Week 2 players and match-ups to watch!

By Lawrence Edwards

WHAT A WEEK! Before we get started let’s look at what we learned from last week’s games…

  1. The Patriots defense is vulnerable, particularly against the run. Yea I know it’s week 1 but I have never seen a worse start for Belichek and Brady ever!
  2. The year of the rookie running back is off to a good start. Kareem Hunt, Leonard Fournette, Dalvin Cook, and Tarik Cohen exploded on the scene during their respective rookie debuts, with Cohen being a pleasant surprise to Bears fans
  3. The Giants offensive line is still the most offensive thing I’ve ever seen…
  4. Matthew Stafford so far is playing like a man who just got PAID!

Now that that refresher is over let’s look to week 2 shall we?

Two 1st ballot hall of famers, two multiple record holding QB’s, two of the most prolific QB’s of my generation, Two QB’s who stood and watched as they were out ‘quarterbacked’ and their defense was smoked by ‘lesser’ QBs and two rookie RBs… New England and New Orleans, two completely different cities and cultures got off to a similar start. The Patriots were destroyed on their home turf by Alex Smith and Kareem Hunt and the Saints were slaughtered by Sam Bradford and Dalvin Cook on the road. The good thing for the Saints is they get to play for the home crowd in their dome which has given them great advantage in the past years, the bad news is they play an angry hoodies Belichek and red eyed Tom Brady. After watching Sam Bradford and Stephon Diggs rip apart the Saints defense, Tom Brady is at home Birdman rubbing his hands as he watches game tape. I expect a little bounce back from the Pats defense but not by much. The Saints defense? Not so much. We could be in for a high scoring affair in The Big Easy.

Pats 38 Saints 28

The Steelers took care of business on the road against the Browns as expected and the defense had a stellar outing. The Vikings wiped the floor with the Saints and the defense was spectacular against Drew Brees. However for this game I can see a little less defense, not terrible but these two defensive units won’t perform like they did last week. The Vikings are not the Browns and their offense, albeit against a bad Saints defense, was running like a well oiled machine. On the other side the Steelers are not as QB dependent as New Orleans. Stephon Diggs and Adam Theilen are proving to be viable receiving threats who should be taken seriously and who you have to game plan for and don’t forget to add in rookie Dalvin Cook who is off to a good start to his career. The Steelers have a dynamic trio of their own in Antonio Brown, LeVeon Bell and Martavis Bryant. With both of these teams having the types of threats on offense as they do, it can make for some sparks on Sunday. However, I’m going with the home team here the Steelers trio is far better than the Vikings trio but that gap could close a little as the season goes on.

Vikings 24 Steelers 31

Kareem Hunt exploded on the scene and made his presence known last Thursday night with 22 overall touches (17 rushing 5 receiving) for 246 yards from scrimmage and 3 total TD’s and Alex Smith went off on their way to a rout of the Patriots. The Eagles had a good game against the Redskins and sent them packing in their own stadium with a 30-17 win. Carson Wentz had a great outing with 307 yards and 2 TD’s and I’m interested in seeing if he can show some more of that escape magic with a healthy Justin Houston gunning for him. Alshon Jeffery was a bit of a non-factor against the Redskins, I expect the same this week, assuming he will have Marcus Peters covering him. The Chiefs should keep rolling here. The weapons Kansas City have on the offense and a healthy Justin Houston will make it tough for the Eagles. It also doesn’t help they will be playing in one of the noisiest stadiums in the league and the Chiefs will be looking to give their home crowd a similar performance from last week not mention Kareem Hunt and Tyreek Hill are the real deal.

Eagles 17 Chiefs 31

One of the best defensive lines in the NFL and one of the best offensive lines in the NFL go head-to-head in the trenches… Something has got to give!

Dallas pulled out a tough win against a top defense last Sunday night and Dak had an efficient game. Ezekiel Elliot topped 100 rushing yards and the Cowboys defeated the New York Giants 19-3. The defense took advantage of the Giants weak offensive line held Eli and company to 3 points. The Denver Broncos defense started Monday night looking dominant as ever – however they did allow a late comeback by Phillip Rivers – and Trevor Siemian had one of his best performances against a good Chargers defense. He finished with 219 yards and 2 TD’s. If the Dallas Cowboys get behind or try to feature Dak more and pass in the redzone and short yardage situations like they did last week, they will be in for a long day. Unlike the Giants the Denver offense can move the ball and keep their defense from tiring out. This game is hard to call because so many ‘if’ factors play into both sides. I picked Denver to win this game a few times earlier in the week but at the moment my gut is telling me to pick Dallas. If they pound the rock with Zeke and control clock and not try to get fancy with passing so much then Dallas takes this game with ball control and TOP, but if Scott Linehan tries to get cute, particularly in the redzone and short yardage situations then Denver defense will take advantage. Something tells me Dallas will feature Zeke to keep Von Miller off Dak’s back.

Dallas 24 Denver 20

We get a rematch of last season’s NFC Championship game and I know the Packers are out for redemption after the Falcons spoiled their Super Bowl hopes. The game is again in Atlanta and Matt Ryan and his offense overall looked good but they struggled against the Bears defense. The defense also almost allowed a late game win steal had it not been for a few TD’s drops by the Bears as time ran out. The Packers however found moderate success themselves against the always good and tough Seattle defense. The Packers defense also smothered and had Russell Wilson running all night and held the Seahawk defense to just 9 points. Rookie Tarik Cohen had breakout game against the Atlanta defense and the Pack utilizes Ty Montgomery in the same way but with an elite HOF quarterback to throw him the ball. Look for Montgomery to have a stellar outing out of the back field and Rodgers to have more opportunities against a softer defense. Green Bay gets its revenge here.

Packers 34 Falcons 24

 

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Best Games in Week 1 and Who Wins!

By Lawrence Edwards

Alright folks it’s that great time of the year again… FOOTBALL IS BACK and we are kicking things off with a great matchup Thursday night when the defending champs take on the Kansas City Chiefs in Foxborough. Today I’m picking what I believe to be the best match ups slated to kick off the season. So let’s start predicting!

Riding high off an improbable yet amazing comeback win in Super Bowl 51 – a game that I’m sure left Falcons players and fans feeling like they were hit with the black plague – the Patriots are looking to catch up to the Steelers as they kick off the 2017 season taking on a formidable foe. The Kansas City Chiefs kicked off their 2016 season with their own come from behind win against the San Diego Chargers and went on the finish the season with a 12-4 record. There are some in Chief land who still don’t believe in Alex Smith, well that’s the problem, your belief should be in Andy Reid’s offense. For all his game managing ways, Alex Smith has a pretty good defense with him and last year’s YAC leader Travis Kelce. Last season Travis Kelce finished with 85 receptions for over 1100 yards and 4 TDS. The most surprising number… He was targeted 117 times. Although he wasn’t much of a target threat, gone is Jeremy Maclin on the outside which opens the door for an even bigger opportunity for Kelce. This game should be great; the Chiefs would love to begin their journey to dethrone New England with a win on the road. Gronk vs. Kelce TD celebration battle should be good to watch too. The Chiefs have playmakers and we know Andy loves to feed them, but even with the ability of Kelce, Hill and rookie up and coming RB Kareem Hunt, I don’t see Bill and Tom losing a home opener fresh off a statement SB win.

Chiefs 24 Pats 34

Russell Wilson is healthy, Jordy Nelson is Healthy and Aaron Rodgers is still great… Sprinkle in a little Eddie Lacey revenge and you have all the ingredients for game to be remembered. Russell Wilson suffered from an injury plagued and banged up season last year, yet he still helped his team continue their dominance over the NFC West and keep their playoff streak alive. Despite still getting in the playoffs, The Seahawks were knocked off in the divisional round by last year’s runner up Atlanta Falcons. The Packers had an up and down season (by their standards up and down is still good with Rodgers) in 2016. They dealt with mediocre production from the running game during the first half of the season and were staring at a 4-6 record with 6 games left to go and Detroit and Minnesota looking to keep them out of the playoffs (which doesn’t happen). Then it happened Rodgers spoke “I feel like we can run the table” once Ty Montgomery took over for Lacey it provided a little spark to go with Rodgers words and they did exactly that. A-Rod ripped off an impressive 15TDs and 0 INTs the last 6 games of the season. Ty Montgomery, a former WR, was converted to RB mid-season and showed great promise. He became a pretty good weapon for A-Rod out of the backfield and not to mention Rodgers had a healthy Jordy Nelson. The Pack would go on to knock off two NFC East contenders in the Giants and Cowboys. They were also knocked by last year’s runner up, however in the NFC Championship game. Bottom line, both of these teams are looking to add some more hardware to their trophy cases and both have dynamic offenses and quarterbacks. Had this game been in Seattle I would have went with Seattle here, but I can’t go against the magic man Rodgers on his home turf!

SEA 28 GB 34

Yea most fans in Giants and Cowboys nation are probably tired of seeing these two teams face off every year in Dallas in week 1… IT’S GETTING REPETITIVE GUYS… But who can blame them this time after the way these two faced off and overall performed last season. Basically I can see why they decided to match them up again in week 1 this season. Tony Romo goes down in comes a rookie QB and a rookie RB to try and lead Dallas back to the post…Not going to happen! pfft WRONG! Not only did Dallas make the playoffs they were the best team in the entire NFL last year during the regular season, that’s right even better than your current champs up north in New England. I mean with that offensive line no one expected a disastrous output like the one they had with Matt Cassell in 2015, I mean come on it was Matt Cassell. However I’m sure not one soul expected the 13-3 finish and no.1 seed in the NFC and best record in the NFL, well maybe Dallas fans did. Keep in mind only two of those losses, both from their current opponent – more on that later- were legit. That 3rd loss came when positioning was already locked up and starters resting, had it not been for those pesky Giants may Dallas fans would be bragging about an undefeated season last year… bullet dodged for non-Dallas fans… Despite all their regular season magic and, what I believe was Dak Prescott’s best performance to date to mount a comeback for Dallas against Green Bay in the playoffs, Dallas went 1 and done. Now for the Giants they finished with an impressive 11-5 record thanks in most part to the defense which went from butt to what! No one saw the Giants D having the type of season they did last year finishing 10th in overall defense. The offense, however, took a few steps back from what we saw during Ben McAdoo’s first two seasons as OC. It was mainly due to the O-line and the Giants predictable play calling. So far during the preseason the O-line has shown some improvement. At this point any improvement is good news to Giants fans. To battle some of the woes the Giants use a quick strike offense which helps eliminate pressure. The Giants have the kind of defense that just any improvement on the line to allow Eli and company to work could get them back to the playoffs a 2nd time under McAdoo. Odell’s status is still up in the air for this game but I expect him to play based off how Ben has been about the situation. This game won’t break any scoring records. Based off the way last season went, I’m giving this one to the Giants. The offense will do just enough to pull out the win in a close one with the defense being the stars of the show again.

NYG 20 DAL 17

Of all the games being played on Sunday, this one is my favorite. We get to watch two quarterbacks who are the future of the NFL face off. Last year both of these teams had their teams in the playoff picture late in the season but only one made it. Both teams also lost their starting QB’s at the end of the season to a broken leg; this hurt the Raiders the most. Raider nation was riding a huge high after making the playoffs for the first time since their 2002 SuperBowl loss to the Tampa Buccaneers. Only problem was, after leading them to the water, Derek Carr was not there to help them drink. The playoff berth was bitter/sweet (much more on the bitter side) with the loss of Carr. Before that some had pegged Oakland as a potential threat to the Patriots last season, with him being back healthy and new addition Marshawn Lynch the Raiders are looking to make that “potential” threat to an actual promise. The Titans had their playoff destiny in their own hands going into a game many expected them win against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Murphy’s Law was in play that game, Mariotta when 8-20 for 99 yards and 1TD before breaking his leg after being sacked by Sheldon Day in the 3rd quarter. The Titans lost the 38-17 and lost their starting QB for the season. They needed a massive amount of help to make postseason, which did not happen, even had it did, they would’ve been in same situation as the Raiders. Both of these teams are similar to me. They both have solid up and coming young QB’s, pretty good WR groups, good backfields, although the Titans have a huge leg up on them with the combo of Murray and Henry, outstanding offensive lines and both have playmakers on defense in Jurell Casey and Brian Orakpo for the Titans and Khalil Mack and Bruce Irvin for the Raiders. They both are susceptible to the pass though, so this game could turn into a shootout between these two young QB’s. I want to go with the Raiders here but I think Tennessee takes a huge step forward this season and that leg up in the running game will help Tennessee secure the victory here.

OAK 31 TENN 34

 

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