Football fans, listed below is everything you need to know to get ready for Week 2 in the NFL. This will be a weekly post going up every Thursday with all the match-ups, narratives and games you should be keeping an eye on over the weekend. Below is your NFL Week 2 Primer:
Key Match Ups
Green Bay Packers @ Atlanta Falcons – NFC Championship Game Repeat
The Atlanta Falcons blew the red hot Packers out of the water in last years NFC Championship Game. The Falcons’ high-flying offense steered by offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan rattled off 31 unanswered points before Rodgers scored Green Bay’s first points halfway through the third quarter. Despite not losing much in the way of personnel since their Super Bowl appearance last season, this match up looks set to be very different to the 44-21 blow out last season.
Without Shanahan calling plays, question marks still remain about Falcons OC Steve Sarkisian. The Falcons stuttered in week 1 against a young and emerging Bears team while Green Bay secured an impressive win over the Seattle Seahawks. It should be interesting to see how Green Bay’s young secondary hold up against Julio Jones, Mohammad Sanu and Taylor Gabriel. Matt Ryan is likely to test newly signed Davon House and 3rd year players Quinten Rollins and Damarious Randall often as the Packers defense excels in shutting down the run.
This young Falcons defense is quick, explosive and will look to fly around with sprinter speed in the new dome. Aaron Rodgers will likely be his elite self and these young Falcons corners need to be ready to go 12 rounds with Jordy Nelson and co. A key match up will be Green Bay’s linebackers and safety Haha Clinton-Dix covering Atlanta’s RB duo of Tevin Coleman and Devonta Freeman. If this Packers defense can shut down the run and limit those two through the air, the score should remain low and allow Aaron Rodgers to go to work on offence.
Dallas Cowboys @ Denver Broncos – No Fly Zone vs Dak/ Dez/ Zeke
A mouth watering match up as Dallas’ run-first, beat you up offensive approach heads to Denver to take on the vaunted ‘no fly zone’ and attempt to quieten edge rusher Von Miller. Miller will likely line up on the left side to test young RT La’el Collins. If Collins struggles, Dallas could be required to leave TE Jason Witten or RB Ezekiel Elliott in to help block Miller. Prescott could be forced to hold the ball longer as Dez Bryant will look to create separation from Chris Harris Jr. or Aqib Talib. If Witten is forced to stay in and block, Prescott’s next go to Cole Beasley will also have a tough match up on his hand as nickel CB Bradley Roby is likely to be sticky in coverage.
On the flipside, look for Dallas’ front seven to go up against a largely untested Denver O-Line which struggled in pass protection against the Chargers. Dallas’ new look secondary look to have a tough match up against Emmanuel Sanders and Demaryius Thomas. It should be fun to watch dynamic linebacker duo Jaylon Smith and Sean Lee team up again as they fly around the field, rallying to the foooball. Can Trevor Siemian silence the nay-sayers and record a famous win against an NFC super power at home? This looks set to be a fun one!
New England Patriots @ New Orleans Saints – First 0-2 start for New England since 2002?
After falling to 0-1 with a crushing loss at home to the Kansas City Chiefs – Bill Belichick, Tom Brady and most importantly Matt Patricia need to find a winning formula to beat the Saints in New Orleans. Playing Drew Brees and Sean Payton in a dome is never easy but after giving up the most amount of points and yards ever by a Bill Belichick coached defense, New England needs to find a way to slow down Drew Brees. Any busted coverage assignments like Thursday will lead to scores as the Saints possess a multitude of speedsters who can blow the lid off a defense.
The Saints defense struggled against Sam Bradford and the Vikings in week 1, however, Cameron Jordan looks to have hit all-pro form in week 1. He’ll look to fluster Brady and disrupt the timing of New England’s offense. It will be interesting to see how New Orleans’ young and inexperienced secondary look to slow down Brady and the Patriots, pressure from Jordan and stuffing the run inside will be key if New Orleans look to hand the Patriots their second loss in as many weeks.
Revenge games are everywhere in week 2! Sean McVay was with the Washington Redskins from 2010 to 2016 and served as their offensive coordinator in 2014, 2015 and ’16 calling plays and overseeing the development of QB Kirk Cousins. McVay will host his old team as the Head Coach of the LA Rams – McVay started his tenure in Los Angeles with an impressive 46-9 win over the Colts last week.
Kansas City Chiefs Head Coach Andy Reid upset the football world with an impressive 42-27 dispatch of the New England Patriots in Foxborough. Now Reid will host his former team the Philadelphia Eagles at Arrowhead Stadium on Sunday. Reid was Head Coach of the Eagles for 14 seasons before being fired following the 2012 season. During his tenure, Reid took the team to Super Bowl XXXIX where they lost 24-21 to the Patriots. In his 5th year in Kansas City, Reid has only played his former team once in 2013.
Sean McDermott was the defensive coordinator for six years in Charlotte with his Carolina Panthers ranking in the top-10 in total defense for four of those seasons. McDermott helped oversee a Panthers team that went 15-1 in 2015 but ultimately fell short in Super Bowl 50. McDermott will travel back to Charlotte to take on the Panthers as the new Head Coach of the Buffalo Bills. McDermott will hope to pick the lock and find a winning formula to overcome Carolina’s daunting defense.
Match Up of the Week
Pittsburgh Steelers offence vs Minnesota Vikings defense. The Steelers offence when clicking is arguably the most unstoppable in the entire NFL. While Pittsburgh stuttered against Cleveland in week 1, Mike Tomlin will want his team firing on all cylinders as they prepare for a showdown with a red-hot Vikings team who decisively dispatched the Saints in week 1.
Antonio Brown and Martavis Bryant vs. Xavier Rhodes and Trae Waynes should be a lot of fun on the outside. For those of us who love physical and hard-nose football, I cannot wait to watch the tough, gritty Steelers offensive line go pound-for-pound with this nasty Vikings front seven. Everson Griffen vs Alejandro Villanueva and Linval Joseph vs. David DeCastro, Maurice Pouney and Ramon Foster looks set to be particularly appetizing inside. It should be fun to see whether the Vikings can slow down Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell. This looks set to be a classic.
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