With a fantastic Week 1 officially in the books, we can now turn our attention to NFL Week 2 and hope for another action-packed slate of games.
The second week of the 2016 NFL season features some fierce divisional rivalries and a couple of teams who surprisingly find themselves in need of an early win. NFL Week 2 also features two playoff rematches from the 2015 season.
Looking forward to the best games of the week, that’s a great place to start.
1. Cincinnati Bengals at Pittsburgh Steelers
This will be the first time that these two teams will share a field since last season’s vicious playoff game.
Of course, some key players (Vontaze Burfict, Le’Veon Bell, Martavis Bryant) will be out while they serve their respective suspensions. But even without those guys, these two teams don’t like each other, and it always shows when they play each other.
— The Buckeye Nut (@TheBuckeyeNut) January 10, 2016
Also, recent history says that this will be an important game. The Steelers have made the playoffs in each of the last two years, while the Bengals have been in the postseason in five straight years.
As if all of that wasn’t enough, both teams are 1-0, coming off of impressive Week 1 victories over the New York Jets and Washington Redskins, respectively.
Lastly, this game will feature a battle of two of the game’s best receivers. Both A.J. Green and Antonio Brown came up big in Week 1. A hard hitting shootout is highly probably here.
2. Kansas City Chiefs at Houston Texans
We have another playoff rematch here. But while the Bengals and Steelers is a pure grudge match, this game will serve as more of a measuring stick.
In last season’s postseason game, the Chiefs routed the Texans 30-0 in a game that didn’t even feel that close. The Houston offense showed no signs of life.
The Texans rebuilt their offense in the offseason, signing running back Lamar Miller and quarterback Brock Osweiler. So, how much have things changed? Sunday will provide a good clue.
On the other sideline is Kansas City, a team that comes in with some questions of its own. The Chiefs needed a semi-miraculous comeback to force overtime and defeat the San Diego Chargers in Week 1. The Chargers torched the supposedly strong Kansas City defense for 388 yards and 27 points.
Was that just a good game from Philip Rivers and Co., or does the Chiefs’ defense have some bigger problems?
Both teams enter 1-0 so it’s important to not overreact to which team loses. Still, this Week 2 game will be an early-season learning experience for both teams.
3. Seattle Seahawks at Los Angeles Rams
For the most part, Russell Wilson and the Seahawks have handled their NFC West opponents since 2012.
Through the 2012 and 2013 seasons, the San Francisco 49ers were one of the NFL’s best teams, but generally speaking Seattle had San Francisco’s number.
When the 49ers slipped in 2014, the Arizona Cardinals picked up right where they left off, becoming one of the NFC’s best.
Again, though, the Seahawks have generally gotten the better of the Cardinals in head-to-head games.
The Rams have been nothing but mediocre or worse since 2012 (and for a lot longer). That just hasn’t translated in their games against Seattle.
Despite their lack of overall success, the Rams have been Russell Wilson's toughest NFC West opponent pic.twitter.com/fckT9OItSP
— Sportsnaut (@Sportsnaut) September 12, 2016
As if that didn’t make this game interesting enough, we’ve also got Wilson’s health as something to track. Right now, it looks as though the quarterback will play, though it’s doubtful he’ll play at 100 percent.
Even before Wilson’s injury, the Seahawks struggled offensively in Week 1. Miami’s Dolphins pass rushers were in Wilson’s face throughout the game.
Los Angeles is built in similar fashion to Miami up front defensively. With Aaron Donald and Robert Quinn, Los Angeles has the defensive line personnel to make Wilson’s day a long one.
It’s safe to assume that this will be a competitive game.
Also, for the first time since 1994, meaningful NFL football will be played in the city of Los Angeles. That, in and of itself, is enough to make this game intriguing.
We’ve seen some sneak previews in the preseason and on Hard Knocks, but Sunday will show us just how strong the marriage between the Rams and their new (old) city is.
4. Indianapolis Colts at Denver Broncos
Much like the Seahawks going up against the Rams, this one looks like it should be a blowout. Recent history tells us that may not be the case.
First, why should it be a blowout?
Trevor Siemian made a few bad plays, but he was overall very poised in Denver’s opening night win over the Carolina Panthers. Indianapolis’ defense is one of the worst in the league and certainly doesn’t stack up to Carolina’s star studded unit.
On the other side of the ball, the Colts’ offense looked solid against the Detroit Lions, but the Detroit defense doesn’t remotely compare to Denver’s. The Broncos are playing at home against a thin offensive line that was already weak. We can safely assume that Denver will win by at least 10 points. Right?
Not so fast.
The Broncos have certainly been one of the NFL’s best teams since Andrew Luck entered the league in 2012. But despite that, Denver has not done well against Luck’s Colts’ teams.
The Broncos have forced only four turnovers against 11 touchdowns (9 passing, 2 rushing) against Luck. More importantly, they have a paltry 1-3 record against Indianapolis.
5. Dallas Cowboys at Washington Redskins
Always one of the NFL’s best rivalries, there’s some added spice in Week 2’s matchup.
It’s certainly true that the NFC East hasn’t been a powerhouse division for a while. Still, nobody wants to fall to 0-2, especially when the New York Giants and Philadelphia could both be at 2-0 at week’s end.
After watching Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown, and the rest of the Steelers light Washington up on Monday night, Dez Bryant has to be licking his chops. This is a great opportunity for him to bounce back after a horrible Week 1 performance against the Giants.
By the same token, the Redskins have to be breathing a sigh of relief. Going against Pittsburgh in Week 1 is a nightmare assignment. Now that the rebuilt secondary (led by Josh Norman) has a week of real action under its belt, it will have a chance to make some adjustments as it tries to contain Bryant, Dak Prescott, and the rest of the Cowboys.
Both teams entered the season as playoff hopefuls. Come Sunday, one of them will be back on track, while the other will be staring at a tough battle back. The fact that it’s a rivalry game is even better. This one has plenty of meaning behind it.
6. Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Arizona Cardinals
Jameis Winston wasn’t good in Tampa’s Week 1 game against the Atlanta Falcons.
He was simply outstanding.
— NFL (@NFL) September 11, 2016
While the Atlanta secondary did manage one interception, it looked helpless as Winston picked the Falcons apart for 281 yards and four touchdowns.
With that said, nobody will mistake the Atlanta secondary for one of the league’s best. The Arizona secondary, on the other hand, is elite.
Games like this one will tell us if Winston’s really made a big step. Playing on the road against a top tier defense, throwing into a secondary occupied by stars like Patrick Peterson and Tyrann Mathieu, how will he do?
The Cardinals had better hope that they’re up for the task.
It’s too early to press the panic button on one of the NFL’s most talented rosters. But playing at home against a New England Patriots team without stalwarts like Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski, Rob Ninkovich and Dion Lewis, Arizona should have won handily.
Not only did the Cards not win handily, but they didn’t win at all. Now, the Patriots are the Patriots. Bill Belichick is always going to have a good game plan, so losing to New England isn’t unforgivable.
But starting 0-2 with two home losses would certainly be alarming for a team that entered the year as a Super Bowl favorite.
7. Green Bay Packers at Minnesota Vikings
What a way for the Vikings to open U.S. Bank Stadium. A big game against a fierce division rival. Mike Zimmer may not love the idea of facing Aaron Rodgers, but the Packers will be in Minneapolis on Sunday night, with bells on.
Minnesota and Green Bay both enter 1-0, so neither team is in desperation mode. Still, this game should serve as a good learning experience for both sides.
For the Vikings, it will serve as an opportunity to show just how good the offense is. Frankly, it looked pretty bland in the Week 1 game against the Tennessee Titans. Were it not for two defensive scores, Minnesota might have been upset. Did Adrian Peterson just have a bad game, or is he beginning to slow down?
The Packers’ primary question falls on the other side of the ball. The Jacksonville Jaguars went for 348 yards against Green Bay in Week 1. While Jacksonville’s offense isn’t bad, that’s something that the Packers will need to tighten up if they are a true Super Bowl threat.
8. Buffalo Bills at New York Jets
Generally speaking, Week 2 is far too early to label anything must win. But when you’re 0-1 and share a division with the Patriots (who suddenly don’t seem too vulnerable), it’s pretty darn close.
That’s the situation that both of these find themselves in entering Thursday.
— New York Jets (@nyjets) September 12, 2016
At a glance, the Bills have their work cut out for them. Buffalo’s offense was anemic on Sunday. While the Jets lost to the Cincinnati Bengals, they terrorized Andy Dalton all day and sacked him seven times.
Tyrod Taylor may well need all of his elusiveness to make it out of this one.
With all of that said, Buffalo has beaten New York in five straight games. Included in that streak was Week 17 of the 2015 season, when the Bills kept the Jets from making the playoffs. So, New York could certainly have a bit of revenge on its mind.
All of that, combined with the fact that Rex Ryan will be going up against his old team, makes Thursday Night Football worth the watch in Week 2.
9. Philadelphia Eagles at Chicago Bears
Carson Wentz had a strong showing in Week 1. He performed so well in Philadelphia’s 29-10 win over the Cleveland Browns that teammate Jason Peters compared him to Aaron Rodgers (seriously, he went there).
For a few reasons, though, this is a slightly different animal.
One, the Bears defense isn’t great, but it is better than Cleveland’s dumpster fire.
Two, Wentz will be playing on the road for the first time in his brief career.
Three, he’ll be playing on the Monday Night Football stage, so the challenge will be slightly more significant.
As far as the Bears go, hopes are generally tempered. There is one thing to watch, though. Jay Cutler is coming off of an awful Week 1 performance against the Texans. If he doesn’t come back strong this week, the rumblings about replacing him will only get louder.
10. New Orleans Saints at New York Giants
Fans of offense should definitely have their eyes on this one.
Remember, these two teams played in 2015. On the strength of a 350 yard, six touchdown, no interception performance from Eli Manning, the Giants put up 49 points — and lost.
39/50 | 505 Passing Yards
7 TDs | 2 INTs pic.twitter.com/QuXRL1RDX1
— Zach Brunner (@FantasyFlurry) August 12, 2016
The Giants spent a lot of money upgrading their defense in the offseason. In Week 1 against the Cowboys, Big Blue’s defense held up in a 20-19 win. Games like this against Brees will serve as a bigger test.
The Saints, meanwhile, looked inept on defense against Derek Carr and the Oakland Raiders. A fantastic game from Brees was wasted in Week 1. Now, this Week 2 game in New Jersey has even more significance.