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NFL Week 2 Game-by-Game Predictions

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Nov 30, 2014; Kansas City, MO, USA; Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning (18) audibles to center Will Montgomery (64) and guard Louis Vasquez (65) and center Manny Ramirez (66) in the second quarter against the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Today’s Thursday, so Week 1 is in the books. Tonight, Alex Smith, Jamaal Charles and the Kansas City Chiefs will square off against Peyton Manning, Von Miller and the visiting Denver Broncos at Arrowhead Stadium. Several interesting matchups will take place on Sunday, namely a ‘Freezer Bowl‘ rematch between the San Diego Chargers and the Cincinnati Bengals and an NFC Championship rematch between the Seattle Seattle Seahawks and the Green Bay Packers, which is also a rematch of the infamous ‘Fail Mary‘ debacle that took place in 2012. There are several intriguing division rivalry matchups, a couple of inter-state rivalries and more in another exciting week of football. Week 2 is here, so let’s get to the matchups.

Thursday 9/17 at 8:25PM EST: Denver Broncos (1-0) at Kansas City Chiefs (1-0)

Sep 13, 2015; Houston, TX, USA; Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith (11) during the game against the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

We saw Peyton Manning’s aging arm firsthand against Baltimore in Week 1, and it wasn’t a pretty sight.

To add to the questions surrounding Manning’s ability to pass, he’ll be facing a red-hot Kansas City defense fresh off a dominant performance in Houston, in which it sacked the Texans’ quarterbacks five times, defensed seven passes and intercepted a pass.

The NFL’s reigning sack champion, Justin Houston, had a nice strip-sack on Brian Hoyer, leading to a touchdown by Jamaal Charles. He’s currently on a seven-game sack streak in which he has recorded 11 sacks. If it weren’t for J.J. Watt, Houston would be the most talked-about defender in the NFL.

The Chiefs’ stout defense, aided by the return of veteran middle linebacker, Derrick Johnson, should be the key in this game; I predict the Chiefs coming out of this one with a victory.

Final Score: Chiefs 19, Broncos 16

Sunday 9/20 at 1:00PM EST: New England Patriots (1-0) at Buffalo Bills (1-0)

Sep 10, 2015; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) runs onto the field prior to a game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

Tom Brady was fantastic in his first game back from a deflating offseason narrative, exciting NFL fans with an MVP-worthy performance in which he tossed four touchdown passes–three of those to All-Pro tight end Rob Gronkowski.

On the other side, the Buffalo Bills are perhaps the NFL’s hottest team after a decisive victory over the Indianapolis Colts. First-year starter Tyrod Taylor looked great at quarterback, while the Bills defense was dominant as always.

Rex Ryan always managed to put up a good fight against the Patriots as the Jets’ head coach, but he rarely got the job done despite his reputation for staying in close games with New England.

And considering that Bill Belichick defenses always seem to hound inexperienced quarterbacks, it’s hard to pick against New England here. Yes, the game’s in Ralph Wilson Stadium, and yes, the Bills are a much better team at home. But the bottom line is that the combination of Belichick, Brady and Gronk is always hard to bet against.

Final Score: Patriots 24, Bills 13

Sunday 9/20 at 1:00PM EST: Houston Texans (0-1) at Carolina Panthers (1-0)

Sep 13, 2015; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton (1) passes against the Jacksonville Jaguars during the first quarter at EverBank Field. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Ryan Mallett appears to be the starter for the Texans this Sunday after Brian Hoyer’s unexciting, subpar Week 1 performance against the Chiefs’ ferocious defense. The former Arkansas Razorback has a cannon for an arm and an explosive playmaker in wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins. But the Texans are still without Arian Foster and will likely field an unexciting duo of Alfred Blue and Jonathan Grimes at running back.

This simply won’t work against a ferocious Panthers defense that harassed Blake Bortles all game long this past Sunday. Carolina should be able to force at least two or three turnovers against a very inexperienced Texans offense, and though Carolina’s offense isn’t much better than Houston’s, it still has a quarterback.

Though Cam Newton isn’t the perfect quarterback, he’s still a far better quarterback than Mallett at this point of his career; and despite the lack of receiving targets in Carolina, Newton should be able to make enough plays to guide the Panthers to a second straight victory.

Final Score: Panthers 20, Texans 10

Sunday 9/20 at 1:00PM EST: Arizona Cardinals (1-0) at Chicago Bears (0-1)

Sep 13, 2015; Glendale, AZ, USA; Arizona Cardinals wide receiver John Brown (left) celebrates with Michael Floyd after catching a first quarter touchdown pass against the New Orleans Saints at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Bears wide receiver Alshon Jeffery (calf injury) should be good-to-go after a five-catch, 78-yard performance in Week 1; he’s not listed on the team’s injury report heading into Week 2.

While that may seem like good news for Bears fans, it’s not ideal for Jeffery. He’ll likely be shadowed by All-Pro corner Patrick Peterson and could be in for a long game.

The Cardinals offense fired on all cylinders, embarrassing the Saints in a 31-19 victory this past Sunday. Many people blamed Saints’ defensive coordinator Rob Ryan for the Cardinals’ offensive success, but Bruce Arians is the coach who truly deserves credit. The two-time Coach of the Year has changed the culture in Phoenix, establishing a high-flying offense and blitz-happy, ball-hawking defense.

Jay Cutler is still Jay Cutler, so the Cardinals defense should probably be able to force three to four turnovers on Sunday. While Matt Forte looked great last week, he will have a difficult time running on the Cardinals’ stingy defense, headlined by defensive lineman Calais Campbell and safety Tyrann Matthieu. Arizona’s defensive and offensive units both appear to be superior to those in Chicago, so a victory here would be no surprise.

Final Score: Cardinals 24, Bears 9

Sunday 9/20 at 1:00PM EST: San Diego Chargers (1-0) at Cincinnati Bengals (1-0)

Sep 13, 2015; Oakland, CA, USA; Cincinnati Bengals tight end Tyler Eifert (85) runs with the ball after making a catch against the Oakland Raiders in the first quarter at O.co Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

This matchup could be one of the week that Week 2 has to offer. It’s a rematch of one of the best games in history (the Freezer Bowl), it’s a rematch of a 2013 NFL Wildcard game and it pits two hot teams, coming off of huge wins, against each other.

San Diego went down 21-3 to the Detroit Lions but somehow scored 30 straight points in the largest home comeback in team history.

Cincinnati, on the other hand, was dominant from the beginning, going up 30-0 by the start of the fourth quarter before giving up two garbage-time touchdowns.

Both teams feature interesting tight end–in the Chargers’ Ladarius Green and the Bengals’ Tyler Eifert, and they both have dynamic running back tandems–in San Diego’s duo of Melvin Gordon and Danny Woodhead and Cincinnati’s one-two punch of Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard.

This game should be a battle between two loaded offenses, but I see Cincinnati coming out on top in this one. The Bengals are a great home team and want revenge after losing their only home playoff game in the past four seasons to San Diego.

Final Score: Bengals 31, Chargers 21

Sunday 9/20 at 1:00PM EST: Tennessee Titans (1-0) at Cleveland Browns (0-1)

Sep 13, 2015; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; Cleveland Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel (2) looks to pass during the second half at MetLife Stadium. The Jets defeated the Browns 31-10. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

The Tennessee Titans looked great in their Week 1 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Cleveland Browns had the highest losing margin of any team in a Week 1 loss to the New York Jets.

But this game will be taking place in Cleveland, where the Browns are a surprisingly dangerous team. Joe Haden, Tramon Williams and Tashaun Gipson can all make big plays in the secondary and could easily force Marcus Mariota to throw his first NFL interception on Sunday after an outstanding game in which he didn’t throw a pick and finished with a perfect passer rating.

On offense, Johnny Manziel should be able to make just enough plays to keep Cleveland in the game. And while the Titans’ defense was able to harass Jameis Winston all game long in Week 1, they could have a harder time this week. Joe Thomas anchors a Browns offensive line that is one of the best in the NFL; if Cleveland can just put together three or four scoring drives, it can come out of this game on top.

While I like Mariota and the Titans’ revamped offense, I just don’t see Tennessee coming out on top in Cleveland.

Final Score: Browns 17, Titans 10

Sunday 9/20 at 1:00PM EST: Detroit Lions (0-1) at Minnesota Vikings (0-1)

Sep 13, 2015; San Diego, CA, USA; Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson (81) catches a pass before the game against the San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

Both the Lions and Vikings are coming off brutal losses and are likely looking for answers. Detroit had a huge lead in San Diego before checking out of the game and conceding 30 straight points to lose the game. Minnesota looked horrible in a Monday Night loss to the San Francisco 49ers, deciding not to give its best player, Adrian Peterson, more than 10 times.

Minnesota is the home team, so it should have the upper hand. However, unless the Vikings decide to run the ball all day long, I’m giving this one to the Lions. Minnesota has no answers for Calvin Johnson and Golden Tate, and on defense, the Lions’ ballhawking secondary could prove too much for Teddy Bridgewater behind a Vikings offensive line that could be one of the NFL’s worst.

The line’s struggles were evident on Monday night, as Teddy Bridgewater was under duress all night and was essentially sacked by his own offensive lineman on one particular play.

Final Score: Detroit 31, Minnesota 13

Sunday 9/20 at 1:00PM EST: Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-1) at New Orleans Saints (0-1)

Sep 13, 2015; Glendale, AZ, USA; New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) against the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

This second straight matchup between 0-1 teams should be much easier to predict, mostly due to the quarterback matchup.

Both teams looked bad in almost every facet of the game this past week, but with Drew Brees at the helm, the New Orleans Saints should come out on top in this one.

With C.J. Spiller likely to return from injury, the Saints offense could be much improved in Week 2. On defense, Rob Ryan has struggled as a defensive coordinator–but a matchup against an inexperienced rookie quarterback is every defensive coordinator’s wildest dream.

Mike Evans could return from injury on the other side, but even if he performs well, I see New Orleans coming out on top. Franchise quarterbacks always find a way to win against inferior teams, especially at home. If New Orleans loses this game, there will be serious concerns surrounding the New Orleans Saints.

Final Score: Saints 27, Buccaneers 16

Sunday 9/20 at 1:00PM EST: Atlanta Falcons (1-0) at New York Giants (0-1)

Sep 14, 2015; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Falcons head coach Dan Quinn reacts on the sideline against the Philadelphia Eagles in the second quarter at the Georgia Dome. Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

Dan Quinn is 1-0 after taking down a Philadelphia Eagles team that was hyped all offseason long. DeMarco Murray and Ryan Matthews could only muster 13 yards on 11 collective carries, a sign that Atlanta’s defense is half the disaster it was last season. And that’s all Atlanta needs the defense to be; the offense, led by Week 1 MVP Julio Jones, will carry this team.

And against a New York Giants team that folded to the Cowboys in the fourth quarter, the Falcons could do some serious damage. The Giants’ defense is riddled with question marks, and the offense barely managed to accomplish anything against a suspect Cowboys defense.

Odell Beckham couldn’t get anything going against the Cowboys’ shaky defense, catching five passes for 44 yards on eight targets. And a tough matchup with Desmond Trufant could mean that OBJ is in for a second straight down week.

Dan Quinn’s defense will harass Eli Manning all game long, forcing three or four turnovers, while the Falcons’ offense manages just enough to come out on top.

Final Score: Falcons 20, Giants 9

Sunday 9/20 at 1:00PM EST: San Francisco 49ers (1-0) at Pittsburgh Steelers (0-1)

Aug 23, 2015; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown (84) takes the field against the Green Bay Packers before the first quarter at Heinz Field. The Steelers won 24-19. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Who would’ve thought that the San Francisco 49ers would come out of Week 1 with a 1-0 record? Most people counted San Francisco out before the season started, but the 49ers showed some resiliency on Monday night.

Pittsburgh isn’t off to as hot of a start, dropping its Week 1 matchup in New England. Antonio Brown, however, was fantastic, and he should be able to repeat his performance in this upcoming matchup.

San Francisco has no answer for Antonio Brown; he will be all over the field in this game. And with DeAngelo Williams running well, Pittsburgh looks like it can go 1-1 in Le’Veon Bell’s absence. While the Steelers’ defense looks like a doormat, the offense should be able to go crazy in this matchup; Colin Kaepernick isn’t going to be keep up with Ben Roethlisberger if this game becomes a shootout. Pittsburgh will come out on top in this one.

Final Score: Steelers 34, 49ers 23

Sunday 9/20 at 1:00PM EST: St. Louis Rams (1-0) at Washington Redskins (0-1)

Sep 13, 2015; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Rams quarterback Nick Foles (5) celebrates as he runs off the field after defeating the Seattle Seahawks 34-31 in overtime at the Edward Jones Dome. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

Fresh off of the biggest upset in Week 1, Nick Foles and company will now travel to the nation’s capital to take on the 0-1 Redskins.

NFL fans seemed to have forgotten about Nick Foles; he went off against the notorious ‘Legion of Boom,’ completing 67 percent of his passes for 297 yards, adding both a passing and rushing touchdown.

The Washington Redskins may just be the least talented team in all of football, and that’s enough to convince me to pick St. Louis here. While Washington will be playing with home-field advantage, the team has question marks all over the field. DeSean Jackson is out with a hamstring injury, the offensive line stinks and the defense is very suspect.

The Rams, meanwhile, have an offense that is on the rise, a defense that is one of the NFL’s best and momentum from beating one of the NFL’s most feared teams. If Jeff Fisher can’t take St. Louis to the playoffs this year, he will be out of a job next year. St. Louis should–and needs to–get the job done here.

Final Score: Rams 20, Redskins 13

Sunday 9/20 at 4:05PM EST: Miami Dolphins (1-0) at Jacksonville Jaguars (0-1)

Sep 13, 2015; Landover, MD, USA; Miami Dolphins defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh (93) sits on the bench against the Washington Redskins during the second half at FedEx Field. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Ndamukong Suh was nowhere to be found on Sunday, managing just one tackle against a shoddy Redskins line. Going up against a Jaguars offensive line that could have just as many problems of its own, now is Suh’s time to prove that he is worth the $114 million deal he signed this offseason.

Both the Dolphins and the Jaguars have good defenses and bad offenses, so this could be a low-scoring game. Despite this, there are electric players on both sides of the ball; the Jags boast a nice power back in rookie T.J. Yeldon, while the Dolphins boast a nice back of their own in Lamar Miller.

In the Dolphins passing game, Ryan Tannehill has a few nice weapons in Jordan Cameron, Jarvis Landry and Kenny Stills.

On the other side, Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles has an arsenal in Allen Hurns, Allen Robinson and now healthy Marquise Lee.

This game has the potential to be exciting, but I think that it will be a low-scoring, defense-heavy game.

Final Score: Dolphins 16, Jaguars 13

Sunday 9/20 at 4:05PM EST: Baltimore Ravens (0-1) at Oakland Raiders (0-1)

Sep 3, 2015; Atlanta, GA, USA; Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco (5) prepares for a game against the Atlanta Falcons at the Georgia Dome. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Last week, the Cincinnati Bengals demolished the Raiders, and this week, Baltimore looks like it could do the same.

Despite losing pass-rushing specialist Terrell Suggs for the season, Baltimore still looks like the better team. With the superior quarterback (Joe Flacco), running back (Justin Forsett), offensive line and defense, Baltimore should be able to win its first game of the season against a Raiders team that has some issues.

While Oakland actually has a pretty impressive defense, its offense needs some major work. Latavius Murray has the physical attributes to be a good running back, but the Raiders’ offensive line needs to improve for Murray to have the breakout season that fantasy analysts have been anticipating.

Jack Del Rio and his coaching staff look like major improvements for the Raiders; I think that Del Rio can lead his team to six or seven games this season if he manages to change the culture in Oakland. And despite my predicting the Ravens to come out on top in this game, I think that Oakland has a 40% chance of winning this game.

Final Score: Ravens 20, Raiders 10

Sunday 9/20 at 4:25PM EST: Dallas Cowboys (1-0) at Philadelphia Eagles (0-1)

Sep 14, 2015; Atlanta, GA, USA; Philadelphia Eagles running back DeMarco Murray (29) carries the ball for a touchdown against the Atlanta Falcons in the third quarter at the Georgia Dome. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

This division rivalry should be an exciting game, as former Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray looks to embarrass the team that refused to offer him a big money contract and let him walk in free agency.

And despite Murray’s horrible performance in Atlanta, I think that he’ll be able to run all over the Cowboys defense. Dallas’ defense is shaky at best, and Demarco Murray will capitalize on the unit’s weaknesses all game long.

And even if Murray can’t get the job done for whatever reason, Philadelphia has Ryan Matthews and Darren Sproles waiting for their chance to make an impact.

The Eagles’ passing game is superior to that of Dallas; Philly’s running backs are better and their defense is the superior unit. While Dallas may have one of the league’s best offensive lines and the superior quarterback, Philadelphia’s defense benefits from the absences of both Dez Bryant and any semblance of a Cowboys running game.

Final Score: Eagles 27, Cowboys 13

Sunday 9/20 at 8:30PM EST: Seattle Seahawks (0-1) at Green Bay Packers (1-0)

Sep 13, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) drops back to pass against the Chicago Bears during the second quarter at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

The Seattle Seahawks looked very soft in their Week 1 loss to the St. Louis Rams. Seahawks fans have been very clear to note that the Rams always play Seattle well in St. Louis; however, it was still concerning to see the lack of chemistry on Seattle’s offensive line, the lack of a true number one receiver and an underutilization of Jimmy Graham.

Seattle will be taking on Green Bay at Lambeau Field, a place where Aaron Rodgers always seems to shine. In fact, the Packers haven’t lost a home game since Colin Kaepernick set a record for rushing yards in a quarterback during the 2013 playoffs. That’s been a long time, considering how long it’s been since there was so much optimism and fascination surrounding Kaepernick.

If Kam Chancellor keeps on holding out, Aaron Rodgers should be able to pass the ball with ease; and even if he plays, I still expect Rodgers to guide his team to victory.

Final Score: Packers 30, Seahawks 17

Monday 9/21 at 8:30PM EST: New York Jets (1-0) at Indianapolis Colts (0-1)

Sep 13, 2015; Orchard Park, NY, USA; Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck (12) looks to throw a pass during the first half against the Buffalo Bills at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

This game should be much more entertaining than last Monday night’s snooze-fest, pitting Andrew Luck and a high-powered Colts offense against a Jets defense that could be one of the NFL’s best.

Darrelle Revis could end up shadowing Andre Johnson, which could be a great battle to watch. But even if Revis were able to shut out Johnson and pick off three passes, Luck has too many weapons on offense for the Colts to lose this game.

Chuck Pagano will unleash the Colts’ offense early and try to make this game a shootout; if he’s able to succeed in doing so, Todd Bowles’ Jets will have no chance.

Ryan Fitzpatrick can only do so much as a quarterback; he’s not capable of keeping up with such a high-octane offense. Luck hasn’t ever lost a game to Fitzpatrick, who was a starting quarterback in the AFC South for the past two seasons.

I could talk about the rest of the units involved in this game, but the matchup will really come down to the quarterbacks, and Luck’s the obvious winner here.

Final Score: Colts 35, Jets 19

That’s it for this week’s edition of the Stripe Hype’s Weekly Predictions. Be sure to let me know why your team will or won’t win on Twitter @CHoweSports.

Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you around this time next week with another edition of the Stripe Hype’s Weekly Game-by-Game Predictions!

Next: NFL Power Rankings and Awards: Week 1

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