NFL Week 2 NFL Preview

(Sept 10, 2008 – Here it is only Week 2 of the NFL season and already “big games” is a term that will be heard repeatedly. On top of them being division games, they have intriguing storylines, too!

After one wild Kickoff Weekend – “It was a great opening of the season,” said New York Giants quarterback ELI MANNING about his Super Bowl champ’s win but also capturing the essence of NFL Week 1 – here comes more drama, especially within the divisions. Never too early to take command of your own backyard!

“It’s a rival game every time we play in our division,” says linebacker BRADIE JAMES of the Dallas Cowboys, who play NFC East-foe Philadelphia Monday night. “Everybody approaches it like it’s a playoff game.”

So after a Kickoff week that saw such thrills as a TD on a first pass (Atlanta rookie MATT RYAN on his first NFL attempt) and one on a last pass (by Carolina quarterback JAKE DELHOMME to win a game with no time left), here comes Week 2 of what promises to be another memorable NFL season:




STORYLINE: Don’t forget history.


Of course, the top story in this game are the quarterbacks. It was going to be new Jets QB BRETT FAVRE, the NFL career leader in the major passing categories, against three-time Super Bowl winner TOM BRADY. Now, with Brady out for the season with a knee injury, MATT CASSEL, a seventh-round draft choice in 2005 out of USC who has not started a game since high school, will start for New England.



But hold your judgment! Wasn’t Brady a sixth-round selection and didn’t he ride the bench for a year before he got his chance (through injury)? And wasn’t Favre – a second-rounder – traded after one year (and no starts) from Atlanta to Green Bay before he got his chance (again, through injury)?


All that history aside, both of Sunday’s AFC East QBs come off satisfying wins. Favre – calling himself a “New Yorkian” – threw a 56-yard TD pass to WR JERRICHO COTCHERY on the Jets’ second series for an eventual 20-14 win over Miami.

Cassel, with only 39 NFL passes to his resume before last Sunday, completed 13 of 18 attempts for 152 yards and one TD against Kansas City. “Matt played well,” said Chiefs QB DAMON HUARD. “At the end of the day, that’s how quarterbacks are measured.”





STORYLINE: Birds are thinking payback for last year against the division champs.

And they just may have the ammo to do it.


In 2007, the Bucs easily handled their NFC South foe, 31-7 and 37-3. Fast forward to this season, and the Falcons seem to have the firepower to even things up.



They come off a 34-21 win over Detroit, compiling the third-most total yards in Week 1 (474) and look like they have found




RYAN’S RIFLE: Atlanta Falcons rookie QB MATT RYAN’s 62-yard touchdown on his first NFL attempt last Sunday was the first time a player threw a TD pass of 50 or more yards in the first quarter of his NFL debut since ROGER STAUBACH connected with LANCE RENTZEL on a 75-yard scoring play on September 21, 1969.


their new starting QB and new heavyweight rusher. QB MATT RYAN threw for a TD on his first NFL pass and UFA RB MICHAEL TURNER, fresh from San Diego, topped all Week 1 rushers with 220 yards, the most rushing yards in history by a player in his first game with a new team.

Meanwhile, the Bucs at this point do not know who will be starting at QB on Sunday – starter JEFF GARCIA (ankle) or veteran backup BRIAN GRIESE. Whoever is in that slot will try to let RBs EARNEST GRAHAM (181 total rush yards vs. Atlanta last year) and WARRICK DUNN (in his first outing against his former team) control the game on the ground. Last time the teams met (last December 16), Tampa Bay dominated in time of possession (42:59 to 17:01).






STORYLINE: Inspiring victories. Now let’s repeat them.


That’s what the Cats and Bears are thinking. Carolina comes off a thrilling no-time-left win in San Diego on a JAKE DELHOMME-to-DANTE ROSARIO pass. Chicago is fresh from a 29-13 win over Indianapolis as the Colts opened new Lucas Oil Stadium.



“It’s great to have Jake back,” says Rosario of Delhomme, who has returned from 2007’s season-ending elbow injury. “Guys want to follow him.”



The Panthers will have to get ready for that ol’ time Bears ball-pounding offense. Chicago’s MATT FORTÉ – the first Bears rookie to start at RB in Week 1 since WALTER PAYTON in 1975 – rushed 23 times for 123 yards Sunday night, with a 50-yard TD romp. “We’re a running football team,” says Bears QB KYLE ORTON. “That’s how we play football.”



More of Muhsin?: WR MUHSIN MUHAMMAD, who re-signed with Carolina in the offseason after three years in Chicago, will be pumped. Delhomme threw to him 14 times on Sunday (completing six), so Bears will expect even more of same.






STORYLINE: Break the streaks!


That’s Cleveland’s intention – both the most recent (like last week) and that bothersome eight-year one.


The Browns opened the season last year like they did last Sunday – with a demoralizing loss (28-10 this year, 34-7 in 2007 to Pittsburgh). They roared back in Week 2 last year (a 51-45 win over Cincinnati that got QB DEREK ANDERSON on his way), so they know a quick turnaround can be accomplished (they eventually finished 10-6).


Only thing is, this is AFC North foe Pittsburgh they will be facing. The Steelers have won nine in a row over the Browns and 14 of the last 15. “This isn’t just any week, it’s Steelers week,” says K PHIL DAWSON, the longest-tenured Brown.



Pittsburgh’s most potent weapon against Cleveland has been RB WILLIE PARKER, who comes off a 138-yard, three TD-performance last Sunday against Houston. This, after recovering from a broken leg in Week 16 of last year. Parker has tormented the Browns recently, rushing for 613 yards in his last five games against them.


Big Ben in Ohio: Steelers QB BEN ROETHLISBERGER, a native of Findlay, Ohio, has a 21-1 record (including postseason) in his home state in college (Miami University, 12-1) and the NFL (4-0 at Cleveland, 5-0 at Cincinnati).






STORYLINE: Yardage explosion?


Could be, looking at the offensive production – almost 500 yards apiece — these two NFC East rivals produced in Week 1.


The Eagles racked up 522 yards, the Cowboys 487, to rank Nos. 1 and 2, respectively, in the league. Monday will be the first time since November 19, 2006 (Cincinnati, 545 at New Orleans, 513) that teams have met the week after posting at least 475 yards of offense.



The quarterbacks were hot last Sunday, each throwing for 300-plus yards. Philadelphia’s DONOVAN MC NABB (361 yards) was pinpoint accurate against St. Louis, with three Eagles receivers (rookie DE SEAN JACKSON, GREG LEWIS and HANK BASKETT) each posting 100 yards (the first time that has happened for Philly since 1960).



DallasTONY ROMO, perfectly leading his receivers so they could tack on extra yards, threw for 320 yards while directing four long touchdown drives against Cleveland.



Rookies to watch: The Eagles’ quick Jackson (first Philly rookie WR to start an opener since CALVIN WILLIAMS in 1990) had six catches for 106 yards and returned a punt 60 yards in Week 1; and Cowboys RB FELIX JONES scored on his first NFL carry, totaled 62 rushing yards – and handled blitzes, too.


(All times local)



Thursday, September 4

Sunday, September 7, Cont.’d.

N.Y. GIANTS 16, Washington 7

PITTSBURGH 38, Houston 17


TENNESSEE 17, Jacksonville 10

Sunday, September 7

Dallas 28, CLEVELAND 10

ATLANTA 34, Detroit 21

Carolina 26, SAN DIEGO 24

BALTIMORE 17, Cincinnati 10

Arizona 23, SAN FRANCISCO 13

BUFFALO 34, Seattle 10

Chicago 29, INDIANAPOLIS 13

N.Y. Jets 20, MIAMI 14

NEW ENGLAND 17, Kansas City 10

Monday, September 8

NEW ORLEANS 24, Tampa Bay 20

GREEN BAY 24, Minnesota 19

PHILADELPHIA 38, St. Louis 3

Denver 41, OAKLAND 14




(All times local)



Sunday, September 14

Sunday, September 14, Cont.’d.

Chicago at Carolina, 1:00 PM

Atlanta at Tampa Bay, 4:05 PM

Tennessee at Cincinnati, 1:00 PM

Miami at Arizona, 1:15 PM

Green Bay at Detroit, 1:00 PM

San Diego at Denver, 2:15 PM

Buffalo at Jacksonville, 1:00 PM

Baltimore at Houston, 3:15 PM

Oakland at Kansas City, 12:00 PM

New England at N.Y. Jets, 4:15 PM

Indianapolis at Minnesota, 12:00 PM

Pittsburgh at Cleveland, 8:15 PM (NBC)

N.Y. Giants at St. Louis, 12:00 PM

New Orleans at Washington, 1:00 PM

Monday, September 15

San Francisco at Seattle, 1:05 PM

Philadelphia at Dallas, 7:30 PM (ESPN)