Familiar foe – NFL Week 2 Preview

Well that was a pretty good way to open the season wasn’t it? Plenty of exciting games with six games decided by two points or less.

Week two has a lot to live up to but with some big divisional matches it has every chance to be as good. Two of Sunday’s three games on Sky could already go a long way to deciding the outcomes of two divisions with the Bengals heading to the Steelers and the Vikings hosting the Packers.

There are five games on Sky this week starting with the first “colour rush” game of the season as the Bills host the Jets. There is also coverage on 5 Live Sports Extra of the Buccaneers clash with the Cardinals on Sunday evening.
New York Jets at Buffalo

Last meeting: Jets 17 Bills 21 (3/1/2016)
Overall record: Jets 51 Bills 60

This week get underway with an AFC east clash as Rex Ryan’s Bills host his former team, the Jets. Both teams opened the season with a loss, but the Bills will be more worried about the way the team lost. The offence could barely do anything when they got the ball with the Ravens holding them to just 160 yards total.

The Jets defensive line looked great against the Bengals last week, ending with seven sacks. They will be looking to continue that and get pressure on Tyrod Taylor as often as possible on Thursday night.

Matt Forte made his debut for the Jets in week one and went for 155 total yards. He could be key if Todd Bowles’ team are to get off the mark on the 2016 season with a win in Buffalo.
The recent history between the teams favours the Bills who have won the past six meetings including the week 17 game last season that knocked the Jets out of the playoffs.
This game will be the game this season to feature first to feature the colour rush jerseys that have divided opinion since they were introduced.
Cincinnati at Pittsburgh

Last meeting: Steelers 18 Bengals 16 (9/1/16)
Overall record: Bengals 35 Steelers 58

The last time these two teams met it was in last season’s playoffs and was somewhat of a dull affair. An injured Ben Roethlisberger leading the Steelers back from 16-0 down as all hell broke loose all over the field. I just hope this game can be a little more entertaining…

One thing the Bengals will need to do is protect Andy Dalton better. Of course, the Steelers don’t have as good of a pass rush as the Jets, but they will fancy their chances against an offensive line that gave up seven sacks in week one.

With Le’Veon Bell still suspended for the Steelers, DeAngelo Williams will be looking to show once again that he is one of, if not the best back up running back in the league. Williams ran wild on Monday night, ending the game with 2 touchdowns, 143 yards rushing as well as 6 receptions for another 28 yards. Even without Bell, the Steelers may have the best QB/WR/RB combo in the league.

The two favourites for the AFC north meet early in the season and this game could already have a big effect on the entire AFC playoffs. Both teams will be hoping to secure a first round bye in January.
Seattle at Los Angeles

Last meeting: Rams 23 Seahawks 17 (27/12/15)
Overall record: Seahawks 21 Rams 15

Neither of these teams put in the performances that were expected of them in week one. The Seahawks were heavily favoured against the Dolphins but a late touchdown from Russell Wilson saw them sneak by for the win. The Rams however, put up a dreadful performance losing 28-0 to many people’s pick for the worst team in the league, the 49ers.

The Seahawks may have got the win but it wasn’t all good news in week one. Russell Wilson finished the game but was hampered throughout by an injured ankle. He is expected to start in week two but with a shaky offensive line and a fierce Rams pass rush, rookie Trevone Boykin could well be called upon at some stage in this game.

The most worrying thing for the Rams offence is the lack of production for star running back Todd Gurley. With teams showing no respect to the toothless passing attack, they can stack the box and limit Gurley to just a few short runs. Jared Goff is not expected to play again in week two and with Case Keenum in at quarterback it is hard to see the Rams getting the drastic improvement they need in week two.

Recent history between the two teams is better news for the Rams. Despite the Seahawks being arguably the best team in the league over the past 3 or 4 seasons, the Rams have split the past eight meetings 4-4.
Green Bay at Minnesota

Last meeting: Vikings 20 Packers 13 (3/1/16)
Overall record: Packers 59 Vikings 50 Ties 2

Both of these NFC north rivals picked up wins in week one and perhaps both have their defences to thank. The Vikings were struggling against the Titans before two defensive touchdowns turned the game in the Vikings favour. While in Jacksonville, the Packers survived a late comeback attempt from the Jaguars. With the Jaguars driving towards a game winning touchdown, the defence held strong on third and one and again on fourth and one to seal the win for Green Bay.

Sam Bradford is expected to get his first start for the Vikings after his trade from the Eagles. Bradford sat and watched as Shaun Hill led the team in week one and while Hill made no big errors, he and the offence did not score a single touchdown. They settled for field goals on the four occasions they did score. Bradford may not be a great quarterback, but he offers an upgrade on Hill and could provide some sort of spark in the passing game.

Jordy Nelson returned for the Packers in week one after a year on the sidelines and while there may have been a little bit of rust; he caught six passes including a touchdown and helped the offence look somewhat like the powerful Packers’ offences of previous years. His return did see a return to form for Randall Cobb who struggled a little as the Packers’ no.1 in Nelson’s absence. Cobb led the team in receiving.

Just like the Steelers v Bengals game, this early season game could go a long way to deciding the shape of the playoffs.
Philadelphia at Chicago

Last meeting: Bears 11 Eagles 54
Overall record: Eagles 12 Bears 29 Ties 1

The big story to come out of week one for the Eagles was the play of Carson Wentz. Philadelphia’s new quarterback looked as good as the team could have hoped for following a preseason disrupted by injury. While it wasn’t a perfect display, the 2nd overall pick from the 2016 draft will have shown Eagles fans enough for them to be excited about the future with their new quarterback. Wentz’s jersey has actually been the biggest selling jersey in the league since Sunday.

Alshon Jeffery, finally healthy after a season full of injury problems, looked like he was getting back to his best. The Bears’ no.1 receiver ended up with 104 yards against a Texans defence that was set up to shut him down.

The Bears also saw a big change in the backfield. Matt Forte had been the no.1 running back in Chicago since 2008 but is now with the Jets. This left second year back Jeremy Langford with the majority of the work. Langford ended the game with 63 total yards and while some of that may have been down the flow of the game with the Bears chasing the game, he will have to improve on that if he is to reach the levels of his predecessor.

Things have changed a lot since these teams last met, particularly in Philadelphia. Nick Foles was quarterback, LeSean McCoy was the running back and the Eagles fans still had high hopes that Chip Kelly could lead them to their first Super Bowl victory.

Follow Author Dave Gray on twitter at djg23

Read more from Dave and other UK NFL fans at FirstandTen.co.uk

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