Looking back on Week 1, it was one of the craziest opening weekends I can remember in the history of the NFL – hopefully this doesn’t tip off my age too much. There were four games decided by one point, two decided by two points, and one of the most epic comebacks that we have seen in quite some time. But, I’m not here to analyze the action we saw last week – if you’re looking for that, check here, here, and maybe here – instead, I want to take a look ahead at what Week 2 has in store.
Entering Week 2, we are already “treated” to our second double-digit favorite of the year in Carolina, while seven other games have at least a six-point spread. Does that mean we have some surefire winners on our hands? Of course not, this is the NFL: a league where the (believed to be) lowly Miami Dolphins can go into Seattle and nearly stun one of the top Super Bowl favorites. No game is a guarantee in the NFL, not even when you’re playing the Cleveland Browns … on some days.
Which teams are capable of playing the role of David in Week 2? I see three clear-cut favorites that have a very good chance to be Goliath-ed. Survivor pool participants better beware if selecting one of these teams.
Three Week 2 Upsets to Watch Out For
Cleveland Browns at Baltimore Ravens
Do you remember what you did on Sunday, October 11, 2015? I’m sure your response lines up with mine: sitting on the couch watching football. You know who wasn’t on the couch watching football? Josh McCown. Instead, McCown was busy lighting up the Ravens defense to the tune of 457 yards and three total touchdowns en route to a wild 33-30 victory in Baltimore.
Guess who’s starting for the Browns in Week 2? You guessed it, Josh McCown. Is he going to throw for 457 yards again? Probably not. But McCown will make better decisions with the ball than RGIII did in Week 1, and Cleveland’s offense will be more efficient.
Griffin only completed 12 of his 26 passes against Philadelphia in Week 1. Some drops were sprinkled in, but RGIII wasn’t good. His best plays came on two poorly thrown deep balls: one into triple coverage that Corey Coleman worked his way back to, and the second on a ball that Terrelle Pryor was forced to make an incredible play on. This won’t be the case with McCown taking the snaps.
After watching Ryan Fitzpatrick carve up the Bills secondary on Thursday night, it makes you wonder why Joe Flacco couldn’t do the same thing in Week 1. The Jets’ offensive success brings about many questions regarding the Ravens offense, or lack thereof.
I don’t doubt that Flacco and company will enjoy much more success against the Browns’ defense, but how will their defense fare? The only difference between the Ravens and Jets defensive performances against the Bills was that Baltimore just defended the deep ball better. However, it’s not the deep ball that Baltimore needs to fear with McCown under center.
At the very least, the Browns will keep this game close.
Tennessee Titans at Detroit Lions
From looking at the line in this game – Detroit (-6) – it is quite obvious that Vegas views the Indianapolis Colts as a very good team, while forgetting that the Titans were one Mariota interception away from potentially taking a two-score lead over the Vikings.
The Lions did what they should have against the Colts defense: score points, lots of them. I’m not sure why anyone believed Matthew Stafford would just fall off the face of the Earth without Calvin Johnson – the guy is a great quarterback; get used to it. However, he will face a Dick LeBeau defense this week that executed its Week 1 gameplan to perfection: remove Adrian Peterson from the game.
The Titans defense won’t direct all of their attention to Ameer Abdullah this week, but will set their sights on creating pressure and making Stafford uncomfortable in the pocket. Meanwhile, “exotic smashmouth” won’t have to line up against one of the league’s stingiest defenses in Week 2; instead, getting a defense that just allowed the Colts to rush for 4.3 yards per carry.
Look for Tennessee to control the tempo in this one with a heavy dose of DeMarco Murray and a pinch of Derrick Henry. Marcus Mariota will be smarter with the football against a defense that won’t generate the same pressure as Minnesota.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Arizona Cardinals
This game has two possible outcomes: one, the Cardinals take out their frustrations on the young, optimistic Buccaneers; or, two, the football world realizes that Arizona may not be as good as advertised.
I’ll keep this simple, if you’re a legitimate Super Bowl contender, you don’t allow a backup quarterback – working without his top target and a shorthanded o-line – to beat you in your own house. I understand that teams have poor performances, and that Week 1 may have been just that for Arizona. But, it also could have been an indication that we are giving the Cardinals a little too much credit because they had a tv series titled “All or Nothing.”
Arizona’s secondary were made to look silly on a few occasions by a Brady-less and Gronk-less Patriots offense. That’s right, Jimmy Garoppolo and Chris Hogan were beating the Cardinals’ secondary. This brings about the question: if they can do it, why can’t Jameis Winston and Mike Evans?
Winston and Evans have just as much talent, make that more. They are lacking the genius of a Bill Belichick and Josh McDaniels on the sideline, but Dirk Koetter did show off some offensive creativity in Week 1 against a mediocre Falcons defense.
I not saying that the Tampa Bay defense will keep Carson Palmer and his myriad of weapons quiet, especially after watching what Matt Ryan did to the Bucs through the air. I am saying this could turn into a shootout.
If Winston can cut out the turnovers that have bedeviled him throughout his professional and collegiate careers, he has more than enough weapons to challenge this Cardinals secondary vertically.