One of my favourite things about the NFL is how predictably unpredictable it is. Through 2 weeks, the NFC West is a combined 5-1 against non-division opponents, whereas the Patriots, Saints and Packers have a total of 2 wins and 4 losses. The superstar quarterbacks are struggling, and I have a theory as to why. The replacement referees have allowed much more contact downfield between corners and wide receivers. Defensive backs around the league have noticed this and have responded by clutching and grabbing jerseys to prevent receivers from getting in and out of their breaks. I think you’ll see passing numbers explode if/when the real refs return.
New York Giants @ Carolina Panthers
The Giants are coming off a very emotional and hard fought game against the Bucs. They are without Hakeem Nicks, Ahmad Bradshaw and David Diehl. The secondary is banged up and they are on the road. Carolina is coming off a short week also, but they are healthy, could get Jonathan Stewart back and get the home game.
St. Louis Rams @ Chicago Bears
The Bears have had a week and half to prepare for this home game. The Rams have been playing better, but we are unsure of the status of Stephen Jackson’s groin. Daryl Richardson reminds me a lot of McCluster with a bit more size, but I can’t see him having a ton of success against the Bears. This shouldn’t be a cake walk for the Bears, but I expect them to come out on top.
Buffalo Bills @ Cleveland Browns
Which teams show up on Sunday? The Bills looked awful in the opener against the Jets, as did the Browns against the Eagles. Last week, both teams looked much better. The Bills defensive line showed up last week and it made all the difference. The Browns offensive line is very good, and I think that battle will tell the tale. With Joe Haden out, I just don’t see the Browns being able to cover well enough.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Dallas Cowboys
The Bucs pass defense got shredded last week by Eli Manning. The Cowboys have an aerial attack that is equal to that of the Giants, but they also have a stronger running game with Demarco Murray. The game is in Dallas and the Boys know they need to get back in the win column after a disappointing road loss to the Seahawks. All eyes will be on the kneel down if the Cowboys are up late.
Detroit Lions @ Tennessee Titans
Last week the Lions looked frustrated against the 49ers. Matt Stafford looked sloppy, the ball was slipping out of his hands and he couldn’t find open guys down field. They also couldn’t run the ball effectively. Even with all that, they were within 10 points of what I consider the best team in the NFL right now. Calvin should have an easier time getting open, Mikel Leshoure will add an element to the run game and Stafford will be sharp. The Titans have played well, but need to run the ball more effectively to help Jake Locker.
Jacksonville Jaguars @ Indianapolis Colts
I’ll tell you right now, the bottom line is I’m taking the Colts because they are at home. The Colts offense is much better through the air, the Jags offense is much better on the ground. The Jags defense can stop the run better than the pass, and the Colts defense has been suspect in general. Although the Colts offensive line is weak, the Jags don’t have a great pass rush. Luck should thrive.