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Each Tuesday morning, we will preview every NFL game of the upcoming week. All of our NFL content, including our most recent power rankings and links to the pre-season preview are located here.
The inputs to the 10,001 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. To see other picks like our Upset and Locks of the Week, as well as our season-to-date performance, click here.
Game of the Week: #1 Patriots 17 @ #2 Jets 21
The top-ranked team in the league in our latest NFL Power Rankings is an underdog this week? Well, when that team looks shaky in its Monday Night home opener and then goes on the road to face our #2 team - a team that was as dominant and impressive as any in Week 1 - then yes. With Donovan McNabb's injury in Philadelphia and Miami's disappointing output, New England becomes our top team in the league. However, the Patriots needed Buffalo to cough up a late fumble and Tom Brady to attempt 53 passes just to beat the Bills by one point. On the other hand, in a game between two of our pre-season playoff teams, the Jets went to Houston and throttled the Texans 24-7. Houston did not even score until the fourth quarter and that was on a 48-yard fumble return for a touchdown. Facing what should be a powerful offense with Matt Schaub, Andre Johnson, Steve Slaton, etc., the Jets' defense was spectacular, allowing just 183 yards of offense to the Texans. Steve Slaton rushed for just 17 yards on nine carries and, with Darrelle Revis blanketing him, Andre Johnson managed only four receptions for 35 yards.
On a neutral field, this game would be a toss-up. In the Meadowlands with a new, outspoken, defensive-minded head coach, a young quarterback with "it" and everything to prove, the New York Jets have the edge to get a leg up in the AFC East race by taking down the Patriots. New York wins 57.1% and by an average score of 21-17. The Jets are five point underdogs to the Patriots, so they cover the spread 79.4% of the time and are our Upset of the Week pick (though not the "Lock of the Week").
In the projected boxscore, Randy Moss (Revis helps, but it's still Tom Brady and Randy Moss) and Leon Washington are the two most likely players to score touchdowns. Tom Brady completes 19-of-30 passes for 227 yards and at least one touchdown, while also throwing an interception. Brady outduels rookie Mark Sanchez, but not by much. Sanchez completes 14-of-24 pass attempts for 169 yards, one touchdown, one interception and one win. The Jets' biggest advantage comes on the ground where they out-rush the Patriots by 51 yards, including averaging a full yard-per-carry more.
Bonus - Most Intriguing Game of the Week: Saints @ Eagles
We have added a bonus game this week for a true "what-if" scenario. In the projected boxscore of the Saints @ Eagles game, we illustrate how the Saints win 60.7% of the time and by an average score of 23-21. But that's assuming Kevin Kolb starts at quarterback for the Eagles in place of the injured Donovan McNabb. Kolb, who has thrown just 45 NFL passes (and had four of them intercepted), completes 15-of-29 passes for 184 yards, 1.0 TDs and 1.2 interceptions. Kolb's presence is felt even more in the power rankings where, despite blowing out Carolina in Week 1, the Eagles drop from our top team to #14. The difference between McNabb and Kolb is that great.
With McNabb fully healthy, the Eagles would actually be favored to win this game. In 10,001 simulations with him under center, Philadelphia wins 59.8% of the time and by an average score of 26-22. McNabb completes 19-of-32 passes for 234 yards, 1.6 TDs and 0.8 interceptions.
And all politics aside, starting Jeff Garcia is a much better option than Kolb as well. Garica leads the Eagles to a win 53.1% of the time and by an average score of 24-21. He throws for 232 yards on 19-of-35 passing, 1.5 TDs and 0.9 interceptions.
To see other picks like our Upset and Locks of the Week, as well as our season-to-date accuracy, click here.
Click on the Boxscores below to see detailed team and player stat projections for every game.
NFL Week 2
|Matchup||Home Win%||Avg Score|
|St. Louis @ Washington||89.2||11-28||Boxscore|
|Carolina @ Atlanta||80.7||17-30||Boxscore|
|Cleveland @ Denver||71.3||20-29||Boxscore|
|Baltimore @ San Diego||70.6||20-29||Boxscore|
|New York Giants @ Dallas||65.9||17-24||Boxscore|
|Seattle @ San Francisco||65.4||16-22||Boxscore|
|Cincinnati @ Green Bay||58.8||18-22||Boxscore|
|Houston @ Tennessee||58.1||18-23||Boxscore|
|Tampa Bay @ Buffalo||57.9||24-28||Boxscore|
|New England @ New York Jets||57.1||16-21||Boxscore|
|Oakland @ Kansas City||44.7||24-23||Boxscore|
|Indianapolis @ Miami||40.9||21-19||Boxscore|
|New Orleans @ Philadelphia||39.3||23-21||Boxscore|
|Arizona @ Jacksonville||19.3||26-18||Boxscore|
|Minnesota @ Detroit||18||30-19||Boxscore|
|Pittsburgh @ Chicago||15.5||23-14||Boxscore|
Paul Bessire is the Product Manager of Content and Quantitative Analysis for WhatIfSports.com, a division of FOX Sports Interactive specializing in fantasy football simulation analysis and football sim games. With any comments, questions or topic suggestions, Paul can be reached at BtB@whatifsports.com. Thanks!