NFL Week Two Preview
NFL football returned to our screens last week in a cacophony of hits and a flood of offensive plays. We keep hearing the National Football League is now a passing league. Gone are the days of brutal defensive attrition. It’s all out offense and chucking the ball for hundreds upon of hundreds of yards a game. Nice one. It’s more fun that way.
Here’s a preview of the games on British TV this week.
New Orleans Saints @ Carolina Panthers (Sunday 1pm ET/6pm BST)
The New Orleans saints are without a coach. Sean Peyton is suspended for the year as part of the repercussions of bountygate. But head coach or no, the Saints were expected to start the season well. And still secure a playoff berth. If only because of the talent of their playing staff, first among them Drew Brees. Brees flung the most passing yards ever last season. But if his defense can’t come to his aid in times of peril New Orleans will be looking at a 0-2 start. And 0-2 teams rarely make the playoffs.
Panthers QB Cam Newton is also no stranger to racking up yardage. He can also run about, extending plays with his feet, and altogether making a nuisance of himself for opposing defenses. But the 2011 rookie of the year is also coming off a loss in week one. He has all the stats any quarter back would ever want. But an 0-2 start is a difficult hole to climb out of. The most important stat this week is the good old fashioned W.
Washington Redskins @ St Louis Rams (Sunday 4.05pm ET/9.05pm BST)
The oft-repeated question going into the 2012 season was; do we have another Cam Newton in Robert Griffin III (RG3)? Someone electric to watch and talented both in the air and on the floor? It’s amazing the difference a game can make. Now it’s flipped the other way around and Cam Newton would be flattered with the odd comparison to RG3.
His was a spectacular debut. He opened up the New Orleans D. Scored at will. He marshaled his offense with many of the plays he was comfortable with from his college days. Of course that was only week one, but the rookie of the year race looks done and done already.
Matthew Stafford’s Rams almost pulled out an upset victory against the Detroit Lions last week, but in the end stuttered. But who really cares about the Rams. This is RG3’s world. We’re just living in it.
Detroit Lions @ San Francisco 49ers (Sunday 8.20pm ET/Monday 1.20am BST)
Jim Harbaugh is a crazy man. The 49ers coach almost came to blows with his counterpart for the Detroit Lions last year after an overly hearty post-match handshake. So this is the Handshake Bowl. They don’t like each other. But crazy man Jim Harbaugh motivates his team like no other; and they are seven point favourites for a reason.
The Lions are coming off a late comeback win over the lowly Rams. The 49ers just defeated Super Bowl 45 Champs the Green Bay Packers and league MVP Aaron Rodgers. It really will be a shock if the crazy man doesn’t win the Handshake Bowl.
Denver Broncos @ Atlanta Falcons (Monday 8.30pm ET/Tuesday 1.30am BST)
The Falcons nearly always win at home. Matt Ryan will gleefully launch the ball around the weather proof Georgia Dome all night. Making pretty spirals in the air and connecting outrageously with Roddy White, wherever he may be. Atlanta demolished the Kansas City Chiefs last week. A crucial away victory when you consider they’ll win nearly all their games in the Dome.
But they come up against the Zombie Man. Peyton Manning rose from the dead last week in a surprisingly comfortable victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers. It’s true he wasn’t troubled much in the pocket. But he looked surprisingly spry for an old gent off the back of four neck surgeries. We’ll see if it lasts; but so far so good. If he can upset Matt Ryan in the Georgia Dome we’ll know the four MVPs are more significant than the four neck surgeries. That rhymes.
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