By Dan Durkin-
(CBS) Three rookie quarterbacks – Andrew Luck, Ryan Tannehill, and Russell Wilson – picked up their first NFL victories in Week 2. Unfortunately, the replacement refs stole the show again, and the integrity of the NFL brand is being compromised each passing week. Week 3 features a few interesting games, and here’s how I think it will all play out:
(Home team in all CAPS)
Game of the Week: RAVENS 31, Patriots 27
Two heavyweights square off in Baltimore in an AFC Championship game rematch. I have a feeling that former Ravens kicker Billy Cundiff had a huge smile on his face last Sunday as Steven Gostkowski pulled a “gimme” game-winning field goal versus Arizona. There’s no excuse for the Patriots to let an inferior opponent like Arizona beat them in their home opener. For the Ravens, Joe Flacco missed a chance to make a statement last weekend versus Philadelphia, coming up small on a potential game-winning drive. I think the Ravens will feed the ball to Ray Rice to set up some downfield shots, and exact a little revenge.
BEARS 24, Rams 17
Sunday can’t come fast enough for the Bears and their jilted fan base. Last week’s reality check in Green Bay drudged up murky memories of what many thought the Bears no longer were. The Rams are no pushover. Being the youngest team in the league can be problematic, but it also allows them to play fearlessly. However, the Rams offense won’t be able to mount much of an attack against the Bears on the road.
COWBOYS 27, Bucs 23
The Jeckyl and Hyde Cowboys are back. After an impressive road win against the defending champ Giants, they laid an egg in Seattle. The Cowboys’ specials teams fumbled the opening kickoff, and then followed it up with a blocked punt, leading to 10 quick points. The Bucs have to be salty after failing to deliver a knockout blow to the Giants. They let them off the ropes, and Eli Manning shredded their secondary. I like the Cowboys passing attack against a suspect Bucs secondary.
49ers 27, VIKINGS 13
This should be the most lopsided game of the weekend. The talent gap between the 49ers and Vikings is wider than Michael Strahan’s two front teeth. Seeing that nobody runs on the 49ers, I don’t know how the Vikings will be able to get anything going offensively. The 49ers look Lombardi trophy worthy and will be 3-0.
Lions 23, TITANS 16
The Titans’ offense possessed the ball for 16:29 last weekend against the Chargers. Not for a half, for the entire game. What a gory stat and a telling indicator of just how lost the Titans’ offense is. A leaky offensive line, limited options in the passing game, and a non-existent running game. It gets no easier this weekend when the Lions come to town. If Mike Munchak’s seat isn’t hot right now, it will be very soon.
Bengals 27, REDSKINS 23
Lost in Josh Morgan losing his temper last week against the Rams and costing his team a field goal try, is that Brian Orakpo – you know, the guy who does caveman commercials – and Adam Carriker are done for the season. Those are huge blows to the Redskins front seven, which they may not recover from. The Bengals can move the ball offensively, and I like them this weekend on the road.
Jets 23, DOLPHINS 17
Outside of the Patriots, the AFC East stinks. Two thirds of said stink squares off in Miami. Thanks to an inspired effort from Reggie Bush, Ryan Tannehill collected his first NFL victory last weekend against the Raiders. This weekend, it’s a different defense altogether when the Jets come to town. I don’t think much of the Jets, but they’re better than the Dolphins at football.
SAINTS 34, Chiefs 23
Will the Kansas City Chiefs be motivated by Bob “Bulldog” Fescoe’s hysterically passionate rant? No, no they won’t. As I’ve written since Week 1, the Saints defense is suspect and I’ve seen nothing from them to change my opinion; however, their offense can still put up points. I expect Drew Brees to carve up an awful Kansas City defense en route to the Saints first win in 2012.
Bills 30, BROWNS 24
Led by rookie running back Trent Richardson, the Browns offense woke up in Week 2. Richardson looked strong in the running and passing game, showing open-field burst, wiggle, and power to break tackles. This is exactly what the Browns were hoping for when they drafted him to be a building block for the future. Unfortunately, their defense took a big step back last week against Cincinnati. The Bills can put up points, and I expect them to put up a bunch on Sunday
COLTS 24, Jaguars 20
Congratulations to Andrew Luck for picking up his first NFL win last weekend versus Minnesota. The Colts are years away from being contenders, but they have a chance to build some confidence this weekend against a divisional opponent. The Jaguars are a dreadful football team who compiled a woeful 117 total yards last weekend. Don’t look now, but the Colts are going to be 2-1.
Eagles 27, CARDINALS 20
The Cardinals are 2-0, just like everyone thought, right? They hung around long enough last weekend against the Patriots to think that they could win the game, and ended up doing just that. Their opponent – Philadelphia – also picked up a huge win last weekend against Baltimore. I expect the Eagles defense to feast on their former teammate Kevin Kolb this weekend, as they remain unbeaten.
Falcons 27, CHARGERS 24
Great matchup in San Diego between two undefeated teams, as the Falcons face the Chargers. Granted, the Chargers really haven’t played anyone yet, so this will be their first real test of the season. The Falcons should’ve blown out the Broncos last week but couldn’t, letting the Broncos hang around and almost win a game they had no business being in. Not sold on either one of these teams, but I’m going with Atlanta.
Texans 23, BRONCOS 20
After filling up on cream puffs – Miami and Jacksonville – the Texans face their first real challenge of the season in Denver. Like I’ve said all season, Peyton Manning’s arm strength just isn’t there, and after his dreadful performance on Monday Night Football it’s public knowledge now. The Texans are very talented team and I expect them to pick up a huge road win this weekend on their way to 3-0.
Steelers 24, RAIDERS 13
The Raiders are an awful football team. Their defense made Dolphins rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill look competent last weekend and Reggie Bush look like he was back at USC. Considering the Steelers are a significantly better team than the Dolphins are, I see very bad things happening to the Raiders this weekend in Oakland. Coast-to-coast trip or not, just lose, baby.
Packers 24, SEAHAWKS 17
Green Bay heads west to battle Seattle. Both of these teams rode strong defensive and special teams efforts to victory last week. Something is amiss with Aaron Rodgers and the Packers offense. Granted, it’s only been two games, but they are really struggling to get the ball down the field in the passing game, which has been their trademark for years. Seattle has a physically imposing secondary, which will be a big test for the Packers receivers. Qwest field isn’t an easy venue for road opponents, nonetheless, the Packers are a better football team.
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.