do not have the depth to hang with the Redskins for four quarters.
Prediction: Redskins 20, Rams 3.
Minnesota Vikings (1-0) vs. Detroit Lions (0-1)
After a career day last week against the Browns, running back Adrian Peterson might have another one against the hapless Lions. Even if the Lions key on Peterson, quarterback Brett Favre still has viable options in Bernard Berrian, Visanthe Shiancoe, and Sidney Rice.
With all those things for the defense to deal with, and a monster in Jared Allen for the offense to deal with, this could be a long day for the Lions. Detroit fans will have to wait at least one more week for the Lions’ first win.
Prediction: Vikings 28, Lions 7.
Houston Texans (0-1) vs. Tennessee Titans (0-1)
The Texans have a whole arsenal of Titan weapons to deal with this week. The X factor this week is how Houston will handle all of these weapons and how they can hang with the Titans this week.
One bright spot for the Texans is the fact that they might not have to deal with tight end Jared Cook (questionable with an ankle injury). However, they still have to deal with the twin threat of LenDale White and Chris Johnson on offense and the twin defensive threat of Kearse and Vanden Bosch. For all those reasons, the Texans will head to Jacksonville 0-2.
Prediction: Titans 35, Texans 20.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-1) vs. Buffalo Bills (0-1)
One of the Buccaneers’ best receivers, Antonio Bryant, missed practice and might miss this game on Sunday. That would hurt the Bucs a lot more if Drayton Florence, a big wheel in the Bills’ secondary, wasn’t out as well.
However, with the loss of Bryant, the Bucs have only two viable options in the passing game: Kellen Winslow and Michael Clayton. This might put a lot of pressure on Cadillac Williams and the running game, and the Bills could take advantage of that, especially an angry Leodis McKelvin.
Prediction: Bills 30, Buccaneers 17.
Seattle Seahawks (1-0) vs. San Francisco 49ers (1-0)
Seattle had an easy time last week with a still-weak Rams team. However, they face a tougher test against the 49ers this week. They could also face it without their two star receivers, two offensive linemen, and their star on defense, who are all out with injuries.
The 49ers are almost completely healthy (linebacker Ahmad Brooks sat out of practice with a knee injury), but if either TJ Houshmandzadeh (back) or Deion Branch (hamstring) doesn’t play, the 49ers will eat the Seahawks for dinner.
Prediction: 49ers 28, Seahawks 17.
Baltimore Ravens (1-0) vs. San Diego Chargers (1-0)
LaDainian Tomlinson, center Nick Hardwick (sprained ankles), and right guard Louis Vasquez (sprained knee) missed most of the practices this week, possibly weakening the Chargers for their home opener against an extremely tough Ravens defense.
The biggest question is whether or not Darren Sproles and Michael Bennett will be able to carry the Chargers running game. Unfortunately, if I’m quarterback Philip Rivers, I’d be ready for a big passing day against the wall that is the Ravens defense. The results won’t be pretty.
Prediction: Ravens 30, Chargers 10.
Cleveland Browns (0-1) vs. Denver Broncos (1-0)
The two teams who orchestrated “The Drive” over 20 years ago come back together in Week Two. However, these are two teams on a massive decline. The Broncos won their game last week on sheer luck, while the Browns got hammered by the Vikings.
However, there is a ray of hope for the Browns. Running back Knowshon Moreno is questionable for the game (ankle). This hurts the Broncos’ running game slightly, because Correll Buckhalter has to shoulder a little bit more of the rushing load.
I give the edge to the Browns, because they have a few more options in their offense, and the Broncos are a house in desperate need of repair.
Prediction: Browns 10, Broncos 7 in overtime.
Pittsburgh Steelers (1-0) vs. Chicago Bears (0-1)
The Bears lost the biggest part of their defense last week, when Brian Urlacher was put on injured reserve (dislocated wrist). The Steelers will take full advantage of his replacement, Hunter Hillenmayer, with their vaunted two-pronged rushing attack of Willie Parker and Rashard Mendenhall.
The Steelers have way too many weapons on both offense and defense, and will overwhelm the Bears. It looks like it’s going to be back to the drawing board for Lovie Smith and the Bears.
Prediction: Steelers 30, Bears 7.
New York Giants (1-0) vs. Dallas Cowboys (1-0)
This is one of the biggest games of the week, as the Cowboys open up their new stadium against one of their biggest rivals. Unfortunately, Dallas has no time to celebrate as they have to go up against one of the most dominating defenses in the NFL.
The Giants defense looked great last week against the Redskins, and they show no signs of stopping now. They should be able to shut down Tony Romo and the Cowboys offense and ruin opening day at Cowboys Stadium.
Prediction: Giants 20, Cowboys 0.
Indianapolis Colts (1-0) vs. Miami Dolphins (0-1) (Monday)
The Colts may have lost one of their best receivers in Anthony Gonzalez (out two to eight weeks with sprained knee ligaments), but they may have gotten a replacement that is just as good. The Colts signed former Eagle Hank Baskett, who is taller than any other Colts receiver (6’4”).
It does give Indianapolis another viable option at receiver, but they’re going up against a very tough Dolphins defense. You can’t discount Peyton Manning’s coolness in the clutch, but it may not be enough this week.
Prediction: Dolphins 17, Colts 10.
Week One and Overall Record: 9-7
There you have it: my predictions for Week Two. Who will go into Week Three confident, and who will be fighting to avoid an 0-3 start? Tune in to Week Two to find out!