Baltimore (1-0) @ Cincinnati (0-1)
If I asked you to tell me which NFL player reminded you most of Frank Lucas, which player would come to mind? It has to be Ray Lewis, right? No one in the NFL encompasses all the virtues of leadership quite like Lewis (seriously, if you are going to be huge crime boss, you need to be able to exhibit an enormous amount of leadership qualities… or so I’ve heard). He does his job better than most and thus leads by example, also he understands the responsibilities of others and is able to get his teammates in proper position and more importantly he can get those around him to run through a wall for him. I remember a few years ago, they showed Ray Lewis in the locker room before the Pro Bowl (you know, that obscure football game that used to be held after the Super Bowl that no one really seemed to care about) and he was explaining to the players the importance of playing hard in order to win the game. After watching that quick snippet of locker room talk, Sugar Ray had me ready to go out and tackle someone. Consequently, no one should underestimate the Ravens regardless of what you might think of Joe Flacco’s capabilities to produce in the clutch.
Pick: Ravens win 19-16.
Arizona (1-0) @ Atlanta (0-1)
Look at the list of upper echelon quarterbacks that lost in Week 1:
Now look at the list of potentially sub-par quarterbacks that won in Week 1:
At some point, these things have to balance out right? The great quarterbacks should win more games than the crappy ones. If you follow my logic so far, then it only makes sense that we pick Matt Ryan over Derek Anderson, right? Right. How’s that for interactive writing?
Pick: Falcons win 20-13. Oh while we’re here…
Tampa Bay (1-0) @ Carolina (0-1)
There’s no way that the Football Gods allow Josh Freeman to go 2-0 to open up the season right?
Pick: Panthers win 24-17.
Kansas City (1-0) @ Cleveland (0-1)
The Chiefs did exactly what was required for them to gut out a tough win at home against the Chargers in Week 1. However, let’s be real,they had things going just right for them. Much like Street Fighter, every now and then, you can luck out and beat someone good without using your special moves and combos; however the time will come that your inability to master your powers will lead to you getting smacked around. So the Chiefs managed to beat the Chargers with Matt Cassel going 10/22 for 68 yards; but they shouldn’t expect a string of wins if that’s’ all he can produce on average every game.
Pick: Chiefs win 17-14.
Chicago (1-0) @ Dallas (0-1)
In Week 1, we saw two games end with a bit of controversy because it came down to the officials ultimately deciding the games. In the first match-up, the Bears escaped with a win against the Lions after Calvin Johnson’s touchdown catch was ruled as incomplete (an extremely tough call). In the second game, the Dallas Cowboys lost to the Washington Redskins because Alex Barron tried to put Brian Orakpo into a sleeper hold by grabbing him by the neck as Tony Romo through a beautiful game winning touchdown pass to Roy Williams. The Romo pass was nullified as Barron was called for holding thus resulting in a Cowboys loss.
As fate would have it, the team that benefited from an officiating call to win their game will play against the team that was penalized (rightfully so) by a referee’s decision that led to a loss. This game is basically like watching pre-cocaine Vinny Chase competing with post-cocaine Vinny Chase. We’re basically watching the end result of good and bad calls go head to head (Cowboys fans just got offended that I compared their team to a post-cocaine Vinny Chase; but please remember your team made a stupid play call that led to a fumble returned for a touchdown before halftime). Sunday’s game will let us know whether the intervention paid dividends for the Cowboys and I think it will.
Pick: Cowboys win 17-13.
Philadelphia (0-1) @ Detroit (0-1)
I have yet to hear it this mentioned yet, but if the Eagles play well in Detroit; it could open the door for the return of The Michael Vick Experiment. Some of you might not be ready to hear it, but the truth is that Vick is still a good NFL quarterback; and as a result he might once again have a few endorsements and some face time coming around his way. If you think I’m crazy, I have two names for you: Kobe Bryant and Chris Brown. Not to put too much pressure on Vick here, but a good performance against the Lions might go far towards repairing his image.
Vick had a chance this week to practice with the starters and take all the reps and get acclimated to his receivers. The former Falcon will never be the most accurate passer, but he has two things going for him right now that will bail him out of trouble: superb arm strength and incredible footwork as a runner. Against the Lions, that should be enough.
Random observation: Ever notice how defenders seem to always be in the backfield when Vick is in at quarterback? The reason being is that he has trouble reading defenses and seeing where the pressure will be coming from. Consequently, the pass protection isn’t always what it should be. Pay attention to that if Vick starts for the remainder of the season.
Pick: Eagles win 20-16.
Buffalo (0-1) @ Green Bay (1-0)
Should I really spend time discussing this game? Packers’ home opener after beating an Eagles team that showed some life once Vick got into the game. Does anyone truly believe that the Bills can replicate anything similar at all in Green Bay? Anyone? Didn’t think so. Hell, I expect the Packers to blow this game open early and start coasting by the start of the fourth quarter. And then, as some fans start to exit the stadium early, Charles Woodson will get a “pick six” (is there anything more fun than a “pick six”?), forego the Lambeau leap and instead go to midfield Gladiator style and scream: “ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED?!?”
Pick: Packers win 31-17.
Pittsburgh (1-0) @ Tennessee (1-0)
These two teams mirror one another: run oriented teams, hard hitting defenses, quality head coaches and scrambling quarterbacks. This should be a low scoring game that is determined by one or two explosive plays; and the king of those is none other than Chris Johnson. Put the ball in his hands and let him wreak havoc.
Pick: Titans win 13-10.
Miami (1-0) @ Minnesota (0-1)
I could be wrong but is it at all possible that Favre isn’t as invested into the Vikings this year as he was last year? I don’t mean to make too much of a player’s body language, but Favre at times looked like he was getting his prostate examined during the showdown with the Saints. He seriously looked as though he wanted no part of that game during the fourth quarter; and that was with the game hanging in the balance. Consequently, I can only see two things happening the rest of the way:
1. Favre retires by Week 5 after realizing that his body can no longer handle the rigors of the NFL season and also because football is no longer fun for him (remember, this is the guy that said he came back this season because he felt he owed it to the team to come back; that sound like someone excited about playing football?).
2. He decides to try to enjoy his last NFL season and give it his all because he knows that he has maybe another 16 weeks of football left in his career and he wants to leave on a good note.
Regardless of what he chooses, I think that Favre at least comes out ready to play against the Dolphins and leads the team to a win at home.
Pick: Vikings win 19-16.
Seattle (1-0) @ Denver (0-1)
After dismantling the 49ers, can the Seahawks go on the road and win in Denver? Regardless of injuries, Mile High Stadium is still a tough place to play and I’m not sure that Seattle can get the win there this week. I’m going with the Broncos in this one but take it with a grain of salt considering I’m the same guy that picked San Francisco to defeat Seattle in Week 1.
Pick: Broncos win 24-20.
St. Louis (0-1) @ Oakland (0-1)
After getting spanked on opening weekend against the Titans, the Raiders will come back this week and give their fans hope. And it’s not so much because they are a good team, but rather because the circumstances make it as such that they should be able to win this game. Rookie quarterback Sam Bradford will be starting his first ever road game in the NFL and Oakland isn’t exactly an easy place to play. Their crowd always comes out in full force and will have a huge impact on the first year QB. Furthermore, with Nnamdi Asomugha shutting down half the field, it might be tough for him to locate open receivers in this game. Had this contest been played later in the year, I might have picked St. Louis, but given that this game is played in Week 2, I expect the Rams to be a step slow against the Raiders.
Pick: Raiders win 20-16.
New England (1-0) @ NY Jets (0-1)
To pick this game, I thought long and hard about whom the Jets reminded me; but then it finally hit me: Clubber Lang. In Rocky III, Lang made it known to the world that he thought he was the best and that he would be taking down the champ (Rocky Balboa). Well in this case, the champ is none other than the AFC East ruler known as the New England Patriots. The Pats are the quiet and yet confident group that are looking to get back to the mountain top. The Jets on the other hand see New England as an obstacle on their path; an obstacle that they wish to destroy, disrespect and humiliate. The Jets could possibly pull it off, but not with Mark Sanchez struggling the way he has.
Pick: Patriots win 17-14.
Jacksonville (1-0) @ San Diego (0-1)
The Jaguars are coming to San Diego but there really isn’t any way to know for sure because the game will be blacked out. It’s funny what a few boneheaded moves by your general manager can do to alienate your fan base. Chargers GM A.J. Smith decided to play hardball with Shawne Merriman, made LaDainian Tomlinson feel as though he was irrelevant and then essentially banned Marcus McNeil and Vincent Jackson from the team. The end result? San Diego lost in Week 1 at Kansas City and now they can’t sell out Qualcomm Stadium in the team’s home opener (think about that for a moment, Chargers fans have been waiting to see their team hit the field since their loss to the Jets in January). Might have something to do with the fact that the Jaguars aren’t interesting or fun to watch? Perhaps. But more than anything, this must be a case of the fans collectively showing their middle finger to Chargers ownership and management. Come Sunday, San Diego should be good enough to win against Jacksonville, but it’s tough say if they will win their fans over once again.
Pick: Chargers win 24-20.
Houston (1-0) @ Washington (1-0)
What do we make of the Washington Redskins? They failed to manage an offensive touchdown at home against the Cowboys and really didn’t look all that impressive. Also, let’s be honest here, the only reason the Skins won that game is because Dallas was dumb enough to attempt a passing play right before halftime which resulted in a turnover and score. Should we expect Washington to look better offensively against the Texans? Perhaps a bit. It’s always tough to conquer a divisional opponent hence the Dallas game being so tight. Washington’s offense should play well against Houston’s (don’t forget, Skins offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan used to hold the same title with the Texans, so he benefits from a bit of inside info) defense; and I don’t expect the Skins defense to let Arian Foster run around Forrest Gump style like he did against the Colts in Week 1.
Pick: Redskins win 16-13.
NY Giants (1-0) @ Indianapolis (0-1)
Let’s cut it to NBC for the opening music:
“Hey Jack it’s a fact
Football is on Sunday Nights,
Colts and Giants are ready to scuffle
With Peyton and Eli trying to get bragging rights,
Hopefully the game comes down to who steps up late,
With a quarterback stepping up to the plate,
The Manning Bowl II should be out of sight
Now read the prediction of Shyne about Sunday Night!”
The Colts struggled last week against the Texans because their offensive line failed to keep Peyton Manning’s jersey clean. This week, the Giants will bring a solid front four to attack Peyton and try to force him into mistakes. Mind you, the chess match will be about taking advantage of the Giants pressure and turning it against them with draws, delays and screens. I’m expecting the Giants to keep the game close with their ground game; but the Colts will pull out the game late thanks to the wisdom of the older Manning on the match up.
Pick: Colts win 26-23.
New Orleans (1-0) @ San Francisco (0-1)
You know how on Saturday Night Live they bring in a celebrity host who at times proceeds to just nail every sketch and outshine some of the SNL people? This week, the celebrity host will be the New Orleans Saints. Showing up on primetime Monday night, the Saints will beautifully improvise every sketch: offense, defense and special teams.
Quick note: After being picked by almost everyone to win the NFC West and to defeat the Seattle Seahawks in Week 1, the 49ers got spanked in Seattle. They gave up 28 points to Matt Hasselbeck while only managing to produce six points on their own. Obviously it’s only one game and San Francisco can play much better, but would we interpret that game as a sign of things to come? Time will tell.
Pick: Saints win 27-20.
Image via NFL