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You know what’s back in the NFL, hard hits, thats what. Last week we saw a bunch of (borderline) legal hits that made you cringe. Ahh, the old grab a catch turn around and get demolished, the staple on which modern football was built. Running back gets the ball, “lets light em up”.
In NFL where big plays are the staple for winning, big hits sure do stop those drives dead in their tracks.
Anyway, week one gave us much to think about going into the week two slate of games. The panic crew can finally relax or maybe start writing their teams eulogies (see Cincinnati Bengals). The “We are gonna go 16-0” crew can also take a seat on the relax train.
Week two will validate some of last weeks performances but lets face it, still way to early. To say “if the playoffs started now” as a start to any sentence involving an NFL team should be met with swift punishment. It’s still way to early to know. Lets see what top matchups we have for our viewing pleasure this week.
Minnesota Vikings vs Pittsburg Steelers
The Steelers come in lucky to be 1-0 with a three point victory behind a less than desirable rushing attack. Le’Veon Bell and company will have thier work cut out for them versus the Vikings defense. They are ranked eighth in rushing yards given up. Conversely, they are ranked sixth in team rushing yards (offense) behind Dalvin Cook’s sizzling week one performance. Look for both teams to try and get creative in coverages this week. Pittsburg with its exotic blitz packages will try to put pressure on quarterback Sam Bradford and they’ll get it too. I’d look for cook to show off more of his receiving skill this week. Also look to see the Vikings secondary stand up to the passing attack of the Steelers. This game has turnover-riddled shootout in the fourth written all over it. I’ll take the Steelers with the win 27-24 Bell will have one or two big-time plays in the game.
New England Patriots at New Orleans Saints
The last time we saw the Patriots, we thought it was some kind of gag or something. No pass rush, missed tackles and Tom Brady sitting on the sidelines watching somebody else score. Last time we saw the Saints, we were asking questions about a staring contest on the sidelines. Look for both offenses to get back on track this week. New Orleans pass defense has been terrible for years. New England should find holes all day with deep passes making it over the top of the secondary. Look for New Orleans to try and run the football and use short passes to attack the New England linebackers corps. The Patriots will have to manufacture pressure on Drew Brees with blitzes so he won’t have a field day on them. The Saints are at home but can you really see the Patriots going 0-2 at the hands of New Orleans? New England 31-21 in a game that probably gets away from them late.
Philadelphia Eagles vs Kansas City Chiefs
A classic teacher versus student scenario. Doug Pederson and his Eagles fly into Arrowhead stadium to take on Andy Reid and the Chiefs. Pederson, of course, was Reid’s former offensive coordinator and even played under him once upon a time. Both teams come in laughing at the notion of defenses being able to stop them. Kareem Hunt and Tyreke Hill will provide deadly weapons for Alex Smith yet again this week. The Eagles gave up only 264 yards of total offense in week one, look for that number to go up. Philadelphia should look to attack the back end of that Chief’s defense. Eric Berry will not be playing so quarterback Carson Wentz should take his shots deep early and often. The Eagles are playing their second road game. I’ll take the Chiefs at home 28 -21 both Hill and Hunt goes off again.
Green Bay Packers vs Atlanta Falcons
Now to my “Game of the week”, the NFC title game re-match. The Falcons come in with a fast reactionary defense that swarms to the ball and hits very hard. The Packers defense allowed 225 yards of total offense and only nine points in week one. All that defense will be for naught in this classic battle of two powerhouse offenses. Matt Ryan had his (what now seems like) usual 300 yards passing day. Atlanta came out trying to run the football but had a putrid day running the ball. Look for a role reversal this week.
The Falcons should pass to set up the run. Give them a heavy dose of Julio Jones and Mohamad Sanu (my fantasy team needs that dose of Sanu bad). The Packers can not matchup with those guys on the outside. Double coverages will lead to holes underneath and in the running game, a little outside-inside instead of the conventional way (inside-out).
The Packers didnt exactly light it up (the scoreboard) last week. They also didnt crack the 100 yard barrier on the ground (84 team rush yards). Look for that to change this week. Only three teams gave up more rushig yards than Atlanta in week one. Ty Montgomery should see plenty of running room, especially out of pass formations. The Falcons secondary is deceptive and will jump routes. Aaron Rodgers should hit the middle of the defense as much as he can. Force the young linebackers to cover and think about something more than laying out hits. The quintessential last man standing game, Green Bay wins 34-30. Montgomery gets it going rushing (and catching).
NFC South Round-up:
Buffalo Bills versus Carolina Panthers:
Young playmaker Christian McCaffrey and Curtis Samuels make the diffrence Carolina 24-Buffalo 13
Chicago Bears versus Tampa Bay Buccaneers:
Jameis Winston will have a tough task against the Chicago defense. Mike Evans and DeSean Jackson should both find the end zone. Buccaneers 27-Bears 21