Sunday, 16 September 2012

NFL Week 2 Preview

Tampa Bay Buccaneers  @ New York Giants

The Bucs got a win last week but they were unimpressive in doing so.  Josh Freeman needs to get into a rhythm and if he does his bit, then I expect Vincent Jackson and Dallas Clark to do theirs.  The Giants will be looking to bounce back from their opening day loss and the schedule has been kind to them.  I do think the Bucs will have a better season than many people expect but they are still coming together as a team.  The Giants secondary should be stronger this week with a few players coming back from injury.
Prediction - I do like the Bucs but I think the Giants will win comfortably enough.

New Orleans Saints @ Carolina Panthers

This could be another tricky game for the Saints.  They didn't cope well with RG3 last week and Cam Newton is quite similar.  One thing the Saints do have, is experience of playing Newton before.  The Saints need Drew Brees to be more accurate.  They will also need their defense to improve.  Their defense gave up over 450 yards and that is nowhere near good enough.  The Panthers had a bad defeat at the Bucs and will need to improve their running attack.  They have three quality backs and it looks as though, Jonathan Stewart, will be back for this game.  If the running attack is at full flow and receiver, Steve Smith, plays, then the Panthers offense will be explosive and will put up points against anyone.
Prediction - I fancy the Panthers to spring a surprise here and take the win.

Arizona Cardinals @ New England Patriots

Kevin Kolb will start for the Cardinals this weekend after performing well when called upon last week.  Kolb done well in the game winning drive but he'll find it much tougher this week in New England.  The Patriots look like being a contender again and the offense looks as explosive as ever.  Tom Brady has a lot of options and running-back, Stevan Ridley, made a positive start to his NFL career.  The Patriots look like they will be one of the main contenders again this season and if the defense has improved, as expected, then there's no reason the Pats won't be going all the way to the Superbowl.
Prediction - A comfortable win for the Patriots.

Minnesota Vikings @ Indianapolis Colts

The Vikings will need Adrian Peterson to play if they are to beat the Colts.  He is currently listed as probable and I can't help but feel that pretty much everything the Vikings do this year will depend heavily on him.  It's tough to judge how fit he will be after going down with a torn ACL last season but he certainly showed in week 1 that if the knee holds up, he still has what it takes to play at a high level in the NFL.  The Colts are another team who will rely heavily on one man.  Rookie quarterback, Andrew Luck, is saw by many as the man to save the Colts, after they finally parted company with Peyton Manning in the off season.  Luck will have to take better care of the football than he did last week and I think he will.
Prediction - Andrew Luck will pick up his first NFL win.

Baltimore Ravens @ Philadelphia Eagles

This should be a great game and one that I am feeling very nervous about.  The Ravens looked good in a blow out victory over the Bengals and the match ups look tight all over the field.  The Eagles struggled against the run last year but brought in Demeco Ryans from Houston and he had a great game last week.  This week the Eagles defense will have to deal with one of the best rushers in the league, Ray Rice.  I don't like saying it but the, much improved, Eagles defense were only playing the Browns last week and this will give a much clearer picture of exactly were the defense are at right now.  On the other side, the Eagles have an elite back of their own in LeSean McCoy.  McCoy had a good game last week and the Ravens defense didn't do great against the run, so it looks as though that will be another key battle.

Prediction - Unfortunately, I can't see anything but a Ravens win. 

Kansas City Chiefs @ Buffalo Bills

Both teams lost last week so they will be looking to get their seasons started with a win this weekend.  Both sides had positives and negatives.  One thing they both struggled with was turnovers.  It's almost impossible to win football games with a turnover ratio of minus three and that was the case in week one for the Bills and the Chiefs.  The Chiefs will look to get some yards on the ground through Jamaal Charles and Peyton Hillis.  If those two get firing and Matt Cassell can cut out the interceptions then the Chiefs could have a good year.  The Bills gave up a lot of points in the first three quarters last Sunday and found themselves 41-7 midway threw the third.  They will need to be better this week and they have upgraded their defense, so I expect they will improve in the coming weeks.  I am looking forward to seeing CJ Spiller this week.  He done well last week, when called upon, so it will be interesting to see if he can build on that performance. 
Prediction - The Bills to edge a tight one.

Cleveland Browns @ Cincinnati Bengals

Another two teams who started off with a defeat in week one.  The Browns can consider themselves unlucky to have lost to the Eagles.  They played well defensively but they will need a lot more from their two rookies on the offense.  Brandon Weeden and Trent Richardson were very disappointing last week.  I think Richardson will prove to be a good player but I am not so sure on Weeden.  The Bengals have a lot of young talent.  Andy Dalton is a good quarterback and AJ Green is already showing signs of becoming an elite receiver.  BenJarvus Green-Ellis is a good addition to the running attack and the Bengals look like a team with a bright future ahead of them. 
Prediction - The Bengals will win this one to get back to 1-1. 

Houston Texans @ Jacksonville Jaguars

This looks like a battle of the running-backs.  Arian Foster should be fit to start after leaving practice early during the week and Maurice Jones-Drew should be back as the starter at running-back.  The Texans have a much better backup plan if the run doesn't work.  Matt Schaub is a decent quarterback and Andre Johnson, on top form, is as good as most receivers in the league.  The Jags have Blaine Gabbert.  To be fair, Gabbert had a good game last week but he'll get it more difficult this week.  The Texans defense lost a few key players in the off season but they are still thought of as one of the best defenses in the league.
Prediction - A Texans victory.

Oakland Raiders @ Miami Dolphins

I can't see either of these sides getting to .500 by the end of the year.  Oakland will win a few but I think Miami could be a contender for the number one pick in next year's draft.  Oakland will look to get running-back, Darren McFadden involved from early on and if Carson Palmer can get the offense firing, then this is a winnable game for the Raiders.  The Dolphins will need rookie, Ryan Tannehill to cut out the turnovers.  Three interceptions in week one is far from good enough.  The Dolphins are relying to heavily on Reggie Bush at the moment, so if the Raiders can shut him down then the Dolphins will struggle to get points on the board.
Prediction - The Raiders to edge a low scoring affair.

Dallas Cowboys @ Seattle Seahawks

The Cowboys had a good win in New York last week against the Giants.  The Giants had a banged up secondary and the Cowboys took advantage of it.  Tony Romo threw for over 300 yards and the running game performed well with Demarco Murray rushing for 131 yards.  The offense looked good but the defense wasn't great.  The result looked good but the Giants receivers were poor and had a few, key drops.  The Seattle offense wasn't exactly firing in week one.  Rookie quarterback, Russell Wilson, had a game to forget.  He was only able to complete 18 of 34 passes, for 153 yards and also had an interception.  Wilson had a great preseason but it's almost impossible to judge performance in preseason, as so many teams play their backups.  The Seahawks will primarily try to get Marshawn Lynch involved and on his day he is a game winner but he will need some support from the rest of the offense.
Prediction - I think this game will be very close and thing the Seahawks might just nick it. 

Washington Redskins @ St Louis Rams

It will be interesting to get another look at RG3 this week to see if he can keep up last week's good form.  Last year, Cam Newton got off to a great start before slowing down half way through the season, so it will be interesting to see if RG3 can be more consistent.  It looks as though his top target from last week, Pierre Garcon, will miss this game through injury, so it already looks like being a tougher task.  The Rams made a lot of changes to their roster in the off season but they will need to show more on offense if they want to compete.  Key man, Steven Jackson averaged just 2.5 yards per carry last weekend.  Sam Bradford was quite accurate, completing 17 of 25 passes for 198 yards.  The biggest question is, why was he not given more to do?  Jackson was having a bad game, 53 yards from 21 carries, is a poor performance but they kept asking him to run when they had Sam Bradford who was averaging 7.9 yards per attempt.  The coaches let them down last week and if they don't learn from it then they'll be 0-2.
Prediction - I think the Rams will get the balance right this week and pick up a win.

New York Jets @ Pittsburgh Steelers

This looks like being a great game.  Both defenses should rank highly although the Steelers do have a few injuries to key players.  James Harrison and Troy Polamalu look likely to miss out and that will be a big blow to the Steelers.  The Steelers biggest concern, however, will be their offensive line.  It has been a weak point for a few years now and it is something they tried to address in the draft but early indications would suggest it's as bad as ever.  The Jets defense could cause real problems for the Steelers o-line.  The Jets biggest concern, will be their own offense.  Credit were it's due, they played well last week but I am still far from convinced by Mark Sanchez at quarterback.  Tim Tebow had time on the field last week in several positions, so the Jets biggest strength on offense could be their ability to keep the other team guessing.
Prediction - The Jets defense against that Steelers o-line gives me no choice but to predict a Jets win.

Tennessee Titans @ San Diego Chargers

Neither side looked particularly impressive in week one although the Chargers did manage to pick up a win.  The Chargers won but a lot of it was down to the performance of the Raiders, backup long snapper.  He had a horrible day and gifted the Chargers great field position on three occasions.  The Chargers still struggled to get into the end zone.  They ended up kicking five field goals in the game and only managed one touchdown.  I expected more from the Chargers but they will point to the fact they are 1-0 and at the end of the day that's the only stat that matters.  The Titans should have quarterback, Jake Locker, back after he left last weeks game in the fourth quarter with a shoulder injury.  Star running-back, Chris Johnson, needs to improve on a terrible performance last week.  He had 11 carries and only managed to get 4 yards.  I would expect to see a big reaction from Johnson in this weeks game.
Prediction - The Chargers to play better and go 2-0.

Detroit Lions @ San Francisco 49ers

This game should be a cracker between two of the best teams in the NFC.  The Lions were unconvincing last week but they have a few big players, on both sides of the ball, who would get into most teams in the NFL.  Matt Stafford had three interceptions last week which kept the game tight.  If Stafford is as careless this week, then the Lions will not win this game.  The 49ers were very impressive last week and they look very close to being the complete football team.  Great defense, great running game and their passing offense is looking impressive too.  Alex Smith played well last week, completing over 75% of his passes.  It's very early in the season but right now the 49ers look very strong.
Prediction - The 49ers to win comfortably.

Denver Broncos @ Atlanta Falcons

Monday Night Football looks like being a good game this week.  Peyton Manning looked good and he'll once again have the focus of the entire nation when his Broncos go to Atlanta.  The Broncos were a good side last year and I don't think we can underestimate how much of an upgrade they've had at quarterback.  Everyone loves Tim Tebow but the difference in him and Peyton Manning is like the difference in a heavyweight boxer and a flyweight.  They both essentially do the same thing but they have totally different styles and are total opposites.  The only question I had of the Broncos was, is this still the same Peyton Manning?  Week one would suggest that it is and if he can keep up that level of performance, then the Broncos will be a threat to anyone.  The Falcons have an explosive offense of their own.  Quarterback, Matt Ryan is a good quarterback and he has two fantastic receivers in Roddy White and Julio Jones.  Michael Turner is very good on the ground.  My biggest concern for Atlanta is there defense.  They gave up a lot of yards last week and if Manning can get into a rhythm he can hurt them.
Prediction - Another big night for Peyton Manning can send the Broncos to a 2-0 start.

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