It's time to break down the best stories in week two and make predictions. Last week was an amazing week of stories, and week two looks pretty good as well. Last week, I went 10-5-1 in predictions. Let's see if I can do even better this week.
16. Cowboys vs. Bengals
Who Will Recover?
Last week, both of these teams lost disappointingly. Joe Burrow threw four interceptions and had maybe the worst game of his career. The Browns, Steelers, and Ravens all won their games. The AFC is stacked, and the best path to playoffs is winning your division so the Bengals can't fall too far behind. The Cowboys offense may be worse, but the defense is still good. This week will show us if Joe Burrow is regressing or not.
The Cowboys are also fighting for their season, and they need this win to prove they are still a viable team. Can Cooper Rush carry this team until Dak Prescott returns, or will this be a repeat of the 2020 Cowboys?
15. Broncos vs. Texans
Can Nathaniel Hack It?
The Broncos had one of the worse opening games of the year. Russell Wilson didn't just lose to his former team, which was projected to be one of the worse teams in the NFL. Coach Hackett may have lost the locker room in one week by making a boneheaded decision that cost his team the game. Also, he was not putting his team in a great position scheme-wise all game. The Broncos need to beat the Texans, and they need to do it by multiple scores. They need to prove they are contenders, and week one was just a misstep. Surprisingly, there's a lot on the line for them.
The Texans came out and tied a contender in this league. If they can play just as well, or better, against the Broncos, they will prove to be a force in the South. Lovie Smith is a great coach, and he might be turning another team around.
14. Steelers vs. Patriots
Is He Washed?
A lot of people didn't believe in Mitch Trubisky as a starter. Even though he won, I think his doubters were proved right. He was extremely limited against the Bengals. The only good thing you can say about Mitch's performance is that he didn't make big mistakes. Coach Belichick's defense will test him and try to make him see ghosts. Mitch's best option is to lean into his mobility because Belichick struggles with mobile QBs.
For the Patriots, it's time to consider that Belichick might be washed. He has never won a Super Bowl without Tom Brady. His prickly demeanor and traditional mindset have left the Patriots in a hole devoid of elite talent or offensive coaches. Belichick will always be a great defensive guy, and that can't be taken away from him. However, how great a head coach he is is in question. If the Steelers, in a winnable game, embarrass the Patriots as the Dolphins did, there will be a lot of heat on Belichick.
13. Jets vs. Browns
Two backups QBs are playing each other and leading talented teams. The Jets are without Zach Wilson, and the Browns are without Deshaun Watson. The Jets need to win if they want to contend. Realistically, the Jets aren't expected to contend this year, just be better than last year. However, this is a winnable game.
The Browns have a chance to contend this year. So, if they want to be viable when Watson comes back, they have to win all their winnable games. They are off to a good start against the Panthers. However, the Jets is a must-win, and they have to have this game.
12. Seahawks vs. 49ers
Who Are You?
Last week, both of these teams surprised most people in different ways. Now, in week two, we will get some answers. Are the 49ers as bad as they were against the Bears? Are the Seahawks as good as they looked against the Broncos? In a wide-open NFC conference, could the Seahawks be viable? Could Geno Smith really be back as a starter in this league, or was it a one-off performance?
For the 49ers, Trey Lance is under fire. If he goes from losing to Justin Fields, the QB the 49ers passed on, to losing to the Seahawks and giving them the edge in the division, then the Jimmy Garoppolo noise will reach a fever pitch. The games only get harder after the Seahawks. Trey Lance has to give the 49ers something to hang onto in this game, or it might be his last.
11. Falcons vs. Rams
Revival or Nah?
Marcus Mariota is proving many people wrong and the people who believed in him right. I was always hoping Marcus would get another starting job. He looked good in Las Vegas, and he looked great in his first game of the season. The Falcons looked way better than anyone expected them to be. Unfortunately, they are still choking games away, and they won't get a break this Sunday against the defending champs.
The Rams need this win, and they need to do it looking like a Super Bowl team. This is a get-right game for the Rams, and they need to get Allen Robinson involved and establish a run game.
10. Jaguars vs. Colts
Looking for Revennnge
Due to the Colts and Texans tie, there are zero wins in the AFC South. The Jaguars and the Colts have a chance to jump ahead in the division. The Colts looked way worse than expected last week, and they have a lot to clean up as an offense. The Jaguars are the team that sent the Colts home last year and poured water all over their playoff dreams. The Colts need to make a statement at the Jaguars expense, avenge their loss from last year and show they are a better team than last year's squad. Especially given the fact that Carson Wentz, former Colts QB, beat the Jags last week.
The Jags need to play clean football, and they need to make the plays that are there to be made and give their fans a reason to be optimistic. They left off the season beating the Colts, and they need to do it again and give the fans a reason to be confident about the season.
9. Panthers vs. Giants
Rise or Fall?
The Giants look like a team on the rise. They got their elite running back, Saquon Barkley, back to form, the defense seems stout, and Daniel Jones looks to be making some progress. On the other hand, despite having talent, the Panthers just lost to a backup QB and are on the decline. This is a 50/50 game to me. Baker Mayfield and the Panthers can wash the bitter taste of losing to the Browns out of their mouth. However, if they lose and start zero and two, it will be a huge hit to the morale of the fans and the players. Baker will face more questions.
For the Giants, they have a chance to build on week one and show they are for real. If they lost, it wouldn't be the end of the world, but a win would give them a lot of momentum. This game will show who's improving from the dysfunctional team they were last year and who is the same team they have always been.
8. Commanders vs. Lions
Left for Dead?
Jared Goff and Carson Wentz are both QBs who looked great at the beginning of their career and were paid big. Then, they underperformed and were dumped by their teams. Goff had a rough season last year, but showed potential. Wentz is on his third team, has found his way back to the East, and is on the runway to a rematch with Jalen Hurts, who took his job. Jalen Hurts beat the Lions, but can Carson Wentz do the same? Or will Goff prove that he is the QB that shouldn't have been slept on?
7. Bears vs. Packers
Aaron Rodgers was embarrassingly eliminated from the playoffs last year by Jimmy G and the 49ers. So, Rodgers has been hanging his hat on the MVP, which he gets by beating up on the NFC North. He's been trolling the Bears, and talking about being the Bears owner and owning the NFC North. However, the Packers are vulnerable this year because the line and receiving core have worsened. The Vikings have already shown they aren't taking anymore. The Bears could be the next team to beat Rodgers and the Packers.
Last year, despite the Bears being a losing team, they played the Packers close. They had momentum in both games last year and seemed to be on the road to beating the Packers, and then Rodgers came back. The Bears have Packer coaches and players this year. They are a year better, and so is their franchise QB, Justin Fields. Will the Bears win and establish the new NFC North, or will the Packers bounce back and prove they are still a team to beat in the North?
6. Bucs vs. Saints
This game has been a great rivalry ever since Tom Brady got to the division. The Saints beat the Bucs in the regular season, and the Bucs win when it matters most. Both the Saints and the Bucs have elevated coaches from within. How will the coaches and a new make-up of the team affect the outcome of the rivalry? Like I said in the Power Rankings, I'm pretty high on one of these teams. People say Brady has nothing left to prove, but I say he has to prove he can beat the Saints in the regular season. I don't bet against Brady often, but I will this week due to the many obstacles he faces this season, including the injuries to his team.
5. Vikings vs. Eagles
The Vikings and Eagles are both supremely talented offenses, and they will probably both be playoff teams. However, iron sharpens iron, and these two teams are about to find out not only who is better, but how good these teams actually are. We find out if Jalen Hurts can carry this team in challenging games, and we will find out if Kirk Cousins can win in primetime. I'm going with the team who has the overall edge in talent.
4. Dolphins vs. Ravens
The Dolphins beat the Ravens last year in Miami. They blitzed Lamar Jackson like crazy, and he could not handle it. If Lamar is going to get what he wants out of this season regarding team success and individual money, he needs to show up in this game and take down an elite defense.
The Dolphins had a great season opener, and Tua Tagovailoa is off to a great start. I believe in Tua, but it's a long season, and he still has more to prove. The Dolphins beating Lamar Jackson and the Ravens again would be huge. The Dolphins haven't beat the Ravens at home since 1997.
3. Raiders vs. Cardinals
One of these teams needs to bounce back. The Raiders took a tough loss in division to the Chargers, and the Cardinals took an embarrassing loss to the Chiefs. The Raiders are trying to keep morale up and keep up in the division race.
The Cardinals, on the other hand, have everything on the line, and they look terrible. If they take another bad loss, there will be major questions about Kliff Kingsbury, Kyler Murray, and Marquise "Hollywood" Brown, who went to Arizona to be a star.
2. Bills vs. Titans
Air Raid vs. Ground Attack
The Titans didn't look great in week one, but they typically have good games with the Bills. Remember, last year, the Bills beat the Chiefs, and then the Titans took the wind out of their sails the very next week. The Bills have maybe the best passing attack in the league, but the Titans have King Henry. Who will prevail, the Bills air raid offense or the Titans ground attack? Will the Bills be able to maintain their momentum this year? Have the Titans fallen off?
1. Chargers vs. Chiefs
Wild Wild West Shootout
For the second week in a row, the biggest game of the week is on Thursday Night Football. This is what everyone has been waiting to see all off-season. The Chargers made their defense scary and have been gearing up to stop the Chiefs.
The Chiefs have lost some key players, but gained some new blood. They have traded blunt force power for adaptability. Can the Chie's maneuver past the Chargers, or have the Chargers finally caught up to the Chiefs?
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