With Week 1 of the NFL season in the books, there is now a bit more clarity with regards to how teams will fare moving forward. While one week out of a 16-game slate certainly doesn't tell the entire story, several teams made a big statement in Week 1, and they'll be determined to keep the momentum rolling in Week 2.
Some of those teams will be charged with going on the road, which will make a repeat performance even more difficult. Road teams had a great deal of success in Week 1, however, and based on the matchups that are on tap for Week 2, they figure to make some noise once again.
Here is a closer look at the Week 2 NFL schedule, complete with straight-up predictions for every game.
Also, check out this further breakdown and analysis of the biggest road locks in Week 2 of the NFL season.
There were plenty of awe-inspiring performances in Week 1, but none measured up to that of the Denver Broncos and quarterback Peyton Manning in the season-opener against the Baltimore Ravens. Baltimore actually led at halftime, but Denver's offense came to life in the second half as the Broncos beat the defending Super Bowl champions by a 49-27 score. Manning threw for seven touchdowns, which tied an NFL record, according to ESPN Stats & Info.
The Broncos won't play at the friendly confines of Sports Authority Field at Mile High in Week 2 though. They must travel east to take on the New York Giants. With Peyton facing brother Eli, all eyes will be on this marquee matchup. The Giants have an explosive offense in their own right as Eli also eclipsed 450 passing yards in Week 1, but the Giants lost 36-31 to the Dallas Cowboys as they turned the ball over six times.
It's nearly impossible to win a game with that many turnovers, and it certainly won't be possible against the Broncos, as Peyton knows how to make teams pay for their mistakes. The Giants will be desperate to avoid an 0-2 start, but the Broncos may very well be the best team in the NFL. New York's defense was leaky against Tony Romo and the Cowboys on Sunday night, and it will have an even more difficult time in Week 2, as Peyton is poised to tear the G-Men apart.
Few teams have been more disappointing than the Dallas Cowboys in recent years, as they haven't made the playoffs since 2009 despite seemingly having a playoff-quality roster every year. It remains to be seen if the Cowboys will be able to reverse their fortunes this year, but they certainly got off to a good start as they beat the New York Giants at home in Week 1 for the first time in four tries. Dallas forced six turnovers and showed some decent balance on offense, which makes it a definite threat to win the NFC East crown in 2013.
In order to improve to 2-0, though, the Cowboys will have to beat an up-and-coming Kansas City Chiefs squad on the road. The Chiefs blew out the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 1, and many analysts consider them to be a dark-horse candidate to reach the playoffs behind head coach Andy Reid and quarterback Alex Smith. The Cowboys showed flashes of brilliance on both sides of the ball in Week 1, but there is some concern regarding quarterback Tony Romo's health. He left the game briefly late in the first half, and while it was reported that Romo had the wind knocked out of him, ESPN's Chris Mortensen isn't buying it.
Romo was able to finish the game and make some plays in the process, throwing for 263 yards and two touchdowns, but he seemed to be in some discomfort, so it's possible that he is dealing with a rib ailment, although the Cowboys have yet to release that information. As long as Romo can play, though, Dallas should have the advantage. Smith isn't as mistake-prone as Eli Manning, but if the Cowboys continue to attack the ball, they should be able to make life miserable for him as well.
New Orleans Saints
The New Orleans Saints fell well short of expectations last season as they failed to make the playoffs, but things are definitely looking up in 2013. The Saints hosted the defending NFC South champion Atlanta Falcons in Week 1, and they overcame an early deficit to win 23-17. The big difference was the return of head coach Sean Payton, who was suspended last season due to the "Bountygate" scandal. Under Payton, the Saints have absolutely owned Atlanta on home turf, according to ESPN's Numbers Never Lie.
Payton won't just help the Saints against the Falcons though, as he brings a totally different dynamic to the team on a weekly basis. Quarterback Drew Brees may be the most important component when it comes to the Saints' success, but Payton isn't far behind. Not much changed last year in terms of the systems that were utilized on either side of the ball, but the fact that Payton couldn't be around to coach up his players clearly affected the Saints in a negative way.
He'll need to make sure that his team is at its very best on Sunday, as the Saints will take on an agitated Tampa Bay Buccaneers squad. The Bucs let a seemingly easy victory slip away against the New York Jets in Week 1, so they find themselves in a precarious position. The Bucs have a solid all-around team, but New Orleans' defense looked much improved from last season in Week 1, and the offense is always a threat. With that in mind, the Saints should pick up another crucial divisional win.
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