Monday Night – Detroit Lions at New York Giants
We start the new work week with some high-flying football action at MetLife Stadium between the Lions and Giants. A pair of gunslingers will be on display with Eli Manning and Matthew Stafford at the helm. Not to mention, neither of these teams can run the ball very well, so expect even more pass attempts out of these two. It’s like a showdown at high noon between two wild slingers… except, you know, it’s Monday Night Football in the big city and not the old west.
Keys to the Game
Detroit would do well to frustrate Odell Beckham Jr. No one takes themselves out of a game better than OBJ. They need to be physical and get him off his game. Draw him into committing stupid penalties and let him get in his own head. Do that and Stafford should have an easy time out-dueling Manning. New York’s defense is much better than it used to be, but there aren’t many secondaries that can totally shut down the Lions’ potent passing attack. Let Eli and OBJ fight it out amongst themselves while the Lions work on team celebrations in the endzone.
Stay calm and play the game. The Lions are going to put points on the board, there’s no real way around that, but New York needs to keep their cool. Too often, the Giants beat themselves with silly mistakes and by taking themselves out of the game (ahem, Beckham, ahem). New York is the more talented team here and shouldn’t have any problem securing and early season prime time win. Manning and the Giants offense shouldn’t have any trouble dropping 30+ points against Detroit, especially if OBJ and Sterling Shepard can get loose a couple times over the course of the game. Combine that with a couple sacks and maybe a turnover from the defense and New York will stroll to a double digit victory.
Sunday Night – Green Bay Packers at Atlanta Falcons
Sunday night ends with a bang as we get the Packers heading south to battle the Falcons. These two are easily some of the best teams in the NFC and that will be apparent during this game. Quarterbacks Aaron Rodgers and Matt Ryan will go toe to toe in what could be an early season playoff preview. Would anyone be surprised if these two met in the NFC Conference Championship this winter? I certainly wouldn’t.
Keys to the Game
Protect Rodgers and let him do his thing. Look, everyone knows that the Packers struggle to run the football, so let’s not pretend otherwise. The ball is going to be in Rodgers’ hands and he’s going to be the make or break for Green Bay most of the year — especially against teams like Atlanta. The Pack will need good performances from players like Randall Cobb and Davante Adams who have gone ghost at times during the last few seasons. Jordy Nelson can’t do it all, try as he might.
The Falcons will run away with this one if they can contain Jordy Nelson. The other Green Bay wide receivers have already proven that they can’t be counted on to carry the load and the Green Bay running game is less than potent. Jordy and Rodgers are the offense for the Packers. The easiest way to do that is not only bracketing Jordy in coverage, but getting pressure off the edge with Vic Beasley and company. Rodgers may be terrific on the run, but he can only do so much on his own.
Sunday Afternoon – New England Patriots at New Orleans Saints
Whenever we have a matchup of Hall of Fame quarterbacks it’s must-watch TV. In Week 2, we get to see Tom Brady go head to head with Drew Brees down in the Big Easy. Not to mention, the Saints should be a contender in the NFC South with the addition of Hall of Fame running back Adrian Peterson. These teams combined have more star power than half the league combined, so don’t miss this one.
Keys to the Game
The Pats should play a slow, controlled game in this one to maximize their odds of winning. It’s not that they can’t beat New Orleans in a shootout, but why take the chance? The Saints’ defense is so porous that New England will be able to walk up and down the field and the more time they take off the clock, the less time for Drew Brees to mount a comeback. Combine that with a couple stops on defense and maybe a turnover or two and the Pats will have this one in the bag. New Orleans doesn’t have the firepower to compete in that scenario.
This is going to be an uphill battle for the Saints, straight up. Their defense is not going to be able to hang with Tom Brady and company, so it’s important that the offense score early and score often. If they can make the game a shootout, it will be their best chance of winning. They’ll need to lean on their studs in Brees and Peterson to take the game into their own hands at times and make some big plays. This is the exact kind of game you have in mind when you sign someone like AP.
Thursday Night – Houston Texans at Cincinnati Bengals
Week 2 kicks off with a couple high profile teams from the AFC. Houston will be looking to win the AFC South once again while the Bengals are trying to find themselves after a brutal 2016 season. This game features big name players on both sides of the ball and could truly go either way. Perfect for an early season Thursday night clash.
Keys to the Game
Houston has one job and one job only on Thursday night: control A.J. Green. Now, that’s a lot easier said than done, but it must happen if they want to walk away with a “W” in Week 2. Green is so good that he can take over a game by himself and lead the Bengals to victory. Cincy doesn’t have many offensive weapons outside of Green, so if Houston can limit his production, the Bengals probably won’t crack 20 points on the night.
The Bengals need to protect Andy Dalton and keep him on his feet. Houston features what is likely to be the most ferocious pass rush in the entire league and with it they can dominate the game. Between J.J. Watt, Jadeveon Clowney and Whitney Mercilus, the Bengals won’t be able to focus on one player to eliminate, so they’ll need great protection from all across the offensive line and from the running backs, as well. Everyone will need to chip in. If that happens, Dalton will find a way to hook up with A.J. Green and company down the field and put points on the board — something that Houston struggles to do.