The Week Two NFL schedule is loaded with intriguing match-ups, including the bombastic Buffalo Bills against Tom Brady with 11 days to prepare, a rematch of the Seattle-Green Bay NFC Championship game, and the Philadelphia Eagles trying to avoid an 0-2 start against the Dez Bryant-less Dallas Cowboys.
Let’s take a look at the entire slate of Sunday’s games . . .
Baltimore Ravens (0-1) at Oakland Raiders (0-1)
Ravens coach John Harbaugh is impressed with the Raiders pass rush.
“We feel like their pass rush is one of the best in the league,” Harbaugh said.
So with that being said, it’s far from ideal for the Ravens to make this trip without their starting left tackle, Eugene Monroe, out with a concussion. Also, their right tackle, Rick Wagner, didn’t play that well in Week One.
Ravens pass rusher par excellence, Terrell Suggs, on injured reserve helps the Raiders tackles.
Both of these teams played horribly on offense in Week One, so expect a low scoring affair that could go either way.
Dallas Cowboys (1-0) at Philadelphia Eagles (0-1)
The Cowboys are down three starters entering this game with wide receiver Dez Bryant, guard Ronald Leery, and defensive end Randy Gregory all out.
But even with Bryant out, Tony Romo still has plenty of weapons, so if the Eagles don’t get a better pass rush than they did in Week One at Atlanta, they could be in trouble.
And the Eagles need a better game from cornerback Byron Maxwell, who got big money in free agency, and suffered through a rough debut against the Falcons.
The Eagles, healthy and at home probably enjoy a slight edge in this encounter.
New England Patriots (1-0) at Buffalo Bills (1-0)
The strength of the Buffalo Bills is their defensive line.
So it’s not a great idea to start two rookies on your offensive line shuffling off to Buffalo. But New England’s interior line is ravaged by injuries so they have no choice.
But if the Patriots can protect Tom Brady, he should be able to get a lot done against a Bills secondary thin at cornerback.
The Bill provided plenty of bulletin board material for the Pats, including putting air pumps in the window of the team store, to make light of the “Deflate-gate” scandal.
The Patriots are the better overall team, and had 11 days to prepare, so there is a good chance the road team leaves happy.
Miami Dolphins (1-0) at Jacksonville Jaguars (0-1)
This probably won’t be much of a home field advantage for Jacksonville, with tons of Dolphins fans expected to show up for this in-state battle.
The Jaguars are very banged up entering this game, with two starting defensive linemen out, along with safety Jon Cyprien. Also, left tackle Luke Joekel remains questionable.
The matchup favors the Dolphins, who boast a better QB and a better overall team.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-1) at New Orleans Saints (0-1)
It’s hard seeing the Buc’s winning this game.
Saints QB Drew Brees at home (where he rarely loses) versus a rookie quarterback not ready to play (Jameis Winston), throwing behind a bad offensive line.
It would be a shock if the Saints aren’t 1-1 when this game is over.
St. Louis Rams (1-0) at Washington Redskins (0-1)
For the Redskins to win this game, they need to neutralize the Rams’ ferocious pass rush that sacked Seattle’s Russell Wilson six times last week.
Washington’s line, a big question mark entering the season, gave up just one sack to a talented Miami Dolphins front last week. If they can duplicate that performance, the Redskins have a good shot at winning this game.
Arizona Cardinals (1-0) at Chicago Bears (0-1)
The Bears didn’t get near Packers QB Aaron Rodgers last week, registering no sacks or knockdowns. Facing an Arizona offensive line with two starters out, and an immobile quarterback, Carson Palmer—no excuse for that kind of performance this week.
The Cardinals play without starting tailback Andre Ellington, so recently signed Chris Johnson will start. This game is too close to call.
Atlanta Falcons (1-0) at New York Giants (0-1)
Falcons rookie head coach Dan Quinn heads home to New Jersey to face a Giants team coming off a devastating loss on opening day to Dallas.
Atlanta hopes to keep the momentum going after a surprising open day win over Chip Kelly’s Phiadelphia Eagles. The Giants play without star receiver Victor Cruz, who nurses a serious calf injury.
Your guess is as good as mine on this one.
Tennessee Titans (1-0) at Cleveland Browns (0-1)
Big game for Browns owner Jimmy Haslam, a Tennessee-native whose brother is the governor of the Volunteer State.
The Browns hoped for starting quarterback Josh McCown to return this week from a concussion, but he wasn’t medically cleared, so they to start Johnny Manziel, a turnover machine last week in a loss to the Jets.
This battle of two inexperienced quarterbacks, Manziel vs. Tennessee’s Marcus Mariota (don’t put him in Canton yet – he played an awful Tampa Bay team last week), could be ugly and should be low scoring.
The Browns, desperate for a win, should figure out a way to eek this one out in their home-opener.
Seattle Seahawks (0-1) at Green Bay Packers (1-0)
Seattle’s secondary, a strength in recent years, wasn’t very good in Week One in a loss to St. Louis.
Not a good sign heading into Green Bay to face Aaron Rodgers, perhaps the best quarterback in football. Richard Sherman isn’t worried.
“We just need to communicate better, kick off some rust,” Sherman said. “It was Week One.”
What should help the Seattle secondary this week is their pass rush, still top-shelf, and facing a Packer team without their starting right tackle Brian Bulaga. Talented Seattle pass rusher Mike Bennett should have his way with backup Don Barclay.
Due to the Bulaga injury, and Green Bay’s porous run defense facing Marshawn Lynch, don’t be shocked if the road team pulls the upset.
Detroit Lions (0-1) at Minnesota Vikings (0-1)
Vikings superstar tailback Adrian Peterson endured a rough opening day, gaining just 31 yards on 10 carries.
He should breakout this week against a Lions defense without standout linebacker DeAndre Levy and with talented nose tackle Haloti Ngata dealing with a shoulder issue.
And one wonders about the condition of Lions QB Matt Stafford’s arm, after taking a big hit on his right elbow last week in San Diego.
Expect Peterson to put the team on his back and spearhead a Viking win in their home opener.
Houston Texans (0-1) at Carolina Panthers (1-0)
Texans quarterback Brian Hoyer took an awful beating last week in the team’s loss to Kansas City. This week, he’s on the bench, and it’s Ryan Mallet’s turn to take his lumps as the Texans’ left tackle Duane Brown has his right hand in a cast, and the left guard struggles.
The Texans are still without star tailback Arian Foster, out following groin surgery. This game favors the Panthers, at home in the Queen City.
San Francisco 49ers (1-0) at Pittsburgh Steelers (0-1)
The Steelers benefit from 11 days to rest-up and gameplan following their Thursday night opening day loss to New England.
The 49ers travel cross-country, on a short week, after playing on Monday Night Football. They can’t be happy with the NFL schedule maker.
It would be surprising if the Steelers don’t win this game.
San Diego Chargers (1-0) at Cincinnati Bengals (1-0)
The Bengals are at home and much healthier than the Chargers, who travel to Cincinnati without right guard D.J. Fluker, strong safety Jaleel Addae, and punt/kicker returner Jacoby Jones.
The talented Bengals feel good about themselves after routing the Oakland Raiders on the road last week, and should win their home-opener.