NFL Skinny: Week 2 Preview

Week 1 closed out in a torrential rain storm in Kansas City, but I don’t think any of the Chiefs fans at Arrowhead Stadium even noticed. They were too busy gawking at all the bright (red) young talent on the field, the spoils that come from years of losing. I’m not a Chiefs fan, but even I get excited thinking about the electricity that a collection of players like Jamaal Charles(notes), Dexter McCluster(notes), Javier Arenas(notes), Tyson Jackson(notes), Eric Berry(notes) (his debut wasn’t anything to write home about, but he’s going to be a star), among others, bring to the gridiron. Suddenly, a .500 record in ’10 does not seem so far-fetched for the Chiefs. Things are definitely looking up in Kansas City.

Personally, I’m 4-1 in my fantasy leagues, but of course the one loss comes in the league where the stakes are, shall we say, a bit more interesting. And if Shonn Greene(notes) doesn’t get his act together quickly, those stakes will be burned sooner rather than later. Either way, it’s good to be mixing it up again in the greatest of fantasy sports. I hope you enjoyed the first week back. Now it’s time to move on. Week 2 looms. Here’s how I see it playing out.

Week 2 Preview
A snapshot of each Week 2 matchup

 MIAMI DOLPHINS @ MINNESOTA VIKINGS 
Key Stats
(Defense)
:
FINS – 2.9 YPC | 4.1 YPA
VIKES – 3.2 YPC | 6.6 YPA

What to watch for: Look for MIN to get the WRs more involved after QB Brett Favre(notes), understandably rusty after a late preseason arrival, completed just four passes to his WRs in Week 1. MIA was awful at defending the WR position last season and we shouldn’t believe they have completely fixed that problem just because they shutdown an inept BUF offense in Week 1. WR Greg Camarillo(notes), playing his old team, should see a hefty increase in reps in his second game with MIN. I wouldn’t trust WR Bernard Berrian(notes) yet, however. He’s a one-trick pony and Favre’s timing is not where it needs to be with him … It’s going to be hard for MIA to run the ball in MIN against the Williams, making it a good week for the ‘Fins to lean on offseason acquisition WR Brandon Marshall(notes), who will have a significant size advantage over the MIN CBs. Its aggressive nature has long made MIN susceptible to TEs, which lands TE Anthony Fasano(notes) in the sleeper position.

Adrian Peterson, Percy Harvin(notes), Visanthe Shiancoe(notes), Minnesota Defense, Brandon Marshall
Brett Favre, Ronnie Brown(notes), Miami Defense, Chad Henne(notes)
Ricky Williams(notes), Bernard Berrian
Sleeper: Greg Camarillo, Anthony Fasano, Davone Bess(notes)
Key Injuries: MIA LB Channing Crowder(notes) (leg)
Prediction: Minnesota 24, Miami 14

 ARIZONA CARDINALS @ ATLANTA FALCONS 
Key Stats
(Defense)
:
CARDS – 3.5 YPC | 4.6 YPA
FALCONS – 4.6 YPC | 9.1 YPA

What to watch for: Pass defense is a clear weakness for the ATL. Only OAK allowed more YPA (Yards Per Pass Attempt) than ATL (facing QB Dixon) in Week 1, and the team was ultra-generous in the passing game last season. Problem is that QB Derek Anderson(notes) may be the most inaccurate starter in the NFL, and ARI has health issues at WR, including star wideout Larry Fitzgerald(notes) (knee). No. 3 WR Early Doucet(notes) also is dealing with a groin injury, so WR Steve Breaston(notes) could be in line for another big day (132 yards in Week 1). No team allowed more fantasy points to RBs in the passing game than ATL in ’09, so RB Tim Hightower(notes) could be in for another solid effort, especially with RB Beanie Wells(notes) still not at 100 percent (knee) … ATL WR Roddy White(notes) led the NFL with 23 targets in Week 1, but TE Tony Gonzalez(notes) may be the apple of QB Matt Ryan’s(notes) eye in Week 2. ARI struggled against TEs in ’09 and ARI CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie(notes) should lock his horns on White. ATL has had issues running the ball against 3-4 defenses, and Week 1 vs. PIT put those problems on display. ARI HC Ken Whisenhunt is a descendent of that PIT defense, but ARI should not be confused with the Steel Curtain. I expect RB Michael Turner(notes) to rebound.

Larry Fitzgerald, Steve Breaston, Michael Turner, Roddy White, Tony Gonzalez, Atlanta Defense
Matt Ryan, Tim Hightower, Derek Anderson
Beanie Wells, Ben Patrick(notes), Arizona Defense, Harry Douglas(notes), Early Doucet
Sleeper: LaRod Stephens-Howling(notes)
Key Injuries: ARI WRs Larry Fitzgerald and Early Doucet (knee); ARI RB Beanie Wells (knee)
Prediction: Atlanta 28, Arizona 16

 BALTIMORE RAVENS @ CINCINNATI BENGALS 
Key Stats
(Defense)
:
RAVENS – 5.5 YPC | 3.5 YPA
BENGALS – 5.1 YPC | 7.4 YPA

What to watch for: In two meetings in ’09, neither team was able to score more than 17 points. Don’t indict the CIN defense for how it looked in Week 1 at NE – it’s much better than that. This should be another brawl between division rivals. BAL RB Ray Rice(notes) had big games in both previous contests, thanks to his ample contributions through the air. Expect him to improve upon his Week 1 output. And WR Anquan Boldin(notes) emerged from Revis Country with a 7/110 line. He’s, at least, in a more ideal situation this week. And do you think WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh(notes) will want to get involved more against his former team, and former receiving partner Ochocinco? … CIN RB Cedric Benson(notes) averaged more than 30 carries in the two meetings in ’09, going over 100 yards with a TD in each. But BAL is tough up the gut, as it showed NYJ RB Shonn Greene in Week 1. CIN has change-of-pace RB Bernard Scott(notes), who it likes in the no-huddle attack, and a better passing game now, and I expect CIN to use them. I’m only lukewarm on Benson this week.

Ray Rice, Anquan Boldin, Joe Flacco(notes), Chad Ochocinco(notes), Carson Palmer(notes), Baltimore Defense
Cedric Benson, Cincinnati Defense, Todd Heap(notes), Jermaine Gresham(notes), Terrell Owens(notes)
Derrick Mason(notes), Willis McGahee(notes)
Sleeper: Bernard Scott, T.J. Houshmandzadeh
Key Injuries: None
Prediction: Baltimore 21, Cincinnati 17

 KANSAS CITY CHIEFS @ CLEVELAND BROWNS 
Key Stats
(Defense)
:
CHIEFS – 3.8 YPC | 7.6 YPA
BROWNS – 4.0 YPC | 6.5 YPA

What to watch for: KC looked stout in the run game on MNF, but DE Tyson Jackson will be out with a knee injury, and that could make it a bit less rigid in the run game. Given CLE QB Jake Delhomme’s(notes) obvious limitations, CLE will probably lean heavily on RBs Jerome Harrison(notes) and Peyton Hillis(notes) – Harrison was unjustly underused in Week 1 and should see a bigger carry load than Hillis after the latter fumbled twice against TB. KC was terrible against the pass in ’09 and it showed some susceptibility on MNF, but it has some extra playmakers now in DBs Eric Berry and Javier Arenas. Turning Delhomme loose could be detrimental. … KC could not get its passing game going in downpour conditions on MNF, and I’d expect WR Dwayne Bowe(notes) to get a chance to get well against CLE CBs that he’ll have a 3-4 inch height advantage and 20-30 pound weight advantage against. With returnmen like WR/RB Dexter McCluster and CB Javier Arenas, KC now becomes a nice roll of the dice play in leagues that count special teams as part of the fantasy defense.

Jamaal Charles, Dwayne Bowe, Kansas City Defense, Jerome Harrison
Peyton Hillis, Mohammed Massaquoi, Thomas Jones(notes), Chris Chambers(notes), Matt Cassel(notes)
Jake Delhomme, Cleveland Defense, Brian Robiskie(notes), Joshua Cribbs(notes), Benjamin Watson(notes)
Sleeper: Evan Moore(notes), Dexter McCluster, Tony Moeaki(notes)
Key Injuries: KC DE Tyson Jackson (knee)
Prediction: Kansas City 24, Cleveland 17

 CHICAGO BEARS @ DALLAS COWBOYS 
Key Stats
(Defense)
:
BEARS – 1.0 YPC | 5.0 YPA
BOYS – 3.9 YPC | 5.3 YPA

What to watch for: DAL could get its two injured starting O-linemen back in Week 2, and that should help an offense that managed just one TD in Week 1. CHI allowed a mere 1.0 YPC to DET in Week 1, and DAL has not figured out how to effectively use its RBs for a long time now. DAL TE Jason Witten(notes) should be freed up to be more involved in the air offense, assuming the injured OL return, and he and rookie WR Dez Bryant(notes) are likely to do a lot of short work in lieu of a running game, with deep shots downfield to WR Miles Austin(notes) mixed in. – DAL has talented CBs and should be able to keep the CHI WR contingent in check. CHI RB Matt Forte(notes) had a huge day as a receiver in Week 1 and DAL struggled in that department last year. DAL LB DeMarcus Ware(notes) forcing CHI QB Jay Cutler(notes) into hurried situations is a recipe for disaster. Look for both RBs Forte and Chester Taylor(notes) to be very active by design.

Miles Austin, Jason Witten, Dez Bryant, Tony Romo(notes), Matt Forte, Dallas Defense
Jay Cutler, Felix Jones(notes), Devin Aromashodu(notes), Johnny Knox(notes), Greg Olsen(notes), Chicago Defense
Marion Barber(notes), Devin Hester(notes), Roy Williams
Sleeper: Chester Taylor
Key Injuries: DAL OLs Marc Colombo(notes) and Kyle Kosier(notes) (knee)
Prediction: Dallas 23, Chicago 19

 PHILADELPHIA EAGLES @ DETROIT LIONS 
Key Stats
(Defense)
:
EAGLES – 3.3 YPC | 6.1 YPA
LIONS – 4.0 YPC | 10.6 YPA

What to watch for: At the moment, it looks like PHI QB Michael Vick(notes) will get the start against DET – nice timing, indeed. It’s hard to predict a Vick-led offense because, well, he is unpredictable, and not very consistent in the passing game. A big play could be had by WR DeSean Jackson(notes) because Vick has a big arm and Jackson has blazing deep speed. And RB LeSean McCoy(notes) could enjoy the fruits of playing DET in a similar manner to that of CHI RB Forte last week, exploiting DET through the air. Vick looked pretty good working with TE Brent Celek(notes) last week, and he seems like a safe bet. … That DET RB Jahvid Best(notes) looked good at the goal line in Week 1 bodes well. His game is about breaking the big one, and his ability to work inside the 10 is gravy. With DET QB Matthew Stafford(notes) out for a few weeks, Best is the best bet for DET. Replacement QB Shaun Hill(notes) quickly showed that he knew where his bread would be buttered in the passing game in Week 1, launching jump balls for WR Calvin Johnson(notes) from the get-go. But Hill has a limited arm, and his dink-and-dunk game management style is not conducive to big fantasy days for the WRs.

Michael Vick, LeSean McCoy, DeSean Jackson, Brent Celek, Philadelphia Defense, Calvin Johnson, Jahvid Best
Jeremy Maclin(notes)
Shaun Hill, Nate Burleson(notes), Detroit Defense
Sleeper: Tony Scheffler(notes)
Key Injuries: DET QB Matthew Stafford (shoulder); DET DE Cliff Avril(notes) (knee); PHI QB Kevin Kolb(notes) (head); PHI FB Leonard Weaver(notes) (knee); PHI LB Stewart Bradley(notes) (head)
Prediction: Philadelphia 26, Detroit 13

 BUFFALO BILLS @ GREEN BAY PACKERS 
Key Stats
(Defense)
:
BILLS – 3.7 YPC | 5.4 YPA
PACK – 7.1 YPC | 5.9 YPA

What to watch for: Let’s put this plain and simple on the BUF side: Don’t start anyone. BUF has absolutely no hope of a passing game, and that has a domino effect on the running game. BUF could have had a number of highly-regarded OL prospects in April’s draft, instead of going the indulgent route with RB C.J. Spiller(notes) in Round 1, not to mention QB Jimmy Clausen(notes) in Round 2 – who would have been an immediate upgrade over QB Trent Edwards(notes). … The only GB regular you might think twice about sitting is RB Brandon Jackson(notes), replacing the injured Ryan Grant(notes). But BUF proved to still have issues stopping the run in Week 1 and, although I have some concerns about Jackson’s overall ability to be a featured back, he can hardly miss given the opponent and the system he’s in.

All Green Bay regulars
none
All Buffalo regulars
Sleeper: none
Key Injuries: GB RB Ryan Grant (ankle); BUF LB Paul Posluszny(notes) (knee)
Prediction: Green Bay 31, Buffalo 10

 PITTSBURGH STEELERS @ TENNESSEE TITANS 
Key Stats
(Defense)
:
STEELERS – 2.3 YPC | 5.7 YPA
TITANS – 5.4 YPC | 4.8 YPA

What to watch for: PIT is likely to remain limited on offense with QB Dennis Dixon(notes) behind center, with the focus remaining on RB Rashard Mendenhall(notes). That might not be such a bad thing this week as TEN let OAK RB Darren McFadden(notes) get jiggy with it in Week 1. … Yes, the PIT run defense is a stifling bunch, but TEN RB Chris Johnson has 12 straight 100-yard games, and those didn’t all come against run softies. Not sure if I’d lean towards any other TEN player against a PIT defense enjoying the fruits of a healthy Troy Polamalu(notes).

Chris Johnson, Rashard Mendenhall, Hines Ward(notes)
Vince Young(notes), Heath Miller(notes), Mike Wallace(notes), Pittsburgh Defense, Tennessee Defense, Bo Scaife(notes)
Nate Washington(notes), Kenny Britt(notes), Justin Gage(notes)
Sleeper: None
Key Injuries: PIT OT Max Starks(notes) (ankle); PIT DT Casey Hampton(notes) (hamstring)
Prediction: Tennessee 17, Pittsburgh 13

 TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS @ CAROLINA PANTHERS 
Key Stats
(Defense)
:
BUCS – 4.5 YPC | 6.2 YPA
CATS – 3.3 YPC | 8.8 YPA

What to watch for: Things become pretty dicey for the CAR passing game if QB Matt Moore(notes) (concussion) can’t go – and you can say it was already dicey with Moore. WR Steve Smith has scored a TD in four straight with Moore at the helm. My guess is that CAR will plan to get back to its roots, regardless of the QB, going with a heavy dose of the RB combo of DeAngelo Williams(notes) and Jonathan Stewart(notes). CAR ran all over TB a year ago in both meetings and TB didn’t exactly shut CLE down in the running game in Week 1 … CAR was burned by the NYG in the passing game in Week 1, but it is much better than it showed. I wouldn’t hazard a start from rookie WR Mike Williams or any of the other WRs for TB. TE Kellen Winslow(notes) would be my one and only foray into the passing game, as CAR has traditionally struggled against TEs. RB Cadillac Williams is the clear featured ride in the TB backfield now and he acquitted himself nicely against CAR in ’09. He’s what I consider to be a chartreuse play (somewhere between the green and yellow light), but I’m going green with him below.

DeAngelo Williams, Jonathan Stewart, Steve Smith, Carnell Williams(notes), Kellen Winslow
Carolina Defense
Matt Moore, Jimmy Clausen, Brandon LaFell(notes), Jeff King(notes), Mike Williams, Josh Freeman(notes), Sammy Stroughter, Tampa Bay Defense
Sleeper: none
Key Injuries: CAR QB Matt Moore (head)
Prediction: Carolina 23, Tampa Bay 14

 SEATTLE SEAHAWKS @ DENVER BRONCOS 
Key Stats
(Defense)
:
HAWKS – 2.6 YPC | 5.0 YPA
BRONCOS – 3.9 YPC | 8.1 YPA

What to watch for: A healthy SEA LB Lofa Tatupu(notes) makes a huge difference for the Seahawks defense. They suddenly look much tougher against the run, and DEN doesn’t have much upside with RB Knowshon Moreno(notes) leading the way. Don’t be surprised if QB Kyle Orton(notes) leans heavily towards a quick, short passing game with a lot of reps for WRs Eddie Royal(notes) (who looked great in Week 1) and Jabar Gaffney(notes). SF would have had success doing the same at SEA if it had a capable QB and a No. 1 WR who actually played a little in the preseason and had a decent understanding of what his QB was doing. – The loss of DEN LB Elvis Dumervil(notes) was a huge hit to the DEN pass rush, and it was able to sack JAC QB David Garrard(notes) just once in Week 1. Time in the pocket is huge for SEA QB Matt Hasselbeck(notes), and he should have his opportunities to develop a deeper rapport with comeback kid WR Mike Williams, who probably won’t see DEN CB Champ Bailey(notes) exclusively. SEA RB Justin Forsett(notes) still has the most upside in the SEA backfield, but that’s a small pie being split three ways – don’t over extend yourself on Forsett.

Kyle Orton, Eddie Royal
Knowshon Moreno, Jabar Gaffney, Matt Hasselbeck, Mike Williams, John Carlson(notes), Seattle Defense, Denver Defense
Deion Branch(notes)
Sleeper: Brandon Lloyd(notes)
Key Injuries: SEA OG Max Unger(notes) (toe); SEA LT Russell Okung(notes) (ankle); DEN WR Demaryius Thomas(notes) (foot); DEN RT Ryan Harris(notes) (ankle)
Prediction: Seattle 24, Denver 21

 ST. LOUIS RAMS @ OAKLAND RAIDERS 
Key Stats
(Defense)
:
RAMS – 5.3 YPC | 7.2 YPA
RAIDERS – 5.3 YPC | 9.1 YPA

What to watch for: Right now, the strength for both these teams is in the run game. OAK RB Darren McFadden had, perhaps, his second-best day as a pro in Week 1 (150 YFS, TD) and he’s worth doubling down on in Week 2. OAK was the worst fantasy run defense in the NFL in ’09, and TEN RB Chris Johnson had no problems with the Silver and Black in Week 1 – have at ‘em, S-Jax. Outside of OAK TE Zach Miller, I’d look to steer clear of all passing components in this game, including STL Week 1 waiver star WR Mark Clayton(notes). While OAK was unimpressive against the pass in Week 1, all the key components from a unit that was very good in aerial defense a year ago remain. I’m sorry, but I don’t buy Clayton as a viable go-to guy.

Steven Jackson, Darren McFadden, Zach Miller
Louis Murphy(notes), Jason Campbell(notes), Sam Bradford(notes), Mark Clayton, Oakland Defense
Darrius Heyward-Bey(notes), Laurent Robinson(notes), Daniel Fells(notes), St. Louis Defense
Sleeper: Danny Amendola(notes)
Key Injuries: STL WR Laurent Robinson (ankle); STL CB Kevin Dockery(notes) (hamstring); OAK LG Robert Gallery(notes) (hamstring); OAK RB Michael Bush(notes) (thumb); OAK FS Michael Huff(notes) (knee)
Prediction: Oakland 20, St. Louis 14

 NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS @ NEW YORK JETS 
Key Stats
(Defense)
:
PATS – 3.5 YPC | 6.9 YPA
JETS – 1.4 YPC | 6.5 YPA

What to watch for: Man, the NYJ defense is ridiculously good. And they’ll be out for blood after losing a nail-biter to BAL last week. Fortunately for NE QB Tom Brady(notes), he’s one of the best protected signal-callers in the league (it helps that his pocket intuition may be second to none) and he has two Pro Bowl WRs at his disposal. Forget about the NE running game, although I expect RB Kevin Faulk(notes) to be all over the place in this one, be it spread formation draw plays or quick flairs in the passing game. I envision Brady taking repeated shots downfield like BAL QB Joe Flacco did, hoping for more pass interference penalties on NYJ CB Antonio Cromartie(notes), or for Welker of WR Brandon Tate(notes) to come up with big plays. NE WR Randy Moss(notes) is at female dog status in NYJ CB Darrelle Revis’(notes) world – while Moss has two TDs in his past four games vs. NYJ, he’s not topped more than 34 yards in any of those contests. He’s a yellow flag, at best, in this one. … This game has huge intrigue for owners of NYJ RB Shonn Greene, who was an epic fail in Week 1, fumbling twice and gaining just 18 yards on the ground. Apparently, HC Rex Ryan is envisioning both Greene and RB LaDainian Tomlinson(notes) each getting roughly 15 carries per game. I started to see the LT writing on the wall here as the summer went along, but I didn’t envision it would be this grim so early for Greene. The team will have to build his confidence back up soon, but it needs a win desperately this week against a big division rival, so LT’s hot feet could lead the way again. NYJ QB Mark Sanchez(notes) threw it just 21 times in Week 1 and he’s chucked it more than 30 times in just three of his 19 career games – that’s the same numbers of games (3) in which he’s thrown for multiple TDs. There’s no justification for investing starting roster spots in the NYJ passing game.

Tom Brady, Wes Welker(notes)
LaDanian Tomlinson, Shonn Greene, NY Jets Defense, New England Defense, Randy Moss
Fred Taylor(notes), Mark Sanchez, Braylon Edwards(notes), Jerricho Cotchery(notes), Dustin Keller(notes), Rob Gronkowski(notes), BenJarvis Green-Ellis
Sleeper: Kevin Faulk
Key Injuries: NYJ DT Kris Jenkins(notes) (knee); NYJ FS Brodney Pool(notes) (knee)
Prediction: New England 20, NY Jets 16

 JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS @ SAN DIEGO CHARGERS 
Key Stats
(Defense)
:
JAGS – 3.6 YPC | 8.9 YPA
BOLTS – 5.2 YPC | 3.1 YPA

What to watch for: SDG will relish getting back home to some sunny weather after getting washed away by KC on MNF. Despite the inclement conditions in KC, SDG QB Philip Rivers(notes) put up some impressive numbers and had both his starting WRs Legedu Naanee(notes) and Malcom Floyd(notes) actively involved. Don’t read too much into the production discrepancy between those two WRs in Week 1. Floyd would have scored a TD on dry land, and Naanee’s long TD was the result of completely blown coverage. Those two will be flip-flopping as top WR dawg often. SDG RB Ryan Mathews(notes) had 20 touches in his NFL debut. He’s the man in the backfield, and I’m betting he’ll be better this week than he was in the Arrowhead mud. … The JAC passing game outside of WR Mike Sims-Walker(notes) was non-existent. In Week 1, though, MSW was the one who disappeared while ensemble parts like TE Marcedes Lewis(notes) and WR Mike Thomas(notes) stepped up. Hard to know what to expect from any of them this week, especially with QB David Garrard, who threw 3 TD passes in eight road games last season. JAC RB Maurice Jones-Drew(notes) is a green light unto himself on this roster.

Maurice Jones-Drew, Philip Rivers, Antonio Gates(notes), Ryan Mathews, Legedu Naanee, Malcom Floyd
San Diego Defense, Mike Sims-Walker
Jacksonville Defense, Mike Thomas, Marcedes Lewis, David Garrard
Sleeper: Darren Sproles(notes)
Key Injuries: SDG LB Shawne Merriman(notes) (Achilles)
Prediction: San Diego 31, Jacksonville 16

 HOUSTON TEXANS @ WASHINGTON REDSKINS 
Key Stats
(Defense)
:
TEXANS – 4.4 YPC | 7.6 YPA
SKINS – 4.7 YPC | 5.9 YPA

What to watch for: I have HOU QB Matt Schaub(notes) (37), RB Arian Foster(notes) (16) and WR Andre Johnson(notes) (7) in the top 40 of my latest Big Board. I’m not telling anybody to sit those guys this week despite fairly tough matchup in WAS. But we didn’t get to see much of the other pieces of the offense (Jacoby Jones(notes), Owen Daniels(notes)) last week because of the Foster ground show (231 yards, 3 TDs). It’s not worth gambling on anything outside the big three in this one given the opponent and the Week 1 wallflower act of the others. … I expected the WAS offense to be bad, and then it went out and put up 250 yards of offense in Week 1 vs. DAL and failed to score a TD. HOU will be a bit softer of a matchup for the offense, but I’m not automatically slotting in QB Donovan McNabb(notes) just because IND QB Peyton Manning(notes) went wild against HOU in Week 1. WAS TE Chris Cooley(notes) is the only one I’d be comfortable with here. The offensive situation in WAS isn’t BUF bad, but it’s not good.

Matt Schaub, Andre Johnson, Arian Foster, Chris Cooley, Houston Defense
Donovan McNabb, Clinton Portis(notes), Santana Moss(notes), Washington Defense
Kevin Walter(notes), Owen Daniels, Joey Galloway(notes), Anthony Armstrong(notes)
Sleeper: Jacoby Jones
Key Injuries: none
Prediction: Houston 24, Washington 9

 NEW YORK GIANTS @ INDIANAPOLIS COLTS 
Key Stats
(Defense)
:
GIANTS – 3.7 YPC | 5.2 YPA
COLTS – 6.1 YPC | 6.3 YPA

What to watch for: The hoopla leading up to this one will surround the Manning brothers facing off, but if IND doesn’t solve its run defense problems in a post-Bob Sanders(notes) world, NYG RB Ahmad Bradshaw(notes) could end up stealing the spotlight (see Arian Foster). IND has long been adept in pass defense, even without sanders, as it does not give up the long ball often. It’s a defense that should be able to keep WR Hakeem Nicks(notes) in check, especially after he drew attention to himself with 3 TDs in Week 1. Expect WR Steve Smith and Nicks to both be decent, but less than spectacular. That said, there’s an easy case to be made for starting QB Eli Manning(notes) given that the Giants should be able to move the ball sans Sanders to contend with. … NYG handled the vaunted CAR running attack well in Week 1 and QB Peyton Manning me be forced to once again go heavy with the aerial artillery. In addition to WR Reggie Wayne(notes) and TE Dallas Clark(notes), I like WR Pierre Garcon(notes), who was a train wreck in Week 1 with the drops and mental miscues. That said, NYG was prone to giving up big plays last year and they allowed three pass plays of 19-plus yards to CAR in Week 1. Garcon still has QB Peyton Manning’s trust, and he could very well connect from long distance in this one.

Ahmad Bradshaw, Eli Manning, Peyton Manning, Reggie Wayne, Dallas Clark, Pierre Garcon
Austin Collie(notes), Brandon Jacobs(notes), Steve Smith, Hakeem Nicks, Joseph Addai(notes), Indianapolis Defense, NY Giants Defense
Donald Brown(notes), Mario Manningham(notes)
Sleeper: Travis Beckum(notes)
Key Injuries: IND FS Bob Sanders (arm); IND WR Anthony Gonzalez(notes) (ankle); NYG TE Kevin Boss(notes) (neck); NYG CB Aaron Ross(notes) (foot)
Prediction: NY Giants 27, Indianapolis 24

 NEW ORLEANS SAINTS @ SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS 
Key Stats
(Defense)
:
SAINTS – 4.0 YPC | 6.3 YPA
49ERS – 3.3 YPC | 7.4 YPA

What to watch for: Things are a mess for the SF offense right now, and its going to have to establish the run with RB Frank Gore(notes) or its going to get blown out – it may anyways. As I’ve mentioned throughout the offseason and preseason, QB Alex smith thrived in a spread shotgun formation last year, something that HC Mike Singletary is trying desperately to get away from this season. Smith has yet to look good behind center for a sustained period of time and the jury remains out on his ability to ever fully function in that setup. It doesn’t help Smith that WR Michael Crabtree(notes) doesn’t fully grasp the playbook yet and didn’t play a preseason down because of a sore neck. SF TE Vernon Davis(notes) still looks good and he could be for SF what MIN TE Visanthe Shiancoe was against NO in Week 1. … NO QB Drew Brees(notes) gets rid of the ball as quickly as anyone in the league and SF can’t rely on LB Patrick Willis(notes) and the defense to bail it out with pressure on the QB. And it has to stop biting so hard on pump fakes, as it did against SEA last week. SF has a lot of talent on the defensive side, but I’ll always side with Brees when it comes to imposing wills. I’m expecting four touchdowns from the NO offense, which means I’d role the dice on at least RB Pierre Thomas(notes) and WR Marques Colston(notes) in addition to Brees.

Drew Brees, Pierre Thomas, Marques Colston, Frank Gore, Vernon Davis
Reggie Bush(notes), Robert Meachem(notes), New Orleans Defense
Alex Smith, Michael Crabtree, Josh Morgan(notes), Devery Henderson(notes), San Francisco Defense
Sleeper: Lance Moore(notes)
Key Injuries: SF RG Chilo Rachal(notes) (shoulder)
Prediction: New Orleans 28, San Francisco 17

Note: YPA stands for Yards Per (Pass) Attempt