Welcome to week 2 NFL, where we see if what happened last week was the real deal or if teams are just getting warmed up. You really cant judge how a season is going to go after one week, but one thing is clear, it’s gonna be fun to watch.
When I do a preview post I wont go all out and look at all 16 games, I don’t don’t have that much time, but I will look at a few key games that I will be watching as well as a couple that mean more to me personally due to my fan interest.
San Francisco at Pittsburgh… This game is what I like to call a reality check game. first we have the Steelers and their search for win one this year, to see if that defensive debacle on Thursday night week one was a true measure of how bad they are going to be this year or if they can right the ship against a team that surprised everyone on Monday night against who most thought was a much-improved Vikings team. Pittsburgh is still missing two key components of their offense, in RB Le’veon Bell and Martavis Bryant, both still serving suspensions. The one bright spot for Pittsburgh’s defense last week was their ability to stop the run, as they only gave up 80 yards against the Pats, but this week they face a tougher task in Carlos Hyde, who had a coming out party last week with 168 yards and two touchdowns last week against Minnesota. The key matchup in my mind is the SF secondary vs. the Steelers explosive passing game. If they can contain Antonio Bryant, it will be a long day for the Steelers, but that is easier said than done. Bryant had a decent game against NE, 133 yards and a garbage score at the end of the game, hardly normal numbers for the “best receiver in the NFL” (His words) and he faces a stout secondary that kept Minn. out of the end zone last week, so it’s a good matchup. Steelers have a suspect secondary (finally) and they may struggle with Kaepernick and his mobility, but despite all of that, I like the Steelers in this one, because it is the home opener, and because when you have Ben under center, they always have a chance to win the game in the fourth quarter.
Arizona at Chicago… Another reality check. Are the Cardinals for real? Can Carson Palmer repeat the performance from last week, is his knee really 100%, and can the Cardinals take semi-control of this division with a win today in a tough environment in Chicago. This is the same environment where Green Bay struggled a bit last week, and Chicago played smart football, despite losing the game. The Cardinals will be without RB Andre Ellington, who left the game last week with a sprained knee, which allows Chris Johnson to come out of obscurity to try and regain his Pro-Bowl form after lackluster seasons in NY. The Cardinals have an aggressive offensive scheme, and they didn’t let up against the Saints last week in the fourth quarter, so it will be up to the Bears defense to try and slow them down, easier said than done. One of my surprises from last week, the Bears actually looked good against the Packers last week, not making the usual mistakes that plagued them all last year. Cutler looked sharp, and although he did throw a late pick, it wasn’t the normal “deer in a headlights” look that we saw last year. The Bears played with confidence, and that may be a credit to John Fox, who although is a defensive minded coach, he is also good at keeping players focused and in the game. The Bears had more total yards than the Packers last week, but the defense still was unable to sack Rogers and allowed three touchdowns through the air, a challenge they will face once again this week against the Cardinals. I’ll take the Cards in this one, I just think they have more weapons, a better defense, and Bruce Arians is showing that he is one of the best Head Coaches in the NFL.
New England at Buffalo… Oh boy, this is gonna be fun… on one side you have Bill Belichick and Tom Brady… On the other side we have Rex Ryan and quite possibly one of the top 5 defenses in the league. The unstoppable force meets the immovable object.. the mouth of the AFC East vs. the quiet genius, and this game has more sub plots than a soap opera. Rex hates Bill… Bill loves to expose weaknesses and loves it when a coach or team talks trash leading up to an important game. This one is big because the winner will take control of the division and bragging rights. Either Rex is gonna run with his tail between his legs (again) or he is gonna have that grin on his face that looks like he just got back from massaging his wife’s feet.. (too soon?). The Pats are coming off a huge opening week win against the Steelers at home, in which they rubbed the proverbial nose of the NFL in their championship and Brady allowing to play in game one. However, this isn’t the paper mache defense they faced last week, this is a great defense that suffocated probably the most potent offense in the NFL last week in Indianapolis. The Bills sacked Andrew Luck twice an intercepted him twice on their way to a 27-14 win with a raucous and energetic crowd in place. How loud and crazy do you think the fans will be to welcome Brady, Belichick and the hated Patriots to town. Buffalo will have to figure out a way to stop Gronk, a task that Pittsburgh was unable to do last week, but as I said, this isn’t Pittsburgh, and Brady will be under pressure all day. Rex likes to mix up his defensive schemes and it is going to be interesting to see if he can mix it up enough to rattle Brady and steal a win. I’m gonna go with the home team on this one. The environment and the importance of this game will be enough for the Bills to win this one.
Dallas at Philadelphia… DeMarco Murray gets to face his old team for the first time since he signed that huge contract in the offseason with Philly. The Eagles have an upbeat fast moving offense that tires defenses out, and Dallas better be ready for whatever wrinkle Chip Kelley puts into that offense. It is designed to limit defensive substitutions, thus tiring out the players on the field as they throw quick hit passes in the middle and to RB’s out of the backfield. Murray was surprised with his limited role against the Falcons, but he should have been aware of it coming in. Chip spreads the ball around to several receivers and there are plenty of playmakers out there to take advantage of weaknesses in a defense. On the other side of the ball, Dallas has Tony Romo, who orchestrated an amazing fourth quarter comeback last week against the Giants Sunday night. He has shown the ability to bring the Cowboys back from the brink of defeat and being down 10 points with 8 minutes to play last week, shows just how clutch he can be (did I really just say that?). The problem will be the fact they are going to be without Dez Bryant for at least six weeks due to a broken foot, putting the onus on Terrance Williams and Cole Beasley to pick up the slack in the receiving corps. They also picked up Brice Butler in a trade with the Raiders to fill Bryant’s roster spot, but it is unclear how effective he will be. The key player in this scenario will be Jason Whitten, the Pro-Bowl TE caught the winning TD against the Giants last week and will more than likely be Romo’s primary target for most of the game. The atmosphere in Philly is always hostile, but when the Cowboys come to town, it gets ramped up to a whole new level, which will make this game fun to watch. I like the Eagles in this one, simply because of the home field advantage.
Seattle at Green Bay… finally this week we look at probably the best NFC game of the week. Seattle is coming off a disappointing loss against the Rams in OT, and the Packers are coming off a tough win against the Bears. These two teams are supposedly the class of the NFC, thought after last week, you may have an argument against Seattle being that good, but despite all that, this game promises to be a good one. They will play in prime time, with an 8:30 kickoff tonight on the not-so-frozen-yet tundra of historic Lambeau Field in Green Bay. The last time these two teams met was in the NFC Championship 8 months ago and that game left a definite bad taste in the mouth of the Packers. They want payback, and a week 2 matchup may not be important in the big scheme of things, but this game could end up determining home field advantage come playoff time, and if Seattle cant win, then their chances of getting that advantage is probably gone. Rogers is coming off a stellar performance against the Bears throwing for three TD’s, two of which went to James Jones, who was signed due to the loss of Jordy Nelson in the preseason. Seattle’s defense was exposed last week, showing just how much they miss safety Kam Chancellor, giving up 297 yards passing including eight plays of 20 yards or more. Couple that with Russell Wilson’s four interceptions, it will be interesting to see how they overcome those issues. I’m taking the Packers because of the home field, and because the Seahawks have more holes in them both offensively and defensively than Swiss Cheese at this point in the season.
Well there you have it, my week one preview.. other games I am watching of course include as usual the Browns and the Bucs. Johnny Manziel makes his starting debut of the season against Tennessee and Marcus Mariota, the rookie who burned the Bucs for four TD’s last week and looked like a Pro-Bowl caliber QB. He outshined his fellow number one pick Jameis Winston in his first start, but it was more the defense in Tampa that failed, and it will be interesting to see if the Bucs can make corrections and right the ship in a positive direction. Mariota will face a better defense this week in the Browns, but my concern, as always, will be the Browns offense. Here’s hoping Josh McCown comes back from his concussion soon, cause if Johnny cant cut it, we’ll need him (wow, that’s bad).
Hope you all enjoy your football Sunday…. Please remember that “the Sports Nerds” will be live tonight at 7pm eastern to talk everything sports, and whatever else may come to mind.
Scott Wright “The Sports Nerd”