NFL Week 2 begins to separate contenders from pretenders

NFL Week 2 begins to separate contenders from pretenders

In the second week of action in the 2011 National Football League season, some teams proved that they’re contenders, while others revealed their victories in Week 1 were just a fluke. My game of the week was the Oakland Raiders at the Buffalo Bills. It showed what real football is all about with five fourth-quarter lead changes. It was a Super Bowl atmosphere as the final minutes ticked down on Oakland’s Cinderella story and they fell apart in the last 14 seconds.           

The Buffalo Bills, down 18 points at halftime, came out with fire in their bellies. Ryan Fitzpatrick came out and threw two touchdowns, a 43-yard pass to Fred Jackson and a 7-yard pass to Steve Johnson, cutting the lead from 21-3 to 21-17.

And then the fourth quarter happened. There were five lead changes in the fourth quarter alone. But the Bills had that “don’t quit” attitude in them, and they had the pass that was heard around the world when Fitzpatrick threw the game-winning 6-yard touchdown pass to David Nelson with 14 seconds left in the game.

The Raiders tried to come back, but their efforts were halted at midfield, with Jason Campbell throwing a Hail Mary toward the end-zone that was picked off by the Bills to secure their second win of the season. It’s also the first time they’ve started 2-0 since 2008 (when they started 4-0 but finished with a 7-9 record and didn’t even make the playoffs). But as TV great Chris Berman says, “Nobody circles the wagon like the Buffalo Bills.”

Another game that proved that a team will have an exciting season was the Tampa Bay Buccaneers rallying back from a 17-point deficit at halftime to beat the Minnesota Vikings 24-20. The Vikings got out to a quick 17-point lead, but Tampa Bay stalled them for the rest of the game by only allowing a field goal. But the Buccaneers came out of halftime with a lot of momentum. First they scored on a LeGarrette Blount 27-yard touchdown, followed by a field goal by Connor Barth. Next came a 25-yard touchdown pass from Josh Freeman to Arrelious Benn, and finally the game-winning 4-yard touchdown run by Blount with 30 seconds left.

Nobody really stood out this week as an offensive or defensive player of the week. Of course, Carolina Panthers rookie quarterback Cam Newton passed for another 400+ yards (so look who is on my fantasy roster).

And now I’m introducing a new feature called “Who’s Got Guts,” and this week my player of choice is Dallas Cowboys’ quarterback Tony Romo. In a nasty hit late in the second quarter against the San Francisco 49ers, he suffered at least one broken rib and missed the third quarter. But he came back into the game for the fourth quarter and overtime. After the game, the medical staff evaluated him and found out that he had played not only with a broken rib, but also a punctured lung. So congratulations to Romo on being the first “Who’s Got Guts” champion

I know that I went 8-8 last week and 18-14 on the entire season. But now I offer my winning picks for this week in the NFL in green.

Jacksonville Jaguars @ Carolina Panthers

Houston Texans @ New Orleans Saints

New England Patriots @ Buffalo Bills

Miami Dolphins @ Cleveland Browns

Denver Broncos @ Tennessee Titans

New York Giants @ Philadelphia Eagles

Detroit Lions @ Minnesota Vikings

San Francisco 49ers @ Cincinnati Bengals

New York Jets @ Oakland Raiders

Kansas City Chiefs @ San Diego Chargers

Baltimore Ravens @ St. Louis Rams

Green Bay Packers @ Chicago Bears

Arizona Cardinals @Seattle Seahawks

Atlanta Falcons @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Pittsburgh Steelers @ Indianapolis Colts

Washington Redskins @ Dallas Cowboys