After an interesting week 1, with the poor play outnumbering the good, week 2 features further chances for the surprises of the league to show they aren’t flukes. Kansas City sprang the upset against the Patriots last week, due in part to showing more explosion on offence than expected and through effectively defending Tom Brady and some unfamiliar targets. The Rams and Browns showed more life than expected, with Jared Goff being somewhat effective and Deshone Kizer looking like the steal it seemed he could be even with taking 7 sacks. Week 2’s televised games look set to throw up more exciting moments.
Sunday 6PM: New Orleans Saints vs New England Patriots
The Patriots will be looking to get back on track against the perennially mediocre Saints in the Superdome. Another week of practices should have aided Tom Brady’s connection with new targets Brandin Cooks, returning to his former home, and Philip Dorsett with reliable targets Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola going down with injury. The Saints pass defence should cure any issues, as last week they made Sam Bradford look like the superstar everyone thought he could be when he was drafted in 2010.
The Saints offence was uncharacteristically lacklustre against the Vikings with Drew Brees not breaking 300 yards passing, and major addition Adrian Peterson only gaining 18 yards on the ground. Whilst coach Sean Payton has in the past been renowned for his offensive schemes, he now has seemed to settle into diminishing returns on that side with increasingly poor defensive performances.
Should you watch this?
This game takes place during the most crowded timeslot of the weekend, so therefore Red Zone will always be of some attraction. This one will likely be somewhat lopsided, however it could be of some interest to see if the Patriots can get back on track or whether Tom Brady may indeed be on the decline at 40 years old. It may then be worth keeping an eye on the action in the other games if this one begins to get a bit too one sided or the other games heat up.
Sunday 9:30 PM: Denver Broncos vs Dallas Cowboys
Dallas opened the season with a solid performance in beating the New York Giants 19-3, doing what they needed to against a strong defence and holding the Giants to only 35 rushing yards and an extremely inefficient 198 passing yards. The Broncos, on the other hand, ran things a little close against the newly arrived Los Angeles Chargers, needing most of their 24-7 cushion heading into the fourth quarter. Denver is another strong defence featuring outside linebacker extraordinaire Von Miller along with an excellent cornerback tandem.
Their offence, however, is somewhat limited; with former 7th round quarterback Trevor Simian and CJ Anderson as their primary running back. This game will likely boil down to how much Denver can get done offensively. Dallas will be able to move the ball well enough on offence with the now no longer suspended running back Ezekiel Elliott to get the points needed that Denver needs to be able to move the ball effectively.
Should you watch this?
This will likely be an interesting matchup and is not contested by the most stellar of matchups. It may not be the most explosive action, as Dallas may well just grind the game out behind their rushing attack and excellent offensive line. However, if Denver is able to get anything going this may excite. It will also be interesting to see if Jamaal Charles gets more of a run this week after fumbling in the last game.
“An offensive line comparable to mannequins”
Monday 1:30 AM: Atlanta Falcons vs Green Bay Packers
This is a rematch of last year’s NFC Championship game, which the Falcons won 44-21 in the same location. The Falcons had a rather underwhelming week 1 against Chicago, failing to dispatch them as they should have, and the Packers beat the Seahawks largely based on a strong defensive performance. Aaron Rodgers displayed a strong connection with his receivers and the new addition of Martellus Bennett at tight end, yet the overall performance was slightly lacking.
It remains to be seen whether the Falcons can get Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman going against the Packers rush defence in order to get their offence back to its balanced best, as you cannot take too many conclusions from the Packers’ performance against Seattle’s notional offensive line.
Should you watch this?
This should be an excellent contest, as you would expect from it being a rematch of the playoff semi-final. This is also unopposed, so there is no draw of other contests to complicate this question. While the usual caveat of the hour applies, this is one of the occasions where unless you truly have to be up early on Monday it will be worth it to watch this likely offensive battle.
Tuesday 1:30 AM: New York Giants vs Detroit Lions
This could be an ugly matchup as the Giants boast a strong pass defence along with a poor offensive system, and will have their best player either with limited participation or none at all. However, Odell Beckham’s presence is largely irrelevant with Ben McAdoo’s uninspiring scheme and an offensive line comparable to mannequins protecting Eli Manning, who is not the most mobile quarterback in the world.
The Lions excelled against a similarly immobile quarterback last week against Carson Palmer and the Cardinals. This means that this will be decided by how the two teams’ strong units match up, with the Lions pass attack and somewhat lacklustre line against the Giants excellent pass defense.
Should you watch this?
The caveat of time again applies here. However, this match is likely to be less interesting. Even if it does become a good contest it will likely be due to the Giants defence holding the Lions in check. However, their performance will be rendered irrelevant if the offence again cannot stay on the field, and so the defence gasses out like they did against the Cowboys.
The 6PM Sunday kickoffs
Baltimore Ravens vs Cleveland Browns
After a poor start to the game, the Cleveland Browns performed as admirably as could be expected against a superior Steelers team. The Deshone Kizer led offense runs up against a Ravens unit that just held the Bengals to 0 points with 221 total yards. This covered up the fact that their offence was extremely limp – although it should still be strong enough against a Browns unit that as the day went on became more porous.
Carolina Panthers vs Buffalo Bills
The Panthers last week defeated the bottom feeding 49ers by about the margin most would have expected, but with the offence not performing as well as you would have liked. The Bills, on the other hand, defeated the woeful Jets largely off the back of LeSean McCoy and their defence. This should give us an idea of how these teams shape up against more competent NFL teams, which in the Bills case is likely to be poorly.
Indianapolis Colts vs Arizona Cardinals
The Colts are in such a poor situation that last week they started Scott Tolkien and were summarily dominated by the Los Angeles Rams, of all teams. The Cardinals lost David Johnson, the key to their whole strategy. All in all, not a good week for these teams. This game will be pretty woeful, with Jacoby Brissett, acquired less than two weeks ago, likely to start for the Colts and the Cardinals rethinking their strategy against a good opponent to do so.
Jacksonville Jaguars vs Tennessee Titans
The Jaguars defeated the Texans last week based off the play of their defence with Leonard Fournette forcing his way to 100 rushing yards with Blake Bortles barely passing for more than this. The Titans were beaten by a strong Oakland team that managed to largely hold their offense in check and featured a strong offensive performance and some fumble luck. This could be a slog as the Jaguars have a poor offensive unit while the defence could limit Marcus Mariota and the Titans.
Philadelphia Eagles vs Kansas City Chiefs
Kansas City came storming out of the gates on Thursday with an excellent performance on all fronts against the reigning champion Patriots, whereas the Eagles also had a strong performance against division rivals Washington, with an excellent performance from Carson Wentz. The big question here is whether Alex Smith will continue to be as aggressive as he was against the Patriots in a bid to keep his starting job. Overall, this could be a fairly exciting battle with the newly explosive Chiefs offence up against their strengthened Eagles counterparts.
Pittsburgh Steelers vs Minnesota Vikings
Pittsburgh managed to handle a lively at times Browns team in Cleveland to open their season and to get Le’Veon Bell back into the swing of things after holding out. Minnesota are somewhat more difficult to get a read on as they faced the Saints in week 1 and so had an extremely easy time of things on offense that will likely not be repeated here. It remains to be seen whether the Steelers can put pressure on Sam Bradford as a number of their sacks last week were due to good coverage downfield more than good pass rushing, but there is a good chance they hold Dalvin Cook in check on the ground.
“The Dolphins are starting a quarterback who spent more time this offseason preparing to commentate than preparing to play in the NFL”
Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs Chicago Bears
Tampa Bay kick off their season a week late after having their opener against the Miami Dolphins postponed due to Hurricane Irma. They then have the good fortune to face a rather weak Chicago Bears team instead coming off a loss to the Falcons. The Bears looked better than most expected in week 1, however, the Buccaneers should still have enough talent to make it past them, especially on home turf.
The 9PM hour kickoffs
9:05PM Oakland Raiders vs New York Jets
The Raiders will in all likelihood throw for as many passing yards and get as many sacks as is humanly possible against a Jets team that, if possible, would just punt the season. Prepare to see lots of highlights from this game either on the broadcast game or on Red Zone.
9:05PM Los Angeles Chargers vs Miami Dolphins
The Dolphins kick off their season in the first Chargers game in Los Angeles since 1960. The Chargers moved up the coast from San Diego and are currently playing in the LA Galaxy’s stadium whilst the stadium they will share with the Rams is being built. All indications are attendance will be horrendous, which at the very least means people will not have to watch either of these two terrible teams. The Chargers had a rather lacking performance from what is theoretically their strong suit in their offence last week, and the Dolphins are starting a quarterback who spent more time this offseason preparing to commentate than preparing to play in the NFL.
9:25PM Los Angeles Rams vs Washington Redskins
Jared Goff will be looking to continue to show signs of improvement from his woeful rookie season here against a Redskins unit that gave up 307 yards to Carson Wentz last week, and continue to connect with a largely new group of receiving options. Kirk Cousins will be looking for an improvement as he continues to aim at a big money contract in the offseason.
9:25PM Seattle Seahawks vs San Francisco 49ers
The Seahawks return home against one of the few teams who will not be able to overrun what they call an offensive line. Russell Wilson should be able to escape pressure and find his receivers open while the 49ers continue to waste promising running back Carlos Hyde against Seattle’s fearsome defence. This will not be a pretty game as neither side has an especially good overall offensive unit.