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The inputs to the 201 simulations of each upcoming game are based on a rigorous analysis of each team that considers strength-of-schedule-adjusted team and player ratings and then makes modifications for injuries and depth at each position.
Games of the Week: #6 Philadelphia 15 @ #1 Dallas 25
Both of these teams look great in their openers and both look like legitimate contenders for the NFC Championship and Super Bowl. While Philadelphia beat up on the worst team in the NFL (according our power rankings) at home, Dallas went on the road and dominated the pre-season favorite to win the AFC North. The Cowboys stand as our clear #1 best team in the league right now. The Eagles pose a threat and win this game about a quarter of the time (27%), but, as it stands, the Cowboys are the favorite in every game on the schedule and this is no exception.
#9 New England 17 @ #15 New York Jets 24
Who would have thought that two months ago that this game would be all that close, let alone see the Jets as the favorite with Brett Favre at quarterback and Matt Cassell under center for the Patriots? Favre did not look exceptional at Miami; he looked like Brett Favre. The Jets pass rush is vastly improved from last year, but it is still a work in progress. This is not a make-or-break game for Matt Cassell and the Patriots; however, if they can win it, like they do 32% of the time in the sim, New England could be as close to "back on track" as it can get without Tom Brady.
#5 Pittsburgh 23 @ #13 Cleveland 16
A brutal showing against the Dallas Cowboys by Cleveland at home and a dominant performance by Pittsburgh have drastically changed the way this game is viewed. The Browns came into the year with expectations of winning the division. They could still do just that and this game will play a big factor in their chances. Cleveland's defensive backfield is going to have to show up against Hines Ward, Santonio Holmes and the Steelers passing attack if they want to keep it a game. We give Ben Roethlisberger 222 yards through the air, while Willie Parker and Rashard Mendenhall combine for 141.7 rushing yards en route to a win 62% of the time and by an average score of 23-16.
#3 Indianapolis 21 @ #8 Minnesota 23
What should we make of these two teams? The Colts' offense was not clicking in Week 1 against the Bears and now they play Minnesota, which has another one of the best defenses in the league. If Tarvaris Jackson can do his best Kyle Orton impression (yes, I just said that) by limiting mistakes and completing more than half of his passes, the Vikings should prevail. We give that exactly a 50% chance, yet the Vikings earn the edge, mostly due to homefield advantage. On paper, these teams appear to be of similar caliber. At this point we expect that that caliber is that of one of the best in the league. Time will tell.
Week 2 Scores for Every NFL Game
|Matchup||Home Win%||Avg Score||Chicago @ Carolina||74.6||15-27||Miami @ Arizona||74.1||21-29||Philadelphia @ Dallas||72.6||15-25||Atlanta @ Tampa Bay||71.6||18-27||New England @ New York||67.7||17-24||Baltimore @ Houston||67.2||18-24||Oakland @ Kansas City||65.2||21-26||San Francisco @ Seattle||65.2||15-21||Buffalo @ Jacksonville||60.2||17-21||Indianapolis @ Minnesota||50.2||21-23||New Orleans @ Washington||43.8||24-19||San Diego @ Denver||41.3||26-21||Pittsburgh @ Cleveland||37.8||23-16||Green Bay @ Detroit||30.3||27-19||Tennessee @ Cincinnati||28.9||27-17||New York @ St. Louis||20.9||29-16|
Paul Bessire is the Senior Quantitative Analyst and Content Manager for WhatIfSports.com and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. With any comments, questions or topic suggestions, Paul can be reached at BtB@whatifsports.com. Thanks!