Week 2 of the NFL season is underway after last night’s clash between the Jets and the Patriots, and now it’s time to take a closer look at the NFC side of the schedule for week 2, which features four divisional matchups, including one heavyweight battle, as well as four crossover matchups with the AFC, as the NFC tries to live up to its reputation as the stronger conference. Let’s take a closer look at each game on the slate for this weekend:
St. Louis at Atlanta – This game features two high-powered offenses that excel indoors and on turf. The Falcons were slowed down a little bit last week, as they only scored 17 points and failed to capitalize on an opportunity to win the game late. After losing last week, there’s a little more pressure on the Falcons, as they can’t afford to start out 0-2, especially within the division, but the Rams have the potential to keep pace with Atlanta, which could lead to a high-scoring game.
Carolina at Buffalo – The Panthers just missed pulling off an upset over Seattle last week, and now they have to hit the road to face a Buffalo team that looked impressive in a losing effort in week 1. Cam Newton struggled to get the ball downfield last week, but he’s going to have to take advantage of a questionable Buffalo secondary this week, especially since the Carolina defense is going to be challenged with an up-tempo Buffalo offense that is hoping for more production out of star running back C.J. Spiller this week.
Minnesota at Chicago – This is a great rivalry game between two division foes, as the Bears try leap to the front of the division with a 2-0 start, while the Vikings try to avoid a damaging 0-2 start. Minnesota gave up a lot of passing yards to Matthew Stafford last week, which means the opportunity is there for Jay Cutler to do the same, coming off a strong performance in week 1. As for the Vikings, they need to be better on both sides of the ball and do their best to keep it a low-scoring game, giving Adrian Peterson a chance to win it for them.
Dallas at Kansas City – This will be a great litmus test for the Chiefs, who dominated the Jaguars last week and will now play their first game against a real NFL team. The Cowboys will be equally challenged by a formidable Kansas City defense. Dallas shouldn’t expect six turnovers to fall in their lap again, so they’re going to need a lot more efficiency out of their offense. We should learn a lot about both these teams from this game.
Washington at Green Bay – One of these playoff teams from last season is going to be looking down the barrel of a 0-2 start. All eyes will once again be on Robert Griffin III, after showing a lot of rust, as well as some health and mechanical issues last week. The Packers were great at keeping Colin Kaepernick confined to the pocket last week, and they’ll likely look to do the same against Griffin this week, which will challenge him to win the game with his arm, especially since he’ll have to keep up with Aaron Rodgers.
San Diego at Philadelphia – Not only do the Chargers have to travel cross country, but they also get to be next in line to check out Philadelphia’s fast-paced offense, which now has a week to make adjustments and get even better and faster offensively. What’s interesting about this matchup is that both teams had problems playing for all four quarters last week, and whichever team can improve upon that and play a full 60 minutes will have an advantage.
Detroit at Arizona – This game is bound to see some offensive fireworks, as both Matthew Stafford and Carson Palmer will be looking to go deep down the field early and often. The x-factor could be Detroit’s defensive line, which has the potential to get after the quarterback and keep Palmer from getting the ball to his playmakers; however, if Arizona can handle the pass rush, they are certainly capable of keeping up with Stafford and company in a shootout.
Denver at New York Giants – The Manning bowl may be the marquee game on the NFL schedule this week, although the two teams are in drastically different places. The Broncos couldn’t have been more impressive in week 1, and the Giants don’t appear to have the kind of defense that will be able to slow them down. Meanwhile, New York’s offense also looked difficult to stop, at least when they weren’t turning the ball over, although Denver’s defense looked good against a one-dimensional offense last week, and that could be the kind of offense the Giants have with their questions at running back. In the end, the advantage could go to whichever Manning brother is able to avoid turnovers, which could be interesting, as both should be more than willing to take chances down the field.
New Orleans at Tampa Bay – Just one week into the season and already the Bucs are falling apart on and off the field. Tampa Bay has the secondary that can compete with the Saint’s passing attack, but they hurt themselves last week with penalties, and that’s not something the Bucs will be able to get away with against New Orleans. Tampa also needs to get a better performance out of Josh Freeman this week, who completed just 15 of 31 passes last week and may have to keep up with Drew Brees in a shootout this week.
San Francisco at Seattle – This is a heavyweight matchup, not only between two young and talented quarterbacks, but between stout defenses as well. These are the top two teams in the NFC West without question, but the other two teams aren’t that far behind, so this divisional matchup is of vital importance early in the season. The 49ers had the far more impressive victory last week, and now it’s time to see if the Seahawks can make a statement at home to prove that they’re on the same level as San Francisco.