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Week 2: New England Patriots 13, New York Jets 10- Post Game Recap

This game certainly wasn’t a thing of beauty, but it did produce a winner and the triumphant team was the Patriots.  It has been a while since the Pats have had to rely on their defense to win them a game, and that is the story that I have taken coming out of this game: the New England defense is pretty good.  Sure, they were harassing a rookie quarterback and the Jets offense, but given that their punter Ryan Allen had to punt the ball away 11 times the unit coached up by Matt Patricia did well enough to allow only ten points.  Obviously this was not the performance that New York was looking for out of Geno Smith, who looked pretty raw on the field.  He was holding the ball too long and neglecting to step up in the pocket too much.  Simply put, Smith looked like a rookie, so Alfonzo Dennard and Aqib Talib had themselves field days combining for three picks.  The combination of Bilal Powell and Chris Ivory did look pretty good running in between the tackles.  Vladimir Ducasse had a great game paving the way for the backs in the running game and the Jets did a nice job protecting Geno, however he wasn’t rewarding them by getting the ball out early.  Of the four sacks he took, I thought three of them came because he was to slow trying to make up his mind.  Anyways, the Patriots did dominate on defense and they took away a game that they probably shouldn’t have won.

Things looked promising early when Tom Brady lead his team right down the field for a touchdown.  He quick-snapped the ball behind a strong power-run formation and flipped it off to Aaron Dobson for a 39 yard touchdown.  The Jets busted a coverage there since the New England rookie was able to leak out right behind him.  Every linebacker had their eyes on the line of scrimmage, there were no corners where Brady threw, and the safety help was way late getting over.  This was probably the easiest touchdown that Dobson is going to get in his career, and it came on his first NFL reception.  After the early touchdown, the teams traded three and outs.  On the Jets’ second possession, Geno Smith threw a laser right into the belly of Stephen Hill.  Hill corralled it but was stripped on the tackle by Devin McCourty.  The New England corner recovered the loose ball and returned it all the way to the New York 8 yard line, setting up a New England field goal.  Down 10-0, the Jets did their best to respond.  They marched down the field behind the legs of Chris Ivory and converted two third downs along the way.  On a third and 7 at the New England 9 yard line, Geno Smith threw what looked to be a touchdown to Clyde Gates, but referee Carl Cheffers reviewed the play and determined that the Jets wide out did not have full possession of the ball.  Instead of a 10-7 game, it was now 10-3.

After the Nick Folk 37 yard field goal, the next six drives of the game resulted in punts (there was a lot of kicking going on in this game; there was a total of 20 punts on the night).  Finally, the Patriots were able to break this streak by kicking a field goal to bring the game to 13-3.  On the drive, Kenbrell Thompkins snared a 38 yard rainbow from Tom Brady on the sidelines.  The teams traded punts after that and then right as the game was going into the half, Stephen Gostkowski missed a 43 yard field goal.  The kicker for New England was the fact that they could have had a touchdown on that drive had Tom Brady put just a tiny bit more air under the deep ball he lobbed up to Thompkins in the end zone.  He did a nice job selling out for the ball, but was only able to trap it when all was said and done.  So, with the Gostkowski miss, this game went into halftime with the score of 13-3.

By the time both teams came out of their locker rooms, a quagmire had enveloped the stadium.  It was pouring rain, and on a night where the offenses were playing sloppily, this was not going to help.  The Jets did come out in the second half committed to running the ball and on their second drive of the half they fed the ball to Bilal Powell for a three yard touchdown to cap a 9 play, 5:00 drive.  A 16 yard scramble by Geno Smith, a 14 yard reception by Santonio Holmes, and an 11 yard catch and run helped the Jets move the ball on their most impressive drive of the night.  New York fans were forced to relish this touchdown because it was the final highlight of the night for Gang Green.  The next three drives resulted in punts, and on the next Jet drive, the wheels began to fall off for Smith.  He hooked up with Stephen Hill for 37 yards early on the drive, but was later intercepted on a 3rd and 5 by Aqib Talib.  Of Geno’s three picks, this one was the probably the best thrown ball.  He was simply a little late getting it to Santonio Holmes on the deep crossing route and the ball was tipped right to the Pats DB.  Luckily the Jets forced another couple of punts before they took control of the ball two drives later, where Geno Smith was intercepted for a second time (this time on a deep ball by Alfonzo Dennard).  After this, the Patriots were able to move the ball a little bit, picking up one first down and draining 3:25 off the clock.  This set up a potential game tying drive for New York with :58 left in the game.  After throwing an incomplete pass, Geno completed one on his second try… to Aqib Talib.  His third error of the evening would cement the 13-10 win for the Patriots.

Just as a couple of side notes, you may have noticed that I didn’t speak too much about the Patriots offense in the review of this game.  Well, that is because there really wasn’t any to speak of, outside their seven play 81 yard drive to begin the game.  New England had only 9 first downs on the game, and one of them came via penalty.  Their offense basically ran through Julian Edelman, who was a pretty reliable option for Brady in the slot with his 13 receptions for 78 yards.  Edelman did not make any big plays though, as his longest catch went for ten yards.  Tom Brady did not complete a ball to a tight end in this game.  In fact, he only completed passes to four different receivers.  Initial reports indicate that star tight end Rob Gronkowski should be back in the line up next week when the Patriots play host to Tampa Bay.  His big body in the middle should provide Tom Brady with a reliable pass catcher.  There were far too many drops for the Patriots on this night.  Long story short, New England is lucky to be 2-0.  Brady did not look overly impressive, and I’m sort of grading him on a curve based on his lack of receivers.  He overthrew his receivers often and the offense just did not develop any continuity.  The defense was able to hold their water against the Jets, but that is not saying much since their offense is hardly dynamic.

In short, I am inclined to believe that the Pats would have lost this game if they had played almost any other team.  But still, 2-0 is 2-0.  Sometimes you have to win ugly in this league, especially within your own division.  For New England, it is important that they iron out their wrinkles early when they are facing weaker teams.  Starting Week 4, their schedule gets much tougher with a road date in Atlanta.  The Jets do have reason to feel good about their defense, but that offense is lackluster at this point.  Geno Smith is nothing more than a game manager at this point in his career and he will have to play well the next couple of weeks to prove that he is capable of holding on to his job.  This was not the prettiest of games, make no mistake.  However, not all NFL games are works of art.  The Patriots will hope to play better next week when the Buccaneers come to town and the Jets hope that they do not duplicate this performance when they head back home to take on the Buffalo Bills.

2013 NFL Season: Week 2 Predictions

Week 2 of the 2013 NFL season is upon us and there are a handful of tasty match-ups on the menu for this week including the Manning Bowl, the 49ers/Seahawks tilt in prime time, a dog-fight between two 0-1 teams in the Redskins and Packers, as well as some other interesting story-lines to follow in the list of other games.  In Week 1 there were a lot of surprises and I swung for the fences in this column (hence the non-impressive 8-8 record so far).  The second week is always a bit easier to predict because we now have a full week’s worth of game tape to go off of, so there shall be much less speculation this time around.  Now, let us take a closer look at the sixteen games that will take place from Thursday to Monday.

Thursday, September 12th, 8:25 e.t.

New York Jets (1-0) @ New England Patriots (1-0)

Both of these teams are coming off of last second field goal victories and will both have something to prove heading into this game.  The Jets want to prove that they can make some noise with Geno Smith at quarterback and the Pats want to show the world that they are not going to limp through the 2013 season without the usual weapons that Tom Brady has come accustomed to throwing to.  Quick thinking leads me to pick the Patriots, but a few things have me worried here.  First of all, Danny Amendola is likely to be a scratch with his groin injury for this game.  He was targeted 14 times and had 10 receptions vs. Buffalo last Sunday, so his production in the middle of the field will surely be missed.  Also, the Patriots plan on going into this game without one organized team practice for the week.  I know the Jets may not be AFC superstars, but Bill Belichick should consider rallying the troops at least once to go over some of the idiosyncrasies that could plague them in this game.  With this being said, I still expect Tom Brady to play a little bit better than he did against Buffalo.  Look for Julian Edelman to step up and make some big plays in the slot for New England.  This game could be a lot closer than most people may predict, but the edge has to go to the Patriots in their home opener.

New England 27, New York 20


Sunday, September 15th, 1:00 e.t.

Minnesota Vikings (0-1) @ Chicago Bears (1-0)

The Bears did enough to edge the Bengals at home last week, and I think that Cincinnati is a better team than Minnesota.  However, do not underestimate the running capabilities of the great Adrian Peterson.  Sure, he gashed the Lions for 78 yards on his first run of the year, but after than he picked up only 15 yards on 17 carries.  The 0.9 yards/carry after his huge touchdown has to leave A.P. with a big chip on his shoulder.  I expect him to have a much better game carrying the football this week that he did against Detroit.  However, this still doesn’t give the Vikings enough fire power to go over here.  Christian Ponder was inconsistent against the Lions, throwing three interceptions to only one touchdown.  Until he can prove that he can play at a higher level on a regular basis, it is going to be tough to select the Vikings on the road against tough opponents.  For that reason, I’ll take the Bears in this one.

Chicago 23, Minnesota 14


Cleveland Browns (0-1) @ Baltimore Ravens (0-1)

Brandon Weeden is coming off of another ugly Week 1 performance (remember he threw four picks in the season opener last year, and three last week).  Perhaps he will always put his left foot forward when it comes time to begin a new year.  Anyways, the Ravens did not look much better in the premier game of the season.  Their defense was shredded for 7 touchdowns and over 450 yards.  It is pretty safe to say that the Browns will not put up 49 points against the Ravens as Brandon Weeden and the Browns are not on the same level as Peyton Manning and the Broncos.  Not to mention this game is being played in Baltimore, where the Ravens rarely lose.  Also, for what it’s worth, Joe Flacco is a perfect 10-0 vs. Cleveland in his career.  Look for the Ravens to play much better at home than they did out in Denver last Thursday.

Baltimore 28, Cleveland 14


Washington Redskins (0-1) @ Green Bay Packers (0-1)

The Packers are coming off of a close loss to the 49ers while the Redskins were rocked by the Eagles on Monday night.  However, both teams have something to build off of in their Week 1 losses.  The Packers did an excellent job shutting down the San Francisco running game and containing their quarterback, Colin Kaepernick, in the pocket.  Meanwhile, the ‘Skins were able to mount a little bit of a comeback against the hurry-up attack from Philly.  Washington did a better job stuffing the run in the second half and were able to control the clock after the game went into the third quarter.  Luckily for the Redskins defense the Packers will not be running plays at the relentless tempo that the Eagles were on Monday night.  Unluckily for them they do have to face Aaron Rodgers.  Mike Vick missed a couple of throws when attacking the Washington secondary.  These are throws that the Green Bay quarterback probably will not miss.  I have to take the Packers here simply based on the fact that the Redskin defense looks to be as porous this year as it was last year.  Rodgers had a nice day tearing into a solid 49er defense on the road, just imagine what he could do against a below-average defense at home.  I do expect Robert Griffin III to play better this week, but seeing as how he is still a bit limited, it will be hard to pick his team to win against one of the better teams in the league.

Green Bay 35, Washington 27


St. Louis Rams (1-0) @ Atlanta Falcons (0-1)

The Falcons return home to face the Rams this week, looking to avenge a late loss to their division rivals last week.  Matt Ryan threw an uncharacteristic interception late in that one sealing Atlanta’s fate.  This time around he will probably play more cautiously against an underrated St. Louis defense.  It bears mentioning that this is the first time that Steven Jackson will be running against his former team, and he looked impressive in his Falcon debut (carrying the ball eleven times for 77 yards).  I expect him to carry the ball at least ten more times this week as Atlanta looks to suck the life out of the Rams and drain the clock.  Although much better than the New Orleans “D”, I don’t know if I can trust Tim Walton’s unit on the road in Atlanta.  The Falcons are nearly unbeatable there and they will be motivated to win this game so as not to fall too fare behind the pace set by the Saints.  I expect Matt Ryan and Atlanta to roll here backed by a solid performance from their defense.

Atlanta 31, St. Louis 13


Miami Dolphins (1-0) @ Indianapolis Colts (1-0)

This is the second time that Ryan Tannehill and Andrew Luck will meet up in Indianapolis since the two were drafted back in 2012.  The first time the two hooked horns, Luck and the Colts won in a thriller.  Also the young Indy QB threw for a career high 433 yards and did not turn the ball over.  It is possible that the Dolphins have lost a step from last year to this in their passing defense (although their rush “D” looked as strong as ever vs. Cleveland in Week 1).  If push comes to shove, I think Andrew Luck can shred this defense again, but he probably won’t have to this time around.  The Miami running game has me worried; they ran for only 20 total yards in their season opener.  Plus Ryan Tannehill is still too young to carry a team through a season all on his own.  Until I see an improvement in the Dolphin’s ground attack I will have an awfully tough time picking them to win on the road against a quality opponent.  Give me Indianapolis in this one.

Indianapolis 27, Miami 24


Carolina Panthers (0-1) @ Buffalo Bills (0-1)

These two teams came close to pulling off shocking Week 1 victories against tough opponents the last time we saw them on the field.  Buffalo was unable to close their game out and were nearly doubled up in terms of time of possession against New England, hence the loss.  For Carolina, they were able to shut down the Seattle rushing game with ease, but they were unable to do enough on offense themselves to down the Seahawks at home.  The Bills will look to run the ball against the Panther front-seven in order to try and take back some of the time they missed out on vs. the Patriots.  The only problem there is that Sean McDermott’s unit will be tough to run against.  Ultimately, I believe this game will come down to quarterback play, and quite frankly I trust Cam Newton a lot more than I do E.J. Manuel at this stage in his career.  This game could be a close one throughout and for that reason I am going to take the Panthers here.  Also, Week 2 seems to be Cam Newton’s calling card.  In his two career Week 2 games, he has passed for 342.5 yards per game and his team has scored 29.5 points per game.  This bodes well for them against a rebuilding Bills team.

Carolina 31, Buffalo 24


Dallas Cowboys (1-0) @ Kansas City Chiefs (1-0)

It is very tempting to take the Chiefs here based on the simple fact that Dallas needed to rely on 6 New York turnovers to win their game on Sunday night.  Kansas City is working on being more efficient with the ball and not so generous (after turning it over 37 times a year ago).  It is also bears mentioning that Andy Reid has coached against the Cowboys many times in his career, so he could have an inside edge as it pertains to how to beat them.  Despite this I am going to play it safe and take Dallas here.  To be blunt, the Chiefs will need to do more than steamroll Jacksonville before I can feel safe about taking them over good teams.  While the Cowboys are a very inconsistent squad, I do expect them to play better offensively than they did against the Giants.  This may not mean topping their 36 points that they threw up last week, but it could mean that they form more continuity.  This could lead to a string of solid drives that result in six point scores for them, not just field goals.  Dez Bryant will probably be motivated to outdo his 4-22-0 performance against the Giants, so I expect him to be more of a force this time around.  Additionally, the ‘Boys survived a scare with Tony Romo.  He suffered bruised ribs vs. the Giants so he will be good to go for this game in Kansas City.  Anyways, until the Chiefs prove to me that they can win a game vs. a competitive team I will refrain from picking them in games like this.  I’ll take Dallas in a tight one.

Dallas 24, Kansas City 20


San Diego Chargers (0-1) @ Philadelphia Eagles (1-0)

With the offensive potential that exists in this game, it is fair to predict a shootout.  Both teams are going to be working on a short 6-day week after their Monday night games, so the schedule (in terms of preparation) favors neither team.  Where the Eagles have the advantage is in travel.  They have to head north from Landover Maryland while the Chargers have to fly across the country from San Diego into the eastern time zone.  This is always a tough challenge for a team that makes its home on the west coast.  It is going to be especially tough for the Charger defense since they have to take on a Philadelphia team that is capable of rattling off 50+ plays in one half (as evidenced by their 53 in the first half of their game vs. Washington).  The Texans were able to throw up 449 yards against John Pagano’s unit so it is fair to expect the Eagles to be able to move the ball against them in Week 2.  At the same token, Philip Rivers looked good, throwing for four touchdowns against a good defense.  He could find some receivers running free in a re-tooled defensive unit for Philly.  There should be plenty of offensive fireworks in this game.  I will take the Eagles here because they really left a lot on the table vs. the Redskins.  Also, that trip across the country can be brutal on the Chargers.

Philadelphia 38, San Diego 34


Tennessee Titans (1-0) @ Houston Texans (1-0)

Raise your hand if you saw the Titans dominating the Steelers on the road.  If so, raise your other hand if you believe they can do the same to this Houston offense again this week.  Okay, nobody should have to raise two hands because there is almost no chance that Tennessee shuts down the Texans on the road like they did to the Maurkice Pouncey-less Steelers.  The Titans won that game by dominating the line of scrimmage.  They completely shut down the Pittsburgh running game and were able to win on the early downs to force a lot of third and long situations.  That plan probably doesn’t work again this week since the Texans are perennially one of the best teams in the league on first and second down production.  Also, the Titans surrendered only 195 yards last week.  It will be much harder to contain this improved offense this time around.  I really think that Houston has the potential to be a top-5 offense this year.  They tore it up in the preseason and were able to throw up nearly 450 yards in their season opener this year.  Simply put, I expect the Texans offense to move the ball much more easily against the Titans “D”.  Houston should roll here, but do not be surprised if this game ends up being a lot closer than the final score that I am predicting.

Houston 34, Tennessee 16


Sunday, September 15th, 4:05 e.t.

Detroit Lions (1-0) @ Arizona Cardinals (0-1)

Honestly, this is the toughest game for me to choose for this week.  There are so many factors that go into this one.  For instance, each team looks much improved over last year; the Cardinals have a much better quarterback while the Lions have a more dynamic threat out of the backfield in Reggie Bush.  Calvin Johnson is a beast at wide-out for the Lions, but Patrick Peterson is a star on the rise who has the potential to stamp out the fire that is Megatron.  Each defense could have played better in Week 1, but both did have their moments (one defensive touchdown for Arizona and a containment of Adrian Peterson by Detroit).  So with two evenly matched teams, it could come down to as much as a coin flip.  But I’m not going to go that far.  I’m going to pick the Lions to win this one.  You can call this my gut-feeling of the week.  Conventional wisdom may tell me to pick an improved Cardinals team, but I just have a feeling about this one.  This should be a very good game either way.

Detroit 17, Arizona 16


New Orleans Saints (1-0) @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-1)

It is going to be awfully tough to pick against the Saints after seeing that offense do some serious work against the Falcons.  On the flip side, it is going to be hard to pick the Buccaneers to win this game after they basically handed their first game of the year to the Jets (of all teams).  Therefore, I have no problem picking New Orleans to win this game.  However, I would like to point out that Tampa Bay has a knack for playing the Saints well in at least one game per year.  If Greg Schiano has this unit ready to go come Sunday, this could be one of the more entertaining games of the week.  If not, then it could end up being a blowout (much like the 41-0 stomping they had to endure in New Orleans last year).  Regardless of how it happens, I am going to roll with New Orleans here.  If Geno Smith can win a game against Tampa, then I feel pretty safe counting on Drew Brees to do the same.

New Orleans 28, Tampa Bay 18


Sunday, September 15th, 4:25 e.t.

Jacksonville Jaguars (0-1) @ Oakland Raiders (0-1)

This game will end up being the demolition derby of the week.  It features two worn down teams that will tear into each other with the loser looking like a wreaked car.  It could be interesting to see how Terrelle Pryor follows up is impressive performance in Indianapolis this week.  A couple of years ago, everybody would be clamoring to see both Darren McFadden and Maurice Jones-Drew square off.  However, in the year 2013 many people have forgotten just how good these two backs can be.  Honestly, I expect 100 yard performances out of each of them in this contest since both run defenses are nothing special.  This probably won’t be a 45-41 shootout, but I do anticipate a lot of offense in this game.  Because many field goals will be kicked, I am predicting a low score for this one.  I’m taking the Raiders because Terrelle Pryor serves as a wild card.  He should out-perform Chad Henne on the west coast this time around as Oakland wins their first game of the year.

Oakland 19, Jacksonville 12


Denver Broncos (1-0) @ New York Giants (0-1)

In the Manning Bowl, Eli has not fared so well against his big brother.  He is 0-2 and the Giants were outscored in those games 64-35.  This time around, the younger Manning is better and wiser than he was the first two times the two brothers faced off.  This bodes well for the Giants who are coming off of an embarrassing performance against the Cowboys on Sunday night.  Their problems at running back will be instantly helped with the re-signing of Brandon Jacobs this week.  While I don’t expect Jacobs to be a huge part in this offense, I do anticipate that he will be able to help ease the pressure that has been placed on David Wilson’s shoulders.  And speaking of the young back, I have a feeling his impact will be felt in this game with a big play mixed in.  For the Broncos and Peyton Manning, it is going to be awfully tough to top their 49-27 romp of the Ravens on opening night.  Furthermore, I do not see Peyton tossing seven touchdowns against this Giants defense (as beaten up as they are).  In fact, I don’t even see the older Manning throwing more than two touchdowns here; how is that for a bold prediction?  If you liked that bold prediction then you are gonna love this: I see Eli Manning outperforming his bigger brother in New York this week.  Call me crazy, but I see the Giants giving the Broncos a run for their money in this game.  I’m ready to believe anything after seeing the way that the first week of the NFL season shook out.  They say you are supposed to pick one upset per week, so here it is.  I like the Giants to squeak out a win vs. Denver at home this week.  Its about time Eli got the better of his older brother.

New York 23, Denver 20 *UPSET OF THE WEEK*


Sunday, September 15th, 8:30 e.t.

San Francisco 49ers (1-0) @ Seattle Seahawks (1-0)

In a week that will feature the two Manning brothers squaring off, this game is considered by many to be the game of the week.  Both teams were able to pick up one-score wins against inter-conference opponents last week, so momentum is behind each team.  Russell Wilson and Colin Kaepernick had superb weeks throwing the ball, Wilson with 320 yards and one touchdown and Kaepernick with 412 yards and three touchdowns.  Each proved that they could be effective pocket passers, and both defenses did a good job at containing their opponents offenses.  So, going into the week this game looks to be a stale-mate.  But consider this: the 49ers and Seahawks each struggled to run the ball last week.  The team that can get the ground game going first in this contest will probably be the team that wins the game.  For some reason, I like the 49ers to get Frank Gore going.  He will split time with Kendall Hunter who has the ability to rip a long run at any given time with his good burst.  This could also turn into a bit of an areal show as well with two quarterbacks who have the ability to throw darts.  I think the 49ers still have a bad taste in their mouth after they took one on the chin vs. the Seahawks in Seattle last year (42-13).  I look for them to use that loss as motivation in this game and I believe that the Niners find a way to win this game.  Not to mention, their win over the Packers says a lot more about their team than does the Seahawks win over the Panthers.  Sorry about that Carolina fans.

San Francisco 27, Seattle 25


Monday, September 16th, 8:40 e.t.

Pittsburgh Steelers (0-1) @ Cincinnati Bengals (0-1)

I want to take the Steelers in this game, I really do.  I just can’t bring myself to do it given the loss of Maurkice Pouncey.  I may sound like a broken record with this one but his loss absolutely kills Pittsburgh.  They had a tough time running the ball against a Titan defense that struggled to stop running backs last year.  Their offensive line was bullied by the Tennessee front-four last week, and the Bengals have one of the best lines in the league.  Geno Atkins may go bananas in the middle of the line if nobody helps out Kelvin Beachum at center.  The lack of a running game is the last thing the Steelers need given their thin line of receivers to throw to.  While the Bengals did not look good running the ball against Chicago last week, they did make some plays in the passing game.  Those same opportunities should be there this week with an aging Pittsburgh secondary.  The last time these two teams met up, A.J. Green had 10 catches for 116 yards.  His 9-162-2 stat-line from Week 1 vs. Chicago speaks for itself.  This man has the skills that allow him to dominate secondaries.  I really like the way this game looks for the Bengals.  They have a respectable pass defense and a front four that can be dominant.  This goes against a Pittsburgh offensive line that is in shambles and their paper-thin depth at the skill positions.  I don’t expect the Steelers to be blown out by any means, but I am not predicting an offensive exhibition on their part either.  The Bengals should win here in a defensive struggle.

Cincinnati 20, Pittsburgh 13


So there you have it, my picks for the Week 2 games.  Remember, I will be back at the conclusion of many of these to break them down or give my thoughts on their outcomes.  Please check back later to see my analysis!