Saturday, September 19, 2009

NFL Week 2: Will Detroit Ever Win?

It's a miserable existence to be a Detroit fan these days. The Red Wings blew the Stanley Cup, the Pistons are coming off a miserable season, the Tigers are going to blow the AL Central title to Minnesota (I hope!), and then there are the Lions. Ouch.

At some point, Detroit is going to snap a regular-season losing streak that now sits at 18 games, dating back to Week 17 of the 2007 season.

There have been some close shaves along the way, including both losses to Minnesota last year. The Vikings visit Ford Field Sunday, and they bring along a guy who is used to torturing the Lions.

Brett Favre.

Now, Favre was Captain Checkdown in last week's win over Cleveland. He could afford to be, thanks to Adrian Peterson running for 875 yards and 44 touchdowns (close enough). We still don't know what Favre will look like in the face of a real defense, but Detroit isn't likely to present that challenge.

The Lions allowed Drew Brees to carve them up for six touchdowns, and put up little resistance against the Saints last week. Yes, the Saints have a great offense, one that is probably a bit more dynamic than Minnesota's. But if you can't stop Mike Bell, how the hell are you going to stop Peterson?

Detroit might be a better team than they were last year, but the hill they need to climb to move the ball and score points on the Vikings defense is just too steep. It's too much to ask.
The pick: Minnesota

Cincinnati at Green Bay: Reggie White, Sean Jones, Edgar Bennett, and, yes, Favre, were all on the team the last time Green Bay hosted the Bengals for a regular-season game. Chad Ochocinco was still Chad Johnson, and Carson Palmer was but a twinkle in Pete Carroll's eye. Ochocinco says he wants to do a Lambeau Leap if he scores a touchdown, but will Al Harris and/or Charles Woodson let that happen? The primary concerns for the Packers are an offensive line that will be tested by Cincy's front seven, and the loss of safety Atari Bigby. The Packers are somewhat thin at safety. That said, Green Bay's offense should break out of the funk they were in for most of the opener.
The pick: Green Bay

Pittsburgh at Chicago: This game got a lot more interesting when Steelers defensive star Troy Polamalu was injured, and then Bears quarterback Jay Cutler spent way too much time Sunday night throwing to the Packers. Cutler is under a lot of pressure in Chicago, and his performance last week only added to it. The Bears probably don't have the offensive talent to scare even a Polamalu-less Steeler defense, and if they thought Green Bay's 3-4 defense gave them fits, wait until they see Dick LeBeau's 3-4.
The pick: Pittsburgh

New England at N.Y. Jets: There was a lot to like about the Jets' opener. They were sharp on both sides of the ball, they played physical football, and they got great play out of rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez. Yes, they were playing Houston, but the Jets looked good. New England spent the better part of 55 minutes going through the motions against Buffalo Monday night. It was enough to bring doubt to the mind of many NFL observers, but when the Patriots needed it most, they had more than enough to win the game. It's going to be fun to watch this matchup now that Rex Ryan is leading the charge for the Jets, but they're not ready yet to compete with the Patriots.
The pick: New England

Other picks (home team in CAPS)

ATLANTA over Carolina
TENNESSEE over Houston
KANSAS CITY over Oakland
New Orleans over PHILADELPHIA
WASHINGTON over St. Louis
SAN FRANCISCO over St. Louis
BUFFALO over Tampa Bay
DENVER over Cleveland
SAN DIEGO over Baltimore
DALLAS over N.Y. Giants
Indianapolis over MIAMI

Last week: 10-6
Season: 10-6

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