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NFL Week 2 Discussion and Questions

Coming off a very exciting NFL Week 1 for the 2014 season we saw some surprises, some disappointments and some things that were right on par to what many experts and barroom football guru’s thought what would happen.

To recap the major talking points coming out of Week 1:

  • Seattle looked better than advertised. At some points while watching their Week 1 drubbing of the Green Bay Packers I felt that I was watching them play directly following their Superbowl win. They looked dominant on offense and defense (stop me if you haven’t heard that one before) and Russell Wilson looked amazing. Marshawn Lynch continues to be a headache to bring down and the defense looked unstoppable even with arguably their best defense player never once having a ball thrown his way. So in a backwards way…..Richard Sherman did have a dominant game defensively?
  • The Dallas Cowboys are going to be bad…..real bad. Tony Romo looked like he has never seen an NFL defense before and the Cowboys defense was just as advertised….. BAD. The 49ers jumped out to a three touchdown lead within mere seconds and the game was never close. Frank Gore and Carlos Hyde destroyed the interior and no one on the Dallas defense could contain Colin Kaepernick in the slightest bit. Early signs show that this will be a long season for the Cowboys.
  • Peyton Manning was Peyton Manning. It was no surprise that at least visually the Broncos were back to normal after being dismantled during the Superbowl. The additions of Demarcus Ware, TJ Ward and Aqib Talib have brought credibility back to the defense and aside from a few drops on offense from newly acquired Emmanuel Sanders, the Broncos offense looked stellar (as expected). They were a little shaky against the Colts in the second half after dominating the entire first but ultimately got the win. I didn’t really expect them to blowout the Colts anyway!
  • The Carolina Panthers could be better than we all thought. News broke late Saturday that the Panthers were going to sit out an ailing Cam Newton (ribs) for their opening week game in Tampa Bay. Tampa, who are heavily expected to be the surprise playoff team in the NFC, barely looked different from the ever so short Greg Schiano era. For the Panthers, it seemed their charitable donations to the NFL this year included letting Steve Smith Sr. (Ravens), Brandon LaFell (Patriots) and Ted Ginn (Cardinals) pursue other teams in the league, so many people (myself included) expected disastrous results. For Tampa Bay they had an OK defense already and added former Titans Pro Bowl cornerback Alterraun Verner but could not contain former Pro Bowler Derek Anderson (2007- Browns) and the Panthers offense minus their most crucial piece. For much of the game, Josh McCown underwhelmed (I mean honestly, people were relishing this signing and equating it to Manning going to the Broncos). Despite a late push, Tampa was not good enough to topple the Panthers who were missing their best player.

Questions I have coming into Week 2:

Can the Titans continue their recent winning ways with a healthy Jake Locker?

It wasn’t winning last week against the Kansas City Chiefs that was real a shocker, it was that Kansas City was never in the game. The Titans scored the first touchdown and then slowly wore the Chiefs out. If you remember last season prior to the yearly tradition of Jake Locker being injured, the Titans were one bad play away (in Houston Week 2) from being a 4-0 football team. Ryan Fitzpatrick took over for Locker and the Titans fell apart in every aspect of the game. When Locker was healthy last season he was unusually accurate and the team had zero turnovers until their matchup with the Chiefs in 2013 Week 4. Tennessee picked up right where they left off last season with a healthy Locker. With Dallas looking abysmal in their Week 1 loss to the 49ers, Tennessee has a realistic chance to start this season 2-0.

My Guess: The Titans will commit less than 1 turnover in their matchup with the Cowboys and have the game in hand before the halfway point of the third quarter.

Can the Chiefs, Packers and/or Bears survive a 0-2 start?

There is a very realistic chance that one or possible all three of these teams drops to 0-2 on Sunday. The Packers will face a defensively tough Jets team and although they are not to be feared as the Seahawks defense which throttled them last week, they still need to be respected. Eddie Lacy looks as if he will be a go for Sunday but assuredly cannot be 100% healthy (concussion). I expect the Jets to run a similar offense to Seattle’s from Week 1. A heavy dosage of Chris Johnson and Chris Ivory and not relying on Geno Smith to win them the game could seal the deal for a Jets 2-0 season start.

The Chiefs can easily be argued as one of the big disappointments in Week 1. Heavy favorites against the Titans (in Kansas City) and coming off an 11-5 season, there were some high expectations for this team. However, the honest story about the Chiefs is that they blew an enormous lead against the Colts in their playoff matchup last season and did not improve in the player personnel department. The Chiefs suffered departures of Dexter McCluster (Titans), Branden Albert (Dolphins), Jon Asamoah and Tyson Jackson (both to the Falcons). The only viable weapon on offense is Jamaal Charles and in Week 1 he barely had a workload. A depleted receiving corps that is relying heavily on receivers that would be fighting for 4th string snaps also doesn’t make for any threat at all.

All offseason, every sports outlet raved over Jay Cutler and his “weapons”. Alshon Jeffrey and Brandon Marshall were going to each catch 2,000 yards receiving and Matt Forte would dominate the run. Okay, okay…maybe Marshall and Jeffrey weren’t expected to have that much production but the offense was beginning to have slight comparisons to that of the Patriots, Broncos and Packers. Although the offense seemingly did hold their own, the Bears defense was front and center as a glaring problem last week. They could not stop the run against Buffalo (Bills finished with 193 total yards rushing). Now the Bears face a Dolphins team that ran for 191 yards against the Patriots in Week 1.

My Guess: Chiefs, Bears both fall to 0-2, Packers ultimately get my vote of confidence due to game being in Green Bay.

Bold Prediction for Week 2: The Indianapolis Colts will fall to the Eagles on Monday night football in similar fashion to their loss to Denver from Week 1. The Eagles will come out and have a huge lead, Colts make a comeback but too late. The Colts a surprising 0-2 record to start the season.

Guaranteed Lock for Week 2: The New England Patriots do not fall to 0-2, they handle the Vikings easily (even if Adrian Peterson would have been active for the game.) I expect a heavy dosage of newly acquired TE Tim Wright and the defense to not collapse a second week in a row.

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Tony Bitkowski

Contact Tony on Twitter @TonyBitkowski.

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