NFL Previews Week 2
NFL Previews Week 2
NFL Preview - San Francisco (1-0) at St. Louis (0-1)
(Sports Network) - The rebirth of the San Francisco 49ers as a major player on the NFL scene could take place Sunday in the Gateway City, as Mike Nolan's club seeks to move to 2-0 with a win over the St. Louis Rams.
The 49ers have a chance to get to 2-0 for the first time since 1998, when they finished 12-4 under head coach Steve Mariucci, and can also announce their strength to the rest of the NFC West for a second consecutive week.
On Monday, San Francisco outlasted Arizona in a hard-hitting 20-17 affair which the Niners pulled out on a one-yard run by wideout Arnaz Battle in the game's waning seconds. The win moved Nolan and company into a tie with Seattle (at Arizona on Sunday) atop the division as Week 2 begins.
Kickoff weekend did not go nearly as well for the Rams, who dropped a lackluster 27-13 affair to the Panthers at home and also lost perhaps their best player. Perennial Pro Bowl tackle Orlando Pace was knocked out for the season with a torn labrum and rotator cuff suffered against Carolina, an injury that robs Scott Linehan's squad of one its most vital offensive cogs.
Former first-round draft choice Alex Barron will have the major job of filling Pace's shoes this week, and the offensive guru Linehan will be in charge of finding ways to mitigate the All-Pro's absence.
The Rams have not lost home games on the first two weeks of the season since 1998, when they fell to the Saints (24-17) and Vikings (38-31) en route to a 4-12 campaign.
The Rams hold a 59-53-2 edge in their regular season series with the 49ers, and snapped a three-game losing streak in the series with a 20-17 home victory in Week 12 of last year. San Francisco won the first meeting between the two last season, taking a 20-13 home decision in Week 2. The Niners swept a home- and-home against their division rival in 2005, including a 24-20 triumph at the Edward Jones Dome.
In addition to the regular season series, the teams have met once in the postseason, with San Francisco earning a 30-3 home triumph over the then-Los Angeles Rams in the 1989 NFC Championship.
Nolan is 3-1 against St. Louis in his career, while the Rams' Linehan is 1-1 against both Nolan and the 49ers as a head coach.
WHEN THE 49ERS HAVE THE BALL
The Niners didn't run up and down the field against the Cardinals in Week 1, but did hit on enough big plays to keep the team in position for the win. Quarterback Alex Smith completed 15-of-31 passes for 126 yards in the contest, with a large selection of his biggest plays coming on the team's decisive final drive. Smith's favorite target was Battle, who caught a game-high five balls for 60 yards in addition to his winning touchdown run. Fellow wideout Darrell Jackson, making his first start with San Francisco after coming over from Seattle in a Draft day trade, contributed four catches for 36 yards. The team would like to get former first-round pick and tight end Vernon Davis, who managed just two grabs totaling four yards, more involved. In the running game, Frank Gore had 76 yards and a touchdown on 19 total touches in his first game after missing the entire preseason with a broken hand. The San Francisco o-line allowed three sacks on the night.
The Rams received high marks for their defensive changes in the offseason, but those alterations had precious little impact in Week 1 against Carolina. The Panthers ran at will, piling up 186 yards on 28 carries, a 4.9 average per rush. They also made significant gains in the passing game, with Jake Delhomme throwing three touchdowns without an interception, including one to 100-yard receiver Steve Smith. The Rams also didn't come up with a sack all day, a situation that ends Leonard Little (5 tackles) and James Hall (5 tackles) will look to avoid against San Francisco. On the positive side for St. Louis, linebackers Will Witherspoon and Brandon Chillar both came up with fumble recoveries a week ago. In the secondary, O.J. Atogwe logged a game-high 10 tackles, and fellow safety Corey Chavous (7 tackles) forced a fumble.
WHEN THE RAMS HAVE THE BALL
The absence of Pace had a profound effect on a St. Louis offense that didn't put together a drive of any significant length after the former No. 1 overall draft pick exited the game. Pro Bowl running back Steven Jackson had a poor day overall, carrying 18 times for 58 yards and losing a pair of fumbles in the loss. Wideouts Torry Holt and Isaac Bruce combined for just eight catches and 93 yards in the defeat, and Holt scored the Rams' only touchdown of the day in the first quarter when Pace was still protecting Marc Bulger's blind side. Bulger finished 22-of-42 for 167 yards and a touchdown and was sacked once. Like San Francisco, St. Louis would like to see more production from its tight end. Ex-Dolphin Randy McMichael had just two catches for 24 yards in his first game as a Ram last week. St. Louis wideout Drew Bennett, who missed Week 1 with a thigh problem, should be in the lineup on Sunday.
Bulger, Jackson, and company will see a much different defense than the one they worked against last year. Starters like cornerback Nate Clements, strong safety Michael Lewis, and inside linebacker Patrick Willis have been added to a group that allowed the most points in the league in 2006, and initial returns on their presence are all positive. The re-tooled secondary held Cardinals star receivers Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin to a combined seven catches for 42 yards on Monday night, while the rookie Willis posted a game-high 11 tackles in his first meaningful action as a pro. That said, there are some offensive strides to be made against a San Francisco defense that allowed 161 yards on the ground in Week 1, and also managed just one sack of Arizona's Matt Leinart.
Fantasy managers owning Steven Jackson and/or Marc Bulger were disappointed last week, as neither Ram hit his projected total. Both are due for bounce- back days and are solid plays, as are the always productive Torry Holt and kicker Jeff Wilkins. Tight end Randy McMichael might still be a "wait and see" proposition. On the San Francisco side, Gore is the only first-rate fantasy player, and some managers might take a flier on Battle this week after a productive night against Arizona. Neither of these defenses is of starting quality at this stage.
The 49ers remain a sexy pick to rise up the NFC West and make the playoffs, though anyone that watched their performance against the Cardinals knows they were very fortunate to come away with a win in Week 1. This team is not yet in midseason form, thanks in large part to all the new faces, and how Nolan's team will play on a short week that follows a physical contest remains to be seen. For the Rams, the loss of Pace will have season-long consequences, but the team does have enough talent to win some games, especially before the home fans. Look for Bulger and Jackson to play well, for the defense to make a couple of plays against Smith and Gore, and for both clubs to end the day at 1-1.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Rams 24, 49ers 17
Re: NFL Previews Week 2
NFL Preview - New Orleans (0-1) at Tampa Bay (0-1)
(Sports Network) - After a nightmare beginning to their 2007 season, the New Orleans Saints will attempt to turn the page when the defending NFC South champions visit the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in a divisional matchup Sunday at Raymond James Stadium.
Tabbed as one of the preseason favorites to represent the NFC in this year's Super Bowl, the Saints instead displayed a striking resemblance to the team that won a woeful three games during a tumultuous 2005 campaign in their humbling 41-10 Week 1 loss to the reigning world champion Indianapolis Colts. An offense that led the NFL in total yards a year ago was completely shut down by the Colts' new-look defensive corps, while Peyton Manning and his dynamic group of receivers ravaged a New Orleans secondary that appeared confused and unprepared for such an aerial barrage.
The Saints' lone touchdown of the evening came on a fumble return by ex-Colt Jason David, the bright spot of an otherwise forgettable return to the RCA Dome for the cornerback.
Tampa Bay failed to score a touchdown of any kind in its season opener, a 20-6 setback at Seattle, with its offense looking very much like the unit that produced the second-lowest point total in the league last year and ranked 29th in total yards during the club's discouraging 4-12 season of 2006.
The Bucs could be offensively challenged again with the expected absence of Cadillac Williams on Sunday. The oft-injured running back was forced out of the Seattle loss with bruised ribs and is doubtful to suit up for the team's home opener. Quarterback Jeff Garcia also missed some time in the opener after taking a shot to the head during the third quarter, but the fiery veteran will be back under center this week.
Both teams will be facing their first divisional test of the young season on Sunday. Tampa Bay hopes for a better showing against NFC South foes this time around after losing all six such encounters in 2006
New Orleans has a 19-11 lead in its all-time series with Tampa Bay, including a home-and-home sweep last season. The Saints were 24-21 home winners in Week 5, and emerged from Raymond James Stadium with a 31-14 victory in Week 9. The Buccaneers swept 2005's series, including a 27-13 home win in Week 17. New Orleans has won in four of its last five trips to Tampa Bay.
Buccaneers head coach Jon Gruden has a 5-6 career record against the Saints, including 4-6 since taking over in Tampa prior to the 2002 season. New Orleans' Sean Payton is 2-0 against both Gruden and the Bucs as a head coach.
WHEN THE SAINTS HAVE THE BALL
New Orleans topped the NFL with an average of over 280 passing yards per game last season, but its air attack was effectively held in check by the Colts on Opening Night. Quarterback Drew Brees managed to complete 28-of-41 throws, but totaled just 192 yards and was intercepted twice. The big plays that were prevalent in Payton's multi-look offense a year ago were non-existent in Week 1, as the Saints had only one gain of more than 13 yards against Indy.
Former 49er Eric Johnson had a solid debut for New Orleans in the opener, as the tight end compiled team-bests of 57 receiving yards on eight catches. Top wideout Marques Colston had six grabs but only managed 47 yards, while dangerous running back Reggie Bush was limited to a mere seven receiving yards on four receptions. The second-year standout caught 88 passes from Brees during his impressive rookie campaign.
Neither Bush (12 carries, 38 yards in Week 1) nor backfield mate Deuce McAllister (10 carries, 38 years) put up big numbers running the ball in the Saints' season debut, although New Orleans basically abandoned the run game after falling behind big in the second half.
Brees noticeably struggled against Indianapolis' Cover-2 zone system, the same scheme utilized for years by Buccaneers defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin. Tampa Bay's secondary is likely to be more vulnerable to the big play than that of the Colts, especially with veteran cornerback Brian Kelly questionable to play due to a groin injury and an untested rookie, Tanard Jackson, manning the all-important free safety position. If Kelly can't go, the serviceable Phillip Buchanon will line up opposite five-time All-Pro Ronde Barber.
The Bucs ranked a mediocre 17th in defending the run last year (119.8 ypg) but did a decent job last Sunday containing Seattle's Shaun Alexander, who had 105 yards but averaged a pedestrian 3.9 yards per rush. Middle linebacker Barrett Ruud had an active day in defeat, as the third-year pro racked up 13 tackles, forced a fumble, and recovered a loose ball. Strong safety Jermaine Phillips finished with 10 tackles and had one of Tampa Bay's two sacks of the Seahawks' Matt Hasselbeck. End Gaines Adams, Tampa's top pick in last April's draft, saw limited action and had just one tackle.
WHEN THE BUCCANEERS HAVE THE BALL
Although it didn't show in the opener, the Buccaneers offense is in much better hands this year with the savvy Garcia at the controls. The 37-year-old, who hit on 19-of-27 passes for 201 yards versus Seattle, is intelligent, accurate, and rarely turns the ball over. He seems to already have a good rapport with fellow old-timer Joey Galloway, who caught five passes for 72 yards on Sunday and remains a dangerous deep receiving threat. However, someone among the group of Ike Hilliard (4 receptions, 49 yards), Michael Clayton (1 reception, 11 yards) and Maurice Stovall has to emerge as a viable option aside from Galloway for Tampa Bay's passing game to improve, and a young offensive line that yielded five sacks to the Seahawks must do a better job of protecting Garcia.
With Williams likely sidelined, rushing duties will primarily fall on capable 10-year pro Michael Pittman and seldom-used Earnest Graham. Look for Pittman, an excellent receiver who had 49 yards on four grabs in Week 1, to play a big role in the aerial game plan on Sunday.
Garcia should find some soft spots in a New Orleans secondary that was lit up for 288 passing yards and 452 total yards by the Colts. David (4 tackles) was brought in over the offseason to shore up one cornerback spot, but he was burned for three long touchdowns by his ex-Indianapolis teammates. The Saints also failed to register a sack of Manning despite the presence of two outstanding ends in Will Smith (2 tackles) and Charles Grant (5 tackles).
New Orleans also did a subpar job against the run in the opener, as Indianapolis piled up 164 rushing yards as a team and top back Joseph Addai ran for 118 on 23 attempts. Rushing defense was also a problem area for the Saints last year, as the club ranked just 23rd in that category (128.9 ypg).
Brees owners will be expecting a much better return on their investment this week, and it's certainly reasonable to anticipate a rebound. The Pro Bowl quarterback had two excellent games against the Buccaneers last season, including a 314-yard, three-touchdown performance in New Orleans' 31-14 victory at Raymond James Stadium. Colston had 11 catches totaling 123 yards in that game, while counterpart Devery Henderson hauled in two long scoring throws from Brees. Bush should also be a solid play as a No. 2 back or flex player, as Payton and Brees will target him often in the passing game.
Tampa Bay's best fantasy prospect for Sunday is Galloway, who scored both of his team's touchdowns in that aforementioned loss to the Saints and presents a stern challenge for New Orleans' vulnerable secondary. Williams is a must- sit, but Pittman should be able to generate some points with a likely increased workload.
Those who believe last week's lopsided loss was just an off night by the Saints and are expecting an authoritative bounce-back performance this Sunday may be in for a surprise. New Orleans' defensive liabilities that were exposed by the Colts are a serious problem, and Garcia's moxie and Galloway's field- stretching capability may be just enough for Tampa Bay to spring the upset. Brees' shaky outing against Indianapolis and a similar showing in last year's NFC Championship Game loss to Chicago -- another Cover 2 team -- are also causes for concern. The Buccaneers don't possess nearly as formidable a pass rush or the overall defensive talent as those other two teams, however, so Saints backers shouldn't have too much to fret. New Orleans' longer preparation time and superior personnel will eventually win out in a tight contest.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Saints 24, Buccaneers 20
Re: NFL Previews Week 2
NFL Preview - Houston (1-0) at Carolina (1-0)
(Sports Network) - Historically, the calling card of neither the Carolina Panthers nor the Houston Texans has been consistency. Thus, when they meet at Bank of America on Sunday in what could be a telling Week 2 battle, achieving that consistency in the form of a win figures to be very much on the collective minds of both squads.
The Panthers were among the league's most enigmatic teams in 2006, counting both a four-game win streak and a four-game losing skid on their ledger of results and finishing as an 8-8 non-playoff team after beginning the year with plausible Super Bowl hopes.
The disappointing nature of the '06 campaign meant that few were pegging the Panthers for particular greatness in 2007, but last week's impressive 27-13 road win over Steven Jackson and the Rams boosted the club's stock a tad. If Carolina fails to knock out Houston in its home opener, however, that positive equity will be squandered yet again, and the Panthers will have earned their billing as an unreliable, Jekyll-and-Hyde unit.
It might require more of a leap to argue that the Houston Texans, a team that has never finished with a winning record, is on the cusp of great things.
However, the six-year-old organization does come into Charlotte with a franchise-best three-game winning streak dating back to last season, and can move to 2-0 for the first time in its existence with a victory in Carolina.
The Texans and new starting quarterback Matt Schaub put together an authoritative 20-3 win over the Kansas City Chiefs last week.
The Texans won their only meeting with the Panthers all-time, a 14-10 home victory during the 2003 season.
Panthers head coach John Fox is 0-1 against Houston in his career, while the Texans' Gary Kubiak will be meeting both Fox and the Panthers for the first time as a head coach.
WHEN THE TEXANS HAVE THE BALL
Those expecting big things out of first-year Houston quarterback Matt Schaub were not disappointed last Sunday, as the Virginia product completed a crisp 16-of-22 passes for 225 yards with a touchdown and an interception in his Texans debut. Schaub, who came over from Atlanta in an offseason trade, was the only of last week's QBs to engineer a win in his first game with a new team. Predictably, wideout Andre Johnson was Schaub's favorite target. The Pro Bowler logged seven catches for 142 yards and a touchdown in the victory. Rookie Jacoby Jones also made his presence felt offensively, catching a pair of balls for 33 yards. Also making his Houston debut last week was running back Ahman Green, who helped move the chains to the tune of 73 yards on 16 carries. An oft-maligned Texans line surrendered just two sacks of Schaub in Week 1.
Carolina comes off a performance in which it shut down the high-powered St. Louis attack, limiting running back Steven Jackson to 58 yards on 18 carries with a pair of fumbles and holding wideouts Torry Holt and Isaac Bruce to under 100 combined receiving yards. Safeties Chris Harris (5 tackles) and Deke Cooper (3 tackles) both forced Jackson turnovers, while top pass rusher Julius Peppers (4 tackles) and Chris Gamble (6 tackles) recovered the fumbles. Peppers will be seeking his first sack of 2007, after tackle Kindal Moorehead was the only Panther to get to Bulger last Sunday. The linebacking corps will once again be led by middle man Dan Morgan, who notched a team-best seven tackles last week in his first meaningful action since suffering the latest in a series of concussions in Week 1 of the '06 campaign.
WHEN THE PANTHERS HAVE THE BALL
After an up-and-down 2006 season that bled into a shaky 2007 preseason, Carolina quarterback Jake Delhomme needed an encouraging outing like the one he offered up last week. Delhomme completed 18-of-27 passes for 201 yards against the Rams, throwing three touchdown strikes without a turnover in the game. Delhomme connected for two TD passes with No. 3 receiver Drew Carter, and Pro Bowler Steve Smith had one score on a day that saw him catch seven passes for a game-high 118 yards. Tight end Jeff King registered the best performance of his pro career to date, chipping in with five catches for 35 yards over the middle. A Carolina running game that struggled in '06 displayed a new zone-blocking system that paid big dividends in Week 1. The Panthers ground out 186 rushing yards in the win, including 94 on 17 carries for DeShaun Foster and another 62 on 15 totes for DeAngelo Williams. Carolina backup quarterback David Carr played in 76 games for the Texans between 2002 and 2006.
The playmaking ability of the Houston defense ranked as a major question mark as 2007 began, but the Texans made a strong effort to prove themselves on that side of the ball last week. Kubiak's club forced a total of four turnovers, including a fumble that was returned for a touchdown by former No. 1 pick and defensive end Mario Williams. Williams had two of Houston's three sacks on the day. The Texans also did a terrific job against Chiefs Pro Bowl running back Larry Johnson, who was held to just 43 yards on 10 carries and did not turn in a run longer than eight yards. Middle linebacker DeMeco Ryans helped the cause with a team-high eight tackles in the win, and tackle Travis Johnson set the tone with three stops and an interception from his spot on the interior. No. 1 cornerback Dunta Robinson, who will likely be matched with Steve Smith on Sunday, recorded his first interception of the year against Kansas City.
Delhomme and Schaub rewarded fantasy managers who took a chance on them last week, as both put up strong numbers. Neither can necessarily be tagged as reliable at this stage, however, and the same can be said for the Carolina and Houston running games. The surest fantasy bets on the field are the two Pro Bowl receivers, Steve Smith and Andre Johnson, who will start every week for most clubs. If there is a defense to take in this game, it is probably Carolina's, which has a tad more star power than that of Houston.
Schaub was a well-regarded backup to Michael Vick in Atlanta and proved his value with a strong performance last week, but the fact that he is about to make his fourth NFL start shouldn't be glossed over. Schaub is going to have his rough outings, and teams that have the ability to pressure him, of which Carolina is one, are prime candidates to produce such an outing. In their home opener, look for the Panthers to provide a continuation of last week's all- around effort, while Houston displays the general inconsistency that is a hallmark of young teams.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Panthers 24, Texans 9
Re: NFL Previews Week 2
NFL Preview - Cincinnati (1-0) at Cleveland (0-1)
(Sports Network) - As an early-season candidate to represent the AFC in this year's Super Bowl, the Cincinnati Bengals started their quest for glory on the right foot. Now they will have the pleasure of paying a visit to the Cleveland Browns this Sunday in Week 2 of the NFL season.
The Bengals grinded out a 27-20 win over the Baltimore Ravens on Monday night, thanks to a big play on defense and precise passing from quarterback Carson Palmer. Palmer, who is entering his second season since a devastating knee injury, picked apart Baltimore's defense for 194 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. He hooked up with wideouts Chad Johnson and T.J. Houshmandzadeh on scoring strikes, with Houshmandzedah's touchdown putting the Bengals on top for good midway through the fourth quarter.
Palmer and his receivers are already in midseason form, especially the flamboyant Johnson, who likes to talk a lot before the game. He backed up his words with five catches for 95 yards and a touchdown and was on top of his touchdown celebrations as well, donning an oversized blazer with his own Hall of Fame inception date inscribed on the back following his first-quarter score.
Johnson is looking too far ahead with that prediction, but does give defensive backs nightmares with his speed and excellent routes. The seventh-year pro has led the AFC in receiving yards the past four years and owns 11 100-yard games since 2004. Johnson also needs just 82 receiving yards to pass Isaac Curtis (7,101 yards) and become the Bengals' all-time leader in that category.
Cleveland must find a way to shut down Cincinnati's passing attack after Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger threw for four touchdowns in last week's 34-7 shellacking of the Browns. Head coach Romeo Crennel is on the hot seat already this season, and made a move this week to try and solidify his starting quarterback dilemma.
The Browns shipped Week 1 starter Charlie Frye to Seattle, giving the reigns to then-backup Derek Anderson. Frye was just 4-of-10 passing for 34 yards and an interception before Anderson took over and completed 13 of his 28 attempts for 184 yards with a touchdown and an interception. With the trade, rookie signal-caller Brady Quinn is now one big hit away from becoming the No. 1 guy.
Cleveland couldn't run the ball either in its season opener, as new running back Jamal Lewis collected 35 yards on 11 carries. The Bengals had trouble on the ground last Sunday as well, with Rudi Johnson rushing for 50 yards on 18 touches.
Cincinnati leads the all-time series with Cleveland, 34-33, breaking a deadlock in the series with a 30-0 thrashing of the Browns on the road in Week 12 of last season. The Bengals, who were also 34-17 home winners over the Browns in Week 2 of '06, have now won five straight in the series. Cleveland's last win in the series was a 34-17 triumph at home in 2004.
Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis is 6-2 against the Browns in his career, including 3-1 in games held in Cleveland. The Browns' Crennel is 0-4 against both Lewis and the Bengals as a head coach.
WHEN THE BENGALS HAVE THE BALL
Cincinnati has four big weapons on offense in Palmer, Chad Johnson, Rudi Johnson and Houshmandzadeh. There would be five, but wideout Chris Henry is suspended for the season's first eight games. Expect the Bengals to attack Cleveland through the air on Sunday, with Palmer having a typical outing versus the inferior Browns. Palmer, who was sacked just once in Week 1, is 5-1 lifetime against Cleveland with 13 touchdown passes. In the team's last meeting of the 2006 season, Palmer threw for 275 yards with three touchdown passes for a 120.7 QB rating.
Rudi Johnson has also enjoyed success against the Browns, rushing for at least 125 yards in four of the last five encounters with Cincinnati's AFC North rivals. He was held to 50 yards on 18 carries with a fumble against Baltimore, however. But the Browns could only wish they had that type of defense and will give up even more ground yardage to the compact running back, especially with Bengals Pro Bowl right tackle Willie Anderson on the mend. Anderson missed the preseason with a right foot condition and played sparingly against Baltimore. He should be in better health for this week's matchup. Left tackle Levi Jones was active for Monday's game but didn't play. He has been practicing and is expected to start against Cleveland.
The Browns could neither stop the run (206 yards) or the pass (159 yards, 4 touchdowns) against the Steelers last week. They sacked Roethlisberger just once and watched halfback Willie Parker rack up 109 yards on 27 carries. Cleveland's defense is led by second-year linebacker Kamerion Wimbley, who finished with just two tackles on Sunday. Defensive end Orpheus Roye and linebacker Andra Davis both recorded a team-high six stops. The pressure must be put on Palmer this week, otherwise Crennel will be counting down the days of his departure.
On an injury note, outside linebacker Willie McGinest will miss a second straight game as he recovers from back surgery and nickelback Daven Holly is iffy for Sunday's game with a concussion. Defensive end Antwan Peek suffered a sprained foot against the Steelers but expects to be this week.
WHEN THE BROWNS HAVE THE BALL
It seems as if the Browns are already playing musical quarterbacks this season, as they shipped Frye to the Seahawks to open the door for Anderson. Frye did practically nothing in his short time on Sunday as a starter and was immediately replaced by Anderson. The latest move means that Quinn is the new backup and will most likely take over as the starter by November, or sooner if Anderson fails in his opportunity. Anderson would perform a lot better if the offensive line played better and Jamal Lewis was able to find a bit of daylight.
Wide receiver Braylon Edwards and tight end Kellen Winslow were not much of a factor against Pittsburgh, even though Winslow led the squad with 83 yards on four receptions. The Browns compiled 221 yards and just seven points on offense and turned the ball over five times.
That's not a good sign for Cleveland, as the Bengals forced six turnovers against the Ravens. Defensive end Robert Geathers had an interception, a sack, one forced fumble, a fumble recovery and two passes defensed in Monday's win. In order for the Browns to avoid losing their sixth consecutive regular-season game, they must win the turnover battle and get Jamal Lewis more involved in the offense.
Chad Johnson, Rudi Johnson, Palmer and Houshmandzadeh are the top fantasy players on Cincinnati's roster. Houshmandzadeh had a team-high nine receptions for 50 yards and a touchdown on Monday. Both Palmer and Chad Johnson did their jobs, but Rudi Johnson has room to improve. He is still one of the top backs in fantasy, but 50 yards on 18 carries with a fumble certainly doesn't cut it. The Browns were smoked by Pittsburgh's offense and will be in for a treat with Cincinnati, which has a better offense than the Steelers.
As for Cleveland's fantasy studs, wideout Edwards, tight end Winslow and running back Lewis are all impact fantasy players. Now Frye is in Seattle, quarterback Anderson has a chance to make some fantasy owners proud. Winslow was the best of the bunch in last week's loss to Pittsburgh, with 83 yards on four catches.
The Bengals slipped past Baltimore's heralded defense on Monday night with big plays from Chad Johnson and Palmer. Despite Johnson's slow second half, he was still able to scorch Ed Reed and the Ravens secondary for 95 yards and a touchdown on five receptions. You can guarantee "Ocho Cinco" will reach the end zone again on Sunday versus a Browns squad that gave up almost 400 yards of offense in Week 1. Cincinnati, which scored a defensive touchdown on Monday, will have a much easier time coming out as the victor if Rudi Johnson can improve on his mediocre performance against the Ravens. The only way Cleveland has a chance to win is if one of the Bengals' big three goes down or if Anderson plays out of character and scorches a tough Cincy defense through the air.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Bengals 28, Browns 13
Re: NFL Previews Week 2
NFL Preview - Atlanta (0-1) at Jacksonville (0-1)
(Sports Network) - The Jacksonville Jaguars had trouble stopping the run and running the football in last week's loss to the Tennessee Titans. Now it's the Atlanta Falcons turn to try and do the same thing to the Jaguars in a Week 2 interconference matchup among winless teams that takes place this Sunday at Jacksonville Municipal Stadium.
The Falcons opened their season with a 24-3 loss to the Minnesota Vikings last Sunday at the Metrodome. They gave up the big play twice and didn't get much from quarterback Joey Harrington, who threw a pair of interceptions and ended with 199 yards passing in head coach Bobby Petrino's regular-season debut.
Petrino failed in his first attempt to bring his high-powered offense from the University of Louisville to fruition with the Falcons, who finished with just 265 total yards in the opener. The offensive line was the main problem, allowing six sacks and paving the way for just 96 yards on the ground.
After the Jags were run over by Tennessee for 282 yards on the ground, including a career-high 175 yards rushing by running back Chris Brown, Falcons backs Warrick Dunn and Jerious Norwood are most likely primed for Sunday's game. But don't forget that Jacksonville sported one of the best run defenses in the league last year, and the majority of that stop unit is back.
Dunn had 55 yards on 22 carries and Norwood added 33 yards on five rushes against the Vikings. Those numbers are not threatening, but who knew Brown would have run roughshod over Jacksonville in front of its home crowd?
Jacksonville suffered a 13-10 loss to Tennessee in Week 1 and paid too much attention to Titans elusive quarterback Vince Young. Young didn't have to work that hard, since Tennessee's offensive line and Brown did all the work in wearing down head coach Jack Del Rio's vaunted defense.
Lucky for Jacksonville this week, Michael Vick is nowhere near an NFL football field, as the talented quarterback is in the midst of defending himself in an alleged dog fighting case. Vick would have caused problems for the Jags, something Harrington rarely does to opposing defenses.
Jaguars new starting quarterback David Garrard had a strong performance under his new title, passing for 204 yards and a touchdown against the Titans. Garrard and running backs Fred Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew are expected to break out this weekend against a weak Atlanta defense. Taylor and Jones-Drew combined for just 48 yards rushing last week, so expect a big change in the offensive scheme this time around.
Jacksonville has a 2-1 edge in its all-time series with Atlanta, but was a 21-14 road loser when the teams last met back in 2003. The Jaguars were 19-17 home winners when the clubs met in 1996 and prevailed at the Georgia Dome by a 30-7 count in 1999.
Del Rio is 0-1 against Atlanta in his career as a head coach. The Falcons' Petrino, an assistant with the Jaguars from 1999 through 2001, will be meeting both Del Rio and Jacksonville for the first time as a head coach.
WHEN THE FALCONS HAVE THE BALL
Harrington is very limited in what he can do for an offense, so that is why Atlanta must utilize the ground game with Dunn and Norwood. Jacksonville did give up a lot of rushing yards last week, but that's unlikely to happen in consecutive weeks.
Dunn had an average Week 1 but is capable of doing more than 55 yards on the ground and 26 yards receiving. The veteran is still a threat coming out of the backfield and will test Jacksonville's linebacking corps led by Mike Peterson this Sunday. Peterson topped the Jags with eight total tackles last week, making up for an inept first line of defense. Enormous Pro Bowl tackles John Henderson and Marcus Stroud had 10 tackles and a sack between them last week, but seemed to be more focused on Young scrambling out of the pocket.Stroud and Henderson won't have that dilemma this week, since Harrington is about as mobile as they are. But the duo will have to deal with Dunn and Norwood, especially after what happened in Week 1.
The Jacksonville secondary will be busy in keeping up with Dunn, Falcons tight end Alge Crumpler and wideouts Joe Horn and Roddy White. Horn was signed in the offseason and had one catch for 14 yards versus Minnesota, while Crumpler led the bunch with 40 yards on four catches. Tennessee only had 68 yards through the air last week in Jacksonville, mainly because it did all the work on the ground.
Jack Del Rio's defensive backfield consisting of stud cornerback Rashean Mathis, Brian Williams, strong safety Gerald Sensabaugh and rookie free safety Reggie Nelson will be put to the test, since the Falcons enjoy throwing the football. They better be ready after the poor tackling display the unit went through last week.
WHEN THE JAGUARS HAVE THE BALL
Jacksonville failed to block and get the ground game going last Sunday, areas which catapulted them to the brink of the playoffs last year. Taylor and Jones-Drew were completely shut down by Tennessee, but the Falcons did no better stopping the run in Minnesota than the Jags did against the Titans. Atlanta allowed Vikings rookie Adrian Peterson to run wild for 103 yards on 19 rushes. If a rookie can rip up the Falcons like that, imagine what Taylor and Jones-Drew can do. In two career meetings with the Falcons, Taylor has posted a pair of 100-yard rushing games for a total of 245 yards on 49 touches. He needs 471 more rushing yards to become the 21st player in NFL history to reach the 10,000-yard mark.
Atlanta star middle linebacker Keith Brooking had three solo tackles and assisted on five others in the Minnesota loss. Brooking will be busy again against a much better rushing attack, as will outside linebackers Demorrio Williams and Michael Boley.
Falcons veteran safety Lawyer Milloy led the way with five solo tackles last week, while All-Pro cornerback DeAngelo Hall recorded his 13th career interception in the loss. Free safety Jimmy Williams and Lewis Sanders make up the rest of the Atlanta secondary and will be in charge of covering Jacksonville receivers Matt Jones, Dennis Northcutt (4 receptions, 57 yards in Week 1), Ernest Wilford (2 receptions, 20 yards) and possibly Reggie Williams, the former first-round pick who was inactive for the opener.
The mobile Garrard is coming off an impressive first game in which he passed for 204 yards and a touchdown. He also scrambled five times for an additional 24 yards. Petrino must have his defenders ready for Garrard's dual threat, because the Atlanta defense will get burnt if not.
On a special teams note, the Jaguars were hamstrung by kicker Josh Scobee last week, as he injured his quadriceps in warmups and could only contribute on PAT's and chip-shot field-goal attempts. Del Rio is not messing around with that scenario this week, as veteran kicker John Carney was brought in on Tuesday.
Fantasy owners were not happy with what running backs Taylor and Jones-Drew failed to accomplish last week. But don't fret, because both will have a much better showing this week against a porous Atlanta defense. Garrard performed well against Tennessee and will enjoy another solid week of tossing the football around. The Jacksonville receivers are not much of a threat to put up big numbers and neither are Atlanta's. The only Falcons worthy of fantasy starting status are running backs Dunn and Norwood and tight end Crumpler. Neither defense has fantasy potential.
If the Jaguars can block and tackle on Sunday, they will win. And if Taylor and Jones-Drew get hot, Del Rio will reach the win column for the first time in 2007. Those are big ifs, but close enough to the truth. Garrard will have no problem picking apart the Atlanta defense unless he fails to get the protection he got last week, when he went down just twice because of his ability to move around between the tackles. The Jags just need to contain both Dunn and Norwood, but then again an average Chris Brown looked like Tony Dorsett last week at Jacksonville Municipal Stadium. The 2007 season will be a tough one for Atlanta, which is headed for its first 0-2 start since the 2002 campaign.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Jaguars 27, Falcons 20
Re: NFL Previews Week 2
NFL Preview - Green Bay (1-0) at N.Y. Giants (0-1)
(Sports Network) - The New York Giants are trying to solve the mystery that is Eli Manning's shoulder. With or without its starting quarterback, New York will try for its first win of the season on Sunday in its home opener against the Green Bay Packers at Giants Stadium.
The Giants fell to the Cowboys, 45-35, last Sunday night in Dallas, but lost more than the game. Starting running back Brandon Jacobs and defensive end Osi Umenyiora both left the contest with knee injuries and did not return.
Jacobs will miss up to a month with a MCL sprain of his right knee, while Umenyiora is unlikely to play on Sunday with his ailment. So is corner Kevin Dockery, who suffered an ankle injury in last week's loss.
However, the most pressing injury is that to Manning's right shoulder, not only because he is the club's starting quarterback, but because of the varying reports of the injury's severity.
Manning hurt himself in the fourth quarter of the Dallas game and did not return to the contest. Following reports had the setback keeping Manning out for about a month as the Giants scheduled an MRI for Monday.
The procedure revealed a contusion to the AC joint in the quarterback's right shoulder and he is considered day-to-day. However, Manning did not practice and is officially listed as questionable to start Sunday's matchup.
If the former No. 1 overall pick can't go in the game, New York head coach Tom Coughlin, who served as Green Bay's wide receivers coach from 1986-87, will send out Jared Lorenzen for his first career start.
New York will be trying to avoid its first 0-2 start since beginning the 1996 season with three straight defeats.
Green Bay, meanwhile, will shoot for back-to-back victories to begin a season for the first time since 2001, when the club ripped off three consecutive wins to start the campaign.
The Packers come into this contest after a "special" 16-13 last-second victory over the Philadelphia Eagles at home on Sunday. The victory was Green Bay's fifth in a row dating back to last year's regular season.
Green Bay's special teams unit accounted for all 16 points in the contest, as rookie kicker Mason Crosby made all three of his field goal attempts and became the first player in NFL history to boot a field goal of 50 or more yards plus a game-winning kick in the final minute of his first NFL game.
The Packers' lone touchdown of the game came on a fumble recovery in the end zone by Green Bay's coverage team after the Eagles muffed a punt catch attempt in their own territory.
Green Bay's offense struggled in the game and was held out of the end zone. The unit obviously missed running back Vernand Morency (knee) and Greg Jennings (hamstring), who were both inactive for the game.
The victory was Green Bay quarterback Brett Favre's 148th of his career, matching Hall of Famer John Elway for the most in NFL history. Favre will try to break that mark when he makes his league-record 239th consecutive start on Sunday.
The Packers hold a 24-21-2 series lead over the Giants in a series that dates back to 1928, but was a 14-7 road loser in the last such meeting during the 2004 campaign. Green Bay had won the three most recent matchups, claiming wins in the Meadowlands in 1998 and 2001, as well as a home triumph in 1995.
The clubs have also met five times in the postseason, most recently in 1962, and Green Bay has a 4-1 advantage in that series.
New York head coach Tom Coughlin is 1-2 against the Packers during his career, including 0-2 while with Jacksonville from 1995 to 2002. Green Bay's Mike McCarthy will be meeting both Coughlin and the Giants for the first time as a head coach.
WHEN THE PACKERS HAVE THE BALL
The Packers managed just 215 net yards and 10 first downs in their game against the Eagles. Only 46 of those yards came on the ground, as rookie back Brandon Jackson was thrust into the starting duty in place of Morency, who has been out since the beginning of training camp. Jackson finished with 40 yards on 15 carries. The absence of Jennings could be part of the reason Favre managed to throw for just 206 yards against the Eagles. Without his fellow wideout in the lineup, Donald Driver was held to only six catches for 66 yards. Jackson was the Packers' second-leading receiver with four catches for 35 yards. Ruvell Martin started in Jennings' place and made two catches totaling 14 yards.
Jennings is expected to be back in the lineup this Sunday, while Morency's return is questionable.
If last week's performance by the Giants' defense against the Cowboys is any indication, Favre will have a lot more room to work with this weekend as he attempts to inch closer to Dan Marino's record of 420 touchdown passes. New York allowed Dallas to pile up 478 total net yards, while Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo threw for 345 yards. Dallas also totaled 142 yards on the ground. The loss of Umenyiora and defensive back Dockery certainly won't help, though the club still has veteran end Michael Strahan (5 tackles in Week 1) in the mix. Also, having Jennings and Driver, who's been dealing with a sprained foot, slowed will benefit corners R.W. McQuarters and Corey Webster as well as safety Gibril Wilson (8 tackles, 1 INT), who tied for the team lead in tackles last week with middle linebacker Antonio Pierce.
WHEN THE GIANTS HAVE THE BALL
Manning was putting together one of the best performances of his career before his injury last week. He threw for 312 yards and matched a career high with four touchdown passes, and now has thrown for a score in 31 of his past 34 starts. If Manning can't go, the start will go to Lorenzen, who completed one of his three passes for seven yards on Sunday. Those were the first three pass attempts of the undrafted free agent's career. The 285-pounder was inactive all of 2005 as New York's third quarterback and appeared in two games last year without attempting a pass.
Having wide receiver Plaxico Burress to throw to will surely help Lorenzen if he is pressed into action. Burress had an outstanding game for the Giants last Sunday, hauling in a career-best three TD passes to go along with 144 yards receiving. Amani Toomer (91 receiving yards) led the club with nine catches, and that duo should team with tight end Jeremy Shockey (5 receptions, 41 yards) to put Green Bay's secondary to the test. Derrick Ward replaced Jacobs in the game and rushed for a career-high 89 yards on 13 carries. He also hauled in a touchdown pass in the loss and should get the bulk of the carries this weekend, with Reuben Droughns probably staying at the fullback spot.
While Green Bay's offense failed to get anything going last weekend, its defense kept the club in the game. The unit held Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb to 184 yards passing and the Philadelphia offense to 283 total yards. Linebacker Nick Barnett (13 tackles, 1 INT) was all over the field, while defensive tackle Corey Williams had the only Green Bay sack. Defensive end Aaron Kampman, who led the NFC with 15 1/2 sacks last year, failed to get to the quarterback but did finish with six total tackles.
The Packers did deal with an injury to one of their veteran defenders against the Eagles, though. Cornerback Al Harris hyperextended his right elbow while blocking on a punt return in the first quarter. He briefly left the game, but returned with his elbow taped and played the rest of the way. Packers head coach Mike McCarthy said he is confident Harris will be ready to go this weekend, however.
For the Giants, Manning is likely to be a game-time decision barring any setbacks later in the week and is an extremely risky fantasy start. If Manning doesn't go, Burress and Shockey's values drop as well, so if you own any of those players you are going to have to pay attention to the injury report through Sunday. Favre didn't put up great numbers last week, but does have potential this Sunday, given how many yards and points the Giants defense allowed last week. Even if he's not at 100 percent, Driver is a must-start, as he is Favre's favorite target and will see even more action if Jennings is again slowed. Both New York's Ward and Green Bay's Jackson are worth starting in deep leagues.
A week ago, the Giants would have been the hands-down favorite to take this game. However, the vast number of injuries they have suffered, especially in regards to Manning, now makes this a tough game to call. The Packers defense more than held its own against a high-powered Philadelphia offense, while the Giants were lit up by the Cowboys. That being said, New York does get to return to its friendly home stadium. However, I'll take a healthy Favre over a banged-up Manning any day of the week, and the legendary Packer quarterback should be able to put up some points against a scrambling Giants team. In the end, the Packers become the surprising 2-0 team in the NFL, while the Giants will be left wondering how they can recover.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Packers 21, Giants 20
Re: NFL Previews Week 2
NFL Preview - Buffalo (0-1) at Pittsburgh (1-0)
(Sports Network) - For the first time since 1991, Bill Cowher won't be on the sidelines for the Pittsburgh Steelers' home opener. Instead, Mike Tomlin will make his home head coaching debut on Sunday, when his club welcomes the Buffalo Bills to Heinz Field.
Despite the fact that Tomlin served as Minnesota's defensive coordinator last season, the Steelers had no problem putting points up on the board in a 34-7 rout of the Browns last Sunday.
Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger threw a career-high four touchdown passes in the victory and brings a 15-5 record at home into Sunday's contest. His performance helped Tomlin become the third straight Steelers' head coach to win his first game, joining Chuck Noll and Cowher.
Not to be outdone, the Pittsburgh defense held the Browns to just 221 yards, forced five turnovers and posted a collective six sacks in an impressive effort. The club also escaped from the contest relatively injury free, as cornerback Deshea Townsend is the only starter listed on this week's report. He is probable with a groin injury.
Pittsburgh has won four straight and five of its past six home openers. The Steelers are also trying to start a season 2-0 for the second time in three seasons.
Historically, the club needs one more win to reach 500 regular-season victories, which would make them the first AFC team to accomplish the feat.
For the Bills, calling their final-second setback to Denver last week a heartbreaker would be an understatement. Not only did they have to deal with the painful loss to the Broncos, but all thoughts during and after the game were on tight end Kevin Everett, who suffered a cervical spinal fracture while making a tackle during the opening kickoff of the second half.
Everett left the field in an ambulance and immediately went into surgery. The initial prognoses wasn't good, as operating surgeon Dr. Andrew Cappuccino dubbed the injury "catastrophic" as well as life-threatening.
While those involved feared Everett would be left paralyzed by the injury, encouraging news came on Tuesday, when it was reported at the tight end was able to voluntarily move his arms and legs and gave hope to the idea of Everett walking again.
On the field, Buffalo will try to recover from Everett's injury and a 15-14 loss to Denver. The Bills led for most of the game until the Broncos' Jason Elam booted a 42-yard field goal in the final seconds.
Buffalo is making its first trip to Heinz Field, which opened in 2001, and will try to avoid its first 0-2 start since dropping the first four games of the 2004 season.
Pittsburgh has a 10-8 lead in the all-time regular season series with Buffalo, including a 29-24 road win when the teams last met in Week 17 of the 2004 season. The Steelers have won the last five meetings played between the teams in Pittsburgh, with the most recent coming in 1996, and Buffalo's only regular-season win in the Steel City came in 1975. The Bills' most recent win of any kind over Pittsburgh came at Ralph Wilson Stadium in 1999.
In addition to their regular-season advantage, the Steelers hold a 2-1 edge in the postseason series between the teams. Pittsburgh defeated Buffalo in AFC Divisional Playoff contests in 1974 and 1995, and the Bills were a 24-3 road winner in a 1992 AFC Divisional Playoff.
The Bills' Dick Jauron is 0-1 against the Steelers in his career as a head coach, with that loss coming when he was interim head man of the Lions at the end of the 2005 season. Tomlin will be meeting both Jauron and Buffalo for the first time as a head coach.
WHEN THE BILLS HAVE THE BALL
Buffalo received an encouraging outing from rookie running back Marshawn Lynch on Sunday. The 12th overall pick in last April's draft set a Bills' rookie record for rushing yards on opening day, totaling 90 on 19 carries along with a touchdown. Quarterback J.P. Losman completed 14 of his 21 pass attempts, but for just 97 yards. He was also picked off once and sacked twice. In all, it wasn't an encouraging sign for the Bills, as they mustered just 184 yards of offense. Perhaps the club will get another solid outing from wideout Roscoe Parrish, who returned a punt 74 yards to the end zone to give the Bills their first points of the game. Losman will also try to get wide receiver Lee Evans more involved this week, as he made only two catches for five yards.
That's easier said than done against an energized Steelers defense that was all over the Browns last weekend. Defensive back Ike Taylor (5 tackles) and Townsend both recorded interceptions, with Taylor also chipping in a sack. Linebacker James Farrior (4 tackles) also had a solid game with a sack, quarterback hit and forced fumble. In total, seven different players got their hands on the Browns' quarterbacks last weekend, and Tomlin won't be shy about bringing pressure again versus the Bills. Another good sign was that almost every player on the defensive side of the ball was involved, as outside linebacker James Harrison was the leading tackler with seven stops. Eleven different Steelers had two or more tackles in the game.
WHEN THE STEELERS HAVE THE BALL
Roethlisberger found four different receivers for touchdowns against the Browns, connecting with tight ends Heath Miller and Matt Spaeth, while also finding wideouts Hines Ward and Santonio Holmes in the end zone. Holmes may be emerging as Big Ben's deep threat, as the second-year player hauled in a pretty 40-yard score. Willie Parker had a quiet 100-yard rushing day, breaking off 109 yards on 27 carries. If this offense clicks like it did last week against the Browns, the banged-up Bills defense is in some trouble.
In addition to Everett's loss, Buffalo also suffered a rash of other injuries during the game to its already-depleted defensive unit. Cornerback Jason Webster and starting free safety Ko Simpson have landed on injured reserve after suffering a broken forearm and fractured ankle, respectively. Linebacker Coy Wire is out indefinitely after spraining his knee during the contest.
Wire was already replacing Keith Ellison, who is out with an ankle injury in the starting lineup. Defensive end Ryan Denney is also sidelined with a foot ailment, while end Anthony Hargrove will serve the second game of his four- game suspension this weekend for violating the league's substance abuse policy. To help fill the injury void, the Bills signed defensive back Bryan Scott, defensive end Copeland Bryan and linebacker Leon Joe this week.
Jim Leonhard took over for Simpson and paced the Bills with 13 tackles and an interception in Sunday's loss, while rookie middle linebacker Paul Posluszny posted nine tackles in his debut. Linebacker Angelo Crowell chipped in with 10 tackles and fifth-year corner Terrence McGee had three passes defensed. Pro Bowl defensive end Aaron Schobel had three tackles but no sacks, leaving him 1 1/2 shy of moving into second place on the Bills' all-time sack list.
A majority of the Steelers' offense deserves a look this week, especially given the current injury state of the Bills' defense. Ride the hot hand of Big Ben as well as Parker, who should find the end zone as many as two times on Sunday. Also start Ward, but wait another week before you move Holmes into your permanent rotation. Also start the Steelers' defense if you have them. This probably isn't a good week for any of your Bills players, though. Losman and Lynch are going to face a high amount of pressure, meaning low numbers for Evans as well.
This is the story of two sides of the coin. The Steelers are riding high after a blowout win over the Browns, while the Bills are dealing with a tragedy in the locker room and a last-second loss. Football may be far from the minds of many Buffalo players this week, but the team still has to step on the field Sunday, and there is no telling how Everett's injury while affect the club. Pittsburgh will show little mercy on the field and will throw the kitchen sink at a rattled Buffalo team. The Steelers should find themselves in good field position throughout the game and should cruise to a victory over the weary Bills.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Steelers 28, Bills 10
Re: NFL Previews Week 2
NFL Preview - Indianapolis (1-0) at Tennessee (1-0)
(Sports Network) - If you listened hard enough last Thursday night, it seemed, you could almost hear the angry words of Eminem buzzing around in Peyton Manning's head.
"Nowadays everybody wanna talk like they got somethin' to say.
But nothin' comes out when they move their lips.
Just a bunch of gibberish.
And (insert defamatory expletive here) act like they forgot about Pey."
After all, following an offseason in which every 2006 pretender - New England, San Diego and Dallas, to name a few - was given a consensus nod to rise past his own reigning championship team in Indianapolis and into the 2007 driver's seat, the returning Super Bowl MVP was understandably irked.
So, with modified hip-hop lyrics perhaps still resonating, he and the Colts hit the turf against another flavor-of-the-month favorite of the cognoscenti - the New Orleans Saints - and came away with a 41-10 exclamation-point win before 57,361 true believers at the RCA Dome.
Manning threw for 288 yards and three touchdowns in the victory, hitting Reggie Wayne seven times for 115 of those yards through the air while turning and handing off to new feature back Joseph Addai for 118 more on the ground in 23 carries.
As statements go, it was delivered loud and clear.
Still, with this week comes another similar test.
The Tennessee Titans, with former college phenom and current Madden '08 cover boy Vince Young directing traffic, are perceived by some as the next visible threat to the Colts' dominance of the AFC's South Division, especially after they finished last season with six wins in eight games - including a 20-17 downing of Indy last December in Nashville.
The Titans got started successfully as well last week, winning 13-10 at division foe Jacksonville in a game controlled not by Young and Co. on offense, but instead by a defense that limited the host Jaguars to just 272 total yards, forced one turnover and helped the visitors to a mammoth 36:55-23:05 edge in time of possession.
Indianapolis and Tennessee are the only teams to win the South Division since it was created in 2002. The four-pronged group's remaining entry - the Houston Texans - also won last week, defeating Kansas City, 20-3.
Indianapolis holds a 14-10 lead in its all-time regular season series with Tennessee, but had a seven-game win streak in the series snapped with a 20-17 loss at LP Field in Week 13 of last season. The Colts were 14-13 home winners when the teams met at the RCA Dome in Week 5. Indy swept home-and-homes against the Titans in 2003, 2004, and 2005.
The only postseason meeting between the two was in a 1999 AFC Divisional Playoff, when Tennessee scored a 19-16 road victory en route to a Super Bowl appearance.
The Titans' Jeff Fisher has a 4-7 record against Indianapolis, including the aforementioned playoff victory. The Colts' Tony Dungy is 7-5 against both Fisher and Tennessee all-time, including an 0-2 mark during his tenure in Tampa Bay.
WHEN THE COLTS HAVE THE BALL
As prefaced earlier, Indianapolis has nothing short of an embarrassment of riches on offense. Manning and his mates were held to just 10 points in the opening 30 minutes against New Orleans, then busted loose for 31 - four TDs and an Adam Vinatieri field goal - in the final two quarters. Aside from relative youngsters Wayne and Addai, the corps also includes veteran star Marvin Harrison, who caught four balls for 83 yards and a touchdown. In 10 career games against the Titans, Harrison has averaged 93.3 yards per outing. Also, little-used tight end Bryan Fletcher has an 11.3-yards-after-catch average in four lifetime games against Tennessee.
Truth told, the Titans used opportunism on defense and special teams every bit as much as Young to engineer their last 2006 flourish, and that trend continued last week in northeast Florida. Ends Antwan Odom and Travis LaBoy had a sack apiece of Jacksonville quarterback David Garrard and the entire unit muffled backs Maurice Jones-Drew (32 yards rushing, 28 receiving) and Fred Taylor (16 rushing) while holding them to 76 combined total yards. Ex- Colt Nick Harper had six unassisted tackles and forced a fumble in his Tennessee debut, while lineman Albert Haynesworth - known mostly for his spikes-to-the-face suspension last season - chipped in with five tackles.
WHEN THE TITANS HAVE THE BALL
Young will run a lot. Young will throw some. And he will be fun to watch. That much is a given. But this season, it seems he has a few more toys to play with as well. Running back Chris Brown dashed for a league-best 175 yards on 19 carries against Jacksonville, while former USC standout LenDale White finally broke through for a career-best 66 yards on 18 carries. Wide receiver Justin Gage's two catches were a paltry team-leading total, but veteran wideout Eric Moulds is also in the mix for 2007 and needs 343 receiving yards to reach 10,000 for his career. Elsewhere, tight end Bo Scaife has 15 catches for 123 yards and a touchdown in four career games against the Colts.
Indianapolis faced the league's reigning MVP in Drew Brees and a pair of premier running backs in Reggie Bush and Deuce McAllister last week, but didn't allow an offensive touchdown by the Saints. McAllister and Bush combined for just 76 yards on the ground, and Brees managed just 192 through the air and was intercepted twice. Defensive end Dwight Freeney has 10 sacks in 10 career games against the Titans, while second-year linebacker Freddy Keiaho recorded his first career INT last week. Cornerback Marlin Jackson's only 2006 pick came against Tennessee in the December game between the teams last season.
Anyone holding any of the Colts' weapons would be a fool not to use them, regardless of weekly opposition. Manning is, well...Manning, which more often than not is a guaranteed good day for either Wayne and Harrison. And, with Dominic Rhodes off to Oakland, Addai will get the bulk of the carries against defenses trained to look for the pass. For Tennessee, Young is a proven point- producer, while Brown could be a chic pick-up if he adds a second straight 100-yard game to his 2007 resume. Defensively, neither team is a gem, though they are both improved from last season.
Barring a catastrophic injury to Manning, the Colts will be deservedly favored to win perhaps all but one game on their schedule this season. That's not to say there won't be challenges, however, and this could be one of them. Look for Young to create some problems, as he always does, with big plays and improvisation. But, when push comes to shove, it's still Indianapolis. And, over four quarters, that should be good enough against a foe that's gaining ground, but not there yet.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Colts 30, Titans 20
Re: NFL Previews Week 2
NFL Preview - Minnesota (1-0) at Detroit (1-0)
(Sports Network) - Two rookies with seemingly limitless futures will showcase themselves this Sunday at Detroit's Ford Field, where the Lions will hold their 2007 home opener against the division-rival Minnesota Vikings
It's not often that an early-season tilt between a team coming off a miserable 3-13 season and another that won just six times a year ago can be labeled an intriguing matchup. But the presence of Lions new wide receiver Calvin Johnson and Minnesota's young running back Adrian Peterson certainly adds some spice to a battle between teams poised to rebound from disappointing campaigns.
Peterson may have been selected five spots below Johnson, whom Detroit snatched up right after Oakland took LSU quarterback JaMarcus Russell with the top overall pick, but the former Oklahoma star had the more stirring pro debut of the two. Peterson took over for an injured Chester Taylor late in the first quarter and rushed for 103 yards on 19 carries, while adding a highlight-reel 60-yard catch-and-run for his first NFL touchdown in last week's 24-3 victory over the Atlanta Falcons. He became the only player in league history to have over 100 rushing yards and a 60-yard receiving score in his initial game.
Johnson didn't disappoint in his first regular-season outing, however. The supremely-talented wideout had four receptions for 70 yards, including a 16- yard touchdown grab, to help the Lions topple the Raiders by a 36-21 score in last week's battle between the league's two worst teams of 2006.
But what could be even more eye-opening than a dazzling one-handed catch by Johnson or a tackle-breaking long run from Peterson is a possible 2-0 start for the perennial doormat Lions, a team that has won just 25 games since 2001. Detroit lost its first five contests during last year's three-win debacle.
That could be a tall order for the Lions, however, if recent history is any indication. Minnesota has won the last 10 meetings between these NFC North inhabitants and 14 of the last 15 encounters in the series.
The Vikings hold a 60-29-2 lead in the all-time series with the Lions, extending their lengthy win streak in the series with last year's home-and- home sweep. Minnesota picked up a 26-17 home victory over Detroit in Week 9, and a 30-20 triumph at Ford Field in Week 14. Minnesota has won five straight in Detroit since the Lions last won a game in the series, in 2001 at the Pontiac Silverdome. The Lions are 1-14 against the Vikings since 1999.
The Vikings' Brad Childress is 2-0 against the Lions as a head coach, while Detroit's Rod Marinelli is 0-2 against both the Vikings and Childress.
WHEN THE VIKINGS HAVE THE BALL
Peterson's dazzling debut overshadowed a rather mundane afternoon by the Minnesota offense in Week 1. Young quarterback Tarvaris Jackson had an erratic performance in his third career start, as the second-year signal- caller completed just 13-of-23 passes for 163 yards and was intercepted once in addition to his touchdown dump-off to Peterson. No one among an ordinary receiving corps stood out either, as Troy Williamson had just 19 yards on two catches and the other starting wideout, Bobby Wade, managed only a 28-yard grab for the game.
Taylor, who rushed for 1,216 yards during a breakout 2006 season, had 18 yards on three carries before leaving the Atlanta game with a hip contusion. The sixth-year back figures to be a game-time decision on Sunday and will probably only spell Peterson if he plays. If Taylor is out, Childress does have an experienced backup at his disposal in the versatile Mewelde Moore.
Look for the Vikings to test a Detroit defense that ranked 21st against the run in 2006 (125.6 ypg) and yielded 172 yards on the ground in last December's loss to Minnesota. The Lions held Oakland to only 92 rushing yards last week, although the Raiders don't field an offensive line as strong as the Vikings' excellent trench unit. Middle linebacker Paris Lenon had a team-best 11 tackles in the opener, while Detroit's tackle tandem of Shaun Rogers and Cory Redding ranks among the league's best.
Detroit's secondary appears to be far more suspect, as ex-Lion Josh McCown proved by throwing for 313 yards on 30-of-40 passing for Oakland last Sunday. Regular free safety Daniel Bullocks is out for the season with a knee injury, leaving the last line of defense in the unproven hands of raw rookie Gerald Alexander. The Lions did receive a good pass rush out of ends Kalimba Edwards and Dewayne White in Week 1, with Edwards taking down McCown twice and White recording one sack as well as an interception.
WHEN THE LIONS HAVE THE BALL
It's no secret Detroit offensive coordinator Mike Martz loves to spread the opposition out and throw the football, and when he's got a group of receivers like Johnson, 2006 Pro Bowl participant Roy Williams (4 receptions, 1 TD last week) and Mike Furrey (98 receptions in '06), there's no reason to argue with Martz's methods. And don't forget about slotman Shaun McDonald, who led Detroit with six catches for 90 yards in the Oakland win. Veteran quarterback Jon Kitna threw for 289 yards and three scores against the Raiders, although he also had a pair of interceptions.
Former Bronco Tatum Bell carried the bulk of the rushing load last week and compiled 87 yards and a touchdown on just 15 attempts in a strong first game as a Lion. Bell will be the main man in the backfield again this week, as projected starter Kevin Jones is still recovering from a broken left foot and short-yardage specialist T.J. Duckett will likely miss Sunday's game with an ankle sprain.
The Vikings' defense outscored the offense in last week's win over the Falcons, with All-Pro defensive tackle Kevin Williams and standout cornerback Antoine Winfield each returning Joey Harrington picks for touchdowns. Linebacker Chad Greenway, Minnesota's first-round selection in 2006 who missed all of his rookie season with a torn ACL, had 10 tackles and a forced fumble in his long-awaited debut. Minnesota sacked Harrington six times on the day, with middle linebacker E.J. Henderson (8 tackles) and rookie end Brian Robison each recording a pair of takedowns.
Don't expect Detroit to stray from its affinity for airing it out on Sunday, since Minnesota had the NFL's stingiest defense against the run last year. With Kevin Williams and fellow tackle Pat Williams leading the way, the Vikings surrendered a scant 61.6 yards per game on the ground.
Most of Peterson's owners probably sat the blossoming young star in Week 1 because of Taylor's presence, but they likely won't make the same mistake this week. The first-year back will put up plenty of yards against Detroit's porous defense, even if he's forced to share time with either Taylor or Moore. Those who have the Vikings defense shouldn't expect such a bonanza of points this time around, but the unit's still not a bad play against a Detroit squad that has a tendency towards turnovers. Sunday's game also figures to be a good indicator of Jackson's future fantasy prospects. If the young quarterback can't put up good numbers against Detroit's secondary, he may never be able to.
Roy Williams and Johnson look to be good starts for a Lions team that will be throwing the ball an awful lot come Sunday. That creates the potential for good yardage totals out of Kitna, but he's a riskier play given the Vikings' knack for forcing turnovers and improved pass rush. Whoever is forced to start Bell against Minnesota's stout front seven this week probably won't have to worry about filling out playoff lineups later on.
Detroit's opening day showing made Kitna's bold prediction of a 10-win season seem a little less outlandish, and the team's wealth of offensive playmakers does indeed make the Lions a weekly threat to light up the scoreboard. But it's a little premature to label Detroit a serious sleeper off one victory over the lousy Raiders. Defense is what wins football games, and the Vikings have a clear edge in that category. Minnesota's prowess in stopping the run will render the Lions a one-trick pony and keep the Vikings' dominance in this series intact.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Vikings 23, Lions 17
Re: NFL Previews Week 2
NFL Preview - Seattle (1-0) at Arizona (0-1)
(Sports Network) - The Seattle Seahawks will face their first divisional test of the young season when the three-time defending NFC West champions head to University of Phoenix Stadium this Sunday to take on the upstart Arizona Cardinals.
Although the Seahawks figure to face some tough competition in order to maintain supremacy in a seemingly-upgraded NFC West, Mike Holmgren's club appeared ready to answer the challenge judging by last week's season-opening victory over Tampa Bay. Seattle got a stifling performance from a hard-hitting defense and a methodical one from its offense to hand the Buccaneers a 20-6 defeat.
Quarterback Matt Hasselbeck was an efficient 17-for-24 for 222 yards and one touchdown for the Seahawks, while star running back Shaun Alexander totaled a workmanlike 105 rushing yards on 27 attempts.
Seattle picked up another signal-caller in the days leading up to this game, acquiring deposed Browns starter Charlie Frye on Tuesday. Although Frye will likely serve as the No. 3 quarterback this Sunday, his addition may enable the versatile Seneca Wallace to help out a banged-up receiving corps in the near future.
While the Cardinals are confident they'll improve off last year's five-win season under the direction of new head coach Ken Whisenhunt, the young team proved that it's not quite ready for prime time in Monday night's loss to division-rival San Francisco. The 49ers rallied for a 20-17 triumph, with Arnaz Battle's one-yard touchdown run on an end-around with just 22 seconds remaining providing the winning points.
Cardinals quarterback Matt Leinart struggled in his first career Opening Night start, as the second-year triggerman completed just 14-of-28 throws for a mere 102 yards and was intercepted twice. The former Heisman Trophy winner did connect with wideout Anquan Boldin for a five-yard touchdown that gave Arizona a brief 17-13 lead in the fourth quarter.
Seattle will be shooting for back-to-back wins to start a season for the fourth time in the last five years. The Seahawks won their first three games, including a 21-10 decision over the Cardinals in Week 2, en route to a 9-7 campaign in 2006.
Arizona, on the other hand, has started 0-2 in three of the previous four years.
The all-time series between the Seahawks and Cardinals is knotted, 8-8, with the teams splitting a home-and-home last season. Seattle was a 21-10 winner at Qwest Field in Week 2, and Arizona returned the favor with a 27-21 home victory in Week 14. The Hawks swept 2005's home-and-home, including a 33-19 win at Sun Devil Stadium.
Holmgren has a 7-3 record against Arizona in his career, with all of those games coming during his tenure with Seattle. Whisenhunt will be meeting both Holmgren and the Seahawks for the first time as a head coach.
WHEN THE SEAHAWKS HAVE THE BALL
Seattle did an effective job of mixing the run and pass in the Tampa Bay win, with Alexander recording his 36th career 100-yard game and Hasselbeck completing better than 70 percent of his throws while not committing a turnover. The quarterback will be without one of his top receivers in D.J. Hackett, who will miss a few weeks after suffering a high ankle sprain in the opener. Speedy Nate Burleson caught two passes for 41 yards after Hackett went down and will line up opposite No. 1 wideout Deion Branch, who was held without a catch last week, on Sunday. Hasselbeck also has a pair of reliable veterans at his disposal in tight end Marcus Pollard and slot receiver Bobby Engram. Pollard led the Seahawks with five catches in Week 1, while Engram had a team-best 64 yards on three grabs.
Alexander was wearing a brace on his left hand during Seattle's practice on Wednesday, although the former league MVP did not miss any time. That could mean a little more work this week for backup Maurice Morris, who hauled in a 34-yard touchdown pass from Hasselbeck to seal last Sunday's win.
The Seahawks will be going up against an Arizona defense that was outstanding through most of Monday's tough loss. The Cardinals' new 3-4 look was able to effectively neutralize San Francisco's strong running game, with 2006 NFC rushing leader Frank Gore held to just 55 yards on 18 carries. Although Arizona yielded only 194 yards on the evening, 86 of those came on the Niners' game-winning late drive.
The unit boasts two outstanding playmakers in linebacker Karlos Dansby and Pro Bowl strong safety Adrian Wilson. Dansby amassed 11 tackles and forced a fumble with a sack of 49ers quarterback Alex Smith on Monday, while the physical Wilson finished with 10 stops.
WHEN THE CARDINALS HAVE THE BALL
Whisenhunt will try to ease the pressure on Leinart by feeding the ball to running back Edgerrin James (92 rushing yards, 1 TD in Week 1) early and often. The ex-Colt averaged just 3.5 yards on 26 carries against San Francisco, but those numbers don't really seem that bad considering the Cardinals' woes in the passing game. Since Seattle's run defense ranked just 22nd in the NFL last season (126.8 ypg) and wasn't anything special in the Tampa game, that may be a wise philosophy. Arizona will miss the interior presence of center Al Johnson, who sprained his left knee in the opener, but does have an experienced backup in Nick Leckey (11 starts in '06) and signed ex-Steeler Chukky Okobi earlier in the week.
Still, the Cardinals are going to need an improved showing out of Leinart if they want to win on Sunday. The young quarterback appeared rattled and confused for a good portion of Monday's loss, although he shouldn't receive all the blame for his offense's struggles. Arizona's All-Star receiving tandem of Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald were held in check by San Francisco corners Nate Clements and Walt Harris, with Boldin mustering just 22 yards on four catches and Fitzgerald snaring only three passes for 20 yards.
Leinart also faced considerable pressure throughout the game and could be running for his life again when he faces a Seahawk defense that can really get to the quarterback. Seattle had five sacks in Week 1 and knocked Bucs quarterback Jeff Garcia temporarily out of the game in the third quarter. Disruptive outside linebacker Julian Peterson (7 tackles) had two of those takedowns, while veteran end Patrick Kerney (5 tackles) had 1 1/2 sacks in his Seattle debut.
The Seahawks also forced Tampa running back Cadillac Williams out of last week's contest with bruised ribs, and induced three fumbles. Standout middle linebacker Lofa Tatupu caused two of them and ended the day with eight tackles.
Alexander is basically a must-start every week, but keep in mind that he failed to rush for 100 yards in both meetings with Arizona last season and had only one touchdown over those games. Hasselbeck should find success against a Cardinals secondary that still needs to prove itself, but none of the Seattle receivers particularly stand out as good plays. The Seahawks defense piled up an impressive point total last week and has a chance to do so again if Arizona doesn't show more on offense.
For the Cardinals, look for rebound games out of both Boldin and Fitzgerald on Sunday and a solid fantasy day from James, who had 115 rushing yards and a score in Arizona's home win over the Seahawks last year. It would also be a shock if Leinart can't improve significantly off last week's poor numbers, although he's still too risky to start at this point.
What we all witnessed out of the Cardinals in the dawn of the Whisenhunt era isn't likely what we'll typically see out of this team over the remainder of the season. It's hard to believe that Arizona's defense, one of the worst in football last year, can be consistently as good as it showed in the San Francisco game, and it's equally as unbelievable to think Leinart will remain as bad as he looked on Monday night. The Cardinals should be able to move the ball effectively against a Seattle stop unit that will give up some yards, and Arizona's defense is capable of preventing Alexander from running wild. But in what should be a close game, go with the team with the better quarterback. Hasselbeck is less likely to make a costly mistake under center, while the Seahawks are also more equipped to come up with a tide-turning play on the defensive end.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Seahawks 24, Cardinals 20
Re: NFL Previews Week 2
NFL Preview - Dallas (1-0) at Miami (0-1)
(Sports Network) - Cam Cameron and Trent Green will have a prime chance to win over their home fans on Sunday afternoon, when the new head coach and starting quarterback of the Miami Dolphins contend with the Dallas Cowboys in the Fins' home opener.
Cameron and Green have both endured a rocky start in South Beach, with both figures hearing catcalls before they ever took the field for a meaningful game.
The Dolphins' selection of wideout/return man Ted Ginn, Jr. over quarterback Brady Quinn in the April Draft led Cameron to hearing vociferous displeasure when he addressed the fan base following the pick, and the preseason play of Green didn't lend much credibility to Cameron's choice.
Green, who arrived from Kansas City in a trade during the offseason, was booed lustily after struggling in his first preseason home game as a Dolphin. The veteran posted a miserable 47.9 passer rating in the preseason, but was a sturdier 24-of-38 for 219 yards and a touchdown in last week's 16-13 overtime loss to the Redskins.
On Sunday, the coach and quarterback will try to steer Miami away from its third 0-2 start in the past four seasons.
Dallas comes into Week 2 a bit more relaxed than its opponent, as the Cowboys opened with a thrilling 45-35 win over the New York Giants last Sunday night.
Quarterback Tony Romo threw for a career-high 345 yards in the Dallas debut of head coach Wade Phillips, and the strong play of the offense helped wash away a defensive effort that was severely lacking for most of the night.
The Cowboys will on Sunday have an opportunity to start 2-0 for the first time since 1999, when they went on to finish 8-8 under head coach Chan Gailey.
Dallas has a 7-3 lead in its all-time series against Miami, but was a 40-21 home loser when the teams last met, in 2003. The Cowboys won the previous meeting, a 20-0 blanking of the Dolphins at Texas Stadium in 1999, and were 29-10 winners when they last met Miami on the road in 1996. The Fins are 2-1 in home games played in the series, with the wins coming in 1978 and 1984.
In addition to the regular season series, the clubs also met in Super Bowl VI from New Orleans, a 24-3 Dallas victory.
The most infamous game in the series came on a snowy Thanksgiving Day at Texas Stadium in 1993, when a blocked Miami field goal was needlessly touched and ultimately fumbled by Dallas defensive tackle Leon Lett, leading the Dolphins to an unlikely 16-14 victory.
Phillips is 3-4 in his head coaching career against the Dolphins, with all of those games dating back to his tenure with the Bills (1998-2000) That record includes a 24-17 loss for Buffalo at Miami in a 1998 AFC Wild Card game. Cameron will be meeting both Phillips and the Cowboys for the first time as a head coach.
WHEN THE COWBOYS HAVE THE BALL
Dallas rolled up 478 yards of total offense in its opener against the Giants, faring well whether it chose to run or pass. Running backs Julius Jones and Marion Barber III combined for 131 yards on a total of 27 carries (4.9 yards per rush), and Barber punched in his first touchdown of 2007 in the second quarter. But the story of the night for Dallas was Romo, who completed 15- of-24 passes for 345 yards with four touchdowns and an interception while taking just one sack. Tight end Jason Witten had a big night, hauling in six balls for 116 yards and a score, and No. 1 wideout Terrell Owens caught three passes for 87 yards and a pair of TDs, all after halftime. With the status of Terry Glenn (knee) in doubt for the foreseeable future, Patrick Crayton (3 receptions, 51 yards) will continue to fill the role of No. 2 receiver for the Cowboys.
Miami's defense took a major hit in Week 1, as starting strong safety Yeremiah Bell was lost for the year with a ruptured Achilles sustained against the Redskins. In reaction, the Dolphins signed former Jaguars star Donovin Darius and ex-Titans starter Lamont Thompson, both of whom could play this week, to fill the void. Miami's secondary got interceptions from cornerbacks Renaldo Hill (2 tackles) and Travis Daniels (6 tackles) a week ago, but also allowed a career-high 162 receiving yards to Washington's Antwaan Randle El. The front seven was gutted by the Redskin running game, which piled up 191 ground yards, and a unit led by end Jason Taylor (5 tackles) and middle linebacker Zach Thomas (13 tackles) will have to do a better job in that area while facing Jones and Barber. Taylor and Thomas had Miami's only two sacks against Washington in Week 1. Outside linebacker Joey Porter (3 tackles), who missed all of the preseason with a knee injury, will make his home debut as a Dolphin on Sunday.
WHEN THE DOLPHINS HAVE THE BALL
Green's numbers were decent in Week 1, though 12 of his 24 completions in the loss went to running backs Ronnie Brown and Jesse Chatman. The veteran's favorite non-back target was wideout Chris Chambers, who caught six passes for 92 yards, while reserve tight end Justin Peelle caught Green's first TD pass as a Dolphin at the end of the first half. Ginn played only a minor role offensively, gaining seven yards on a reverse for his lone offensive touch. The running game struggled to find movement behind a young o-line, with both Brown (11 carries, 32 yards) and Chatman (7 carries, 15 yards) failing to do much of note in that area. The running back duo did make its 12 combined catches count for 88 yards, however. The Dolphin line was under fire for much of the day, but officially allowed just two sacks.
Though their offense carried the day, the Cowboys showed in Week 1 that they are a work in progress on the defensive side of the ball. Dallas allowed the Giants to rack up 438 yards on the night, and had no answer for New York wideout Plaxico Burress (8 receptions, 144 yards, 3 TD) or former third-string running back Derrick Ward (13 carries, 89 yards). The beleaguered secondary could get a break if cornerback Terence Newman (foot) is able to return this week. If not, Jacques Reeves (3 tackles, 1 INT) will continue to get a lot of work opposite Anthony Henry (7 tackles). Safety Roy Williams led the Cowboys with eight tackles in Week 1, but remains a major coverage liability. In the front seven, where Dallas gave up 124 yards on the ground last week, Dallas will have to begin life without nose tackle Jason Ferguson (torn biceps), who is out for the year. Ferguson's backup, Jay Ratliff, had the Cowboys' only sack versus New York. Linebackers Bradie James and Akin Ayodele turned in seven tackles each in the win.
After their performance against the Giants, most members of the Dallas offense will merit a start in Week 2. Romo, Witten, Owens, and the two running backs should all be fantasy starters at present, though the same certainly can't be said for the Cowboys defense. That said, there's really nobody on the Miami offense that can be counted on from a fantasy standpoint, though Chambers looks like he's going to be something of a reliable play. Kicker Jay Feely, who had a couple of field goals last week, might also warrant a look.
The Dolphins tend to be a different team at home than they are on the road, but the fact that Miami played poorly in all aspects means you can't necessarily expect them to bounce back quickly with a win. Romo won't light up the Miami defense like he did the Giants, but should be able to make enough plays to keep Dallas' collective head above the waves. The Dolphins, meanwhile, will continue to struggle offensively behind a line that is still paper-thin, and will contribute enough mistakes to the proceedings to end the day at 0-2.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Cowboys 24, Dolphins 16
Re: NFL Previews Week 2
NFL Preview - N.Y. Jets (0-1) at Baltimore (0-1)
(Sports Network) - It's all about maybes for the New York Jets.
Maybe the first-week home blowout at the hands of New England wasn't as indicative of season-long failure as it seemed.
Maybe the Patriots' clandestine sideline videotaping provided enough of an advantage to explain away a 24-point schedule-opening debacle.
Maybe Chad Pennington's ankle isn't as hurt as it looked while he gimped clumsily off the field resembling a third-quarter drunk on a Section 301 stairway.
And maybe a subsequently inconvenient road game against one of the league's most ferocious defenses isn't the doomsday assignment it appears.
Or, then again, maybe it's time for the woebegone J-E-T-S to start constructing their 2008 draft board.
Pennington, who turned heads last season by starting 16 games for the first time, is listed as questionable for Sunday's 4:15 p.m. meeting with the Ravens at Baltimore's M & T Bank Stadium - site of a dreadful 13-3 loss in since- departed QB Brooks Bollinger's first start in 2005.
If Pennington can't go, the dial would turn to second-year New York understudy Kellen Clemens, who seemingly narrowed the gap between the two with a strong preseason and then went 5-for-10 in mop-up duty during the 38-14 loss to New England.
Clemens has never started an NFL game.
Bollinger's ill-fated starting assignment two seasons ago came after Pennington's most recent serious injury, a torn rotator cuff suffered in a loss to Jacksonville. Later in the same game, back-up Jay Fiedler was also lost for the year, leaving Bollinger in charge.
New York ended the season at 4-12.
The Ravens, meanwhile, are coming off some Week 1 disappointment of their own - in the form of a 27-20 loss in Cincinnati on Monday night. Baltimore nearly sent the game to OT, but was foiled when Todd Heap dropped a would-be TD pass from Kyle Boller in the final minute.
Boller had replaced starter Steve McNair, who was sidelined with a pulled groin in the fourth quarter and is listed doubtful for Sunday. Boller, who lost his starting job when McNair arrived prior to last season, was 2-for-6 for 19 yards and an interception on Monday.
The Ravens lead the all-time series with the Jets, 4-1, including the aforementioned 13-3 home win when the teams last met, in Week 4 of the 2005 season. The Jets' lone triumph in the series was a 19-16 overtime win at the Meadowlands in 1997, and New York is 0-2 in Baltimore since last winning there, against the Colts, in the 1983 season.
Ravens head coach Brian Billick is 3-0 in his career against the Jets. New York's Eric Mangini, who was an assistant in Baltimore under Ted Marchibroda during the 1996 season, will be meeting both Billick and the Ravens for the first time as a head coach.
WHEN THE JETS HAVE THE BALL
If he plays, Pennington can take another step toward predecessor Vinny Testaverde on the team's all-time passing yardage list, where he now stands fifth at 12,140 yards - 357 behind Testaverde. But whether it's Pennington or Clemens, the Jets will likely lean heavily on newcomer Thomas Jones, who went for 42 yards on 14 carries in his New York debut. Wideout Laveranues Coles caught seven passes for 59 yards in the loss to the Patriots, with a pair of touchdown receptions.
Baltimore allowed just 236 total yards to the Bengals, but the defense was consistently put behind the 8-ball by an offense that committed six turnovers. Look for lots of bodies in the box against either Jets QB, including defensive end Jarret Johnson, who recorded the team's lone sack on Monday. Injuries could play a role for the Ravens as well, with linebacker Ray Lewis listed as questionable with a triceps injury and safety Ed Reed hampered by an ankle problem.
WHEN THE RAVENS HAVE THE BALL
Running back Willis McGahee made a habit of beating the Jets during his days with Buffalo, then began his career with the Ravens last week with 77 yards on 19 carries. He's gone for 663 yards in his last five games against New York, scoring three touchdowns over that span. Wide receiver Derrick Mason has 16 catches for 187 yards in two career games against the Jets, including a 133- yard effort while with Tennessee in December 2003. Mason had seven catches for 76 yards against the Bengals.
The Jets were lit up for 431 total yards in the Patriots embarrassment, including the two-touchdown rejuvenation of WR Randy Moss. Defensive end Kenyon Coleman made 10 tackles in his first game with New York, while cornerback Darrelle Revis became the first rookie to start at that position for the Jets since Ray Mickens in 1996. Revis had five tackles against New England. Up front, mammoth defensive tackle Dewayne Robertson is probable despite a knee problem.
Neither team is known for its offense, though McGahee's resume' of effort against Gang Green could be a worthwhile reason to give him a start. For New York, neither Coles nor tandem-made Jerricho Cotchery figure to run up numbers with the issues at quarterback. The Ravens' defense, as usual, is a quality commodity and a pretty good bet for this week against a seemingly anemic foe. The Jets' defense, on the other hand, would be a desperation play at best.
A healthy Pennington against a replacement Boller might tilt the scales toward New York, even against a traditionally rabid defense. With the Jets' quarterback hurting and the prospect of a rookie in his first start against Lewis & Co., however, a slow-paced smothering by the Inner Harbor is a much more likely scenario. Expect the Ravens to bring eight and nine men into the box to snuff Jones and force Pennington or Clemens to make the positive impact neither look able to provide.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Ravens 20, Jets 10
Re: NFL Previews Week 2
NFL Preview - Kansas City (0-1) at Chicago (0-1)
(Sports Network) - As both combatants in this week's Soldier Field duel between the Chicago Bears and Kansas City Chiefs would likely attest, it is difficult to win football games without scoring touchdowns.
The Bears and Chiefs were two of four NFL teams that failed to find the end zone last week, joining the Buccaneers and Falcons, and each member of that quartet finished Week 1 in the loss column.
Chicago did not put together a complete effort in its first meaningful action since a Super Bowl XLI loss, falling to the San Diego Chargers by a 14-3 count.
The Bears turned the ball over four times in the defeat, with two of the miscues charged to quarterback Rex Grossman (one interception, one fumble), and running back Cedric Benson and special teamer Brandon McGowan also responsible for turnovers that kept the offense from moving toward the San Diego end zone.
Adding insult to injury (and vice versa) were season-ending knee injuries suffered by Bears defenders Mike Brown and Dusty Dvoracek in the setback.
Kansas City fared no better, going to Houston and laying a 20-3 egg that left many Chiefs stakeholders lamenting the erosion of what was recently one of the NFL's great offenses.
Pro Bowl running back Larry Johnson, fresh off signing a lucrative multi-year contract, carried only 10 times for 43 yards in the loss. Johnson had an NFL- high 416 rush attempts in 2006.
Quarterback Damon Huard, starting the first season-opener of his career, threw two interceptions as part of Kansas City's four-miscue day.
Winning will be the primary objective for both the Bears and Chiefs this week, and putting together their initial touchdown drives of 2007 will likely be viewed as part and parcel of that effort.
Chicago has a 5-4 advantage in its all-time series with Kansas City, but was a 31-3 road loser when the teams last met, in 2003. The Bears won the previous meeting, taking a 20-17 decision at Soldier Field in 1999. The Chiefs are 1-3 all-time in Chicago, with their only win there coming by a 21-10 count in 1990.
Chiefs head coach Herm Edwards is 0-1 all-time against the Bears, with his Jets losing by a 20-13 count at Soldier Field in 2002. The Bears' Lovie Smith will be meeting both Edwards and the Chiefs for the first time as a head coach.
Smith and Edwards both served on Tony Dungy's staff with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers from 1996 through 2000.
WHEN THE CHIEFS HAVE THE BALL
Though Edwards explicitly announced his intention to reduce the workload on Johnson this season, the fact that the Pro Bowler garnered only 10 rushes a week ago was indeed a surprise. Johnson actually accrued more yards through the air than on the ground, turning in team-highs with seven catches and 44 yards. Expect Johnson, who missed most of the preseason while embroiled in a contract dispute, to top 25 touches in Week 2. Kansas City will need to offset Johnson with something of a passing game, an element of the attack not in evidence much in Week 1. Huard finished 22-of-33 passing for 168 yards on the day, but only seven receptions for 90 yards went to wide receivers. With No. 1 wideout Eddie Kennison (hamstring) out for the Chicago game, rookie Dwayne Bowe (3 catches, 42 yards) and Samie Parker (4 receptions, 48 yards) will have to step up their production. Future Hall-of-Fame tight end Tony Gonzalez had five receptions for just 28 yards against the Texans, and was part of an o- line that surrendered three sacks.
Chicago's discouraging performance of Week 1 did not extend to the defense, which shut down reigning NFL MVP LaDainian Tomlinson to the tune of 25 yards on 17 carries. One of the Chargers' touchdowns came on a trick-play halfback pass from Tomlinson to tight end Antonio Gates. The Bears turned in three sacks of Philip Rivers in the loss, including one each for ends Adewale Ogunleye and Mark Anderson, but the team's only pick of the game went to the now-injured Mike Brown, who also recovered a fumble. Linebackers Brian Urlacher (6 tackles) and Hunter Hillenmeyer (9 tackles) combined for 15 stops in the game. In the secondary, cornerback Nathan Vasher posted a sack, and safety Adam Archuleta notched seven tackles and a pass breakup in his first meaningful game in a Chicago uniform.
WHEN THE BEARS HAVE THE BALL
Chicago comes off a week in which it managed just 11 first downs against San Diego, a dormancy it will have to reverse if it seeks a win against the Chiefs. Grossman (12-of-23 passing, 145 yards, 1 INT) didn't put together the worst outing of his career, but neither did he make a host of big plays. Grossman's top targets were wideout Bernard Berrian (5 receptions, 83 yards) and tight end Desmond Clark (3 receptions, 38 yards), with No. 1 wideout Muhsin Muhammad (1 catch, 8 yards) turning in a particularly quiet performance. The passing game could be bolstered this week by the possible debut of first-round draft choice and tight end Greg Olsen (Miami-Florida), who missed Week 1 with a knee problem and is questionable for Sunday. The running game, led by Benson, will also have to perform better. Benson carried 19 times for just 42 yards against San Diego.
The Chiefs defense was average at best against Houston, allowing running backs Ahman Green and Ron Dayne to top 100 combined rushing yards and surrendering 225 yards through the air to Matt Schaub in his Texans debut. A bright spot for Kansas City was the play of linebacker Donnie Edwards, who turned in eight tackles, a sack, and a fumble recovery in his first game with the club since leaving for San Diego after the 2001 season. In the secondary, second-year safety Jarrad Page chipped in the club's first interception of the campaign, but was also part of a group that allowed 142 yards, including a 77-yard touchdown strike, to wideout Andre Johnson. A pass rush that will be missing Jared Allen (NFL suspension) for the second consecutive week had two sacks versus Houston, though starting ends Tamba Hali (6 tackles) and Jimmy Wilkerson (2 tackles) did not break through to Schaub.
It seems unthinkable that Larry Johnson would be a riskier fantasy start than Cedric Benson, but given the quality of Chicago's defense, that is exactly the situation fantasy managers face this week. Kansas City should find ways to get Johnson the ball, though how many yards that translates into remains to be seen. The only other offensive player worth starting in this game could be Gonzalez, who was quiet last week but will be going up against a Bears defense that struggled to defend San Diego tight end Antonio Gates last Sunday. Chicago's defense is a must-start against Kansas City, and kicker Robbie Gould will likely get you some points as well.
The Chiefs haven't shown any offensive signs of life since the start of training camp, and playing the defensively stout Bears is not an antidote for their deficiencies. Kansas City is going to have to win this game on defense, where its talent is average and its opponent is likely to come out firing after a rough go in Week 1. All signs point to a Chicago romp before a relieved group of home fans.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Bears 28, Chiefs 6
Re: NFL Previews Week 2
NFL Preview - Oakland (0-1) at Denver (1-0)
(Sports Network) - One quarterback will be making his regular-season debut in an Oakland Raiders uniform this Sunday, but it won't be JaMarcus Russell.
Daunte Culpepper is expected to be under center when the Raiders visit the Denver Broncos in a Week 2 showdown between bitter AFC West rivals from Invesco Field at Mile High.
Culpepper will be making his first regular-season start since Week 4 of the 2006 campaign, when the three-time Pro Bowl selection was still a member of the Miami Dolphins. His ill-fated one-year tenure in Miami ended with a release by the Dolphins in mid-July, but Culpepper was quickly brought in by Oakland to compete with Josh McCown for the starting quarterback job.
Raiders head coach Lane Kiffin gave McCown the nod for the season opener, but the journeyman signal-caller suffered a cracked right index finger and a lower leg injury in last week's 36-21 home loss to the Detroit Lions and is unlikely to suit up on Sunday.
While Culpepper's long-awaited impending return to action was certainly newsworthy, the story took a back seat in Raiders camp this week. That's because Oakland finally managed to come to contract terms with Russell, the No. 1 overall pick in last April's draft, on Tuesday. The former LSU star, whose imposing size, arm strength and athletic skills have drawn constant comparisons to Culpepper, agreed to a six-year deal that will guarantee him at least $29 million.
With the Raiders being granted a two-week roster exemption by the league, it's doubtful that Russell will be activated for Sunday's tilt, however.
Unlike Oakland, the Broncos already have their franchise quarterback on the field and winning games. Jay Cutler did his best John Elway impression in Denver's Week 1 battle at Buffalo, as the second-year standout engineered an impressive late drive culminating in Jason Elam's 42-yard last-second field goal which lifted the Broncos to a thrilling 15-14 victory.
Cutler finished with a career-best 304 yards on 23-of-39 passing and one touchdown to rally Denver from an eight-point deficit late in the third quarter.
The Broncos outgained Buffalo by a whopping 470-184 advantage in total yards for the game, with one-time Bills running back Travis Henry amassing 139 rushing yards on 23 carries in his Denver debut.
Oakland comes into Sunday's contest carrying a 10-game losing streak dating back to last season. The Raiders have dropped 11 in a row on the road, with the club's last away win coming at Washington on November 20, 2005.
The Raiders lead the all-time series with Denver, which dates back to 1960, by a 53-38-2 count. However, Denver is 19-5 against Oakland since the 1995 season, including a sweep of the home-and-home series in 2006. The Broncos scored a 13-3 home victory in Week 6 and a 17-13 victory by the Bay in Week 10. The Raiders are 1-7 against Denver since 2002, and their only win in the series over that stretch came in the form of a 25-24 shocker in Denver in 2004.
In addition to the regular season series, the teams have split a pair of postseason matchups, with Denver winning the 1977 AFC Championship, 20-17, and the then-Los Angeles Raiders prevailing in a 1993 AFC First-Round Playoff, 42-24.
Denver head coach Mike Shanahan is 19-5 against the team he coached in 1988 and part of the 1989 season before being fired. Kiffin will be meeting both Shanahan and the Broncos for the first time as a head coach.
WHEN THE RAIDERS HAVE THE BALL
An Oakland offense that ranked at the bottom of the league in just about every major category last season showed noticeable improvement in its first game under first-year head coach Kiffin, a former offensive coordinator for college powerhouse Southern California. The Raiders compiled 375 total yards and 24 first downs, albeit against a suspect Detroit defense, and did most of their damage through the air. It remains to be seen whether Culpepper, who supposedly doesn't have McCown's grasp of Kiffin's offense and hasn't played a meaningful game in nearly a year, can have the same kind of success on Sunday.
The Raiders didn't seem to miss offseason defection Randy Moss at wide receiver last week, as the underrated Ronald Curry torched the Lions secondary for 133 yards and two touchdowns on 10 catches. Running back LaMont Jordan was also an integral part of the passing game, as he recorded career-highs of nine receptions and 89 yards while adding 70 more yards on the ground. Jordan will get the bulk of the rushing duties again on Sunday while Dominic Rhodes continues to serve a four-game suspension.
Look for Jordan's carries to increase this week when he faces a Denver defense that was smothering against the pass but just so-so against the run in Week 1. A re-tooled front seven containing five new starters allowed Buffalo rookie Marshawn Lynch to scamper for 90 yards on just 19 carries, including a 23-yard scoring burst in the third quarter. D.J. Williams did have a strong showing in his first game at middle linebacker, as the former strongside starter racked up nine tackles and a sack.
Culpepper will be tested by a Bronco secondary featuring the league's best cornerback in Champ Bailey (5 tackles in Week 1) and a two-time Pro Bowl honoree on the other side in Dre' Bly, who had four stops and two passes defensed against Buffalo. The Bills mustered a paltry 72 passing yards against Denver and didn't have a completion of more than 19 yards. The Broncos only managed two sacks last Sunday, but that number could increase with an expected increased role for veteran end Simeon Rice, who signed late in preseason, and the fact Denver will be facing an Oakland front wall that surrendered an NFL- worst 72 sacks in 2006.
WHEN THE BRONCOS HAVE THE BALL
Denver displayed excellent balance on offense but needs to do a better job in seizing its scoring opportunities. The Broncos had eight drives in Buffalo territory last week but scored on only four of those possessions, with the lone touchdown coming on a five-yard strike from Cutler to emerging wideout Brandon Marshall, who finished with 52 yards on five catches. No. 1 wide receiver Javon Walker led Denver with nine receptions and 119 yards, while veteran slotman Brandon Stokley added 65 yards on three grabs in the win.
Henry excelled running behind a proficient offensive line and the Broncos' well-executed zone-block scheme last Sunday, as the offseason signee averaged six yards per carry and ripped off a number of long runs. It appears as if the 28-year-old will carry a heavy workload this year. Backup Mike Bell, who rushed for 677 yards as a rookie last season, didn't get a single attempt this past week.
Defense was thought to be Oakland's clear strength this season, but the unit was far from impressive when it went up against Detroit's wide-open attack in Week 1. The Raiders yielded 284 passing yards to the Lions, almost double the team's league-leading total in that category a year ago. Oakland failed to generate a consistent pass rush against Detroit, as both Pro Bowl end Derrick Burgess (11 sacks in '06) and star defensive tackle Warren Sapp (10 sacks in '06) were held in check. Middle linebacker Kirk Morrison had a very good game, however, as he intercepted a Jon Kitna pass and knocked away two others in addition to registering a team-high nine tackles.
Detroit's aerial success helped open up lanes for ex-Bronco Tatum Bell, who gained 87 yards on just 15 attempts against the Raiders and sealed the win with a 14-yard touchdown run in the final minutes. Oakland ranked just 25th in the league in rushing yards allowed in 2006 (134.0 ypg) and surrendered 144 on the ground to the Broncos in last year's meeting in Denver.
Henry owners have to be pleased that he wasn't splitting carries in the opener, and those good feelings should continue with a favorable matchup for the powerful back this weekend. Cutler's 304-yard performance last week is very encouraging as well, but don't anticipate a repeat against a tough Raiders pass defense. Look for Walker's numbers to also take a dip this week, although the standout receiver's red-zone prowess still makes him a usable option. The best fantasy play regarding the Broncos may be the defense, which should have no trouble forcing mistakes out of a rusty Culpepper.
Curry can't be expected to duplicate his awesome Week 1 outing against the likes of Bailey and Bly, although he's clearly Oakland's go-to receiver right now. Jordan, however, should be a decent start as a No. 2 running back or flex player. Avoid using Culpepper at all costs this week.
This game will be an excellent indicator of whether Oakland has really made any progress on offense, as the Broncos will provide a far sterner challenge than Detroit's lackluster group did a week ago. Don't look for the Raiders, especially with the hit-or-miss Culpepper under center, to pass the test. Denver was far more impressive than its one-point victory over the Bills indicates, and the ultra-reliable Elam won't miss two field goals like he did in the opener. Although the Broncos may not be able to work out their red-zone troubles just yet, there's little reason to believe Shanahan's troops won't be able to easily handle an Oakland team that hasn't won on the road in almost two years.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Broncos 23, Raiders 10
Re: NFL Previews Week 2
NFL Preview - San Diego (1-0) at New England (1-0)
(Sports Network) - Two popular picks to represent the AFC in Super Bowl XLII will engage in a potentially telling early-season test on Sunday night, when the New England Patriots host the San Diego Chargers in a rematch of a 2006 playoff thriller.
It was last Jan. 14th when the Patriots traveled to San Diego as the underdog in an AFC Divisional Playoff, with the Chargers riding a 10-game win streak and sporting an NFL-best 14-2 record entering its first battle of the postseason. But New England shocked San Diego that day, rallying from a 21-13 fourth quarter deficit to win, 24-21, and igniting a much-discussed series of events.
Chargers running back LaDainian Tomlinson publicly admonished several members of the Patriots for what he viewed as a disrespectful postgame celebration, and more than a month after the season, the San Diego organization used the continued playoff failings of head coach Marty Schottenheimer as an impetus to firing the coach.
Schottenheimer was eventually replaced by Norv Turner, who opened his tenure with the Chargers by defeating the Bears, 14-3, last Sunday.
New England also got off to a winning start last week, humbling the Jets by a 38-14 count, but the victory was overshadowed by a brewing controversy.
The NFL reportedly seized a video tape recorded by a member of the Patriots staff that included footage of the hand signals of the Jets' defensive coaches. On Thursday night, the league handed down a penalty for the violation of NFL policy that included a $500,000 fine for head coach Bill Belichick, a $250,000 fine for the organization, and the loss of either a first-round 2008 Draft pick (if New England reaches the playoffs this year) or a second- and a third-round choice.
New England has a 17-13-2 lead in its all-time regular season series against San Diego, but the Chargers handed the Patriots a lopsided 41-17 defeat at Gillette Stadium in the last such matchup, during Week 4 of the 2005 campaign. That game ranks as New England's most lopsided home loss of the Bill Belichick era. New England's last win in the regular season series was a 29-26 overtime affair in Foxborough in 2001.
The clubs have also met twice during the postseason, including last year's aforementioned New England upset and San Diego's 51-10 blowout of the Pats in the 1963 AFL Championship.
Belichick is 3-4 in his career against San Diego, including a 1-2 record while with the Browns from 1991 through 1995. The Chargers' Turner is 1-1 in his career against New England, including a road win for his Washington team in 1996 and a loss for his Raiders to open the 2005 campaign. Turner is 0-1 head- to-head against Belichick all-time.
WHEN THE CHARGERS HAVE THE BALL
Even on a day when he was held well below his rushing average, Tomlinson found a way to shine in last week's win over the Bears. Tomlinson got San Diego on the scoreboard with a 17-yard touchdown pass to tight end Antonio Gates in the third quarter, and scored his first TD of the year in the final frame when he scampered in from seven yards out. The reigning NFL MVP was held to 25 rushing yards on 17 carries for the day, but helped the cause with the TD pass and seven receptions for 51 yards out of the backfield. Tomlinson and Gates (9 receptions, 107 yards) caught 16 of quarterback Philip Rivers' 22 completions on the afternoon. Wideouts Vincent Jackson and Craig Davis will try to generate more of an impact this week after combining for five grabs and 43 yards against a tough Chicago secondary. Backup rusher Michael Turner carried 10 times for a team-best 41 rushing yards versus the Bears. The San Diego o- line allowed three sacks.
The New England defense was a question mark entering Week 1, as luminaries such as end Richard Seymour (knee) and safety Rodney Harrison (four-game NFL suspension) were out while top corner Asante Samuel was being reduced to a lesser role after holding out for most of the preseason. But the Patriots answered most of the questions about their abilities on that side of the ball, turning in five sacks against the Jets, shutting down the New York running game for the entire day (19 carries, 60 yards), and surrendering precious little in the way of big plays. Outside linebacker Mike Vrabel and end Jarvis Green did the most damage within the pass rush, combining for four-and-a-half sacks to go along with a total of 13 tackles in the win. In the secondary, cornerback Ellis Hobbs chipped in with six tackles, and turned in the highlight-reel play of the day with an NFL-record 108-yard kickoff return.
WHEN THE PATRIOTS HAVE THE BALL
Whether true or not, the Patriots looked like a team that knew exactly what defense was coming in last week's win over the Jets. Quarterback Tom Brady and Randy Moss were in synch from start to finish, connecting nine times for 183 yards and a touchdown in their first live situation with one another. Another offseason addition, former Dolphin Wes Welker, had six catches for 61 yards and a score in his formal New England debut. In all, Brady was 22-of-28 for 297 yards and three touchdowns without a turnover in the win, and 18 of his 22 completions went to players that were not on the New England roster last season. The running game provided a solid complement against the Jets, with four running backs combining for 131 yards on 34 carries (3.9 yards per rush for the afternoon). Laurence Maroney led New England with 72 yards on 20 totes in the contest, and backup Heath Miller scored his first touchdown of the year on a one-yard blast in the fourth quarter. Brady was not sacked in Week 1.
San Diego's offense garners most of the headlines, but it was the work of the team's defense that was the real key to the victory against the Bears. The Bolts forced three turnovers and came up with three sacks in the win, with safety Marlon McCree (5 tackles, 1 INT), linebacker Stephen Cooper (8 tackles, 1 forced fumble, 1 fumble recovery), and nose tackle Jamal Williams (4 tackles, 1 forced fumble) ranking among the standouts for Ted Cottrell's unit. Pro Bowl outside linebacker Shawne Merriman, who led the NFL in sacks with 17 a year ago, had a quiet day with three tackles and will look to get to Brady early in Sunday night's contest. San Diego held Chicago to 202 total yards in Week 1, including 80 yards on 26 ground attempts (3.1 yards per rush).
Fantasy managers who took a wait-and-see approach on Randy Moss were kicking themselves in Week 1, as Moss reverted to a form the world hadn't seen since he was a member of the Vikings. It's tough to go wrong starting Moss, Brady, or even Welker, and you can count on Maroney getting plenty of offensive touches as well. Kicker Stephen Gostkowski and the Patriots defense tend to be safe plays also. For San Diego, there's no one in the world resting Tomlinson or Gates, and guys like Philip Rivers and kicker Nate Kaeding can get you some points too. You're starting one of these defenses if you own one. If you have both, start the Chargers, who generally cause more turnovers.
Many will give the Patriots the advantage in this matchup of talented teams. First, because of the homefield factor, and second, because Belichick is twice the tactician that Turner is. But don't let last week's dominant performance against a mediocre Jets team fool you. With the new pieces on offense and Seymour and Harrison missing on defense, New England is not as good in Week 2 as it will be in Week 16, giving a San Diego club that basically had no turnover from last year's 14-2 unit the edge. The Chargers win this battle, though things could be very different when and if these two meet in the postseason.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Chargers 27, Patriots 20
Re: NFL Previews Week 2
NFL Preview - Washington (1-0) at Philadelphia (0-1)
(Sports Network) - Donovan McNabb returns to the scene of his devastating knee injury on Monday night, when the Philadelphia Eagles quarterback leads his team into the latest installment of a division rivalry with the Washington Redskins.
McNabb will be playing his first meaningful game at Lincoln Financial Field since last Nov. 19th, when he tore his right ACL after being nudged out of bounds by Tennessee Titans defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch. The five-time Pro Bowl honoree would miss the final eight games of the 2006 campaign, and would watch as backup Jeff Garcia rallied Philly from a 5-5 start to a 10-6 record and a division title.
Garcia is now a member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and McNabb is attempting to work himself back to 100 percent health.
After appearing sparingly in the preseason, the Syracuse product played to mixed reviews in last week's 16-13 loss at Green Bay.
McNabb completed just 15-of-33 passes for 184 yards with a touchdown and an interception in the defeat, running his career record to 3-5 in Week 1 starts.
On Monday, McNabb will be trying to keep Philadelphia from its first 0-2 opening since 2003.
The Redskins, meanwhile, will be attempting to build on last week's 16-13 overtime win over the Dolphins, and will also be trying to reverse some dismal recent history against the Eagles.
Washington is 2-9 in its last 11 meetings with Philadelphia, and has averaged just 14.2 points per game over that span.
The Redskins hold a 74-64-5 lead in their all-time series with the Eagles, but were swept in a home-and-home by their NFC East rival last season. Washington was a 27-3 loser at Lincoln Financial Field in Week 10, and dropped a 21-19 decision at FedEx Field in Week 14. Washington swept a 2005 home-and-home with Philly, including a 31-20 road win.
In addition to their regular season advantage, the Redskins won the only postseason meeting between the clubs, a 20-6 road triumph in a 1990 NFC First- Round Playoff.
Washington head coach Joe Gibbs is 19-12 against the Eagles in his career, including the aforementioned playoff victory. Philadelphia's Andy Reid is 11-5 versus the Redskins since taking over in 1999, including 4-2 against Gibbs.
WHEN THE REDSKINS HAVE THE BALL
The strength of the Redskins offense in their win over the Dolphins was the running game, which saw Clinton Portis and Ladell Betts combined for 157 yards and a touchdown on 34 combined carries. Portis led the way with 98 yards and a score on 17 totes, in what was his first action since his 2006 ended prematurely due to a broken hand. The former Pro Bowler scored Washington's only touchdown of the day, a 19-yarder in the third quarter. Quarterback Jason Campbell was not at his sharpest, finishing the day 12-of-21 for 222 yards with two interceptions, and failing to throw a touchdown pass in a start for the first time in his young career. The club did see some progress in the receiving game however, with Antwaan Randle El turning in a career-best 162- yard day. Usual top targets Santana Moss (3 receptions, 28 yards) and tight end Chris Cooley (1 reception, 10 yards) were not as productive, however. Washington also lost right tackle Jon Jansen for the season due to a broken ankle in the victory.
A new-look Eagles linebacking corps looked good in the season-opening loss to Green Bay, but will face a much tougher task in facing Washington's stronger running game. New starters Takeo Spikes (9 tackles), Omar Gaither (3 tackles), and Chris Gocong (3 tackles) were at the heart of a unit that allowed just 46 ground yards on the day, while third-year man Mike Patterson contributed 10 stops and a sack from his interior line position. The pass rush received high marks against the Packers as well, with ends Trent Cole and Jevon Kearse combining for two of the team's four sacks on the day. In the secondary, cornerback Sheldon Brown was credited with his first interception of the season, but the Eagles took a hit when corner Lito Sheppard was lost for up to a month with a knee problem.
WHEN THE EAGLES HAVE THE BALL
Though McNabb will garner most of the headlines for Philadelphia in the build- up to Monday's contest, Washington will likely be just as focused on stopping running back and D.C-area native Brian Westbrook. The former Pro Bowler highlighted the Eagles' Week 1 loss, leading the Birds in both the ground (20 carries, 85 yards) and pass-catching games (6 receptions, 46 yards). McNabb will try to get his receivers more involved this week, specifically Reggie Brown (1 reception, 14 yards), Kevin Curtis (2 receptions, 53 yards), and tight end L.J. Smith (2 receptions, 14 yards), who were all mostly quiet in defeat. McNabb's most productive target was second-year man Jason Avant, who hauled in three passes for 54 yards and scored the club's lone touchdown of the day on a nine-yard play in the second quarter. McNabb was sacked just once against Green Bay.
A Redskins defense that had major trouble making plays in 2006 made a bit of progress against the Dolphins, managing to pry a turnover away from Miami and even getting to quarterback Trent Green for a couple of sacks. Linebacker Rocky McIntosh forced a Jesse Chatman fumble that was recovered by cornerback Shawn Springs in the second quarter, though the Redskins were unable to turn the miscue into any points. The sacks went to the blossoming McIntosh and defensive end Andre Carter, who built on a strong final month of '06 with his first QB takedown of the year. New faces in the Washington defensive lineup included middle linebacker London Fletcher, who made a team-best 12 tackles, and rookie safety LaRon Landry, the club's first-round draft pick who contributed three sacks to the proceedings. The Skins allowed just 273 yards of total offense in the win, including 66 on 20 carries in the ground game.
McNabb and Portis were both seen as risky Week 1 fantasy plays, since managers weren't sure what either player would do coming off of their injuries. Those that started McNabb were likely disappointed, while those who put Portis in the lineup were largely rewarded for the risk. McNabb should get better from Week 1 to Week 2, and is worth starting. Elsewhere for the Eagles, Westbrook always puts up numbers, David Akers is a reliable kicker, and the defense tends to turn in a few big plays. Stay away from this team's receivers, however. Washington has little to recommend besides perhaps Portis and maybe hot-and-cold tight end Chris Cooley, though kicker Shaun Suisham (three field goals last week) might get some consideration in a few leagues. Those who start Randle El based on last week's performance are likely to get burned - last Sunday was just the second 100-yard receiving game of the wideout's six- year pro career.
Though these opponents experienced opposite results in Week 1, both showed a great deal about the teams they will likely become. The Redskins barely beat a pretty poor Dolphins club, not displaying much offensive consistency and still searching long and hard for big plays on defense. The Eagles lost to an inferior Packers team based mainly on special teams gaffes, but played reasonably well on defense and showed most of their rust on offense, where McNabb is not 100 percent. As he gets closer to full health, look for the quarterback to begin looking like himself again, and for Philly to restore its winning ways. Meanwhile, look for the same old Washington team to begin receding into its familiar place in the darkness with a loss on Monday night, setting suffering Skins fans up for yet another journey to the land of sub-.500.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Eagles 28, Redskins 10
Re: NFL Previews Week 2
Key NFL line moves
Green Bay Packers at New York Giants: +1 ½ to – 2 ½
Oddsmakers were scrambling all week to find the latest news on New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning. The fourth-year pro fell awkwardly on his throwing shoulder during Sunday night’s game. There were whispers Manning might miss four weeks with a shoulder separation. However, the latest reports suggest he’ll be a game-time decision.
“I opened the game at –2 and that’s where we’re at right now,” says John Avello, director of race and sports operations for Wynn Las Vegas. “I was probably about one point or 1 1/2 points higher than anybody else. My thinking was Manning would play.”
There’s a significant drop off between Manning and backup Jared Lorenzen. The hefty Lorenzen (285 pounds) has never started a game in his three pro seasons.
New York Jets at Baltimore Ravens: -9 ½ to –12 ½
This is another contest where injuries play a major role in the betting line. Chad Pennington, New York’s top signal caller, has a badly bruised ankle and may have to sit out.
“He’s got leadership skills and he can move the offense,” Avello says of Pennington. “The thing you have to worry about if the backup plays (Kellen Clemens) is turnovers. Young quarterbacks get the jitters. Turnovers are killers.”
The Ravens have medical issues of their own. Quarterback Steve McNair (groin) is not expected to play and Pro Bowl left tackle Jonathan Ogden is out indefinitely with a sore toe.
Seattle Seahawks at Arizona Cardinals: +3 to +2 ½
Some sports books moved this game off the key number of three despite Arizona’s poor offensive performance last Monday. Avello says he’s unconcerned about Seahawks running back Shaun Alexander who will be wearing a protective brace over his wrist.
“He should be fine. The thing that worries you about the Seahawks is that they’re a great home team, but just average on the road. I think Arizona can hang around in this game.”
The Cards beat Seattle the last time the two clubs met, 27-21
Atlanta Falcons at Jacksonville Jaguars: -10, to –11 ½
The Jags aren’t the league’s most offensively gifted team and the sports books keep taking more and more points from them. Though Jacksonville didn’t impress last week, Avello says many bettors have high expectations for the club.
“I set the over/under season win total for them at nine, and I got a lot of people taking the over. I think most people see this as a bounce-back game for them. Plus, nobody likes Atlanta right now. I’m not getting much action on Atlanta’s side.”
Jacksonville has failed to cover the last five times it’s been listed as a double-digit favorite.
Re: NFL Previews Week 2
Between the 20's
According to the Sports Books: San Diego at New England (47 total)
In Reality: Seattle at Arizona. Both of these offenses struggled in their season openers but expect the kinks to be worked out by the time kickoff rolls around. Seattle and Arizona totaled 48 points in their second meeting last year and could very well match, if not surpass, that total this time around. Quarterbacks Matt Hasselbeck and Matt Leinart each have numerous weapons at their disposal and will use those weapons accordingly. The Seahawks and Cardinals combined to go 20-12 in the over last year with the over going 5-1 in the last six meetings between the franchises. That trend could easily hold true in this meeting
According to the Sports Books: New York Jets at Baltimore (33.5 total)
In Reality: Washington at Philadelphia. The Redskins and Eagles combined for just 29 total points in the season's opening week and they might not eclipse that total in this game. The under is 5-1-1 in the last seven meetings between these NFC East rivals with an average total of just 35.8 points per game. Donovan McNabb didn't look fully recovered from his knee surgery last week against the Packers and could struggle again versus a Redskins defense that allowed just 13 points and 273 total yards to the Dolphins a week ago. Washington did most of its damage last week on the ground, running for 191 yards. The Eagles are extremely tough against the run, though, as evidenced by their 46 rushing yards allowed to Green Bay last week. Jason Campbell can't carry the offense quite yet.
According to the Sports Books: Chicago (-12) vs. Kansas City
In Reality: Cincinnati (-7) at Cleveland. The Bengals have dominated in-state rival Cleveland recently and could very well continue to do so in this year's first meeting. Cincinnati has won the last five meetings in the series, going 4-1 ATS in those games, and has won by an average margin of 14.8 points. The Bengals swept the two-game series last season, winning by a combined total of 64-17 for an average margin of victory of 23.5 points a game. The Browns are in absolute disarray right now and will struggle against an extremely confident Cincinnati squad.
Most Influential Injury
Chad Pennington's ankle: The cheering of Pennington's injury last week in the Meadowlands not only showed a lack of class, it also showed a lack of a clue. Pennington was 16-of-21 with two touchdowns before leaving with an injury and his absence will be felt this week against the Ravens. He may not have the strongest arm but Pennington manages a game as good as any other quarterback in the league. That's exactly what teams need against a defense like Baltimore's. Now the Jets must send second-year quarterback Kellen Clemens, who will be making his first career start, up against what will be an angry Ravens defense.
Pittsburgh running attack vs. Buffalo front seven: The Buffalo front seven was picked on in this space last week and it did nothing to discourage me from doing so again. The Bills surrendered 171 rushing yards on 5.3 yards per carry against the Broncos last week and will face an even more difficult task this week. The Steelers are second in the NFL in rushing after totaling 206 rushing yards against the Browns last week. The entire Pittsburgh offense is predicated on a successful running game so the Steelers will go to Willie Parker early and often in order to set up the passing attack. Expect the Buffalo front seven to get pushed around once again.
Most Important Player
Colts safety Bob Sanders: The Tennessee offensive line absolutely dominated the trenches in last year's two meetings with Indianapolis, tallying 433 yards on 6.6 yards per carry. The Titans proved their running game is just as dangerous this year, totaling 282 rushing yards against a supposedly stout Jacksonville stop unit last week. Tennessee has three viable running options with varying styles in backs Chris Brown and LenDale White and quarterback Vince Young. Sanders, who will likely be the eighth man in the box in this game, needs to make an impact along the line of scrimmage if the Colts are to have any chance of slowing Tennessee's running game. Containing Young will be especially important as he scrambled six times on third downs - resulting in six first downs - in last seasons' 20-17 Tennessee win.
Potential ATS Upset of the Week
Tennessee (+7) over Indianapolis: No team in the NFL played the Colts tougher than the Titans last year, not even the Patriots. Indianapolis won 16 games last year and did so by an average of more than eight points per game. In two games against Tennessee, the Colts were actually outscored 33-31, including a 20-17 loss at the Titans. Indy looked extremely impressive in its first defense of its Super Bowl title but Tennessee looked strong in its season opener as well. The Titans covered by an average of 13.3 points per game in last year's meetings and could very well cover the spread again in this one.
Re: NFL Previews Week 2
Sunday Morning Scoop
Houston vs. Carolina
Jason Simmons (S)—Simmons will miss the remainder of the 2007 campaign after tearing his left patella tendon in last week’s victory over the Chiefs.
On the defensive front, the Texans have listed Amobi Okoye, Ndukwe Kalu and Travis Johnson as questionable. If all three of the linemen cannot go, the Panthers’ rushing game could be upgraded even more.
Chris Gamble (CB)—Gamble, who had been injured with ankle problems, played in Sunday’s opener against the Rams, registering six solo tackles. He is not expected to miss the battle with the Texans.
Stanley McClover (DE) – A thigh injury has McClover listed as doubtful for today’s game.
Deke Cooper (S) – With Nate Salley out, the Panthers can’t really afford to lose much more in the defensive backfield, but Cooper is listed as questionable.
Nate Salley (S) – Salley is out with a knee injury.
Indianapolis vs. Tennessee
Joseph Addai (RB) – Addai left after the Colts’ first offensive play against the Saints, but was able to return to the game. Fantasy owners should have no concern about Addai’s status heading into this week’s game against the Titans – which is a very favorable fantasy match-up for the second year player.
Freddy Keiaho (LB) – Keiaho suffered an elbow injury against New Orleans, but commented on Monday – “it feels a lot better…I’ve been getting a lot better.” Head coach Tony Dungy commented he thought Keiaho would play earlier in the week, but the linebacker is listed as doubtful.
Charlie Johnson (OT) – Coach Dungy commented Johnson is still needing some time off before returning to the field. Don’t expect Johnson to play this week.
Rob Morris (LB) – Morris is listed as questionable with a rib injury. With Keiaho hurting, it is important to have Morris on the field.
Chris Henry (RB) – Henry missed Sunday’s game against Jacksonville with a hamstring injury, but the Titans have not listed him on the injury report for week two.
New Orleans vs. Tampa Bay
Mark Campbell (TE) – Campbell is out with a back injury. Campbell wasn’t much of a fantasy option, but it will mean more playing time for Eric Johnson.
Patrick Chukwurah (LB)—Chukwurah will not play Sunday due to a torn MCL in his right knee.
Brian Kelly (CB)—Kelly strained his groin against the Seahawks and is listed as doubtful in week two. He could be out several weeks.
Cadillac Williams (RB)—Williams suffered bruised ribs in the third quarter of week one. He is listed as questionable for week two.
Jeff Garcia (QB)—Garcia was shaken up briefly in week one, but there is no injury concern for the veteran quarterback.
Chris Hovan (DT) – Hovan is listed as questionable with an ankle injury.
San Francisco vs. St. Louis
The 49ers don’t have any significant injuries, but defensive backs Dashon Goldson, Marcus Hudson and Shawntae Spencer are probable for today’s game against the Rams. With the Rams passing attack, it is critical that the defensive secondary is 100 percent.
Orlando Pace (OT)— Pace will miss the rest of the 2007 season with a shoulder injury.
Drew Bennett (WR)—Bennett did not play Sunday due to his hamstring injury, but has been upgraded to probable for Sunday.
Richie Incognito (OT)—Incognito did not play last Sunday due to his high ankle sprain and has been ruled out for today’s game.
Pisa Tinoisamoa (LB)—Pisa was on crutches Monday following an ankle injury. He is questionable for week two.
Tye Hill (CB) – Hill injured his back earlier this week in practice and could be out four to six weeks.
Buffalo vs. Pittsburgh
Jason Webster (CB) – Webster suffered a broken forearm against Denver and the cornerback is out for the year. With Webster out, the Bills defensive secondary is thinned out even more. This definitely makes the Steeler passing game an even more attractive option for week two.
Coy Wire (LB) – Wire left the field in the first quarter, but never returned to the game. Wire left under his own power, but suffered a grade 2 sprain of his MCL and head coach Dick Jauron has said he will be out indefinitely.
Ko Simpson (FS) – The Bills had a tough day with injuries against the Broncos, as Simpson suffered a broken ankle in the first quarter. Simpson is likely done for the year and had surgery on his injury on Monday.
Kevin Everett (TE) – Everett suffered a cervical spine injury during the loss to Denver, which is a serious injury. Everett had to undergo emergency surgery last week, but has made progress. Everett is out this week and will be out for the remainder of the season.
Ryan Denney (DE) – Denney underwent foot surgery in the preseason and will return around week six or seven.
Josh Reed (WR) – Reed is questionable with a thigh injury, but doesn’t have much fantasy value against a tough Steeler defense.
Ben Roethlisberger (QB) – The Steelers quarterback took a couple of shots on Sunday against the Browns, but don’t expect it to keep him out of any action. Roethlisberger was able to shake off an ankle and arm injury to stay into the game and have his way with the Browns secondary. Roethlisberger would make a nice start against Buffalo.
Green Bay vs. N.Y. Giants
Vernand Morency (RB) – Morency was inactive for Sunday’s game against Philadelphia and the Packers aren’t sure if he will be able to go this week. Morency is battling a knee strain suffered earlier this offseason and the Packers running game was not all that impressive against the Eagles. Morency wouldn’t be too much of an upgrade, but he would help. Morency will be a gametime decision.
Greg Jennings (WR) – Jennings sat out Sunday’s game with a hamstring injury and is a likely gametime decision. If Jennings does not go, upgrade James Jones against a lackluster Giants defense.
Al Harris (CB) – Harris returned to action on Sunday, after suffering a hyperextended right elbow. The cornerback should be able to play next week.
Aaron Rouse (S) – Rouse is listed as questionable with a hamstring injury.
Donald Lee (TE) – Lee is listed as probable with a knee injury, but expect him to play. Lee is a sleeper tight end for fantasy owners.
Brandon Jacobs (RB) – Jacobs is listed as out for today’s game with a MCL sprain. Jacobs was originally thought to be out three to five weeks, but some reports indicate he could return next week. Upgrade Derrick Ward with Jacobs on the bench.
Eli Manning (QB) – Manning had a solid fantasy outing going on last Sunday night, but was unable to finish the fourth quarter with what the team was calling a bruised shoulder. Monday reports began to circulate that the quarterback suffered a separated shoulder and would be out about a month. However, later this week, Giants indicated if Manning can play through the pain of a sprained AC joint – he could play this weekend. He’ll be a gametime decision – check back with the Sunday Morning Scoop live updates.
Kevin Dockery (DB) – Dockery suffered an ankle injury and was carted off the field in last week’s contest with the Cowboys. Dockery is listed as doubtful for today’s game with an ankle injury.
Osi Umenyiora (DL) – Umenyiora was originally believed to be out two months with a MCL injury, but is listed as probable for today’s game.
Lawrence Tynes (K) – Tynes is listed as questionable with a calf injury, but the Giants have not brought in any other kickers. Don’t consider Tynes much of a fantasy option this week.
William Joseph (DT) - NJ.com is reporting Joseph has been placed on injured reserve with a back injury and will miss the remainder of the 2007 season.
Cincinnati vs. Cleveland
Dexter Jackson (S) – A thigh injury has placed Jackson on the injury list for this week, but the Bengals expect him to play.
Deltha O’Neal (CB) – A knee injury has O’Neal listed as probable for today’s game. Expect to him to play.
Shayne Graham (K)—Graham was shaken early in Monday’s contest, missing a long field goal attempt and yielding an extra point attempt to the punter, Kyle Larson. He returned to the game and is expected to play Sunday.
Rashad Jeanty (LB) – Jeanty is out for today’s game with a shin injury.
Ethan Kilmer (S) – Kilmer is out with a knee injury.
Willie Anderson (OT)—Anderson played sparingly Monday night, keeping his games started streak alive, and is listed as probable against the Browns.
Eric Ghiaiuc (C) – The Bengals offensive line could be a concern on Sunday, as Ghiaiuc is listed as doubtful with a thumb injury.
Nedu Ndukwe (S) – Ndukwe will be questionable for today’s game with a hamstring injury.
T. J. Houshmandzadeh (WR)—T. J., suffering from a slight knee injury, played Monday night, catching nine balls for fifty yards and the game-winning score. He is probable for the Browns game.
Frostee Rucker (DE) – Rucker has been ruled out for today’s game with a hamstring injury.
Willie McGinest (LB) – McGinest missed week one with a back injury and is out for week two.
Daven Holly (CB) – Holly is trying to recover from a concussion suffered last week against the Steelers. Holly is listed as probable, but he could get toasted by Chad Johnson and the Bengals receivers.
Leigh Bodden (CB) – With Holly also battling injuries, the Browns could be in for a tough defensive outing. Bodden is questionable with a groin injury.
Antwan Peek (LB) – Peek is questionable with a foot injury.
David Zastudil (P)—Zastudil may see a lot of work, as the Browns offense is terrible. He missed the Steelers game with back problems. His status for today’s game is questionable.
Atlanta vs. Jacksonville
D. J. Shockley (QB) — Shockley underwent successful surgery on his ACL this week. He is placed on the injured reserved list and will miss all of the 2007 season.
Rod Coleman (DT) — Coleman, who posted twenty-six total tackles in 2006, is out for three to four weeks following knee surgery.
Chris Crocker (S) — Fifth year safety Chris Crocker missed last week’s game against the Vikings and is listed as doubtful for today’s game.
Laurent Robinson (WR) – After a solid week one performance, Robinson is listed as questionable with a hamstring injury. Robinson looks like he could be making some ground on the depth chart, so an injury would be costly.
Josh Scobee (K) – Scobee suffered a quad injury in pregame warm-ups against Tennessee, but managed to kick a field goal and an extra point. Scobee is out for this week’s game against the Falcons and John Carney has been signed to kick for the Jaguars.
Brad Meester (C) – Meester is out for Sunday’s game with an ankle injury.
The Jaguars defense has a rash of injuries listed on this week’s injury report – defensive tackles John Henderson, Marcus Stroud and Tony McDaniel (questionable) are listed, as well as ends Reggie Hayward and Bobby McCray. Linebacker Clint Ingram is questionable, while safety Gerald Sensabaugh is probable.
Miami vs. Dallas
Yeremiah Bell (S)—Bell will miss the remainder of the season with an Achilles injury.
Jesse Chatman (RB)—Chatman suffered a slight knee injury Sunday, but is listed as probable for the Sunday game against Dallas.
Terry Glenn (WR)—Glenn underwent arthroscopic knee surgery this week and will miss four to six weeks. Glenn will try and return after that time, but upgrade Patrick Crayton until then.
Terence Newman (CB)—Newman is listed as questionable for this week’s match-up due to plantar fascitis.
Jason Ferguson (DT)—Ferguson is out for the season with a torn biceps.
Greg Ellis (LB)—Ellis is still listed as out with the foot injury that threatens his career.
Kevin Burnett (LB) – Burnett is listed as probable with an ankle injury, but the Cowboys expect to have him on the field.
Minnesota vs. Detroit
Chester Taylor (RB) – Taylor left Sunday’s game against the Falcons with a hip injury and did not return to action. NFL.com reports the injury is a hip contusion and on Monday, the Vikings indicated Taylor could play this week against Jacksonville. If Taylor does not go, upgrade Adrian Peterson. Taylor will be a gametime decision – check Sunday Morning Scoop live updates for more information.
Mike Doss (S) – Vikings coach Brad Childress indicated Doss did some jogging this week, but indicated he did not know if the safety would play in today’s game against the Jaguars.
Robert Ferguson (WR) – Ferguson was a late signing to the Vikings and his ankle ended up keeping him out of the season opener. The Vikings are listing him as probable for week two.
Tony Richardson (RB) – Richardson is listed as questionable with a forearm injury.
Kevin Jones (RB) – The Lions made Jones one of their Sunday afternoon inactives, but the running back continues to make progress and will return in the coming weeks. Don’t expect Jones to play this week, but several reports indicated throughout the week he will be on the field for week three.
Dan Orlovsky (QB) – Orlovsky was inactive for Sunday’s game, but isn’t expected to be a fantasy option – he could be the team’s third quarterback most of the year. Orlovsky is questionable this Sunday.
T.J. Duckett (RB) – Duckett has been ruled out for Sunday’s game. Tatum Bell should see goal-line carries with Duckett out of the lineup.
Seattle vs. Arizona
D.J. Hackett (WR) – The Seahawks caught a tough break in week one, as Hackett suffered a high ankle sprain against the Bucs. Hackett will likely be out several weeks and while he is out, look for Nate Burleson to emerge as the Seahawks number two receiver.
LeRoy Hill (LB) – Hill is listed as doubtful with a foot injury.
Ben Obomanu (WR) – Obomanu is listed as doubtful with a hamstring injury, but he wasn’t expected to be much of a fantasy factor this Sunday.
Maurice Morris (RB) – Morris is doubtful with a hip injury and if he cannot go, Alvin Pearman will step into the number two role.
Chike Okeafor (DE/LB) – Suffered a torn left biceps in the preseason and has been placed on injured reserve.
Ross Kolodziej (DT) – Kolodziej is out for Sunday’s game against the Seahawks with a knee injury.
Alan Branch (DT) – Branch missed the season opener with a hand injury and has been ruled out for week two action against the Seahawks.
Al Johnson (C) – Johnson left Monday night’s game with a sprained knee and the Cardinals have declared him out for their week two match-up against the Seahawks.
Bryant Johnson (WR) – Johnson is listed as questionable with a hamstring injury. If he cannot go, Sean Morey will step up into the number three receiver position, but he has little fantasy value.
Chicago vs. Kansas City
Muhsin Muhammad (WR)—The star Bears receiver had only one catch for eight yards against the Chargers, but is listed as probable to play this week against the Chiefs.
Dusty Dvoracek (DT)—Dvorcek has been placed on injury reserve for a torn ACL.
Mike Brown (S)—Brown has likewise been placed on injury reserve for a torn ACL.
Brad Maynard (P) – Maynard is questionable with a groin injury.
Greg Olsen (TE) – Olsen missed week one with a knee injury and is listed as questionable for week two. Olsen isn’t much of a fantasy option this week.
Brian Urlacher (LB) – Don’t expect Urlacher to miss this week’s game, but he is listed as probable with a back injury.
Eddie Kennison (WR)—Kennison will miss the Bears game Sunday due to a hamstring injury and could be out a couple of weeks.
Keyaron Fox (LB) – Fox is listed as questionable with a back injury.
Jon McGraw (S) – McGraw is listed as questionable with a hamstring injury.
Baltimore vs. New York Jets
Mark Clayton (WR)—Clayton played Monday night, and is listed as questionable with a toe injury against the Jets. If Clayton does not go, upgrade Demetrius Williams.
Jonathan Ogden (OT)—Ogden played Monday night against the Bengals, but left the game early with his toe injury. He is listed as doubtful for this Sunday.
Steve McNair (QB)—McNair suffered a groin injury Monday night and is listed as questionable in this AFC battle. The Ravens starter is likely a gametime decision for Sunday’s game. Check the Sunday Morning Scoop live updates for more info.
B. J. Sams (CB)—Sams will miss the rest of the Ravens 2007 season with a knee injury.
Ray Lewis (LB)—Lewis suffered a triceps injury in the first quarter Monday night. It was reported to be torn, but turned out to be only a minor injury. Lewis is questionable, but it will be hard to keep him off the field.
Daniel Wilcox (TE) – The Ravens second tight end is questionable with an ankle injury.
David Pittman (CB) – Pittman is listed as questionable with an ankle injury.
Ed Reed (S) – Reed is listed as questionable with an ankle injury. Just like Lewis, it will be difficult to keep Reed off the field.
Samari Rolle (CB) – The Ravens secondary is the walking wounded this week, as Rolle is also questionable with a foot injury.
Demetrius Williams (WR) – Williams is questionable with a chest injury.
Chad Pennington (QB)—Pennington suffered an undisclosed ankle injury Sunday against the video-phile Patriots. He is listed as questionable against the Ravens and most sources close to the team think Kellen Clemens will get his first start.
Brandon Moore (G) – Moore is listed as questionable with a shoulder injury. The Jets have a few key injuries on offense this week and losing Moore would be a pretty significant setback.
Eric Smith (S) – Smith is listed as questionable with a thigh injury. This makes three defensive backs listed as questionable for Sunday.
Thomas Jones (RB)—Jones didn’t look impressive against the Patriots, but is listed as questionable against the Ravens. He better be prepared to work hard and work often – assuming he can go later today.
Andre Dyson (CB)—Dyson did not play Sunday and is questionable this week.
Justin Miller (CB) – Miller is listed as questionable with a thigh injury.
Re: NFL Previews Week 2
Oakland vs. Denver
Jeremy Newberry (C) – Newberry suffered a hamstring injury against the Lions and could miss a couple of games.
Josh McCown (QB) – The Raiders list McCown as doubtful for today’s match-up against the Broncos, but he wouldn’t be a good fantasy start against a tough defense. Daunte Culpepper is expected to start.
Michael Bush (RB)—Bush, the draft pick sensation from Louisville, has been placed on the physically unable to perform list and will not play against Detroit. Bush’s knee problems come at a terrible time for Oakland, which is currently reeling over the quarterback situation and the four-game suspension of expected starting back Dominic Rhodes.
Dominic Rhodes (RB) – Rhodes is out the first four games of the 2007 season due to a league suspension.
Isaiah Ekejiuba (LB) – Ekejiuba missed the first game of the year with a foot injury and won’t play in week two.
Javon Walker (WR) – The Broncos top target took a couple of hard hits late in the game against the Bills, but continued to return to action after each hit. Walker does not seem to be in any jeopardy of missing next week’s game against Oakland.
Domonique Foxworth (DB) – DenverBroncos.com is reporting Foxworth suffered a sprained ankle against the Bills and he is listed as questionable for today’s game.
Ben Hamilton (C) – Due to a concussion, Hamilton missed the opening week game against the Bills and is out for week two.
Ryan Harris (T) – Harris is out four to six weeks, after undergoing back surgery in August.
Karl Paymah (CB) – Paymah missed the opening week game with a concussion and is listed as questionable for today’s game.
The Broncos have listed Tim Crowder, John Lynch and Javon Walker as probable for week two and we expect them all to play.
San Diego vs. New England
Eric Parker (WR) – Parker is out for the first couple of weeks of the 2007 season, as he is battling a toe injury. Parker could miss around five to six games and while he is out, you can upgrade rookie Craig Davis.
The Chargers are listing Antonio Gates, Luis Castillo, Stephen Cooper and Shawne Merriman as probable – but there’s no reason to be concerned any of these players will miss time.
David Thomas (TE) – Thomas was inactive for week one and the Patriots have listed him as questionable for today’s game. Thomas will likely be a gametime decision.
Jarvis Green (DE) – Green is questionable with a shoulder injury.
Steve Neal (G) – Neal is listed as questionable with a shoulder injury.
Tom Brady (QB) – The Patriots weekly injury diagnosis on Brady is in – and it’s the same – probable with a shoulder injury. No worries here.
Philadelphia vs. Washington
A.J. Feeley (QB) – Feeley is listed as questionable with a hand injury and the backup quarterback underwent hand surgery on Friday. If he can’t go, Kevin Kolb will be the team’s number two guy.
L. J. Smith (TE)—Smith played through a groin injury against the Packers last Sunday, catching two balls for fourteen yards. He is listed as probable for the division match-up against the Redskins.
Lito Sheppard (CB)—Sheppard left Sunday’s game with a sprained right knee and is out for Monday night’s matchup.
Jevon Kearse, Greg Lewis, Joselio Hanson and Matt Schobel are listed as probable for Monday night’s game and the Eagles expect to have them on the field, barring a last minute setback.
Jon Jansen (OT)—Jansen fractured his right fibula and dislocated his right ankle in Sunday’s victory over Miami. He is scheduled for surgery and will miss the rest of 2007.
Phillip Daniels (DE)—Daniels sprained his right foot Sunday. He is wearing a walking boot at this point and is listed as doubtful for Monday night’s match-up against the Eagles.
Vernon Fox (S)—Fox strained his groin in week one. He is listed as doubtful for week two.
Pierson Prioleau (S)—The Redskins safety corps was further nicked up last week with Prioleau’s hamstring injury. He left the game in week one and is questionable for the Eagles contest.
Phillip Daniels (DE) – Daniels is listed as doubtful for Monday’s game against Philadelphia – don’t expect him to play.