NFL Week 2 Predictions: 10 Games That Could Come Down to the Final Minute
Here are some predictions of the top ten closest games of the week. There are some strange games on the docket, because of some upsets in Game 1.
Several teams find themselves needing a win, even this early, just to stay in contact with division foes.
I went 12-4 picking games straight up, so I'll go ahead and do that. Points and spreads are for the pros, so I'll just let you know who will win and why.
Here are my picks for Week 2.
I'll rank them in order of my confidence in them, from least to most.
10. Seattle Seahawks Vs. Denver Broncos
Week 2 of Pete Carroll and his merry men. Week 2 of Tebow Watch. Who will have more of an impact on the game?
How the Seahawks Can Keep it Close: As good as the Seahawks looked last week against the Niners, their running game really was nothing to speak of. They can't expect Matt Hasselbeck to toss the pill around all season, can they? Especially if Mike Williams is limited.
How the Broncos Can Keep it Close: I want to say more Tebow, but that's not going to cut it. Orton played well. The running game was okay but needs to be better. Coach McDaniels must think so or he wouldn't have traded for Laurence Maroney.
Difference Maker: Deion Branch. If Williams is out and they are counting on the rookie Golden Tate to start across from him, Branch has to play big.
Prediction: I am not sold on Seattle yet. Denver in the upset, 17- 10
9. Pittsburgh Steelers Vs Tennessee Titans
Smash mouth Defense, running the ball, and mobile quarterback: The three things that the Titans rely on to win games are now the things that they have to be prepared for against the Steelers.
How the Steelers Can Keep it Close: Dennis Dixon has to limit his mistakes and he has to take off when there isn't anyone to throw to. He'll be needed a lot more this week. And they can't expect Rashard Mendenhall to save them again in overtime.
How the Titans Can Keep it Close: Chris Johnson. If the Titans win this game it will be because Johnson has the Steelers on their heels long enough for the passing game to work. This game will go a long way to telling us who is the best back in the league. Run on the Steelers and you are pretty damn good.
Difference Maker: Vince Young. The bad news? He didn't get a Heisman this week. The good news? If he makes some timely passes, his team will beat the Steelers in Week 2. That should make him feel better.
Prediction: Steelers by one fourth quarter score. 28 - 21.
8. Baltimore Ravens Vs. The Cincinnati Bengals
The Bengals come off a great second half, while the Ravens are still on a high from shutting up their ex-coach Rex Ryan.
How the Bengals can keep It close: Unlike the Jets, who had no semblance of a passing game, Cincinnati proved in the second half of the Patriots game that they have four great weapons in their passing attack (Batman and Robin, rookies Gresham and Shipley). With safety Ed Reed still out, the Ravens could be in trouble.
How the Ravens can keep It close: Ray Rice. He had a rough one against the Jets, as did Willis McGahee. If Baltimore establishes their run game, they can take the air out of the ball.
Difference Maker: Carson Palmer. For the second straight week, the Ravens face a former Trojan quarterback. This time they are facing the best of the five that are in the league, (assuming JD Booty found a bench to ride). If Palmer can stand in against that pass rush, he'll find his guys downfield.
Prediction: The Bengals in the upset. 31- 24.
7. Miami Dolphins Vs. Minnesota Vikings
The Vikings need a win to stay close to the Packers. The Dolphins want to stay at the top of the brutal AFC East.
How the Dolphins can keep It close: Miami will need more than a 127 combined yards from Ricky Williams and Ronnie Brown to pull off this upset. And Henne has to throw for more than 200 yards, unlike last week. Basically, the offense has to play better.
How the Vikings can keep It close: Brett Favre has to continue shaking off the rust, the cobwebs, the Icy-Hot, and whatever else he had on him last week. And someone has to locate Bernard Berrian and tell him to return his paycheck from last week. You don't get paid for one catch and three yard outings.
Difference Maker: Adrian Peterson. The man wants more carries and deserves more carries. So by all means, give the man more carries.
Prediction: The Vikings win a fairly close one. 30- 24.
6. Houston Texans Vs. Washington Redskins
Are the Redskins for real? Are the Texans? Who will be more for real this game?
How the Redskins Can Keep it Close: I love that Washington was committed to trying to run, but they need more than just number of carries, they need yards. McNabb played okay, but he'll get better. He has to if they are going to win games.
How the Texans Can Keep it Close: I read that out of his 231 rushing yards last week, Arian Foster got 191 of them in the second half. If that is true, he might be one of those guys who gets better as the game goes. That makes it pretty obvious what Houston will do if they get the lead.
Difference Maker: Andre Johnson. He won't have another three catches for 33 yard game. He is too good to do that.
Prediction: Houston won't make the same mistakes that Dallas made. They win by running in the fourth quarter, 31 - 21.
5. Philadelphia Eagles Vs. The Detroit Lions
Detroit feels that they should already have their first win. Michael Vick feels like the Eagles would have won if he had played the whole game. So both teams come in with a chip on their respective shoulders.
Here's How the Lions will Keep it Close: Jahvid Best will have to prove that he is the early rookie of the year choice by getting pressure off of Shaun HIll, since Matt Stafford is out of this one. And Calvin Johnson has to come down with two hands on the ball until they change the rules.
Here's How the Eagles Will Keep it Close: Michael Vick has to not be indecisive. As explosive as he looked last week, there were several times when he ran when he should have passed, and passed when he should have run.
Difference Maker: Vick. This game will either validate why Kolb is the starter or be the beginning of a season long QB controversy. I vote the latter.
Prediction: The beginning of the Vick-Eagles Era, but Lions keep it close until late. 30 - 20.
4. New York Jets Vs. New England Patriots
Is it Brady's time or Rex's time in the AFC East? This will go a long way in telling us if there is a changing of the guard.
How the Patriots Can Keep it Close: Normally I would say by running the ball with Fred Taylor and the "Law Firm" (BenJarvus Green-Ellis), but I think the Pats go to their short passing game this week to lull the Jets to sleep and then try to hit a couple deep ones before going to the run.
How the Jets Can Keep it Close: Find their offense. Granted, the Pats defense is nowhere near as intense as Ravens, but they weren't pushovers last week either. Shonn Greene has to show up.
Difference Maker: Mark Sanchez. I hate to put it on the kid, but he's going to need to make some key passes against that young New England secondary if the Jets have a chance.
Prediction: Tom Brady is looking good early. Revis Island will have no affect on this game. Pats, 21-13.
3. Indianapolis Colts Vs. The New York Giants
Manning Bowl II. You ever notice how uncomfortable tennis matches are between the Williams sisters? Yeah, well expect that in this game.
How the Colts Can Keep it Close: Manning being Manning. As in Peyton being himself. No way the Giants can stop that passing attack. Especially if Garcon stops dropping passes (bench for one, Garcon!).
How the Giants Can Keep it Close: Eli has to match his brother, throw for throw. He has to get Steve Smith more involved and the Giants have to get to Peyton. He can throw for back to back monster games if need be.
Difference Maker: Bradshaw and Jacobs. The duo has to run the ball and hope to combine for what Arian Foster did to the Colts last week. They have to run hard and keep Peyton off the field.
Prediction:The Colts are a machine. No brotherly love here. Colts 30 - 20.
2. Chicago Bears Vs. Dallas Cowboys
Before the season, this game probably didn't look that close on paper. But some things have changed since the preseason ended.
How Chicago can keep It close: By passing the football, Cutler (372 yards, two TDs, one int) and his new BFF, Mike Martz (offensive coordinator) will stay in the game. The Dallas pass rush might be hindered a bit if DeMarcus Ware's neck injury limits him. And who covers Matt Forte out of the backfield
How Dallas can keep It close: If the Cowboys limit their mistakes and penalties they are a really good team. But there is no evidence that they can do that. They can't miss short field goals and make boneheaded plays. Yes, Alex Barron had a bad game and that last play cost them the game, but what might have happened if he didn't hold on that play? Would Tony Romo not have gotten whacked pretty good?
Difference Maker: Matt Forte. If Martz makes him Chicago's version of Marshall Faulk during the "Greatest Show on Turf" days, he could be a problem.
Prediction: Cowboys get their first win. 28 - 20
1. New Orleans Saints Vs. San Francisco 49ers
Mike Singletary and his boys have to look better than last week. They have to. The Saints will be better than they were. They're the Champs.
How the 49ers Can Keep it Close: Frank Gore has to have a breakout game. Another 38 yard game is not going to cut it. It's his team, not Alex Smith's.
How the Saints Can Keep it Close: They have to just do what they do. Mix in some running, but toss the pigskin all over the field to everybody but the ball boy.
Difference Maker: Patrick Willis. He needs to wreak havoc on this game. He needs to get to Drew Brees a few times and hit him hard. If San Francisco is going to win, they need to beat the Saints up.
Prediction: Drew Brees officially starts his MVP campaign on Monday Night Football. Saints, 24 - 10.