One game down in the opening weekend of the 2010 NFL season. Congratulations to the New Orleans Saints on beating the Minnesota Vikings.
Didn’t go exactly as I thought it would, but a win is a win. If you missed the first part, check it out at National Football League 2010 Opening Weekend Preview, Part One.
With that, let’s get back into the slate of games this weekend.
Atlanta Falcons at Pittsburgh Steelers
The Falcons are coming off a disappointing 2009 campaign and are hoping to rebound behind quarterback Matt Ryan. The Steelers are coming off an even more disappointing 2009 season and suffered through one of the worst offseasons.
They cannot rely on their star quarterback Ben Roethlisberger for the first four games of the season due to suspension.
The man who was likely to replace him, Byron Leftwich, is injured, leaving unproven Dennis Dixon in control of the Steelers offense for the first four games.
I use the term control loosely, just to clarify. I like Dixon, but he’s stepping into a pretty bad situation. The Steelers’ best offensive lineman, Willie Colon, is out for the season.
So is wide receiver Limas Sweed, and they also traded away fellow WR Santonio Holmes for his offseason transgressions.
Expect to see a lot of running out of the Steelers. That won’t be enough to beat the Falcons, however. They’re going to need really good defensive play in order to have a chance at winning this game.
Unfortunately for the Steelers faithful, I just don’t see the Falcons losing this game.
Carolina Panthers at New York Giants
This game is hard to figure out. Both teams struggled in the preseason on offense. The Panthers have a great running back tandem in DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart.
However, the Giants have the definite advantage at quarterback with Eli Manning. I don’t think the Panthers’ defense can contain Manning and the Giants’ receivers for the entire game and need to rely on a ball-control offense to keep Manning off the field.
They certainly have the ball carriers to do so, but I just don’t think the Panthers can do it for the entire game.
Giants will win a defensive struggle behind the arm of Manning.
Green Bay Packers at Philadelphia Eagles
The Packers have it together on paper. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers is poised to stake a claim as the No. 1 passer in the league this year.
Their defense was the best in the league last year. Their one weakness is the offensive line, which could give them fits all year long.
The Eagles, however, are turning the reins over to unproven quarterback Kevin Kolb, so what happens this season is anyone’s guess.
He could turn out to be a Top 15 quarterback in the league. Or he could just be a journeyman backup and set the Eagles back for at least this season.
Even if Kolb turns out to be the former, it won’t be enough to stop the Packers in this game.
Arizona Cardinals at St Louis Rams
Based off the past few years, the Cardinals would be expected to run away in this game early.
However, potential Hall of Fame quarterback Kurt Warner will not be under center for the Cardinals in this game. Instead, he’ll be at home with his family, enjoying retirement. In his stead will be Derek Anderson.
The Rams, on the other hand, appear to have significantly upgraded their quarterback position, if the preseason is anything to judge.
We all know careers aren’t made in the preseason, but the way Sam Bradford dissected the New England Patriots’ starting defense is pretty compelling.
Yes, the Cardinals have been a great team for the past few years. However, they’ve had a pretty horrible offseason in their own right, and who knows how they’ll emerge this season? For some reason, I feel more comfortable with the Rams in this match up.
It’s going to be close, and most likely ugly, but I think the Rams will win.
San Francisco 49ers at Seattle Seahawks
The first game of the Pete Carroll Era in Seattle is going to be pivotal in the NFC West. If Carroll and crew want to have any shot at winning the division, they’re going to have to come out strong and fast against the 49ers.
I believe that the 49ers are going to win this division, and that isn’t simply because Warner is no longer in Arizona (but that certainly doesn’t hurt).
Quarterback Alex Smith actually looked in control of the offense as the season progressed, and the 49ers defense led by linebacker Patrick Willis is scary good.
While the Seahawks did make a lot of moves this offseason and did make some upgrades, they’re at least a season away in my mind.
For the NFC West, it’s the 49ers turn at the top and it will start this Sunday.
Dallas Cowboys at Washington Redskins
The Donovan McNabb era stars in Washington on Sunday night. How weird is it to say that? McNabb at points has looked in command of the Redskins offense during preseason, but he did get injured and the talent level on that side of the ball is unproven at best.
Dallas is talented on the offensive side of the ball, but are stuck in underachiever mode. The preseason certainly didn’t help in that regard, either. They don’t look confident heading into a divisional matchup.
This game is going to be close and hard to figure out. On paper, the Cowboys should win this game. I just don’t think they’re mentally tough enough to win this game.
Time will tell, but I think the Redskins win this game to get the Mike Shanahan/Donovan McNabb era started with a bang.
Baltimore Ravens at New York Jets
This game is so many things. Many experts have these two teams making deep runs into the playoffs.
They feature some of the most boisterous personalities in the game today in Jets head coach Rex Ryan and Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis. It’s been a war of words leading up to this game, but words won’t win this game.
What will win this game is which offense can get the better of the opposing defense. It will be a hard task because both defenses are incredibly talented and aggressive. However, the Ravens' offense at this point is head and shoulders better than the Jets'.
Quarterback Joe Flacco appears to be more in control of his offense and much less turnover-prone than his Jets counterpart, Mark Sanchez. Whichever team wins the turnover battle is most likely to win this game and that would be the Ravens.
I fully expect the Ravens to win the battle on the field, but we all know that Rex Ryan will never lose the battle of words. If only the Jets could take all that bluster and turn it into more talent for Sanchez.
San Diego Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs
The Chargers have had some issues this offseason. For one, stalwart running back LaDainian Tomlinson is no longer with the team. Instead, he’s with the Jets.
Plus the management has been struggling with left tackle Marcus McNeil and wide receiver Vincent Jackson. While quarterback Philip Rivers is immensely talented, those three not going to be on the field on Monday night is a big blow to this offense.
The Chiefs are an enigma. They’ve got a superb running back in Jamaal Charles, yet during preseason they had veteran Thomas Jones as the starter, even with his inability to hold onto the ball.
No one is sure if quarterback Matt Cassel is going to be a good enough quarterback to carry this team on his shoulders. Plus, that defense is still unsettled.
This game will be close because it’s a divisional game in Arrowhead Stadium. The Chargers should win despite their issues, however.
If you’ve made it this far, you probably realize that there is no preview of the Miami Dolphins/Buffalo Bills game in this article. That shouldn’t be that big of a surprise, however.
That preview will be coming soon, along with a look at the Bills’ season as a whole. Stay tuned!