Competition heats up
After week two, Eli has secured his lead over the other football experts, going 11-5 both weeks. Blake is not far behind after making some excellent picks last week. Unfortunately, Melissa is somehow still in last place and is hoping that the third time's a charm as we gear up for week three of predictions.
Sunday, Sept. 26
San Francisco 49ers (0-2) at Kansas City Chiefs (2-0)
It's pretty amazing that the Chiefs are still undefeated going into week three, and even more surprising that they are at the top of their division. But that lucky streak is going to end Sunday. Despite a few rookie mistakes, the 49ers held the Saints to only 287 yards last Sunday and will be able to fix their own offensive errors.
The Niners almost escaped with a win against the defending champs on Monday night, scoring 22 points on a tough Saints squad. San Francisco will get their first win of the season on Sunday when they face a much easier opponent in Kansas City.
Believe it or not, the Chiefs are 2-0 and are off to their best start in five years. Their quarterback, Matt Cassel, has been playing soundly, even though he's also been turning the ball over quite a lot. The 49ers, who were an early favorite this year, lost to reigning Super Bowl champs, the New Orleans Saints, this past Monday. However, in Monday's game, San Francisco played convincingly and came back in the second half, only to be denied the win by a late Saints field goal. I'll take San Francisco to win.
Detroit Lions (0-2) at Minnesota Vikings (0-2)
A game against the Lions will help boost the Vikings' morale coming off of what has been a less than stellar start to the season. The Vikings' only receivers Bernard Berrian, Greg Camarillo and Greg Lewis will step up their game this week and will give the Vikings offense the edge it needs.
Both of these teams are hungry for a win. The Lions put up a lot of offense last week but Michael Vick was too much for the Detroit defense to handle. Brett Favre has yet to return to mid-season form and Minnesota has struggled as a result. Expect Favre to prove why he's still playing with a big game this week. Vikes roll.
The Lions are slowly killing me—seriously. Every time I pick them, they lose, even if it's just barely. Detroit was able to pull together and rally in the second half of Sunday's game against the Eagles—but they just couldn't win. Minnesota hasn't been playing great and quarterback Brett Favre is looking old and tired. Maybe this is karma for the many times he retired and then came out of retirement to play another year. Anyway, as much as I know this might not pan out well for me, I'm going with Detroit to beat Minnesota.
Buffalo Bills (0-2) at New England Patriots (1-1)
This one's easy—the Patriots haven't lost a single game to the Bills since 2003. For this game the Patriots will find the stamina they lacked in the second half of their game against the Jets last Sunday.
A no-brainer. Tom Brady, Wes Welker and the high-scoring Patriots' offense will expose the Bills' weak defense as New England annihilates Buffalo.
The Pats defense couldn't keep the Jets' offense in line during last week's game. Buffalo comes into this game 0-2, with nothing much going for them. New England quarterback Tom Brady is much stronger than Buffalo quarterback Trent Edwards and should be able to help his team redeem themselves against the Bills. The Patriots have got this one.
Atlanta Falcons (1-1) at New Orleans Saints (2-0)
If the Falcons' are hungry enough and the Saints can live up to the hype, this NFC south rivalry game could easily go either way. The Falcons are short their two best running backs, however, and when it comes down to it, the Saints are a better coached team with the leadership and fast success of head coach Sean Payton.
The Falcons dominated the Cardinals in week two, with Matt Ryan throwing for 225 yards and three touchdowns. Backup running back Jason Snelling ran for 129 and two scores after starter Michael Turner came out with a groin injury. On the other hand, the Saints struggled to put away the 49ers and haven't shown any signs of Super Bowl status. Turner will start for Atlanta on Sunday, but it's reassuring to know that Snelling can pick up the slack if Turner should go down again. Falcons squeak this one out in a high scoring game.
Even though they didn't play strongly in the first two weeks, the Saints are the favorite; they will definitely win this one.
Tennessee Titans (1-1) at New York Giants (1-1)
Both teams are trying to bounce back from losses last week. The Titans should, however, be able to redeem themselves offensively and reduce their number of turnovers. On the other hand, the Giants won't be able to handle the Titans' defense, which has been ranked number one this season.
Both of these teams are coming off week two losses -- Tennessee fell to Pittsburgh and Eli Manning suffered an embarrassing loss to older brother Peyton. My boy Chris Johnson had a rough game last week against a stout Steeler defense, but he'll bounce back against the Giants in week three. Quarterback Vince Young was pulled in the fourth quarter last week but he'll start for Tennessee this Sunday. Titans edge the G-Men.
Titans' running back Chris Johnson had a less than impressive showing against the Steelers stifling defense this past Sunday. Titans quarterback Vince Young was benched for Kerry Collins after he was unable to get the offense moving down field. The Giants lost to the Colts last week due to flaws in their defense—they couldn't hang with Colts' running and passing game. Even though he didn't play well last week, Johnson should be able to run past the Giants' defense and help the Titans win.
Pittsburgh Steelers (2-0) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-0)
From their past two games this season, the Steelers have proven their ability to connect without quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. The strong combination of James Harrison and Troy Polamalu anchor the Steelers defense and will hold strong against the flakey Tampa Bay offense.
The Steelers defeated Chris Johnson and the Titans in week two and the Bucs defeated a mediocre Carolina team 20-7. Pittsburgh squeaks by in a low-scoring affair.
I honestly can't believe how well the Steelers have been playing considering they lost their quarterback and the position has been wide open ever since. It looks like Charlie Batch might take over for Dennis Dixon as Pittsburgh's quarterback since Dixon got hurt. But the Steelers also resigned quarterback Byron Leftwich, so it's totally unclear what Coach Mike Tomlin is going to do. Even though Bucs' quarterback Josh Freeman has led his team to wins throughout the first two games and hasn't been turning over the ball as much, I'm thinking the Steelers defense will win this game for them.
Cincinnati Bengals (1-1) at Carolina Panthers (0-2)
The Bengals were able to redeem themselves last Sunday with a win against the Ravens after coming off a sloppy loss to the Patriots in week one. The Bengals will keep that fight and motivation alive this week as well and put the Panthers at 0-3.
Jimmy Clausen makes his NFL debut against Cincinnati in week three, but his first game won't result in a win for Carolina. Thus far the Bengals high-octane offense has been held in check by New England and Baltimore. This will change on Sunday as quarterback Carson Palmer exploits a Panther defense that gave up 31 points to the Giants in week one.
The Panthers have been unable to establish themselves so far this season and their quarterback Matt Moore has not fared well either. He cost Carolina possession twice in last Sunday's game against the Buccaneers. Even if they start rookie Jimmy Clausen in place of Moore, there's no chance that the Panthers will be able to beat the Bengals, who are coming off a win against the struggling Ravens.
Cleveland Browns (0-2) at Baltimore Ravens (1-1)
Baltimore's defense has made quite the name for itself in the past two weeks and the Browns, who are yet to win a game this season, will be sunk offensively. But you can't win games without a strong offense so this match up will be a test of quarterback Joe Flacco's endurance and leadership of Baltimore's offensive line.
Division heavyweight defeats division lightweight in this match up. After two mediocre games, Ray Rice runs wild on a poor Cleveland defense as the Ravens put away the Browns with ease.
After a dismal offensive showing against the Bengals last week, the Ravens have to prove that they are not dependent on their suffocating defense. Baltimore is the better of these two teams and must beat Cleveland in order to establish themselves.
Dallas Cowboys (0-2) at Houston Texans (2-0)
It's ironic that, prior to week one, the Cowboys were predicted to be Superbowl contenders, but they haven't even won a game yet; in fact, the more dominant team in this Texas showdown will be Houston. The Texans may border on cocky, but they've definitely demonstrated that they have skills to back up claims that they possess the league's best defense.
Matt Schaub punished the Redskins last week, throwing for 497 yards and three touchdowns. Receiver Andre Johnson is a physical specimen and he'll wreak havoc on the Cowboy secondary. Even if Dallas does a fair job stopping the pass, there's still Arian Foster and that scary Texan run game to worry about. There's no sign that Houston's offensive onslaught will end this week against Dallas, a team that's in panic mode right now after starting the season 0-2. Texans remain undefeated.
Even though a lot of people will probably argue that Dallas has to win this game in order to stay on track, the Cowboys were extremely overrated going into the season and still haven't really lived up to their hype. Meanwhile, Houston's a powerhouse this season and has a chance to make the playoffs. The Matt Schaub-Andre Johnson offensive duo is powerful and will dominate Dallas' defense this Sunday.
Washington Redskins (1-1) at St. Louis Rams (0-2)
After an incredibly, heart-wrenching loss to the Texans last Sunday, the Redskins are ready to take out their anger and put St. Louis away. Look for McNabb to take advantage of the several holes in the Rams' defense.
The Skins have looked solid thus far after a win over Dallas in week one and a heart-breaking, overtime loss to a very good Texans team in week two. Expect Donovan McNabb to continue his great play (426 yards vs. Houston) and Washington to dominate on Sunday over the lowly Rams.
This one's easy. The Redskins have been playing pretty well and proving that they can play against high caliber teams. The Rams, on the other hand, are struggling with rookie quarterback Sam Bradford at the helm. The Skins should beat the Rams handily.
Philadelphia Eagles (1-1) at Jacksonville Jaguars (1-1)
With the fourth-highest quarterback ranking in the league, Eagles' Michael Vick is looking to keep up his hot streak. But the Jaguars don't just need to worry about Vick—running back LeSean McCoy is another weapon on the Eagles' offensive line. In last Sunday's game against Detroit along, McCoy had three touchdowns on 16 carries and rushed for 120 yards.
Michael Vick is playing like the Vick of old -- running around, making plays and leading his team to victory. He threw for 284 yards and two touchdowns against Detroit last week and won the starting job over a healthy Kevin Kolb. Vick goes off in week three against the Jags who were demolished by San Diego last week.
The Eagles are looking like the best team in the NFC East right now and it looks like quarterback Michael Vick, whose play has been impressive, is going to start on Sunday. Philly's got this one.
Indianapolis Colts (1-1) at Denver Broncos (1-1)
This will be a mentally tough game for the Broncos come Sunday since Denver is still grieving from the unexpected suicide of wide receiver Kenny McKinley on Monday. Unfortunately for the Broncos, Indianapolis quarterback Peyton Manning has been on his A-game since last week's win over the Giants and the Colts haven't lost to the Broncos since 2005—this Sunday won't change that pattern.
Peyton Manning and the Colts are riding high after a 38-14 win over the Giants. Their offense is overwhelming and it'll be too much for Denver. Colts win big.
Peyton Manning proved on Sunday (against his brother, no less) that he is in the top five best quarterbacks in the NFL. His strong offensive presence combined with his leadership abilities made it easy for the Colts to run through and past the Giants. They should be able to do the same against the Broncos.
Oakland Raiders (1-1) at Arizona Cardinals (1-1)
Even with quarterbacks Bruce Gradkowski and former Redskin Jason Campbell, the Raiders aren't a match for the Cardinals; however neither team has really posed much competition in the past two weeks. As a team that probably won't even make it to the playoffs, the Raiders should expect to drop to 1-2 after this Sunday's game.
Arizona will beat the Raiders this week even after a horrendous, 41-7 loss to the Falcons in week two. Oakland narrowly defeated the Rams last week after quarterback Bruce Gradkowski replaced a struggling Jason Campbell at halftime. However, the Cardinals will come out on top thanks to a few more weapons -- receiver Larry Fitzgerald is always a threat even with a below-average quarterback, and running back Tim Hightower had a big game last week with 115 yards and a touchdown. Cards top Oakland.
The Raiders beat the Rams last week which isn't really a challenge. Arizona will present Oakland with actual competition. Expect a sloppy, low-scoring game.
San Diego Chargers (1-1) at Seattle Seahawks (1-1)
The Chargers are on a path to redemption but the Seahawks won't give them the win so easily. Even though the Seahawks have won 10 our of the last 13 games between the two teams, Seattle will be missing starting linebacker Leroy Hill who is out with an ankle injury which will be rough on the Seahawks' defense.
After a shocking loss to Kansas City in week one, quarterback Phillip Rivers threw for 334 yards and 3 scores in week two as the Chargers turned it around to conquer Jacksonville 38-13. Expect more of the same this week as Seattle fails to keep up with San Diego's powerful offense.
San Diego's got a stronger offense, plain and simple.
New York Jets (1-1) at Miami Dolphins (2-0)
Despite the arrest of the team's best wide receiver and several player injuries, the Jets should still be hot from last Sunday's win against New England. So far, the Dolphins have relied heavily on their defense and they will certainly be put to the test come Sunday against a strong Jets offense led by quarterback Mark Sanchez.
After a big win over Minnesota, the Dolphins will continue their winning streak over the Jets. Miami's balanced offensive attack consists of super athlete Brandon Marshall and veterans Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams in the backfield. Cornerback Darrelle Revis will struggle to cover Marshall and Miami's wildcat offense will confuse the Jets' usually stellar defense. Some are thinking Super Bowl in New York, but they'll lose to Miami in week three.
The Jets are coming off an exciting win against the Patriots and will bring the momentum from last week into this week's match up against Miami.
Monday, Sept. 27
Green Bay Packers (2-0) at Chicago Bears (2-0)
The fact that the Bears are undefeated thus far is a surprise. Let's face it, Chicago hasn't made it to post-season play in four years—not really Superbowl material. The Packers, on the other hand, with quarterback Aaron Rodgers and running back Brandon Jackson, is a Superbowl contending team and will their potential come Sunday.
Both teams won last week, with Green Bay dominating Buffalo and Chicago beating Dallas by a touchdown. The Bears won't be able to pull the upset two weeks in a row—Green Bay simply has too much talent. The Packers have superstar quarterback Aaron Rodgers, a capable replacement for Ryan Grant with third-year man Brandon Jackson, and tons of depth at wide receiver. Green Bay manhandles Chicago.
Both teams have proven strong; however, the only way the Bears' offense can score points is if quarterback Jay Cutler is able to lead the team downfield. Chicago's running game has been nonexistent and the Bears will have to rely on passing and their defense in order to win. Green Bay's quarterback, Aaron Rodgers, has been pretty effective and played well against the Bills. The Packers' defense also played strongly last week with linebacker Clay Matthews shutting down the Bills' offense completely. This looks like a defensive struggle but I'll take the Packers to win on Sunday.
Melissa Haniff. Melissa loves music, One Tree Hill, traveling and experiencing new cultures. She is also a diehard Patriots, Red Wings, Pistons and University of Michigan fan...Go Blue! More »
Eli Schwadron. Eli (@eschwad) is a chill guy who likes to play basketball, watch TV and eat. More »
Blake Morgan-Gamber. Blake Morgan-Gamber is a rare specimen with two last names; she woos women and men alike with her fanciful features writing and sumptuous sports editing. But do not be lulled by this siren, though BMG is a creature of beauty, there's many amazing talents inside … More »