The Ravens knew they would be without Ray Rice for the first two weeks against divisional foes at home from the start of the pre-season. However, after the case blew up with the release of the elevator video, they released Rice likely ending his NFL career. They had just three days to prepare for their arch rivals from the Steel city and while dealing with this distraction. The Ravens have an intense hatred for the Steelers and may be able to gel and take it as us against the world if they had a few more days to prepare, as it is they are Thursday Night Toast.
Last year the Dolphins followed up a big win over the Patriots at home with a dud performance in Buffalo. This year albeit earlier in the season the same situation sets itself up for the Dolphins. The Bills also won in Week 1 and are having a home opener, as their future in Buffalo appears to be secure with new local owners, expect to see a now cancer free Jim Kelly and tons of emotion that will get them a win as the Dolphins are simply entering a tough situation on the road.
Two teams coming off solid Week 1 wins meet in Carolina. The Panthers won on the road with defense, as they were without Cam Newton, while the Lions dominated the Giants in Detroit on Monday Night Football. The Lions pass rush could present problems for Newton who is assumed to be able to play despite cracked ribs. The Panthers will need to protect Cam Newton if they have a chance, meanwhile the Lions offense looks rejuvenated with new offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi and will get the upset on the road.
Both of these teams got off to strong starts with wins in Week 1, the Bengals coming home should have an edge as the Falcons play their first road game. Both teams had strong performances from their quarterbacks. The Bengals do have a better defense, and a more reliable running back with the emergence of Giovanni Bernard which should help matter. Though I expect both teams to play well the Bengals at home get the win.
Two teams coming off hard fought losses to division rivals meet with the hopes of avoiding the dreaded 0-2 start. The Saints played a back and forth game that whoever had the ball last would win, while the Browns fell behind came back and lost on the final play. The Browns can’t afford that formula this week, the Saints offense if gets rolling may not stop and any poor play by Brian Hoyer will have fans calling for Johnny Football. Not a good situation for the Browns.
The Vikings are making their home opener in their temporary home on the campus of the University of Minnesota. They looked sharp in their Week 1 win over the Rams, the Patriots meanwhile suffered a second half meltdown in Miami and lost in Week 1 for the first time in 11 years. The Patriots will not have to worry about playing in a steam bath this week and will get the win, but they keep Adrian Peterson from exploding the way Knowshon Moreno did last week. The Patriots rarely lose back-to-back games and the Vikings though on the move are far from being a true contender.
There is big trouble, which starts with T and rhymes with bubble in the Meadowlands as the Giants who looked awful in the pre-season looked even worse in their Monday Night loss to the Lions. A loss in their home opener and the roof could begin to fall in on Big Blue. Last year they went 0-6 to start the year and never recovered, Eli Manning had the worst season of his career and so far he looks lost under the new offensive system. The Cardinals with their strong secondary are not the type of team that will help the interception prone QB. The Cardinals offense will also provide athletic problems like Calvin
It is starting to look like it is going to be a baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaad season for the Rams. Not only have they lost Quarterback Sam Bradford for the season, but backup Shaun Hill looked terrible and left the game with an injury in Week 1, plus their top defender Chris Long will be out 6-8 Weeks. The Buccaneers had their own problems last week, as Josh McCown was shaky in his debut. AT home this is almost a must win for Tampa, if they are to be in playoff contention. The Rams may need to just take their lumps again and see what they can get in the draft, especially if they need to rely on Austin Davis.
The Titans started the Ken Whisenhunt era in style by scoring a Week 1 upset in Kansas City. The Titans played well in all aspects of the game. The Cowboys meanwhile fell behind 28-3 at home and looked quite shaky in all aspects of the game. The Cowboys defense is terrible, Tony Romo is rusty and most people are very concerned that Dallas could be in for a long year. This game won’t alleviate those fears.
The Redskins have their own quarterback issues, Robert Griffin III has continued to struggle and some are beginning to wonder why Kurt Cousins is getting a chance to play. Cousins by far outplayed RGIII in the pre-season, and since his knee injury Griffin has lacked the spontaneity and the quickness that made him the 2012 Offensive Rookie of the Year. The Jaguars looked good for a half in Philadelphia before realizing they are in fact the Jacksonville Jaguars. This week, if Cousins does not get the call, it won’t matter, as RGIII needs to find his game fast or things can begin to churn real fast in old DC.
It must have felt like Déjà vu all over again for the Chargers who for the second straight season blew a double digit lead in their opener on Monday Night Football. The Seahawks meanwhile looked every bit the Super Bowl Champions in shredding the Packers in the Thursday Night opener. A few extra days to prepare is a big advantage for a team like the Seahawks who are just too big a physical for the Chargers to handle.
The Broncos coming off a Super Bowl loss, looked to be ready for another run as Peyton Manning had another strong performance in beating his former team. The Chiefs meanwhile lost at home and lost two key defensive players to season ending injuries. With Derrick Johnson winning in Denver would have been a tall order, without him it is impossible. The Broncos can almost name the score in this one.
The Packers may have had their problems in Week 1, but starting on the road in Seattle can make any team look bad. This is going to be a good football team, and they will prove it in their home opener. The Jets who won in Week1 by taking advantage of a rookie quarterback starting for the first time on the road, will now have their weakness in the secondary exposed, as Aaron Rodgers has a field day. Meanwhile Geno Smith who was not that sharp last week will not be able to erase the mistakes against a tougher team.
The Oakland Raiders once was a name that struck fear in opponents, these days its games circled as wins by their foes. Coming home they should have a better chance to beat the Texans who won their season opener to end an embarrassing 14 game losing streak. The man responsible for most of those losses Matt Schaub is now carrying a clipboard in Oakland. The Raiders are trusting in rookie Derek Carr, but facing J.J. Watt will have the rookie Carr wishing he had chosen a different profession, as the Raiders commitment to decay continues.
While the Raiders toil in a crumbling stadium in Oakland, the 49ers across the bay open a brand new glimmering stadium in Santa Clara. Levi’s Stadium is set to become the most modern stadium in the NFL and will set new standards with digital connectivity for the fans. The 49ers coming off a win face a Bears team that was trampled by the Bills at home. Look for Frank Gore and Colin Kaepernick to each have big nights as the 49ers roll the Bears on Sunday Night Football.
The sparks will be flying on Monday Night as two of the best offenses in the NFL meet. The Colts and Eagles each fell behind last week, the Eagles were able to complete a comeback at home against the Jaguars, while the Colts fell just short on the road against the Broncos. The Colts are the home team and that should help, as both teams can put up the points and can battle from behind. This will be a game where the last team with the ball wins and by grace and Andrew Luck it will be the Colts.