In the second week of the 2011-2012 NFL season, the league looks like it will be taking a vastly different shape. Perennial contenders like the Colts and Steelers got blown out in Week 1, and the Kansas City Chiefs looked like they will be part of the inevitable playoff turnover this year.
Through all this chaos and turmoil, six men will attempt to do the impossible this week and each coming week. Joe, Jared, Matt, Garrett, Kunal and myself will be attempting to pick the winners of every matchup.
In this first matchup, everyone went with Detroit. While some people based it on Detroit's solid performance last week, a few of us were undoubtedly unable to pick the Chiefs after their awful performance last week. If Kansas City couldn't get it done against the Bills' revamped defense, they will have trouble with one of the best D-lines in the league.
Maybe the Chiefs are awful this year, or maybe the Bills are finally ready to leave the NFL basement. However, the Raiders are in a similar boat in that they look like they may be ready to contend for the playoffs. One of these two teams will make major strides this week, and five out of six of us are betting that the Bills will be that team.
Looks like everyone is betting on Donovan McNabb throwing up a similar performance to last week. Hopefully, he can manage to break the 50-yard mark, but that probably won't be enough to take on the Bucs.
Even with how great the Bears looked last week, everyone is choosing the Saints to win. This should be a close one, as it looks like Chicago has the defense that carried them to the Super Bowl a few years ago, except now they have Jay Cutler instead of Rex Grossman. What it comes down to is that even in defeat, Brees looked unstoppable.
After last week's performance against the Steelers, it would be quite difficult to bet against the Ravens, especially against a mediocre team like the Titans. All of us went with the Ravens, but if Kenny Britt can haul in 200-plus yards, maybe they can squeeze out a victory.
Joe and I went with the Colts this week, mostly because the Browns somehow managed to lose to the Bengals last week. I can't imagine that a Colts team, even without Peyton Manning, could be worse than the Bengals this year. That said, I understand why the other four chose Cleveland. The Colts played unorganized football last week and looked absolutely horrible in the process.
Everyone went with the Jets this week, and understandably so. I have no idea how the Jaguars managed to win last week. Theoretically, the opposing defense should just have to focus on Maurice Jones-Drew and force Luke McCown to win the game. Last week, McCown did just enough to get that W, but Rex Ryan's defense will be much more difficult this week. Especially when they stack the box and dare McCown to throw at Revis.
After last week's awful game, it is a testament to how bad Seattle is that everyone still picked the Steelers to win. I cannot remember the last time I saw them get man-handled like they did last week. But Tavaris Jackson is probably the worst starting quarterback in the league, and Seattle's defense is nothing to write home about, either. If the Steelers blow out the Seahawks this week, that makes the Ravens win look that much better.
This is one of the harder games to predict because both teams had a lot of questions coming into the season, and while they won last week, they both struggled. The Cards struggled with a much easier opponent in the Panthers and rookie QB Cam Newton, and in the end, they needed to rely on a Patrick Peterson punt return for the game-winning TD. The Skins played a solid game, although the Giants O-Line certainly made it easy for them to tee off on Eli Manning. I personally think that the Cards offense is returning to "Kurt Warner Form." That is something that should scare opposing defenses.
Apparently Tony Romo played the best game of his life against the Giants last week. I really hope not. He threw a crucial INT and fumbled the ball on the Giants' 2-yard line. Even so, I am betting that Ted Ginn Jr. will not score two return TDs this week. To be fair, though, Alex Smith looked smart last week, but I don't know what will happen if the 49ers go down early and he has to make some passes.
Tom Brady made that Miami defense look like high-schoolers on Monday Night Football, while the Chargers had some trouble putting the Vikings away. The Chargers played a solid game all around, but I do not think they have the tools to stop the Patriots offense. Expect a shoot-out.
The fact that everyone went with the Texans is a little misleading. While the Texans dominated the Manning-less Colts, the Dolphins actually kept things interesting against the Patriots. Its difficult to tell if the Patriots offense is really as dominant as it seemed, but regardless, the Houston offense will be a great test for the Dolphins. We expect Houston to have its way and Henne to have a less than stellar performance.
Garrett felt that the Bengals' win last week over the Browns showed that they are not as bad as previously thought. While I agree, Kyle Orton and Brandon Lloyd will be able to hook up a few times in order to set up the run. The Bengals are in no way a complete team, so if Denver can get both facets of the game going, they could find themselves in a blowout. If Dalton is out, things are even more heavily in Denver's favor.
The Dream Team is ready to strike again. Well, most of us thought so at least. Jared and Kunal do have a point, though. If the Eagles have a weakness, it is either their linebackers or their inability to keep Vick from getting hit. The Falcons have a good enough rush to take advantage of the poor line and attack Vick. Also, they have Michael Turner, who can punish weak linebackers. The reason why I think the Eagles will emerge victorious is because they can stack the box if they need to because they can rely on Samuel and Asomugha. It could end up being a close game, but the Eagles shouldn't have a problem considering Atlanta's game against Chicago.
Sam Bradford will most likely be able to play, so at least the Rams will have that. But with plenty of other injuries to make them feel like the 2010 Packers (without the Super Bowl run), they will have a difficult time taking on the Giants. The Giants aren't flashy, but they are solid. Not many deep weaknesses but also not too many strengths. The Rams are only a year removed from being the worst team in the league. As a Bills fan, I would love to see them win this game, but I just don't think they're ready.