2013 NFL Preseason: Predicting the Winner of Each Week 2 Game
2013 NFL Preseason: Predicting the Winner of Each Week 2 Game
The second week of the preseason is a week loaded with interesting games and heated positional battles. Traditionally the first preseason game the starters make little more than a cameo appearance. Often the starters play a series or two and the rest of the game is about special teamers with defense and undrafted rookies trying to get some reps in. The third preseason game is the dress rehearsal for veteran players and starters.
The second game of the preseason is the week where all of the second stringers and special teamers are trying to put on a show in hopes of rising to the top on their own team or getting signed by another team after first cuts. Are you going to see Peyton Manning throw for 300 yards and four touchdowns this week? Probably not. Chances are you won’t see any big name player make any big play or put up the kind of historic day you will tell your grandchildren about.
What you will see are guys with the potential to be this year’s Alfred Morris and emerge from the shadows with a lunch pail tucked in their locker and their heart on their sleeve, playing their butts off for the chance to continue a dream that started in childhood. Each of these men grew up dreaming of becoming a player in the National Football League and for a lot of them this might be the next step or their last step towards realizing it.
Here are my predictions for this week’s slate of preseason games.
GAME 16: Detroit Lions at Cleveland Browns
In recent years the Detroit Lions have been a team that looks better on paper than they play on the field. At the same time the Cleveland Browns are looking to assemble all the pieces of their team under new Head Coach Rob Chudzinski and offensive coordinator Norv Turner. I think the Lions win by virtue of the fact that they have more talent at every level and the Browns will be spend more of their focus on evaluating their own talent than they will put energy into trying to win the game.
Look for the Browns' underrated offensive line to road grade Trent Richardson into the end zone early before the Lions get ahead and stay ahead.
I predict Lions defeat the Browns 24-13.
GAME 15: Atlanta Falcons at Baltimore Ravens
The Baltimore Ravens have lost a lot of key pieces from the championship squad that won the Super Bowl last year. Whether it has been retirement, trades, free agency or injuries, the Ravens have more questions on their roster than they do answers.
Now don’t get me wrong; I think John Harbaugh is one of the best coaches in the game and I have absolute faith that Ozzie Newsome, the roster whisperer, is in the process of putting together another contender. I just think the Atlanta Falcons are the more prepared team with a better stocked bench. I think the Ravens are more concerned with everyone finding the right place on the roster than they are at mounting a proud defense against the Falcons.
Look for Jacquizz Rodgers to take a long one to the house in the second half to put the game out of the Ravens' reach.
I predict the Falcons defeat the Ravens 27-10.
GAME 14: Carolina Panthers at Philadelphia Eagles
The Carolina Panthers are a team looking to establish a new identity in the run game. They have talented running backs piling up at every level with a defense and special teams that has quietly developed a lot of future playmakers.
The Philadelphia Eagles are a team that, as we saw last week against the New England Patriots, cannot stop the run on defense and are still a work in progress dialing in Chip Kelly’s NFL brand of offense. I think if Nick Foles gets more reps with the second string he’ll put up better tape towards him winning the starting role by Week 1 of the regular season.
I think we see some big plays out of the Eagles' starters early, but it’ll be the Panthers' running game that will grind the Eagles defense into the Earth. Also look for Ted Ginn Jr. to try and make a name and place for himself in this game.
I predict the Panthers defeat the Eagles 31-13.
GAME 13: San Diego Chargers at Chicago Bears
The Chicago Bears have a new look offense under Marc Trestman who will look to exploit matchups in the short passing game in order to open big plays deep. For the San Diego Chargers, Manti Te’o will miss this game with a minor foot injury and will miss an opportunity to find his chemistry with the rest of the defense. Ultimately I think this game comes down to the fact that the Bears defense led the league last year in turnovers and the only quarterback who had more turnovers last year than Philip Rivers was Mark Sanchez.
This game looks to become a turnover fest where we watch the new face of the Bears defense bring two scores back to the house.
I predict the Bears over the Chargers by a score of 27-17.
GAME 12: Minnesota Vikings at Buffalo Bills
The Minnesota Vikings are still trying to find themselves in the passing game and build chemistry on defense. I think the one bright spot for the Vikings this week will be the play of Cordarelle Patterson. There are questions surrounding the second level of the Vikings defense and the absence of a trusted middle linebacker.
E.J. Manuel will do his best to separate himself from Kevin Kolb, while C.J. Spiller embarrasses the Vikings early. I think the Buffalo Bills' starters put the game too far ahead for second stringer Matt Cassel to bring them back.
I predict the Bills defeat the Vikings 24-13.
GAME 11: Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New England Patriots
Last week the joint practice between the New England Patriots and the Philadelphia Eagles gave Bill Belichick an insight into the Eagles' weak run defense. He exploited that knowledge to help the Patriots win the game commandingly. I think in this week’s joint practices with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Greg Schiano learns from Chip Kelly's mistake. Schiano won’t tip his hand as easily.
The Buccaneers have a young team that is willing to play their butts off for a roster spot with this team on the rise. I think the game goes back and forth and we see some big hits leveled by LeGarette Blount as he goes out to prove his former coach and team were wrong for trading him away.
I think the Buccaneers pull out a close one in the end over the Patriots 24-21.
GAME 10: Oakland Raiders at New Orleans Saints
Now I don’t want to sound too negative here, but last year the Oakland Raiders couldn’t find their butt on offense or defense with both hands and a map. They spent the offseason acquiring Matt Flynn and then decided to do very little else. Denarius Moore might show off his hands for a couple of plays and Terrelle Pryor will do his best to show up Matt Flynn, but it won’t be enough to win this game.
The New Orleans Saints have Sean Peyton back commanding the offense while the defense under Rob Ryan looks to make a statement. I think we’ll see a lot more of Mark Ingram than expected on offense. On defense look for the Saints to emphasize and experiment while destroying the Raiders.
I predict the Saints put down the Raiders 34-10.
GAME 9: San Francisco 49ers at Kansas City Chiefs
While I don’t think Alex Smith has any ill will toward Jim Harbaugh and the San Francisco 49ers, I also don’t think past loyalty will keep him from spilling his guts to Andy Reid. Look for backup Knile Davis to get a lot of reps in this game while the Kansas City Chiefs rest Jamaal Charles’ foot sprain.
The 49ers are a work in progress on offense, as they try to fill the holes left by injury with new acquisitions. With so many questions on the offensive side of the ball and minor injuries on the defensive side, I think putting all the pieces in place is the first priority over winning the game.
I predict the Chiefs defeat the 49ers 21-17.
GAME 8: Dallas Cowboys at Arizona Cardinals
The Arizona Cardinals are a team with a new Head Coach in Bruce Arians, a new starting quarterback in Carson Palmer, and two running backs battling balky knees. As a team they lack a lot of depth behind the starters and there will be a lot of guys playing for a role under the new regime. Arizona will be more interested in going through the learning curve needed to become a well-oiled machine than they will be at fending off their old NFC East rivals.
The Dallas Cowboys come into this game loaded for bear with a lot of their first and second string already in the process of ironing out. I look for the Cowboys to come into the game intending to run the ball a lot in hopes of sorting out who will back up the oft injured DeMarco Murray this season. I expect to see a lot of Philip Tanner, Lance Dunbar and Joseph Randle gashing the Cardinals' front seven once the starters are off the field.
I predict the Cowboys defeat the Cardinals 24-14.
GAME 7: Tennessee Titans at Cincinnati Bengals
To my mind this should be one of those games that’s in the books even before the opening coin toss. The Tennessee Titans have a lot of work to do to find an identity on offense that is deeper than simply hoping Chris Johnson can light up another highlight reel.
Meanwhile, the Cincinnati Bengals come into this game having spent the last three years using the draft to stock their team with talent at all levels. Last week was Giovani Bernard's first NFL touchdown. This week I think he sees a lot of touches to help him audition for the role of starting halfback. I also think Tyler Eifert shows off his soft hands and ability to post up and go after the ball.
I predict the Bengals beat the Titans 31 to 16.
GAME 6: Jacksonville Jaguars at New York Jets
I know these days a lot of people like to rag on the New York Jets for their lackluster offense centered on a quarterback battle between a rookie with weak ankles who was drafted in the second round and an incumbent quarterback who has never had to fight to keep his job.
The Jacksonville Jaguars will still probably be without Maurice Jones-Drew as he continues to get back into football shape. I’d be astonished if Jaguars quarterback battle makes any more progress towards sorting itself out.
The reality is that I don’t think the game is going to be won or lost by either the Jets or the Jaguars offense. I think this game is where Rex Ryan shows that with a little bit of talent and a whole lot of his defensive play calling that the Jets are a force that can win a game from the defensive side of the ball.
I predict the Jets defeat the Jaguars 13 to 9.
GAME 5: Miami Dolphins at the Houston Texans
So far this preseason the Miami Dolphins are a team that has looked a little bit ugly a little too often. Mike Wallace should be back in action, and I think this is the first time we get a look at what his speed and Ryan Tannehill's big arm can do.
At the same time, the Houston Texans are a force to be reckoned with at every level of the game. The Texans are so talented there aren’t many roster spots available for players to even fight for. Watch for DeAndre Hopkins to once again show off the kind of talent that made him the 27th overall pick in this year’s draft. If Ben Tate is also given extra playing time with the second string I believe the Texans run away with the game.
I predict the Texas defeat the Dolphins 28-13.
GAME 4: Green Bay Packers at St. Louis Rams
The starting lineup for the Green Bay Packers, if everyone was completely healthy, is without a doubt more talented than the St. Louis Rams. However, when you take a look at the second and third string players on both sides of the ball and all of the young talented players who will be inspired to play hard for Jeff Fisher, this should be one heck of a game.
Despite missing Jordy Nelson and a dinged up Randall Cobb, I think the Packers have enough talent to put up some serious points early with remaining starters like James Jones and Jermichael Finley. But it might not be enough for their backups to hang on through the second half.
For the Rams, look for Isiah Pead to look like a poor man’s Chris Johnson through the second half. Jeff Fisher has a knack for getting his second stringers to play hard for him and I think a lot of lesser named guys show up when the Rams need them most.
I predict the Rams edge out the Packers 24-21.
GAME 3: Denver Broncos at Seattle Seahawks
The Denver Broncos' first string offense is arguably the most potent passing offense in the league. Still I think the thing to watch for in this game is the play of the Denver running backs. They say a dog is most dangerous when he’s eating so you should never try to take his bowl away. For Ronnie Hillman they are trying to take away his dream of being a starting running back in the NFL. I think that makes him especially dangerous for the Seattle Seahawks defense.
I can’t tell you that Ronnie Hillman is going to light the world up with 100 yards rushing and three scores or anything like that. I think he plays his heart out on every single rep they give him going against what is a very tough Seahawks defense.
On the Seahawks' side, I think every string of their defense has the ability to keep them in the game. On special teams I think there is still a sense of desperation to find the guy who can be the dynamic kick returner Percy Harvin promised to be.
On offense, I think Pete Carroll would like to see Brady Quinn and Tarvaris Jackson sort out the second string quarterback situation quietly. If the stars align it’s the running game that could draw the most energy. Christine Michael suffered a minor bout of back spasms earlier this week just as Robert Turbin returned to practice for the first time since suffering a minor foot injury. If both are healthy and suit up for the late game on Saturday night, they will try to duke it out for the right to back up Marshawn Lynch.
I predict the Broncos will defeat the Seahawks 21-17.
GAME 2: Indianapolis Colts at the New York Giants
The Sunday Night game is an interesting matchup between two teams that are trying to sort out their running backs and defensive lines. Indianapolis Colts running back Ahmad Bradshaw was activated off the PUP List earlier this week by virtue of a technicality. He still won’t reportedly make his debut in a Colts uniform until the third game of the preseason. This gives Vick Ballard added motivation to try and shine against a Giants defensive line that has become a work in progress due to losses in free agency and injury.
On the New York Giants' side of the game, this is the second installment of Coach Tom Coughlin figuring out what to do about his tandem running back battle. Both David Wilson and Andre Brown need to get a lot of reps and playing time so Brown can show off his ball security and David Wilson can try to demonstrate some improvement in pass blocking. While I think both players try to answer their own particular questions, I think David Wilson will muddle the situation again by allowing a monstrous sack on one play and streaking one to the house on another.
Despite a showing in the playoffs last season the Colts are still a young team in the process of rebuilding. The Giants have a more established roster with playmakers at every level. This is a great game for the Colts to get a sense of themselves for the 2013 season, but I think the Giants are the better overall team.
I predict the Giants win by a score of 27-17.
GAME 1: Pittsburgh Steelers at Washington Redskins
I know a lot has been made in the media about the relationship between RGIII and Washington Redskins Head Coach Mike Shanahan, but I think the real highlight of this game will be what Kirk Cousins does with extended playing time. He’s a second year player with designs on being a starting quarterback in the NFL someday. Whether he one day leaves the Redskins for greener pastures via a trade or free agency, he is going to make the most of every game time rep he sees.
For the Pittsburgh Steelers I’m afraid that they will still look confused on the offensive line, thus spoiling Le’Veon Bell's NFL debut. There is young talent working hard to infuse into the Steelers' veteran chemistry, but I’m afraid it’s going to take more than two preseason games to for the Steelers to come together as a cohesive unit on all phases of play.
I predict the Redskins defeat the Steelers 31-13.