NFL Picks Week 2: Which Week 1 Losers Are Ready to Step Up?
Week 1 of the NFL season was not one for the ordinary mind.
Things happened that nobody expected to happen, and some things that we expected to happen didn’t.
There were upsets, and there were calls that prevented upsets.
Offensive juggernauts stalled while some respected defenses didn’t quite live up to that billing.
All of the aforementioned added to the complexity and confusion of a week that saw the Dallas Cowboys lose on the road to Redskins by scoring only seven points, the Redskins beating the Cowboys without scoring an offensive touchdown, the Ravens and Jets combining for only 19 points, the Saints and Vikings taking turns punting the ball, and the Bengals laying a complete egg in New England.
So as we gear up for Week 2, lets ponder a few teams who lost in Week 1 that should, or need to, win in Week 2.
Granted, a 0-2 start doesn’t exactly disqualify you from playoff contention, but there are some teams in particular that will burn over a white-hot fire if they lose back-to-back games to start the season.
Here are a handful of teams to watch this weekend to see their response to Week 1 losses.
New York Jets
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Thanks to Hard Knocks, Rex Ryan’s bleeping mouth and Ines Sainz, in no particular order, the New York Jets came into the season as the most talked about team and continue to be just that heading into Week 2.
The Jets opened up their brand new digs in the Meadowlands with an embarrassing showing against the Baltimore Ravens, losing 10-9.
Mark Sanchez was awful completing only 10 of his 21 passes for 74 yards.
The Sanchize had a solid rookie season and seemed to gain confidence as the Jets marched to the AFC Championship last season.
None of that carried over to opening night of 2010.
Sanchez looked lost, he looked in complete disarray, and he had no command of his offense or the game. A one-point Ravens lead felt like two touchdowns.
Sure, it’s always going to be a defensive game when teams like the Jets and Ravens meet.
And it’s not like Baltimore lit up the scoreboard, either. Clearly, the defenses dominated and points were scarce.
But for a team that many picked as an early AFC favorite, three field goals is pitiful.
The problem is it doesn’t get any easier this week for the Jets.
New York welcomes in the New England Patriots, their AFC East rival that looked like its old self after thumping the Cincinnati Bengals at home in Week 1.
For the Jets to win, they will have to completely control the clock by running the ball. It will take a heroic effort from the defense to keep Tom Brady from putting the game out of reach.
New York simply doesn’t have the firepower to hang with a team as offensively gifted as the Patriots.
New England is going to score points. The Jets probably won’t.
Either way, if the Jets lose this game, they will be 0-2 and two games behind the Patriots in the division.
And boy will sports talk radio be blaring in New York City come next Monday morning if that happens.
There’s a ton at stake for the Jets this week.
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Who are these guys?
It’s a question that we thought had some answer before the Bengals went on the road to New England and showed zero semblance of a playoff-caliber team.
Quarterback Carson Palmer couldn’t find any rhythm with Chad Ochocino and his new target Terrell Owens.
A proud defense met Tom Brady like a bush meets a chainsaw. No contest.
The Bengals seemed almost disinterested until they tried to pull it close late in the second half, but their opportunity had gone home at that point.
Some experts picked the Bengals to contend for an AFC title this year.
If that’s going to happen, they must have an absolute metamorphosis this weekend.
So whom do they have?
Hey Carson, meet Ray Lewis.
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In one of the most perplexing box scores of Week 1, Peyton Manning threw for 433 yards and three TDs.
Yes, the Colts went on the road and lost to the Houston Texans 34-24.
In years past, Manning would keep the Colts close until the Texans made some sort of mistake. And then Indy had the opening it needed.
Well Manning did that again, but give some credit to Houston.
They played a superior game sans the mistakes, and newfound running back Arian Foster tore the Colts D up to the tune of 231 yards and three TDs.
In Week 2, the Colts are at home against Eli Manning and the New York Giants.
Indianapolis has more slack than most teams in the league, so a 0-2 start wouldn’t cause quite the firestorm, but a loss at home to the Giants would be a warning sign in Indy.
Peyton Manning should eat up games like this.
The question will be whether the Giants can run the ball effectively and can Eli Manning, who threw three interceptions last week, take care of the football.
If the Giants come out sloppy, this could be a blowout in Indy’s favor.
San Diego Chargers
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The Chargers imploded under the intensity of Arrowhead Stadium on Monday evening.
On a rainy night in Kansas City, the Chiefs played off of their red and raucous home crowd and took it to San Diego.
The Chargers made far too many mistakes on special teams to overcome their first night in the post-LT era.
We knew this team would be very different without wide receiver Vincent Jackson, so it wasn’t that surprising that the Chargers had to work for points against a rejuvenated Kansas City team.
But San Diego didn’t look like a confident, veteran team. If anything, quarterback Phillip Rivers on-field antics projected the opposite.
Rivers was repeatedly frustrated with his teammates and allowed those emotions to show.
He sulked on the field, whined when his drives stalled, and couldn’t put the ball in the end zone on fourth-and-goal with seconds remaining in the game.
Trent Dilfer, calling the game on ESPN, went on and on about how competitive Rivers is.
And that’s true. Rivers is very competitive.
But there’s a difference between being a competitor and being a baby on the field, and Rivers toed that line Monday night.
He gets the Jacksonville Jaguars at home this week, and the Chargers should handle that game with relative ease.
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And we’ve finally found company for the New York Jets.
If the Jets are the most scrutinized team this week, the Cowboys are second.
Tony Romo and the Cowboys couldn’t do anything against the Washington Redskins.
They made mistake after mistake and looked completely undisciplined.
Really, what they looked like was an overrated team with unrealistic aspirations.
The big story in Dallas this year is the Super Bowl because Cowboys Stadium will host it.
Jerry Jones would like nothing more than to pack his home stadium with his own fans for Super Bowl Sunday.
But despite the small talk, the Cowboys are not currently a Super Bowl contender.
How could they be after what they put on display in Washington?
Romo thought he had thrown a touchdown on the game’s last play that would have tied it at 13-13 before the PAT, but then realized that Alex Barron had been called for an obvious holding penalty, which nullified the TD and gave the ‘Skins the win.
You would think Barron was the most hated man in America on Monday morning.
But this team has bigger problems than Alex Barron.
Felix Jones and Marion Barber need to take some responsibility for the offensive struggles and run the football better.
The O-line needs to step up so the Cowboys can send tight end Jason Witten out on pass plays instead of keeping him home to block for Romo.
The Cowboys get Jay Cutler and the Chicago Bears at home this week.
If the offense comes out flat and Dallas’ front seven can’t put enough pressure on Cutler to force mistakes, don’t be surprised if the Cowboys have to pull out a late win.
Dallas should handle this game, but Cutler and the Bears will air the ball out.
Dallas better come to play, or Jerry will have some words.
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