Sportsball, 2019 Week 2 Preview: ARE They Who We Thought They Were??

 

Sportsball, 2019 Week 2 Preview Edition: ARE They Who We Thought They Were??

 

Welcome to week 2 of the NFL! Except for Thursday Night’s NFC South contest, we’ll dive into all of this week’s match-ups right here.

This is always the time of year for tremendous overreactions. Some team everyone thought would take things to the next level this year, came out looking flat in week one. Another team that was supposed to be in full rebuilding mode and a few years away from any kind of success, put on a surprisingly adequate performance — maybe they almost picked up a win. This acclaimed new offensive coordinator clearly has no game plan and the team is going completely off the rails this season, but that coach that everyone said should have been fired suddenly has the team completely turned around.

But with just a single sixty-minute excursion (or.. up to seventy minutes in a few cases) in the books, there are plenty of story lines still developing, and plenty of season yet to come. Which begs the question, which teams are really poised to surprise everyone, and which ones are truly what we thought they were?

Feel free to say who YOU thought they were in the comments section, or tell us how dumb you thought WE were on the Twitters.

 

Sunday, 15 September (1:00 pm)

Cardinals (current record: 0-0-1 / current prediction: 2-13-1)
Ravens (current record: 1-0 / current prediction: 11-5)

No one really knew for sure what to expect out of this Arizona team, whose new head coach Kliff Kingsbury — his first-ever job in the NFL — had led some very productive offenses, but overall had not achieved a great amount of success as measured in team victories, as a collegiate coach. The general consensus was that this team might struggle a bit this season, and therefore probably no one was surprised when they had amassed a mere three points by halftime in last week’s game against Detroit. And those three points came within the final two minutes of the half and followed a fumbled punt return by the Lions.

But then freshman quarterback Kyler Murray and the rest of his team seemed to wake up a bit — or the desert heat started to be too much for the visitors from the Motor City. Either way, Arizona ended up making the game much more competitive over the final half hour, tying at 24 by the end of regulation. Right off the bat both teams traded field goals, but then time elapsed before either of them could do much else. All in all, the Cards showed a bit more fight, perhaps, than anyone might have expected.

But that was a home game against the Lions. Today the team is crossing the country for an early afternoon game against a Baltimore team that completely and utterly demolished the Dolphins in week one, to the tune of a 49-point deficit in the final score. Many analysts were expecting second-year quarterback Lamar Jackson might have some difficulty as the team’s QB1, looking at him as a one-trick pony that opposing defensive coordinators will have figured out after seeing some game tape from when he took over as the starter last year. Well. In Miami, the Heisman trophy winner ran with the ball a total of three times, picking up just six yards (both rushing numbers were slightly lower than his backup, veteran Robert Griffin III). Outside of that, Jackson was 17-for-20, totaling 324 yards (an average of 19 per completion) and five TDs. Griffin, meanwhile, added another six passes (on six attempts), one of which also reached the end zone.

For two teams that somewhat overachieved last week, based on pre-season expectations, it’s hard to envision any result that doesn’t add a second “W” for the home team.

 

Sunday, 15 September (1:00 pm)

Chargers (current record: 1-0 / current prediction: 7-9)
Lions (current record: 0-0-1 / current prediction: 3-12-1)

This is a Detroit team whose ceiling many only be a handful of wins, and they squandered what may have been one of their best opportunities to grab one of them, when they allowed the Cardinals to come back and tie the game last week. Los Angeles nearly suffered the same fate playing against the Colts, who piled up enough fourth-quarter points to make up for some earlier missed kicks, making this another game that went into overtime with the score tied at 24. But the Chargers took the ball first in the extra innings, and never gave it back — driving 75 yards for a touchdown over the course of five minutes. What happens today in Motown remains to be seen, but one of these teams went to overtime and tied a team widely expected to be near the bottom of the league this season, while the other went to overtime and ultimately defeated a team that had some serious Super Bowl buzz during the offseason.

 

Sunday, 15 September (1:00 pm)

Colts (current record: 0-1 / current prediction: 8-8)
Titans (current record: 1-0 / current prediction: 6-10)

This divisional match-up looks much different than it did a few weeks ago — before Andrew Luck hung up his cleats, leaving quarterback duties in the entirely capable (although perhaps not quite as elite) hands of Jacoby Brissett, and also before Tennessee started off the season with a bang, rolling over the current “it team” Cleveland with a 30-point victory on the road. This figures to be a pleasant surprise in terms of an exciting game to watch, as the two teams may be more evenly-matched than anyone previously thought. With a determined Indianapolis team coming into the Music City after last week’s disheartening overtime loss, it seems reasonable to expect them to put up quite a fight against these Titans, compared with the Browns in week one.

As an aside, a tip of the helmet goes to Tennessee tight end Delanie Walker for serving as inspiration for resurrecting the quote in the title of this week’s article.

 

Sunday, 15 September (1:00 pm)

49ers (current record: 1-0 / current prediction: 7-9)
Bengals (current record: 0-1 / current prediction: 5-11)

Seeing a west-coast team travel through three time zones to play at 1pm, history generally favors the home team. In this case, Cincinnati may have a chip on their shoulder as well, seeing the prevailing opinion among national analysts essentially writing them off this year — although they certainly gave the Seahawks all they could last week, including twice as many passing yards and twice as many total yards as they allowed from Seattle. The Bengals were defeated in that game by only a one-point margin, a bit of a surprising outcome. In such a game, small details can make a big difference, and the turnover ratio of three fumbles lost by Cincinnati compared with just one by the Seahawks (all taking place in the second half) may have been enough to affect the final outcome. As we discussed on Thursday, takeaways leading directly to points scored by San Francisco‘s defense played a huge role in their win over Tampa Bay last week. If this group is able to put up a similar performance today in southwestern Ohio, the results may be similar.

 

Sunday, 15 September (1:00 pm)

Jaguars (current record: 0-1 / current prediction: 5-11)
Texans (current record: 0-1 / current prediction: 9-7)

Another AFC South fight that looks completely different than it did on paper before this season: last week we discussed the multiple high-profile roster moves Houston made recently, and then quarterback Nick Foles (who was supposed to be the last piece needed to return Jacksonville to a successful season) exited their week one match against the Chiefs with a broken collarbone. While rookie Gardner Minshew performed admirably in a replacement role, the outlook for these Jaguars (our pre-season pick to win this division) has been irreparably altered.

The Texans, on the other hand, looked impressive Monday night, especially in DeShaun Watson‘s two-play 75-yard touchdown drive to take the lead within the final minute. Had the quarterback on the opposing sideline been nearly anyone else other than Drew Brees, that almost certainly would have ended the game right there. Also, had the Houston defense not inexplicably spread out so far on the penultimate play, giving up more than enough yards to set up New Orleans for the winning kick. In general, though, this Texans team is looking like the most complete within a division that is suddenly very much up for grabs.

 

Sunday, 15 September (1:00 pm)

Vikings (current record: 1-0 / current prediction: 9-7)
Packers (current record: 1-0 / current prediction: 10-6)

Speaking of divisions up for grabs, both of these teams put on a better show than last year’s champion Bears in week one. Green Bay was far from perfect last Thursday night, but their defense matched the Packers‘ all night, forcing punt after punt in both directions. When both defenses are dominating the game as much as those two were doing, it all comes down to the play of the quarterbacks, and there are few in the league that anyone would bet on more strongly than Aaron Rodgers. Meanwhile, last week Minnesota scored 28 points, all of which came after interceptions or fumble recoveries or blocked punts. Quarterback Kirk Cousins didn’t need to do much to secure that win over Atlanta. While Chicago is still considered the team to beat in the NFC North until we see more evidence to the contrary, it wouldn’t be a shock to see either of these two teams dethroning them by the end of the year.

 

Sunday, 15 September (1:00 pm)

Cowboys (current record: 1-0 / current prediction: 10-6)
Redskins (current record: 0-1 / current prediction: 3-13)

In a week full of surprises, Dallas looked every bit as dominant against their NFC East rival Giants in week one as we might have guessed. The only potential stumbling block for this team is the ongoing contract negotiations between the team and quarterback Dak Prescott, who put on a near-perfect show last week.

Meanwhile, Washington jumped out to a surprising 17-0 lead against their NFC East week one opponent, before the Eagles turned on the jets throughout the second half. After a stat line of 28 yards on 13 carries for the entire team last week, it will be interesting to see what the offense looks like with Adrian Peterson reactivated after sitting on the bench during the game in Philadelphia.

 

Sunday, 15 September (1:00 pm)

Steelers (current record: 0-1 / current prediction: 11-5)
Seahawks (current record: 1-0 / current prediction: 11-5)

See the 49ers synopsis above for a discussion on west-coast teams playing early afternoon games in the eastern time zone. In particular, Seattle has been completely shut out in their last two games in Pittsburgh (2011 and 2007. Add that to the Steelers feeling extra motivated after falling on their face in New England last Sunday, and it could be a recipe for disaster for this Seahawks team who barely squeaked out a victory over the Bengals last week. Having said that, these two teams have only played once with Russell Wilson at the helm, a much closer contest, but one which ended up victorious for the Emerald City team.

 

Sunday, 15 September (1:00 pm)

Bills (current record: 1-0 / current prediction: 9-7)
Giants (current record: 0-1 / current prediction: 7-9)

Traveling across the Empire State once again, Buffalo will try to repeat their week-one success against the Jets when they play in MetLife Stadium for a second consecutive week. Actually, the Bills would probably prefer to leave out the part where they gave up 16 points to their opponent without scoring any of their own, during the first half, and skip ahead to the second half where they completely flipped the script and took a 17-16 win over their division rivals. The Giants, meanwhile, were no match for the Cowboys in their opening game, a slow start to the season that may turn up the heat on the team’s quarterback controversy if it continues.

 

Sunday, 15 September (1:00 pm)

Patriots (current record: 1-0 / current prediction: 1-15)
Dolphins (current record: 0-1 / current prediction: 14-2)

Tom Brady‘s team may not have a stellar record playing in Miami, with a 7-10 record in road games against their southern-most division rival. That historical statistic might be the only thing keeping this Patriots team (won 33-3 against Pittsburgh last week) from putting up triple digits against Miami (lost 59-10 to Baltimore).

 

Sunday, 15 September (4:05 pm)

Chiefs (current record: 1-0 / current prediction: 13-3)
Raiders (current record: 1-0 / current prediction: 6-10)

Watching the Antonio Brown drama continue to unfold, both Pittsburgh and Oakland may have dodged a bullet here. Having put all that mess behind them and turning the focus squarely on the game of football seems like just what the doctor ordered for the Raiders who came out of the gate quickly in the late game Monday, taking a 14-0 lead over Denver by halftime. But after having traded or cut two big-name receivers since mid-season last year, it’s curious whether they will be able to keep up that rate of offensive production. Or for that matter, whether they will be able to prevent Kansas City from doing the same — after the Chiefs dumped 40 points on Jacksonville‘s defense a week ago.

 

Sunday, 15 September (4:25 pm)

Saints (current record: 1-0 / current prediction: 12-4)
Rams (current record: 1-0 / current prediction: 12-4)

This will be the first meeting between these two since the conference championship game, which you may have heard some people were not entirely thrilled with the outcome of, and it’s all anyone can talk about. But if you’re able to put that controversy aside, this should be one of the better games of the week simply from a football standpoint: these are both likely to be among the top contenders in the NFC once again this season, who both came out victorious in exciting matches against strong competitors (the Texans and Panthers) in the opening weekend. Our prediction is for New Orleans to take this one, but that outcome seems far less assured than many of the others we’re looking at this week.

 

Sunday, 15 September (4:25 pm)

Bears (current record: 0-1 / current prediction: 12-4)
Broncos (current record: 0-1 / current prediction: 4-12)

As mentioned when we were discussing the Packers earlier, Chicago had an excellent defensive showing last Thursday. Unfortunately, the offense didn’t quite keep up their end of the bargain. But Joe Flacco has never been confused for Aaron Rodgers, so will Denver be good enough on that side of the ball to overcome the Bears as Green Bay did?

Meanwhile, while the Broncos‘ defense has long been a strength, they registered zero sacks and just two tackles for loss against the Raiders last week. Will Denver‘s new head coach Vic Fangio have an advantage over the team where he served as defensive coordinator the previous four seasons, or will the same familiarity give Chicago a boost over his new team’s defense?

 

Sunday, 15 September (8:20 pm)

Eagles (current record: 1-0 / current prediction: 7-9)
Falcons (current record: 0-1 / current prediction: 7-9)

Tonight’s SNF showdown pits two recent NFC champions against each other. While Philadelphia came out rather slowly against Washington, they eventually got their act together and came away with the “W”; a similar stumble off the starting block for Atlanta, however, persisted throughout the contest in Minnesota. Too many mistakes led directly to too many Vikings points for the Falcons to be able to overcome. Matt Ryan and company will really need to clean up their collective act to avoid ending up 0-2 and staring at a steep uphill battle in the South division.

 

Monday, 16 September (8:15 pm)

Browns (current record: 0-1 / current prediction: 6-10)
Jets (current record: 0-1 / current prediction: 9-7)

Finally, Monday night’s game sees a pair of teams who are both expected to rise above the misery of the past few seasons, and, while division championships might still be a bit out of reach for these two, at the very least, who were looking likely to be competitive in the AFC wild card race. Then both teams hit a bit of a reality check in the Titans and Bills, derailing the lofty hopes in Cleveland and New York — at least for one week.

This match also sees the Browns facing their former defensive coordinator (who also served as interim head coach during the second half of last year — making him the only head coach to leave Cleveland with a winning career record since Marty Schottenheimer thirty years ago), Gregg Williams. Naturally, the Browns players would have plenty to say about seeing him leading the defense on the opposing sideline, but surprisingly the most vocal was a receiver who recently came to Cleveland from the Giants.

Moving over to the Jets offense, their new star running back Le’Veon Bell says he should be ok after a precautionary MRI on his shoulder this week. New York fans should breathe a sigh of relief at that news, considering their starting quarterback Sam Darnold has been ruled out due to a potentially serious illness, and they now will be putting their passing game in the hands of Trevor Siemian (who amassed a 59% completion rate, with 30 touchdowns and 24 interceptions, plus nine fumbles, during his 25 games in Denver).

 

 

2019-20 Playoff Picture (Pre-Week 2 Edition):

AFC:

  • #6 Jets at #3 Ravens
  • #5 Steelers at #4 Texans
  • Bye Week: Patriots, Chiefs

 

NFC:

  • #6 Seahawks at #3 Rams
  • #5 Panthers at #4 Cowboys
  • Bye Week: Bears, Saints

 

Super Bowl LIV:

  • W: New Orleans Saints
  • L: Kansas City Chiefs
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