With the season underway, the second round of games throws up several divisional games. Attempting to decipher the likely outcomes of these grudge matches and the rest is Goatsport’s Michael Donnelly
CLEVELAND BROWNS (0-1-0) @ BALTIMORE RAVENS (0-1-0)
The double-header in the AFC North allows for two of the four teams to atone for disappointing week one performances. After a capitulation against the Dolphins, it is the visitors who could do with the win more. However, M&T Stadium is an imposing venue at the best of times, so the Browns will need as much good luck and more to counter the bad luck which plagued them on opening weekend. While Baltimore will use this game to consolidate a bruised and battered team, it is imperative that Ray Rice finds his groove to show the SuperBowl win was not all down to the inspiration of one Ray Lewis. As much as a Browns win would upset the odds they are long odds in the first place. Ravens should win this one comfortably.
PREDICTION Ravens win 34-7
MINNESOTA VIKINGS (0-1-0) @ CHICAGO BEARS (1-0-0)
An intriguing match-up of divisional rivals, which will allow us to gauge how capable the Bears feel in the NFC North coming off a handy win against the Bengals. For the Vikings, it is a second consecutive bout with a direct rival. The Lions game was a frustrating realisation that even the seemingly superhuman Adrian Peterson cannot simply rush the team to victory on any given Sunday, and it is perhaps time for vocal off-season signing Greg Jennings to put his divisional experience to good use. Minnesota arguably have much more to lose in this game as they could find themselves adrift at the bottom, while the Bears would gain a bit of swagger with a win. Though it will be a close game, this particular Sunday will be the said given Sunday for Peterson and his teammates as the SKOL pillage Chicago for a priceless victory.
PREDICTION Vikings win 19-16
WASHINGTON (0-1-0) @ GREEN BAY PACKERS (0-1-0)
Much was expected of both these sides in their first competitive games. Neither managed to fulfil such expectation. But while the Packers succumbed to the familiar problem of the 49ers, the Redskins wounds were very much self-inflicted. Both RGIII and Aaron Rodgers will be keen to set a marker for the season with a convincing leadership performance at quarterback, and it is hard to bet against them both doing so. It may come down to who can blunt the offence most often and who can be stingy on the other side of the snap. Washington have some kinks to work out, and this is likely to be the case in Wisconsin as the Packers clinch a home win.
PREDICTION Packers win 26-14
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS (1-0-0) @ TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS (0-1-0)
Momentum will be with the Saints going in to their second NFC South game in a row after readjusting the pecking order against Atlanta. Meanwhile, the Bucs had a sloppy opening weekend with individual petulance costing them a victory against the dysfunctional Jets. They will likely still be smarting from this defeat and the Saints will feel the backlash. The trouble for the Florida side is that even that won’t be enough to cause a hiccup for Drew Brees’ team. Nevertheless it will not be an easy proposition for either team, with the Saints sneaking it in the end.
PREDICTION Saints win 21-17
JETS (1-0-0) @ PATRIOTS (1-0-0) Patriots win 41-10
Rams (1-0-0) @ Falcons (0-1-0) Falcons win 28-10
Titans (1-0-0) @ Texans (1-0-0) Texans win 27-3
Dolphins (1-0-0) @ Colts (1-0-0) Colts win 24-18
Cowboys (1-0-0) @ Chiefs (1-0-0) Cowboys win 35-17
Chargers (0-1-0) @ Eagles (1-0-0) Chargers win 14-10
Panthers (0-1-0) @ Bills (0-1-0) Bills win 18-13
Lions (1-0-0) @ Cardinals (0-1-0) Lions win 30-14
Broncos (1-0-0) @ Giants (0-1-0) Broncos win 16-13
Jaguars (0-1-0) @ Raiders (0-1-0) Raiders win 36-7
49ers (1-0-0) @ Seahawks (1-0-0) 49ers win 35-27
Steelers (0-1-0) @ Bengals (0-1-0) 17-17 (Bengals win in overtime)