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NFL Preview: Steelers-Bengals Rematch of Smashmouth Playoff Game Highlights Sunday Slate


Criminals ambushed police officers on Saturday, shooting two each in Philadelphia and Fort Worth. So perhaps this will make the select group of NFL players who have been kneeling during the national anthem to protest the police, think twice doing it this week.

Then again, maybe not. If 9/11 didn’t dissuade, neither will this.

Bengals defensive tackle Margus Hunt hails from Estonia, and Breitbart Sports asked him how the people in his homeland handle their national anthem.

“You stand!” Hunt said. “I was in the (military). Every night we went to bed singing the national anthem, stood, and that was that.”

Hunt will participate in one of the best games on this week’s NFL slate, the Bengals-Steelers contest.

Let’s take a closer look at this game and all the other Sunday action.

 

Cincinnati Bengals (1-0) at Pittsburgh Steelers (1-0)

This might be the most bitter rivalry in the league. These two teams hate each other.

Last season, in their three matchups, including a playoff encounter, the league meted out more than $200,000 in fines.

“This is a two chin-strap game,” said Steelers running back DeAngelo Williams.

These are two very evenly-matched teams, but Pittsburgh enjoys a slight edge at home.

 

New Orleans Saints (0-1) at New York Giants (1-0)

Last November, the Saints beat the Giants 52-49 in New Orleans. Don’t be shocked if it’s another high-scoring shootout.

The Saints defense played terribly in a Week One loss to Oakland, and now they go without their top cornerback, Delvin Breaux, who broke his leg. The Saints future Hall-of-Fame QB Drew Brees threw for 423 yards and four touchdowns in that loss to the Oakland Raiders last week. At 37, he’s still at the top of his game.

This should be a fun game to watch, and could go either way.

 

Tennessee Titans (0-1) at Detroit Lions (1-0)

Lions QB Matthew Stafford was superb in a Week One road win over Indianapolis, going 31 of 39 passing for 349 yards, with three touchdowns and no interceptions.

Considering that a backup quarterback (Minnesota’s Shaun Hill) beat the Titans in their home opener, it’s hard seeing them beating Stafford and the Lions in Motown.

Expect Detroit to get to 2-0.

 

Dallas Cowboys (0-1) at Washington Redskins (0-1)

After hardly playing in the preseason, Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousin showed rust in their opening-day loss to Pittsburgh. Now, after getting the kinks out in Week One, he should perform much better against Dallas.

The Cowboys start fourth-round pick Dak Prescott, and rookie quarterbacks generally struggle on the road.

The Redskins should win this game.

 

Kansas City Chiefs (1-0) at Houston Texans (1-0)

The quarterbacks in this game should wear flak jackets. Both teams start beat-up offensive lines.

The Chiefs will be without starting guards Laurent Duvernay-Tardif (ankle) and Parker Ehinger (concussion). The Texans’ left tackle Duane Brown will miss the game with a knee injury; right tackle Derek Newton (knee) and right guard Jeff Allen (calf) are iffy. And their starting center, Nick Martin, is on injured reserve.

This game is a toss-up.

 

Miami Dolphins (0-1) at New England Patriots (1-0)

The Dolphins’ strength is their defensive line, featuring tackle Ndamukong Suh and ends Mario Williams and Cameron Wake. And the Patriots have issues on the offensive line due to injuries.

The Dolphins played Seattle close last week. The Seahawks also have issues on their O-line and the Dolphins took advantage.

The game could be closer than expected.

 

Baltimore Ravens (1-0) at Cleveland Browns (0-1)

The Browns lost QB Robert Griffin to a shoulder injury last week, so Josh McCown will start.

This isn’t a downgrade. McCown makes his 58th NFL start and knows what he’s doing out there. “It’s not his first rodeo,” said Browns owner Jimmy Haslam.

Since the Ravens didn’t look very good in their home opener, barely beating Buffalo, don’t be shocked if this is a close game.

 

San Francisco 49ers (1-0) at Carolina Panthers (0-1)

Coming off a loss on Thursday Night Football, the Panthers had 10 days to rest and prepare for this game.

The 49ers played on Monday Night Football, so they had a short work-week, and then had to fly across country.

The Panthers are healthier, the better team, and at home

This one could be ugly. A lopsided Panthers win is entirely possible.

 

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-0) at Arizona Cardinals (0-1)

The Cardinals lost their home opener to New England last Sunday. Their GM read them the riot act on Monday.

“We just didn’t get it done, and a lot of reasons why we didn’t get it done,” Steve Keim said on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM. “And that needs to improve. That’s certainly unacceptable.”

Arizona entered this season considered a Super Bowl contender, with one of the more talented rosters in the league. Expect them to rebound at home and beat the Buccaneers.

 

Seattle Seahawks (1-0) at Los Angeles Rams (0-1)

It looked like Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson suffered a serious ankle sprain last Sunday. Some wondered if he would miss time or at least be significantly limited for a few weeks. Seahawks coach Pete Carroll doesn’t seem too concerned.

“He’s ready to go,” Carroll said on Friday. “He had his best week, and he’s ready to play in all situations.”

But even when healthy, Wilson faces a big challenge against a Rams defense that consistently does a good job defending him. The Rams have beaten the Seahawks in the three of their last four meetings.

The Rams defensive line is the strength of their team, and the Seahawks offensive line is suspect.

This might surprise some, but this game could go either way.

 

Atlanta Falcons (0-1) at Oakland Raiders (1-0)

When Atlanta hired Seattle’s defensive coordinator Dan Quinn to coach their team last year, they expected him to bring a Seahawks quality defense to the Falcons. So far that hasn’t happened.

The Falcons offense played well enough to win last week against Tampa Bay, but the defense didn’t hold up their end.

And now they face Oakland and QB Derek Carr, who threw for 319 yards last week against New Orleans.

It’s time for the Falcons coach, considered a talented defensive strategist, to get that side of the ball going. That is why he was hired.

 

Jacksonville Jaguars (0-1) at San Diego Chargers (0-1)

The Chargers lost their best receiver Keenan Allen for the season in Week One. It remains to be seen who will step up into that #1 role.

The Jaguars come to town without a starting cornerback (Prince Amukamara) and tailback (Chris Ivory).

This game should be tight, but there is a good chance QB Phillip Rivers leads the Chargers to a win in their home opener.

 

Indianapolis Colts (0-1) at Denver Broncos (1-0)

The NFL is a quarterback-driven league.

This game pits the Colts franchise quarterback Andrew Luck against Denver’s Trevor Siemian, making his second start.

In a Luck vs. Siemian match-up, the pick here is Luck, who threw for 385 yards and four touchdowns in a Week 1 loss to Detroit.

 

Green Bay Packers (1-0) at Minnesota Vikings (1-0)

Staying on the QB-driven league theme: This game will feature Green Bay superstar QB Aaron Rodgers against Minnesota’s Sam Bradford making his first Vikings start, after arriving a few weeks ago via trade. Bradford barely knows the system and has no chemistry with the receivers.

Expect the Rodgers-led Vikings to beat the new kid in town.

 

Philadelphia Eagles (1-0) at Chicago Bears (0-1)

Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins said the Eagles’ plan some kind of anthem protest on Monday Night Football.

“Everyone wants to be a part of it, and I feel like it’s no different on our team,” Jenkins told WIP Radio.

It’s unclear what polling service Jenkins used to discern that “everyone wants to be a part of it.”

While in Chicago, perhaps Jenkins will also protest the 2016 homicide rate, which is currently on a record pace. Over 500 people, many black, have been killed this year.

 

 

 

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