NFL Predictions Week 2: Picks for Every Game

Matt MillerNFL Draft Lead WriterSeptember 13, 2011

NFL Predictions Week 2: Picks for Every Game

0 of 16

    Making predictions before Week 1 of the NFL season was torture. Anyone picking in a pool at work or in a suicide league can attest to that. You're basing the entire thought process off of meaningless preseason games and what you think might happen.

    Sometimes you get lucky. Sometimes you look like an idiot. Normally it's a little of both.

    Week 1 was kind to me, hitting on 10 picks in 16 games. The lone "bonehead" pick, reversing the pick in the Buffalo/Kansas City game.

    If you thought Week 1 picks were hard, welcome to Week 2. Now that we're all thoroughly confused about what each team can do, let's try our hand at another week of picking the games.

Seattle Seahawks at Pittsburgh Steelers

1 of 16

    The Pittsburgh Steelers are coming off a street fight in Baltimore, and they're a little bruised and battered from the beating they took. As such, the Steelers know they need a win this week to get back on track and instill some confidence in the locker room.

    Both the Steelers and the Seahawks lost in Week 1, but it's Pittsburgh who has the most pressure on their shoulders.

    When Pittsburgh Has the Ball:

    Pittsburgh is the better team by far, and it should show when they have the ball. Look for Pittsburgh to try and slow things down and grind this one out by running the ball between the tackles with Rashard Mendenhall as much as possible.

    Pittsburgh has had trouble up front, and losing tackle Willie Colon with a triceps injury doesn't help. Jonathan Scott will be in a one-on-one situation with Red Bryant, and that's a matchup the Steelers can't win. Running the ball and controlling the tempo of the game will be the key.

    Seattle has the third best pass defense in the NFL after Week 1, something to note even though they played the pass-starved 49ers.

     

    When Seattle Has the Ball:

    In a complete contrast to what the Steelers want to do, the Seahawks need to spread the field and attack the Steelers' weakness—the secondary.

    Baltimore was able to beat Pittsburgh by throwing the ball deep; Joe Flacco had 215 yards and three touchdowns versus this Pittsburgh secondary. Seattle may not have Flacco in their backfield, and Tarvaris Jackson is far from that level, but he has the talent at wide receiver and tight end to spread the field and work the Steelers with timing-based, short routes.

    The Steelers' strength is their pass rush. The Seahawks weakness is their offensive line. LaMarr Woodley and James Harrison should tee off on Jackson.

     

    Prediction: Pittsburgh 35, Seattle 14

    The Steelers looked asleep in Week 1, playing uninspired football in an embarrassing loss to the Ravens. That won't happen twice in a row. Pittsburgh will come out firing on all cylinders at home. The Seahawks are the unfortunate bastards who will have to stand in and take the beating.

Oakland Raiders at Buffalo Bills

2 of 16

    Ladies and gentlemen, the Buffalo Bills are 1-0. To make it to two straight wins, the Bills will have to overcome a dangerous Oakland Raiders team. The matchup between these two teams is actually pretty interesting, even if it is not a premier game.

    When Buffalo Has the Ball:

    Buffalo was able to beat the Kansas City Chiefs with a balanced offense. They threw the ball well, connecting for 200 yards and four touchdowns. It wasn't a barn-burner day for Ryan Fitzpatrick, but it was highly efficient, and good enough for a huge win.

    The Bills' struggles are up-front, even if they were able to shutdown an average Chiefs defense. Buffalo will struggle to stop an Oakland defensive line that is fast, strong and mean at the point of attack. Where Kansas City is a read-and-react team, Oakland is attacking.

    Buffalo would love to run the ball behind their guards like they did against Kansas City, but that won't work with Richard Seymour in the hole. Oakland has the defensive line to shut down the Bills running game.

     

    When Oakland Has the Ball:

    The Raiders will make no secret about their ability to run the football. Darren McFadden is a Marshall Faulk-style player in the making. The more McFadden has the ball, the better for the Raiders.

    What Buffalo should do is load up the box early in the game and make the Raiders throw the ball. Depending on the availability of tight end Kevin Boss, the Bills could actually matchup well with the Raider receivers.

    A key for the game will be watching left outside linebacker Shawne Merriman versus first-year starter Jared Veldheer. If Merriman isn't contained, he can disrupt the Raider backfield.

     

    Prediction: Oakland 24, Buffalo 13

    Buffalo has the talent to put points on the board, but my concern is their ability to run the ball against Oakland. The Raiders won't sit back and let Fred Jackson run free. Oakland is attacking, and they'll come after the Bills. Buffalo is a tough place to play, but Oakland's defensive line will be too much for the young Bills line.

Arizona Cardinals at Washington Redskins

3 of 16

    Holy Rex Grossman, Batman!

    The Washington Redskins made me proud by beating the New York Giants in their Week 1 opener. The Redskins won by playing smart, balanced football. Rex Grossman was the picture of efficient, and Tim Hightower ran well enough to keep the Giants honest. Oh, and that defense was nasty.

    When Washington Has the Ball:

    The Redskins will keep the same game plan this week after watching rookie Cam Newton torch the Cardinal defense for 400 yards passing. Arizona is young at cornerback and very beatable. The Panthers exposed a weakness and used Steve Smith to exploit it. The Redskins have Santana Moss to do the same.

    Washington will look for one-on-one matchups down the sideline, where Grossman can distribute the ball deep or underneath as zone routes become open.

    Arizona will want to pressure Grossman as much as possible, something the Giants did reasonably well off the left side.

     

    When Arizona Has the Ball:

    The Cardinals offensive line was exposed by the Panthers in Week 1. They'll have trouble again in Week 2 against the 3-4 defense of the Redskins.

    Washington has an exciting one-two punch in Brian Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan. The game plan will be to let the two outside linebackers pin their ears back and run at Kevin Kolb all day.

    The Cardinals will want to spread the field and expose the Washington secondary. Eli Manning was able to move the ball against Washington, but not well enough to produce the points they needed. Arizona has a better deep threat in Larry Fitzgerald, who will destroy DeAngelo Hall in single coverage. Look for bracket coverage on Fitzgerald all day.

     

    Prediction: Washington 30, Arizona 28

    In a game where the smallest of plays will make a huge difference, the Redskins pass rush will be the difference. Arizona struggles against an outside pass rush, and that's what Washington does best. Kolb will put points on the board, but so will Grossman against a paper-thin Arizona secondary.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Minnesota Vikings

4 of 16

    The Tampa Bay Buccaneers limped away from a dog fight against the Detroit Lions. Tampa Bay didn't win the game, but they showed heart and grit in a game where many players were dropping out with cramps.

    The Bucs' Week 2 matchup will be considerably easier if the same Minnesota Vikings show up this week. Minnesota lost to the San Diego Chargers after passing for just 39 yards in four quarters.

    When Tampa Bay Has the Ball:

    LeGarrette Blount was unhappy with his number of carries in Week 1. He should get back on track this week. Blount may not be the focal point, as the Chargers exposed a huge weakness in the Minnesota secondary last week, but he will set up the pass with hard running between the tackles.

    Blount will set the stage for Josh Freeman to find Mike Williams and Kellen Winslow on the edges of the defense.

    If there is good news for Minnesota, it is that the Buccaneer offensive line can be beaten. The Vikings have speed at defensive end, something that can cause fits for Donald Penn at left tackle.

     

    When Minnesota Has the Ball:

    Well, the Vikings can't throw the ball; we know that. You have to think it can only get better from here, as Donovan McNabb threw for just 39 yards last week against San Diego. McNabb will have a chance at redemption this weekend, but he'll face a Tampa Bay team that has more talent up front than the Chargers.

    Tampa Bay will unleash their defensive ends on the Vikings' overmatched offensive tackles. They'll also use their talented trio at defensive tackle to make plays against an interior line that gave up too many big plays against San Diego.

     

    Prediction: Tampa Bay 21, Minnesota 7

    These two teams showed last week that each offense needs work. The Buccaneers have to try harder to implement the run game, something that can be easily done if not playing from behind the entire game. Minnesota will try to establish and build confidence in the passing game early.

    Don't expect many points, or a very pretty game, as Tampa Bay eeks out an ugly win.

Jacksonville Jaguars at New York Jets

5 of 16

    The Jacksonville Jaguars were a surprise win after cutting starting quarterback David Garrard just days before the Week 1 opener. The Jags were able to shock the Tennessee Titans, but they won't catch the New York Jets sleeping.

    When Jacksonville Has the Ball:

    The Jaguars will rely heavily on Maurice Jones-Drew this week, with help from Marcedes Lewis and Mike Thomas in the passing game. What Jacksonville should not do is tempt Darrelle Revis at left cornerback. The Dallas Cowboys avoided Revis most of the game. The one time Tony Romo did challenge him resulted in a pick-six.

    The Jets defense is tough to game plan. Their secondary covers up the weakness of their pass rush, and great linebacker play against the run makes them tough to move the ball on. Expect Jacksonville to come out with a heavy dose of MJD and an attempt to control the clock.

     

    When New York Has the Ball:

    Mark Sanchez played his best football yet on Sunday night against the Cowboys. The Jets need a strong game from the third-year pro to fight off any chance of a letdown against the Jaguars.

    Sanchez will be the key to the Jets game plan. The Jacksonville defense is surprisingly good; don't sleep on their ability to shut down the run. New York isn't great running the football to begin with, but against the Jags' front four, they'll scramble for yards.

    The difference will be Sanchez's ability to get the ball up the field behind a weak Jacksonville secondary. Airing it out will be an option for New York this week.

     

    Prediction: New York 27, Jacksonville 6

    The Jets defense will be too much for Luke McCown in his second start of the year. Mark Sanchez will find Santonio Holmes and Dustin Keller early and often in this route of the Jaguars.

Chicago Bears at New Orleans Saints

6 of 16

    The Chicago Bears made a statement Sunday when they beat up on the Atlanta Falcons. Can Chicago make it two in a row against a talented New Orleans Saints team?

    When Chicago Has the Ball:

    The New Orleans Saints were exposed by the Green Bay Packers' passing game Thursday night. The Saints safeties were slow to get over in help and routinely made bad decisions on the ball. Jay Cutler is a good quarterback, but he doesn't have the weapons that Aaron Rodgers has at his disposal in Green Bay.

    The Bears will feature multiple four receiver sets, but they won't have the luxury of using a tight end in the red zone like Green Bay. Instead, look for Chicago to motion receivers in and out of the slot to look for the best matchup pre-snap.

    New Orleans needs to focus on two things—getting pressure on the quarterback and playing better in deep coverage. These two tend to go hand-in-hand. To beat Chicago, the Saints have to get pressure on the quarterback.

     

    When New Orleans Has the Ball:

    The Bears defense is as good as any in the NFL. They are well coached, extremely balanced and opportunistic. The Saints can try to run the ball with heavy doses of Pierre Thomas and Mark Ingram up the middle, mixing in Darren Sproles on misdirections, but I honestly do not think it will matter. The Bears have the talent at linebacker to shut down the run game.

    New Orleans best bet would be to hit on quick slants and digs from the shotgun. This gives Drew Brees, who is a shorter quarterback, a natural passing window through the tall Chicago defensive linemen. It also lets New Orleans use their team speed to create plays after the catch.

    Losing Marques Colston to a broken collarbone hurts this week. More alarming was the play of the guards in New Orleans. If Carl Nicks and Jahri Evans don't figure out their issues from last week, Brees will be on his back all day.

     

    Prediction: New Orleans 27, Chicago 24

    If this game were in Chicago, I would have it going the other way. The Saints are tough to beat at home in the dome—even without Colston in the lineup. Brees will make the big plays needed to win this game.

Cleveland Browns at Indianapolis Colts

7 of 16

    The Cleveland Browns and Indianapolis Colts are both looking for a redeeming win after an embarrassing Week 1 performance. One team has to come out with a win this week.

     

    When Cleveland Has the Ball:

    The Cleveland Browns showed last week that they can move the ball with the passing game. What they failed to show was the power run game that had many believing they were a playoff possibility this season.

    Cleveland should open this game with heavy doses of Peyton Hillis. Hit the weak Indianapolis defense in the teeth as many times as possible. The Houston Texans laid the blueprint for beating the Colts—runs, runs and more runs.

    The Colts defense was exposed last week, and there are no excuses. Teams will line up and run the ball down the throats of the Colts until they can stop it.

     

    When Indianapolis Has the Ball:

    Expect to see a better Colts offense this week as Kerry Collins settles into his role with another week of practice. The Colts have the skill players to put points on the board if Collins can get the ball out to them.

    The Browns defense is nothing to write home about, but they can get after the quarterback. The matchup of Joe Haden and Reggie Wayne should be a great one on the outside.

     

    Prediction: Cleveland 21, Indianapolis 13

    This game will be closer than many fans on either side want to believe. Colt McCoy will have a chance to regain some confidence after a poor showing last week, as he leads the Browns to a Week 2 win over the Colts.

Kansas City Chiefs at Detroit Lions

8 of 16

    We learned two things last week—Matthew Stafford can be a Top 10 quarterback when healthy, and the Kansas City Chiefs flat out sucked in Week 1.

    When Kansas City Has the Ball:

    Kansas City's offensive game plan should be painfully obvious, but Todd Haley and Bill Muir try to get too cute when drawing up the scheme each week. Let me break it down for you:

    RUN THE BALL WITH JAMAAL CHARLES!

    That's it. Run Charles left. Run Charles right. Play-action to Charles outside, throw it deep to Bowe. NFL defenses respect Charles; they'll flow to the ball if you feed him early and often. This is elementary football 101, but Haley refuses to bend.

    The Lions defensive line is very good, but they are also aggressive, which opens up running lanes for shifty backs like Charles who are able to stick their foot in the ground and make a cut. The Chiefs have to establish the run game Sunday.

    I have to mention Ndamukong Suh here. It doesn't matter what the Chiefs do; Suh will get his hits in. You almost have to acknowledge beforehand that he's going to hurt you.

     

    When Detroit Has the Ball:

    The Chiefs gave up 41 points to the Buffalo Bills, which I think says a lot. What's more telling is they did it without allowing more than 210 yards passing, but four passing touchdowns. The Chiefs weakness was the run game. Buffalo jumped out to an early lead and pounded the football the rest of the way. 

    Detroit can follow the same game plan, but the Chiefs will expect to see a heavy mix of runs. If I were in Detroit, my call would be to run early, but then move to screen packages and play-action sets. The Chiefs will be told all week to step up against the run. Once they do, Brandon Pettigrew should be wide open on misdirection routes.

     

    Prediction: Detroit 39, Kansas City 10

    I won't make the same mistake twice by picking Kansas City to win in a blowout. This time, it's the Chiefs getting whipped up on.

Baltimore Ravens at Tennessee Titans

9 of 16

    This game should be illegal. The Baltimore Ravens are playing pissed-off football, and the Tennessee Titans are in no position to defend themselves.

    When Baltimore Has the Ball:

    If last week's win over the Pittsburgh Steelers taught us anything, it's that the Ravens will be able to do whatever they damn well please against Tennessee. The Ravens executed well in every aspect of the game in a dominating performance over Pittsburgh.

    If Baltimore can beat up on the defending AFC champions, what will they do to one of the worst teams in the NFL?

    Tennessee can hope to play solid base football, but even that is a stretch. The Ravens are too big, too strong and too well coached right now.

     

    When Tennessee Has the Ball:

    The Titans have two playmakers on offense—now would be the time to start feeding them the ball. Matt Hasselbeck looked good against Jacksonville. Kenny Britt looked even better. If Hasselbeck can get time to throw to Britt, the Titans could make a few plays behind the Baltimore cornerbacks.

    Chris Johnson should be a factor if he's in game shape by next Sunday. That's a big if at this point.

    Baltimore needs to change nothing. If the Ravens can play with the fire they showed in the opener all season, they're going undefeated. And I mean that. The tempo with which Baltimore smacked Pittsburgh around to, would be unstoppable.

     

    Prediction: Baltimore 48, Tennessee 3

    The Titans' only hope would be that Baltimore is over-confident after beating Pittsburgh and overlooks this game.

Green Bay Packers at Carolina Panthers

10 of 16

    In the NFL lexicon, there is what we like to call a "trap game." When Team A has a big win the week before, they'll often get caught overlooking "Team B." That's a possibility this week as the defending Super Bowl champions travel to Carolina to face a dangerous Carolina team.

    When Green Bay Has the Ball:

    The Carolina Panther defense is beatable, more so with the news that linebacker Jon Beason is out for the year. Green Bay put on a clinic against the New Orleans Saints in how to win with a balanced, fast-paced offense. Expect more of the same Sunday.

    Carolina's strength is their front four, something Green Bay will counter with draws and delayed screens. The Panthers defensive line is aggressive, which will open up running lanes for Ryan Grant and Aaron Rodgers underneath.

    The upperhand will come for Green Bay in the passing game. Carolina has no one to cover Greg Jennings, let alone Jordy Nelson and Donald Driver. Without Beason, they'll struggle to cover Jermichael Finley at tight end, too.

     

    When Carolina Has the Ball:

    The Panthers wracked up 400 yards passing on Sunday by airing out the deep ball to Steve Smith against a despicable Arizona Cardinal secondary. Green Bay won't let that happen.

    The Packers will have Tramon Williams locked up on Steve Smith, with Charles Woodson playing in an almost rover-like position opposite him. When Carolina goes to their two tight-end sets, Green Bay will bring the heat.

    The Carolina offensive line is underrated, which might mean Cam Newton has some time to make decisions—but Newton hasn't seen anything like Clay Matthews yet.

     

    Prediction: Green Bay 36, Carolina 17

    Cam Newton's arm and legs will account for two touchdowns, but the Packers are too much for the NFL's most exciting young team to handle.

Dallas Cowboys at San Francisco 49ers

11 of 16

    The Dallas Cowboys were one minute away from beating the New York Jets at home on Sunday night. Tony Romo's decision to challenge Darrelle Revis proved to be a bad one, and the Cowboys lost a nail-biter.

    Will Dallas enter this week seeking revenge or dealing with a nasty hangover?

    When Dallas Has the Ball:

    The San Francisco 49ers haven't allowed a 100-yard rusher in 23 straight games. Their streak is safe this week.

    Dallas will look to challenge the 49ers secondary, which is the smart way to attack this defense. When looking at both teams, it's easy to see where the Cowboys have the upper-hand. Dez Bryant, Miles Austin and Jason Witten should all expect big games this week.

    Dallas will resort to the air to win this football game, but don't overlook the 49ers pass rush. Parys Haralson, Aldon Smith, Justin Smith and Ray McDaniel know how to get to the quarterback. Tony Romo has never played well under pressure. If there's a chance for an upset this week, it's due to the 49ers pass-rushers.

     

    When San Francisco Has the Ball:

    There's not much to this offense. Alex Smith throws short, high-accuracy passes over the middle without challenging the deep ball or the hashes. The Cowboys are weak at cornerback after injury hit Orlando Scandrick, but they are still good enough to shut down an Alex Smith-led offense.

    Frank Gore should be a factor if the 49ers get him the ball early enough to establish a rhythm. If not, Gore will become an expensive cheerleader.

     

    Prediction: Dallas 21, San Francisco 13

    Dallas is much more talented than the 49ers, but playing in San Francisco is never easy for the Cowboys. The matchup of this Dallas offensive line and the San Francisco front seven should be the deciding factor.

Cincinnati Bengals at Denver Broncos

12 of 16

    I'm afraid that Bleacher Report Deputy NFL Editor Dylan MacNamara will make me watch this game, when the truth is that no one should have to sit through this suck-fest.

    Part of the glamor of this job is you get to watch a ton of football. What fans with a regular day job don't see is that sometimes you have to watch really bad football. And yes, I accept all stones thrown my way. I'm complaining about watching football.

    On to the game...

    When Cincinnati Has the Ball:

    If the Bengals line up and do anything other than run the ball 40 times, I'll kick my TV—which will require a ninja-like jumping kick, since it's mounted on the wall.

    The Denver Broncos allowed Darren McFadden to scorch them for 150-plus yards (at the time of publishing) Monday night. John Fox may know how to coach up a defense, but when your defensive tackles belong behind a velvet rope at a nightclub, you can't do much.

    Cincinnati should pound Cedric Benson into the Denver defensive line over, and over and over.

     

    When Denver Has the Ball:

    I am not a Tim Tebow fan. That has to be said before I say this:

    The Broncos should start Tebow this week. Kyle Orton was horrible against the Raiders. You can blame the weather or the pass rush, but Orton constantly under-threw his receivers. At least Tebow is going to make plays. Start Tebow, Foxy.

    And I can't believe I just said that.

     

    Prediction: Cincinnati 24, Denver 14

    Should John Fox make the smart move and start someone other than Kyle Orton at quarterback, this might change. On a Tuesday morning, when I've watched four hours of Orton under-throwing his receivers, there's no way I'm picking Denver.

Houston Texans at Miami Dolphins

13 of 16

    The Houston Texans rolled to a 34-7 win over a Peyton Manning-less Indianapolis Colts team Sunday in a big win for them. Can they do it again versus a Miami team that played one excellent half of football Monday night?

    When Houston Has the Ball:

    The Texans should be credited for building an amazing offense. The line is good enough to churn out 100-yard rushing performances from virtually any back who lines up behind them. Matt Schaub has become a Top 15 quarterback, if not higher, and Andre Johnson is still the best wideout in the game. What's not to love?

    Houston will be able to dictate what they do on offense, but my recommendation would be a no-huddle after watching the Patriots out-gas the Dolphins last night.

    Houston has the skill players and the experience at quarterback to run the no-huddle and throw off the Dolphins defense. The battle between Eric Winston and Cameron Wake should be epic.

    Should Houston try to play Miami straight up, they may face a difficult time. The Miami secondary may have overrated itself, but there is enough talent here to cause problems for even the best offenses.

     

    When Miami Has the Ball:

    Miami looked impressive Monday against the Patriots. They moved the ball well early on and were able to score big plays from wideouts Brandon Marshall and Davone Bess. Miami can do the same against Houston, pushing the ball deep and challenging the play of the safeties.

    The game plan was working against New England in the first half, and it can work against Houston. Miami won't be able to line up and run the ball. Throwing it as much as possible and turning this game into a shootout is their best bet.

    Prediction: Houston 35, Miami 17

    The Texans win two straight as they pull away from Miami at halftime when they take a page out of the New England playbook and run a no-huddle offense.

San Diego Chargers at New England Patriots

14 of 16

    The most impressive offense from Week 1 faces the best pass defense in the league, as the New England Patriots take on the San Diego Chargers in their home opener. Something has to give this week.

    When San Diego Has the Ball:

    The Miami Dolphins were successful against New England by pushing the ball up-field to their outside receivers. Chad Henne rarely challenged the middle of the field, but was able to work the boundaries for big gains. That should be the plan for Philip Rivers this week too—except he'll want to find Antonio Gates over the middle.

    The Chargers may be without their toughest runner, Mike Tolbert, this week. Without Tolbert, the team becomes even more one-dimensional. San Diego has been a pass-first offense for some time now, which plays well against the Patriots' biggest weakness.

    Giving Bill Belichick a week to game plan against anyone is dangerous. Once he sees the lack of a run game on the Chargers/Vikings game film, expect Bill to have a defense ready to stop Philip Rivers.

     

    When New England Has the Ball:

    After watching New England pull away from the Miami Dolphins on Monday night using a no-huddle offense, you have to think they will consider running the offense full-time.

    The Patriots use two and three tight-end sets to throw off the defense. How do you cover three tight ends and Wes Welker? No one has figured it out yet, and San Diego won't either. The tempo and accuracy that Tom Brady can run this offense under is a thing of beauty.

    The Chargers defense feasted on a terrible performance by Donovan McNabb last week, which inflated their stats. Let's see how they do against the NFL's best.

     

    Prediction: New England 31, San Diego 15

    The Patriots offense is too much for the overrated San Diego front seven. Philip Rivers will throw for 350 yards, but the lack of a run game keeps the Chargers out of the end zone.

Philadelphia Eagles at Atlanta Falcons

15 of 16

    The Philadelphia Eagles were not impressive, at least in my book, in a Week 1 win over the St. Louis Rams. This is supposed to be the best team in football? The Atlanta Falcons were equally unimpressive in a humiliating loss to the Chicago Bears.

    Who will come out on top when Michael Vick returns to Atlanta on Sunday Night Football?

     

    When Philadelphia Has the Ball:

    A steady mix of Vick and LeSean McCoy running the ball seems to be the game plan right now. Philadelphia knows their offensive line is not good enough to protect against a defensive line with the talent that Atlanta has in John Abraham and Ray Edwards.

    The Eagles should move Vick around in the pocket as much as possible without planning runs against the fast Atlanta linebackers. Keeping a moving pocket will play well against Atlanta, but expecting a raw Eagles offensive line to execute might be tricky.

    Atlanta knows how to play Vick. Mike Smith is a smart defensive mind and can game plan with the best of them. Atlanta will need to spy Vick with a linebacker and possibly a safety, which opens up the down-field passing game.

    It would be best to accept that Vick will run the ball. Instead of trying to shut it down, Atlanta can play man-to-man football and try to keep Vick contained to the middle of the field. Hit him early and he'll quiet down.

     

    When Atlanta Has the Ball:

    Atlanta knows what they need to do if they want to win. Getting Michael Turner involved early will help keep the talented Eagles offense on the sidelines. The name of the game will be controlling the clock and keeping the ball as much as possible.

    Atlanta is set up well to do this. They have an offensive line that run-blocks very well and one of the best running backs in the game. Should Atlanta fall behind by more than two scores early, their game plan is screwed. If that happens, bombs away to Roddy White and Julio Jones.

     

    Prediction: Atlanta 28, Philadelphia 23

    In what's probably the biggest upset of the week, the Falcons hold to win a huge game at home.

St. Louis Rams at New York Giants

16 of 16

    Two teams that many thought would enter Week 2 with wins are hoping instead to find their first victory. The story of this game may be the players who won't play instead of those who actually play.

    Sam Bradford may be out, and Steven Jackson is definitely a huge blow to the Rams.

     

    When St. Louis Has the Ball:

    This is why St. Louis signed Cadillac Williams. With Steven Jackson nursing a bad hamstring, the team will turn to the veteran for help. The game plan can be completely ripped in half if Bradford misses the game with a finger injury.

    The Rams can beat the Giants if they get a running game going. The Rams will want a balanced attack to counter the Giants pass rush. It's debatable that the Rams wide receivers are better than the battered Giants cornerbacks, but if the Giants know the Rams are throwing the ball they will crash the backfield in a hurry with their talented defensive ends. A balanced offense keeps everyone honest and is the Rams' only chance of winning.

     

    When New York Has the Ball:

    Eli Manning continues to unimpress with bad decisions and all-around moronic play. He'll have a much better week against St. Louis, which will give his fanbase a chance to gloat for at least one week.

    New York should be able to move the ball at will against a beat up St. Louis team. Without Ron Bartell at cornerback, there is no one in St. Louis who can stop Hakeem Nicks (who's also questionable) or Mario Manningham.

     

    Prediction: New York 21, St. Louis 13

    If Sam Bradford is available, this may be a game that gets changed later in the week, but as of now, I cannot see a way the Rams win this one.