Nov. 16, 2019
NFL Week 2 Preview
It only took one week of NFL action for the madness to begin. Thursday night gave us a shockingly boring start to the season, but it wasn't long before chaos ensued. Before Sunday's games, news broke of Antonio Brown's release from Oakland, shortly followed by a deal that sent him to New England. Then on gameday, a flurry of blowouts highlighted the craziness. Blowouts aren't always a crowd-pleaser, but they certainly were in Baltimore this week. Not only were they on the right side of a 59-10 massacre, but two division rivals, Browns and Steelers, were beaten to a pulp. We also saw our first tie of the young season between two of the most snake-bitten franchises in the game, the Lions and Cardinals. The week was then capped off with a thriller in the SuperDome that might end up being the game of the year.
Every time that there's a week like that in the NFL, it's always hard to see it being topped. However, it seems that football finds a way. This week I see most of the action coming outside of primetime. All four of my featured games take place in the daylight. It should be a good day for a lazy Sunday afternoon of football.
Vikings vs Packers
Minnesota and Green Bay started strong in their first 60 minutes of the new year, particularly on the defensive side. The Packers have long been searching for a little defense, and after allowing just 3 points from their rivals on the road, there is finally some optimism in that category. The Vikings already had fairly high expectations on that side of the ball, but I think it's safe to say that they exceeded them in week 1 after shutting out a talented Atlanta team in the first 3 quarters, allowing only 12 points in garbage time on the day. After those two performances, It looks like we could be in for a good old fashion brawl up north. I know that's not everyone's favorite type of game, but I love it!
I liked the Packers chances coming into the 2019 season, and I still do, but for very different reasons. I thought their offense would take it up a notch from the past couple years, but the defense would mostly drag behind them. However, now I don't know what to think. This week should be a good test for Green Bay. The Vikings are a pretty solid, well-rounded team, and they will somewhat challenge Green Bay on both fronts. Between the home venue, the extra prep time, and Matt LaFleur getting just a bit of pressure off his back, I think the Packers have an edge going into week 2. I think those things help them take a close one in Lambeau.
Packers win, 17-13
Colts vs Titans
Before the season's start, I thought the Colts and Titans were clearly the bottom two teams in the AFC South. However, after good showings from both and an injury to Nick Foles, their positions in this division are less clear. Both sides have very talented young runners on which to base their offense, and if they establish the ground game with those guys, I believe they can keep up with most offenses out there. The QB's and defense on the other hand, I am not completely sold on yet. They still have to prove themselves, and an early division game is a good time to do that.
Although the Titans seemed to have the more impressive outing last week, the Colts performance was nothing to be upset over. Indianapolis took a tough Chargers team to OT, and they could have won in regulation if not for a couple costly misses by seasoned veteran Adam Vinatieri. The Colts' defense isn't half bad, and Jacoby Brissett appears good enough to manage the offense. I do believe Tennessee is just a bit better, at least on defense, but the Colts will not be another blowout victim. I think we'll see more solid football from both sides, but the Titans' defense will be the biggest star of the show in a home win.
Titans win, 20-16
Bears vs Broncos
Both Chicago and Denver would like to forget their 2019 openers. Losing to division rivals under the lights is not how you want to start a new year. Most of the frustrations lie in the lack of any offensive production. The Broncos only managed 16 points on a Raiders defense that has been utterly atrocious since Khalil Mack was traded. The Packers defense is supposedly on it's way up, but 3 points is unacceptable no matter who you are playing. Both of these teams would love a bounce back game in week 2, but that will be one tough task with the defenses on either side.
These two teams only play each other once every 4 year, but with former Bears coordinator Vic Fangio coaching Denver, they each know more about each other than most teams in opposite conferences do. The Bears are obviously familiar with Vic's scheme, and with Pagano seemingly trying to replicate his style, the Broncos are in the same position. This should help each offense to get some successful plays in, but it will still be an uphill battle. I do believe the Bears have a better shot at getting some points on the board. Chicago has plenty of talent on that side of the ball, they just need to utilize it, specifically by feeding their new Running Backs. If they do that, they should get a few decent drives in with some good field position from the defense. I don't know if I can say the same for the Broncos.
Bears win, 17-9
Saints vs Rams
Who doesn't like a conference championship rematch? I'm sure most of you have not forgotten the OT thriller in New Orleans last January. While that game is most remembered for the infamous no-call late in the final minutes of the 4th quarter, it was also a great game that lived up to the hype. That hype was partially built up from another great one they played back in week 9 of that same season. Needless to say, there are high expectations for this one. Let's just hope they live up to it once again.
New Orleans and L.A. were clearly the top 2 offenses in the NFC last season, and after each of them put up 30 last week, it looks like they'll be right up there again in 2019. With neither team appearing to have missed a step, we should expect another fun game that we should be looking forward to. I'm sure the Saints are looking forward to this as well. There will be a lot of emotion for New Orleans on Sunday, as I'm sure they still that they were cheated out of a Super Bowl trip. While those feelings could be the driving force that leads to an impactful win, I think it's more likely that it will be their downfall. I see those emotions clouding their focus and causing foolish penalties. The Saints' biggest opponent may not be the Rams, but themselves. And that is often the hardest battle to win.
Rams win, 31-26