By Hamish Girvan
Houston Texans At Baltimore Ravens
The Texans are one of the first teams since 1970 to win their first two games on the last play of the game. In two weeks they have come from behind and beaten their opponents. This week may prove different though. The Ravens although in a rebuilding phase, at home are a tough ask. Their menacing defence is still a factor and they know how to grind out a win. In the Texans pre season they were seen as a make or break team considering two consecutive playoff appearances and the fact that their team has been together for a while. Quarterback Matt Schaub is solid however not seen as an x –factor type player so he will have to use all his experience here. Ravens key Running Back Ray Rice is under an injury cloud however they still start as home ground favourites regardless. Watch also for the return of Ravens favourite Ed Reed – now playing for the Texans. The Ravens should take this out in a close one. Last minute plays may not apply.
Indianapolis Colts at San Francisco 49ers
The Colts were part of a monster trade this week taking second year star running back Trent Richardson from Cleveland for a first round pick in the draft next year. Richardson was a stud player in his college career at Alabama hoverer never really carried that form into his first season in the NFL. Perhaps that’s why he was traded and with a good team around him may thrive. In his second year Colts quarterback Andrew Luck should grow and looks like the pick of all the second year quarterback’s in the league as the most consistent so far. The 49ers were smashed in Seattle last week and will not want a consecutive loss. Their defence was exposed and the offensive game never got going. Quarterback Kaepernick never looked comfortable and will be looking to take his week one form into their home game here. The Colts will not be a roll over however at home the 49ers should have too much punch here.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New England Patriots
Tampa Bay seem to have all sorts of issues. Two close losses and the start of some player power going against their coach. Rumours of star defensive back Darelle Revis not being happy with the system he’s been asked to play in and quarterback Josh Freeman being dumped as a team captain has not helped their preparation. Both uncompromising and undisciplined their season looks like unravelling, and heading to New England in this form is not easy. The Patriots are not the team they have been and struggled to get anything dangerous rolling against the Jets last week. Star Tight End Rob “The Gronk” Gronkowski is close to returning after an off season injury – that will add another dimension. The Bucs should put up a fight here however it depends on their state of mind. Could be close or a blowout – either way the Patriots will take it out
Chicago Bears at Pittsburgh Steelers
The Bears have started the season with two wins – somewhat surprisingly considering a new coach and a new system. Their defence is still menacing and they should be able to stop the Steelers, who are in a hole having lost their first two games – something their coach has never experienced. Chicago Quarterback Jay Cutler has made big plays in recent weeks to eke out wins, and looks far more consistent than he did last season. The big thing he has is the confidence from the players around him, which seemed to be missing last season. Steelers Coach Mike Tomlin has been upfront after two defeats saying that unless they improve it will be a long season. Their 75 rushing yards total this season is pathetic and unless they can get that part of their game going they will be getting an early pick in next year’s draft. Expect the Bears to pile on more misery here.
Jacksonville Jaguars at Seattle Seahawks
The Seahawks home record in unfounded and they have now gone 9 without a loss at Century Link Field. They annihilated the 49ers last week and will do the same to the hapless Jaguars this week. Potentially the worst team in the NFL, they have been given a 19.5 point start here – something very rare. Marshall Lynch was in beast mode last week in terms of both rushing and receiving. The Jags will not be able to stop him. Already onto their second string quarterback Chad Henne the Jaguars are living up to the pre season predictions of getting no more than two wins. They won’t get one here – the only possibility is that they may come within the point’s margin – especially if Seattle gets a big lead and start playing some second stringers.
Oakland Raiders at Denver Broncos
The first AFC West divisional clash of the season brings Oakland to Denver. Oakland looks better then what expected – which is usually inconsistency and egos. Second year Quarterback Terrelle Prior won the starting job pre season and looks in no danger of losing it in the short term. The Broncos have scored 90 points in their first two games and have depth aplenty on the offensive side. Defence though is different, Star Left Tackle Ryan Clady is now out for the season and they still have star Linebacker Von Miller sitting out an illegal substance ban. Quarterback Peyton Manning is on fire and as long as he can find his targets they will be a threat to anyone. AFC West divisional games always have an extra edge however the Broncos should be able to pull away from the Raiders comfortably from this one in the end.
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