After a Thursday night showdown between the Eagles and the Chiefs, we are ready for a weekend full of exciting and entertaining matchups in the NFL. The week started off on Thursday as Andy Reid took his Chiefs into Philly and made a statement with a 26-16 win. Just two weeks ago the Eagles were the hot team in the NFL and on everyone’s radar with their new college style offense. But now they have fallen to 1-2 and hardly look impressive. The Chiefs on the other hand are now undefeated with Reid at the helm and lead their own AFC West division (technically the Broncos haven’t played this week yet, but we have to give the Chiefs credit where credit is due). The Chiefs will look to keep the streak alive as they visit New York next week to face the Giants, and the Eagles will be visiting the aforementioned Broncos.
Speaking of the Broncos, they will highlight Monday Nigh Football against their long-time rival, the 1-1 Raiders. The Broncos will still be adjusting after Ryan Clady went down with an injury this last week. Clady was given a huge contract this past summer to help protect Peyton Manning, a duty that will now shift to Chris Clark. While the Broncos are still heavily favored in this one, whenever they match up with the Raiders, the atmosphere is electric. Now put the game on Monday night and amplify that energy even more. The Raiders will hope that Terrelle Pryor will continue to grow in their offense, but he’ll have his hands full with a top ranked Broncos team that will get even better with the return of Champ Bailey. This should be a heck of a game and it’s a shame we have to wait till Monday night to see it.
After a mighty impressive victory last week, the Packers will head to Cincinnati to face a Bengals team that is coming off a win against the Steelers on Monday night. The verdict is still out on the Steelers, so we’ll get a chance to see how legit this Bengals team is against a Packers squad that has looked great all season, despite their .500 record. Aaron Rodgers will look to follow up his 480 yard performance from last week, with another victory against a stout Cinci defense. Andy Dalton on the other hand, will hope that Giovanni Bernard, Tyler Eifert, BenJarvus Green-Ellis and the rest of his resources will come ready to play the always-tough Packers. One thing to note is that the Packers have lost this matchup the last two times the teams met. And even though the Packers look great so far this year, don’t quite count the Bengals out.
Saint Louis will head to Dallas for another matchup of 1-1 teams. All eyes will presumably be on Tony Romo and Sam Bradford, both quarterbacks that could considerable be on the hot seat as the season progresses. Romo will hope that he can get another output from Dez Bryant like last week, after the wide-out caught 9 passes for 141 yards. The Rams started the season looking good with a come-from-behind win against the Cardinals, but fell short last week against the Falcons in a game in which Bradford went for 352 yards. St. Louis is looking to go 2-1 for the first time in the last seven seasons, and the Cowboys will be looking for a win to keep the away any pressure that would likely come with a 1-2 start of their own.
San Diego is another team that is riding high after their own win in week 2 as well. Keep in mind that if it wasn’t for a second-half collapse of their own, the Chargers could be right atop the AFC West with the Chiefs and the Broncos. Just for the sake of comparison, Phillip Rivers will head into Sunday’s game with 614 total yards thus far, while Titans QB Jack Locker has a total of 273 yards on the season. Luckily, with a back like Chris Johnson, the Chargers are in ever game and an average San Diego defense will have their hands full preparing for the elusive back. Keep an eye out to see if Eddie Royal can keep up his statistics as he has in the first two games. Royal is currently ranked among the top receivers in the league, after being a mediocre wide out for many years. If Rivers knows he can trust Royal to perform like he has thus far, than you can expect him to go to the receiver often this weekend.
The Browns shocked the entire NFL this week with their trade of Trent Richardson to the Indianapolis Colts. Just last year Richardson was the number 3 overall pick and no one expect such a surprising transaction to take place only three weeks into the season. It doesn’t get much better for Browns fans as quarterback Brandon Weeden is also out with a sprained thumb. The Browns will skip over backup veteran Jason Campbell and give the ball to third-stringer Brian Hoyer (you may be noticing a strong pattern of unexplainable decisions by the Browns by now). The Vikings will look to take advantage of a weak Browns team as they try and get on the winning train. The Vikings are 0-2 and none of their offensive tools have looked overly impressive. But when you have Adrian Peterson on your team, all bets are off against one of the best backs in the league. The Vikings need this win to gain some momentum before they get too far behind in a stacked NFC North division.
Tom Brady will look to get back into form this weekend against the Bucs. Despite a 2-0 record, Brady has voiced his displeasure with his receiving core. There is a chance Rob Gronkowski could be back this week, which is always a great sign for Brady. Unfortunately he’ll be looking at Darrelle Revis all game long, who may not be his old self, but he’s still a perennial defensive threat. It will be interesting to see what impact former Bucs, and current Patriots, running back LeGarrette Blount has during his first game against his former team. If Brady can’t get things going with his receivers, we could be in for a lot of running action from the Pats. And knowing the emotions behind players as they play old teams, we would expect Blount to get his fair share of touches. Oh yeah, a 3-0 start for the Pats would be the first time they’ve done that since 2007. You may recall they went 18-1 that year. You can imagine that Brady would love to start with that type of record, especially if he has to do so with limited receivers to pass to.
The Saints will look to keep things rolling against the Cardinals as Arizona visits New Orleans. Drew Brees has looked amazing so far this season, going 52-81 for 679 total yards. That said, Arizona seems to have found its own quarterback for the season, as Carson Palmer has fit in well with his new team. If it wasn’t for the late breakdown against the Rams in week one, this would be a matchup between undefeated teams, so it has the potential to be a great game. Granted New Orleans has looked nearly unstoppable with Sean Payton and Brees back together, but Arizona has a great defense that will test the Saints offensive attack.
Things could get interesting as Detroit heads to Washington to play the Redskins. After a 0-2 start, many have been questioning the play of RGIII and whether or not he is in a sophomore slump. While some have called for backup Kirk Cousins to step up, the voices could grow louder if Griffin has a hard time against the Lions defense this weekend. And with one of the worst defenses in the league, the Redskins will have their hands full with Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson. Last week the two teamed up for a pair of touchdowns in a losing effort against Arizona, so they will look to keep the magic going against a porous Washington defense this week. While the Lions will look for a win to keep them in contention in the NFC North, the Redskin will hope for their first win of the season. If not, things could begin to unravel next week in Washington for Mike Shanahan and RGIII.
An intriguing matchup will take place in Carolina as the 0-2 Giants visit the also winless Panthers. This could be a big game for either team, who are both searching for their first win of the season to turn around their season. For the Giants, Eli Manning has looked great thus far. He has completed 55 passes on 91 attempts for 821 total yards. Considering Eli is typically a second-half quarterback, these are encouraging stats for Giant fans. In week one, the Giants lost in Dallas, but just as easily could’ve won as they tried to come back late in the fourth quarter. As for last week, Eli was simply outmatched by older brother Payton and the Giants simply couldn’t keep up with the high-powered Denver offense. The Giants will look to beat up on a less powerful Carolina team led by Cam Newton who is trying his hardest to break out of the sophomore slump that he had last year. The Panthers led a tough Seattle team going into the fourth quarter during week one, before falling short in the final quarter and losing 12-7. Last week was even more heartbreaking as the fell to Buffalo, 24-23 with just seconds remaining. This will not necessarily be a cakewalk for either team. And with all that’s on the line, this should be an interesting match for two teams looking to right the ship. However, an 0-3 season could be a tough realization for either team, considering a team that starts 0-3 hasn’t made the playoffs in nearly a decade.
Houston will take its undefeated record on the road against a 1-1 Baltimore team. However, if things play out like they did in the first two weeks for both of these teams, the Texans should cruise to victory and further establish themselves among the elite teams in the league. Matt Schaub is doing what Texans fans want him to do. He has thrown for 6 touchdowns and 644 yards, 222 of which have gone to Andre Johnson. The next two weeks for Houston will include games against Seattle and San Francisco, so they certainly want to get a win against Baltimore to bolster their standing in the AFC. Baltimore, despite a win last week against the Browns, obviously has not looked like defending champions. In an offseason where Joe Flacco was given a contract extension and many other key elements left, there simply aren’t enough weapons to go around for this team. A bright spot for the Ravens is that the game will be played in Baltimore, but it’s unlikely that this will be enough from keeping Houston walking out of Baltimore with an unblemished record.
Miami will host a late game against the Falcons as the Dolphins try and remain undefeated through three games. A surprise for many has been the play of Ryan Tannehill thus far this season. The second season quarterback has looked particularly sharp, completing 47-of-72 passes for 591 yards. The only problem could be in the lack of competition that Miami has played. With a 23-10 win over the Browns in week one and a 24-20 win over the Colts last week, Miami certainly hasn’t faced a team that offers the power that Atlanta has. Nonetheless, the momentum that the Dolphins have will presumably be a factor; especially considering the game is in South Beach. Although the Falcons record stands at 1-1, they have been an impressive team this season and rank in many analysts top-10 for the entire league. Their sole loss came in week one against New Orleans, against a Saints team that looks like it could make a run to be among the league’s best this year. Matt Ryan has looked like a top tier quarterback this year, throwing for 678-yards and 4-touchdowns through two games. And with options in Julio Jones, Roddy White and Tony Gonzalez, you never know where Ryan will toss the ball in the red zone. Aside from getting the win, the Falcons will also look for more of an impact from Steven Jackson. During his first two games in a Falcons jersey, Jackson has only had 14 carries for 77-yards. The Falcons will need more of a balanced attack if they plan on keeping up with the Saints in their NFC South division. This game could be added confidence for the Falcons, or it could propel the Dolphins into the talks of top undefeated teams thus far this season.
Rookie quarterbacks will face off in New York as the Bills face off against the Jets. E.J. Manuel easily beat out Kevin Kolb for the starting nod in Buffalo and hasn’t disappointed thus far. Geno Smith on the other hand was given the ball after Mark Sanchez went down with an injury; although some assumed that injury or not, Sanchez may have been on his way to the bench anyways. Something to keep in mind with this game is that both teams’ losses have come to the Patriots. While the Bills were just beat out in week one with a score of 23-21, the Jets lost last Thursday in a rain-filled 13-10 snoozer. This one is a tough one to call who could be walking away victorious. But for the sake of excitement, look for these quarterbacks to give their all for their teams in hopes of solidifying themselves as legitimate quarterback threats. And for either team, a 2-1 start would be a great boost ahead of their in-state opponent.
Some would think that the biggest storyline of the Colts visiting San Francisco on Sunday would be the addition of Trent Richardson into the Indy offense. Instead, we’ll be looking forward to seeing Coach Jim Harbaugh coach against Andrew Luck as the two face off against each other for the first time. That said, if that is storyline 1A, than 1B will certainly be looking as to how Richardson fits into the Colts offense just days after being traded from Cleveland. The NFL world is still a bit confused by the move, but that doesn’t mean that the 49ers will be unprepared as they look to bounce back from a loss in primetime against Seattle last week. Young quarterbacks should be on display this week. Andrew Luck has looked good so far this year and hopefully for his sake, Richardson will open up the offense a bit more and add for more potential passing. As for Colin Kaepernick, he’ll look to bounce back from the worst start of his career. Both teams are 1-1, but San Francisco is certainly the favorite and should consider their home field advantage.
After a relatively easy win against the 49ers last week, this week’s matchup against the Jaguars should be a cakewalk for the Seahawks. Seattle has propelled into some analysts pick as the number one team in the league after their win last week. Jacksonville on the other hand is a wreck this year. Chad Henne doesn’t appear to be a quality QB as he only has 277-yards this season. And what’s worse, the usually reliable Maurice Jones-Drew hasn’t done much more with only 72-yards of his own. Sure, we all know that on “any given Sunday” any team can win, but this game should be decided before the teams head to the locker room at halftime.
Sunday’s primetime matchup will be interesting to watch as the 2-0 Bears go to Pittsburgh to face the winless Steelers. If the record doesn’t say enough, the Steelers have looked lackluster and less than impressive in two weeks of competition. On the other side of the ball, the Bears will look for their first 3-0 start in four years in hopes of staying ahead of the NFC North. In reality, Pittsburgh looks flustered and uncertain of what exactly they are trying to accomplish. Their defense is horrific and Ben Rothlisberger hasn’t helped the offense much either. The good news is that this is still a Steelers team that has experience and knowledge that it takes to turn a season around, especially only a few games into it. This is unlike the Bears who have continually face pressure with the tandem of Jay Cutler and Brandon Marshall, and they will be expected to keep up their success all year long. However a win for the Steelers could get them back on track to make a run as they face Minnesota, the Jets, Baltimore and Oakland in the next four weeks. With a win on Sunday, an 0-2 start could just as easily become a 5-2 record half way through the season. And while the Bears aren’t quite declaring that they are the best team in the league, they will want to beat up on the Steelers badly to prove that they belong where they are at. The schedule for the Bears isn’t terribly tough in coming weeks, but they’ll want to avoid any hiccups, especially those that may happen in primetime on Sunday night.
As always, we can’t wait for Sunday. The season is still young enough where some teams have gotten schedules that don’t quite demonstrate their talent level. But the further we get into the season, the better of an idea we have of where these teams truly are. Be sure to check in early next week as we recap all of this weekend’s games. Take a look at who our handicapper’s are picking for this weeks games by clicking here