With less than two hours to go before kickoff of the 1 p.m. games and this being a rare Sunday when the NFL Guru actually can kick back and watch all of the games since the Dolphins play tomorrow night, let's dive right into some bonus analysis.
One quick glance at the schedule reveals six potential blowouts, four nondescript games and five games that on paper should be compelling. That is definitely not music to the ears of television networks, although ESPN and NBC have two of the games I believe will be entertaining.
Unfortunately, for those of us who enjoy a full day of football that keeps our eyes glued to the television if we're not actually at the stadium, seven of the nine games kicking off at 1 are likely to be snoozers. So if you haven't played golf in a while or gotten to the beach on a Sunday, this might be the day to do it, and then make sure you are back for the 4 p.m. games and the Sunday night showdown in Dallas between the Cowboys and the Giants.
Carolina at Atlanta: The Falcons' defense quieted all the critics last week in their opening day win over the Miami Dolphins by sacking Chad Pennington four times and forcing four turnovers. Linebacker Mike Peterson played like a 23-year-old energizer bunny at the age of 33, crunching Dolphins tight end Anthony Fasano to jar the ball loose and making a nifty interception and 39-yard return to set up a TD. That confident defense inside a loud Georgia Dome going against a shaky Jake Delhomme (9 INTs in his last two games), combined with a volatile Atlanta offense that was bottled up last week but is eager to break out, spells rout on the Guru's score sheet.
Falcons 35, Panthers 7
Minnesota at Detroit: Do I really need to spend a lot of time on this one? No, the Lions are not the worst team in the NFL (I'm giving that honor to the Kansas City Chiefs right now) as I do believe Matthew Stafford will help speed up the rebuilding process. But Adrian Peterson is other worldly right now, which means No. 4 doesn't have to try to force the issue and feel like he has to win games by himself, and the Vikings don't just want to reach the playoffs this year, they want to make it all the way to Miami for Super Bowl XLIV.
Vikings 41, Lions 14
Cincinnati at Green Bay: The Bungles were supposed to be a lot better this year with Chad Ochocinco no longer a distraction and being a model teammate and Carson Palmer completely healthy, but they still found a way to be inept in a loss to Denver last week in the closing seconds. Meanwhile, Aaron Rogers is the unquestioned leader of that Packers offense and is focused on having his team playing at a high level before the first meeting with Minnesota.
Packers 28, Bengals 13
Arizona at Jacksonville: This game rates low on the thriller scale, even though the Jaguars came within two points of beating the Colts last week because they always play close games with Indy. The Cardinals are still hurting from their opening day loss to San Francisco but they still have Kurt Warner, Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin and are eager to show that they can win on the East Coast and are the team to beat in the NFC West.
Cardinals 24, Jaguars 17
Oakland at Kansas City: Hard to believe this used to be the marquee match up every year and produced some of the most memorable games in NFL history. Raiders-Chiefs still is an intense rivalry, but now they are fighting each other to avoid being the doormat of the AFC West and the Raiders look a lot closer to reaching respectability than the Chiefs, especially after last Monday's performance against a very good San Diego Chargers team.
Raiders 17, Chiefs 14
New England at New York Jets: Finally, we have a game that should keep fans riveted to their television sets, and the trash talk all week certainly didn't hurt. Kerry Rhodes should know better than to anger a sleeping bear like the Patriots, especially since he has to face Randy Moss, Wes Welker and Tom Brady. Sure, the Pats should be 0-1, and Leodis McKelvin's front lawn will attest to that. And sure, Mark Sanchez looked poised in his NFL debut while the Rex Ryan-coached defense is as good as advertised, which would have led me to pick the Jets in this one had it not been for Rhodes' comments. New England always responds to slights like that and will bring the Jets fans back down to earth in another last-second thriller.
[UPDATE]: The Guru was not aware that Welker is inactive for this game, putting more pressure on Joey Galloway to deliver, but I am sticking with my prediction.
Patriots 28, Jets 27
New Orleans at Philadelphia: Drew Brees picked up right where he left off with six touchdown passes last week against the hapless Detroit Lions, but a little research courtesy of ESPN's Hank Goldberg reveals that Brees fattened up on lowly competition last year en route to a 5,000-yard season through the air. He is not nearly so superhuman on the road or against playoff-caliber teams and the Eagles right now look to be the team to beat in the NFC East, even with a banged up Donovan McNabb.
Eagles 24, Saints 20
Houston at Tennessee: The Texans have been flirting with the playoffs each of the last two seasons, only to fall short in the end, while the Titans ruled the NFC South last year and looked very solid against the defending Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh Steelers in the opener. Jeff Fisher and Kerry Collins know they let one slip away at Heinz Field and after the way Jevon Kearse and the Titans' defense harassed Ben Roethlisberger, it's safe to say Matt Schaub is in for a long afternoon in Nashville.
Titans 31, Texans 10
St. Louis at Washingon: Okay, maybe the Rams can give the Chiefs a run for their money as the worst team in the NFL, and playing at loud FedEx Field makes for an even more daunting task. The Redskins are struggling to avoid another last-place finish in the NFC East and should be able to use this game as a starting point to achieve that goal behind running back Clinton Portis.
Redskins 20, Rams 7
The five 4 o'clock games aren't much better, although there are a couple of intriguing match ups.
Tampa Bay at Buffalo: Unfortunately for the Bucs, they have to travel up north to face a very angry Bills team primed to make amends for last week's collapse in New England. Trent Edwards no doubt watched plenty of film of Tony Romo carving up the once vaunted Tampa Bay defense in Tampa last week, and Terrell Owens wants nothing more than to show Bills fans the investment in him was worth it, which he will do today.
Bills 31, Bucs 14
Seattle at San Francisco: The Seahawks once ruled the NFC West not long ago and new head coach Jim Mora wants to return his team to the top of the division. But Mike Singletary has let it be known that these aren't the same 49ers that have rolled over in previous years as they are truly taking on his fiery personality. Frank Gore will have a big day on the ground and allow San Francisco to improve to 2-0 and hold onto first place in the division.
49ers 21, Seahawks 13
Pittsburgh at Chicago: Hmmm. Let's see. Jay Cutler was picked off four times last week by the Packers and then pouted like a spoiled 16-year-old after the game -- and that was after learning that his best defensive player, Brian Urlacher, was lost for the season. Meanwhile, the Steelers narrowly escaped Heinz Field with a win last week over Tennessee and Big Ben is champing at the bit to victimize the Bears' secondary with passes to Santonio Holmes and Hines Ward. The loss of Troy Polamalu would be more disconcerting if it wasn't a rattled Cutler on the other side of the ball, Soldier Field or no Soldier Field.
Steelers 27, Bears 6
Cleveland at Denver: The Broncos always play better at Mile High, but the Browns finally look to be on the right track and Brady Quinn would like nothing more than to have his true coming out party in the city where the great John Elway played. Whichever teams can avoid the costly mistake will come out on top in this one and I have a feeling Cleveland is ready to take that next step.
Browns 19, Broncos 14
Baltimore at San Diego: Finally, here's your must-see game of the day as the Ravens showed that defense isn't the only thing they do well in Baltimore. Joe Flacco is being given more control of the offense and more opportunities to use his height and strong arm to victimize opposing defenses and force them to pay attention to the passing game as much as they do the run. The Chargers struggled to beat the Raiders last week and L.T. is banged up yet again, which means Ray Lewis and company can tee off on Phillip Rivers.
Ravens 23, Chargers 21
And that brings us to the two prime time games, beginning with the first regular-season game to be played at the ridiculously expensive and large Cowboys Stadium.
New York Giants at Dallas Cowboys: There should be three numbers at play in Las Vegas for this game -- the actual spread, over-under and the over-under on how many punts will strike the mammoth video board hanging over the field. All kidding aside, with an expected crowd of over 100,000 it would be fair to assume that Dallas will enjoy an enormous home field advantage and run away with this heated division rivalry. But the Bucs ran the ball effectively last week against the Cowboys and they didn't have bruising backs Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw. Still, I think Romo, Jason Witten, Miles Austin and Roy Williams along with Marion Barber will be too much for the Giants' defense to handle and Jerry Jones will be all smiles at the end of the night.
Cowboys 28, Giants 21
Week 2 concludes with the first Monday Night Football game to be played in Miami since Christmas Day of 2006, and it should be a fun one to watch.
Indianapolis at Miami: New Dolphins owner Stephen M. Ross has been eagerly awaiting this night -- the home opener at Land Shark Stadium under the lights in front of a national television audience. Hall-of-Fame quarterbacks Dan Marino and Bob Griese will be entering the stadium via the new Orange Carpet, and Colts quarterback Peyton Manning, who has looked up to Marino since he was a kid, will try to avoid being star-struck. He will be tested by the dual threat pass rush of Joey Porter and Jason Taylor and is minus Anthony Gonzalez, while Chad Pennington would like nothing better than to restore the magic of last season with a win in prime time at home. Because of my affiliation with the Dolphins as their Senior Internet Writer for MiamiDolphins.com, I have to refrain from making a prediction, other than I do believe it will be just as entertaining as last week's two Monday nighters.
Dolphins vs. Colts (no prediction. Explanation above)
Until next time, stay thirsty my friends.