NFL Picks Week 2: Survivor Pool Locks and Games To Avoid
NFL Week 2 is almost here, and it's time to make some picks.
The most intriguing game of the week might be in Washington, D.C., where the Redskins look to continue the momentum from last Sunday night's win over the Cowboys by slowing down the powerful Texans.
Elsewhere, the Manning brothers meet at the New Meadowlands in a game that should be closely contested.
Rex Ryan and the Jets look to bounce back against the Patriots, and Michael Vick returns to the starting lineup as the Eagles visit the Lions.
Here's a look at the likely winners of all 16 games in Week 2.
Pittsburgh at Tennessee
Line: Tennessee at -5
Why the Titans Could Win: Vince Young started things out with a bang last week against the Raiders, finding go-to receiver Nate Washington for a long touchdown early in the game. If Young can make a few big plays in the passing game, Chris Johnson should be able to do his thing.
Why the Steelers Could Win: It's not like anyone is going to start confusing the Falcons' offense with the Saints or Colts anytime soon, but Pittsburgh's defense was very impressive in Week 1. Troy Polamalu is healthy and makes the secondary much, much better.
Prediction: Titans win easily. Dennis Dixon hasn't shown he can get through a game without making mistakes, and Tennessee's run defense should be able to shut down Rashard Mendenhall and Pittsburgh's ground game.
Miami at Minnesota
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Line: Minnesota at -5.5
Why the Vikings Could Win: Brett Favre didn't look quite right against the Saints last Thursday, but a week or practice should help him rediscover chemistry with his backs and receivers. While the aged one dusts off his skills, the Vikings are likely to lean on Adrian Peterson who should be able to run against the Dolphins' D.
Why the Dolphins Could Win: Miami is a scrappy team and appears to have found a reliable quarterback. Chad Henne and Brandon Marshall could become one of the most lethal connections in the NFL as the season progresses. Meanwhile, the Dolphins will look to attack the Williams boys and the Vikes' D-Line in an effort to free up the play-action game with Henne.
Prediction: Vikings win in a fairly close game. Adrian Peterson will be the workhorse, and the defense will play inspired football in the home opener, making life difficult for Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams.
Arizona at Atlanta
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Line: Atlanta at -6.5
Why the Falcons Could Win: Atlanta's offense is still short a weapon or two, but that shouldn't be a problem against the mediocre Cardinals defense. Look for the Falcons to establish Michael Turner early and often.
Why the Cardinals Could Win: It's not a good thing when quarterbacks are known as "streaky", but that's exactly what Derek Anderson is. Assuming Larry Fitzgerald is mostly healthy, Anderson has the arm it takes to lead an underdog to an upset on the road.
Prediction: Falcons win fairly easily. Although the Cardinals might surprise a few people this season, the Week 1 win against the Rams doesn't exactly breed confidence for success against a playoff-caliber team in Week 2.
Baltimore at Cincinnati
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Line: Baltimore at -2
Why the Ravens Could Win: The acquisition of even more veteran receivers has put the Ravens' offense in a rare position to actually be multidimensional. Ray Rice and Joe Flacco should enjoy major success this season, and Baltimore has the weapons to win a second consecutive road contest to begin the season.
Why the Bengals Could Win: Like his counterpart Flacco, Carson Palmer is surrounded by weapons young and old. The key Sunday could be Cedric Benson's ability to run the ball against the Ravens' front four. If Benson can find lanes, Palmer should be able to exploit the Ravens' secondary.
Prediction: The Bengals win in a close game. Cincinnati can't afford to start the season 0-2 and kill off the heavy dose of optimism still surrounding the team even after the loss to the Pats last week.
Kansas City at Cleveland
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Line: Cleveland at -2
Why the Browns Could Win: Kansas CIty's defense looked close to fantastic against San Diego Monday night, but the conditions and enthusiastic crowd certainly played a role in the play of Romeo Crennel's unit. Jerome Harrison is the best weapon the Browns have, and he could find success on the ground early and often Sunday.
Why the Chiefs Could Win: The arrival of speedy weapons could be enough to compensate for Matt Cassel's awfulness at quarterback. If the Chiefs can get the ball to Jamaal Charles and Dexter McCluster, they could start the season 2-0. Dwayne Bowe was quiet in Week 1 and represents another big-play guy for Charlie Weis.
Prediction: The Chiefs win in a close game. Kansas City has more playmakers than the Browns, and a glance at K.C.'s schedule suggests winning might soon no longer be considered a fluke.
Chicago at Dallas
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Line: Dallas at -7.5
Why the Cowboys Could Win: Apparently one of the worst offensive lines in football isn't enough to move the money away from the Cowboys in Vegas. If the line holds the fort against Julius Peppers and the Bears, Tony Romo should be able to play with his new toys. A breakout rushing performance from Felix Jones would be a welcome sight in Week 2.
Why the Bears Could Win: Speaking of bad offensive lines, the Bears have one of the worst. Still, Matt Forte looked like he was back to his rookie form against the Lions and makes Chicago's offense dangerous.
Prediction: The Cowboys win. Dallas always seems to be a trendy Super Bowl pick no matter how many problems they might have. The Bears have plenty of problems of their own and make critical mistakes to allow the Cowboys to win the home opener.
Philadelphia at Detroit
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Line: Philadelphia at -6
Why the Eagles Could Win: Simply put, the Eagles' backup quarterback is better than the Lions' backup quarterback. Michael Vick will get the chance to show what he can do Sunday from start to finish, and could produce an impressive performance filled with big plays. The quarterback controversy is only just beginning.
Why the Lions Could Win: All of the talk about the improvement of the Lions grows tiresome, especially when it never actually proves to be accurate. At the same time, there is no question the Lions have improved. If dynamic rookie Jahvid Best can break off some big plays, Detroit could hold serve at home.
Prediction: The Eagles win. Vick looked good against the Packers and will look even better against the Lions.
Buffalo at Green Bay
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Line: Green Bay at -13
Why the Packers Could Win: There are plenty of reasons why Green Bay could win, starting with Aaron Rodgers and the prolific offense. The Packers will likely feature Brandon Jackson Sunday in an effort to replace Ryan Grant. Jackson has been plagued by injuries during his NFL career, but he is a much better receiver than Grant out of the backfield and could make a big impact against the Bills.
Why the Bills Could Win: There are not many reasons why Buffalo could win. The Bills would need to make big plays all afternoon long, and that means rookie C.J. Spiller would have to dazzle.
Prediction: The Packers win easily. Green Bay's underrated front seven will shut down Spiller and the Bills' running game while harassing Trent Edwards.
Tampa Bay at Carolina
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Line: Carolina -3.5
Why the Panthers Could Win: No matter who is playing quarterback Sunday, the Panthers will lean on one of the best running back duos in the NFL. DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart make Carolina a difficult opponent, especially for Tampa Bay.
Why the Bucs Could Win: Josh Freeman has improved at least a little bit, and the Bucs are still healthy. It's no secret what the Panthers will try to do, and Tampa has a chance if they can shut down the running game.
Prediction: The Panthers win in a close, ugly game, with Williams and Stewart leading the way.
Seattle at Denver
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Line: Denver at -3.5
Why the Broncos Could Win: Kyle Orton is the best thing Denver has on offense, which isn't a good thing. At the same time, the ultimate game-manager should be able to move the ball against a mediocre Seahawks defense.
Why the Seahawks Could Win: Matt Hasselbeck is still hanging on, and he showed a nice chemistry with his receiving corps in the win over the 49ers last win. If the veteran plays well in Denver, the Seahawks could manufacture another win.
Prediction: The Broncos win in a close game. It won't be pretty, but Denver's offense will do just enough to defeat Pete Carroll's scrappy Seahawks.
St. Louis at Oakland
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Line: Oakland at -3.5
Why the Raiders Could Win: Oakland's offensive line appears to have a slight advantage against the Rams, meaning Darren McFadden and Jason Campbell will both have chances to flourish Sunday. The Raiders' defense is the biggest difference between the two teams and should harass Sam Bradford all afternoon.
Why the Rams Could Win: Apparently Vegas thinks the Rams have a chance given the small spread. Bradford and the Rams could have easily won the season opener last week but made just enough mistakes to fall short. If they clean things up, they should at least stay in the game.
Prediction: The Raiders win relatively easily. Campbell and Oakland's offense will find success against the Rams after getting off to a slow start.
Houston at Washington
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Line: Houston at -3
Why the Texans Could Win: If last Sunday's explosion against the Colts was any indication, the Texans will be an absolutely dominant offensive team all year long. Arian Foster isn't likely to eclipse the 200-yard mark again, but he could have a solid performance against the strong Redskins defense, opening things up for Matt Schaub.
Why the Redskins Could Win: Washington is riding high off Sunday night's win, and for good reason. The 'Skins should find more success on offense against the Texans' defense. Let's face it, they will have to in order to have a chance.
Prediction: The Texans win in a close, exciting game. The Redskins will be in the thick of things all year long, but they have yet to demonstrate enough firepower to suggest they can outscore the Texans.
New England at New York Jets
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Line: New England at -3
Why the Patriots Could Win: As impressive as Tom Brady and the Pats' offense looked in Sunday's demolition of the Bengals, the defense was perhaps the biggest reason for optimism. The young, unproven unit shut down Cincinnati's running game and made several big plays. It could happen again against the Jets.
Why the Jets Could Win: The Jets might be overrated, but they are still a talented team. Monday night's loss was difficult to watch, starting with Mark Sanchez's jittery play and the puzzling limited impact of Shonn Greene. If Greene bounces back and shows he deserves to be king of the backfield, the Jets could bounce back with a big win.
Prediction: Jets win in a close game. There's not much tangible logic behind this pick, but the Jets aren't likely to play nearly as badly as last week. New York wins in surprising fashion.
Jacksonville at San Diego
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Line: San Diego at -7
Why the Chargers Could Win: Philip Rivers and the Chargers offense often looked ugly, but they showed flashes against the Chiefs. Things should be much easier this week, especially if San Diego can establish the run with sensational rookie Ryan Mathews and the versatile Darren Sproles.
Why the Jaguars Could Win: The emergence of Marcedes Lewis and Mike Thomas could spell good things for the Jaguars, who have long been a one-dimensional team. Jacksonville will have nothing to lose on Sunday, while the Chargers will be under pressure to avoid an 0-2 start.
Prediction: The Chargers win in a close game. San Diego needs to iron out kinks in the receiving corps and on the offensive line, and the defense needs some work as well. That's why it will be a close game.
Indianapolis at New York Giants
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Line: Indianapolis at -5.5
Why the Colts Could Win: The Giants would like to to attack the Colts with the running game but haven't demonstrated consistency in run-blocking or production from the backs. Meanwhile, the Colts have the ability to flourish through the air and on the ground. If Joseph Addai and Donald Brown run the ball effectively, Indy should be able to win.
Why the Giants Could Win: Eli Manning has improved dramatically in recent years, and Steve Smith and Hakeem Nicks give him two solid downfield targets. It won't be expected, but Ahmad Bradshaw could have a breakout game of sorts against the Colts' woeful run defense.
Prediction: The Giants win in a very exciting game. New York's offense has a chance to be really good if a running game can emerge, and Sunday seems like a logical time for that to happen. Eli is victorious in the battle of the bros.
New Orleans at San Francisco
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Line: Saints at -5.5
The Saints Could Win If: Drew Brees and the Saints just need to play their game. The Saints aren't likely to be able to run the ball against the 49ers, so Monday night's game will feature an aerial attack. The 49ers need a spark, and untimely turnovers by the Saints could be enough to awaken Mike Singletary's team.
The 49ers Could Win If: Frank Gore, Frank Gore, and more Frank Gore. Michael Crabtree's slow development has hurt the 49ers offense, especially Alex Smith. If Gore manages to find running lanes, the Niners could score points and keep Brees on the sideline.
Prediction: The Saints win. The 49ers have plenty of work to do on offense before they can be considered serious contenders.