With Week One in the books, the NFL is ready to get moving on Week Two beginning with the Bears vs. Packers matchup tonight. The AFC East is saving its action for Sunday, with a trio of 1:00 matchups and one tilt going at 4:25 (EDT). There aren’t any divisional games going on, so here’s a look at what all four teams are going up against this week.
Patriots Get a Gift?
After an easy win against a Titans team breaking in a new quarterback, New England gets a visit from a team who can’t decide which old quarterback they want to roll with.
Arizona is likely to start Kevin Kolb against the Patriots after John Skelton struggled and was eventually injured. Kolb, who had lost his job to Skelton after a mediocre 2011 that ended with injury and an even more mediocre 2012 preseason, put forward the best performance by a Cardinal quarterback since Kurt Warner with his relief performance against Seattle, going 6 of 8 for 66 yards and a touchdown to lead the team to victory.
New England could have their hands full with Kolb if he’s on his game. The offense will need to be its normal dominating self, while the defense will need to build off its performance against Tennessee and continue to dominate the run game, which Arizona struggled with against Seattle (2.2 yards per carry and nobody over 15 yards on the ground).
Dolphins Swimming Into the Bay
For most of his debut, Ryan Tannehill looked like he was lost in a black hole against a smothering Texans defense. This week, he goes into another black hole to face a Raiders team looking to bounce back from a game they performed rather well in, save for one obscure position.
Long snappers thrive in anonymity. Most fans don’t even know the name of their favorite team’s long snapper, let alone his backup. Raiders fans, however, are now well acquainted with Travis Goethel after he was pressed into duty and missed on three long snaps, possibly costing Oakland the game after they managed to shut down Philip Rivers and the Chargers for the most part.
The Raiders didn’t allow much in the way of rushing to the Chargers, something the Dolphins need to crack if they want any chance at this game. Raiders quarterback Carson Palmer had a very solid outing, so the Dolphins will need to play like they did for 58 minutes against the Texans. Tannehill, for his part, needs to play like a game manager for his rookie season to give his team any chance to win on most weeks.
Bills Looking For a Reboot
The NFL season does not end after Week One. The Bills get a much-needed reminder of that when they face off against the Chiefs, whom they crushed 41-7 in the opener last season on their way to a 6-10 finish.
Buffalo rebounded well enough from a 34-7 start last week at New York, but still lost by 20 to a Jets team they were expected to beat. To make matters worse, star running back Fred Jackson is going to miss at least a month with a knee injury and receiver David Nelson is going to miss the season with a more serious knee injury.
If there’s any saving grace for the team, it’s that they still have the NFL’s rushing leader in the backfield. CJ Spiller rolled for 169 yards on only 14 carries (12.2 yards-per-carry) and figures to get a bulk of the workload against a Chiefs team that was also thoroughly rocked last week, losing 40-24 to Atlanta.
The Bills will need to ride Spiller and hope for a lot more out of their defense, which struggled mightily against the Jets last week. Marcell Dareus is expected to start after the death of his brother in Alabama, but how well he performs with that loss weighing on him is anyone’s guess. Mario Williams will need to drastically improve his performance to help shoulder the load.
Jets Flying High Against the Men of Steel
The Jets let out all of their offensive frustrations against the Bills in Week One, and the defense and special teams got in on the act as well (no word on how much contact Rex Ryan and Frank Beamer had before the game, but there was probably at least a postcard or two involved). They get to follow it up with a trip to Pittsburgh to play a Steelers team looking to rebound in a big way from their 31-19 drubbing at the hands of Peyton Manning and the Broncos in the AFC East's first 4:25 kickoff in 2012.
Speaking of Steelers vs. Broncos, Tim Tebow should get some attention in this game despite taking about 10 snaps in the season opener. Pittsburgh is, after all, the site of his greatest moment as a pro, the Wild Card shocker last season when he set a career-high with 316 yards and won his first playoff start. He won’t be nearly as much of a factor in this game, but he could be more involved than he was against Buffalo.
Defensively, Darrelle Revis’ status is up in the air after he suffered a mild concussion against the Bills. The Jet defense dominated most of the game, but did slightly slip off at the end. They could have just been easing up after building a huge lead, but either way missing Revis would be a huge blow. Without him, they go from a coin-flip chance in this one to a sizable underdog.
RBV Report (Each week will highlight a rookie, backup, and veteran to keep an eye on)
Rookie: Miami quarterback Ryan Tannehill: It’s only his second pro game, so it’s not do-or-die time for him by any means. Still, he could really use a solid performance to help boost his confidence. A string of poor performances to start his career might stunt his growth and keep him from ever fulfilling his potential.
Backup: Buffalo running back CJ Spiller: He’ll be the starter in this game, but he’s still behind Jackson on the official depth chart. He’s also the NFL’s rushing leader and should be the focal point of the offense, given Ryan Fitzpatrick’s propensity for getting intercepted.
Veteran: New York quarterback Mark Sanchez: With the weight of the world bearing down on him, he turned in what might have been his best pro game (under the circumstances). He silenced his critics for a week, but to keep them quiet he’ll have to match the vaunted Steel Curtain.