After going 5-8 last week (first week that bad in years), I am wondering if I’m in over my head. Am I being too stubborn about my contempt for the Patriots and the Broncos? Am I underestimating the truism that Houston is the new Seattle and that Seattle is the new St. Louis? I’m rolling the dice — full steam ahead.
13-0 or bust!!!
New England Patriots vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (in London). Does New England really need the assistance from the NFL of making this a “road” game? The Pats will win and the Bucs will play another tough road game away from sunny Raymond James Stadium. New England 95, Tampa Bay 0.
Green Bay Packers vs. Cleveland Browns. I like the Packers to feast during this part of their schedule. One week after playing the Lions, the Packers may be heading to Bali after this game. Green Bay 31, Cleveland 3.
San Francisco 49ers at Houston Texans. Aren’t the Texans the Bengals of the South. Aren’t they a team that cannot stand prosperity? Aren’t the 49ers coming to town with Frank Gore? San Francisco 30, Houston 24.
Minnesota Vikings vs. Pittsburgh Steelers. Game of the Week 1. The Steelers are playing without Aaron Smith. He’s the most important cog in their run defense. When he missed games in 2007 vs. Jacksonville, the Steel Curtain was shredded twice in a span of 3 weeks. Adrian Peterson should have a big game if he runs to the right. I don’t think it’ll be enough. I’ll take Ben, Hines and Santonio. Pittsburgh 45, Minnesota 42.
Indianapolis Colts vs. St. Louis Rams. Curse the Scheduling Gods! This just isn’t fair. Indianapolis 48, St. Louis 16.
San Diego Chargers vs. Kansas City Chiefs. If I’m the owner of the Chargers, this game tells me all I need to know about Norv Turner. (Okay, I should already know.) This is the first must win game of the season for the Chargers. Last week was bad enough, but it wasn’t fatal. The Colts won 9 in a row in 2008, only to lose to the Chargers in San Diego during the wildcard round. San Diego can get off the map, but not after this week. Do or die. San Diego 23, Kansas City 21.
Buffalo Bills vs. Carolina Panthers. There will be four talented running backs in this game: DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart for the Panthers and Marshawn Lynch and Fred Jackson for the Bills. There will be two awful quarterbacks and two beat up defenses. Both teams are coming off dramatic wins against division rivals. The Panthers have the better backs and are playing at home. Buffalo could give up 300 yards for the 2nd consecutive week. Carolina 28, Buffalo 13.
New York Jets at Oakland Raiders. The Jets NEVER (they did once in 2003) win in Oakland. In 2008, the Jets had a nice little winning streak where they won 7 of 8. The lone loss? At Oakland. In 2002, the Jets went 9-7, made the playoffs and won a wildcard game 41-0 vs. the Colts. That season, the Jets lost at Oakland twice. If the Jets win this game, it will be a minor miracle. Oakland 17, New York Jets 10.
Atlanta Falcons at Dallas Cowboys. Remember when Dallas found its defense last year against Tampa Bay and won at home in a shocker. This will be that game all over again. Wade is going to win this one with scheme and anticipation. Only Romo can lose it. If he’s smart enough to remember down and distance — and attack Brian Williams’ replacement, the Cowboys should win. Dallas 38, Atlanta 35.
Chicago Bears at Cincinnati Bengals. In the Cedric Benson Payback Bowl, I like the Bears to replicate the success of the Texans through the air. The Bears have a pass-catching tight end and running back capable of doing damage to the Bengals. If Olson and Forte can replicate Daniels and Slaton, it will a nice little road trip from the windy city. The absence of Antwaan Odom means Jay Cutler may have time to handle his business. Chicago 26, Cincinnati 23.
New Orleans Saints at Miami Dolphins. Game of the Week 2. I hope Miami comes out in the orange uniforms and hands Jennifer Lopez a microphone. This is going to be a great game. The contrast in styles, alone, is enough to provide a clinic for casual fans. The Saints, of course, are not a pass-only team. They can run the ball as well. The only difficulties for the Saints, in fact, have come in games where they were encouraged to run by the defense. The Saints required 3 quarters to dispose of the Bills and Jets (AFC East teams like Miami). Other games where the Saints run game was the focus were easily over by halftime. I like Miami’s power running and deep play action passing. Miami 28, New Orleans 27.
Arizona Cardinals vs. New York Giants. Kurt Warner will come back to town with ball security on his mind. He’ll also be thinking about torching the Giants the way that Drew Brees did last week. I like his chances. I like Arizona’s defense against the run. This is THE toughest stretch of games for the Cardinals. A win here, following a big win in Seattle, should serve notice to the conference that Arizona could be legit. Arizona 34, New York 28.
Philadelphia Eagles vs. Washington Redskins. This game couldn’t come at a better time for the Eagles. It couldn’t come at a worse time for the Redskins. Washington, though, may want its hand at beating teams with winning records since facing winless teams didn’t work out so well. If the Raiders could right the ship against the Eagles, so can Washington. The problem is that the Titanic can only sink once. Philadelphia 44, Washington 14.