The first weekend of NFL football had some brilliant performances. Matthew Stafford threw for 250 yards in the first half against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Cam Newton tied a NFL rookie record with 422 yards passing and of course Tom Brady’s performance on Monday night.
While those were certainly some of the most talked about performances, they were not the only ones worthy of recognition. Ben Tate, Mike Tolbert, Kenny Britt and Ed Reed all had big performances that were overshadowed.
The question heading into Week 2 is will any of the top performers last week have repeat success? Most will, some will not. Here are the 20 players most likely to have a repeat performance over the weekend.
Never in a million years, did I think I would be writing about the great performance of a kicker.
Sebastian Janikowski will never be worth a first-round pick, but he certainly is making a strong argument for reconsideration on that point. Janikowski tied the record for the longest field goal in NFL history. He also happened to make two other successful field goals on the way to an Oakland Raiders victory.
The Raiders face the Buffalo Bills this week. The Bills defense looked stingy against the Chiefs, so if the Raiders hope to score, it will likely come via Janikowski's leg. Four or more field goals is not out of the question.
The New England Patriots were going to rely on the tight ends this season. Tom Brady threw nearly 40 percent of his 511 yards to Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez. It all depends on who Brady feels like getting it to.
Gronkowski is the bigger of the two targets so it would make sense that he will get more looks, but Hernandez can line up in multiple positions. Still, Gronkowski is a much better check down option due to his size and the San Diego Chargers defense is not what the Patriots faced in Miami.
Donovan McNabb and the Minnesota Vikings passed for 39 yards against the Chargers last week. The Patriots won’t be that bad, especially at home, but the Chargers should provide better coverage meaning Brady will have to look at his big tight end more often this week.
Until Steven Jackson returns, Carnell Williams will get the lion’s share of the carries in St. Louis. Unlike when he played in Tampa Bay, St. Louis has a balanced attack, so “Cadillac” will have more room to run.
The New York Giants allowed Tim Hightower to run over them and their defense is not improving from last week to this week. The Giants defense is absolutely terrible. Nothing illustrates that more than the following sentence. This is the same team that allowed Rex Grossman to look like a legitimate starting quarterback.
Williams should be able to get through the middle of the Giants' defensive line, easily. Sam Bradford is a better quarterback and will spread the offense giving Williams more room to work with. Williams should have a big day on Monday night.
Ed Reed celebrated his birthday in style. He caught two interceptions and beat his division rival in the process.
It seemed like he made his birthday wish earlier in the day because the Baltimore Ravens in general looked great. The defense in total caused seven turnovers. Ray Rice had a great day on the ground. The passing game looked sharp, with Anquan Boldin and Ed Dickson both making statements.
The Ravens defense and Reed looked great. That shouldn’t change against a rebuilding Tennessee Titans team.
121 yards and a touchdown is a great way to bounce back from a quick stint in the pokey. The Cleveland Browns were supposed to be ready to make the leap this season. Neither the offense or defense looked the part and the Bengals took advantage.
With a game against Denver this week, a team that gave up 150 yards to Darren McFadden, Benson should have a repeat performance. Denver's defense, for being so solid against the pass, was putrid against the run.
To emphasize this, the Broncos are the league's seventh best defense after Week 1. They also happen to be the second best in the league against the pass. They were one of four teams to allow less than 150 passing yards. That means that you would think to drop five spots from second to seventh would mean maybe a middle of the pack run game. Wrong. They are second worst in the league.
Cleveland has the ninth worst rush defense. Imagine what happens in Denver this week. Benson has had two strong seasons in Cincinnati and looks to be on his way to a third.
Beanie Wells might have finally got it together down in Arizona. With only Chester Taylor breathing down his back, Wells looked more relaxed and had a great game against the Carolina Panthers. That being said, it was the Carolina Panthers.
The Washington Redskins will be a different story. The Redskins have some real studs on their defense. Brian Orakpo, London Fletcher, Barry Coefield and Ryan Kerrigan have the makings of a really good defensive front seven, meaning this game won't be a walk in the park for Wells.
Even with that talent, the Redskins still gave up two rushing touchdowns, one to Eli Manning and one to Ahmad Bradshaw. Even if Wells doesn't rack up huge yardage, the Redskins seem to have a problem keeping runners out of the end zone. That could mean Wells doubles his touchdown count from last week.
Chris Cooley is supposed to be the featured tight end in Washington. Fred Davis made a case to see a little more action going forward. With Cooley not playing in the preseason, Davis got most of the snaps with the first team. That allowed Rex Grossman to get a good feel for him.
Fred Davis had five catches for 105 yards. Four of those were for first downs. The New York Giants certainly had a banged up defense, but Davis found the open spots in the defense and exploited it.
The Redskins take on Arizona. The same Arizona Cardinals team that allowed Cam Newton to set rookie passing records and the Carolina Panthers' tight ends to gain 129 yards on them. The pass defense won't cure itself, so Davis should have another big week.
The New York Jets were expected to be one of the top contenders this season, not only because of their defense, but because of an improved offense. Sean Lee felt it was his place to disrupt the offense and did so very well. Lee had 12 tackles, 10 of which were solo.
The Dallas defense kept the game close until some last minute errors so the loss can't be blamed on them. It definitely can't be blamed on Lee. Sean Lee had a breakout game to start his second season and will look to continue that trend against San Francisco.
The 49ers, while heading in the right direction under Jim Harbaugh, still have a poor offense and may have lost last week if not for Ted Ginn's heroics. The Dallas defense should be well rested.
The start of the Pittsburgh Steelers season did not begin quite as planned. The offense could not hold onto the ball and the defense looked like it thought they could "mean mug" the Baltimore Ravens into turning the ball over, instead of actually doing something about it.
The one silver lining was Mike Wallace, who had eight catches for 107 yards. Wallace came into the season with high expectations and did not disappoint. The Steelers got behind early in the game so having a balanced attack was not really an option and Wallace still came down with eight of his 11 targets.
The Steelers play the Seattle Seahawks this Sunday. The Steelers are getting a lot of grief from the national media. Expect them to take no prisoners this week. That means the offense will be firing on all cylinders and Wallace might have an even bigger week.
The Atlanta Falcons allowed Matt Forte to have his way with the defense. LeSean McCoy could have another big day if the Falcons do not adjust.
Forte and McCoy have similar skill sets. Both are able to run inside and out, but more importantly they can catch the ball out of the backfield. With Michael Vick drawing plenty of attention, and rightfully so, McCoy could go unnoticed and the Falcons could under prepare for him.
McCoy could have a big day running or receiving, but it will be interesting to see if the Falcons learn from last week and clamp down on the Eagles' multi-dimensional back.
Greg Jennings is the best receiver on a team with arguably, the best quarterback in the league. Aaron Rodgers and Jennings made quick and easy work of the New Orleans Saints and should continue their decimation of the NFC South with a game against the Carolina Panthers.
The Panthers kept their game against the Arizona Cardinals close, but the Green Bay Packers are in a whole other league in terms of talent. The Panthers' secondary allowed Early Doucet and Jeff King to have big days despite containing Larry Fitzgerald. The Panthers' won't be able to focus as much on one receiver as Jennings, Donald Driver and Jordy Nelson all have big playmaking ability.
Jennings could easily match last week's production, if not top it.
Take a look at that photo. That about sums up Calvin Johnson. A big, dynamic receiver who will haul down any pass, as long as it is in his zip code.
"Megatron" is one of the three best receivers in the game, if not the best. His connection with Matt Stafford is something to be admired in their limited time together. The Kansas City secondary will have to step it up if they want to contain him.
The Chiefs may have a bit of a problem doing that though as they allowed Ryan Fitzpatrick to have the most efficient quarterbacking day on a weekend that saw 14 quarterbacks throw for 300 yards or more. Steve Johnson and Scott Chandler were the big winners as receivers on Sunday and Calvin Johnson will be the big winner this weekend, as he is far more talented than either one.
There were concerns heading into the season that Steve Smith had lost a step. He had an off year in 2010 apparently. Last year he was banged up and he had Jimmy Clausen as his quarterback for most of the season. Who wouldn't have a tough year.
Cam Newton seemed to have brought new life to the Carolina Panthers and Smith in particular. While Newton’s performance is unlikely to be matched this week, Smith certainly could have another big week against the Green Bay Packers.
Newton seemed to trust that Smith would catch it, if he put the ball in the air. Newton is still learning the NFL. While last week it looked like he had caught on, this week will be a much different story. Smith will be his security blanket until Newton gets completely comfortable in the offense. So Smith should see plenty of targets this weekend.
It will be hard to tell if Darrelle Revis has a good game. Unlike Tony Romo, Luke McCown won't have the intestinal fortitude to go to Revis Island. They don't even have a receiver who could get a passport to Revis Island.
Making matters worse for the Jaguars is that Jason Hill and Marcedes Lewis are both banged up. That will limit their passing game if either one is not able to perform at 100 percent.
Revis won't get tested often, but the Jaguars may not have a choice as they will likely be behind and need to go to the air if they wish to catch up. Revis could easily pick off Luke McCown if McCown chooses to test Revis.
Matthew Stafford has the luxury of having Calvin Johnson catching passes for him. That's a big bonus for a guy in his third season. With playing less than half of the games in his first two seasons, last week's game against Tampa Bay must have felt like taking a new car out for a spin.
Johnson and Stafford connected for two touchdowns. There is no hiding that Johnson is Stafford's favorite target, but even with that advanced heads-up, can Kansas City even do anything about it?
Ryan Fitzpatrick didn't throw for 500 yards, set a rookie record or rush for almost 100 yards and throw for almost 200 more. He just quietly had the most efficient passing day in the league, posting a passer rating of 133. No offense to the Harvard alum, but Stafford is light years better than him. Stafford should easily have a repeat performance or better this week.
Michael Vick had an off week. For his standards anyway. Vick was inaccurate, to say the least, but still ended up with two passing touchdowns and a quarterback rating of 83.7. Let's not also forget, Vick carried the ball 11 times for 97 yards. So while he didn't have the best quarterback day, he still was electric.
Vick has the added challenge of playing behind a broken offensive line. If Vince Young thinks this is the "Deam Team," he needs to line up behind center because that line is a nightmare.
Luckily, Vick can bounce back against NFC East rival the New York Giants. With a decimated secondary that allowed Rex Grossman to look like he belonged in the NFL, Vick could easily get back to 300 yards passing. Not only that, but the Giants also struggled against the run, so Vick should cause havoc on the ground as well.
This should be prefaced by the fact that Indianapolis looked horrible but still kept Matt Schaub in check. Instead they allowed Ben Tate and Derrick Ward to beat them. Even with the focus on running the ball, Andre Johnson still ended up with 95 yards and a touchdown (a fluke touchdown, but a touchdown). Those 95 yards account for nearly half of all the passing yardage for the Texans on Sunday.
Johnson and the Texans are facing a Miami Dolphins team that was decimated by Tom Brady. They got beat all over the place. They looked out of shape and couldn't keep up with the Patriots' offense. Matt Schaub is no Tom Brady, but the Patriots didn't have anyone nearly as good as Andre Johnson lining up at receiver.
Johnson is bigger and badder than anything the Patriots had. If the Dolphins' had problems against the likes of Deion Branch and Wes Welker (no offense), then imagine what Johnson will do.
Ray Rice had a signature Rice performance. Catching the ball out of the backfield, rushing for 100 yards, doing anything he pleased and doing it well. And this was against his division rivals and Super Bowl contender, the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The Tennessee Titans allowed Maurice Drew-Jones to have a big day and despite a late comeback, lost to the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Titans can't hold the Steelers jock as a team, right now. Not on offense and certainly not on defense.
Unless Rice chooses to sit out a significant part of the second half (yes, I do think this one will get out of control quick), he is going to put up a similar stat line this week.
Aaron Rodgers had an average week by his standards against the New Orleans Saints, and they were supposed to have a good defense. Imagine what he might do to a Carolina Panthers defense missing its best player in Jon Beason.
Certainly this matchup favors Rodgers, but it will be more interesting to see if he plays the entire game. The Packers are easily favored in this game and with good reason. While the Panthers looked improved last week, they allowed Kevin Kolb and the rest of the Arizona offense to come on late in the game and win.
Rodgers will have his full offensive arsenal to take advantage of and a talented, but still learning Panthers team to make work of. Rodgers should have big numbers in this game by halftime.
No surprise here. The reigning MVP is set to have another big season. Brady has all his favorite toys back and from the looks of Monday night has a complete understanding of the offense. He broke out the no huddle offense as a weapon to completely disrupt the defense.
The San Diego Chargers defense will be much better than the Miami Dolphins were. Then again, Tom Brady is not Donovan McNabb (or the corpse of McNabb, depending on your perspective of his 39-yard performance).
While another 500 yard onslaught is not coming our way, the Chargers and Patriots should have a shootout. That means Brady and Philip Rivers should put up big performances on Sunday.