It’s easy to think of early season games as less important. Don’t. A bad start can destroy team morale, while an unlikely win can lead to a magical postseason run. Here’s a few matchups to tune in to this week, we know you’re at home anyway.
NFL Week 2: What to Watch
Vikings at Colts: Sunday, 9.20 1:00 pm ET.
I love the smell of desperation in the morning. (I live on the West Coast, so this is a 10:00 am game) These are both teams with playoff aspirations, but someone is going to end up in an 0-2 hole.
What to watch for: Indianapolis is all-in for 2020, having brought in Philip Rivers as a short-term solution. Expectations were that the Colts could contend in the AFC South with him under center, but an injury to Indy’s star running back Marlon Mack has left them adrift. Can the Colts game plan around the loss? Who’s going to step up? Can Rivers pick up the slack? On the other side, Minnesota put up 34 points against Green Bay last weekend, but a porous pass defense let Aaron Rodgers throw for four touchdowns. Is Minnesota a playoff caliber defense? Or is that window closing rapidly?
Falcons at Cowboys: Sunday, 9.20 1:00 pm ET.
Same time slot. Same situation. Two teams that really need to avoid an 0-2 start to the season.
What to watch for: Rumors started rumbling in Atlanta last season that head coach Dan Quinn was on the hot seat. The team responded by ripping off four straight wins to end the season to save his job. I’m not sure that Quinn’s leash will be as long this season. Dallas lost the opener in a heartbreaker to Los Angeles, but that’s nothing new. In fact, America’s team has won only one game decided by a touchdown or less in the past year. They’ve lost seven. Look for Dallas to avoid that trap and get out to an early lead.
Washington Football Team at Cardinals: Sunday, 9.20 4:05 pm ET.
Which unit is the real deal? Both of these teams upset their reigning division champs in week one, with Washington felling Philly and Arizona pulling out a win over S.F.
What to watch for: This should just be fun football to watch. Washington’s front seven will attack and get after Kyler Murray. Murray is evasive and he has a new target. Maybe you’ve heard? My suspicion is that one of these teams will reveal itself to be a legitimate contender for their division. (Spoiler alert: it’s most likely Arizona)
Patriots at Seahawks, Sunday, 9.20, 8:20 pm ET.
Two teams that won in week one with completely different offensive game plans than what last season would have led us to expect. Is everything old new again?
What to watch for: It was bombs away for Seattle last week, as Russell Wilson went bonkers, throwing for four touchdowns on 31/35 passing. Will Seattle try the same tactics against a Patriots secondary that intercepted the ball three times last weekend? Will New England run Cam Newton as much as they did against a soft Miami Dolphin front? Or will Josh McDaniels start to evolve the Patriot offense into a more balanced dual threat? It’s an early season rematch of Super Bowl XLIX, albeit with considerably lower stakes.
For more thoughts and opinions from Tom, check out his author page.
Image Source: AP Images