The loser of this game will be firmly behind the eight ball. Last year the Rex Ryan led Bills personally burst the Jets balloon winning both meetings, including the season finale in Buffalo, which spoiled their playoff hopes. With each team dropping their opener, a win is a must to get back on track. The Bills defense seems to have a good read on Jets Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, which will mean another loss for Gang Green.
The 49ers put forth an impressive effort on Monday Night, blanking the Rams 28-0. That loss had more to do with the Rams putting up a stinker, than it did them impressing anyone. Last year they also beat the Vikings in the opener, and still went 5-11. The Panthers coming off a frustrating loss in Denver will be extra vigilant in their home opener. The Niners are the short week will get pushed around as Cam Newton slices their defense apart at home.
Robert Griffin III could not even make it past Week 1 without suffering a potentially season ending injuries. This means that Josh McCown will get the start in the home opener as the Browns start another season of Wheel of Quarterback. Sadly, for Cleveland every spin is a loser. The Ravens defense looked like their old self last week shutting down the Ravens. Joe Flacco may have been a bit rusty but the Bills defense also played well. Games like this will be common for the Browns who may be even worse than the 1999 expansion year team.
The Detroit Lions were quite impressive last week winning in Indianapolis, as they spread the ball around effectively all game and showed the ability to bounce back and make the big plays in the end. The Titans meanwhile looked like a big mess as Marcus Mariota in the first game of his second season continued making rookie mistakes turning the ball over twice in the second half. Coming home expect another strong outing for the Lions, as Mariota’s growing pains continue.
Brock Osweiler looked sharp in his Houston debut, but now faces a big test in the Chiefs who dominated the Texans twice in 2015, including a postseason shutout on the road. The Chiefs last week got off to a slow start, but rallied to win in overtime. A win like that to start the season can really get a team going. The Chiefs defense is solid and should be able to keep Osweiler under wraps, being somewhat familiar with him from Denver. Look for the Chiefs to continue to give the Texans a problem in Houston.
It becomes more and more obvious that Ryan Tannehill is a terrible quarterback. It is time to give the Dolphins fifth year quarterback a new name Ryan Bennyhill, because he runs around aimlessly and with no direction like the old British comedian. You can even set the famous Benny Hill music to the Miami offense. The Patriots without Tom Brady seem to have a stronger defense this year and will once again get the win with Jimmy Garoppolo under center in the Foxboro opener.
When these two teams met last year, they set the field on fire at the Superdome, combining for 101 points as the Saints won 52-49. The Giants won their season opener and appear to have made some defensive improvements. The Saints defense meanwhile still looks lost, as the Raiders won a shootout by rolling the dice and going for two in the game’s final minute. Drew Brees can put up the points, but the Saints give up too many and lose another slugfest at the Meadowlands.
These two teams hate each other, as was clear in three bruising meetings in 2015. Each game saw both sides suffer big injuries to key players. The player who generates the most ire is Vontaze Burfict who is serving a three game suspension for his head shot on Antonio Brown in the playoffs. Brown who had a big game on Monday Night Football will be fired up to have a big game in the home opener. Look for the Steelers offense to continue to put up big numbers as they defang the Bengals at Heinz Field.
Last week the Redskins had their chances against the Steelers but were unable to finish drives, settling for Field Goals three times when they had driven deep in Pittsburgh territory. A second straight loss at home to open the season would be crippling. The Cowboys also are in dire straits already losing to the Giants. Unfortunately for Dallas the loss of Tony Romo is the reason for their struggles. Dak Prescott played well against the Giants but his lack of experience showed in the end and will haunt him again in his first road game.
The Cardinals suffered a major letdown losing to the Patriots at home in Week 1, a loss to Tampa at home could be a season killer. The Buccaneers were sharp last week as Jameis Winston had four touchdown passes in winning in Atlanta. The Cardinals are a better team than they showed against New England, and will bounce back. Look for the Cards secondary to create problems for Winston, who is still prone to forcing the ball and getting intercepted.
After 21 years in St. Louis, the Rams are home at last returning to the Los Angeles Coliseum where they played from 1946-1979 before spending 15 years in nearby Anaheim. In the preseason the Rams got big home crowds that were into the game. For football starved Los Angeles this is a longtime coming. The Rams last week laid stinker on Monday Night in San Fran, but they seem to have the Seahawks number, winning three of the last four games including both last year. Add a hobbled Russell Wilson and the Rams should get a big boost and a big win in their homecoming game.
Slow starts have become a habit in Indianapolis. Each of the last two seasons, the Colts have started 0-2. In 2014 it was no big deal as they still went to the AFC Championship, but last year it set the tone in a disappointing 8-8 season. The Colts similarly get off to slow starts in games, falling behind last week at home 21-3. They did rally in the second half, but the hole was too great in the end as the Lions won on a last minute Field Goal. The Broncos are not the type of team to start slowly against. However, until the Colts can hit the alarm early they will continue to be haunted by slow starts.
Jack Del Rio sent a big message to his team last week, and that is he believes in them. That is why when they drove down late he went for two points and the win in New Orleans. Del Rio hit Black Jack as the Raiders were successful and beat the Saints 38-37. The Raiders in what could be their final home opener in Oakland appear to be ready to contend again, with Derek Carr leading the way on offense and Khalil Mack on defense. The Falcons meanwhile are heading the other way as Matt Ryan’s icy persona continues to watch his career melt away.
Both teams lost their openers in Week 1, but walked away feeling differently. The Jaguars gave the Packers all they could handle and nearly won, while the Chargers blew a 21-point lead and lost one of their key offensive players Keenan Allen. The loss of Allen is huge for the Chargers as it takes away the ability for Phillip Rivers to throw deep. The Chargers offense becomes predictable and against an improving Jaguars team it shows as they suffer another letdown in their home opener.
After two years on the campus of University of Minnesota, the Vikings are back in downtown Minneapolis with the opening of U.S. Bank Stadium. Last week they got a big defensive effort to beat the Titans on the road, while the Packers needed to sweat one out in steamy Jacksonville. With the air more climate controlled indoors, the Packers can feel more at ease. Look for a big game from Aaron Rodgers as they spoil the Vikings opener on Sunday Night Football. The Vikings still need to get their offense on track however, as Shaun Hill struggled against the Titans.
Last year home was where the heart ache was for the Bears as they lost seven of eight games at Soldier Field. If the Bears are going to be a factor in the playoffs this year, they must relearn how to win in the Windy City. Carson Wentz had an impressive debut for the Eagles last week, but that was against an expansion like Browns team. Going on the road for the first time will be a real test for the rookie quarterback. The Bears despite their loss in Houston played well at times. With the crowd helping their cause the Bears get Wentz to make a few rookie mistakes and get a big win.