NFL Game Capsules
By Dalton Del Don
RotoWire Staff Writer
Atlanta (+10.5) at Jacksonville, Sunday 1 p.m.
Comments: Each team started their seasons with new quarterbacks and came away losers. Expectations are limited for the Falcons, with Michael Vick out of the picture and a sputtering defense. Joey Harrington struggled Week 1, getting just 6.2 YPA against last year's 32nd ranked pass defense. He threw two passes that went for scores, but unfortunately, the team with the wrong uniform did the scoring. Atlanta would help take some pressure off Harrington by getting the ball into the team's best playmaker more; Jerious Norwood was limited to just seven touches last week. That's stupefying when you consider his 6.6 yards-per-touch last season led all RBs with at least 100 touches. As Jacksonville was gashed for a franchise-worst 282 rushing yards last week, Atlanta coach Bobby Petrino is expected to feature Norwood more in this week's game plan… The Jaguars suffered the biggest upset of Week 1, and the defensive line has become a legitimate concern. Generally considered a team strength, Jacksonville was physically abused up the middle by the Titans, and Marcus Stroud (ankle) and Reggie Hayward (Achilles) won't be back soon. Defense wasn't Jacksonville's only problem. The offense only mustered 10 points last week. Inexplicably, the Jags called 30 passes to just 13 runs after finishing last season with the third-most rushes in the NFL. The playcalling becomes even more questionable when you consider David Garrard wasn't named starting QB until just before the season began. New offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter is going to have to go back to the drawing board and rethink what made this team successful in the first place; expect a focus on the ground game Sunday against the Falcons. Playing at home and coming off a disappointing loss, the Jaguars should be able to run all over a soft Falcons' front seven, with Maurice Jones-Drew leading the way.
Predictions: Joey Harrington is under constant duress, limiting him to 175 passing yards and forcing multiple turnovers. However, he does find Alge Crumpler for a score. Warrick Dunn totals 50 yards, but it's Jerious Norwood who gets the rushing TD. David Garrard throws for a modest 180 yards and a TD to Marcedes Lewis, while Fred Taylor runs for 80 yards. Maurice Jones-Drew comes through with 120 total yards and two scores, as Jacksonville focuses on its ground game. Jaguars 24-14.
Buffalo (+10) at Pittsburgh, Sunday 1 p.m.
Comments: Buffalo had a devastating last-second loss Week 1, though the recent optimistic news regarding Kevin Everett should remove a lot of the sting. While football may be the furthest thing on their minds, the Bills will look to even their record against a Pittsburgh team that dominated Week 1. The final score of the Denver game masked the fact that Buffalo struggled both on defense (470 yards allowed) and on offense (184 total yards) against the Broncos. Denver's secondary shut down J.P. Losman (4.6 YPA) and Lee Evans, but rookie running back Marshawn Lynch impressed after a lackluster preseason. The former Cal ballcarrier ran for 90 yards (4.7 YPC) and showed toughness in doing so. The going doesn't get any easier this week for the Bills' offense against Pittsburgh's physical D… The Steelers made quick work of a hapless Cleveland squad last week in a 34-7 rout. New coach Mike Tomlin had to be pleased with the defense, which forced five turnovers and recorded six sacks. As expected, new offensive coordinator Bruce Arians opened things up. Ben Roethlisberger tossed four TD passes, including a 40-yard beauty to Santonio Holmes. Facing a decimated Bills secondary that will be missing free safety Ko Simpson (ankle), cornerback Jason Webster (forearm) and linebacker Coy Wire (knee), expect the Steelers' offense to light up the scoreboard again.
Predictions: J.P. Losman connects with Lee Evans for a long score, while Marshawn Lynch totals 75 yards and runs for a TD. Ben Roethlisberger counters with 250 passing yards and touchdowns to Hines Ward and Heath Miller. Willie Parker chips in 130 rushing yards and a score, as the home team prevails. Steelers 27-20.
Cincinnati (-7) at Cleveland, Sunday 1 p.m.
Comments: While we didn't expect Charlie Frye to last the season as Cleveland's starter QB, we thought he'd last longer than one-half of one game. Enter Derek Anderson, who is keeping the spot warm for Brady Quinn. Anderson hasn't had much success during his brief time in the NFL, but he will face a favorable matchup this week in Cincinnati's beatable secondary. With emerging third-year WR Braylon Edwards on the outside, and a seemingly healthy Kellen Winslow over the middle, Cleveland has decent options in the passing game. The rushing attack, however, figures to remain stagnant with a decrepit Jamal Lewis toting the rock…Traveling during a short week (they played on Monday night) can often lead to problems, but the Bengals' superior talent figures to win out here. After facing a stout Ravens' defense Week 1, Cincinnati is going to find life a whole lot easier against a Browns' team that surrendered 34 points last week. While the offensive line has been riddled with injuries, it held up well Week 1 and should pave the way for a big performance out of Rudi Johnson, who has averaged 141 yards per game during the past five contests against Cleveland. Cleveland's non-existent pass rush should also give Carson Palmer ample time to find his two star wide receivers, T.J. Houshmandzadeh and Chad Johnson. Now, we can only hope Johnson has a better celebration planned for this week. The Bengals have won five straight meetings against the Browns.
Predictions: : Derek Anderson commits a couple of costly turnovers, and Brady Quinn makes his NFL debut during the second half. Neither of the QBs have big statistical days, although Kellen Winslow and Braylon Edwards each rack up 90 receiving yards and hit paydirt. Carson Palmer throws for 260 yards and two TDs, which predictably go to T.J. Houshmandzadeh and Chad Johnson. Rudi Johnson contributes 120 yards and adds a late score, as the Browns continue to struggle. Bengals 27-17.
Green Bay (pick 'em) at New York Giants, Sunday 1 p.m.
Comments: The Giants had one of the uglier Week Ones in recent memory, losing the game, their new starting running back (Brandon Jacobs), their best defensive player (Osi Umenyiora) and their starting quarterback. Before the injury, Eli Manning had possibly the best game of his career against Dallas, getting 7.6 YPA and throwing four TDs, three to Plaxico Burress. Manning still hasn't been officially ruled out for Sunday's game, and there are conflicting reports regarding his availability. Jared Lorenzen is the likely starter against the Packers, who suddenly have one of the most formidable defenses in the league. Otherwise known as the "Pillsbury Throwboy," Lorenzen is 6-4, 285 LBS and might very well be the biggest QB in NFL history. Expect the Packers to blitz early and often against the inexperienced Lorenzen. Backup RB Derrick Ward impressed filling in for Jacobs last week, but he faces a stern test this week against a Green Bay's ball-hawking linebackers…The Packers may be 1-0, but the offense did it's best to lose last week. Rookie RB Brandon Jackson gained just 40 yards on the ground, and Brett Favre (4.9 YPA) struggled. Expect the Packers' aerial attack to get back on track this week against a New York secondary that surrendered 14.4 YPA and four passing TDs last week. Vernand Morency (knee) and Greg Jennings (hamstring) both remain uncertain to play, but Donald Driver and James Jones give Green Bay enough weapons to put points on the board and let their defense do the rest of the work.
Predictions: Jared Lorenzen's first career start is forgettable; he throws for just 140 yards and one TD pass, to Jeremy Shockey. Derrick Ward is contained, as he gains just 60 total yards and is held out of the end zone. Brett Favre bounces back with 220 passing yards and a scoring strike to Donald Driver, while Brandon Jackson gets 70 yards and a score, as New York's woes continue. Packers 17-13.
Houston (+6.5) at Carolina, Sunday 1 p.m.
Comments:Both teams are coming off disappointing 2006 seasons, but both started 2007 with victories. The Texans' defense turned in one of the best performances in franchise history, limiting the Chiefs to just 219 total yards and three points. Former No. 1 overall pick Mario Williams wreaked havoc on the KC offense, recording two sacks and scoring his first career touchdown, off a fumble recovery. On the other side of the ball, new quarterback Matt Schaub got 10.2 YPA and most importantly, only took two sacks on the day. His 77-yard touchdown pass to Andre Johnson looked like the first of many between these two. However, Carolina's defense presents a much more difficult challenge this week…The Panthers looked terrific during a Week 1 victory in St. Louis, and it all started up front. The offensive line was exemplary. Jake Delhomme had all day to throw, resulting in a 68-yard score to Steve Smith -- still the game's most dangerous playmaker. The run blocking also paved the way for a resurgent DeShaun Foster to gain 94 yards on 5.5 YPC. Houston's defense is improved, but Carolina will be a tough test on Sunday.
Predictions: Matt Schaub gets 220 yards in the air and finds Andre Johnson for a score, but Ahman Green is limited to just 60 yards on the ground. Rookie Jacoby Jones returns a punt to the house, but Jake Delhomme answers with 240 yards and two TDs, with Steve Smith and Jeff King the recipients. DeAngelo Williams again takes a backseat to DeShaun Foster, who runs for 90 yards and a TD, helping Carolina go to 2-0 for the first time since their 2003 Super Bowl season. Panthers 21-17.
Tennessee (+7.5) at Indianapolis, Sunday 1 p.m.
Comments: Despite Vince Young's subpar effort, the Titans upset the Jaguars in Jacksonville last week and have won seven of their last eight games dating back to last season. While an improved defense deserves some of the credit, the team's offensive line -- specifically the run blocking -- is a big reason for its success. Tennessee dominated time of possession last week and ran for 282 yards - the second most in franchise history. Chris Brown, who was unemployed as recently as June, ran for a career-high 175 yards, flashing tremendous cutback ability in the process. The Colts' defense looked strong against the Saints, they allowed 173 rushing yards per game last year. You can bet the Titans will focus on their ground game once again. Expect a big bounce back from Young, who ran for 121 yards in two games against the Colts last season…While the defense looks like an entirely different unit with Bob Sanders in the lineup, Indianapolis' offense remains real story. Peyton Manning & Co. totaled 452 yards in a dominating Week 1 performance. After a brief scare on the first play of the game, Joseph Addai proved more than capable of carrying the full load last week, running stretch play after stretch play en route to 118 rushing yards during his first career regular season start. Manning appears to be in mid-season form and should have his way with a Tennessee secondary missing Pacman Jones (suspension). Still, the Titans beat the Colts the last time they played in Tennessee, and their physicality may present more problems than the finesse Saints' offense did. Expect the division rivals to keep this contest heated until the very end.
Predictions: Vince Young throws for 220 yards and a score to Brandon Jones, and runs for 60 yards and another TD. Chris Brown adds 80 yards on the ground, while LenDale White chips in 40. Peyton Manning responds with 260 yards and two TDs, one to Reggie Wayne and the other to Dallas Clark. Joseph Addai is featured heavily, running for 120 yards and a TD, and the Colts pull away late.
New Orleans (-3.5) at Tampa Bay, Sunday 1 p.m.
Comments: Both teams enter Week 2 in hopes of avoiding an 0-2 start to the season, so expect the division rivals to play with great urgency. The Buccaneers look like an improved team, but that doesn't mean they won't struggle throughout 2007. Jeff Garcia, who was knocked out of last week's game, looks like an upgrade at the QB position and should be ready to play Sunday. Running back Carnell Williams (ribs), may be unavailable and looks like a game-time decision. If he's unable to suit up, Michael Pittman would likely take over most of the backfield duties and has a favorable matchup against a soft Saints defense…For a squad with Super Bowl aspirations, New Orleans looked more like a last-place team during their season opener. It's likely Drew Brees and company will right the ship this week against a Tampa Bay secondary that may be missing starting cornerback Brian Kelly (groin). Marques Colston had a career day (11 catches, 123 yards) the last time he faced the Bucs, so expect a big week out of the second-year wideout. Tampa Bay's once-feared defensive line really struggled against the run last season, so Reggie Bush and Deuce McAllister should rebound with big games as well.
Predictions: Jeff Garcia gets 200 passing yards and a long scoring strike to Joey Galloway while Michael Pittman, subbing for Cadillac Williams, records a rushing TD. Drew Brees has a big day, throwing for 250 yards and touchdowns to Marques Colston and Reggie Bush. Bush also adds 100 combined yards. Deuce McAllister adds 80 rushing yards and a score, as the road team wins handily.Saints 26-17.
San Francisco (+3) at St. Louis, Sunday 1 p.m.
Comments: The NFL's 2006 leaders in yards from scrimmage face off in a battle of division rivals. Both teams struggled offensively last week, but the 49ers came away victorious. San Francisco's defense played very well; high-priced free agent Nate Clements was extremely impressive during his first game in the Bay Area, and the 49ers may have hit a home run with the selection of Patrick Willis in the first round of this year's draft. Still, the team will likely go as far as Alex Smith takes them, and he played poorly before salvaging the win with an 86-yard drive late Monday night. He faces a favorable matchup against St. Louis' secondary this week, but expect SF to game plan around Frank Gore. Gore, who finished second only to Steven Jackson in yards from scrimmage last year with 2,180, has scored four TDs in his last three games against the Rams… The Rams lost more than their season opener, St. Louis also lost Orlando Pace (shoulder) for the season as well. With backup Todd Steussie (back) on the shelf, the Rams' O-line is in complete disarray. Torry Holt (knee) looked healthy last week, but Marc Bulger may be forced to check down and throw downfield less while the offensive line adjusts. Look for Jackson to be the focal point of the Rams' offense. After losing two fumbles last week, expect the running back to be extra motivated come Sunday, resulting in a monster performance. Facing a team traveling during a short week and coming off an emotional victory, the hungrier Rams win it because they need it more.
Predictions: Alex Smith builds off last week's heroics and puts together a solid game, throwing for 220 yards and a TD to Darrell Jackson. Frank Gore runs for 130 yards and finds paydirt; Marc Bulger answers with 250 yards and tosses two TDs. Torry Holt and Steven Jackson haul in scores, while Jackson also adds 150 total yards and runs in another TD, as St. Louis wins despite its patchwork offensive line. Rams 24-17.
Dallas (-3.5) at Miami, Sunday 4:05 p.m.
Comments: The new head in Dallas and Miami coaches got off to very different starts last week: the Cowboys put 45 points on the board in a victory while the Dolphins fell in overtime. New starting quarterback Trent Green gives the team stability at the position. Green is an upgrade over last year's options, but he's clearly past his prime. However, this week he gets to face a Dallas secondary that allowed more than 300 yards and four scores through the air last week. The Cowboys lost nose tackle Jason Ferguson (biceps) for the season, but cornerback Terence Newman (foot) and linebacker Greg Ellis (Achilles') may both return after missing the opener. Ronnie Brown owners will be happy to know Jesse Chatman (knee) may be limited this week; expect the running back committee to lean more toward Brown Sunday…The defense had its problems, but Dallas' offense could not have looked much better Week 1. Despite missing Terry Glenn (knee), the Cowboys' passing attack was in full force, as Tony Romo got a ridiculous 23 yards per completion, 14.4 YPA and four TD passes. Terrell Owens looks primed for a huge season, while Jason Witten is clearly going to be featured more than last year. Since Miami allowed 191 rushing yards last week, expect Dallas to utilize their two-headed monster at running back frequently. Julius Jones will get more carries but Marion Barber more yards.
Predictions: : Trent Green throws for 230 yards and finds Chris Chambers and Marty Booker in the end zone. Ronnie Brown gets the majority of the touches in Miami's backfield, resulting in 90 yards and a TD run. Tony Romo answers with 225 yards and scoring strikes to Terrell Owens and Jason Witten. Marion Barber again outplays Julius Jones, breaking several tackles for a late TD run that puts Dallas on top for good. Cowboys 24-21.
Minnesota (+3) at Detroit, Sunday 4:05 p.m.
Comments: Adrian Peterson and Calvin Johnson made major impacts for their respective squads Week 1, and will face of on Sunday in a battle of possible Offensive Rookie of the Year candidates. Detroit quarterback Jon Kitna predicted the Lions will win 10 games this year. He certainly did his part in beginning that quest, throwing for three TDs and getting 8.0 YPA last week against a pretty good Oakland secondary. Kitna has thrown for 878 yards and 10 touchdowns over his last three regular season games, both NFL-highs over that timeframe. On paper, the Week 2 matchup against Minnesota appears to favor the Lions, as the Vikings' stout run defense means little to a Detroit team that ran the ball the fewest amount of times as any team in the NFL last season. Even playing with a 17-point lead last week, Detroit continued its pass-happy play-calling. Minnesota ranked dead last against the pass year, but they appear to have improved this season. Still, Detroit's spread offense is extremely tough to defend, so expect a big statistical day from Kitna and Roy Williams. Kevin Jones (foot) may return to limited action Sunday, but Tatum Bell still figures to get the majority of the work…Minnesota has held 14 of their last 15 opponents to less than 100 yards rushing and picked off Kitna six times in two games last year. With an emerging defensive unit and a strong offensive line, expect the team to play conservatively, especially with Tarvaris Jackson still learning the QB position. Chester Taylor (hip) is questionable for Sunday's game, but that might actually be good news for Minnesota, as coach Brad Childress has stated that the two running backs will split carriers when he's healthy. The more Peterson is on the field, however, the better the Vikings' chances at victory become; right now he looks like the best running back to come out of college since LaDainian Tomlinson. If he gets the backfield all to himself once again Sunday against a soft Lions' run defense, expect a monster effort…The Vikings are 5-0 while playing at Ford Field.
Predictions: Jon Kitna throws for 280 yards and two scores, one to Roy Williams and the other to Calvin Johnson. Williams also passes the century mark for receiving yards. Tatum Bell struggles to find any running room, resulting in just 50 yards on the ground. Tarvaris Jackson gets 170 passing yards, runs for another 30 yards and finds TRoy Williamson for a TD. Adrian Peterson again gets the brunt of the carries in Minny's backfield, and he turns those into 125 yards and a score. Darren Sharper intercepts a Kitna pass and takes it to the house, as the road team pulls off the upset. Vikings 24-23.
Seattle (-3) at Arizona, Sunday 4:05 p.m.
Comments: The Seahawks won 20-6 last week, but the team still isn't without issues on offense. Matt Hasselbeck completed just six passes to his wide receivers, none to Deion Branch. To make matters worse, D.J. Hackett is out indefinitely after suffering a high ankle sprain, leaving Nate Burleson and Bobby Engram to pick up the slack. Shaun Alexander played pain-free after last year's foot injury but needed a protective device to cope with his ailing hand this week. The injury isn't supposed to limit him Sunday, but it does highlight his susceptibility to injury now that he's 30 years old with a lot of mileage on his legs. He turned in a solid Week 1 effort, but the 3.9 YPC against a weak Tampa Bay defense suggests he may struggle against some of the better defenses this year. The Cards did a fine job of slowing down Frank Gore last week, but thankfully, Arizona doesn't qualify …New coach Ken Whisenhunt made good on his promise to bring a smash-mouth culture to the desert, as Arizona played improved defense and ran the ball 38 times Week 1. Second-year starter Matt Leinart, on the other hand, struggled mightily (3.6 YPA). He's having a hard time picking up the newly installed offense, so it may take some patience before he truly blossoms this year. But then, he has Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald at his disposal, and Seattle has no answer in their secondary - we may see signs of that blossom very soon.
Predictions: Matt Hasselbeck gets 220 passing yards and a TD to Deion Branch, while Shaun Alexander adds 100 rushing yards and a score. Matt Leinart shows more accuracy this week, hitting Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald for scoring strikes. Edgerrin James follows up his nice first game with another solid outing, totaling 95 yards and finding the end zone, as the hometown underdog wins outright. Cardinals 21-20.
Kansas City (+13) at Chicago, Sunday 4:15 p.m.
Comments: Expect KC to throw out the plans to ease Larry Johnson back into action, because the Chiefs have problems on both sides of the ball. Quarterback Daman Huard, who was one of the NFL's bigger surprises last season, played poorly last week against a typically beatable Texans' defense, getting a paltry 5.1 YPA without TD and two INTs. He'll now face one of the league's elite defenses in Chicago; a unit that was rather impressive despite the loss in San Diego last week. The Bears lost safety Mike Brown (Achilles') and defensive tackle Dusty Dvoracek (Achilles') for the season, but this team is deep enough to handle the injuries. Johnson is unlikely to find much running room against a defense that held LaDainian Tomlinson to just 1.5 YPC last week, but he will be the focal point of the offense and should see plenty of opportunities in the passing game as well…Rex Grossman continues to strike fear in the hearts of Bears fans, but he typically plays well when given a lead, a likely scenario Sunday. Bernard Berrian will beat the KC secondary deep on at least one occasion, while Cedric Benson will rebound from a poor Week 1 with a solid effort against a poor Chiefs' run defense. Benson has shown an inability to break tackles and drops too many passes; he'll need to improve his performance if he doesn't want Adrian Peterson cutting into his playing time more and more. Still, Kansas City's defense is a good way to cure Chicago's offensive ills.
Predictions: Damon Huard is harassed throughout, resulting in a handful of sacks and a few turnovers. No Chiefs wide receiver puts up notable stats, as Larry Johnson leads the team in receptions. He gets enough touches to total 70 yards and scores from the goal line. Rex Grossman throws for 225 yards and two TDs, one bomb to Bernard Berrian and another from in close to Desmond Clark. Cedric Benson tallies 90 total yards and a score, as Chicago wins in a blowout. Bears 27-10.
New York Jets (+10.5) at Baltimore, Sunday 4:15 p.m.
Comments: Both teams enter Sunday still looking for win No. 1 in a what is likely to be a battle of backup quarterbacks,. Chad Pennington's ankle appeared to badly injured last week, making him unlikely to suit up against Baltimore. Enter Kellen Clemens, who impressed during preseason work but gets immediately thrown into the fire - against one of the best defenses in the NFL and on the road in Baltimore. While Clemens will almost certainly struggle facing a blitz-heavy Rex Ryan defense, his arm strength is a clear upgrade over Chad Pennington's, so New York may go downfield more than usual. Laveranues Coles and Jerricho Cotchery form an underrated duo at wide receiver, and they'll have to make plays for the Jets to have any chance Sunday…The Ravens, meanwhile, aren't without injury problems of their own. Steve McNair (groin) looks like a game time decision; Kyle Boller is the favorite to start. That may not even be a downgrade at this point. McNair has lost almost all of his arm strength and committed four turnovers last week. Former first round pick Boller has largely been considered a bust, but he really excelled in limited action last year. It takes some quarterbacks a little longer than others to acclimate themselves to the NFL. We should know whether that is the case after he faces a Jets' secondary that was torched by the Patriots last week. Ray Lewis (triceps) hopes to play Sunday, as does Mark Clayton (toe), but Jonathan Ogden (toe) is going to miss significant time, a big blow to the team's offensive line. Willis McGahee is an upgrade over Jamal Lewis, but that doesn't mean he's an above average NFL running back. This game is likely to be defensive-minded and turnover riddled, with the home team victorious.
Predictions: Kellen Clemens starts and gets 180 yards and a TD to Jerricho Cotchery, but also gets picked off twice. Thomas Jones is limited to just 40 yards, while Willis McGahee gains 70 yards with a TD run mixed in. Kyle Boller throws for 200 yards and finds Todd Heap in the end zone, but it's Baltimore's defense that ultimately wins the game. Ravens 20-10.
Oakland (+10) at Denver, Sunday 4:15 p.m.
Comments: : One of the more irritating trends in today's NFL: coaches who guard the truth about player injuries as if it were their ATM passwords. Raider coach Lane Kiffin is the latest on this bandwagon, refusing to confirm who will start at QB for the Raiders this week. Last week's starter Josh McCown has a bruised index finger and a sprained right foot, which could ultimately force him to sit. Daunte Culpepper was solid enough during the preseason, but he doesn't have full command of the playbook yet. With Culppeper at the helm, the Raiders would need to scale back their offensive game plan. Ronald Curry is Oakland's best playmaker, but Denver's secondary, featuring Champ Bailey and Dre Bly, is a fearsome group that should give opponents fits all season long. After last year's disaster with Tom "Bed &Breakfast" Walsh calling the plays, Oakland appears to be more innovative in their playcalling this season and back to utilizing LaMont Jordan in the passing game, his biggest strength. Now, Oakland fans will just have to hope last week's game against Detroit was just an aberration defensively, because the unit that was so impressive last year was shredded by the Lions…Despite outgaining the Bills 470 to 184 yards, it took a last-second Jason Elam field goal for Denver to win Week 1. Still, there was a lot to like with the team's performance. The defense looks stout. Travis Henry couldn't be a better fit for the team's running scheme. Jay Cutler is going to be a special NFL quarterback, but his stats may take a back seat to the running game Sunday, as the team is likely to be playing with a lead for most of the day…Mike Shanahan is 19-5 against the Raiders, his former employer.
Predictions: Daunte Culpepper gets the nod at quarterback, and he throws for 200 yards, one TD to Ronald Curry and three turnovers, including one fumbled snap. Jay Cutler counters with 225 yards and a scoring strike to Javon Walker, while Travis Henry totals 130 yards and reaches paydirt twice, as Denver prevails. Broncos 27-10.
San Diego (+3.5) at New England, Sunday 8:15 p.m.
Comments: With two of the best teams in the NFL slated to face each other Week 2, most of the talk has been focused elsewhere. The Patriots were caught cheating last week, when the team violated league rules by videotaping the signals of Jets' defensive coaches -- in a game they won 38-14, no less. Tom Brady was terrific, getting 10.6 YPA and throwing three touchdowns. Randy Moss was equally impressive, showing just how little the preseason means by busting onto the scene after missing all of August with a hamstring injury with nine catches for 183 yards and a TD. Moss didn't flash the explosiveness from his Minnesota days, and one can only wonder whether that long-speed will every fully return after all of the leg injuries he's suffered, but it's clear New England knows how to use his unique talents. You better believe he caught the Chargers' attention…San Diego sputtered offensively Week 1, but the defense came through, and the team won an ugly game against Chicago. Facing a Patriots team that ended the Chargers' season last year in San Diego during the divisional round of the playoffs, expect the Bolts to be extra motivated Sunday night. Antonio Gates (back) sat out of practice this week, but he should be fine for the game. San Diego clearly has an advantage on New England is the ground game, as LaDainian Tomlinson looks to rebound after being held to just 1.5 YPC last week. Don't count on LT turning in back-to-back poor games on the ground, while New England's Laurence Maroney is still getting back into game shape after sitting out most of the preseason. Tomlinson still feels angry about the Pats' excessive celebration at the end of last year's playoff loss. San Diego gets its revenge Sunday night.
Predictions: Tom Brady throws for 230 yards and a TD to Ben Watson, while Laurence Maroney gains 70 yards on the ground. Sammy Morris gets New England's rushing score. Philip Rivers counters with 220 yards and two TDs, one going to Antonio Gates and the other to LaDainian Tomlinson, who also adds 110 rushing yards and a TD run, as San Diego pulls off the upset. Chargers 24-23.
Washington (+7) at Philadelphia, Monday 8:30 p.m.
Comments: Coming off an emotional overtime victory, the Redskins travel to Philadelphia to face an Eagles' squad still looking for their first win of the season. Jason Campbell continues to mix in brilliant throws with head-scratching decisions, and he'll get a stern test against Jim Johnson's blitz-heavy defense Monday - albeit against a secondary that will be missing Lito Sheppard (knee). Washington should focus on the ground game. Clinton Portis (knee) looked surprisingly healthy last week, and Ladell Betts ran for 171 yards the last time he faced Philadelphia. However, the loss of right tackle Jon Jansen (ankle) for the season was a major blow to the offensive unit…Donovan McNabb may not have had a great game in his first action since last season's knee surgery, but the team was still in position to win if not for a couple of huge mistakes on special teams. Two muffed punts led to a TD and the game-winning field goal. While McNabb's final stats didn't look great, the good news is that he felt fine physically, and the fact he even attempted four rushes suggests he has quite a bit confidence in his knee. Look for a better performance Monday, with McNabb getting Reggie Brown more involved -- the third-year wideout was held to just one catch Week 1. The Eagles may have struggled offensively last week, but that was against a tough Green Bay team. Washington will be the one struggling Monday, as Philadelphia gets its offense rolling…The Eagles have won nine out of the last 11 contests against the Redskins.
Predictions: Jason Campbell throws for 160 yards and a TD to Chris Cooley, while Clinton Portis runs for 70 yards and a score. Donovan McNabb puts any doubt in his recovery to rest, as he throws for 260 yards and three TDs, with Reggie Brown, Kevin Curtis and Brian Westbrook being the recipients. Westbrook also adds 120 total yards, as Philadelphia gives the home crowd plenty to cheer about. Eagles 24-14.
Article first appeared 9/14/07