Forecasting player performance in the NFL is kinda like forecasting
the weather up here in the great Pacific Northwest. There’s
a reasonable chance it will rain almost any day of the year. Of
course, there’s also a reasonable chance it will be sunny…or
cloudy…or partly cloudy…or partly cloudy with scattered
showers…or…get my drift? My point is this: I should
have been a weatherman. I’d be just as accurate as I was last
week and I’d have much prettier hair. Hey, a guy can dream,
can’t he? Your Week 2 forecast, courtesy of the guy with decidedly
Must Start: The Top 10
1. Peyton Manning v. JAX –
It wasn’t vintage Peyton but we probably expect too much
after the arcade game numbers he put up last season. That wasn’t
exactly Morgan St. he was squaring off against, either. Baltimore’s
big boys shut him down in the first half but two second stanza
TDs and 254 yards later, he’d posted one of the better first
week lines. Still the king of the mountain until something changes
(read: he retires).
2. Kerry Collins v. KC –
Don’t be discouraged by the sub-50% completion rate. The
Raiders run a high risk/high reward system and Collins has never
been the most accurate passer. What he does do well is throw it
deep. Lucky for him (and you), he has the best receiver on the
planet chasing down those howitzers. Expect more big plays and
another strong showing at the Black Hole in Week 2.
3. Carson Palmer v. MIN –
Know why I like DirecTV’s Sunday Ticket? Because if I feel
like dragging my tail out of bed at 10am left coast time to watch
the Battle of Ohio, I can damn well do it. You scoff but I’m
here to tell you the Bengals are one of the more exciting young
teams to watch these days. Expect plenty of points at Paul Brown
Stadium this weekend as the Vikes roll into town.
4. Tom Brady @ CAR – Don’t
be fooled by the Cheshire grin and the Cali cool demeanor. On
the gridiron, GQ’s cover boy is a stone-cold assassin. I
actually felt uncomfortable watching him victimize Raiders rook,
Stanford Routt, in the opener…until I realized I was feeling
sorry for a Raider. Expect another solid outing against a bummed
Carolina D missing its primetime plugger, Kris Jenkins.
5. Byron Leftwich @ IND –
It might not be true at the moment but by season’s end,
the Jags could possess one of the top five passing offenses in
the league. Jimmy Smith is (still) a vastly underrated target
and Reggie Williams and Matt Jones are mismatches waiting to be
exploited. Running the show is the precociously talented Leftwich
who, if he can avoid a fierce Indy pass rush, could get the better
of the league’s best, Mr. Manning, once again this Sunday.
6. Daunte Culpepper @ CIN –
Uh-oh. Culpepper was the antithesis of sharp last Sunday and I
can’t help but think that had a lot to do with the weapon
he DOESN’T have at his disposal this year. With the game
hanging in the balance and the Vikes marching toward paydirt,
he went looking for legendary receiver, Moe Williams. Ugh! The
resulting pick (his fifth turnover of the day) ended a potential
game-salvaging drive and likely put you in the red at the QB position.
7. Donovan McNabb v. SF –
He already suffered from a bruised ego and now it appears a bruised
sternum could limit his effectiveness against the Niners this
weekend. He swears he’ll play but you hafta wonder whether
he’ll go the full sixty if, as expected, the Eagles are
able to put the upstart Niners away early. Monitor his status
up until game time.
8. Mark Bulger @ ARI –
Why does it seem like every Rams loss ends with him throwing a
critical interception? Mike Martz tried to change his ways last
weekend but couldn’t afford to run it much after a leaky
D put his squad in an early hole. If Bulger throws 56 passes again,
two things will hapen: Bulger will put up huge numbers and the
Rams will lose. I suspect he (and they) won’t, though he
should still post solid totals.
9. Trent Green @ OAK –
Thanks to a great defensive effort and the two-headed monster
of Priest Holmes/Larry Johnson, Green gets an “incomplete”
for Week 1. The Raiders will score more than seven points this
Sunday, meaning Green will hafta to do more than just show up
in Week 2. That should be no problem considering he AVERAGED almost
350 yards against them last season. Keep him in there.
10. Michael Vick @ SEA –
I would almost risk incurring the wife’s wrath to scoot
up I-5 for a first-hand look, but I’ll settle for a front-row
seat in front of the tube again. Despite having never thrown for
3,000 yards or 20 TDs in a season, he’s the one guy I HAFTA
watch every week. Why? You know why, especially if you benefitted
from the 68 rushing yards and the TD scamper against Philly. Simply
Grab A Helmet:
Joey Harrington @ CHI –
The gameplan was disturbingly conservative but Joey still managed
to play within himself and, most importantly, throw more TDs (two)
than interceptions (none). Though he needs to involve his ultra-talented
wideouts more, he seems to be turning the corner…as promised.
Give him a look against a decent Bears squad that doesn’t
match up well in the secondary.
Jake Plummer v. SD – Several
readers took me to task for not including him in The Report last
week. Funny. Haven’t heard from them since. Nobody runs
hot and cold like The Snake which means, naturally, that he’ll
follow up last week’s dud with a brilliant performance against
the Bolts this Sunday. At least, I think he will…maybe.
Jake Delhomme v. NE –
Plummer’s namesake in Carolina is, ironically enough, almost
as inconsistent. The reason? He takes a lot of chances. That can
get you in serious trouble against the defending Super Bowl champs
but I suspect he’ll avoid the mistakes and post solid totals
this weekend. Failing that, we’ll settle for quantity over
quality as the Panthers fight to keep up with the high-flying
Drew Brees @ DEN – He
didn’t miss Antonio Gates as much as I thought he would
(thank you, Mr. McCardell) but he also wasn’t very sharp
overall (two picks to offset his two TDs). He gets his über
talented TE back this Sunday, just in time for a potential shootout
at Mile High. Start him but keep in mind that his career numbers
v. Denver are borderline atrocious.
Kurt Warner v. STL – Warner
draws another former employer/protégé this weekend
in a game that could seal the fate of the loser. Not many 0-2
teams have come back to make the playoffs, after all. If he doesn’t
get some help from his running backs, it could be a long year
in Arizona, regardless. Expect plenty of points and good numbers
from both sensei and student this weekend.
Grab A Clipboard:
Kyle Orton v. DET – Facing
the ‘Skins D right outta the gate is a tough draw and though
we shouldn’t write him off just yet, things won’t
get much easier this week against a Lions squad that held Favre
and the Pack to a measly three points. He needs more time and
more weapons and, unfortunately, both are in short supply at the
moment. Steer clear.
David Carr v. PIT – He’s
had plenty of time and has more than enough weapons but still
can’t get over the hump. Why? Search me. You’d need
a shovel to find his QB rating at this point and you’ll
almost certainly need one to find him if his O-line can’t
fend off a ferocious Curtain pass rush on Sunday.
Mark Brunell @ DAL – I
figured he’d be collecting his pension and selling insurance
by now but, lo and behold, he’s back under center for Washington.
Is Joe Gibbs really THAT desperate? Don’t think for a second
Brunell can reverse his flagging fortunes this late in the game.
He simply doesn’t have the arm strength or the surrounding
talent to be worth a slot in your starting lineup.
J.P. Losman @ TB – I picked
him up in our dynasty league last season and though I didn’t
expect immediate returns, I’m starting to think he might
be useful sooner rather than later. Not this soon, though. The
Bills are still a run-first/run-second team and with the defense
they have, why shouldn’t they be? Wait until he’s
asked to shoulder more of the load.
Brian Griese v. BUF –
Did I mention how good that Buffalo defense is? Griese wasn’t
terrible against the Vikes but he did turn the ball over a couple
times, not a good sign with the opportunistic Bills coming to
Tampa. This one has all the makings of a 13-10 back alley brawl.