By Dan Durkin –
(CBS) Flying pig skins filled the air in the opening weekend of NFL action. A record-setting 63 touchdown passes were thrown in Week 1. Here’s my take on how Week 2 will play out.
(Home team in all CAPS)
Game of the Week: 49ers 27, SEAHAWKS 24 – 7:30 PM
After last week’s Sunday night amateur hour, fans are rewarded this week with the NFC’s finest. It’s hard to find flaws with either of these teams, as they both possess dynamic quarterbacks who orchestrate creative attacks and their defenses are physically dominant. The Seahawks stumbled a bit out of the blocks, while the 49ers were hitting on all cylinders. Despite the home field crowd set on breaking the Guinness record for crowd-noise, I like the 49ers to make a statement in Seattle.
FALCONS 27, Rams 23 – Noon
These two teams played opposite games in their season openers. The Falcons surged to an early lead only to fade in the second half in a divisional loss to the Saints. The Rams rallied late in the fourth quarter in a divisional win against the Cardinals. A fierce Rams pass rush will test a shaky Falcons offensive line, but the Falcons weapons in the passing game will be the difference.
Panthers 20, BILLS 17 – Noon
Both of these teams took Super Bowl contenders to the wire in Week 1 only to come up short. EJ Manuel’s NFL debut was encouraging, however, the Bills defense is suspect, particularly against the run. The Panthers defense, on the other hand, is for real. I anticipate a run-heavy game plan from the Panthers as they pick up a difficult road win.
PACKERS 31, Redskins 23 – Noon
The similarities between these teams extend beyond winning their divisions in 2012, they’re both winless and their defenses got gashed in Week 1. The Packers defense has given up 1,073 yards and 79 points in their last two games, casting serious doubts about their legitimacy as a Super Bowl contender. The Redskins looked utterly unprepared for the season on both sides of the ball, which won’t bode well this week in Lambeau.
Dolphins 23, COLTS 21 – Noon
For the second straight week, Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill matches up against a fellow 2012 first-round counterpart. Last week, the Dolphins defense led the charge against the Browns, putting a lot of heat on Brandon Weeden and shutting down the Browns running game. The Colts looked shaky against a team many think has a realistic shot at going 0-16. I’ve been dubious of the Colts all offseason because of their defense and offensive line. The Dolphins defensive front will overpower the Colts.
Cowboys 23, CHIEFS 20 – Noon
Still baffled at how the Cowboys defense generated six turnovers against the Giants, yet only won the game by five points. Tony Romo’s ribs were tenderized and Dez Bryant’s ankle took an awkward bend, so how healthy are they? After walloping the dreadful Jaguars, it’s hard to get a handle on the Chiefs. Certainly they’re improved from last season, but I still have doubts.
RAVENS 30, Browns 17 – Noon
I think Peyton Manning just threw another touchdown pass against the Ravens. Last week’s effort wasn’t what the defending champs had in mind. The Ravens were thoroughly dismantled in Denver and big issues were exposed in their secondary. Luckily, Brandon Weeden is in town. AFC North games are always physical battles, but the Ravens are decidedly more talented and will be amped up for this one.
TEXANS 24, Titans 17 – Noon
The team that used to be in Houston battles the team that filled their void. It took a full half for the Texans to realize the season had started, but they responded in fine fashion. Matt Schaub led three scoring drives and the defense stiffened, allowing only 90 second-half yards. The Titans surprised the Steelers and defensive coordinator Gregg Williams’ return to the NFL had a lot to do with it. The Texans defense will be the difference in this game, shutting down the one-dimensional Titans.
EAGLES 31, Chargers 27 – Noon
The dizzying tempo of Chip Kelly’s offense was mesmerizing and a watershed moment for the NFL. Yes, it’s only one game, but unconventional can now become conventional. The high-volume offense cuts both ways, as Kelly doesn’t have 85 scholarship players in the NFL. Fatigue will be an issue for both the Eagles and their opponents this season. The Chargers are traveling coast-to-coast for a Noon kick coming off a second-half collapse, give me the Eagles.
BEARS 27, Vikings 20 – Noon
With Christian Ponder at the trigger, the Vikings remain a one-dimensional offense. Schematically, this simplifies a defensive coordinators’ game plan, as they don’t have to cover every area of the field. Adrian Peterson will get his every week, so it becomes a matter of limiting his number of explosive plays. I anticipate a big day from Matt Forte as the Bears run their record to 2-0.
Lions 24, CARDINALS 21 – 3:05 PM
Patrick Peterson versus Calvin Johnson is must-watch television. The Lions season got off to an ominous start. Their impressive opening drive of the season was marred by a fumbled snap on a field goal attempt, then on the next play, Adrian Peterson got loose for a 78-yard touchdown. So. Lions. They rebounded well and earned a divisional win. The Cardinals let a late 11-point lead slip away. The Lions defensive line will control the line of scrimmage en route to victory.
Saints 31, BUCS 23 – 3:05 PM
Greg Schiano’s college approach to running a team may already have worn thin, as it’s only Week 2 and the Bucs appear to be unraveling. As if the brutal loss to the hapless Jets wasn’t bad enough, a power play is brewing between the head coach and quarterback. For years, I’ve questioned why Josh Freeman is still starting and he may be on borrowed time. The Saints looked strong in Sean Payton’s return and will get to 2-0 in the division.
RAIDERS 16, Jaguars 13 – 3:25 PM
It’s the 2014 NFL Draft Lottery Bowl, loser wins. To my surprise, the Raiders – specifically quarterback Terrelle Pryor – looked better than expected, taking the Colts to the wire. The Jaguars? Simply wretched, a truly amateur outfit. What else does this organization need to see to realize Blaine Gabbert isn’t a starting quarterback? Pre-order your Bridgewater #5 jerseys, Jaguar fans.
Broncos 37, GIANTS 27 – 3:25 PM
Manning Bowl Part III in New York. Peyton’s season got off to a storybook start, tying an NFL-record with seven touchdown passes. Little brother Eli’s season opener was a six-turnover nightmare in Dallas. The Giants are in trouble. The back seven of their defense is a mess, their running back situation is so grim they summoned Brandon Jacobs off his couch. The Broncos hope this isn’t their only victory in MetLife Stadium this season.
BENGALS 27, Steelers 20 – 7:30 PM Monday Night
AFC North battle between two teams seemingly pointed in opposite directions. Save for some inopportune mental errors, the Bengals played well enough to win in Week 1. The Steelers, however, are in trouble. Injuries, a misfit offensive coordinator, no running game, all point to a long season in Pittsburgh.
(Season record: 10-6)
Follow Dan on Twitter: @djdurkin