NFL Week 2: Observations for SundayBy Matt Verderame
The second Sunday of the 2016 National Football League is here, and there are plenty of fans already chewing their fingernails off. For half the league, it’s time to win or face the prospect of being 0-2 in a sport where that record all but spells doom.
Here’s what you should be watching for on Sunday:
- The New York Giants spend more than $150 million this offseason on their defense, signing nose tackle Damon Harrison, cornerback Janoris Jenkins and defensive end Olivier Vernon. After holding the Dallas Cowboys to 19 points on the road in a win last weekend, the Giants face a stiffer test against the New Orleans Saints. Can this unit stand up to Drew Brees and Co.? It’s a tall order.
- How focused on the young Raiders? Oakland is facing all kinds of news off the field before its home opener, with the news that Las Vegas has approved plans for a beautiful new stadium. This is exactly the kind of distraction head coach Jack Del Rio has to insulate his team from. The Raiders should beat the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday, but this news could be looming over a group trying to make the playoffs for the first time since 2002.
- The Carolina Panthers lost a heartbreaking game against the Denver Broncos in Week 1, and now come home to take on the San Francisco 49ers. Carolina is a two-touchdown favorite over the upstart 49ers, and should win without much problem. However, do the Panthers explode for 40 points or is this an ugly win that continues to fuel some thoughts regarding Carolina being a fluke?
- Few teams have more pressure on them this week than the Jacksonville Jaguars. There have been some picking the Jaguars to win the AFC South, and legions of others seeing them as a wild card team. After losing 27-23 at home against the Green Bay Packers, Jacksonville has no choice but to go across the country and beat the San Diego Chargers. If the Jaguars fall short, there is a very real chance they get buried in the AFC playoff picture before we hit October. If that happens, it is all over for head coach Gus Bradley.
- Look for a huge statement win in the AFC North. The Pittsburgh Steelers and Cincinnati Bengals are squaring off at Heinz Field come Sunday afternoon, with the winner having at least a share of the divisional lead with the Baltimore Ravens. Cincinnati was able to win in the Steel City last year, with Pittsburgh returning the favor with two wins – including a postseason victory – in the Bengals’ home. Whoever gets this win will be 2-0 and feeling very good about their chances as the leaves begin to turn heading into autumn.