The Baltimore Ravens face the Cincinnati Bengals since suffering that gut wrenching Week 17 loss that knocked them out of the playoffs last season. Each team won last week, with the Bengals earning road win over the Colts, while the Ravens annihilated the Bills at home. That season ending game notwithstanding the Ravens winning seven of their last nine against Cincinnati. The game is also in primetime, which has not been kind to Andy Dalton and the Bengals, as they have posted a 5-19 record since he has been the starting quarterback.
After their frustrating loss to the World Champion Eagles in the Thursday Night season opener, the Atlanta Falcons find themselves in an important game against the division rival Carolina Panthers. The Panthers began the season with a win over the Cowboys, but left hobbled as Greg Olsen one of their top offensive weapons suffered a broken foot, and could miss the rest of the season. Luke Kuechly one of the Panthers top defensive players was also hurt but is expected to play with a hyperextended knee. The Falcons are a strong home team and show the ability to bounce back beating up a beaten up Panthers team.
No team looked worse than the Buffalo Bills in Week 1, as they poleaxed in Baltimore 47-3. With Nathan Peterman ineffective once again, the Bills are turning to Josh Allen their big rookie out of Wyoming to be under center for the home opener against the Los Angeles Chargers. The Chargers last week started with a loss at home, as their struggles against the Chiefs continued. A part of the Bills problem is a terrible offensive line that will have Allen running for his life. The Chargers may struggle coming East, but the Bills don’t have the weapons or the man power to stop Los Angeles.
Last week was another chapter written in the legacy of Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who left at halftime on a cart, but rallied his team from 20-0 deficit to beat the Bears on Sunday Night. Rodgers declares he will play, though he is listed as questionable with a sprained knee. He is especially hungry to face the Vikings, as they are the team that broke his collarbone last year. The Vikings are not a good defense to face when hobbled as they are among the best in the league. This time there will be no comeback for Green Bay as the Vikings smother the Packers receiver and get a big head start in the race for the NFC North at 2-0.
The Cleveland Browns did not lose last week. They did not win either, but at least they are showing signs of improvement after going 0-16 in 2017 and 1-15 in 2016. In fact, their 0-0-1 start is the Browns best start since 2004. The New Orleans Saints meanwhile were embarrassed at home, giving up 48 points to Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Buccaneers. It is hard to imagine the Saints defense being torched again. The Saints, meanwhile were fine on offense as Drew Brees led all quarterbacks in the opening week with 439 yards passing and three touchdowns.
Fans of the New York Jets are currently on cloud nine after Sam Darnold led them to a 48-17 win over the Lions on Monday Night. Now fans at the Meadowlands get to see the number three overall pick in the 2018 draft up close as they host the Miami Dolphins an AFC East rival. The Dolphins last week played a solid game between the raindrops as two tight storms resulted in the game needing over seven hours to play. While Sam Darnold got the attention it was the Jets secondary that won the game in Detroit, picking off Matthew Stafford four times, with one pick six. Look for that secondary to shutdown Ryan Tannehill as Jets fans begin to have Super Bowl dreams.
It was not a good start for the Pittsburgh Steelers as they settled for a 21-21 tie against the woeful Browns, in the first Week 1 tie in 47 years. The Steelers have only themselves to blame as they blew a 14-point lead behind six turnovers. Ben Roethlisberger who accounted for five turnovers, three interceptions and a fumble needs to bounce back in a big way in the home opener. The Steelers have had success against the Kansas City Chiefs in recent years. This will be the first true hard road test for Patrick Mahomes, as the crowd at Heinz Field is much more intimidating than the laid-back fans in LA.
Two teams that are flying high after Week 1, the reigning Super Bowl Champion Philadelphia Eagles used trickery and déjà vu to beat the Falcons in the Thursday Night opener, while the Tampa Bay Buccaneers got a huge game from Ryan Fitzpatrick to stun the Saints in the Superdome. With Jameis Winston still on suspension, fans in Tampa are beginning to line up behind Fitzpatrick as they play their home opener. The Eagles may not be 100% yet, without Carson Wentz and Alshon Jeffrey, but they have the defense that can attack the Buccaneers and stop Fitzpatrick from repeating his numbers from last week.
A battle of two AFC South teams that lost in Week 1, meet knowing just how costly a loss will be this week. The Houston Texans with the return of Deshaun Watson and J.J. Watt played well in Week 1, but ran into the Patriots in Foxboro. The Tennessee Titans meanwhile waited through two two-hour plus delays and came up with a loss to the Dolphins and an injury to Marcus Mariota. As of Wednesday, the Titans were still evaluating whether their quarterback could play in the home opener. If Mariotta is out the Titans are toast, even if he does play you still have to give Houston the edge with their strong pass rush and the playmaking ability of Watson.
Do not ask me how he does it but all Alex Smith does is win. After being thrown to the curb by the Chiefs, Smith had solid performance in Week 1 leading the Washington Redskins to a victory on the road against the Cardinals. The Indianapolis Colts meanwhile welcomed back part-time snowboarder Andrew Luck and lost at home to the Bengals. Luck had a decent game, but the team around him is perhaps one of the worst in the NFL. Look for the Redskins to take advantage of the My Little Ponies and earn a win in their home opener.
Playing on Monday Night Football the Los Angeles Rams started slowly but finished strong as they launched what they hope is a Super Bowl season in Oakland. The Arizona Cardinals meanwhile delivered a lackluster effort at home against the Redskins. Last year the Rams swept the Cardinals by a combined score of 65-16. With Todd Gurley running the ball and the Rams attacking Sam Bradford, look for a similar type result as the Rams roll to a win in their home opener.
Last week Jimmy Garoppollo suffered his first loss as a starting quarterback. While the San Francisco 49ers lost, there is no shame in losing on the road against a quality Vikings defense. The Detroit Lions suffered plenty of shame, as they were embarrassed at home on Monday Night 48-17 by the Jets. Reports said all of Matt Patricia’s schemes were predictable and easy to pick a part. Once upon a time Garoppollo played Patricia in practice, he should know what to see and do the same as the 49ers win their home opener.
With more than half the roster turned over from last year it is clear that Jon Gruden with the comfort of a ten-year contract has decided rebuilding for the Raiders is the best solution as they eye 2020 in Las Vegas. The Denver Broncos meanwhile are hoping they did enough to get back on track by signing Case Keenum. In his Denver debut, Keenum was up and down with three interceptions and three touchdowns in a win over the Seahawks. However, the key for the Broncos is their defense led by that monster Von Miller who had a big Week 1 and will do the same against the Raiders.
A rematch the Jacksonville Jaguars have been waiting eight months for comes early as they face the New England Patriots for the first time since the AFC Championship Game. For three quarters the Jaguars outplayed, New England before the veteran leadership of Tom Brady proved to be the difference. The Jaguars defense is able to put pressure on Brady and the Patriots are always ripe for the picking in these early games as they usually don’t hit their stride until the World Series.
If there is one critical game in Week 2, it is the Sunday Night Game between the New York Giants and Dallas Cowboys. It seems every year this game is featured on Sunday Night early in the season, and this one takes on added importance as both teams lost in the season opener. The Cowboys loss may have been more troubling as Dak Prescott looked bad and the offensive line struggled. The Giants meanwhile had their chances against the Jaguars, as Saquon Barkley showed game breaking ability.
Last week Khalil Mack made his debut with the Chicago Bears and had a monster first half helping them build a 20-0 lead. While the Packers came back and won, the Bears had plenty to be happy about heading into their home opener. The Seattle Seahawks also suffered a loss in their opener against the Broncos. The Seahawks are clearly a team in transition with the Legion of Doom disbanded and much of the team that won the Super Bowl playing elsewhere. Look for a big crowd to give the Bears a big boost as Russell Wilson spends Monday Night running for his life as the Seahawks at 0-2 leaver their fans sleepless in Seattle.