Mark Sanchez and the Jets offense kick started the season with a bang. Will it continue this weekend on the road in Pittsburgh?
Thursday, September 13 8:20 pm ET – TV: NFL Network
Chicago Bears 1-0 @ Green Bay Packers 0-1
It just doesn’t work. You must have some form of an effective running game no matter how prolific your passing game is. Just take a good look at the Packers’ last two games offensively. Last year in the Divisional Playoff loss to the Giants, Rodgers was running for his life from the Giants vicious defensive front. And in the season opener at Lambeau, same story, same song. No running game and a one dimensional offense. And the move they made to bring along Cedric Benson to carry the load better workout because wins against the Bears and Lions will be much more difficult this season. Pick: Bears 27, Packers 24.
Final Score: Packers (1-1) 23, Bears (1-1) 13
Sunday, September 16
1:00 PM ET
Kansas City Chiefs 0-1 @ Buffalo Bills 0-1 – TV: CBS
With all the young explosive talented players on offense, it comes down to what defensive front can provide more pressure between both offenses that have a bad habit of turning over the football. So I have to put all my chips in on Buffalo’s Mario Williams to give flashes of greatness past with a Bruce Smith like performance for the hometown Bills. Pick: Bills 27, Chiefs 23.
Cleveland Browns 0-1 @ Cincinnati Bengals 0-1 – TV: CBS
Andy Dalton better be careful against this Browns defense that intercepted Michael Vick four times last week. But the good thing for him is that he won’t have a Ravens like pass-rush in his face this week. That means lots of completions and time to get the ball to his favorite receiver A.J. Green. Pick: Bengals 29, Browns 14.
Minnesota Vikings 1-0 @ Indianapolis Colts 0-1 – TV: FOX
First crack for Andrew Luck was dealing with Julius Peppers rushing him the entire afternoon. Next crack, he has to deal with another top pass-rusher Jared Allen. The experience is already kicking in the door for him. I expect him to make good throws, but on critical passing downs late in this game, he’ll get a warm welcome to the NFL from Mr. Allen. Pick: Vikings 27, Colts 20.
New Orleans Saints 0-1 @ Carolina Panthers 0-1 – TV: FOX
Offensively, the Saints being on the road will bring in a more physical type approach and try to establish the run, something they couldn’t do against a tough Redskins defense. I think they’ll be able to on Sunday and hit Carolina’s suspect secondary over the top for difference-making big plays that wins it for them in a tight game. Pick: Saints 31, Panthers 24.
Houston Texans 1-0 @ Jacksonville Jaguars 0-1 – TV: CBS
In a Jones-Drew/Foster fantasy football battle, Foster comes out on top by 5 points. Great to see Andre Johnson healthy running routes, catching passes and hauling in a touchdown pass. Johnson’s line: 10-catches, 113-yards and a touchdown grab. Pick: Texans 27, Jaguars 13
Oakland Raiders 0-1 @ Miami Dolphins 0-1 – TV: CBS
Denarius Moore (hamstring) is probable and ready for action. This is good news for a Raiders offense that doesn’t have much depth at receiver. Point being, Darren McFadden had 13 catches, something you rarely see from a running back. McFadden will continue to get lots of touches and Carson Palmer will go vertical with the passing game and test Miami’s secondary. Pick: Raiders 26, Dolphins 17.
Arizona Cardinals 1-0 @ New England Patriots 1-0 – TV: FOX
Reinventing yourself, something you did good in the past. Like New England drafting Chandler Jones who gives New England a top pass-rusher off the edge to improve a defense that statistically was dismal last season, particularly against the pass. And having a pass-rush can turn a suspect secondary into a top unit. As far as the game goes, if Arizona has a prayer, they better be able to have a dynamite game running the football. They only had 23-yards rushing last week against Seattle. Pick: Patriots 31, Cardinals 14.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 1-0 @ N.Y. Giants 0-1 – TV: FOX
Saw a very stingy Tampa defense last week that shut down Carolina’s passing game. They get a much more difficult task with game two on the sked trying to stop Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks. Both defenses will key on the running game, so it comes down to what passing game and receivers have a better chance at gaining yards after the catch. Advantage Cruz and Nicks if that’s the case with Eli Manning and the New York passing attack bouncing back after last week’s stagnant offensive performance. Pick: N.Y. Giants 28, Buccaneers 13.
Baltimore Ravens 1-0 @ Philadelphia Eagles 1-0 – TV: CBS
Many ask why the Eagles offense struggles from time to time? Answer: Not physical enough on offense. Sure speed kills, but not having enough big bodies at receiver can hurt you when playing against a defense that likes to challenge receivers by playing bump & run at line the line of scrimmage. Expect Baltimore to use that approach defensively to stack the box on LeSean McCoy and play tight coverage on DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin (hip) who will be a game time decision. Baltimore wins in a battle of turnovers and field position. Pick: Ravens 24, Eagles 20.
4:05 PM ET
Washington Redskins 1-0 @ St. Louis Rams 0-1 – TV: FOX
With all the hype surrounding RG III, this game in my eyes is the Mike Shanahan/Jeff Fisher Bowl, both great coaches who have the magic to turn things around for franchises that have struggled recently. Shanahan has much more talent on both sides of the ball and we just might hear lots of RG III to Pierre Garcon in 2012. Garcon (foot) is questionable, however. This will be a much better game than expected with Washington’s defense getting after Sam Bradford more than St. Louis getting after Griffin. Pick: Redskins 23, Rams 17.
Dallas Cowboys 1-0 @ Seattle Seahawks 0-1 – TV: FOX
Here’s a key point of Dallas’ win on opening night in New York. Leading 17-10 in the final quarter, the offense put together an 8 minute drive running the football with DeMarco Murray through the heart of a Giants dominate defensive front to set up Romo’s touchdown pass to Miles Austin. If Murray can stay healthy, Dallas now has a physical element offensively that takes the pressure off of Romo’s shoulders in the 4th quarter in tight games. The running game can close things out for them not relying on the passing game to do all the work. And I think it helps them again this week with Seattle pushing Dallas to the edge. Pick: Cowboys 20, Seahawks 13.
4:25 PM ET
N.Y. Jets 1-0 @ Pittsburgh Steelers 0-1 – TV: CBS
No Darrelle Revis (head), no way can I see New York’s secondary slowing down Antonio Brown or Mike Wallace and the Steelers passing attack. Besides, this is a must win to avoid dropping to 0-2 game for Mike Tomlin’s Steelers that’ll be in fire-drill mode. Pick: Steelers 31, N.Y. Jets 20.
Tennessee Titans 0-1 @ San Diego Chargers 1-0 – TV: CBS
In a punch, kick, do everything you can to win type game, Philip Rivers and the Chargers offense will find one more open hole in the secondary better than Tennessee. Pick: Chargers 24, Titans 17.
Sunday Night Football in America 8:20 PM ET – TV: NBC
Detroit Lions 1-0 @ San Francisco 49ers 1-0
One thing is for sure, San Francisco will keep a safety over the top on Calvin Johnson. Doesn’t mean Matthew Stafford won’t take shots deep on San Francisco’s secondary because Johnson is the only player on the field offensively for Detroit that can possibly do damage against the best defense in the league. So send the kitchen sink at Stafford, something they’ll do all night long to disrupt the timing of Detroit’s passing game. Pick: 49ers 27, Lions 17.
Monday Night Football, September 17 – TV: ESPN 8:30 PM ET
Denver Broncos 1-0 @ Atlanta Falcons 1-0
It’s a definite crushing blow to Atlanta’s defense losing Brent Grimes for the remainder of the season. This has offensive shootout written all over it. But will it really be a shootout? I think Atlanta goes power running game with Michael Turner between the tackles trying to get Denver’s Elvis Dumervil out wide eating up clock establishing the run. That’ll be smart, because I don’t think you want to get into a score for score type shootout with Peyton Manning on the opposite side of things in the dome. And as good as Dumervil is, Atlanta’s offensive line has been sensational at home on critical passing downs when protecting Matt Ryan. Pick: Falcons 23, Broncos 20.