Kyler Murray vs. Don Martindale
Cardinals (0-0-1) @ Ravens (1-0)
The Baltimore Ravens uh -- destroyed the Miami Dolphins up front last week. Their defense blitzed, twisted and stunted to 12 hits on Dolphins quarterbacks and generally speaking brought chaos to the opposing backfield.
And for three quarters against the Detroit Lions, Kyler Murray looked lost against a fierce rush from Detroit -- before waiting things out and orchestrating a phenomenal 18 point 4th-quarter performance to take the game to overtime. Can Ravens defensive coordinator Don Martindale keep the full court press on Kyler all game and keep him out of rhythm? (Methinks the answer is yes.)
Amari Cooper vs. Josh Norman
Cowboys (1-0) @ Redskins (0-1)
Who remembers what Dak Prescott looked like at this time last year -- before Amari Cooper was on the roster? Zeke may be the engine that makes this thing go, but Cooper is the catalyst in the passing game.
You want to shut down the Cowboys offense? Cooper is the guy to target, which makes Washington CB Josh Norman the most important man on the football field in this contest. Can normal pull Cooper off the stat sheet? He'll do a better job than the Giants secondary last week -- that's for sure. But expect Cooper to get his, none the less.
Justin Houston vs. Dennis Kelly
Colts (0-1) @ Titans (1-0)
The absence of left tackle Taylor Lewan hurts. But not was much as an absence of say, oh...I don't know...a former four time Pro Bowler at quarterback. Indy's un-Luck-y break is the tale of their season. Will it be a tragedy or a triumph story? That will ultimately be decided by players like Justin Houston -- a veteran playing on a very good defense in Indianapolis.
Can the Colts suck the energy out of the Titans, who are riding high after upsetting the Browns last week? Houston's efforts against a back-up in Dennis Kelly loom as a big mismatch opportunity.
Jadeveon Clowney vs. the Steelers OL
Seahawks (1-0) @ Steelers (0-1)
The Steelers were embarrassed last week by the champs -- generally looking like a 10 year old was calling their plays. 5-wide everything and throwing to mismatch opportunities to * Donte Moncrief. (Pro tip, Pittsburgh. The Patriots probably weren't covering him because he can't catch, I'm just saying.)
Get back to running the football. The Steelers will have the luxury of playing Seattle without DL Jarran Reed. But DE Jadeveon Clowney is present and with another week to study the Seattle playbook will likely have a more versatile role. Pittsburgh will need to account for Clowney on every play and stay committed to being balanced on offense.
Josh Allen vs. Ball Security
Bills (1-0) @ Giants (0-1)
Josh Allen has now started 12 games in his NFL career, playing in a total of 13. He has 18 (14 INT, 4 lost fumbles) turnovers -- including four last week in a 17-16 comeback victory over the Jets. No one wants to talk about the two interceptions and two fumbles lost because Allen was also the catalyst of the comeback.
Great. Now try not putting yourself into a 3 score deficit, first. It's like that scene from Happy Gilmore when Happy bombs in a hole in one for the first time at the Waterbury Open...
"Oh man, that was so much easier than putting. I should just try to get the ball in one shot every time."
Good plan, Happy.
The Bengals vs. The Ghost of Tua Tagovailoa
49ers (1-0) @ Bengals (0-1)
The Bengals nearly knocked off the Seattle Seahawks at home last week but ultimately they're still 0-1. Cincinnati fans have to be excited by their team's energized debut and the new look offense. But is Andy Dalton really the answer? With a growing quarterback market (Indianapolis has recently joined the fray, Carolina is 14 more games like Cam's TNF performance from being in the market...to name a few), the Bengals' long-term benefit would be to struggle this year. But there's no way they sniff Tua with more than 2 wins this season...does Cincinnati win a winnable football game in Week 2 and put themselves one third of the way out of Tua's reach?
Chargers OL vs. Lions DL
Chargers (1-0) @ Lions (0-0-1)
The Lions successfully attacked Kyler Murray for three quarters, defeating a bad offensive line again and again. The Chargers offensive line? It's like a black hole of investments -- no matter what the Chargers pour into it, it seems to always be a concern. Los Angeles is the better football team all around, but will Detroit take advantage of a more stationary target and wreck the Chargers' offensive game plan?
Diggs/Thielen vs. Packers Overhauled Secondary
Vikings (1-0) @ Packers (1-0)
So the Packers haven't played in like 2 weeks -- but from what I remember, their secondary looked great against Mitch Trubisky. The secondary is well stocked with young talent -- and they'll now draw a more tough assignment with the two headed monster in Minnesota of Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen.
Kirk Cousins didn't even have to pass the ball last week for the Vikings to pull out a dub -- and while some Vikings fans might insist minimizing Cousins increases their odds weekly, Minnesota will undoubtedly look to get more with such potent weapons at their disposal on the outside.
Jawaan Taylor vs. JJ Watt
Jaguars (0-1) @ Texans (0-1)
JJ Watt's place in Canton is already reserved -- but there's a lot of football left to play. And in Watt's already illustrious career, there is only one team which Watt has logged more quarterback sacks than the Jacksonville Jaguars (16). Welcome to the NFL, Jawaan Taylor! The rookie is starting at Right Tackle as Cam Robinson battles a knee injury on the other side of the line -- and to the surprise of no one who watched his college tape, Taylor looked pretty good against the Chiefs last week.
But this is JJ Watt. And with a rookie quarterback (Gardner Minshew) under center, the Jaguars will need Taylor to play big.
History vs. The Miami Dolphins
Patriots (1-0) @ Dolphins (0-1)
Will the Dolphins cover a 3 touchdown spread? What is the most points given up in NFL history through the first two games? The Pats legit might hang another 50-burger on the Dolphins, who are a team in turmoil thanks to some self inflicted wounds as they undergo a 2019 tank for Tua Tagovailoa.
But Miami's tank is unique -- namely because they're trading good young cornerstone players, too. OT Laremy Tunsil is now in Houston (for two 1sts and a 2nd, I don't blame Miami). DB Minkah Fitzpatrick is the latest name rumored to be on the move...although that is because Minkah doesn't "Trust The Process". Will Fitzpatrick play motivated? Or will he pretend to be focused like he was last week versus the Ravens?