NFL WEEK TWO: For those who missed last week's column, Woody's Winners is written with highest respect in a similar style to that of the most entertaining football prognosticator of my youth, Leonard Postero, host of Leonard’s Losers. I went a respectable 8-5 through last Sunday afternoon’s games, but then fell apart to lose all three night games on Sunday and Monday to end Week 1 with an even 8-8 record. More day games! Do ya hear me, NFL? Oh, you’ve got your hands full with referee positions and the “process of the catch”? Fine, then. Here are Woody's Winners for Week 2.
BALTIMORE & CINCINNATI
The Bengals bungled away a possible win in Week 1 with an interception and two fumbles, which tempered an attack that outgained the Patriots by 50+ yards. Rest assured that the Ravens have studied film of those turnovers and are devising schemes to peck the eyes out of the Tigers. But Owens and Ocho will have fans living on the air in Cincinnati as they adopt a pass-first attitude that will keep Baltimore from opening the season 2-0. In the Poe House, the Ravens rule, but at Paul Brown…
Woody’s Winner, in a close one: Cincinnati
FACT: Baltimore led the NFL last season with 1,094 penalty yards. The next-closest AFC team had only 920.
Click "more" to see my picks for the other 15 NFL games in Week 2.
TAMPA BAY @ CAROLINA
The Bucs pulled out what promises to be a rare victory last week at home against the Browns. In Week 2, Tampa Bay goes looking for an angry pantheon of Panthers, and they’ll find them. Carolina QB Matt Moore proved he wasn’t quite ready for prime time, with 5 turnovers (3 INT, 2 FUM) and a concussion to boot. Still, without a reliable sub in the Panther dock, he’s expected to start in Week 2. The Giants wore down the Cats last week and outscored them 17-2 in the last half, so expect a Tampa tamp-down as things turn sour in Sweet Carolina.
Woody’s Winner: Tampa Bay
FACT: Tampa Bay QB Josh Freeman threw for a season-best 321 yards at Carolina last season, but five interceptions cost his team the game.
BUFFALO @ GREEN BAY
Watching Pack QB Aaron Rodgers dodging and ducking defenders and chucking the ball here and there last week made it obvious who his mentor was. Watching Green Bay LB Clay Matthews made me wonder if he’s human. Add several thousand cheesehead fans to the mix, and the Bills are in for a long day in Wisconsin. While the opportunistic Bison defense may grab a few INTs, it won’t take long before Buffalo learns that life isn’t always fun when you’re lactose intolerant.
Woody’s Winner: Green Bay
FACT: No member of the Bills had more than 40 combined rushing/receiving/returning yards last week.
MIAMI @ MINNESOTA
Minnesota’s had 10 days’ rest since posting a loss in the first regular season game of the season, but Brett Favre should be in better form with a week of legit play under his belt. Miami hasn’t opened the season with back-to-back wins since 2002, and although Dolphins are smart, there’s not a fish in the ocean that doesn’t expect that streak to continue. Rose Nylund and Mary Richards will be partying all night to celebrate a Viking victory in Week 2.
Woody’s Winner: Minnesota
FACT: Don Shula won 274 games as Miami head coach. None of his replacements has won more than 43.
CHICAGO @ DALLAS
Last week, the Bears did all they could do to lose to Detroit. (If I were Commissioner, both teams would be 0-1 heading into Week 2.) They’ll have to play much better against a squad of Cowboys eager to put on a better show than they did in a loss to the Redskins. Expect the Stars to extract revenge by blowing the Windy City team halfway across Texas.
Woody’s Winner: Dallas
FACT: The Cowboys have a Week 4 bye, tied for the earliest in the league. The 13-game stretch after that includes back-to-back games against last year’s Super Bowl contenders, the Saints and Colts.
PHILADELPHIA @ DETROIT
“L” is indeed for Lions, a team that rushed 21 times for 20 yards in Week 1. (If my public-school math holds up, that’s less than one yard a carry.) With Kevin Kolb banged up, Philly’s Michael Vick will get his first regular-season start since returning to the NFL, and this will cause all sorts of match-up problems for Detroit. To Motown’s credit, the team did deliver some big hits on defense last week, but with their own QB injured as well, Rocky will deliver a KO punch to keep the Kitties winless.
Woody’s Winner: Philadelphia
FACT: Detroit QB Matthew Stafford missed 6 games last season with a separated left shoulder, and may miss similar games this year with the separated right shoulder he suffered last week.
ARIZONA @ ATLANTA
Alphabetically, Arizona and Atlanta come first in the standings, but both teams have things to prove heading into Week 2. Luckily for the Falcons, QB Matt Ryan has lost only one of 14 starts at home. While the Blackbirds do expect their rushing offense to return to form, their underrated passing attack may prove the difference. If the Cardinals fumble 7 times (losing 4) like they did last week against the Rams, however, expect (Michael) Turner Classic Movies to be in the end zone all day long.
Woody’s Winner: Atlanta
FACT: Cards QB Derek Anderson targeted Larry Fitzgerald 15 times last week, but the team’s #1 WR only hauled in three catches for 43 yards and a touch.
KANSAS CITY @ CLEVELAND
In the last four games between the Chiefs and Browns, the average score has been 36-33. This week’s match-up is expected to be a lower-scoring affair, particularly on the KC side of the ball, but either team might explode for points in any given week. The Arrowheads’ Week 1 victory against San Diego said more about the Chargers’ woes than the Chiefs’ ability, and that will be proven when the Dawg Pound sinks its teeth into some Native hindquarter.
Woody’s Winner: Cleveland
FACT: Cleveland was the only AFC team with triple-digit losses (103) in the 2000s.
PITTSBURGH @ TENNESSEE
Dixie was no match for Dixon last week, as sub-Roth QB Dennis Dixon helped his team edge Atlanta in overtime to seal the Steelers’ 8th consecutive victory on Kickoff Weekend. In Week 2, Pittsburgh faces another southern team, the Tennessee Titans. RB Chris Johnson rushed for 154 yards and two TDs in Week 1, but will he be able to duplicate that effort? Pitt’s D looks as tough as nails, but Tennessee will find a way to win at home.
Woody’s Winner: Tennessee
FACT: Pittsburgh’s OT victory against Atlanta last week marked the third consecutive game between those two teams that went longer than regulation time. The teams are each 1-1-1 in those games.
SEATTLE @ DENVER
The Seahawks invented a new move called the “49er Smackdown” in Week 1, and I’m as curious as any to see how they follow up that gem 5,000 feet up. Neither the Ocean Birds nor the Buckin’ Bunch had much success running the ball last week. In the statistics-can-be-misleading department, the Broncos are 15-5 in their last 20 games against Seattle, but most of those games are from 2001 and before, when both teams were in the same division and played each other twice a year. Still, it’s difficult to pick against Rocky Mountain High at home.
Woody’s Winner: Denver
FACT: In Week 1, Seattle allowed San Francisco to convert only 1 of 15 third-down attempts.
ST. LOUIS @ OAKLAND
It’s a good thing that he wears a different uniform, ‘cause Oakland QB Jason Campbell (2 fumbles, 1 interception) sure looks a lot like he did at the helm of the Redskins. Rams rookie Sam Bradford impressed, however, despite tossing three passes to the other team. A blocked field goal attempt and a last-minute TD cost St. Louis a win last week, but that won’t happen in Oakland. If every Man in Black had the skill of the Raiders’ punter and kicker, they’d be making reservations for Dallas in February. Alas…
Woody’s Winner: St. Louis
FACT: Last week’s Oakland-Tennessee game was a punting clinic. The Titan’s Kerns booted 4 for a 50-yd. average (and 2 inside the 20), while the Raiders’ Lechter punched 4 for a 55-yd. average (and 1).
NEW ENGLAND @ N.Y. JETS
I’m not recommending that Pats QB Tom Brady have an auto accident before every game, but heck; not only did he escape uninjured, but he went on to decimate the Cincinnati defense for 3 TD passes. Add to that a TD kickoff return and a defense that was there when it mattered, and New England looks set for another strong season. The Jets would hate nothing more than to open their new stadium with two consecutive home losses, but the season is long, and facing the Ravens and Patriots back-to-back is not exactly a late summer picnic.
Woody’s Winner: New England
FACT: New England’s 38 points scored in Week 1 led all NFL teams.
HOUSTON @ WASHINGTON
The Texans made a HUGE statement to the NFL in Week 1, defeating the Colts despite Manning’s sharp 433/3/0 performance. And, unexpectedly, they did it on the ground. The Redskins earned their own shout-out by surprising the Cowboys, and they’d love to knock of Texas’ other team in Week 2. Houston seems destined to break out this season, however, and should pull off a W in Washington. I’m tempting fate by picking three road teams in a row, but why not?
Woody’s Winner: Houston
FACT: The Texans are 0-2 lifetime against the Redskins, losing both games by the same margin, 16 points.
JACKSONVILLE @ SAN DIEGO
In Week 1, Jacksonville’s hyphenated-last-name attack belonged to Maurice Jones-Drew, who ran for 98 yards and caught three passes. (Sims-Walker didn’t touch the ball except in pre-game warm-ups.) As they proved last season, the Chargers can be notoriously slow to warm up. But they should still have enough juice in their battery packs to render Jacksonville catatonic. I wonder if any Jags will take a side-trip up to L.A. to check out the housing market…
Woody’s Winner: San Diego
FACT: Both the Bolts and the Jags tossed 10 interceptions last season, tied for fewest in the AFC.
N.Y. GIANTS @ INDIANAPOLIS
Manningfest 2010 takes place in Indianapolis, where Peyton expects to defend his home turf against his younger brother. New York should have fallen victim to Eli’s 3 interceptions, pulled out a win nonetheless. Indy couldn't do the same with Peyton's 400+ yard passing day, and lost at Houston. That’s the third regular-season loss in a row for the Colts, something that hadn’t occurred since 2002. I wouldn’t hold my breath to wait for number four.
Woody’s Winner: Indianapolis
FACT: Hakeem Nicks had four catches last week, three of them for TDs.
NEW ORLEANS @ SAN FRANCISCO
It’s gold rush time in California as the New Orleans arrives to do some panning in San Francisco. No team scored fewer points (6) than the 49ers did in Week 1, and there’s no way the team can hold its own against a bunch of high-flying Saints. The Super Bowl champions will be wearing flowers in their hair as they descend on some unsuspecting Prospectors, and I wouldn’t want to be in the locker room post-game when coach Mike Singletary tells it like it is.
Woody’s Winner: New Orleans
FACT: Since New Orleans was realigned out of the NFC West in 2001, the Saints are 5-0 against their old division rivals.
Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below, but please be cordial to others; this is all in good fun. Thanks!