NFL Picks Week 2: Bleacher Report's Expert Consensus Picks

Gary Davenport@@IDPSharksNFL AnalystSeptember 16, 2015

NFL Picks Week 2: Bleacher Report's Expert Consensus Picks

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    Charlie Riedel/Associated Press

    The first week of the 2015 NFL season is in the books.

    Some of the things we thought we knew turned out to be true. The New England Patriots and Green Bay Packers are good football teams. The Oakland Raiders and Cleveland Browns are not.

    However, some of the things we thought we knew got turned on their heads. The Super Bowl hype surrounding the Indianapolis Colts took a beating in Buffalo. So did the playoff hype surrounding the Minnesota Vikings in San Francisco.

    The Tennessee Titans are all alone in first place in the AFC South. Figure that out.

    The writers here at Bleacher Report are doing their best to try. They've reveled in their wins, shaken off their losses and are back to predict another week of NFL action.

Roll Call/Standings

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    Rick Osentoski/Associated Press

    Frankly, it could have been worse.

    In many respects, Week 1 is the hardest week of the season to predict. As the blowout win by the Bills over the Colts showed quite vividly, sometimes last year's perceptions don't jibe with this year's reality.

    Still, even in a week that contained more than a few upsets, not a single Bleacher Report scribe came out of Week 1 sitting under .500.

    Our early clubhouse leaders? National Lead Writers Mike Freeman and Mike Tanier, who, like the consensus, hit on 11 of the 16 games.

    (Overall season standings in parentheses.)

    Gary Davenport: NFL Analyst 10-6 (10-6)

    Mike Freeman: NFL National Lead Writer 11-5 (11-5)

    Brad Gagnon: NFL Analyst 10-6 (10-6)

    Matt Miller: NFL National Lead Writer 8-8 (8-8)

    Ty Schalter: NFL National Lead Writer 9-7 (9-7)

    Brent Sobleski: NFL Analyst 10-6 (10-6)

    Mike Tanier: NFL National Lead Writer 11-5 (11-5)

    Sean Tomlinson: NFL Analyst 9-7 (9-7)

    Consensus: 11-5 (11-5)

Denver Broncos (1-0) at Kansas City Chiefs (1-0)

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    Charlie Riedel/Associated Press

    The Pick: Kansas City Chiefs (6-2)

    The first game of Week 2 is a perfect microcosm for what I mentioned about last year's perceptions versus this year's reality.

    Had you asked our panel about this same game a week ago, it's likely the Denver Broncos would have been the pick. After all, they are the four-time defending AFC West champions, a team many considered one of the favorites to represent the AFC in Super Bowl 50.

    The Chiefs? A good team—just not as good as Denver.

    However, Week 1 flipped that script. While the Chiefs looked dominant both offensively and defensively in throttling the Houston Texans on the road, the Broncos hitched and lurched their way to a win over the Baltimore Ravens in a game where Peyton Manning failed to throw a touchdown pass.

    In fact, the only touchdown the Broncos scored at all was on an interception return. And as Troy E. Renck of the Denver Post pointed out, that continues an alarming trend for Manning and the Foreheads:

    The statistic hangs in the air like an ACME anvil: 21 possessions, zero touchdowns.

    Peyton Manning has not led the Broncos to the end zone in the preseason (10 drives) or Sunday against the Baltimore Ravens (11 drives).

    It seems unthinkable that the future Hall of Famer would be in this position two seasons after the Broncos set the NFL's single-season scoring record. Yet, at age 39 playing in front of a revamped offensive line, Manning has created concern as the organization preaches patience.

    Now Manning gets the raucous atmosphere of Arrowhead Stadium in prime time and arguably the NFL's best pass-rusher in Chiefs outside linebacker Justin Houston.

    It may not be time to panic, but so far this year the Broncos appear more pretender than contender.

    Broncos: Freeman, Tanier

    Chiefs: Davenport, Gagnon, Miller, Schalter, Sobleski, Tomlinson

Atlanta Falcons (1-0) at New York Giants (0-1)

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    Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    The Pick: Atlanta Falcons (5-3)

    Speaking of turning perceptions on their heads...

    The general belief was that a Philadelphia Eagles team that looked unstoppable on offense in the preseason would have little trouble in Week 1 with an Atlanta Falcons squad that fielded one of the NFL's worst pass defenses a year ago.

    Someone forgot to tell the Falcons, who carved an even worse Eagles pass defense to pieces in a 26-24 Monday night win.

    New Atlanta head coach Dan Quinn told reporters he was especially impressed with wide receiver Julio Jones, who for one week at least lived up to his fat new contract with nine catches for 141 yards and two scores:

    It's just that he doesn't back down. Any challenge there, he's ready to go. It's one of the things that I most respect about his game. He's one of those kinds of competitors that is ready for it every time. He's the guy that wants it thrown to him and wants to take the last shot. I can't say enough about him as a competitor.

    Yes, the Falcons will be on the road for this one, but if last week's last-second loss to the Dallas Cowboys was any indication, it won't really matter what the Falcons do Sunday.

    Head coach Tom Coughlin, quarterback Eli Manning and the Giants will somehow, some way, find a way to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

    Falcons: Davenport, Miller, Schalter, Sobleski, Tomlinson

    Giants: Freeman, Gagnon, Tanier

Houston Texans (0-1) at Carolina Panthers (1-0)

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    J Patrick Schneider/Associated Press

    The Pick: Carolina Panthers (5-3)

    There's an old saying in football: If you have two quarterbacks, then you don't have any.

    That's the dilemma facing Houston Texans head coach Bill O'Brien after the team's season-opening loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. Brian Hoyer started the game but was benched late in favor of Ryan Mallett, who was able to at least make things look respectable.

    However, O'Brien told reporters that doesn't necessarily mean Hoyer's through as the starter. And that's about all he would say.

    "You'll have to wait until the first offensive play of the Carolina game to see who the quarterback will be," O'Brien said, adding, "Every decision is made in the best interest of the team that we think will...give us the best chance to win the game."

    The Carolina Panthers are hardly world-beaters. The team won the NFC South last year with seven wins. A season-ending injury to wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin left the passing game in shambles. 2013 NFL Defensive Player of the Year Luke Kuechly is highly questionable for the game after suffering a nasty-looking concussion.

    But even given all that, the Panthers are in better shape than a Houston team that seems to spring a new leak on offense every week.

    I wonder how J.J. Watt looks throwing a football?

    Just a suggestion.

    Texans: Miller, Sobleski, Tanier

    Panthers: Davenport, Freeman, Gagnon, Schalter, Tomlinson

San Francisco 49ers (1-0) at Pittsburgh Steelers (0-1)

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    Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

    The Pick: Pittsburgh Steelers (7-1)

    Generally speaking, with the commentary for these selections, I try to provide some insight as to why the majority of our writers feel a game will swing a certain way. Make a few snarky remarks. Tell a bad joke or two.

    Well, since so many teams flipped things around in Week 1 (including the 49ers, who our panel picked as a unanimous loser at home against the Minnesota Vikings), I'm going to do the same here and instead explain why everyone but me is wrong.

    (Ducks tomatoes and flying shoes)

    I saw that shoe came from you, Schalter!

    It's not so much that I'm brimming with faith in San Francisco, even after its season-opening win.

    It's that I don't trust the Steelers even a little bit right now.

    I don't trust their short-handed offense, which appeared to miss wide receiver Martavis Bryant even more than tailback Le'Veon Bell in the team's opening-night loss to the New England Patriots.

    I don't trust Pittsburgh's revamped defense to stop San Francisco tailback Carlos Hyde, who gashed the Vikings for 168 yards and two touchdowns in the Monday night nightcap.

    I don't trust the Steelers secondary to stop anyone. Even Colin "Airmail" Kaepernick.

    Of course, I'm wrong all the time, so what do I know?

    49ers: Davenport

    Steelers: Freeman, Gagnon, Miller, Schalter, Sobleski, Tanier, Tomlinson

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-1) at New Orleans Saints (0-1)

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    Phelan M. Ebenhack/Associated Press

    The Pick: New Orleans Saints (8-0)

    Everyone just needs to lay off rookie quarterback Jameis Winston and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

    Yes, the Buccaneers won two games last year. Yes, the team got pasted at home in Week 1.

    But it's not like the Buccaneers lost 42-14 to a team that went 2-14 a season ago.

    OK, so that happened. But it's not like the Tampa defense gave up four touchdown passes (in the first half) and a perfect passer rating to a rookie quarterback making his first NFL start.

    OK, so that happened. But it's not like Winston's first NFL pass attempt was intercepted and returned for a touchdown.

    OK, so that happened. But it's not like Winston failed to complete even half his passes and had nearly as many turnovers as Marcus Mariota had incompletions in the game.

    OK, so that happened. But it's not like...

    Oh, who am I kidding? The Buccaneers are a dumpster fire.

    Saints in a rout.

    Buccaneers: I picked Tampa last week. That will not happen again this season.

    Saints: Davenport, Freeman, Gagnon, Miller, Schalter, Sobleski, Tanier, Tomlinson and every human being on Earth who has ever watched an NFL game. Maybe a couple of really smart chickens too.

Detroit Lions (0-1) at Minnesota Vikings (0-1)

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    Leon Halip/Getty Images

    The Pick: Minnesota Vikings (5-3)

    Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer is the no-nonsense sort. About a month ago, Zimmer cut practice short, and his players ran laps because he was dissatisfied with their effort.

    Given that, Vikings players might want to make sure they pack their running shoes after the team face-planted on national TV in a 20-3 Week 1 loss to the San Francisco 49ers.

    As Matt Vensel of the Star Tribune reports, no one was spared the wrath of Zim in the coach's Monday press conference. Not the offense. Not the defense. And not quarterback Teddy Bridgewater:

    You know, maybe we're just not ready for prime time yet. ... I don't know if it was all the offensive line. Some of it was Teddy. Probably a lot of it was Teddy tonight. Teddy did not play well. ...

    ... In 17 ballgames here, that did not look like the football team that I know. It was a disappointing effort. A lot of credit goes to San Francisco. They were much more physical than we were. That's more of [the kind of] team that I would like to be like.

    Of course, as Carlos Monarrez of the Detroit Free Press reports, Detroit Lions head coach Jim Caldwell wasn't exactly doling out attaboys after the Lions blew a 21-3 lead in San Diego:

    Obviously, disappointing loss for us yesterday...I just think there was some up-and-down play from us. Not nearly consistent enough, that's the key on either side of [the] ball.... I think oftentimes you find out that first week that there are going to be some issues, and we've learned through the years that losers fix blame and winners fix problems. So, we feel we've got some problems we've got to get fixed and move on to the next one because we have as tough a game coming up this week.

    This matchup may just come down to who wants to lose the game more.

    Lions: Davenport, Schalter, Tomlinson

    Vikings: Freeman, Gagnon, Miller, Sobleski, Tanier

Arizona Cardinals (1-0) at Chicago Bears (0-1)

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    Paul Connors/Associated Press

    The Pick: Arizona Cardinals (7-1)

    There were more than a few coaching decisions in Week 1 that were, um, yeah.

    Yes, hindsight is 20/20. But it's hard not to question the wisdom of the Chicago Bears calling four straight pass plays inside the Green Bay 10-yard line down eight points halfway through the fourth quarter of last Sunday's loss.

    After all, the Bears had been gashing the Packers all game long on the ground. Instead, head coach John Fox entrusted the team's fate to Jay Cutler.

    Yep. That Jay Cutler. Wonder how that turned out?

    Still, Fox insisted he's not about to second-guess that decision. "Whether you're running the ball or passing the ball, you have 11 guys that need to do their job and that's what we refer to as execution," Fox said. "I didn't dislike—for what they were playing—I didn't dislike what we were in and what we tried to do, we just didn't do it well enough."

    Tell yourself whatever you need to, Coach.

    Let's see what Fox has to say come this time next week if the panel's right and the Bears drop a second straight home game.

    Cardinals: Davenport, Freeman, Miller, Schalter, Sobleski, Tanier, Tomlinson

    Bears: Gagnon

New England Patriots (1-0) at Buffalo Bills (1-0)

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    Jerome Davis/Getty Images

    The Pick: Buffalo Bills (4-4) ***COIN FLIP***

    Break up the Bills!

    After waxing the Indianapolis Colts at home in Week 1, the Buffalo Bills are the toast of the NFL. It wasn't just that the Bills beat a Colts team considered a legitimate Super Bowl contender.

    They dominated most of the game.

    Well, things don't get a bit easier in Week 2, as the Bills get to take on last year's other team from the AFC Championship Game—the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots.

    Buffalo head coach Rex Ryan is never at a loss for words, especially where the Patriots are concerned. And as Adam Kurkjian of the Boston Herald reports, this go-round is no exception:

    I can't wait to see what our fans are going to be like when you have the hated Patriots — I mean, this kind of rival coming in. ... I'm looking forward to it. I'm so glad that we play the game here. So that's gonna be fun. ... I don't know if anything has changed. They're kind of the hunted in my eyes. They're the world champions.

    While speaking with reporters, New England head coach Bill Belichick allowed that the Patriots will face a stiff test Sunday.

    Well, as much as Darth Hoodie ever allows anything:

    We always expect crowd noise on the road. That's something we're ready for every week if we play away games. I'm sure it will be loud there. It's loud everywhere. So, it'll be a lot louder when you're not doing well. If you're moving the ball, getting first downs, and gaining yards, that tends to quiet it, when you're ahead, that quiets it, too. It'll be as loud as we allow it to be.

    It's simple, really. If the Bills want to be taken seriously as contenders in an AFC East the Patriots have owned for over a decade, all they have to do is win this game.

    Patriots: Freeman, Miller, Tanier, Tomlinson

    Bills: Davenport, Gagnon, Schalter, Sobleski

San Diego Chargers (1-0) at Cincinnati Bengals (1-0)

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    John Grieshop/Getty Images

    The Pick: Cincinnati Bengals (5-3)

    The last time these two teams met in Cincinnati, it was the 2013 playoffs.

    And things didn't go well at all for the home club in a 27-10 rout.

    Of course, things haven't gone well for the Bengals at all in the playoffs of late. Four straight postseason trips. Four straight one-and-dones.

    That may have left a sour taste in the team's mouth, but last week the Bengals were all smiles after blasting the Oakland Raiders 33-13 in a game that wasn't as close as the score.

    The Chargers represent a pretty sizable step up in competition, however, and Bleacher Report Featured Columnist Chris Roling wrote that the Bengals are going to have to step up the pressure on Philip Rivers if the team wants to move to 2-0:

    Rivers got in a groove in the second half [against Detroit] after entering the locker room down 21-10 and rattled off 23 points over the final two frames, settling on a 35-of-42 line with 404 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions.

    Disruption is key. Geno Atkins and the line are great, but the Bengals will want to bring stunts and blitzes from various angles to mix things up: shoot the A-gap, send defensive backs around the edges, etc.

    It was far from a landslide, but the majority of our experts feel the Bengals will do just that.

    After all, it isn't a playoff or prime-time game—so Andy Dalton should be fine.

    Chargers: Freeman, Schalter, Sobleski

    Bengals: Davenport, Gagnon, Miller, Tanier, Tomlinson

Tennessee Titans (1-0) at Cleveland Browns (0-1)

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    Cliff McBride/Getty Images

    The Pick: Tennessee Titans (5-3)

    OK, so maybe Marcus Mariota was ready for the NFL after all.

    After a pro debut that included four first-half touchdown passes and a perfect 158.3 passer rating, the No. 2 overall pick in the NFL draft is the toast of the league. Turn on a sports talk TV show or radio station, and it likely isn't going to take long to hear Mariota's name, followed by a string of glowing superlatives.

    However, as well as Mariota played in his first NFL start, Jenny Vrentas of the MMQB cautioned it might be just a bit premature to label Mariota an all-time great just yet:

    The reality, of course, is that Week 1 isn't a predictor of a season or a career. (To wit: Mariota's passer rating was the highest for a rookie QB's first start since Robert Griffin III posted a 139.9 in 2012—and he's now reportedly playing scout-team safety in Washington.) It's a virtual certainty that Mariota won't always look as good as he did on Sunday, when he casually picked apart the vulnerabilities of a commonly used NFL defensive scheme, while also running some of his favorite concepts from his old Oregon playbook, with nary a fist pump or chest-thumping to celebrate. Afterward, head coach Ken Whisenhunt told him simply, "Good start."

    Of course, it doesn't hurt Mariota any that the scheduling gods blessed him with an early-season slate that includes a pair of marshmallows in first the Buccaneers and now the Cleveland Browns, who just made Ryan Fitzpatrick look like Joe Montana.

    If Mariota lights up the Browns this week and guides the Titans to a 2-0 start, matching their win total of last year?

    Skip Bayless may just spontaneously combust.

    Titans: Davenport, Freeman, Gagnon, Tanier, Tomlinson

    Browns: Miller, Schalter, Sobleski

St. Louis Rams (1-0) at Washington Redskins (0-1)

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    Rob Carr/Getty Images

    The Pick: St. Louis Rams (8-0)

    I've only been writing this article since the beginning of last season, so I cannot definitively say how long it's been since our panel unanimously selected the St. Louis Rams to win a game.

    I can say with a fair amount of certainty this is the first time I've ever seen it.

    Granted, the Rams are coming off a huge win, having just upset the Seattle Seahawks 34-31 in overtime.

    Bernie Miklasz of 101 Sports didn't mince words about the victory. Miklasz called it the biggest of Jeff Fisher's tenure as head coach in the Gateway City, in part because it could set the tone for the team's entire season:

    It was the first game of the season and already time for the Rams to make an emphatic statement about who they were, and what they planned to do in the new campaign. What would it be: the same old sorry Rams, or a young team on the rise and ready to make good on all of the broken promises of the past?

    Now, one game does not a season make, especially since the Rams have had success against Seattle at home in recent years. It's premature (and then some) to anoint the Rams contenders in the NFC West.

    But it's a step.

    The next one? Winning the games the Rams should win, such as Sunday's trip to face a Redskins team coming apart at the seams.

    Rams: Davenport, Freeman, Gagnon, Miller, Schalter, Sobleski, Tanier, Tomlinson

    Redskins: I hope Jay Gruden rented instead of buying. Just saying.

Miami Dolphins (1-0) at Jacksonville Jaguars (0-1)

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    Rob Foldy/Getty Images

    The Pick: Miami Dolphins (8-0)

    The Miami Dolphins won their season opener, but to hear the grousing from South Florida you wouldn't think so.

    Of course, when you sink huge money into a defense that looked pedestrian against the Washington Redskins a week ago, that's apt to happen.

    In the opinion of Omar Kelly of the South Florida Sun Sentinel, the problem isn't the personnel, headed by the NFL's highest-paid defender in tackle Ndamukong Suh.

    The issue is that the team has "dumbed down" Kevin Coyle's scheme too much:

    Problem is, part of what made Coyle's defense respectable was the variation of schemes, the curveballs he'd throw at opposing offensive coordinators and quarterbacks.

    And none of that was present in the opener.

    Where was the 5-2 defensive front? The Dolphins have an abundance of defensive linemen, so why not put an extra one on the field from time to time?

    However, linebacker Koa Misi isn't buying what Kelly's selling:

    Look at some of the better defenses in the league. Seattle for instance. They have a simple defense. How good are they? We just have to get good at whatever defense we're playing. Being able to play a lot of defenses isn't always going to help. It actually might confuse some people. We're trying to cut it down a little bit and get used to playing in smaller packages.

    Maybe Coyle's scheme was too complicated. Maybe in trying to fix that, the Dolphins went too far the other direction. Or maybe the players just need to get it done.

    Whatever the problem, a Jaguars team that allowed a staggering 71 sacks a year ago should fix it.

    Dolphins: Davenport, Freeman, Gagnon, Miller, Schalter, Sobleski, Tanier, Tomlinson

    Jaguars: Three constants in life: death, taxes and the Jaguars being a bad football team.

Baltimore Ravens (0-1) at Oakland Raiders (0-1)

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    Rob Carr/Getty Images

    The Pick: Baltimore Ravens (8-0)

    This was going to be the year.

    The Oakland Raiders were finally going to get better. The team had a new head coach in Jack Del Rio. A promising young quarterback in Derek Carr. Talent at the skill positions in tailback Latavius Murray and rookie receiver Amari Cooper. And a defensive cornerstone in Khalil Mack.

    Then the season started. Carr got hurt. The offense fell apart. The defense was picked apart. And the Raiders got shelled at home by the Cincinnati Bengals.

    As ESPN.com's Bill Williamson reports, Del Rio didn't sugarcoat the performance. "I don't care to share any bright spots right now," he said. "We'll just deal with what we need to deal with here and put it to rest."

    However, Del Rio also told media he's already looking forward to this week's matchup with the Baltimore Ravens.

    "This league is about next—the next play, the next series, the next game—and that's where our focus will go," Del Rio said. "We'll finish this up with you, we'll meet with our players in the morning, we'll put this game behind us and move on to the next."

    Unfortunately, with Carr iffy for the game and the Oakland secondary already ravaged by injuries, all that's likely to be coming is the next beating.

    Ravens: Davenport, Freeman, Gagnon, Miller, Schalter, Sobleski, Tanier, Tomlinson

    Raiders: The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Dallas Cowboys (1-0) at Philadelphia Eagles (0-1)

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    Matt Rourke/Associated Press

    The Pick: Philadelphia Eagles (7-1)

    The Dallas Cowboys may have won the battle but lost the war last Sunday night.

    Yes, the Cowboys were able to squeak out a last-second win over the New York Giants, but the victory came at a very high price.

    As Rob Phillips of the Cowboys website reports, star wide receiver Dez Bryant is expected to miss at least a month after breaking a bone in his foot. In a radio interview, team owner Jerry Jones tried to put a positive spin on the injury:

    It takes a bone six weeks to fully recover, and we've had players with foot injuries that did not wait until the six-week period of time before they were functional and before they were able to play. He'll be able to be conditioning, things of that nature as early as two-to-three weeks into his rehab. The facts are, it's just that – no one knows. It has to do with the individual.

    The repair went well, and so Dez is of course Superman when it comes to being physical, but on the other hand, we want it to repair well. So we'll just see how it goes.

    The Cowboys may be hoping for a quick recovery, but here's the reality of the situation.

    With DeMarco Murray gone (to Philly, no less), the Dallas ground game looked like a shell of its 2014 self against New York. Now Tony Romo has lost his top wide receiver for who knows how long.

    Just in time for a trip to face an Eagles team smarting after a season-opening loss in Atlanta.

    At this point, the best the Cowboys can realistically hope for is not to fall too far off the pace in the division, or by the time Bryant returns, it may not matter.

    Cowboys: Freeman

    Eagles: Davenport, Gagnon, Miller, Schalter, Sobleski, Tanier, Tomlinson

Seattle Seahawks (0-1) at Green Bay Packers (1-0)

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    Elaine Thompson/Associated Press

    The Pick: Green Bay Packers (7-1)

    You will have to forgive the Green Bay Packers if they aren't overly fond of the Seattle Seahawks.

    As if the infamous "Fail Mary" play that led to the end of the replacement referees in 2012 wasn't bad enough, or the 20-point beating the Packers absorbed in Week 1 last year, there was last year's NFC title game collapse. A double-digit lead with less than five minutes to play gone—and with it a trip to the Super Bowl.

    However, all three of those games were in the Pacific Northwest. Sunday's matchup between the teams takes place in the friendly confines of Lambeau Field. And Green Bay head man Mike McCarthy told ESPN.com's Rob Demovsky the Packers are much more focused on what will happen than what has:

    Too much of anything isn't good for you. I think that's something we all learn as we walk through life. I've learned that. I've coached teams too much during the course of the week, raised the emotion of the football team too much. So those are lessons that have been learned from my particular position of being the head coach here. That's not going to happen this week, I can promise you that. ...

    ... We're playing at Lambeau Field [on] Sunday night football. It's our first home game. I don't really think we need to get past that. I know who we're playing; they're an outstanding football team. They're coming off a tough loss in St. Louis, but we're focused on winning the game. We're focused on getting our first home win, beating the Seattle Seahawks, and that's about as far as it goes with us.

    Both teams enter the game facing tough questions. The Packers run defense was ravaged by the Chicago Bears last week. So was the Seattle offensive line in St. Louis. And the "Legion of Boom" felt the absence of strong safety Kam Chancellor last week.

    At the end of the day, the week's marquee matchup may well hinge on the play of two of the NFL's best quarterbacks.

    And Aaron Rodgers just doesn't lose at home.

    Seahawks: Tanier

    Packers: Davenport, Freeman, Gagnon, Miller, Schalter, Sobleski, Tomlinson

New York Jets (1-0) at Indianapolis Colts (0-1)

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    Elsa/Getty Images

    The Pick: Indianapolis Colts (7-1)

    Week 1 did not go at all according to plan for the Indianapolis Colts.

    A team tabbed for the Super Bowl in many circles got their heads handed to them by the Buffalo Bills, falling behind 24-0 in a game that wasn't as close as the 27-14 final indicates.

    All the problems that were evident in last year's AFC Championship Game thrashing at the hands of the New England Patriots were large and in charge again in Western New York.

    The addition of Frank Gore, for one game at least, did nothing to goose the Colts' ground game. The Bills, on the other hand, pounded away at will between the tackles. Indy's pass rush? There wasn't one.

    And as Gregg Doyel of the Indianapolis Star reports, distractions continue to grow surrounding the alleged rift between head coach Chuck Pagano and general manager Ryan Grigson:

    Coach Chuck Pagano and general manager Ryan Grigson don't work well together. There's a rift. Without a Super Bowl title, Pagano isn't coming back in 2016. Maybe even with a Super Bowl title, he isn't coming back.

    That's the perception, and it might as well be the reality. The noise has been growing for months, since it became apparent that Pagano would not sign a contract extension, meaning he enters 2015 without a safety net. Add the comments from owner Jim Irsay that the Colts need to win a Super Bowl with quarterback Andrew Luck — sorry, they need to win two Super Bowls with Luck — and the Super-Bowl-or-bust comments echoed by Grigson, and the Colts have created a scenario in which it sure looks like Pagano is coaching for his Colts career.

    Granted, with the exception of NFL National Lead Writer Ty Schalter, our writers all expect the Colts to right the ship (at least temporarily) with a win over a New York Jets team that cruised at home over the Cleveland Browns a week ago.

    But this year's growing brouhaha in Indianapolis is beginning to take on more than a few similarities to the mess that led to Jim Harbaugh's leaving the San Francisco 49ers after the 2014 season—one where a 49ers team that entered the year with Super Bowl hopes missed the playoffs altogether.

    Jets: Schalter

    Colts: Davenport, Freeman, Gagnon, Miller, Sobleski, Tanier, Tomlinson