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Sam Farmer's NFL picks: Week 2

Chiefs get rare chance

September 12, 2008

For the first time, the average NFL franchise is worth $1 billion, according to the team valuations list released this week by Forbes Magazine.

Even though they're 31st on that list, the Oakland Raiders -- who are worth an estimated $861 million -- must have money to burn. Why else would they sign cornerback DeAngelo Hall to a $70-million contract? Or ink receiver Javon Walker to a $55-million deal?

In a 41-14 opening loss to Denver on "Monday Night Football," Hall was out of position and out of control -- picking up two personal-foul penalties in a span of three plays -- and Walker was simply out of the game, deactivated before kickoff.

That game was lopsided, but not as bad as Oakland's 19-62 record since its Super Bowl appearance in 2002, the league's worst mark over that span.

Can anything perk up the Raiders? Maybe this: They play at Kansas City on Sunday.

The Chiefs, who also figure to be among the NFL's worst teams, are coming off a respectable performance against New England, where they were two-touchdown underdogs but lost only 17-10. Of course, it changes things pretty dramatically when MVP Tom Brady is knocked out of the game -- and, as it turned out, for the season -- in the first quarter.

Nonetheless, the Chiefs' losing streak is at 10 games. Their last victory? They beat the Raiders, 12-10, in Oakland last October.

No matter how lean their circumstances, the Chiefs have consistently played well against Oakland in recent years.

They had beaten the Raiders nine consecutive times before losing at Arrowhead Stadium, 20-17, toward the end of last season.

Kansas City's defense wasn't overwhelming last week, but it did force a couple of turnovers. An encore of that could be enough to derail the Raiders, whose quarterback, JaMarcus Russell, will be making only his third career start.

The Chiefs have a steady if unspectacular veteran quarterback in Damon Huard, and a running back in Larry Johnson who might have a big day if Kansas City's patchwork offensive line can get its act together.

This much we know: One of these teams is going to walk away from this game with a .500 record -- maybe for the last time this season. Pick: Kansas City.

Chicago at Carolina: Both teams are coming off surprising Week 1 road victories: Chicago over Indianapolis, and Carolina over San Diego. With Panthers receiver Steve Smith suspended for another game, Chicago's defense should set the tone in this one. Pick: Chicago.

Tennessee at Cincinnati: As good as Tennessee's defense looked last Sunday, and as bad as Cincinnati's offense was, the Bengals have a good chance to get back on track with this one. In one of its few bright spots last season, Cincinnati rolled up 426 yards and rolled over the Titans, 35-6. Pick: Cincinnati.

Green Bay at Detroit: The Packers looked great against Minnesota in the opener, and Aaron Rodgers clearly benefited from all that time behind Brett Favre. The Lions, meanwhile, looked lost. This could be a long season for them. Pick: Green Bay.

Buffalo at Jacksonville: Jacksonville is hurting on the offensive line; four of its top nine big men are hurt, including its two starting guards. New Buffalo defensive lineman Marcus Stroud would love to say hello to David Garrard, facemask to facemask. Pick: Buffalo.

Indianapolis at Minnesota: If the Vikings can't throw the ball, they aren't going to be able to run it with any consistency either. Still, this looks like the season the Colts will fall to earth, and at least Minnesota is at home. Pick: Minnesota.

New York Giants at St. Louis: The only thing that could derail the Giants here is overconfidence. They haven't lost on the road since their 2007 season opener. Pick: New York Giants.

New Orleans at Washington: The Saints' defense is much improved over last season, and the Redskins have yet to show they're comfortable with Jim Zorn's offense. Pick: New Orleans.

San Francisco at Seattle: With the way the Seahawks are beat up, they'd have a hard time beating any team right about now -- except maybe San Francisco. Pick: Seattle.

Atlanta at Tampa Bay: The Falcons looked tremendous against Detroit, balancing Michael Turner's running with some pinpoint passing by Matt Ryan. Tampa Bay's defense is much better than Detroit's, but what are the Buccaneers doing creating a QB controversy in Week 2? Pick: Atlanta.

Miami at Arizona: Clearly, the Dolphins are going to be better than they were last season. But so are the Cardinals. Pick: Arizona.

San Diego at Denver: This won't be easy for the Chargers. Denver's offense looked to be in midseason form in the opener. Then again, the Broncos were playing the Raiders, so that could be a bit deceiving. Pick: San Diego.

New England at New York Jets: With Matt Cassel now the No. 1 quarterback, there will be some drop-off at the position. But the Patriots didn't suddenly become a bad -- or even average -- team now that Tom Brady's hurt. Pick: New England.

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