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Game Capsules: Week 2 Game Capsules

Luke Hoover

Luke Hoover

Luke Hoover has covered fantasy football for Rotowire.com since 2011 and is most proud of recommending Victor Cruz as a starter in his breakout game against the Eagles. He's a lifelong fan of Notre Dame, the Packers and, unfortunately, the Knicks.

Chicago (+6) @ Green Bay, Thursday 8:30 p.m.

Comments: The Bears and Packers couldn't have had much more different Week 1 experiences. While Chicago moved the ball at will on a Colts defense that has the look of one of the league's worst units, the Packers had to scrap and fight for every inch they could muster versus the 49ers' ultra-stingy defense. Jay Cutler won't have it as easy this week against an opportunistic Packers defense that led the league last year with 31 interceptions and seemed, at least for a week, to have some bite back in their pass rush as they sacked Alex Smith four times. If the porous Bears offensive line cannot protect Cutler (they allowed three sacks to Indy), it could be a long day for the passing attack. However, the presence of Chicago's twin towers in 6-foot-4 Brandon Marshall and 6-foot-3 Alshon Jeffery should help bail out Cutler, particularly with the Packers consistently struggling to cover on the back end. Moreover, the Bears can use the run behind Matt Forte and the bruising Michael Bush to set up the pass. The Niners had a great deal of success pummeling Green Bay for over 180 yards on the ground at 5.8 a clip, and Chicago would be wise to imitate that formula... The key offensively for the Packers will be balancing their attack this week. They got just 18 yards out of Cedric Benson on nine carries and that limitation allowed the 49ers to drop seven and eight players in coverage to mitigate any big pass plays. The Green Bay air attack may also be slowed a bit as Greg Jennings, who suffered a groin injury late against San Fran, is officially doubtful to play on the short turnaround (making Randall Cobb and James Jones excellent flex starts). With all that said, Rodgers and a motivated Packers offense should never be doubted. After all, Rodgers threw for five touchdowns against a mostly identical Bears defense in Week 16 of 2011 after losing their only regular season game to the Chiefs-also without Jennings.

Predictions: Cutler throws for 310 yards and touchdowns to Marshall and Earl Bennett, but also throws two picks and takes four sacks. Forte totals 108 yards, though he has another score vultured by Michael Bush. Benson provides 84 yards in a solid performance, while Rodgers surgically dismantles Chicago's D to the tune of 344 yards and four touchdowns going to Nelson, Cobb, Finley and Tom Crabtree. Packers 34-24.

Kansas City (+3.5) @ Buffalo, Sunday 1:00 p.m.

Comments: Although the Chiefs took a browbeating from the Falcons passing game last week, they were without defensive starters Tamba Hali (suspension), Brandon Flowers (foot), Kendrick Lewis (shoulder) and Anthony Toribio (ankle), so they should be better going forward. Hali will return to provide a much needed pass rush while Flowers looks to lockdown Steve Johnson barring any setbacks in practice. When healthy, they have the talent to be an elite unit and figure to be highly motivated this week to avenge the 41 points Buffalo dropped on them in Arrowhead last year. Offensively, Jamaal Charles showed no ill effects from his ACL recovery, displaying good burst on a 46-yard scamper, while Dexter McCluster (six catches, 82 yards) was a bright spot in the passing game. Given the carry distribution between Charles and Peyton Hillis (16 to 7), the latter doesn't look like a worthy start until he becomes more involved. McCluster looks like the No. 2 target over trendy preseason sleeper Jon Baldwin (10 targets to Baldwin's zero), and a decent flex start versus a Bills' defense that could not slow the Jets' passing attack... Last week was a nightmare for a Buffalo team with playoff aspirations. Their upgraded defense was torched by a Jets offense that was beyond dreadful in the preseason and Ryan Fitzpatrick picked right back up where he left off last year with the turnover issues. To add injury to insult, Fred Jackson went down with what's being called a sprained LCL and slot receiver David Nelson was lost for the year to a torn ACL. The silver lining in it all was that the offense woke up, albeit in garbage time, and C.J. Spiller was sensational in racking up 116 yards after contact. While Jackson is out (speculatively 3-4 weeks) Spiller is a surefire top-10 back and for this week, Fitzpatrick and his targets should be strong with KC's defense still banged up.

Predictions: Charles rushes for 102 yards while Hillis steals a goal line score and finishes with 65 total yards of his own. Cassel connects with Bowe and McCluster for scores in a 230-yard day but is bested by Fitzpatrick's 274 and three scores. Johnson, Chandler and Spiller are the recipients and Spiller once again rules the day with 155 total yards. Bills 27-24.

Cleveland (+7) @ Cincinnati, Sunday 1:00 p.m.


Comments: There isn't much to say about the Browns offense after a paper-bag-depressing performance in Week 1 except, well, it can't get much worse. And yet the game was exciting for Browns fans as they very nearly upset the Eagles behind a remarkably strong defensive effort. The defense may have a tougher time getting to Andy Dalton, as his line is much better than Philly's, but if they can pressure him into turnovers and missed throws like Baltimore did, they could make another game of it this week. If Brandon Weeden can throw less than four picks and present some kind of passing threat, Trent Richardson should at least have an easier time getting out of his own backfield against a Cinci defense that allowed gaping holes and 122 rushing yards to the Ravens... The Browns coming to town should provide a nice chance for the Bengals to lick their wounds on both sides of the ball after the shellacking they took in Baltimore. No Joe Haden (4-game suspension) should spell a big day for Andy Dalton and in particular A.J. Green, while BenJarvus Green-Ellis should pummel a Browns defense that is still very generous against the run.

Predictions: The Law Firm rumbles for 108 yards and a score, and without Haden to slow him, Green goes off for 121 and a touch of his own. Dalton also connects with Hawkins for a TD en route to 258 passing yards. Weeden gets 174 in the air, but fails to score again. The Bengals stuff the box to slow him, but Richardson breaks a run for six and finishes with 94 total yards in the loss. Bengals 24-10.

Minnesota (-1) @ Indianapolis, Sunday 1:00 p.m.


Comments: Adrian Peterson really is a freak of nature. Barely nine months removed from ACL and MCL surgery he hammered the Jags for 84 yards and two scores on 17 carries. And what's even more promising is that he's experienced no swelling and only minor soreness during practice this week and looks to resume his permanent spot among the top-5 running backs. His performance was so strong that it completely overshadowed Christian Ponder playing a very efficient game and displaying great chemistry with Percy Harvin and Kyle Rudolph. Harvin is a must start and Ponder and Rudolph could be sneaky plays versus a terrible Colts defense... Andrew Luck made his rookie mistakes, but against a Bears team that brought constant pressure and mixed up their coverage looks, he still topped 300 yards. With the Colts' inability to slow down opposing offenses, that should become a major trend this season, as Luck, Reggie Wayne (18 targets in Week 1), Coby Fleener (10 targets) and Austin Collie (back from concussion) should produce consistent garbage time numbers. This week it's even possible that Luck's arm helps Indy keep pace against an awful Vikings pass defense (they let Blaine Gabbert go for 260 and two TD's) and gives Donald Brown a chance to get more than nine carries.

Predictions: Peterson rips the Colts' weak front seven for 112 yards and a score, while Ponder hits them through the air for 285 and two touchdowns going to Harvin and Rudolph. Luck gets the upper hand though by tossing TD's to Wayne and Fleener in a 328-yard effort. Brown adds 90 total yards and a score in a Colts W. Colts 30-26.

New Orleans (-2) @ Carolina, Sunday 1:00 p.m.


Comments: The Washington defense deserves a ton of credit, but it sure seemed like the Saints were not themselves as they struggled to protect Drew Brees and could not find any offensive balance or rhythm last week. Somehow Brees completed less than 50% of his passes on his own turf while rookie Robert Griffin III dramatically upstaged him by posting a league-best 139.9 passer rating. Another week to rest a sore foot, which clearly limited him versus the Skins, should benefit Marques Colston and Brees. After abandoning the run last week (just 10 carries!) expect the Saints and interim coach Aaron Kromer to try and get Mark Ingram and Pierre Thomas going early against a Carolina D that allowed 130 rushing yards to Tampa Bay... Cam Newton didn't attempt many scrambles as the Panthers relied on his arm versus a Buccaneers defense that made them one-dimensional. Last year Carolina had one of the best rushing offenses and the Bucs had the worst ground defense, but those two things looked quite the opposite as the Bucs stuffed DeAngelo Williams on his six attempts. To beat New Orleans, Newton and his backs will need to use their legs and Cam cannot afford to force passes into tight coverage and risk picks. Getting Jonathan Stewart (ankle) back should help matters, but at the same time, if the defense cannot slow Brees (it didn't come close last year), any offense will go for naught.

Predictions: Brees hits Carolina for 380 yards and touchdown strikes to Graham, Colston and Moore. The Saints' RBBC combines for 128 total yards with Sproles leading the way and Ingram grabbing a short score. Newton counters with 289 passing and scores to Olsen and Louis Murphy, while gaining 44 and score with his legs. Carolina tailbacks again struggle in a disappointing loss. Saints 28-27.

Houston (-8.5) @ Jacksonville, Sunday 1:00 p.m.


Comments: After averaging just 3.0 yards per carry versus Miami, Arian Foster should have an easier go of it with a Jaguars defense that allowed Adrian Peterson to post 4.9 per try. With Foster being a game-time decision last week (sore knee) and still dominating carries (26 to 5) it became clear that Ben Tate has no flex value as long as fantasy's top back is healthy. Speaking of the health of a Texans' star, Andre Johnson certainly looked the part after posting 119 yards and an awesome score last week. He should thrive versus a Jacksonville defense that has a limited pass rush to put on Matt Schaub... Though he missed some throws last week, Blaine Gabbert looked much more comfortable in the pocket than he ever did during a jittery rookie campaign, and it resulted in a 260-yard, 2-score effort. However, that was against a Vikings defense that allowed a mind-blowing 107.9 passer rating last year and gave up a league-worst 34 scores. He gets a Houston D with a scary pass rush this week for his reward-one that held opposing QB's to a paltry 69.0 passer rating in 2011, second only to Pittsburgh. Gabbert will need a lot of Maurice Jones-Drew's bowling ball help to move the chains. The "backup" last week is back to full-time duty after Rashad Jennings tweaked a knee versus Minnesota and is likely out this Sunday.

Predictions: MJD totals 116 yards and adds a short score, while Gabbert continues his improvement with 240 yards and score to Robinson despite the stingy Texans' defense. Johnson and Schaub hook up for over 100 and a score again while the latter throws for 290 yards. Foster chips in 105 rushing and a TD in this close one. Texans 20-17.

Oakland (-1.5) @ Miami, Sunday 1:00 p.m.


Comments: It was highly evident how much the Raiders' offense missed Denarius Moore (hamstring) when they could not produce a single play over 26 yards in Monday night's loss to San Diego and averaged just 6.5 yards per pass attempt. Though he's been limited in practice Moore should be good to go after getting Monday off. The threat of his speed on the outside figures to open up the passing game for Carson Palmer, Darrius Heyward-Bey and emerging tight end Brandon Myers to be more effective on a per-play basis. Darren McFadden, who was the only real weapon against San Diego, won't see as many targets (a whopping 18!) but is likely to produce better than 32 yards in the run game since Miami will have to honor play-action... The Raiders defense does not have the level of pass rushers that Houston boasts, but they do use aggressive blitz schemes that should rattle Ryan Tannehill. Still, he likely won't struggle as much as he did versus the Texans' elite defense, so perhaps turnovers won't kill Miami this week. Reggie Bush figures have an easier time than the Chargers' platoon did running the ball on Oakland. If he can produce nearly 5.0 yards per carry on Houston then he may torch the Silver and Black.

Predictions: McFadden tops 100 total yards again, this time with a score. Palmer connects better with his receivers and goes for 276 and two touchdowns to DHB and Moore. Tannehill improves (just one pick) and throws his first score to Davone Bess, but has only 204 yards to show for it. Bush leads the offense once again, but once again his 100+ total yards isn't enough. Raiders 24-13.

Arizona (+14) @ New England, Sunday 1:00 p.m.


Comments: The Cardinals' defense was physical, aggressive and difficult to move the ball on in Week 1. Of course that was at home, facing a rookie third-round QB in his first start and against a running back who's own back nearly kept him from playing. Week 2 has the makings of a totally different story as Tom Brady and his glut of weapons pose a monumentally larger threat AND Arizona gets to travel across the country for a 1:00 p.m. kickoff. On offense, the Cardinals will reportedly start Kevin Kolb in place of Jon Skelton after the latter sprained his ankle and Kolb led the game-winning drive versus Seattle. This could be to the Patriots' benefit, as Kolb tends to panic and force throws into coverage whenever the pocket breaks down. To make matters worse, Ryan Williams and Beanie Wells appear to be laughable threats in the run game after the Pats just held Chris Johnson to four yards on 11 totes... The Patriots moved the ball on Tennessee at will last week without even involving Wes Welker, so the Cardinals defense is in for a rough afternoon. With Stevan Ridley providing a major spark in the run game the job of Brady's inexperienced line becomes easier. The three new linemen, including left tackle Nate Solder, get the added benefit of play-action to help limit the pressure on Brady and allow him to dissect defenses like a 10th-grade biology project.

Predictions: Kolb has more turnovers (3) than touchdowns (1), while throwing for 245 yards in a "comeback" effort. Larry Fitzgerald gets to 105 yards and that score, while Williams chips in 44 on the ground. Brady goes for 308 and three scores to Gronk, Welker and Lloyd. Ridley plays the closer, netting a short score in the second half to go with his 116 rushing. Patriots 34-10.

Tampa Bay (+9) @ New York Giants, Sunday 1:00 p.m.


Comments: Greg Schiano, coach of Rutgers for 11 years, will return to Jersey with a physical, no-nonsense team that resembles many of his gritty, hard-nosed Scarlet Knights squads. The Schiano impact was felt instantly last week when the Bucs defense, which was dead last in yards and scores allowed rushing in 2011, held the Panthers, one of the best rushing teams, to a pitiful 10 yards on the ground. If they can post a similar effort and result in East Rutherford, the Giants could be in deep trouble. Offensively Josh Freeman managed the game soundly but did very little to create excitement for a Bucs offense that added great weapons in Vincent Jackson and Doug Martin. The latter carried the offensive load and will need to have another strong outing versus a Giants defense that gave up 131 rushing to DeMarco Murray if Tampa wants to score points... The G-Men still have all the talent to be a great team. Last week they simply didn't execute the small things well. Dropped passes can be corrected with greater focus and Victor Cruz will be sure to get his chances to make up for them, as his team-leading 11 targets could become a trend. David Wilson will also see more opportunities to hold onto the ball since the Giants need since spark-plug dimension in a run game that was mostly stagnant versus Dallas. Hopefully for Eli Manning's sake Hakeem Nicks' foot stops giving him issues and he can return to the stud form the team is used to. Martellus Bennett looks like he'll be a big part of the offense, especially as a huge red zone target, while Ahmad Bradshaw showed that his foot is fine for now. So as mentioned, there's plenty of talent. But against a mentally tough Tampa team, if the Giants struggle to execute again, that talent won't matter.

Predictions: Cruz doesn't register a drop en route to 126 of Manning's 315 passing yards and one of his two scores. Nicks claims the other while Bradshaw totals 72 yards and a TD. Freeman throws for 218 yards, hitting Jackson for a touchdown. Martin chips in 124 total yards and finds the end zone, but the Bucs fall well short. Giants 30-14.

Baltimore (+1.5) @ Philadelphia, Sunday 1:00 p.m.


Comments: The Ravens looked highly impressive in all facets of the game in their pounding of a divisional foe on Monday Night Football. Joe Flacco has great control of the offense's no-huddle attack and can make all the throws of an elite QB. Jacoby Jones and Dennis Pitta looked like excellent complementary options to Torrey Smith and Anquan Boldin and suddenly the Ravens passing game appears to have a glut of fantasy relevant options, something that has never really been the case there. Ray Rice was awesome when he touched the ball, but 13 combined opportunities just aren't enough for the team's best weapon. Hopefully he'll see more in competitive games. As for the defense, they certainly didn't seem to skip a beat without Terrell Suggs (Achilles) and Ray Lewis looked like a 25-year-old again in an emotionally inspired performance playing for the memory of Art Modell... The aggressive Eagles defense should pose a different threat to the Ravens' loaded offense, but the difference in this game will likely come down to how Michael Vick takes care of the ball and how his line protects him. The Philly line made the Browns' defense, chock full of no-names, appear to be the best-kept secret in the NFL last week. Constant pressure forced Vick into awful decisions and four INT's. They can't have that to compete with Baltimore. Wideouts Jeremy Maclin (hip) and DeSean Jackson (hamstring) have both missed practice time this week and if one or both cannot go, the results will be devastating for the Eagles offense. Large doses of LeSean McCoy may help, as the Bengals did run the ball effectively on Baltimore, but it won't be enough.

Predictions: Flacco no-huddles his way to 274 yards and touchdowns to Smith and Jones, while Rice racks up 138 total yards and a score. Vick throws for 220, runs for 34 but gets just one score to two picks. Celek gets the TD while McCoy provides a score of his own on the ground and 114 total yards in the losing effort. Ravens 27-14.

Washington (-3) @ St. Louis, Sunday 4:05 p.m.


Comments: Lost a bit in all the hype surrounding Robert Griffin III's impressive debut is that Washington's defense went down to the Superdome and forced Drew Brees, the single-season record holder for completion percentage, into completing just 24-of-52 attempts. That defensive effort was every bit as remarkable as RGIII's phenomenal efficiency throwing the ball and could be the key to putting Washington into the playoff discussion. On offense Griffin has all the tools to win games, and the Skins may have found a feature back in Alfred Morris (28 carries, 96 yards, two scores), but if Pierre Garcon cannot play Sunday after suffering a foot injury, Washington may struggle to post points against a Rams' secondary that picked off Matthew Stafford three times last week. Don't be surprised if Mike Shanahan gets all three backs involved-much to the chagrin of Morris owners-if Griffin struggles early... Though Stafford still got 355 yards on St. Louis, the Jeff Fisher impact was clear on the defense side, as Stafford's efficiency and effectiveness in doing so was minimal enough that the Rams nearly clung to a major road upset. Offensively, the line may be a major issue with left tackle Rodger Saffold (neck) and center Scott Wells (foot) both suffering injuries. Wells will be out at least six weeks with a fracture, while Saffold is questionable at best for Sunday. As for weapons, receivers Brandon Gibson and Danny Amendola appear serviceable, but there are no real game-changers for Sam Bradford other than Steven Jackson. It could be an ugly day for the Rams offense if the Skins send the same pressure that befuddled Brees.

Predictions: Under constant attack, Bradford throws for just 180 yards. Jackson gets free for the only Rams touchdown and finishes with 94 total yards. The defense keeps it close for St. Louis as the stingy corners limit RGIII to 238 passing yards and one score to Santana Moss, while getting the rookie's first two picks. Morris and Griffin combine for 110 rushing yards as the skins squeak one out. Redskins 16-13.

Dallas (-3) @ Seattle, Sunday 4:05 p.m.


Comments: Tony Romo's ability to escape pressure made his offensive line look significantly better than it is and allowed him to torch an injured and inexperienced New York secondary with the help of new toy Kevin Ogletree. The big day and favorable comparisons to Laurent Robinson made Ogletree a hot waiver add in all leagues. While it's a long shot for him to replicate what Robinson did for the Cowboys and fantasy owners last year, it's far from impossible. Though he flashed vintage Miles Austin in the fourth quarter, his hamstring woes may plague him all year and give Ogletree an opportunity to be the No. 2 opposite Dez Bryant. As the No. 3 for now though, Ogletree remains a nice option this week with Austin and Bryant getting locked up by two excellent Seahawks corners in Brandon Browner and Richard Sherman. Facing such a stiff secondary, the Cowboys will also need a big injection of DeMarco Murray, who posted 186 total yards on Seattle in 2011, if they want to win... It's too early to totally discount gifted rookie Russell Wilson, but he struggled mightily through most of his first start and could turn out to be a preseason mirage. The Cardinals defense deserves some credit, and the Seattle receivers, namely Sidney Rice and Braylon Edwards, didn't help him out with some drops, but it figures to get worse before it gets better. With left tackle Russell Okung potentially out with a bruised knee this week, DeMarcus Ware and Rob Ryan's tough defense will cause all kinds of problems for Wilson in the passing game. Seattle really needs Marshawn Lynch's back to remain okay, as an effective run game might be the best way to keep this contest competitive.

Predictions: Romo hits Bryant and Ogletree for scores in a 241-yard day, while Murray adds 104 total yards. Wilson goes for 212 yards passing and connects with Edwards for a touchdown in an improved effort from Week 1. Lynch tastes some Skittles with a short plunge in a 90-yard ground performance, but it's not enough. Cowboys 23-20.

New York Jets (+6) @ Pittsburgh, Sunday 4:25 p.m.


Comments: The Jets will not score 48 points on Sunday. The Steelers defense in Pittsburgh will put up considerably more resistance than did the Bills in Jersey even with James Harrison (knee) and Troy Polamalu (calf) likely sidelined. Dick LeBeau and his confusing pass rushes and coverages will see to that. LaMarr Woodley will help. Mark Sanchez had a great deal of success through the air, particularly working with rookie Stephen Hill and slot man Jeremy Kerley, but he'll need a more efficient ground effort from Shonn Greene (27 carries, 94 yards) to keep drives going this week... Revis Island and the Jets' stingy pass defense will provide obstacles for Ben Roethlisberger, but he's faced them before with some success (264 yards, one score, no picks in 2010) and he may get a boost to the ground game with Rashard Mendenhall possibly seeing his first action coming off a torn ACL. If and how much Mendenhall can contribute remains to be seen, but Jonathan Dwyer was impressive in limited action versus Denver. The Jets gave up huge plays to C.J. Spiller last week and although he's a different style runner than what Pittsburgh offers, if New York fails to slow the run this week Big Ben and his speedy duo of Antonio Brown and Mike Wallace should get opportunities for homeruns in play-action.

Predictions: Sanchez tosses one TD and two picks, finishing with 212 passing yards. Holmes gets the score on his old team and Tebow vultures a short one from Greene as the pair combines for 118 on the ground. Roethlisberger hooks up with Brown and Emmanuel Sanders for TD's in a 233-yard outing, while Dwyer goes for 76 rushing and the decisive score. Steelers 24-17.

Tennessee (+6) @ San Diego, Sunday 4:25 p.m.


Comments: The hopes of many for a Johnson resurgence might have been dashed in just one week as the former 2,000-yarder looked awfully like the CJ1K of last year's disappointment. Getting him going with more well-blocked delays and tosses is the key to the Titans' offense. It's possible the Patriots' defense is that much more improved over last year's dreadful unit, but it's more likely the Titans just need to execute better and be patient with the run. A bigger Johnson impact could also open things up for Locker, who despite suffering a separation to his non-throwing shoulder, may still take on an aggressive Chargers pass rush. With Kenny Britt slated to return from a suspension/torn ACL and see between 15-25 snaps, a speedy Kendall Wright and the athletic Jared Cook, watch out for some play-action if Johnson can get going Sunday... Poor Philip Rivers may still be without any threat of a running game again this week even though Ryan Mathews (clavicle) has been cleared for contact, as the tailback remains questionable. Ronnie Brown and Curtis Brinkley combined for just 17 yards on 15 carries versus an Oakland defense that allowed more yards per carry than anyone in 2011. So even though the Titans gave up 125 yards to Stevan Ridley in Week 1, it's likely to come down to Rivers' arm and his top targets Antonio Gates and Malcom Floyd to get the job done for the Bolts.

Predictions: Rivers goes for 244 yards and scores to Gates and Floyd, but the run game does nothing once again with Mathews out. Johnson's struggles continue against an aggressive Chargers front seven and he totals just 82 yards. Locker connects with Jared Cook and Kendall Wright for touchdowns in a gritty 260-yard comeback effort that falls short. Chargers 23-17.

Detroit (+7) @ San Francisco, Sunday 8:20 p.m.


Comments: The Lions will not be able to run the ball so don't expect an encore from Kevin Smith, who's unstartable for everyone but the most desperate of PPR owners. The 49ers will make Matthew Stafford try to beat them with his arm. After a three-pick performance versus the Rams, that proposition does not look very promising, particularly since Calvin Johnson is dealing with a foot issue. Moreover, Stafford has thrown 14 INT's in his last 10 road games, and none of those was against the swarming San Fran defense... Coming off a huge emotionally and mentally draining win, the 49ers will play their first meaningful home game since a monumentally disappointing NFC Championship loss last January. But since the phrase "let down" does not even exist in Jim Harbaugh's world, expect their efficient offense and dominating defense to be more than ready to face a potent Lions team. With plenty of options to choose from, Alex Smith has the chance to pick apart a sub-par and banged up Lions secondary if his powerful line can keep Ndamukong Suh and Co. off him. The 1-2 punch of Frank Gore and Kendall Hunter should go a long way towards tiring out that physical Lions front four and the Niners' ability to pound it down their opponent's throat while completely preventing that happening to them could prove the difference. Taking its cues from their coach, the 49ers defense hits hard, it doesn't just shake hands. And it will be the harder-hitting team on both sides of the ball that wins the turnover battle and the game.

Predictions: Stafford dinks and dunks to a 251-yard day and finds Megatron and Tony Scheffler for scores, while the run game suffers. Crabtree and Manningham each grab TD's from Alex Smith who goes for 216 yards. Gore and Hunter combine for 145 rushing with one score each. 49ers 31-17.

Denver (+3) @ Atlanta, Monday 8:30 p.m.


Comments: The shootout at the O.K. Corral saw fewer bullets fired than will fly between Peyton Manning and Matt Ryan on Monday Night Football. The sheriff of the West (AFC that is), Manning will bring his potent no-huddle attack to the one and only dome stadium he'll visit this year, and chances are he'll make it look like "Dome Sweet Dome." Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker and Jacob Tamme combined for 15 catches and over 200 yards against a stiff Steelers defense that looked like Gumby when Manning went no-huddle. Willis McGahee and Knowshon Moreno could get into the act as well against a Falcons defense that allowed over 150 rushing yards to Kansas City last week, as Manning will know when to check to a run with the Atlanta defense on its heels... Matt Ryan and coordinator Dirk Koetter put their new up-tempo offense on display last week as well and with great success. Though the Chiefs were without their top pass-rusher in Tamba Hali and best corner Brandon Flowers, there's still no reason to take anything away from Ryan and the 40 points Atlanta hung on the Chiefs in Arrowhead. He absolutely shredded them and with Julio Jones emerging as one of the league's most dangerous offensive stars to combine with the ever-reliable pair of Roddy White and Tony Gonzalez, this attack might not be slowed by anyone. Michael Turner, however, might not approve of the high-flying act as the sluggish bruiser could be phased out slowly by the quicker Jacquizz Rodgers. Turner struggled to get going at KC, but could be used in this basketball-paced matchup to keep the Denver pass rush honest (league-high five sacks in Week 1) and Manning off the field.

Predictions: Four touchdowns fly from Manning's hand to those of Decker (2), Thomas and Tamme, as the Sheriff burns the Falcons for 340 yards. McGahee adds a short plunge in a 74-yard effort. Ryan hooks up with Jones for two more this week and gets a third to White as he edges Manning with 364 yards. Turner pile-drives the a score but has just 50 yards in this tight shootout. Broncos 38-34.