By Don Banks
September 12, 2013
Russell Wilson (left) and the Seahawks destroyed the 49ers 42-13 in their last meeting.
Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images
Last week: 11-5; Season 11-5
Thursday, Sept. 12
8:25 p.m. ET (NFL Network) New York Jets (1-0) at New England Patriots (1-0)
On the surface, it looks like the Jets are making their annual trip to Foxboro at just the right time, when the banged up Patriots are short of playmakers on offense and vulnerable. But even when I squint, I still can't see Geno Smith beating Tom Brady on the road in the rookie's second career start. No Danny Amendola or Shane Vereen probably means Julian Edelman and the previously benched Stevan Ridley are about to step up and turn in productive games. If they can find a way to get this one, the Patriots are already 2-0 in the division and about to get the healing benefits of a mini-bye weekend.
Sunday, Sept. 15
1 p.m. ET (CBS) Houston Texans (1-0) at Tennessee Titans (1-0)
The Texans didn't flinch down three touchdowns in the second half at San Diego, and that's the sign of a mature team that has learned how to win when it doesn't have its A game. This is the rivalry that Titans owner Bud Adams lives for, because the former Oilers owner still lives in Houston and gets a kick out of beating the city's current NFL franchise. But Tennessee won't win by scoring just 16 points on the road for a second consecutive week. The Texans have more ways to threaten the Titans defense than the struggling Steelers did.
1 p.m. ET (FOX) Washington Redskins (0-1) at Green Bay Packers (0-1)
The Packers revamped Eddie Lacy-led running game was largely a no-show in San Francisco, but I'll bet Green Bay noticed there was some room to run against the Washington defense in the Monday-night opener against those high-flying Eagles. Look for Lacy to make his presence felt in his regular-season Lambeau debut. Don't know which Washington team to have more faith in at this point, the one that sleep-walked through the first half against Philly, or the one that darn near staged a comeback for the ages in the second half.
1 p.m. ET (FOX) Minnesota Vikings (0-1) at Chicago Bears (1-0)
I said throughout the preseason that Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder is two bad games in a row away from hearing the calls for backup Matt Cassel to start. Ponder didn't inspire confidence in the opening-week loss at Detroit, throwing three interceptions in the 34-24 defeat. The Vikings haven't won in Chicago since 2007, a span that includes the team's brief Brett Favre era. Unless Adrian Peterson decides to will Minnesota to a win and a pressure-easing 1-1 start, Vikings head coach Leslie Frazier is going to have a full-blown quarterback controversy on his hands next week.
1 p.m. ET (FOX) St. Louis Rams (1-0) at Atlanta Falcons (0-1)
The Falcons usually stop the bleeding very quickly, posting an 18-3 record after a loss in the Mike Smith coaching era. The Steven Jackson Bowl will not be an easy win for Atlanta, because the Rams defense is legit. But the Falcons play with supreme confidence at home, and Matt Ryan is an expert at the fourth-quarter comeback if one becomes necessary. Atlanta's urgency to avoid the 0-2 hole should be the difference in this one.
1 p.m. ET (CBS) San Diego Chargers (0-1) at Philadelphia Eagles (1-0)
A cross-country trip to the Eastern time zone in a short week, after blowing a 21-point second-half lead in your home-opener, is no way to reach mid-September. But that's the reality for the new-look Chargers, who suddenly seem a lot like the old Chargers. As for the Eagles, they're never going to be boring are they? The Andy Reid era got stale, but Chip Kelly's tenure is off to a thrill-a-minute beginning.
1 p.m. ET (CBS) Miami Dolphins (1-0) at Indianapolis Colts (1-0)
These two second-year quarterbacks -- the Colts' Andrew Luck and the Fish's Ryan Tannehill -- had a pretty good battle as rookies last November in Indy, in a game Miami led at the half. The Dolphins defense is going to make things tough if the Colts can't protect Luck better than they did last week against the Raiders (four sacks allowed). But I have an easier time seeing the Colts starting this year 2-0 at home than I do Miami getting off to a 2-0 road start.
1 p.m. ET (CBS) Cleveland Browns (0-1) at Baltimore Ravens (0-1)
The Ravens aren't as bad as they looked over the course of the last 40 minutes of the game in Denver, but Peyton Manning in the zone can do damage to your self-esteem. The Browns came up small once again in their home-opener, and quarterback Brandon Weeden is immediately under pressure to prove he's not headed for bust-ville (as opposed to, say, Canton). Denied their party last week by a scheduling conflict with the Orioles, the Ravens will probably hang their Super Bowl banner and try to get the bad taste out of their mouth at Cleveland's expense. Baltimore's homefield advantage remains one of its most trusted assets.
1 p.m. ET (FOX) Dallas Cowboys (1-0) at Kansas City Chiefs (1-0)
The Cowboys are intent on creating and thriving on takeaways, but Alex Smith knows how to take care of the football. After years of playing the Cowboys twice a year in the NFC East, Kansas City's Andy Reid should have some useful insight. The Chiefs are much-improved, and while Dallas will push them in ways Jacksonville could only dream of, Kansas City is about to match its 2012 win total in Week 2, all while celebrating Reid's first home-opener in impressive victorious fashion.
1 p.m. ET (FOX) Carolina Panthers (0-1) at Buffalo Bills (0-1)
The Panthers defense did its part last week in Charlotte against the talented Seahawks, but -- and stop us if you've heard this one before -- the offense dropped the ball. Literally in the case of that killer DeAngelo Williams fumble when victory was in sight. Carolina should play wide-open and desperate in this game, but something tells me it won't. I'm giving the Bills the nod based on their almost-upset of the Patriots in Week 1, and their own need to avoid an 0-2 start at home.
4:25 p.m. ET (CBS) Denver Broncos (1-0) at New York Giants (0-1)
This very well could be our last Manning Bowl, so let's all try to enjoy it. Peyton has gotten the best of little brother Eli twice in these head-to-head showdowns, but those two Super Bowl rings No. 10 owns go a long way toward making up for that -- and then some. It's early, but you already get the feeling the Giants have their split-personality thing going again this year. They can look like world-beaters one week, and mistake-prone chumps the next. I think the world-beater phase will take at least another week to arrive, and that means Peyton and Co. keep rolling.
4:05 p.m. ET (FOX) Detroit Lions (1-0) at Arizona Cardinals (0-1)
Trying to pay attention to the Packers-49ers game I was covering at Candlestick, I didn't get to see much of the Cardinals' near-miss at St. Louis. But there were quite a few positives for the Redbirds, and none bigger than rookie safety Tyrann Mathieu. NCAA or NFL, the guy knows how to find the football, eh? As for the Lions, their victory at home against Minnesota got somewhat overshadowed by the recurrence of some old and lingering issues with self-discipline. A 2-0 start in Motown would shift the focus from Ndamukong Suh's $100K fine back to the positive side of the spectrum.
4:05 p.m. ET (FOX) New Orleans Saints (1-0) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-1)
The Saints have had their way with the Bucs of late, winning three in a row over their division rivals. Tampa Bay is considerably better than it showed in last week's sloppy loss at the Jets, and should be in close to must-win mode in its home-opener. I was leaning toward Tampa Bay getting to 1-1, but the reports coming out of Tampa are not good. Upset players thinking head coach Greg Schiano might have rigged the voting for the team captainship, in order to block quarterback Josh Freeman's path? Freeman not taking part in the team picture last week? Even if the stories can't be taken on face value, it's an ominous sign for the Bucs that such tales are surfacing at all. Freeman likely needs a three-touchdown, 320-yard passing day with no turnovers to quiet the critics who are waiting to pounce, and I don't think he's going to get it against the new and improved Saints defense.
4:25 p.m. ET (CBS) Jacksonville Jaguars (0-1) at Oakland Raiders (0-1)
We presumed this was going to be an early season battle for the right to take either Jadeveon Clowney or Teddy Bridgewater No. 1 overall in next May's draft -- with the loser winning in that scenario, of course -- but then the Raiders went to Indy last week and put a Terrelle Pryor-inspired scare into the talented Colts. Another strong game from Pryor and perhaps the Raiders won't be in the market to draft a quarterback after all.
8:30 p.m. ET (NBC) San Francisco 49ers (1-0) at Seattle Seahawks (1-0)
Personally I think it's Jim Harbaugh who has some image repair work to do, more so than Packers linebacker Clay Matthews. The 49ers' ultra-confident head coach has a lot to say about a lot of things, including his fight-like-a-man dig at Matthews on Monday, after that heated sideline skirmish Sunday at Candlestick. You get the feeling that if he's your coach, you love him, but 31 other teams and their fan bases are starting to believe he's more than a bit full of himself.
Monday, Sept. 16
8:30 p.m. ET (ESPN) Pittsburgh Steelers (0-1) at Cincinnati Bengals (0-1)
Yes, I did notice that my two Super Bowl picks, the Bengals and Packers, both lost on the road in Week 1, and that statistically speaking that bodes poorly for their chances to still be playing in early February. Nevertheless, both will get to .500 this week at home, with Cincinnati's defense making sure the Steelers' sputtering and injury-depleted offense isn't getting off the mat this week.
BURKE: Broncos take No. 1 spot in Week 1 Power Rankings
BELLER: Player-by-player projections for Week 2
KING: Breaking down hot topics heading into Week 2
BURKE: Sour Rankings: 10 worst moments of Week 1
GALLERY: NFL's best rivalries
FARRAR: 49ers-Seahawks ready to renew rivalry

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