Saturday, September 17, 2011

NFL Week 2 Picks: Michael Vick Will Be Victorious in His Return to Atlanta

Every week in the NFL is important. That being said, statistically speaking Week 2 can be huge for some teams.

If a team starts the season 0-2 their chances of making the playoffs is just above 12-percent. If they go 1-1 then those odds jump to over 40-percent.

Now take a look at some of the teams that lost in Week 1: Pittsburgh, New Orleans, Atlanta and St. Louis.

All those teams were heavy favorites to make the playoffs and possibly win their division. There’s even been talk of getting to the Super Bowl for those teams.

It’s early in the season and not even close for any of these teams to be hitting the panic button, but history shows that it’s important to get at least one victory in the first two weeks of the season.

How will those teams fare this week?

The biggest storyline, however, will be Michael Vick’s return to Atlanta. Vick lead’s his “Dream Team” back to where his NFL career began as well as where it all fell apart. Will Vick rise to the occasion, or will his emotions (and the Falcons pass rush) get the best of him?

Who do you think will win?

Kansas City (0-1) at Detroit (1-0)

The Chiefs were demolished at home in Week 1, a place they only lost at once last season. Now they have to go on the road against a team that was impressive on the road and will look to show their home crowd that this is not their ordinary Lions.

The big issue for Detroit all offseason was that they could contend IF Matthew Stafford was healthy all year. He showed in Week 1 why that is. He threw for 305 yards and had three touchdown passes to go along with a 118.9 quarterback rating. He did have an interception, but not totally his fault as it tipped off of his receiver.

The Chiefs were manhandled by Ryan Fitzpatrick last week, so it should be another big week for Stafford.

Detroit wins.

Oakland (1-0) at Buffalo (1-0)

The trend the past few seasons is that teams that West coast teams that have to travel across the country to the East coast and play in the 1 p.m. game do not fare well at all. Add to the Raiders woes that they played Monday night in the late game of the Monday doubleheader and that means they have less time to prepare and rest.

The Raiders’ play Monday night was also not terribly impressive. They got the win, so that’s good for them. But their three-point victory was done in most part thanks to Denver’s three turnovers, including a fumble by Kyle Orton with the Broncos at the Raiders’ 24-yard line.

Oakland had fewer yards gained, more penalties for more yards, a worse third down completion percentage and also gave up a 90-yard punt return for a touchdown.
Meanwhile the Bills were incredibly efficient mopping up the field with the Chiefs. Ryan Fitzpatrick had a huge day and he should do well against an Oakland secondary that is not as tough to play against without Nmamdi Asomugha.

Buffalo wins.

Tampa Bay (0-1) at Minnesota (0-1)

It was a disappointing start to the season for both teams. There is much more upside to the Buccaneers however.

The Buccaneers are younger and they have better chemistry and continuity than the Vikings do.

Case in point: Minnesota boasts Donovan McNabb as its starting quarterback. He’s always been a great person who does a lot off the field. He’s a likable guy. And he’s done some great things on the football field as well. Sometimes he doesn’t get the credit that he deserves and instead gets more criticism than what’s fair. That being said, his age (34) is starting to show.

Last season with the Washington Redskins he was benched and was a part of an ugly media frenzy regarding his playing time. Lots of things were said but at the end of the day Mike Shanahan, who is known for getting the most out of his quarterbacks, came to the conclusion that McNabb couldn’t play for him.

Now in Week 1 McNabb hit an all-time low, throwing for only 39 yards and posting an ugly 47.9 passer rating.

Josh Freeman’s Week 1 wasn’t anything to write home about, but he at least threw for triple digits in yards. And he had a touchdown pass in the fourth quarter—the only score in the period—to bring the Bucs within a touchdown of the tie, so at least he had some fight in him.

Tampa Bay wins.

Chicago (1-0) at New Orleans (0-1)

Chicago was impressive in Week 1. And maybe they don’t get the credit they deserve. Much like last year they could play well and be successful this year but all you’ll hear pundits say is that they aren’t as good as their record is and that Jay Cutler is an inconsistent quarterback.

Still, are they as good as New Orleans is?

The Saints were tough luck losers to the defending- Super Bowl champs last week even though they put up an impressive offensive performance.

The defense will have to step up and not yield 42 points, no matter how good their offense is. But still with Drew Brees on the field, this team is a strong favorite to play in at least the NFC Championship game.

At home they’ll look to get out their aggressions from last week’s loss.

New Orleans wins.

Baltimore (1-0) at Tennessee (0-1)

The Ravens defense has heard people say that they are getting too old to be effective. And the unit has responded.

The Ravens picked off Ben Roethlisberger three times, made him fumble twice and limited Rashard Mendenhall to only 45 yards rushing and forced him to fumble the ball once as well.

What do you think they’ll do to Chris Johnson, who was a major disappointment with only 24 yards rushing against the Jaguars, and to the injury-prone Matt Hasselbeck?
Baltimore wins.

Cleveland (0-1) at Indianapolis (0-1)

Both teams were ugly in Week 1, but the Colts were uglier.

Kerry Collins, with only a couple weeks to work with the offense, fumbled twice and looked comically out of sorts with his new team after coming out of retirement. And still, he’s much better than the alternative (Curtis Painter).

It’s amazing to think of how valuable Peyton Manning really is. Time and time again he put the team on its shoulders when so many star players around him fell to injury; now with the shoe on the other foot his team cannot function, let alone pick him up.

It’s only one week, but the Colts also were bad on defense and couldn’t run the ball. These have been problems in the past, but they always had Peyton to save them.

Not anymore.

Cleveland wins.

Jacksonville (1-0) at New York Jets (1-0)

The defense was shaky early on, but the Jets pride themselves on their defense and that unit stepped up huge in the fourth quarter against the Cowboys.

They got a big game-winning 50-yard field goal from Nick Folk, something no Cowboy fan ever thought would happen.

The running game will need to step up for the Jets, but if their defense—which only allowed 64 rushing yards last week—can contain Maurice Jones-Drew the Jaguars offense offers little else and is not as dynamic as the Jets offense.

New York wins.

Seattle (0-1) at Pittsburgh (0-1)

Pittsburgh was embarrassed last week. No way they let that happen to them again, especially at home.

Take a look at the Seahawks: Tarvaris Jackson did not look good at quarterback, Sindey Rice did not play because of a shoulder injury and has been ruled out again and they ran the ball for only 64 yards.

This is all without mentioning how bad the special teams play was.

The odds are in the Steelers’ favor for a bounce-back game here.

Pittsburgh wins.

Arizona (1-0) at Washington (1-0)

Yes, the Cardinals did an awful job of defending Cam Newton. But this win wasn’t as bad as people make it out to be.

The Cardinals got great games out of Kevin Kolb (309 passing yards, two touchdowns, zero interceptions in his Arizona debut), Beanie Wells (90 yards rushing and a touchdown) and Early Doucet (105 yards, one touchdown). If all these guys continue to perform at similar levels and you throw in Larry Fitzgerald this team may not be so bad.

The Cardinals defense did render the Carolina rushing game rather useless.

The Redskins capitalized on a number of the Giants’ mistakes. They played well but they’ll need the Cardinals to play similarly, and it’s tough to imagine anyone else playing as bad as New York did.

Arizona wins.

Green Bay (1-0) at Carolina (0-1)

It was the Cam Newton show for the Panthers last week and that’s all well and good. But he’s only one guy.

The Packers were the best overall team last year and they look even better this year with an impressive win over the Saints. And a lot of guys played big roles, not just one.

Green Bay wins.

Dallas (0-1) at San Francisco (1-0)

So Alex Smith had a 90.4 passer rating and didn’t turn the ball over?

There were multiple Ted Ginn Jr. sightings?

Frank Gore rushed for only 59 yards and no touchdowns, yet the 49ers still won?

Who is this team?

San Francisco was a pleasant surprise in Week 1.

Dallas was predictable.

A blown lead, a late collapse and a costly fourth quarter Tony Romo turnover? I’m feeling a bit of déjà vu.

San Francisco wins.

San Diego (1-0) at New England (1-0)

The Patriots haven’t lost a regular season home game since 2008. They have won four of the past five meetings against the Chargers.

And as good as Philip Rivers is, he didn’t just throw for 517 yards last week.

New England wins.

Houston (1-0) at Miami (0-1)

Houston did a great job against the Colts in Week 1. Derrick Ward and Ben Tate played very well replacing Arian Foster, who looks like he will return to action this weekend. The defense played well. Also, Matt Schaub is still hooking up with Andre Johnson.

The Texans still managed to lose the turnover battle though, with a lost fumble and two interceptions thrown.

The Dolphins played the Patriots tightly, but were no match against a clearly superior team. The defense underperformed (which might be too kind of an assessment) but the offensive skill players played well.

Chad Henne may have been forgotten about because of Tom Brady’s enormous game, but
Henne still threw for 416 yards and two touchdowns. He did throw an interception, but it was a toss-up at the end of the game in an attempt to get a long-scoring play to make the game tighter. He also lead the team in rushing yards and had a rushing touchdown.

Reggie Bush had a good night with 94 all-purpose yards and a touchdown, and Brandon Marshall was unstoppable. New England had a lot of problems matching up with Marshall as the receiver went off for 139 yards.

Miami got a bit predictable when throwing to Marshall, but Bush, Davone Bess and Anthony Fasano all played well enough to force Henne to trust his other options instead of jamming it down the field to Marshall.

Miami wins.

Cincinnati (1-0) at Denver (0-1)

Kyle Orton threw for 304 yards yet the home crowd still chanted for Tim Tebow, who is considered the third quarterback on the depth chart.

The Broncos bested the Raiders in yards, third down conversions and penalties but still lost.

Champ Bailey, Brandon Lloyd and Knowshon Moreno all ended up watching the end of the game from the sidelines.

None of that is good news for Denver.

For the Bengals, Andy Dalton has been cleared to play against the Broncos and is expected to start.

Cincinnati wins.

Philadelphia (1-0) at Atlanta (0-1)

It will be a pretty emotional game. The city of Atlanta loved Michael Vick. And they were heartbroken when his legal trouble brought his tenure there to an end.

The city has since rebounded with Matt Ryan and the team is doing well generally speaking, but Michael Vick is still the most entertaining player in the NFL. It seems like everyone wants a chance to play with him.

And he once was property of the Falcons.

The fans will have a little impact on the game, but the ball won’t be in their hands. It will be in Vick’s. And you have to imagine that he’s had this game circled for quite some time.

There shouldn’t be any animosity on Vick’s part towards the city of Atlanta or the Falcons’ organization, but one would think he would be incredibly excited to show off in front of his former team. He must be salivating at leading his star-studded team up against a side that got rocked last weekend.

We could all be in for a show.

Philadelphia wins.

St. Louis (0-1) at New York Giants (0-1)

All the years experience the Giants have on their roster, all the money their players make, all they talent they have, none of it means a thing anymore. Because this is a team that plays with zero heart.

Their quarterback makes so many mindless mistakes and turnovers and then pouts off the field. The running backs look rather uninspired. The defense is without its two best players and the team’s two real leaders. Special teams was, and has been the past couple of years, a disaster.

And the coach, in four seasons since their Super Bowl victory, doesn’t do anything about it. In fact, his demeanor and harsh personality probably only intensify the terrible attitude this team has.

It doesn’t matter how many players the Rams have to sit because of injury; the Giants need to prove that they’re going to at least show up for a game before anyone predicts them to win.

St. Louis wins.

Last Week: 10-6

Season: 10-6

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