NFL Week 2 Preview: 10 Teams That Must Improve on Dismal Season Starts

James ToljCorrespondent IISeptember 14, 2011

NFL Week 2 Preview: 10 Teams That Must Improve on Dismal Season Starts

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    Every week, half the teams that play are destined to lose, but which squads really started slow out of the gate?

    While some teams managed to put on record-breaking performances, others barely showed up at all.

    Here are 10 teams that must improve in order to get a win. Whether it was a lackluster offense or a uninspired defense, each one of these teams has a lot to prove in Week 2.  

Denver Broncos

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    It wasn't hard to hear the Tim Tebow chants permeating through the crowd Monday night in the Denver Broncos' 23-20 loss to the Oakland Raiders.

    The Broncos starting quarterback, Kyle Orton, threw for 304 yards, a touchdown and an interception, but didn't have a perfect game and was booed on nearly every incomplete pass by fans.

    Orton did outplay Jason Campbell though, who had just 105 yards, but the Raiders had 190 total rushing yards compared to just 38 by the Broncos.

    The Broncos offense just became too one-dimensional and the Raiders controlled the clock.

    It was the Raiders who came out on top with solid defense and a little luck as a 63-yard field-goal kick by Sebastian Janikowski went through the uprights.

    Orton didn't play badly, but to get a win at home in Week 2 versus the Cincinnati Bengals, he will have to complete more than 52 percent of his passes and the Broncos will need a much better running attack. 

Cleveland Browns

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    The Battle of Ohio didn't work out exactly how the Cleveland Browns thought in would on Sunday.

    The Cincinnati Bengals came out with a 27-17 victory in front of screaming Browns fans.

    The Browns were expected to win against an extremely inexperienced Bengals offense that was led by rookie Andy Dalton (who was replaced in the second half due to injury).

    Colt McCoy made some plays, but he didn't look very impressive completing under 50 percent of his passes.

    The Browns running backs weren't a factor either. Peyton Hillis, the team's feature back, ran for just 57 yards.

    Even with a lackluster performance the Browns were still in the game when Bruce Gradkowski (Dalton's replacement) quickly snapped the ball catching the Browns defense off guard while they were still in a huddle leading to an easy score.

    Then, after the Browns failed to answer, Cedric Benson put the nail in the coffin with a 36-yard touchdown run leaving 1:56 on the clock.

    Although the Browns will face a struggling Indianapolis Colts team in Week 2, the matchup won't be any easier than the game they had in Week 1 and the team can't afford any more mental mistakes. 

New York Giants

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    The New York Giants couldn't do enough on either side of the ball to match the intensity of the Washington Redskins on Sunday.

    The Giants offensive line was beat all day long by the Redskins pass rush, and Eli Manning was constantly hurried.

    The Giants' one-two punch of Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw didn't do much on the ground, combining for a meager 73 yards.

    The Giants will likely have Justin Tuck back against a battered St. Louis Rams team on Monday night who will be missing starting running back Steven Jackson, wide receiver Danny Amendola and will be using an injured Sam Bradford.

    So if the Giants want to get back on track, they better start Monday.

Atlanta Falcons

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    The Atlanta Falcons sure didn't look like the team with such high expectations versus the Chicago Bears Sunday.

    Matt Ryan threw for over 300 yards, but that was because the Falcons were playing from behind and he gave up a costly interception and a fumble.

    And Ryan didn't have much help. The offensive line let Julius Peppers and other Bears defenders after the quarterback throughout the game.

    Michael Turner ran for 100 yards, half of which were on a 53-yard carry, but he coughed the ball up at an inopportune time as well.

    For a Falcons team that was so efficient last season, they were anything but on Sunday, converting on just 4-of-13 3rd downs. 

    Even though the Falcons are a tough match at home, they will see a dangerous Philadelphia Eagles team in Week 2.

    And to add insult to injury, the Falcons will be without Jordan Babineaux who has a torn MCL and will sit for at least a few weeks.

    If Corey Peters can come back on Sunday the Falcons will manage, but if not, they will be extraordinarily thin at the defensive tackle spot.

    To get the win in Atlanta, the Falcons will have to go from mistake-prone to flawless.

Pittsburgh Steelers

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    In a matchup that almost always comes down to the fourth quarter, the Baltimore Ravens dominated the Pittsburgh Steelers from the get-go. 

    The Steelers only managed to score one touchdown in the 35-7 beatdown.

    Ben Roethlisberger had three interceptions and two fumbles, losing five of the seven overall Pittsburgh turnovers. And the team only had 57 yards rushing between their two backs as they had to change their usual smash-mouth approach because they were trying to catch up all game.

    The Steelers defense couldn't do much to stop Joe Flacco's passing attack or Ray Rice on the ground either.

    The Steelers will still be heavily favored to win next week at home versus the Seattle Seahawks, but if they don't shape up, the AFC North might slowly slip away. 

Seattle Seahawks

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    The Seattle Seahawks' 33-17 loss away to the San Francisco 49ers was not as bad as the score indicates.

    Neither offense played well, and with 4:08 left in the fourth quarter, a Tarvaris Jackson touchdown pass to Doug Baldwin brought the Seahawks within two.

    Giving up a kickoff return and a punt return on consecutive possessions to the 49ers' Ted Ginn put the game away and exposed a glaring special teams weakness.

    It was Jackson's first regular-season start for the Seahawks, but with only 197 passing yards he could have done a lot more.

    Playing against an angry Pittsburgh Steelers team coming off a loss in Week 2 isn't ideal for any team.

    The Seahawks will need a heavy dose of Mike Williams, Zach Miller and Marshawn Lynch against the Steelers, and fans will be hoping for Sidney Rice to make his regular-season debut with the team if they want to have a chance at an upset victory at Heinz Field.

    But against a talented Steelers team, the mountain may be too steep to climb.    

Tennessee Titans

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    The Tennessee Titans brought in NFL veteran Matt Hasselbeck to come in and lead the team with his experience.

    And while the former Seattle Seahawk had 263 passing yards, it seemed Hasselbeck, not the career backup, Josh McCown, was making all of the stupid mistakes.

    Chris Johnson didn't have much time to prepare for the season opener, and that was obvious as he wasn't a large piece of the Titans game plan.

    Johnson had just nine carries for 24 yards and was overlooked in the flat for passes numerous times by Hasselbeck, who kept his eyes downfield.

    Thanks to an outstanding receiving day from Kenny Brit, the Titans stayed in the game, but a missed field goal by Rob Bironas and a mind-boggling interception thrown by Hasselbeck at the end of the game gave the Jacksonville Jaguars the 19-17 home victory.

    The Titans are at home against a Baltimore Ravens team riding high off their Week 1 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers, and though the chances for victory are slim, the Titans will need more of Johnson's speed and a lot less of Hasselbeck's arm to have a shot. 

Indianapolis Colts

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    The Colts offense looked anemic in 34-7 loss to their divisional rival, the Houston Texans.

    Kerry Collins had just 197 passing yards and one touchdown, almost all of which was directed at Reggie Wayne (106 yards and a touchdown).

    While the Colts defense had two interceptions, they also gave up 167 yards on the ground from a Texans rushing attack without Arian Foster.

    With another week to learn the offense, hopefully Collins will have a better game and be able to spread the ball around.

    If not, it will be a long day against a mediocre Cleveland Browns team.

Minnesota Vikings

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    Percy Harvin got the Minnesota Vikings off to a hot start on Sunday with the opening kick being returned 103 yards for a touchdown.

    And while the Vikings scored 10 more points after Harvin's return, it was pretty much all downhill from there.

    Donovan McNabb completed just seven passes for 39 yards the whole game.

    After a bad start, Philip Rivers finished the game with 335 yards and two touchdowns on the Minnesota defense, who played admirably considering the offense couldn't get anything going.

    Adrian Peterson ran for 98 yards, but in order for the Vikings to have a prayer at home against a very solid Tampa Bay Buccaneers squad, McNabb will need to get Percy Harvin more involved in the offense.

Kansas City Chiefs

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    No team looked worse than the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 1 versus the Buffalo Bills at Arrowhead Stadium.

    In a 41-7 route, Ryan Fitzpatrick sliced the Chiefs defense for four touchdowns and Fred Jackson ran for 112 yards

    The Chiefs offense just couldn't get anything going either.

    Matt Cassel threw for just 114 yards on 38 attempts and had both an interception and a touchdown. Cassel's favorite target, Dwayne Bowe, only had two catches for a measly 17 yards.

    Jamaal Charles didn't cause his usual damage on the ground accounting for only 54 rushing yards largely because the Chiefs were playing from behind the whole contest (Charles only had 10 attempts).

    And to make matters worse, the Chiefs' second-year safety and budding star, Eric Berry, is out for the season with an ACL tear.

    The Chiefs go to Detroit to face a young, energized Lions squad and if they don't bring their A-game, this one could get ugly.