The New Orleans Saints host the Cleveland Browns in what may already be considered a “must win” for the Saints, psychologically speaking. The Saints are coming off a demoralizing 48-40 loss against Tampa, while the Browns are coming off an invigorating tie against Pittsburgh. Despite the outstanding output by the Saints offense, all the focus has obviously been on the atrocious defensive performance. To recover from that performance, the Saints are going to need to lean on something more than what they had last Sunday. They’ll find that inspiration from the power of pettiness.
Pettiness, yes, Sean Payton’s Saints are their most dangerous when they have something to be petty about. They don't seem to do so well when they need to “prove ‘em right” or when they need to uphold the role as the clear favorites. They thrive when they're overlooked, undervalued, and cast aside. Now, even after the terrible defensive showing against Tampa, as heavy favorites, the Saints find themselves as big favorites again this time against Cleveland.
What do they have this time that they didn't last week? Pettiness. They (Sean Payton in particular) get another shot at disgraced former defensive coordinator, Gregg Williams. The same Gregg Williams who dragged the franchise and the city through the pay-for-performance drama of 2012. The very same Gregg Williams who Sean Payton gleefully skulldragged in 2016 when he made his first trip back to New Orleans as the Rams’ defensive coordinator, losing to Payton’s Saints 49-21. Sean Payton would love nothing more than to put the boots to Gregg once again, providing the edge to get the Saints back to where they should've been a week ago, in the win column.
Last week I went 9-7 (I count the tie as a loss here)
I told you so: Eagles over Falcons!
What do I know: Saints over Bucs?
Thursday, September 13th - Thursday Night Football
Baltimore comes into this one fresh off the most lopsided game of Week 1, where they throttled Buffalo into submission. They won't have it as easy this week in Cincinnati, but Cincy will struggle against the Baltimore defense. Baltimore wins 24-16.
Sunday, September 16th - Early Games
Atlanta has suffered some devastating losses to their defense after just one week, but Carolina is not the offense that will take full advantage of those losses. This will be a low-scoring, defensive affair, but Atlanta will outlast the Panthers in this one at home. Atlanta wins 20-14.
As usual, Andrew Luck will be forced to carry Indianapolis in this one, but Washington’s defense will be the strongest unit on the field. Washington will get just what they need from Alex Smith and Adrian Peterson to pick up the win. Washington wins 27-22.
Texans(0-1) at Titans(0-1)
Deshaun Watson will be the key to victory in this one, as Tennessee won't have any answers for the second-year star quarterback. Tennessee’s offense will also struggle against the Houston defense in this one. Houston wins 21-14.
Eagles(1-0) at Buccaneers(1-0)
Buckle up folks, this is gonna be the ugliest game of Week 2. Just as Tampa’s defense failed to show last week, they’ll continue to struggle here against Philly. On the other side, Tampa’s explosive offense from a week ago will seem like a distant memory against the defending Super Bowl Champions. Ryan Fitzpatrick will be in for a long afternoon, with a stat line of 117 yards passing, 4 interceptions, and 4 sacks. The magic is gone. Philadelphia wins 35-7.
Pittsburgh has had Kansas City’s number for a few years now, but the Chiefs get over the hump behind another dynamic performance by young gunslinger, Patrick Mahomes. Despite looking so poor a week ago, Kansas City’s defense will pull it together for a big win in the City of Steel against the reeling Steelers. Kansas City wins 21-14.
The spotlight will clearly be on rookie quarterback Sam Darnold in this one, especially after the Jets’ monster win on Monday night. The key to victory won't be on Darnold’s performance though, it will come down to the Jets’ ability to control the game with their rushing attack, and forcing Miami into turnovers on the other end. Jets win 24-19.
After suffering the most lopsided loss of Week 1, Buffalo is already pulling the trigger and starting the Josh Allen era at quarterback. After that dreadful offensive performance, Buffalo has seemingly nowhere to go but up. The Bills face a huge task in trying to slow down Phillip Rivers and the Los Angeles passing attack though, and it will prove too much for the Bills to overcome at home. Los Angeles wins 35-14.
In an early season battle of the clear favorites in the NFC North this season, the winner will have a big advantage as the season goes forward. No doubt this will be a tough contest, and the Minnesota defense will come at Aaron Rodgers with everything they've got. Don't overlook the Green Bay defense though, as they'll have their sights set on “guaranteed money” Kirk Cousins, in his first time at Lambeau in purple and yellow. This one will have a playoff atmosphere and will come down to the wire. Much like last Monday night, it will be Aaron Rodgers who pulls the Pack to victory in the end. Green Bay wins 24-21.
Browns(0-0-1) at Saints(0-1)
Too much has been said and dwelled upon regarding the Saints’ Week 1 loss. That’s the past and this is the present, and in the present the Saints are the better team. The Browns’ past is a record of 1-31-1 over their last 33 regular season games. Although Cleveland looks better than they have in the recent past, their present still says the Saints are the better team.
On offense, much like Week 1, the Saints offense will be the Drew Brees/Alvin Kamara/Michael Thomas Show. On defense though, the Saints will need to see the Marshon Lattimore/Cameron Jordan/Alex Okafor Show, and they’ll see major contributions from those defensive stars this week, as the Saints defense holds quarterback Tyrod Taylor to under 175 yards passing.
The two biggest stars in this game will be Alvin Kamara on offense, unsurprisingly, and Sheldon Rankins on defense, quite surprisingly. With solid pressure off the edges by Jordan and Okafor, Rankins will have the ability to make some big plays, recording a sack and forcing a turnover. The Saints will play motivated, inspired, and smart. They’ll send the Superdome crowd home happy after this one. Saints win 38-23.
Sunday, September 16th - Late Games
Both teams are coming off of tough and turnover-filled performances in Week 1. Matthew Stafford and Jimmy Garoppolo will need to clean things up and play much better to lead their teams this week. The key to victory in this one will come down to San Francisco’s running game and home field advantage. This will be a close one. San Francisco wins 24-23.
To say Arizona was pathetic in Week 1 would be giving them too much credit. Now they have to face the class of their division in the Rams. The Los Angeles defensive front will make Sam Bradford’s life a nightmare in this one, as the Rams extend their early lead in the NFC West. Los Angeles wins 31-17.
Here we get an early rematch of January’s AFC Championship Game. Just like that one, this game will have a razor-thin margin for error. Also like that game, Jacksonville will lean on their strengths, in their rushing attack and their defense. It is their main weakness, quarterback Blake Bortles, that New England will use to their advantage though. Tom Brady and the Pats will find a way to pull this one out in the closing moments, again. New England wins 21-20.
Denver, fresh off a big win at home in Week 1, now faces one of their oldest rivals. Oakland, on the other hand, is coming off a tough loss at home on Monday night. The Jon Gruden era 2.0 in Oakland will continue flat, as Case Keenum has a big game against the Silver and Black in Denver. Denver wins 21-13.
Sunday Night Football
The pressure to win will rest squarely on the shoulders of Dallas’ defense as their offensive stars, Dak Prescott and Ezequiel Elliott will continue to struggle without support from the rest of the offense. Eli Manning has usually enjoyed great success at AT&T Stadium and he will pick that up again here. Giants win 24-17.
Monday, September 17th - Monday Night Football
Chicago may have lost last Sunday night, but they were an Aaron Rodgers miracle return to action away from leaving Lambeau Field with a win. Seattle, in a loss at Denver, saw a lot of what they’ll be seeing all season long, a lot of Russell Wilson and little else. A week after falling prey to Von Miller, Wilson will now hope to avoid Khalil Mack. The results should remain the same, with Wilson in peril all game long. Chicago wins 24-14.
That’s how I see it, tell us how you see Week 2 playing out. Leave your comments and insight below. Who Dat!