Week 1 is over and now everyone has a slightly better feel as to what each team brings to the table. After the first week, my personal record is 12-4, not too bad in my opinion. Here is my picks for week 2 and why.
I'll take Jacksonville here. The Bills looked good and the Jaguars not-so-good. But one thing about Jacksonville that I always liked is that when they lose, they don't seem out of control. They are still a very good defense with an efficient offense. David Garrard is going to have be the leader of this team, and I believe he will do so. Plus against the Bills D, the Jags have one of the best true duo's at RB.
Both teams had convincing wins against 2 of the 2007 division winners in the AFC. Delhomme led an impressive 4th quarter drive without the help of his #1 WR, Steve Smith. He didn't have one of his more accurate days, but having a td pass in the play of the game is huge. The Bears D on the other hand looked mighty nice against the Indianapolis Colts and Peyton Manning. The Colts might be starting to get older on that elite offense of theirs, but it is still one of the best in the league. Nonetheless, the Bears held 'em in check led by Brian Urlacher while their run offense took advantage of the Colts leaky rushing D, and Kyle Orton had an efficient day and spreading the ball around to several receivers...none with more then 2 catchs. I'll take Chicago in this matchup though, looking for their D to have another controlling game while their offense pounds out another win.
Titans look to be improved from last year, putting on a defensive onslaught against the Jaguars. Their offense looks solid, yet Vince Young still has his accuracy problems. Nonetheless, LenDale White and Chris Johnson seem to form a potential good duo for the Titans offense, which should easily take care of the Bengals horrid D. This game though will come down to ball control and grinding that clock, and good defense. Also, i just don't think the Bengals are going to be even a mediocre team...probably going to be bad for them. Tennesee one away from home.
Redskins are not going to have a good season, and will lose against good teams. That's the easiest way to say it. Saints still have a very prolific offense, and they have added a couple good additions to their D. Their passing attacks will keep the Redskins guessing on defense, and the Redskins offensive problems with the QB learning a new system will continue. New Orleans is my pick.
Aaron Rodgers definately looked like a good QB on Monday night. Not bad for someone making their first start in the NFL and also doing it on National Television. The Lions imo have a good passing offense, but it won't be enough considering their D and how well the Packers did all-around against a better team in the Minnesota Vikings (better then the Lions, not the Packers). Green Bay should be able to get an easy victory, look for Aaron Rodgers to have an even bigger day then his NFL debut on MNF.
After seeing what the Eagles did to the Rams and their offense on Sunday, it's hard to believe that the Giants won't be able to take care of business. Still, if the Giants don't get any pressure on Bulger, their D could cost them the game. However, the Rams D does not stop the run well, and even though has a playmaker or two in the secondary, don't defend the pass that well either because of the lack of a decent passrush. New York controls the game very convincingly here (not as good as the Eagles though).
I really don't know what is a tougher choice...the one between two good teams, and the one between two bad teams. I think the Chiefs take this one simply because of the poor run defense of Oakland matched up against Larry Johnson and his power running game. Nothing else really excites me to see this matchup. I can hear that soundtrack of the football blooper reels playing now as Kansas City pulls out the victory in a sloppy game by both teams.
Indianapolis Colts @ Minnesota Vikings
Minnesota is my upset pick of the week. Not because I don't think the Colts are a bad team, they're a good team. Not because I think the Vikings are a good team, they're slightly above average. This one comes down to the matchups, and I don't think the Colts matchup well against the Vikings. Vikings have a really good defense. Good lineman, good secondary. They will be in Manning's face all day, and Addai is going to have hard time getting past the line. Both parts of the offense will suffer and the Vikings O will control the ball with Adrian Peterson. Tavaris Jackson needs to do better as well, but he'll have a slightly easier time with the Colts then he did the Packers.
Seattle just keeps losing players. This year I think it is in the Cards to not make the playoffs for the Seahawks (pun intended...a very bad one), and in fact, they might even place 3rd or 4th in their division the way things keep going. Really a shame to see Mike Holmgren's final year going the way it is. He's had quite an impressive coaching career, take 2 teams to 3 SB's and getting a ring with one of them. Part of that Bill Walsh coaching tree legacy. The 49ers got some good players to take advantage of the Seahawks when their down and this week they'll do just that. It won't be easy and it won't be pretty, but San Fransisco wins.
Another tough game for these division rivals. I enjoyed what the Falcons did last week, but they won't have the luxury of a weak defense for their inexperienced offense to take advantage of. Also their defense is susceptable to the run, something the Buccaneers do fairly decently at. The Buccaneers are a tough and gritty team and should take care of things at home. Tampa Bay led by their defense pulls this one out.
The Cardinals are the team to beat in the NFC West this year. They've gotten more experienced from last year, and should improve. They still got two top-notch WR's, they still have Edgerin James who's always a solid runner, and Kurt Warner is still doing his thing behind center. The Dolphins on the other hand are in a complete rebuilding stage, and I don't expect them to win games against division or potential division winners for a couple more years. Arizona notchs another one.
Now if you would have asked me before Sunday what this was gonna be, I would answered the Patriots before you finished the sentance. Tom Brady out of the picture makes it a totally new piece of art. Here's the thing about Matt Cassel. Before this season, whenever I watched him play, I was always fairly impressed with his abilities to mimic what Brady does. He's no Tom Brady, but he does a good enough job usually to get the job done. Let's not forget who he has to help him out. Randy Moss. Wes Welker. The Patriots rotating starters at RB in Lawrence Maroney and Sammy Morris. And their O-line is still a very good O-line, don't care what other people say. As for Farve and the Jets, well....Farve will be Farve, and against a team as seasoned as the Patriots, that isn't good. I think Farve choose to wear the #4 still because thats how many games he expects to win a Jet. New England wins simply because they are still New England and the Jets are still the Jets.
Baltimore wins another one here. Texans are not quite there yet. They are close to getting a competitive team together, but they still have another year to go. Baltimore on the other hand still has that great defense, and an offense that has some promise. The Texans do have some pieces to build upon, just need one more year to really get it all together and make themselves playoff contenders.
I don't need any more convincing that Jay Cutley is going to be a really good QB in the NFL. He looked absolutely brilliant against the Raiders, and the Broncos rushing attack is still one of the best in the league. Consistant and a model for offensive lines. Eddie Royal looked like a prime WR against the Raiders, he'll be tested against the Chargers. Still, I think the consistancy of Jay Cutley combined with a good running game and a solid D will stop Ladianian Tomlinson and the Chargers. Denver wins another one.
Before the season began, I had predicted these guys will split. I take that back. Pittsburgh is not a better team from last year. They are a much better team from last year. Ben Roethlisberger has showcased why he's a Top 10, if not Top 5, QB in the NFL. Also, Willie Parker and that offensive line showed what Pittsburgh football is all about. Running the ball down your throats, while the QB makes the consistant and accurate passes to move the chains. Hines Ward was an absolute beast when blocking for Parker, he is so much fun to watch...and call it silly if you want, but the fact that he's smiling while he lays a huge block on you to me just makes me laugh with him. Let's not forget about their defense. Harrison is a monster. Steelers really found a gem to replace Joey Porter in this guy. Love watching him too, absolutely sickening what he can in all situations. His all-out high motor approach makes him even better of a player. Pittsburgh celebrates another victory and show who is still king in the AFC North.
Philadelphia Eagles @ Dallas Cowboys
Potential Game Of The Year. The Eagles are back as a top team in the NFL. A healthy QB, a rookie WR who shows no fear and is as tough as a coffin nail, an elite NFL RB, a defense that is younger strong and faster from last year. What's there not to like about this team besides the fact that you might hate him just because they play for Philadelphia. Still, they have quite a challenge on national television against the Dallas Cowboys. The battle for the NFC East is going to be a brutal one this year, and it truely starts here. Not the Giants versus the Redskins last week. That was just warmups, this is where the action is going to lay. Between these two teams, there might not be any other real chance of any other team making the Superbowl from the NFC. Saints are right there imo, but both these teams have something the Saints do not, and that's a smothering defense capable of shutting down a prolific offense. 2 Top 5 NFL QB's, 2 excellent offensive lines, 1 team has one of the best receiving cores in the game, the other has one of the best RB's in the game. On defense, both show up with a scary Front 7. Both have very good secondaries, Eagles boasting arguebly the best in the NFL. For everything you can say one team does well, the opposing team has more then enough potential, capability, and personel to counter them. So many things could happen during this game. It could be an offensive shootout, could be a defensive massacre...could be a game filled with gamebreaking plays from both sides of the ball. Could be sloppy as all hell due to the sheer fact that both teams are well stocked with talent. So let's break down the advantages a bit more closely.
QB - as I said, both teams sport a Top 5 QB. This category is null.
RB - advantage Eagles. Brian Westbrook is the most versatile RB in the game, capable of creating mismatches whereever he lines up.
WR - advantage Cowboys. Terrell Owens is what he always has been, a HOF career in the making filled with spectacular plays and a great physical style after the catch. The depth behind him is pretty decent too.
TE - advantage Cowboys. Cowboys got a Top 5 TE in Jason Witten. He's a beast in blocking or catching. An absolute in the redzone and between the 20's. If there is one player the Eagles really have to watch out for, it's this guy. They can stop Terrell Owens, they've done it very well 3 out of the last 4 meetings...Witten on the other hand is hard to contain. Hopefully Omar Gaither on the outside and Stewart Bradley in the middle provide enough speed for coverage.
Offensive Line - advantage Eagles. They might be older then the Cowboys line, but when it comes to offensive lines, experience goes a looooong way. Runyan and Thomas are still one of the best OT duo's in the league. Shawn Andrews is arguebly the most dominant guard in the NFL. Todd Herremans can play both tackle and guard, very versatile player. And the mix of Jamaal Jones (starter) and Nick Cole at center provide a very solid middle. They are one of the best groups in the NFL.
Defensive Line - advantage Eagles. Trent Cole is a Top 5 DE. He stops the run inside and outside, can drop back in coverage, clogs up holes and occupies lineman....oh, and he's one hell of a pass rusher too. Patterson and Bunkley are Pro-Bowl calibur DT's. They do an excellent job at all aspects except for dropping back into coverage...really, when does a DT do that though? On the other side, a good mix of Juqua Thomas and Darren Howard, whom also moves into the DT spot during certain situations, provide enough so far to make the D-Line one of the best at collapsing that pocket.
Linebackers - advantage Cowboys. They are just downright nasty, and their backups are good too. At least one of those backups could be a starter on most teams that run a 3-4. They cover their blitzs with near perfection, and are extremely fast. Eagles have younger more inexperienced linebackers, but their strength and quickness makes them a dangerous group. The Cowboys though, have the experience there and that's what makes them better.
Defensive backs - null. The Eagles have the better depth at CB, able to stop really any WR the Eagles choose to run their way. Two Pro-Bowlers in Asante Samuel and Lito Sheppard who are great at jumping routes and picking off the ball. Sheldon Brown adds a more physical element to the secondary, as he can lay some huge hits. The safeties, future HOF Brian Dawkins and Quintin Mikell provide good support past the CB's. Though I wish I saw more out of Mikell, but he does his job solidly enough. So why is it null then? Imo, the Cowboys have very solid talent at CB, not as much as the Eagles, but pretty close. Though their safeties, as a group, I think are better. Ken Hamlin is one of the most underrated free safety's in the game and Roy Williams can hit like a train. He can get burned in coverage, so he's a liability there. Doesn't mean he can't keep up with WR's either, but he needs to get the perfect though.
So who wins? Well, the biased fan in me wants to pick the Eagles. The unbiased fan in me says that the Cowboys will be able to pull it off in a close game.
Hell with it, I'm picking Philadelphia.