Thoughts from Heauxge
Browns at Ravens: The Ravens were embarrassed last week by Peyton Manning and the Broncos. They will be looking to make a huge statement against a Browns team that is looking for traction in the winless AFC North. I expect a stout defensive effort, a Ray Rice 100 yard game, and a down-field passing attack.
Panthers at Bills: The Bills put up a effort against New England but the Patriots will always have an edge over the Bills as long as Bill Belichick is coach. Unfortunately, the Panthers have a lot to prove with Ron Rivera still on the hot seat after the game against the Seahawks. Despite the loss, their confidence is high. I expect Mike Shula’s running game, for the defense to shut down CJ Spiller and Fred Thomas (similar to how they stopped Marshawn Lynch), and for Cam Newton to open up his arsenal in the passing game. Shula will do a better job preparing for this game, especially with his boss’s job on the line.
Chargers at Eagles: Wow, what a crazy offense the eagles have! Michael Vick, LeSean McCoy, DeSean Jackson were exciting to watch. The great thing about this offense is that it can actually win games by making sure the offense stays on the field. One of the major ways to counter this type of offense is to have a running game and a great defense (see LSU vs Oregon, September 3rd, 2011). The Chargers have proven that they have neither of these just yet. Eagles are a given. I just hope that its not a landslide.
Saints at Buccaneers: Now THAT is how the Saints needed to finish the game. Putting an exclamation point on the new look defense for the Saints, with a tip by Kenny Vaccaro (the Saints 1st round pick) and an interception by Roman Harper (frequently criticized for a lack of coverage ability). That was good for the Saints’ image and their swagger. They go into Raymond James Stadium against a Bucs team that gave away their last game to the Jets because of a penalty and poor coverage against the short passing game. I’m looking for Drew Brees to hit his short targets, especially the running backs, and start the bleeding for the Bucs this season.
Steelers at Bengals: The Steelers aren’t very good, and that is very hard for me to say. Big Ben had serious trouble against the Titans, they couldn’t get a running game going, and a usually stout defense was average at best. To make matters worse, Maurkice Pouncey, LaRod Stephens-Howling, and Larry Foote are all lost for the season. Pouncey, especially, is a hard blow considering the amount of time Roethlisberger spends holding the ball. The Steelers defense will rebound, but the Bengals passing offense will be too much for this week. Oh, and this is James Harrison’s “homecoming”. Expect him to come out hitting hard.
Upset Pick – Chiefs over Cowboys: The Cowboys exceeded my expectations. They played some of the best defense in Week 1. Despite this, I was actually surprised by the offense. Jason Witten, DeMarco Murray, and even Miles Austin all became relevant again. However, I like the Chiefs and their rejuvenated efforts way more. Kansas City was the favorite to win against the Jags, but not by that much. I expect the Chiefs to find more holes for Jamaal Charles, for Alex Smith to manage the game effectively (i.e. not as many turnovers at Eli Manning), and for their feisty defense to shut down the Cowboys offense.