By Doug Halberstadt
Peyton Manning throws seven touchdown passes and ties an NFL record in the Broncos’ 49-27 win over the Baltimore Ravens in the season-opener last Thursday night (Sept. 5). Sunday, Sept. 8, the Bears win at home and the Packers lose on the road. What an exciting week to open up the 2013 NFL season.
Week No. 2 gets started tomorrow night (Thursday, Sept. 12) when the New York Jets visit Gillette Stadium to take on the New England Patriots. Both teams won last week in close games. New England was 2 points better than the Buffalo Bills, and the Jets squeaked out a 1-point victory over Tampa Bay. This week, I look for the Patriots to improve to 2-0 and win by more than just 2 points.
Out of the remaining 15 games on the week two schedule, I’m taking 11 home teams and only four visitors. One of the visiting teams I like is the Denver Broncos. They travel to New York to take on the Giants in the (Peyton) Manning versus (Eli) Manning Bowl. Based on their performances in week one’s games, it’s pretty hard to pick against the elder Manning in this one.
New Orleans, Detroit and San Francisco are the other three road teams I think should come away with wins and improve their records to 2-0. The Saints are coming off a big win over the Falcons. This week, they should pick up their second win and drop the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to 0-2.
After a nice 10-point win over the Minnesota Vikings (34-24), the Detroit Lions travel to Arizona to take on the Cardinals. The Lions are much improved with the addition of running back Reggie Bush to their starting backfield. The Cardinals don’t have the defensive manpower to stop both Bush and his teammate, wide receiver Calvin “Megatron” Johnson. I’m not sure they can win by double digits two weeks in a row, but I do think they’ll get the “W.”
San Francisco probably has the toughest challenge on the road. The 49ers have to take on the Seahawks in Seattle. Both teams won their openers. The 49ers racked up 34 points in their victory over the Packers. Seattle managed to score only 12 points in their win against the Panthers. The offensive weapons the 49ers bring to the table — in newly-acquired Anquan Boldin and returning veterans Vernon Davis, Frank Gore and quarterback Colin Kaepernick — are the ingredients to a very powerful scoring machine. I wouldn’t be surprised if the 49ers score in the 30s again on their way to a 2-0 start to the year.
Of all the home teams I’m taking, I like Atlanta over the St. Louis Rams the most. Atlanta lost in week one to New Orleans, and I don’t see them dropping two in a row to open up the year. I also think the Bears and Packers will prevail at home in week two. The Bears battle their NFC North rival, the Minnesota Vikings. The Vikings have superstar Adrian Peterson, but that’s about it. If the Bears’ defense can keep him somewhat in check, they shouldn’t have a problem giving Head Coach Marc Trestman his second consecutive win.
Green Bay will try to improve to 1-1 when they welcome the Washington Redskins to Lambeau Field. I’m confident Head Coach Mike McCarthy and quarterback Aaron Rodgers will make the necessary adjustments and learn from some of the mistakes made in week one to keep the Pack from falling to 0-2.
The other teams I think will take advantage of playing at home are the Buffalo Bills over the Carolina Panthers, the Indianapolis Colts over the Miami Dolphins, and the Baltimore Ravens are well rested and should drop the Cleveland Browns to 0-2.
The Tennessee Titans beat the Pittsburgh Steelers last week on the road. I don’t think there’s any way that luck continues this week when they take on the Texans in Houston.
Philadelphia hosts the San Diego Chargers, and should send the Bolts back to the West Coast with a loss.
My upset special of the week is the Kansas City Chiefs over the Dallas Cowboys. I’m not exactly sure why I have this feeling, but I’m going to go with it. Both teams are looking to establish an identity and send a message to the other teams in their respective divisions. I think the Chiefs have the most to lose and, therefore, may be the most dangerous. Tony Romo and Dez Bryant may prove me wrong, but I’m going with my gut on this one.
I’m taking the Oakland Raiders over the Jacksonville Jaguars. Both teams lost in week one. This is a battle of the bad. Oakland did manage to score 17 points in their game against the Colts. Jacksonville’s offense failed to score. The Jaguars’ defense accounted for all of their points, 2; a safety. That’s going to equate to a lot of losses this season for the Jaguars, including this week against the Raiders.
The final home team I’m picking is the Cincinnati Bengals in their Monday night game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Pittsburgh looked very weak in their loss to the Titans in week one. The Bengals looked good in their loss to the Bears. I think the Bengals will improve to 1-1 and the Steelers will fall to 0-2.
In week one, I finished with a 10-4 record following Sunday’s games. The outcome of the Monday night games were unavailable at press time. I took Washington over Philadelphia and Houston over San Diego in those games.
Listen to 100.5 FM this Friday morning (Sept. 13) at 7:30 a.m. to hear the original “Fearless NFL Picks” on the Doug McDuff and Company radio program. Ken DeCoster, Timothy Edwards, Howard Bailey Murray and McDuff will try to pick more winners than I in week two.
Doug Halberstadt can be reached via e-mail at Dougster61@aol.com.
From the Sept. 11-17, 2013, issue