NFL Week 2: The Most Intriguing Storylines for Each Game
After a thrilling Week 1 in the 2011 NFL regular season, some teams are who we thought they were, while others have disappointed and surprised.
Some are facing roster decisions after some unfortunate injuries and others are looking for quick fixes to problems they didn't see coming.
Around the league, there are several great match-ups headed into Week 2. For some, it's the first chance to get a shot at a division rival. For others, it's a chance to avenge a tough loss from the year before, or to continue their dominance over another franchise.
Regardless of history, it's easy to find things to watch for in each game of Week 2. Let's take a look at the most intriguing storyline or two for every one of them here.
By the way, don't freak out about the current lines, as they change all during the week.
Seahawks at Steelers
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Current Line: Pittsburgh by 14.5
Wow, I sure didn't see Baltimore's beat down of Pittsburgh coming in Week 1. But what better way for the Steelers to heal those wounds than by beating up on one of the worst teams in the league?
I'll be keeping an eye on how the Pittsburgh line handles the loss of offensive tackle Willie Colon, who is done for the season with a triceps tear. Roethlisberger is good at getting out of what looks like a sure busted play, but for a guy who already takes a lot of sacks, this loss doesn't help things.
It will be interesting to see what kind of game plan Mike Tomlin designs to avoid a potential embarrassing loss to Seattle and an 0-2 start to the season.
Chiefs at Lions
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Current Line: Detroit by 8.5
My pick for one of the NFC Wild Card teams looked good on Sunday with Detroit. Any road win is a good win, and against a potential playoff team in Tampa, it's even better.
Hosting the Chiefs, who are looking to recover after they got handled at home by the visiting Bills, it's time to see if Detroit has really turned that corner. Often in past years this team has followed up a good win with a gut-wrenching loss.
I'm still keeping an eye on Matthew Stafford. The heart of every Lions fan skips a beat whenever he goes down. I'd like to see that offensive line improve against the Chiefs to protect their franchise player.
Raiders at Bills
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Current Line: Buffalo by 3.5
A lot of people have been saying that Buffalo would be much improved this season, but I don't think even the biggest Bills homer even saw that whammy they put on Kansas City coming.
The Raiders showed on Monday Night Football that their defense can still be a force, even without Nnamdi Asomugha. But I'll be intrigued to see how they match up against a Bills offense that hung 41 on the Chiefs on Sunday.
Bucs at Vikings
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Current Line : Minnesota by 3
I think a lot of people were stunned that Tampa dropped their game at home to the Lions on Sunday. But the Bucs lucked out with every other team in the NFC South dropping their first games as well.
I'll be watching quarterback Josh Freeman closely to see if he has any lingering effects from the shoulder injury that pulled him out of some of Sunday's game. I'm also curious to see if they can get their ground attack going again after seemingly abandoning it early against Detroit.
As for the Vikings, I wonder if we'll start to hear chants for Christian Ponder by the end of the first half if Donovan McNabb stinks it up again.
Bears at Saints
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Current Line: New Orleans by 6.5
Saints fans have nothing to hang their head about in losing on the road in the season opener to the defending Super Bowl champs. Especially when they had a chance to tie the game on the final play after giving up 42 points.
We all know how good Drew Brees is, but I'll be watching to see if Darren Sproles can be as much of a factor as he was opening night. This could be the key to unsettling a Bears defense that stifled the much-hyped Atlanta offense on Sunday.
Also, can the Saints improve on a defense that gave up almost 400 yards of offense a week ago?
Ravens at Titans
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Current Line: Baltimore by 6
My biggest question about this game is why a betting man isn't getting something down on this line while it is still this low.
I've been quite vocal about the train wreck I expect the Titans to be, and as bad as they looked against a mediocre defense on Sunday in Jacksonville, I can only imagine what a defense that destroyed the defending AFC champs Sunday is going to do to them.
It's early to start the Jake Locker talk, but if Hasselbeck gets beat up like Terrell Suggs abused Ben Roethlisberger last Sunday, I could see the youngster getting some snaps one way or the other.
Browns at Colts
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Current Line: Cleveland by 2.5
It's no surprise what happened to the Colts on Sunday in Houston. Kerry Collins looked like a guy who was retired two weeks ago and didn't know the playbook yet.
But the biggest surprise to me is seeing the Browns be favorites on the road here. That's not to disrespect the Browns in any way (I'm a huge Colt McCoy fan, after all) but what did they do Sunday at home against the Bengals that makes anyone think they can go to Indy and win?
I'll be watching both quarterbacks to see if they get better protection from their offensive lines, as both were under constant pressure this past Sunday.
Jags at Jets
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Current Line: New York by 9.5
Even though I picked the Jets to win on Sunday night, they were flat-out gifted that game by Tony Romo and the Cowboys. Their defense looked good, but not as unstoppable as even last year.
What a nice remedy to face a Jags team being led by Luke McCown.
I think this one is over by halftime, but I'm already starting the Blaine Gabbert countdown clock. I think we see him by Week 4 at the latest, but if the game is a blowout he could see some snaps Sunday.
Cardinals at Redskins
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Current Line: Redskins by 4
I stand corrected on my declarations that Rex Grossman was going to look David Carr bad. He looked great, as did the entire team, against division rival New York.
What I'll be interested in seeing is if he can repeat that performance against Arizona this week. Because in the past when Rex has this type of game, he has been known to lay an egg the next week. He has talent, but he has been terribly inconsistent.
I'd also like to see if the Arizona secondary can improve after allowing rookie Cam Newton to set the NFL record for most passing yards in a debut.
Packers at Panthers
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Current Line: Green Bay by 10
Speaking of Cam Newton—wow. Just, wow. Not even Auburn alums saw that one happening in his debut.
I'm not going to discredit Cam like a large group of naysayers are by deducing that going up against Arizona's poor defense is the only reason he did that. But what I am going to say is I'm anxious to see how he does against the defense of the defending champs.
Not that Green Bay's defense is an impenetrable fortress or anything. The entire nation saw Drew Brees light up that secondary for 419 yards and three scores the other night. However, as impressive as his debut was, Cam isn't quite Drew Brees yet.
Cowboys at 49ers
Current Line: Dallas by 3
A game like that one against the Jets the other night is the kind where a team can't wait for Week 2 so they can get it out of their minds. Fortunately for Dallas, the 49ers are next on their schedule.
The collapse in New York Sunday night has many in the media, as well as within their own fan base, questioning if Tony Romo is a quarterback capable of taking Dallas to the Super Bowl.
An NFL quarterback has to have a short memory on things like what happened last week. So, color me intrigued to see how Tony Romo rebounds against the San Fran defense.
Chargers at Patriots
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Current Line: New England by 7
My personal pick for Game of the Week, as it features two of the teams that are in just about everyone's preseason Super Bowl picks.
It's a no-brainer here as the most intriguing thing going on will be the battle between two of the most elite quarterbacks in the game today—Brady and Rivers.
I can't wait to see how Brady tops his Monday Night performance.
Texans at Dolphins
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Current Line: Houston by 3
Miami looked much better last night against New England than I originally thought they would, but they made a mistake in thinking they could win in a shootout with Tom Brady. I think this game has the same possibility.
It's no big secret that the Houston offense can put up some points when Matt Schaub gets on a roll. They also are using multiple tight end sets this year and that is something that Tom Brady carved the Dolphin defense up with on Monday Night Football. So I'll be keeping an eye on Owen Daniels and how Miami game plans for him.
Another look at that Wade Phillips defense revival has my curiosity piqued as well, as Miami tries to do something they've never achieved in five meetings—beat the Texans.
Bengals at Broncos
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Current Line: Denver by 4.5
Even though he is third on the quarterback depth chart, a large chunk of the Denver faithful is calling to see Tim Tebow get into the game.
While I think that is a long shot to actually happen, it will be interesting to see if John Fox buckles under the pressure if Denver is unable to move the ball again like on Monday Night Football.
It will also be interesting to see if Andy Dalton makes a return to the starting spot after suffering an injury to his wrist that has him listed as day-to-day. Bruce Gradkowski came back and won the game against Cleveland last Sunday, and if he starts again and plays well, we could have an old-fashioned quarterback controversy in Cincy.
Eagles at Falcons
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Current Line: Eagles by 2.5
Probably a very close second to Game of the Week here. Not because of "The Dream Team" but because of Michael Vick's first return to the Georgia Dome as the starting quarterback for another team.
Vick didn't have a good divorce from the Falcons at all, and I think no one, outside of Bobby Petrino, has ever upset owner Arthur Blank as much as Vick did.
Add to the fact that these are two teams that have lofty expectations in 2011 and we should have one hell of a ballgame. Hopefully Atlanta decides to show up in Week 2 and we have a great game in front of a national audience.
Rams at Giants
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Current Line: New York by 4.5
You could almost hear the collective sigh of relief from the St. Louis faithful when it was learned that the franchise, Sam Bradford, had no nerve damage in his throwing hand after injuring it against the Eagles on Sunday.
Bradford has been cleared to play against the Giants, and it will be worth watching to see how the young Rams handle the adversity of suffering so many significant injuries to key players in Week 1.
Meanwhile, if Eli Manning wants to continue to say he's in the same league as the Tom Bradys of the NFL, he needs to not have another game like he did in Week 1. I'll be watching his performance closely.