By Dan Durkin-
(CBS) Scoreboard operators were busy replacing light bulbs this week after an astounding 752 points were tallied in Week 1. Will the fireworks continue this weekend? Here’s my take on how the NFL’s Week 2 will shake out with my predictions and my juggernaut games of the week and my juggernot lames of the week:
Juggernaut Games of the Week
(Home teams in ALL CAPS)
Chicago 27, NEW ORLEANS 24 – 1:00 PM
Two NFC heavyweights square off in the Super Dome in what should be the NFL’s game of the week. Heavy hearts a plenty as the Bears heart and soul leader, Brian Urlacher, deals with the sudden and tragic loss of his mother, but professional athletes rarely need extra motivation. The Bears defensive line absolutely abused Atlanta in week one, but will face a much stiffer challenge against a stout Saints’ offensive line. If the Bears are unable to get consistent pressure with their front four and are forced to blitz to get pressure, Drew Brees will make them pay with downfield strikes. On the other side of the ball, defensive coordinator Gregg Williams will dial up intense pressure on a young Bears’ offensive line in a hostile Super Dome environment. This will be a field goal game either way, but I like the Bears chances against a shaky Saints’ defense that struggled to get pressure without blitzing, and was burned in turn by Aaron Rodgers.
Philadelphia 31, ATLANTA 23 – 8:20 PM
What a storyline for the Sunday night showdown, as a familiar face with a familiar number playing a familiar position returns to the Georgia Dome, only this time he’ll be on the opposing sideline. Mike Vick will be amped up for his first start in Atlanta since 2006. Vick claims to have played “lights out” in Week 1, which was an interesting description considering he completed a paltry 43% of his passes. Perhaps he was a week early with that description, as I look for the Eagles to soar in Week 2. Matt Ryan was battered and beaten by the Bears’ defensive line in Week 1, still looking like a caretaker quarterback. Until Ryan opens it up – rough week to try and open it up against a stout Eagles’ secondary – the Falcons will putter along and drop to 0-2.
NEW ENGLAND 38, San Diego 24 – 4:15 PM
Football robot Tom Brady put up an incomprehensible 517 passing yards in South Beach on Monday night, much to the delight of Patriots’ fans and fantasy football owners countrywide. Think about that for a moment. Brady single-handedly exceeded the yardage totals of starters: Alex Smith, Matt Cassell, Jason Campbell, Andy Dalton, and Donovan McNabb combined. As I mentioned last week, if you didn’t know the Patriots were the best team in the AFC prior to last week, you do now. Brady and company are on a mission in 2011 and even though the Chargers will provide more resistance, the Patriots will roll again in Foxboro.
Juggernot Lames of the Week
BUFFALO 20, Oakland 16 – 1:00 PM
I would prefer to don a suit of raw meat and be placed in a cage of grizzly bears recently out of hibernation than watch this game. That may be a touch extreme, but you get the point. Buffalo head coach Chan Gailey had an axe to grind with Chiefs’ coach Todd Haley, who kicked Gailey to the curb in 2009, and showed no mercy, piling up 41 points in a week one laugher in Arrowhead. The Bills won’t replicate that output this weekend, as the Raiders defense is an underappreciated unit, particularly stout on the front four. Even so, the Raiders commit far too many silly penalties, have a challenged passing attack, and when you combine that with the long flight to the east coast for a noon kickoff, I like the Bills to start 2-0.
DENVER 17, Cincinnati 14 – 4:15 PM
Bronco fans were inexplicably chanting “We want Tebow” in the waning moments of their Monday night dud against the Oakland Raiders. You want Tebow? Be careful what you wish for, as if you get Tebow, it will be “We want Luck” in April as you’ll be sitting atop round one in the 2012 draft. Anyone who really watched this game, sadly I have to include myself in this group, knows quarterback Kyle Orton wasn’t the reason the Broncos lost. Matador run defense to the tune of 190 yards, and a non-existent rushing attack were the problems here. When Kyle Orton has the longest rushing attempt in a game, your team has issues. All that said, I’m still going with the Broncos here to beat a Bengals team who hasn’t won in Denver in my lifetime.
INDIANAPOLIS 16, Cleveland 13 – 1:00 PM
It’s hard for me to comprehend the fact that I wavered on this pick for days. Wondering if the Colts can beat the Cleveland Browns in their home opener is hard to reconcile, yet I’m still not sure if they can, thus, I’m meekly endorsing the Colts here. The Colts were taken out of their game plan early last week as the Texans jumped all over them to the tune of 34-0 at the half. Look for the Colts to deploy a deliberate, slow-paced ground attack in what will be a boring battle of field goals.
Tampa Bay 20, MINNESOTA 17 – 1:00 PM
Could the Christian Ponder era be upon us earlier than expected? Granted all of the blame can’t be placed on quarterback Donovan McNabb who completed a woeful 7 passes for 39 yards against the Chargers, with 37 coming in the first half, as Bill Musgrave’s play calling was uninspired and the offensive line was, well, offensive. If McNabb is unable to get the offense going in the home opener, the boo birds will be out en masse. I look for Tampa Bay to rebound on the road after laying an egg in their home opener against Detroit.
DETROIT 27, Kansas City 13 – 1:00 PM
The paper champion Detroit Lions will be 2-0 after this weekend and pre-season pundits will puff out their chest with exclamations of “I told you so!” after they beat an atrocious Kansas City Chief outfit this weekend in Motown. Woo. Things are looking up in Detroit and stacking wins should definitely help bolster the confidence of a team still learning how to win. However, I put very little credence into bum-stomping, which is exactly what this win against the Chiefs will be.
Baltimore 31, TENNESSEE 10- 1:00 PM
Baltimore was mighty impressive in their decisive week one thrashing of rival Pittsburgh. The Ravens had it going on all cylinders forcing seven turnovers, and hanging 35 points on a proud Pittsburgh defense. Look for more of the same in week two when the Ravens run roughshod over a toothless Tennessee attack. Well, Chris Johnson does have a nice gold grill, but you just don’t run against the Ravens.
NY JETS 27, Jacksonville 13 – 1:00 PM
It was a three phase victory for the Jets in their week one cardiac comeback against the Cowboys, scoring 17 points in the final 12 minutes of the game. Since 1960 the Cowboys had never lost a game when leading by 14 points in the fourth quarter, so kudos to Rex Ryan for keeping his team focused and making some gutsy calls to rally them to victory. It’s hard to find any plausible argument for the Jaguars to win this weekend, so I won’t make one up.
PITTSBURGH 31, Seattle 7 – 1:00 PM
I really feel bad for the Seattle Seahawks, as very bad things are going to happen to them this weekend in the Steel city. Bad, terrible, horrifying things. After being completely embarrassed by the Baltimore Ravens in week one, you know Mike Tomlin is going to have his team foaming at the mouth. The Steelers have given up 35 or more points only twice since 2007, so expect Dick LeBeau to dial up a bevy of blitzes this weekend and shut down Seattle.
WASHINGTON 20, Arizona 17 – 1:00 PM
The last time Rex Grossman led a team to a 2-0 start they ended up in the Super Bowl, so should Redskins’ fans start booking hotels in Indianapolis? Umm, no. Watching rookie Cam Newton light up a non-existent Cardinals secondary, has to have Rex Grossman licking his chops at the downfield possibilities presented to him this weekend. Kevin Kolb was efficient in his first start, hitting several big plays down the field, but he faces a much better defense this weekend in Washington. Hail to the Redskins, at least for one more week.
Green Bay 38, CAROLINA 13 – 1:00 PM
Cam Newton I hope you savored the flavor of last week’s game against the Triple-A Arizona Cardinals, as this weekend the training wheels come off when the Panthers face a real big boy NFL team. Packers’ defensive coordinator Dom Capers is going to show Newton looks and blitzes he’s never seen before that will force quick decisions, leading to mistakes and turnovers. Aaron Rodgers was simply spectacular in the 2011 lid lifter, making all the right reads and delivering the ball with scorching velocity and surgical accuracy. It will be more of the same in week two as the Packers crush Carolina in Charlotte.
Dallas 27, SAN FRANCISCO 13 – 4:05 PM
Cowboys’ owner Jerry Jones dubbed quarterback Tony Romo’s week one performance against the Jets as “outstanding” while I call it “inexplicable.” Not only was the late interception thrown by Romo a terribly underthrown ball, it was an awful read. Underthrowing Dez Bryant when he had Darrelle Revis undercutting the route with safety help over the top? Inexcusable. Why does Romo continually get a pass from NFL observers? Crumbling late has become status quo for Romo, yet every week we’re exposed to his smiling mug on the tv and reflexively reminded of how “outstanding” he is as a quarterback. Please. Despite all this, the Cowboys defense was mighty impressive against the Jets, and I look for them to shut down a frail 49er attack in the city by the bay.
Houston 31, MIAMI 20 – 4:15 PM
If Monday night was any indication of how Miami will play pass defense this season, there will be plenty of flying pigskins when the Dolphins line up on Sunday against the Texans. Fresh off a thorough dismantling of NFC South foe Indianapolis, the Texans look to remain undefeated and keep Miami winless. Arian Foster will make his first appearance in 2011, adding another weapon to the potent Texan attack. Until the Dolphins tighten up their pass defense, and develop a consistent rushing attack, it’s impossible to expect them to compete this weekend with a motivated Houston team.
NY GIANTS 23, St. Louis 17 – 8:30 PM
Rams head coach Steve Spagnolo gets his first crack against the Giants, whom he coordinated a stingy defense to a Super Bowl Championship in 2008. Things haven’t quite gone as smoothly since taking over in St. Louis for Spagnolo, and with his best offensive weapons bruised and battered heading into Monday night – running back Steven Jackson (quad) and wide receiver Danny Amendola (elbow) are out, and quarterback Sam Bradford has an injury to the index finger on his throwing hand – it looks bleak in St. Louis. Coughlin gets the ship righted in New York, and the Giants pick up their first victory in 2011.
Dan Durkin joined The Score’s columnist community after finishing runner-up in the 2011 Pepsi Max Score Search. He is a graduate of the University of Illinois where he was a member of the men’s football team (despite his best efforts to join the women’s team). Dan is a longtime Scorehead, known as Dan in Wicker Park – even though he no longer resides in Wicker Park – who will be sharing NFL analysis and opinions. You can follow Dan on Twitter @djdurkin. To read more of Dan’s blogs click here.