Here are my picks for NFL Week Two.
Last week's picks: 12-4 (8-8 vs. spread)
Overall: 12-4 (8-8 vs. spread)
Panthers quarterback Jake Delhomme will bounce back and wide receiver Steve Smith will break off a big play or two in this one. Delhomme will end up with one touchdown and one interception. Running back DeAngelo Williams will score a pair of touchdowns on the ground. Carolina will look a lot better in this one than in the previous game.
This is the game for Michael Turner to bounce back. He will have 120 yards and two scores. Quarterback Matt Ryan will play well, but will manage his team more than lead them to victory. The Falcons defense won't be as good as Philly's was last week against the Cats.
Carolina 30, Atlanta 24 (Panthers +6.5)
Vikings running back Adrian Peterson is going to eat up the Detroit defense. They couldn't slow the immortal Mike Bell last week; what are they going to do against Peterson? Big game for AP. Favre will make this game a lot closer than it should be. At least one of his passes will go the other way for a touchdown. This is the first game Vikings fans realize that Favre could be their undoing. The defense for the Vikes might get burned on a few deep balls in this game.
Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford will have his coming-out party in this game, at least yards- and touchdowns-wise. Receiver Calvin Johnson is going to get deep a few times and score one or two long touchdowns. Running back Kevin Smith will have a tough time against the stout Minny run defense. The defense will be bad, but Minnesota's offense isn't going to put up 45 like New Orleans did. The Lions will put a scare into the Vikings.
Minnesota 27, Detroit 24 (Detroit +9.5)
Cincinnati's offense was horrible in Week One. Quarterback Carson Palmer looked very bad. Not a good sign for optimistic Bengals fans. Receiver Chad Ochocinco did look good. He was the only guy Palmer found consistently and is really their only great receiving option. He's going to catch a ton of passes this year. Palmer will bounce back a little and find receiver Chris Henry on a deep ball as well as Ochocinco for a TD. Chad will indeed get a chance to do the Lambeau Leap.
Green Bay didn't look as good as advertised last week. It took a long touchdown with one minute left to beat a Bears team whose quarterback had thrown four interceptions. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers will bounce back with a nice game. The Bengals will surprise by shutting down the run. The Packers defense will pick Palmer off two or three times in this game.
Green Bay 23, Cincinnati 14 (Cincinnati +9.5)
Houston was awful offensively last week, but will surprisingly rebound against the Titans, through the air at least. Quarterback Matt Schaub will find receivers Andre Johnson and Kevin Walter all day. Running back Steve Slaton will be shut down again. Any fantasy owners who picked him will not be happy. The Jets running game ran all over Houston last week and there should be a whole lot more of that Sunday.
The Titans will be running a lot in this matchup. If Thomas Jones could break off big runs against the Texans defense, Tennessee back Chris Johnson should definitely be able to do the same. Receiver Justin Gage won't be as big of a factor. Nobody should be surprised if the Titans only throw 20 times. Their defense will struggle against the pass.
Tennessee 30, Houston 21 (Titans -7.5)
New York Jets vs. New England
The Patriots will not let themselves be embarrassed like last week, even if they did win. The Pats are going to come out firing on all cylinders, especially considering all of the trash-talking done by the Jets this week. Quarterback Tom Brady and receiver Randy moss will be in 2007 form. Though the defense will give up points, the offense is going to explode in this game.
New-look New York looked great last week. Rex Ryan's defense looked excellent and so did rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez. Pats coach Bill Belichick will find things to throw at the rookie this week though. The Pats defense might not be super talented, but they'll throw some different looks at Sanchez. The running game will be good again against New England, but expect running back Leon Washington to have a bigger game than Thomas Jones. He'll break some long runs. The defense will have a much better offense lining up on the other side in this game and will suddenly not have as many people taking about it.
New England 34, New York 20 (Patriots -5.5)
Philadelphia vs. New Orleans
The Saints offense was great last week and will continue to be all year. The defense did allow 27 points against the Lions. That's a sign that the defense will be just as bad as usual. Quarterback Drew Brees will definitely not put up six touchdowns this game and will be running from the Eagles fierce pass rush all day. Running backs Reggie Bush, Pierre Thomas, and Mike Bell will not be able to run successfully against that Eagles defense. The Saints defense got lucky by getting the Eagles without quarterback Donovan McNabb. That might be the deciding factor in this game.
Philly's defense is shaping up very nicely. It's hard to tell if Philadelphia's defense forced all those Jake Delhomme turnovers or if Delhomme is just horrible. Maybe it is both. New Orleans will test them more. Backup quarterback Kevin Kolb is going to struggle like Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford did last week against the Saints. Running back Brian Westbrook should still have a good day. They need some big plays from their receivers to win, but they won't get enough.
New Orleans 21, Philadelphia 16 (Saints +1.5)
Oakland is going to have a hard time recovering after a gut-wrenching loss against the Chargers last week. Going into Arrowhead will be difficult, but Oakland is up to the challenge. The Raiders actually have a pretty good pass defense. Nmadi Asumgha is probably the best corner in the league. Quarterback Jamarcus Russell isn't going to win this game for Oakland, but he isn't going to lose it for them either. Running back Darren McFadden is going to go absolutely nuts in this game. Oakland will play another great game.
The Chiefs offense might actually better than previously thought. Putting 24 points on the Ravens is not an easy task, so they should be able to put up at least the same on the Raiders. Quarterback Matt Cassel will play and show Chiefs fans that it was a huge mistake to give him $50 million. He is going to fall flat on his face. Running back Larry Johnson will have a good game, but that won't win the game for them. This defense is not good. Any team that they play is going to run and pass all over them.
Oakland 23, Kansas City 17 (Raiders +3.5)
Washington vs. St. Louis
The Rams are by far the worst team in the league this year. The defense is very bad. The offense is very bad. Everything is very bad. Seattle is a good team this year, but scoring a big goose egg is not acceptable. St. Louis quarterback Marc Bulger was good three or four years ago, but now he should be a backup somewhere, not a starter. Steven Jackson is a very talented back, but his stats are not going to be good running behind the Rams offensive line. The defense is going to give up points in this game, even against the below-average Washington offense.
The Redskins will whoop up on the Rams in this game. Quarterback Jason Campbell will suddenly look like Joe Montana against this Rams defense. Seattle's Julius Jones tore up the Ram's run defense last week; imagine how bad Redskins back Clinton Portis will gash it. The Skins are going to roll.
Washington 31, St. Louis 14 (Redskins -10.5)
The defending NFC champs looked like they would continue the year-after curse of Super Bowl losers. Going to Jacksonville against a rejuvenated Jaguars team is not going to turn the season around, especially with unhealthy wide receivers. Larry Fitzgerald is going to put up great numbers still, but the Cards need a healthy Anquan Boldin and Steve Breaston to win games. Running backs Tim Hightower and Beanie Wells aren't going to kill anybody. The defense is just average and Jacksonville can score points against them.
The Jags are on their way to a big bounceback year. They played the Colts very tightly last week and get a worse opponent at home this week. Quarterback David Garrard will have a better game this week along with everybody else on the Jaguars offense. The defense looks very good after only giving up 14 points to the Colts.
Jacksonville 24, Arizona 17 (Jaguars -3.5)
San Francisco vs. Seattle
The Seahawks looked good last week as my sleeper-of-the-year pick. They were playing the Rams, but they still looked very good. If quarterback Matt Hasselbeck stays healthy, the Seahawks are going to have a very successful season. He will be able to tear up this San Francisco defense. Receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh will catch eight or nine balls and get in the end zone twice. Once they develop the proper chemistry, people will realize Housh is a premier NFL receiver. Julius Jones won't be able to run like last week, but will still be effective.
The Niners have caught on as a sleeper pick, but they will not be as good as some people think. They don't really have a big strength. They don't have their "thing." Quarterback Shaun Hill is solid, but against the Seahawks defense he won't have a great game. Running back Frank Gore was bad against the Cardinals defense, so there is no reason to believe he'll be able to run against a defense that shut down Steven Jackson. The Niners defense will be tough all year long with coach Mike Singletary leading them, but the Seahawks offense is very good.
Seattle 24, San Francisco 16 (Seahawks +1.5) (Upset of the Week)
Tampa is better than people think. They gave up too many big plays against Dallas, but that was against Tony Romo. They get Trent Edwards this week, which is a big drop off. Tampa might not have much of a passing game, especially without receiver Antonio Bryant, but their running game is one of the best in the league. Running backs Derrick Ward, Cadillac Williams, and Earnest Graham are all legitimate NFL starters. Williams is going to have another big game, as will Ward. The defense will play much better this week.
Buffalo is going to struggle this week. They're facing the hangover effect, losing a game against a favored opponent in heartbreaking fashion. Edwards will find Terrell Owens more, but he won't be as efficient. Running back Fred Jackson won't play as well either. The defense played well against Brady, but won't be able to stop Tampa's rushing attack.
Tampa Bay 20, Buffalo 14 (Bucs +3.5)
Chicago vs. Pittsburgh
The Super Bowl champs are going to have another good year. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger looked great last week in the fourth quarter, but also threw two interceptions. He will throw at least one or two against Chicago and won't be able to escape the faster Chicago pass rush as well as he escaped Tennessee's rush. Running back Willie Parker will run better against Chicago, scoring a touchdown, but still will be mostly shut down. The defense will force a lot of turnovers to make up for offensive struggles.
Chicago quarterback Jay Cutler looked awful against Green Bay and now has to face the best defense in the league. Cutler might throw four more interceptions in this game. Pittsburgh is going to be all over him, and the only way to beat Pittsburgh is through the air. Running back Matt Forte is going to have another bad game. The defense will struggle a little bit now that linebacker Brian Urlacher is out.
Pittsburgh 20, Chicago 15 (Pittsburgh -2.5)
The Browns didn't look half-bad against the Vikes last week and have a much worse opponent this week. However, they go on the road to Denver instead of playing at one of the friendliest confines in the league in Cleveland. Quarterback Brady Quinn isn't the answer, but neither is Derek Anderson. The running game isn't strong either. The offensive line is the only thing that is holds this team together. The defense is horrible and will probably get run all over in this game.
Denver will be better than people think. They're going to start 2-0 after this game. Quarterback Kyle Orton is going to have a better game and will find chemistry with receiver Brandon Marshall. Running back Knowshon Moreno is healthy and will breakout in this one, he'll get about 90 yards and a touchdown. The defense looked good against a decent (on paper) Cincinnati offense. They should play even better against Cleveland.
Denver 21, Cleveland 13 (Broncos -3.5)
San Diego vs. Baltimore (GAME OF THE WEEK)
Baltimore looked like the bizarro Ravens last week, scoring a bunch of points and giving up a lot of points to a bad team. That just doesn't happen to the Ravens. The defense will give up points against the Chargers offense this week, too. Quarterback Joe Flacco is poised for a breakout year and will tear the Chargers defense up just like he did to the Chiefs. Running back Willis McGahee isn't done and Ray Rice has looked great. They will be great again against San Diego.
San Diego (the greatest city in the world, by the way) is going to bounce back after struggling against the Raiders last week. Tomlinson is out, but the Ravens got hurt through the air last week anyway, so it shouldn't matter too much. Darren Sproles won't do a whole lot on the ground, but he is very dangerous on screen passes kick returns. He is going to get a lot of touches and knows what to do with them. Vincent Jackson will catch another touchdown on his way to a breakout year. The defense will step up after struggling last week.
San Diego 24, Baltimore 21 (Ravens +4.5)
Dallas vs. New York Giants
The Giants will be great this year. They are clearly the class of the NFC. Their defense is second to none and will shut down Dallas' potent passing attack. Eli Manning will play well against Dallas and will make it apparent who his new favorite receiver will be this year. Running back Brandon Jacobs will score two or three touchdowns in this game in a big statement game for New York.
Tony Romo and Co. looked great against Tampa last week, but this Giants defense is much better than Tampa Bay's. Marion Barber, Felix Jones, and Tashard Choice form one of the best running back trios in the league. They will be able to have some success against the Giants. Barber will have the most success. Tight end Jason Witten will be the only bright spot in the passing game.
New York 31, Dallas 14 (Giants +2.5)
Miami vs. Indianapolis
Indianapolis got off to a good start in the Jim Caldwell era with a win at home. Now they will get their first road win and start 2-0. Peyton Manning will have a big day picking apart Miami's weak pass defense. Receiver Reggie Wayne will go over 100 yards again and Dallas Clark will have a big day as well. The defense will shut down Miami's weak offense.
The Dolphins are going to fall back to earth this season. Healthy Tom Brady + Chad Pennington a year older + no good receivers = bad year for the Fish. Pennington will struggle again and so will the rest of the offense. Jacksonville's offense in better than Miami's and the Colts limited them to just 12. The Dolphins will barely get out of single digits in this game.
Indianapoilis 28, Miami 13 (Indianapolis -3.5)