NFL Picks Week 2

New Orleans Saints vs. Chicago Bears — Sunday Sept. 18, 1 p.m.

Tough draw for the Saints, who take on the NFC North’s second-best team after opening the 2011 season with a painful loss on the road to Green Bay.

Some have questioned the decision by Sean Payton to put the ball in the hands of rookie Mark Ingram, and more importantly, take the ball out of Drew Brees’ hands with the game on the line.

I personally don’t have an issue with it — you drafted Ingram for situations like that.

After a preseason in which the Falcons were the sexy pick for Super Bowl champions, the Bears proceeded to dismantle Atlanta 30-12 last Sunday.

As much as I dislike Cutler as quarterback, he played an outstanding game against the Falcons and running back Matt Forte racked up 158 yards from scrimmage in an all around solid effort from Chicago.

New Orleans needs this game — an 0-2 start wouldn’t feel right for such a talented a group — and I think they will be able to overcome the loss of Marcus Colston on offense.

Chicago certainly has the capability to match up with New Orleans in regards to overall talent but, this game being in New Orleans, I say Cutler flops in the hostile environment. 

The Pick: New Orleans

New England Patriots vs. San Diego Chargers — Sunday Sept. 18, 4 p.m.

How impressive did the Patriots look against Miami last Monday night? 

It doesn’t matter which receivers New England lines up with, Brady will make the correct read and deliver accurate passes that span the field both vertically and from sideline to sideline. Miami failed to sustain an effective pass-rush, and that will almost always lead to Brady tearing up your secondary.

The Chargers overcame a scare from a Minnesota team that netted 28 yards passing. You read that right. 

Philip Rivers had adequate numbers — 68 percent completion, 335 yards, 2-2 TD-INT — but cannot turn the ball over twice against an offense that will certainly punish you if you don’t take care of the football. 

The Patriots’ front seven looked good against Miami’s running game, but Reggie Bush is one thing and Mike Tolbert is another. 

The passing game for San Diego is always highlighted, but in the matchup against New England watch the battle in the trenches and look for San Diego to try and establish a solid ground attack with Tolbert and Ryan Matthews.

I don’t think Tom Brady will throw for 500+ yards against a pass defense that ranked first in the NFL last season, but I do think he will make enough throws down the stretch in order to beat San Diego in an extremely close and entertaining game. 

The Pick: New England

 Atlanta Falcons vs. Philadelphia Eagles— Sunday Sept. 18, 8:20 p.m.

The hype for this one will surround Mike Vick returning to Atlanta for the first time since rejoining the NFL. But more importantly, Atlanta needs a win desperately in order to redeem an ugly opening week loss to the Bears.

Philadelphia’s offense was as good as advertised in their victory over St. Louis and, unfortunately for Atlanta, it will only get better.

Atlanta has continued to lack consistency in the big game and a win against Philadelphia would go a long way for this team’s confidence moving forward.

Their next three games are away at Tampa Bay, away at Seattle and home against Green Bay. Could the Falcons start 1-4?

It seems possible, but 0-2 almost seems certain.