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NFL Week 2 picks and predictions

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Peter Schrager

Peter Schrager is the Senior NFL Writer for FOXSports.com and the national sports correspondent for FOX News Channel's "FOX Report Weekend." He's the co-author of Victor Cruz's New York Times' best-selling memoir "Out of the Blue" and lives in New York. Feel free to e-mail him at peterschrager@gmail.com or follow him on Twitter.

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The biggest takeaway from Week 1? Any given Sunday.

Or Thursday. Or Monday night. Or Tuesday morning, if you happen to live on the East Coast.

Seven of 12 playoff teams from 2009 were losers on opening weekend, while two of the league’s five worst teams from a year ago — the Chiefs and Redskins — beat defending division champions. The Seahawks, a squad everyone said would struggle immensely in Year 1 of the Pete Carroll era, flat-out embarrassed a 49ers team that the media already crowned as the 2010 NFC West champions back in July. Eleven of the 16 games played in Week 1 were decided by seven points or less, an NFL opening weekend record. What can we expect in Week 2?

Your guess is as good as mine.

Let’s dig right into the picks.

Last Week’s Record: 8-8
Overall Record: 8-8

1 p.m. EST games

Kansas City at Cleveland: How about those Chiefs rookies? In Week 1’s dramatic, rain-soaked 21-14 victory over San Diego, bite-size former SEC stars Dexter McCluster and Javier Arenas each had big punt returns, fifth overall selection Eric Berry laid the wood at safety, and tight end Tony Moeaki caught a touchdown pass. As for the Browns? Well, they squandered a late fourth-quarter lead and lost to an absolutely mediocre Bucs team. I guess some things never change. Romeo Crennel returns to the Dawg Pound on Sunday and leaves as a victor. Eric Mangini's seat suddenly gets a little warmer.

The Pick: Chiefs 27, Browns 16

Tampa Bay at Carolina: Though the Bucs’ roster features just three players over the age of 30, the Panthers are actually the league’s youngest team. The Buccaneers' roster averages 26 years. Carolina's average age is 25 years, 233 days, according to STATS LLC. And that’s with ancient kicker John Kasay’s 41 years of age factored in. I can hear Dick Stockton’s voice now, “It’s Team Blue’s Clues vs. Team Backyardigans, coming up next on FOX!” Give me the home team in this one, led on defense by the player who may end up being the steal of the 2010 NFL Draft, sixth-round pick Greg Hardy. In his first career game last Sunday against the Giants, the former Ole Miss star had four tackles, blocked a punt and recovered a fumble. Expect plenty more of that this season if — and with his history, it’s a big if — he stays healthy.

The Pick: Panthers 17, Buccaneers 13

Chicago at Dallas: Seemingly every talking head on TV, radio and Twitter took their shots at Alex Barron on Sunday night following the Cowboys’ 13-7 loss in Washington. Sure, Barron committed three holding penalties in the final 31 minutes, and yes, he's the most penalized player since 2005. But if Barron doesn’t commit that last penalty, Romo gets sacked, possibly injured and there’s no game-winning pass attempt at all. Without that hold, Jon Kitna’s quite possibly your Week 2 Cowboys quarterback!

It pains me to hear that Barron felt the need to apologize to Roy Williams on the team plane after the game. Where was $3 million man Jason Garrett apologizing to Cowboys Nation for an offensive game plan that netted just 7 points? Where was kicker David Buehler apologizing to the state of Texas for missing a chippy 34-yarder? Where was Tony Romo apologizing for dumping a 2-yard pass off to Tashard Choice with four seconds left on the clock in the second quarter when taking a knee would have been sufficient? And while we're at it, where was Jerry Jones apologizing to Cowboys Nation for drafting Dez Bryant, a receiver on a team already loaded with receivers, over Rams opening day starting offensive tackle Rodger Saffold in April’s draft?

Alex Barron didn’t play well Sunday night, but he didn’t deserve the slaying he received from the media hounds and Cowboys fans after the game. I think Dallas regroups and finds a way at home on Sunday, and Garrett has Romo take a knee the next time there’s four seconds on the clock and more than 50 yards to go before the half.

The Pick: Cowboys 27, Bears 17

Philadelphia at Detroit: Though they tend to get a bad rap (Booing Santa? What’s so wrong with that? C'mon, he had a bad year!), you’ve gotta love Eagles fans. We’re less than seven days into The Kevin Kolb era in Philly, and they already want it to be over. Can you blame them? In relief of an injured Kolb on Sunday, Michael Vick rushed 11 times for 103 yards, completed 16 of 24 passes for 175 yards and finished with a 101.9 passer rating in just two and half quarters of action. Let the controversy begin. As for Lions fans? Well, it's hard not to feel at least a little bad for them. Detroit’s now 3-30 in their last 33 games and haven’t won a road game since the G Dubbya Bush regime was in office. Losing on a peculiar (even if it was right) call like the one that decided Sunday’s game has to be devastating. And anytime you see the name of your franchise quarterback and the name Dr. James Andrews scrolling next to each other on a sports ticker, you know you’re in for another looooooong season.

The Pick: Eagles 27, Lions 16

Arizona at Atlanta: How about everyone’s sexy Super Bowl pick of the summer, the 2010 Atlanta Falcons? In Week 1’s 15-9 overtime loss in Pittsburgh, Matt Ryan — after a summer of watching thousands of hours of game film — struggled to throw the ball more than 10 yards. Michael Turner, finally healthy and several pounds lighter than the bloated version we saw last season, averaged just 2.2 yards per carry. And Tony Gonzalez — he of 1,001 career catches and zero career playoff wins — only caught two balls. Look for the Falcons offense to get cured this weekend with a much-needed win over Arizona on Sunday. If they don’t, it could mean panic mode down in Flowery Branch.

The Pick: Falcons 24, Cardinals 16

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Pittsburgh at Tennessee: Talk about a team of beauties versus a team of beasts. Or as my fellow Monmouth County, N.J., native Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino would say, a team of beauties versus a team of grenades. The Titans won in gorgeous fashion last Sunday, gashing the Raiders on the ground and through the air in a spectacular display of football brilliance. The Steelers, meanwhile, won in about as hideous a fashion as you’ll ever see. Hey, fans of both teams will take it. A win is a win. The Titans avenge their Week 1 overtime loss in Pittsburgh from last season with a grind-it-out win over Mike Tomlin’s boys on Sunday. The Oregon Ducks came into Tennessee and gave the state’s college squad a mauling last Saturday evening. Dennis Dixon, arguably the greatest Ducks quarterback not named Van Brocklin or Fouts, won’t do the same on his trip to the Volunteer State this weekend.

The Pick: Titans 26, Steelers 20

Buffalo at Green Bay: Clay Matthews looked like a man possessed Sunday, leading the Packers defense with two sacks, a forced fumble, seven tackles and a game-sealing stuffing of Michael Vick on fourth and short. Apparently, the MMA training he did with Jay Glazer over the summer helped the second-year linebacker immensely. Though the MMA stuff intimidates me a bit (too many guys in Ed Hardy shirts with mean looking dragons on them), the workout regimen has done wonders for defensive stars Patrick Willis, Jarred Allen and Matthews. Perhaps Packers $4.6 million dollar man A.J. Hawk should look into it next summer. Though healthy, the former No.5 overall pick didn’t play a single snap on defense all afternoon. Nickel package or not, Hawk needs to contribute more to the Packers than just special-teams work. With Hawk on the field of not, Green Bay has its way with the woeful Bills on Sunday.

The Pick: Packers 34, Bills 13

Miami at Minnesota: Who cares about Favre vs. the Packers? Ladies and gentlemen, we present to you the Greg Camarillo Bowl! Camarillo, the former Dolphin wideout who was traded to Minnesota just a week prior to the start of the season, is all amped up to play his former team Sunday.

"What more could you ask for? From the minute I got traded, I've been thinking about this," Camarillo told the AP this week. He then added, "Last week, how the whole team felt about the Saints and wanting to get their second swing at them, that's how I feel about the Dolphins. It's all my friends. No ill will toward the team, but I want to come out there and kick their …” Well, you get the rest. Alas, it won’t be easy.

2010 NFL team previews

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Miami linebackers Cameron Wake and Koa Misi had Dolphins fans asking “Jason Taylor, who?” with one sack apiece and tremendous rush defense from the outside in last Sunday’s 15-10 victory over the Bills. Karlos Dansby was an absolute beast in the middle. Give me Camarillo and his Vikings in a close one against his old buddies up in Minny this weekend

The Pick: Vikings 23, Dolphins 21

Baltimore at Cincinnati: You could hear the Ravens fans chanting “Heeeeeeeeeeeap” across the Hudson and in Manhattan on Monday night as the Baltimore offense did just enough to escape New Jersey with a 10-9 win over the NFL’s top defense from a year ago. I see Sunday’s test, surprisingly enough, being far more difficult for the boys in purple. Baltimore dropped both games to the Bengals last year, and the Cincinnati passing attack is a lot more dangerous than whatever the Jets trotted out on to the field in Week 1. Look for Bengals rookie wideout Jordan Shipley to have a big afternoon and for Batman and Robin to do some damage on Baltimore’s inferior cornerbacks. Gimme the home underdogs in another tight one.

The Pick: Bengals 24, Ravens 20

4 p.m. EST games

Seattle at Denver: The Tim Tebow era started with a bit of a thud, didn’t it? 2 carries, 2 yards. No goal-line carries. No crazy jump passes. No dramatic fist pumps. No walking on water. Yawn. C’mon McDaniels, get creative here! Use the kid! The start of the Pete Carroll era, on the other hand, was a rousing success. The Seahawks outmanned and outplayed the division favorite Niners from start to finish, and Matt Hasselbeck looked as agile and athletic as he has in years. Dating back to last year, Denver’s lost nine of their last 11 games. Gimme the new look Seahawks in a late afternoon road upset.

The Pick: Seahawks 20, Broncos 16

St. Louis at Oakland: Remember when these two teams played in Los Angeles? Seems like it was ages ago now, doesn’t it? Remember when these two teams were actually worth watching? Well, that seems like it was back when dinosaurs roamed the Earth. The Raiders gave up 205 rushing yards in their season opening loss in Tennessee, while the Rams — though much improved at the quarterback spot — lost their 50th of 56 games on Sunday. Oakland’s D finds itself in Week 2 with a much-needed statement win. Darren McFadden has another big day.

The Pick: Raiders 27, Rams 21

Houston at Washington: To say the Texans and Redskins share some coaching ties would be a bit of an understatement. Houston head coach Gary Kubiak formerly served as the offensive coordinator for the Broncos under current Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan. Shanahan, of course, also coached Kubiak, a one-time Broncos backup quarterback. Shanahan’s son, Kyle, the Redskins offensive coordinator, served on Kubiak's Texans staff for four seasons, including last year as their offensive coordinator. There’s more. ‘Skins quarterbacks coach Matt LaFleur, assistant special teams coach Richard Hightower and strength and conditioning coach Ray Wright all used to work for the Texans, while Houston defensive coordinator Frank Bush coached the linebackers for Shanahan in Denver. Tony Wyllie, Redskins senior vice president, was a vice president with Houston. And then there’s Rex Grossman — the backup quarterback in Washington — who many credited as one of the major reasons Matt Schaub had the breakout 2009 campaign that he had last season in Houston. Got all that? I’ll take the pupil and his 231-yard running back over the master and his questionable offense in this one.

MAKE THE CALL

 
Mike Pereira
Our rules expert Mike Pereira breaks down all the big decisions HERE.
 

The Pick: Texans 31, Redskins 14

Jacksonville at San Diego: As Dexter McCluster and Javier Arenas spent the entire evening carving up San Diego’s special teams Monday night, I kept saying to myself, “Man, these guys sure could use a guy like Kassim Osgood on punt coverage.” Alas, the Chargers let their three-time Pro Bowl special teams ace walk in the offseason, as the former San Diego State star signed with Jacksonville because of an opportunity to play some wide receiver — an opportunity that wasn’t an option in San Diego. In his first game as a Jaguar, Osgood not only scored his first touchdown in six years, but he was all over the field in special teams coverage. Going back to San Diego this weekend, he’s the feel good story of the week. Unfortunately, his Jaguars will come up short.

The Pick: Chargers 31, Jaguars 17

New England at New York Jets: I received a few good texts as the big-mouthed Jets were being shut up and shut down during their season- and stadium-opening loss Monday night. Two of the better ones? “J-E-T-S: Just Exciting Till September” and “The Sanchize? More like The Sanch-eckdown”. Hey, I wasn’t sold on this new-look Jets offense from the start. Thomas Jones was an underappreciated workhorse, Leon Washington was a talented do-everything guy and Alan Faneca, though a bit long in the tooth, still had some good run blocking left in the tank. NFL Films and HBO truly deserve Sports Emmys for their masterful work in presenting the Jets offense as something worth being even mildly scared of this summer. OK, I’m done ranting. The Patriots win on a field goal in the final seconds Sunday. Now, I’m gonna go eat a #$*#@ snack.

The Pick: Patriots 27, Jets 24

Sunday night

New York Giants at Indianapolis: Though it feels like ancient history now, it was just last summer when Giants fans were in absolute hysterics over how the offense would fare without veterans Plaxico Burress and Amani Toomer at the wideout spots. Twelve months later, one could argue that the Giants 1-2-3 of Steve Smith, Hakeem Nicks and Mario Manningham is the league’s all-around best receiving trio. Another pretty nasty one? That Wayne-Garcon-Collie crew in Indy. It’s Manning Bowl II, folks, and you better believe NBC’s digging up that footage of the three Manning boys playing touch football in the front yard with Archie as we speak. You’ll see it all week leading up to the game, you’ll see it a few times during the pregame, and, if you’re lucky, you’ll even see it during the game itself. Eli’s yet to beat his older brother. He’ll have to wait another few years to do so. The Colts bounce back from Week 1’s loss with a much-needed win Sunday night.

The Pick: Colts 34, Giants 24

Monday Night Football

New Orleans at San Francisco: Following Week 1’s 31-6 loss in Seattle, 49ers coach Mike Singletary told reporters, "Tell Pete Carroll thank you very much for kicking our tails. It was good medicine, and we're going to take it." Interesting. He reportedly called out young stars Michael Crabtree and Alex Smith in the locker room after the game, too. What’s he got in store for an encore? We’ll see after New Orleans blows the Niners out of their own building Monday night.

The Pick: Saints 37, 49ers 17


Trivia Question of the Week: Patriots second-year wideout and return specialist Brandon Tate was listed as the No. 1 receiver on the North Carolina depth chart in 2008. Who was the No. 2 wideout on that team? (Answer Below)

Reader Email of the Week

Peter,
My fantasy team is in deep trouble. Matt Stafford was my quarterback, Ryan Grant was my running back, and I’ve got two Jets — Edwards and Cotchery — as two of my three wide receivers. I think I scored an all-time low for Week 1 points. Any advice at all?

Jeremy,
Williamsburg, New York

Jeremy,
First off, I had no idea they even had fantasy football in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. What’s a hipster fantasy football league like? Do you guys wear tight jeans and eat sushi instead of jerseys and Buffalo Wings? Do the sports bars play fight songs and Bon Jovi or Bloc Party and Animal Collective? As for your dilemma, you really only have two choices …1. Play the waiver wire to the best of your ability and hope for a break, and 2. Start preparing for your fantasy basketball draft.

Trivia Answer: Hakeem Nicks

Tagged: Falcons, Bengals, Browns, Cowboys, Broncos, Packers, Chiefs, Raiders, Rams, Dolphins, Vikings, Patriots, Giants, Jets, Eagles, 49ers, Seahawks, Redskins, Panthers, Jaguars, Steelers, Texans, Michael Vick, Jon Kitna, Tony Gonzalez, Matt Hasselbeck, Roy Williams, Tony Romo, Matt Schaub, Roy Williams, Michael Turner, Alex Barron, Alex Smith, Alex Smith, Ryan Grant, Greg Camarillo, A.J. Hawk, Leon Washington, Matt Ryan, Brandon Tate, Michael Crabtree, Hakeem Nicks, Eric Berry, Tony Moeaki, Tim Tebow, Javier Arenas, Greg Hardy, Dexter McCluster

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