Beginning with a sloppy contest between the Jets and Patriots on Thursday night week two of the NFL season saw plenty of close finishes and talking points as the season really kicked into gear. Below are three players, coaches or entire units who enjoyed the best and worst of the second week of the season, as well as my prediction for tonight’s Monday Night Football match up between Pittsburgh and Cincinnati. Both have started the season 0-1 and the contest will be crucial to both teams chances of usurping the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC north.
The San Diego QB lit up a porous Philadelphia secondary on his way to 419 yards and three touchdowns as the Chargers bounced back from their week one collapse against Houston to move to 1-1. The game was as close to a must win as you can get this early in the season, yet Rivers excelled when it mattered most and he was especially good on third down where he lead his team to 10 out of 15 conversions. Rivers used all his tactical nous and veteran experience to milk the clock at every opportunity, in the process frustrating Chip Kelly and the Eagles up tempo offense while also giving his own defenders a much needed rest. Rivers had a somewhat below par 2012 season so he’ll be delighted to have made a strong statement early doors in this campaign.
Williams racked up 4.5 sacks during Buffalo’s thrilling 24-23 victory against the Carolina Panthers. Like Rivers, Williams drew criticism in some quarters for his play last year after he received a monster contract from the Bills and this early season pass rushing extravaganza will have gone some way to quieting his doubters. Cam Newton isn’t the easiest QB to bottle up thanks to his speed/size combo making Williams’ effort, a Buffalo record, look all the more impressive. Buffalo could quite easily be 2-0 and although they find themselves just 1-1 thus far they look to have every opportunity to challenge a weakened New England in the AFC east.
How do you stop Colin Kaepernick? CAN you stop Colin Kaepernick? Those were the questions being asked around the NFL after the 49ers offensively fuelled run to last years Superbowl and their excellent performance with the ball against Green Bay in week one, yet Seattle managed to limit the vaunted San Francisco O to just three points in last nights 29-3 rout. Seattle have the potential to be a genuine Superbowl contender themselves this year and while their offense led by Russell Wilson is efficient it’s their defense which will win games on its own. Cornerback Richard Sherman talks a good game and he backed it up by limiting week one star WR Anquan Boldin to just one catch. Kaepernick was picked off three times; to put that in perspective he’d only been intercepted three times in his entire career spanning 17 games before last night.
For the second week in a row Tampa Bay lost in heartbreaking fashion, but rather than a penalty essentially costing them a win it was a missed 47 yard field goal by the usually dependable Lindell. Kickers have a tough gig and their mistakes are often highlighted more than any position on the field barring Quarterback, something Lindell will be all too aware of after his miss allowed New Orleans to drive down the field and beat the Bucs with a field goal of their own with just seconds left on the clock.
No team has underwhelmed through two weeks as much as the Redskins, who were embarrassed yesterday by Aaron Rodgers and co in Green Bay. Robert Griffin III’s health was the main topic of discussion heading into the season and although he’s played in both games he hasn’t looked anywhere near as explosive as he did last season. That can probably be attributed to rust for the most part; unfortunately for Shanahan the same can’t be said of his defense. Philadelphia ran rough shed over the Skins in week one and Green Bay followed suit yesterday. For all the flaws in the Washington D allowing Green Bay’s first 100 yard rusher (James Starks) for over three years is the most worrisome sign, and Shanahan is under real pressure already to turn things around in the ultra competitive NFC east.
In the much hyped third instalment of the ‘Manning Bowl’ the younger brother failed to live up to his end of the bargain as his elder sibling Peyton showed him how it’s done as Eli slumped to 0-3 in the series. Eli admittedly doesn’t have too many options in the passing game this year and the running game is so bad Brandon Jacobs was re-signed during the week, but his four interceptions can’t be blamed on a poor supporting cast. I’m firmly in the ‘Eli is overrated’ camp, and although he’s often proved me wrong in the past I’d be very surprised if he led the Giants makeshift offense into the post season this year.
MNF Prediction – Steelers 17, Bengals 28
The Steelers were so bad in week one, especially on offense, that I can’t see them winning this one. Ben Roethlisberger will do well to lead Pittsburgh to my predicted 17 points. I don’t however think the defense will be able to stop Andy Dalton, A.J Green, who is truly elite, and the Bengals passing game. Comfortable hoem win.