(Home team is in caps.)
Panthers (+6) over FALCONS
What exactly is going on with Jake Delhomme? Last week in a blowout loss to Philadelphia, he completed seven passes to his own team (for 73 yards) -- and four to the Eagles. He also lost a fumble and was sacked three times before being pulled from the game. Anyway, the best thing about this game for Delhomme is that it’s not at home, so Panther fans can’t immediately boo him once the team’s offense takes the field. I think he plays better -- I mean, he has to, right? -- and the Panthers keep it close with a strong rushing attack, but the Falcons still pull out the win.
Vikings (-9.5) over LIONS
Adrian Peterson, Adrian Peterson, and more Adrian Peterson. Maybe some Brett Favre. Maybe.
PACKERS (-9) over Bengals
Is Carson Palmer completely healthy or is he just a little rusty after missing most of last season? He threw for 247 yards last week, but he had two interceptions, no touchdowns, and led the Bengals’ offense on only one scoring drive -- although that drive did come late in the fourth quarter and seemed to seal the game before the crazy Brandon Stokley play. Still, scoring just seven points against a mediocre Broncos’ defense isn’t very good.
Meanwhile, Aaron Rodgers is making many Packers’ fans forget about Brett Favre. After a great first full season last year, Rodgers got off to a good start by leading a game-winning touchdown drive (a 50-year TD pass to Greg Jennings) to beat the Bears. The defense wasn’t too shabby either, forcing four Jay Cutler interceptions, collecting two sacks, and holding Matt Forte to 55 yards on 25 carries.
Cutler is a little more mobile than Palmer, who basically stays in the pocket. If the Bengals’ offensive line can’t protect him, it’ll be another long day for Cincinnati.
Texans (+6.5) over TITANS
The Texans haven’t won in Tennessee since 2004, but in that span, the games have been pretty competitive (except for last year’s matchup, which the Titans won 31-12). This game should be pretty close throughout, but I don’t see the Titans starting the season 0-2.
Raiders (+3) over CHIEFS
Both teams looked pretty good last week against strong opponents. The Chargers needed a late touchdown drive to get past Oakland, and Kansas City put a little scare into the Ravens by hanging around for so long. (How did the Ravens let Brodie Croyle throw two touchdown passes last week?) But bad teams find ways to lose winnable games. Anyway, the Raiders have the better rushing attack with Darren McFadden and Michael Bush, and the defense doesn’t look too bad either. I’ll take the Raiders on the road.
JETS (+4) over Patriots
Rex Ryan is really giving this team a new identity, isn’t he? The Jets don’t seem intimidated by the Patriots at all, and they appear to be ready after shutting down the Texans last week. The Patriots, meanwhile, should have lost to the Bills on Monday night. Tom Brady looked great in the second half, but their offense seems pretty one-dimensional -- they can’t run the ball. The Jets, though, can run the ball, and rookie Mark Sanchez seems competent enough to give his team a chance to win. I’m not sure if the Patriots are as average as they looked last week or if the Jets are as strong as they looked, but expect a close and competitive game.
Saints (+1) over EAGLES
Kevin Kolb’s career stats: 24 of 45 for 167 yards, zero touchdowns, four interceptions, and two fumbles lost. Obviously that’s in limited playing time, but exactly how confident can he be going into this game, even if it is against the Saints’ defense?
Jake Delhomme isn’t here to turn the ball over five times, so the Eagles are going to need to rely heavily on Brian Westbrook. Can he step up and have a huge game?
REDSKINS (-10) over Rams
I could write a few pages about the Redskins and this game after listening to sports talk radio all week, but I’ll just say this: I expect the Redskins to win by at least two touchdowns.
JAGUARS (-3.5) over Cardinals
In regular season games on the East Coast last year, the Cardinals were 0-5 and were outscored 202-102. Expect a big day from Maurice Jones-Drew.
Seahawks (-1.5) over 49ERS
If the Seahawks can stop Frank Gore, they should be fine.
Buccaneers (+5) over BILLS
Seriously, who knows? Cadillac Williams and Fred Jackson looked pretty good in Week 1, though, didn’t they?
Steelers (-3) over BEARS
I could see the Steelers losing this game; after all, in Week 2 last year they only beat the Browns 10-6 and then looked pretty bad in a 15-6 loss to the Eagles in Week 3. The loss of Troy Polamalu hurts, but the Bears losing Brian Urlacher for the season at least cancels that out. I don’t think Jay Cutler will throw four interceptions again, but he’ll make a few mistakes against the strong Steelers’ defense.
Ravens (+3) over CHARGERS
Random note: The Ravens didn’t play a single game on the West Coast last year.
The Chargers are going to be without LaDainian Tomlinson, but he didn’t really look all that special in Week 1 against the Raiders. Plus, having Darren Sproles on the field gives the Chargers a little more versatility. The Ravens’ offense looked pretty strong last week, but it was against the Chiefs. I’m expecting a well-played game that comes down the wire.
BRONCOS (-3) over Browns
Neither team is really that good, but I’m not taking Brady Quinn on the road.
Giants (+3) over COWBOYS
Lost in the Cowboys’ win over the Bucs was that the Dallas defense allowed 450 yards, forced zero turnovers, and didn’t record a sack. Byron Leftwich threw for 276 yards and a touchdown, and Cadillac Williams and Derrick Ward combined for 159 yards on the ground. The Cowboys’ offense was impressive, but how are they going to stop the Giants?
Colts (-3) over DOLPHINS
Who’s going to cover Reggie Wayne?
Last week: 10-6