Matt Vensel is in his first year at the Star Tribune after covering the Ravens for the Baltimore Sun for six years. He is a Pittsburgh native and a Penn State grad. Follow him at @mattvensel.


Mark Craig has covered the NFL for 23 years, and the Vikings since 2003 for the Star Tribune. He is one of 44 Pro Football Hall of Fame selectors. Follow him at @markcraignfl.


Master Tesfatsion is the Star Tribune’s digital Vikings writer. He is a 2013 graduate of Arizona State and worked for mlb.com before arriving in Minneapolis. Follow him at @masterstrib.


Week 2 Picks & Power Rankings

Posted by: Mark Craig under NFC Updated: September 14, 2013 - 7:19 AM

What would you rather do on a Saturday morning than wake up early and read weekly picks and power rankings involving 32 teams that basically are of equal strength and ability to beat, lose to or tie anyone on any given Sunday, Monday, Saturday, Thursday (and some day, when the revenue ceiling needs to be extended to a gazillion bazillion dollars, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday as well)?

CRAIG'S NFL POWER RANKINGS
BEST OF THE BUNCH
1. Broncos (1-0)

 

THE REST
2. 49ers (1-0); 3. Saints (1-0); 4. Eagles (1-0); 5. Patriots (2-0); 6. Seahawks (1-0); 7. Texans (1-0); 8. Bears (1-0); 9. Colts (1-0); 10. Cowboys (1-0); 11. Lions (1-0); 12. Packers (0-1); 13. Falcons (0-1); 14. Bengals (0-1); 15. Redskins (0-1); 16. Titans (1-0); 17. Rams (1-0); 18. Ravens (0-1); 19. Giants (0-1); 20. Chiefs (1-0); 21. Dolphins (1-0); 22. Jets (1-1); 23. Panthers (0-1); 24. Bills (0-1); 25. Raiders (0-1).

THE VIKINGS
26. Vikings:
When you go to Detroit and you lose by double digits on a day when the Lions are at their sloppiest and most undisciplined worst, well, you got issues, folks. The Lions tried to give the Vikings the game, but the Vikings weren’t strong enough up front offensively or fundamentally sound enough defensively to accept the gift. Throw in a quarterback who not only wasn’t good enough to overcome weaknesses in other areas but was a weakness himself and, well, you end up No. 26 and possibly falling fast.  

THE REST OF THE REST
27. Chargers (0-1); 28. Cardinals (0-1); 29. Buccaneers (0-1); 30. Steelers (0-1); 31. Browns (0-1).

WORST OF THE BUNCH
32: Jaguars (0-1):
Two points in your home opener? Against the Chiefs!? No wonder no one goes to games in Jacksonville.

THE PICKS

Wow. That was a rough week. Warning: Picks made off the top of one’s head before the sun comes up on a Saturday don’t always work. A 4-11 record (2-12-1 vs. the spread) a week ago was painful proof. But one of the four wins also was the one made in a knockout pool, so we’re good to go. Like the Vikings, we’ve gone back to the drawing board, put our nose to the grindstone and, bottom line, we’ve determined that using clichés between NFL Sundays doesn’t really help the situation when the, um, chips are down. But other prognosticators put their pants on one leg at a time, too. So it’s time to pull ourselves up by the bootstraps and get back on that bike and swing for the fences and someone please stop the clic…

Vikings plus-6 at Bears
Bears 28, Vikings 14
Why:
The Vikings keep telling us their problems are, as Christian Ponder puts it, “easily correctable.” Unfortunately for them, there are 53 well-paid guys on the other side of the field trying to prevent those fixes from taking root. Considering this is another division road game in a place where the Vikings have lost 11 of their past 12 games, let’s just say I have to see these so-called simple corrections take place before I believe the Vikings can make them.

Last week: Vikings plus-5 at Lions. The pick: Vikings 24, Lions 17. The final: Lions 34, Vikings 24. Record: 0-1, 0-1 vs. the spread.

UPSET SPECIAL
Broncos minus-4 ½ at Giants: Giants 31, Broncos 28.
Why?:
Peyton Manning looks unstoppable in that offense and he’s never lost to little brother Eli. But the Giants are at home and there’s a serious NFL bounce-back, up-is-down, down-is-up factor considering the Giants are coming off a tough loss and the Broncos are coming off a signature win. Plus, every time we all put Eli in Peyton’s shadow, the little fella finds a way to step out of it and surprise everyone.
Last week: Bengals plus-3 at Bears. The pick: Bengals 24, Bears 21. The final: Bears 24, Bengals 21. Record: 0-1.

THE REST

Chargers plus-7 ½ at Eagles: Eagles by 3.

Browns plus-6 ½ at Ravens: Ravens by 7.

Titans plus-9 at Texans: Texans by 7.

Dolphins plus-2 ½ at Colts: Colts by 3.

Panthers minus-2 ½ at Bills: Bills by 3.

Rams plus-6 ½ at Falcons: Falcons by 7.

Redskins plus-7 ½ at Packers: Packers by 3.

Cowboys plus-3 at Chiefs: Cowboys by 7.

Saints minus-3 ½ at Buccaneers: Saints by 7.

Lions minus-1 at Cardinals: Cardinals by 3.

Jaguars plus-5 ½ at Raiders: Raiders by 7.

49ers plus-3 at Seahawks: 49ers by 3.

Steelers plus-7 at Bengals: Bengals by 10.

Record: Last week: 4-11; 2-12-1 vs. the spread. (Money lost where mouth was: $0.)

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