With Week 2 featuring five battles between 1-0 teams, who has the best opportunity to remain unbeaten?
Thursday Night Football has become notorious for lower quality due to the strain a short week of preparation places on both teams. Baltimore and Cincinnati split their season series in 2017, with both road teams leaving with a win. The Ravens are well positioned to continue the trend, coming off a balanced performance in Week 1 against the Bills.
While the Bengals are a more talented and seasoned team than Buffalo, Baltimore’s upgraded receivers have brought renewed hope to the offensive effort and the defense displayed no signs of straying from the franchise’s signature dominance. The Bengals will need to get off to a hotter start than they did in Indianapolis, as a 17 point fourth quarter comeback is far less attainable against a stout defense.
The Eagles escaped a sour ending to their banner raising home opener, stopping the Falcons on the goal line with time expiring in the fourth quarter. Carson Wentz has still not been cleared for contact, making Nick Foles the confirmed starter for Week 2. Against Atlanta, Foles threw zero touchdowns, averaged just 3.44 yards per pass and finished with a passer rating of 50.7, a far cry from his Super Bowl MVP performance when he threw three touchdown passes and recorded a 106.1 passer rating.
Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were the surprise of Week 1, defeating the New Orleans Saints in Louisiana. Given Fitzpatrick’s track record, it is still likely that he will follow up his stellar Week 1 with a flat line on Sunday. With uncertainty surrounding Philadelphia and more tape needed before declaring the Buccaneers opening performance more than a fluke, this match up is a toss up.
The Dolphins survived hours of weather delays to win what became the longest game in NFL history when they defeated the Tennessee Titans. Frank Gore and Kenyan Drake proved to be a potent running back duo in Week 1, and Kenny Stills impressed with 106 receiving yards and two touchdowns on Sunday. However, Ryan Tannehill threw two interceptions in his first game since 2016.
Sam Darnold’s NFL debut started in disaster, with an immediate pick-six, but he finished the night with a 116.8 passer rating and a road win over the Lions. If Isaiah Crowell can replicate his strong showing (102 rushing yards and two touchdowns) and the Jets receivers can build on their success after catching 76.2 percent of passes in Week 1, then New York is in a good spot to come away with a divisional victory and a 2-0 start.
Aaron Rodgers added another chapter to his folklore on Sunday night, returning from a knee injury to lead the Packers on a 21-3 run in the fourth quarter to defeat the Bears in Green Bay. And while the organization is being cautious about his injury, the Vikings are planning to face the future Hall of Famer in Week 2. His knee will be a concern, but given his comeback performance against Chicago, Rodgers should still be able to be highly effective on Sunday.
Kirk Cousins will have the chance to prove himself against top tier talent in his first divisional contest, after handing Jimmy Garoppolo his first NFL loss. But if Rodgers can continue his successful rapport with Randall Cobb and Davante Adams, the Packers have the chance to gain a strong hold on NFC North early with back-to-back divisional wins.
In a rematch of last year’s AFC Championship game, the Patriots travel to Jacksonville to face off against Blake Bortles and Jalen Ramsey. New England recently signed receivers Corey Coleman and Bennie Fowler in their latest attempt to fill the void left by Julian Edelman’s suspension. Jacksonville is also facing a potential gap on offense, as Leonard Fournette has been held of out practices this week after injuring his hamstring against the Giants, and his status is not yet clear for Week 2.
While the Jaguars imposing defense will surely look to take advantage of Tom Brady’s lack of offensive weapons, it will still be no easy task to shut down the connection between Brady and Rob Gronkowski. If the Jaguars can make adjustments from their playoff loss and secure a victory against the AFC’s most imposing team, it could prove pivotal in propelling Jacksonville to another level.