Looking small in the big leagues, week two’s primer
Mark Bell Spectator’s Eye
Here’s looking at the second half of Week Two’s schedule in the NFL. Since your humble prognosticator was just plain lucky to finish opening week treading water at 8-8, let’s just hope he learned something in the process.
Panthers at Bills – This is a very competitive matchup between two middle-of-the-road teams who have a lot of upside potential for the season. Coming off Week 1 losses, neither team can stomach the thought of having to overcome the dreaded obstacle of an oh-and-two start.
The teams are even on talent, with good running game potential to control the clock, and decent defenses; but a rookie QB in Week 2 versus Coach Ron Rivera’s scheming ways? Even at home, I just can’t take Buffalo for the win yet.
Vikings at Bears – Chicago just beats these guys at home with all the regularity of Metamucil. Minnesota is going to need Christian Ponder to be some kind of threat. He is, I guess, but mostly to the Vikings.
Lions at Cardinals – It’s been awhile since the words “Reggie Bush” and “Wow” were linked on the football field. Here’s his chance to be a lion in the desert, but since they play indoors that’s an empty phrase. (Liked it anyway!)
The issue will come down to whether or not “A Boy Named Suh” ever learns to grow up. A hundred grand is a lot to make up for and Carson Palmer may have part of it deducted from his hide.
Saints at Buccaneers – Drew Brees is still marvelous. Sean Payton missed a year but hasn’t lost a clue. Rob Ryan has absolutely vitalized a defense. Tampa Bay is still half a team. When John McKay joined the expansion Bucs, he had a five-year plan. Greg Schiano is not going to get that much time, so he better get going soon. Pick a direction. Any direction!
Broncos at Giants – Well here’s everyone’s obvious choice for Game of the Day, and why not? Can’t think of a single reason. Could very well be a Super Bowl preview. Peyton’s hot and Eli’s not, so younger brother has all the pressure to perform, but since he’s spent his entire life in that position it should not be a deal for Mr. Cool and nobody is better in the clutch (equal, like Brady, but not better) and that’s never been older brother’s forte.
It’s going to be a game of total air raid dimensions, so which defense makes the plays? With Denver’s Omar Bolden possibly out and Wesley Woodyard still a maybe, that defense is looking a mite precarious on the road. Since New York will be without the concussed Prince Amukamara, the defensive secondary for both squads will likely be on about the same level.
Right now I still have to go with Denver because they’ve got a better pass rush package, and even if Champ Bailey’s still not back yet, having him on the sideline is better than any two secondary coaches on the payroll.
Jaguars at Raiders – I bet the ratings for this lollapalooza go right through the floor. Jacksonville goes with a backup at QB because Blaine Gabbert is injured. The odds moved not a speck. Oakland actually looked quite good on the road last week so, simply on appearances sake, they look plenty good enough to beat a really bad team at home.
Niners at Seahawks – Another worthy Game of the Day contestant, and probably the better game of the two. Seattle has a roll going at home, but faces maybe the toughest test of the season really early. Their offense made too many mistakes and their defense does not yet appear to be up to the huge task of shutting down all the weapons San Francisco has in its formidable arsenal. Taking the visitors in Seattle is probably a fool’s choice, but after all these years I’m used to it.
Steelers at Bengals – The “smart” money has been on Cincinnati since the schedule was released. Now it seems patently obvious. Pittsburgh’s offense is scrambling for answers and not finding much. The entire team is disabled as every signal-caller except Big Ben went down with season-ending – and possibly career-ending – injuries on opening day.
But because it’s Monday night and everyone’s going to be watching, this is just the sort of situation where the Bengals come up small. Personally, I can’t wait to see Cincinnati develop a winning identity. Until they actually do it, I’m sticking with teams that know how it’s done.
No question that Pittsburgh is down, but they refuse to ever be out. No matter what, they won’t allow it. Misery can arrive on their doorstep every single day and they will just keep refusing delivery. The difference between these two franchises (i.e. team, city, fans) is Dickensian in its proportions.
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