First things ﬁrst: let me introduce myself. My name is Marcus Stroud and I have been given the wonderful opportunity to contribute to Bleacher Report.
After playing 10 years in the NFL and reaching three Pro Bowls, the great people over at BR thought that it would be a good idea for me to lend some of my “expertise” in a weekly NFL column. So, with that said, let's give it a go!
This week, I'll make five predictions for Week 2 in the NFL season.
I think this game will be an exciting one. The ex-Falcon and current Eagle, Michael Vick, returns to Atlanta for the ﬁrst time as a starting QB. He played against the Falcons in 2009 but was a backup and played limited snaps.
This time, he will be starting and leading a very talented Eagles team against Matt Ryan and the Falcons, whom themselves are looking to bounce back from a slow start last weekend.
The Falcons front seven will have a lot of pressure put on them to stop the rushing efforts of Vick and LeSean McCoy. The two rushed for over 200 yards combined last weekend against the Rams. Combine that with the efforts of the Eagles passing attack and special teams—it may be a long day for the Falcons D.
But donʼt count the Falcons out just yet.
For Atlanta to win, it must control the clock...ground-and-pound football. With all the talent on that Eagles team, I think Atlanta can take advantage of them in the run game.
With all that said, I think Atlanta will embrace Michael Vickʼs return initially, but by the third quarter he'll be like any other opposing quarterback being booed and cursed! Thatʼs because Philly will be up big.
Final prediction: Atlanta 17, Philadelphia 38
This is a battle of two teams who long to be back in the playoff picture. After lengthy playoff droughts for these once storied franchises, both teams are building to quench the thirst.
My former team, the Buffalo Bills, are coming off a great season opening win in which they won on the road against the Kansas City Chiefs. It wasnʼtonly a win, it was an old-fashioned “shelling” that saw the Bills manhandle the Chiefs in all phases of the game.
The Bills defense held KC to only 213 yards of total offense. They are going to have to match that effort to beat the Raiders.
Oakland gave ﬁrst-year head coach Hue Jackson his ﬁrst win in a 23-20 victory over the Broncos. If last week's game was any indication of this week's game, the Bills D-line better get ready for a full dose of Oaklandʼs offensive line and Darren McFadden. McFadden is coming off of a 190-yard performance.
The other running back in this game is Fred Jackson, who also put up over 100 yards rushing last week. The Bills O-line will have the task of opening up rushing lanes for Fred to run through. It will be facing a big, physical D-line in Oakland, which is led by Richard Seymour.
With all of this talk about running the ball and defense, the key to this game is QB play. Both teams will try to force the other team's QB to win it with his arm, and I will take “Fitzy” over Campbell any day.
Final prediction: Buffalo 27, Oakland 24
The Texans ride into town vs. the Miami Dolphins, and they may have their No. 1 bounty hunter back in the saddle.
The fantasy gurus have been patiently awaiting the return of Arian Foster. This may be a good week for Foster to come back and put up some huge numbers against a Dolphins defense which gave up a few yards last week to the Patriots—and by a few, I mean 622.
If Fosterʼs hamstring can hold up, this may spell disaster for Miami—especially after last weekʼs loss. Even if Foster canʼt play, the Texans looked good against Indy last week with Ben Tate as the feature back.
I have yet to mention that Andre Johnson and Jacoby Jones are probably excited to test a Miami secondary that had problems stopping Tom Brady and the Pats. Look for Reggie Bush to have many touches against coach Wade Phillips' 3-4.
Henne will be looking to dump the ball off to Bush to keep clear of Mario Williams. The Texans will be too much for Miami.
Final prediction: Houston 27, Miami 14
After an impressive victory over the Atlanta Falcons last week, the Chicago Bears are looking to make it two in a row. They go into the “Big Easy” to face Drew Brees and the Saints.
The Saints are looking to rebound after an opening night loss to the Green Bay Packers. The Saints will go into the game short-handed, missing one of Breesʼ favorite targets, Marques Colston, who is out with a broken collarbone. I am quite sure that coach Sean Peyton and Brees will ﬁnd someone to ﬁll his spot until he returns.
The Saints will try to get rookie RB Mark Ingram going to add another dimension to this already explosive offense.
The Bears are coming off a great win, yet they head into this game coping with loss. The heart and soul of the Bears defense, Brian Urlacher, is dealing with the death of his mother who passed earlier in the week. Urlacher is expected to play Sunday to help his team against the Saints. The Bears will come together and play just a little bit harder for their team leader, but the Saints will not feel sorry for them at kickoff.
The Saints are going to do everything they can to not begin the season at 0-2. Expect a physical, emotional game with Saints winning at home.
Final prediction: New Orleans 38, Chicago 28
Now this is one game that I am looking forward to seeing.
Two of the most explosive offenses in the NFL will meet on Sunday. The Pats are coming off a Monday night victory that saw Tom Brady pass for over 500 yards. It may be a little more difﬁcult to repeat those kind of numbers against a San Diego defense that only gave up 187 yards. Furthermore, Phillip Rivers didnʼt do so bad himself passing for over 350 yards and two TDs.
The Patriots defense did end up allowing 488 yards last week with 390 of those coming through the air. That may pose a problem for the Patriots secondary having to battle Gates, Floyd and Jackson.
The Patriots havenʼt won three championships for nothing though. Bill Belichick will have his guys ready. Brady is putting up crazy numbers and thatʼs with Ochocinco playing a limited role on offense. Once Vince Wilfork and Haynesworth get together on the same page, it may get ugly. All of these things have to happen ﬁrst.
This game will be a good test for the Patriots defense because I know Rivers and the Chargers are going to test the secondary early and often.
This is going to be a fun, exciting game with the Patriots winning. Rivers is 1-4 against the Pats and playing in Foxboro this weekend is gonna make it 1-5.
Final prediction: San Diego 24, New England 41
Thanks for letting me share my thoughts and views on a couple of games coming up this weekend. I hope you enjoy and remember to come back next week.
Follow me on Twitter @marcusstroud99