|Dolphins QB Ryan Tannehill will hope to lead Miami to a 2-0 record with a win over Buffalo|
The second Sunday of the young NFL season is upon as, and with it come the standard American Football Focus predictions for each of the 15 games on show. With an 11-6 record thus far this year we’re hoping to continue our winning ways when it comes to forecasting the outcome; whether or not we’ll be able to is another matter.
Miami @ Buffalo
It’s been a while since these two teams have met while both are undefeated, and although it’s only one game both sides looked impressive in their upset week one victories. E.J Manuel and Ryan Tannehill both have plenty of questions still to answer about their ability to become franchise quarterbacks; however Tannehill has a better supporting cast around him and as a result the Dolphins and their new “Lazor Show” offense should prevail in upstate New York. Dolphins 24, Bills 17
Detroit @ Carolina
Cam Newton is back for the Panthers in week two after he sat out their week one win with a rib injury. Kelvin Benjamin looks like he should be a productive option at receiver for Newton this season, while Calvin Johnson was as terrific as ever for the Lions against New York last week. The Panthers defense is one of the league’s best against the run but if they have a weakness it’s at corner, so expect a relatively high scoring game – albeit one that Newton makes the difference in for Carolina. Lions 27, Panthers 30
Atlanta @ Cincinnati
Two more unbeaten teams go head to head in Cincy, with Matt Ryan and Julio Jones doing battle with Andy Dalton and A.J Green in what promises to be a shootout in the jungle. The Bengals defense has the edge on the Falcons unit, although Atlanta have improved on that side of the ball since their disastrous 2013 campaign. I think Ryan is the better QB of the two on show here, but because the Bengals have the defensive edge and look better at running back I’m plumping for a home win.
Falcons 23, Bengals 27
New Orleans @ Cleveland
Even though the Saints were unable to top Atlanta in the Georgia Dome last week Drew Brees and company looked lively on offense, and although they’ll come up against a good defense in Cleveland on Sunday they should have enough of the ball to put up a lofty number on the Browns D. There might be the first Johnny Manziel sighting of the year in his first regular season home game, adding further intrigue to a must-win game for two 0-1 teams. Saints 31, Browns 20
New England @ Minnesota
Following Adrian Peterson’s arrest over alleged child abuse charges this game has a much different feel, with the Patriots now able to key in on Matt Cassel and the Vikings passing game. Before AP was scratched it was a potential banana skin for the 0-1 Patriots – not anymore.
Patriots 28, Vikings 10
Arizona @ New York Giants
After a 27 interception campaign in 2013 Eli Manning began this year in much the same fashion with two picks last week against Detroit. With the likes of Patrick Peterson patrolling the Cardinals secondary Manning could be in for another rough week, and the Arizona offense is also looking good with Andre Ellington at running back and Michael Floyd and Larry Fitzgerald both excellent options for Carson Palmer at wide receiver. Things could get ugly for the G-men in the Meadowlands.
Cardinals 31, Giants 20
Dallas @ Tennessee
Tony Romo had an, ahem, Tony Romo-esque game last week against San Francisco when he tossed three picks in the first half alone. He should bounce back against the Titans, however, although Tennessee looked good last week on their way to victory behind the arm of Jake Locker. Locker could continue his hot start to the season but in a deep south shootout I’m taking Romo, Dez Bryant and the Cowboys. Cowboys 30, Titans 24
Jacksonville @ Washington
The Jaguars nearly produced a shock in week one against Philly but let a 17-0 lead slip, ultimately losing 34-17. Washington meanwhile were poor from start to finish in Houston, with Robert Griffin III looking as bad as he did for much of last season. I don’t think the Jaguars will start as hot again this week, and I also don’t think RG III will play as badly especially not on home turf. The Jags will keep it close, but Washington will make it back to .500 with Jay Gruden’s first win as an NFL head coach. Jaguars 14, Redskins 24
Seattle @ San Diego
San Diego struggled against Arizona in week one, and things won’t get any easier for them in week two as they face the class of the NFL, Seattle. The Seahawks aren’t the same machine on the road as they are at home but they still look incredibly tough to beat, although the never-say-die competitive spirit of Chargers QB Phillip Rivers should ensure the home side aren’t embarrassed. It’s very difficult to see how the Seahawks are going to get beat, but expect Rivers to give it a valiant shot.
Seahawks 21, Chargers 17
St. Louis @ Tampa Bay
Both the Rams and Buccaneers disappointed last week, with neither boasting a convincing option at quarterback and without the quality at other positions to make up the shortfall. I do think that Tampa are better placed to win with defense and the running game, however, and in Florida I fully expect them to do enough to win their first game of the season against a Rams team who look set for yet another campaign of basement dwelling in the NFC West. Rams 13, Buccaneers 24
Kansas City @ Denver
When these two teams first met in 2013, Kansas City was atop the AFC West and hadn’t yet lost a game. This time round they’re coming off a humbling defeat to the Titans, with Andy Reid’s handling of star running back Jamaal Charles coming into sharp focus after he gave Charles the ball a paltry 11 times in the opener. He won’t have much chance to run the ball in Denver this week either, not after Peyton Manning takes the lead early and doesn’t let up on his way to a convincing divisional beat-down. Chiefs 20, Broncos 35
New York Jets @ Green Bay
After failing to overcome a stout Seattle defense in week one, Green Bay will face a far more forgiving secondary in the shape of the Jets, who enjoyed a solid if often unconvincing win over Oakland last Sunday. At home the Packers should be able to put too many points on the board for Geno Smith to threaten sending them to 0-2, although the New York running game is varied and was successful last week with Chris Johnson and Chris Ivory leading the way. Jets 17, Packers 27
Houston @ Oakland
This far from inspiring match-up pits to teams against each other who were picking in the top ten of last April’s draft, and there’s a fair chance of that happening again next year. The Texans should progress to 2-0 in the early going, however, even with top overall pick Jadaveon Clowney missing for up to six weeks through injury. Houston’s defense is a tough nut to crack and it figures that they should be able to hold the Raiders to few enough points that Ryan Fitzpatrick can guide the visitors to a second consecutive win. Texans 17, Raiders 10
Chicago @ San Francisco
The 49ers host Chicago in the first ever game at Levi’s Field, which has already earned the moniker ‘Field of Jeans’. It should be a happy opener for San Fran, particularly with the Bears wide receiver duo of Alshon Jeffery and Brandon Marshall both doubtful on the injury report. The Niners looked good in Dallas last week and with the defense playing well despite missing NaVarro Bowman San Francisco should have enough about them to move to 2-0 and keep pace with Seattle in the division.
Bears 16, 49ers 21
Philadelphia @ Indianapolis
The Colts head into Philadelphia for a mouth watering Monday Night Football match-up needing to win to avoid dropping to 0-2, which typically tends to be an almost impossible situation to seal a play-off berth from. Philly were unconvincing against Jacksonville in week one but with Colts linebacker Robert Mathis out with a torn Achilles Nick Foles should have a cleaner pocket to work from this week. Andrew Luck is also set to enjoy a prolific day against a weak Eagles secondary, so expect lots of points at Lucas Oil Stadium. The difference in a game that could go either way might be Philly’s strength at running back, with LeSean McCoy and Darren Sproles a constant threat out of the backfield. Eagles 33, Colts 30
Who do you think will win out in week two? Leave a comment or tweet @fredjstanley