We’re only a week into the season, and already the Knee-Jerk Express has pulled into Overreaction Central station and everything we thought we knew about the NFL turned out to be wrong.
The Bills are over-hyped! Aaron Rodgers is going to have his worst season ever! Houston’s heading to the playoffs!
Week One was a heady mix of shock results and startling individual performances, from the sublime (the Cardinals’ Chandler Jones racking up more sacks on his own, with five, than 29 entire teams) to the downright ridiculous (the Titans, who came to Sunday’s party dressed as the 2017 Cleveland Browns).
So, will normal service resume in Week Two?
Kansas City Chiefs at Baltimore Ravens
Let’s start with Sunday Night Football, where two of the AFC’s most exciting offenses square off, as Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens look to bounce back from defeat to the Raiders in Vegas.
Losing in that way, in control for much of the game, was the footballing equivalent of the guy who wins big at the black jack table, then impulsively whacks all his winnings on red, only for zero to hit on the roulette wheel. Let’s hope the Ravens avoided the strip after the game, given the way their night went.
Standing in Baltimore’s way are the Kansas City Chiefs, with Patrick Mahomes looking to fling the Ravens into an 0-2 funk. The only thing worse than losing the first two games of the season is the inevitability you’ll hear the “only 12% of teams who lose their first two games make the playoffs” stat trotted out a gazillion times over the following week. It’s a tough ask for Jackson and Co. to avoid that spurious fate, given they’ve lost four in a row to their rivals, with Mahomes besting his counterpart in all three of the games they’ve played against each other.
It was more of the same from both young quarterbacks in Week One. Jackson delivered some of his trademark virtuoso runs and zipped in some line drives to his receivers. He protected the ball well, throwing no picks, but his two fumbles, including the game-deciding strip sack courtesy of Carl Nassib, were costly.
The Ravens will feel hard done by. The nail-biting loss has been underpinned by both JK Dobbins and Gus Edwards, their 1-2 punch, out injured for the year. So too is their playmaking corner Marcus Peters, and the Chiefs are pretty much the last team you want coming round the corner when your secondary is depleted.
Mahomes was his freewheeling, exhilarating self, as the Chiefs offense blazed against the Browns, Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce responsible for almost 300 yards and 3 TDs between them. Questions have been raised about the Chiefs D given the Browns were allowed to bring their swagger with relative ease, but this was a Chiefs defense without two of its key pieces in Tyrann Mathieu and Frank Clark, both of whom should return against the Ravens. Chin up, Baltimore fans, it’s Detroit the following week.
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Detroit Lions at Green Bay Packers
Though which Lions they’ll get is another matter. Detroit’s late comeback against the 49ers was impressive, rebounding from a 28-point deficit to come within eight points. They fell short in the end but undoubtedly delighted all the punters around the world who’d backed San Francisco at -8.5. Ouch.
The Lions needed the fightback, too, after a hapless opening half saw them booed by their own fans. That in itself is mightily impressive given the expectation levels are so low in Detroit, the average Lions fan would equate their chances of winning the Super Bowl alongside those of Sheriff Tiraspol landing the Champions League.
Mind you, Green Bay’s performance against the Saints was so bad that Detroit may feel aggrieved to be underdogs. Aaron Rodgers took his disaffection to a whole new level, throwing looks of disdain at everyone around him. Naturally, the rumour mill flew into overdrive, speculators attempting to discern which week of the season we’d see the reigning league MVP suiting up for another team.
These will, of course, be put to bed 11 minutes into Monday Night Football, after Rodgers’ third TD pass to Davante Adams, on his way to a 500-yard barnstormer.
Buffalo Bills at Miami Dolphins
It’ll be closer between AFC East rivals Buffalo, under par against the Steelers in Week One, and Miami. The Bills’ misfiring offense was as much down to an impressive defensive performance from Pittsburgh as it was their own shortcomings, but Josh Allen, fresh off his six-year, $258million extension, repaid about $47 of that in a lacklustre showing. He’s an immensely talented individual, a truly dual threat player whose year-on-year progression last season was remarkable, and those already talking up the Bills ensuing demise would do well to cool their jets. No pun intended.
Coach Sean McDermott was clear that the battle in the trenches, and his offensive line’s performance, wasn’t strong enough, although he’ll take comfort from running back Devin Singletary averaging 6.5 yards a carry, leading a position group that was considered the weak link of the team coming into the season.
Miami slugged it out against the Patriots, rookie Jaylen Waddle demonstrating his big-play potential and why he could be the X-factor the offense has been missing. Like Buffalo, Miami is a disciplined, well coached outfit, strong on both sides of the ball. Sophomore quarterback Tua Tagovailoa impressed in flashes and can make big strides if he steers his side to a crucial divisional win. That might see the Bills hanging out at the 0-2 Bar with the Ravens, nursing a beer, and wondering where it all went wrong.
|NFL Week Two Predictions|
|Nat’s selections in bold | UK kickoff times|
|Sunday, 19 September|
|Las Vegas Raiders at Pittsburgh Steelers , 6:00PM|
|San Francisco 49ers at Philadelphia Eagles, 6:00PM|
|Houston Texans at Cleveland Browns, 6:00PM|
|Denver Broncos at Jacksonville Jaguars, 6:00PM|
|New Orleans Saints at Carolina Panthers, 6:00PM|
|Los Angeles Rams at Indianapolis Colts, 6:00PM|
|Buffalo Bills at Miami Dolphins, 6:00PM|
|New England Patriots at New York Jets, 6:00PM|
|Cincinnati Bengals at Chicago Bears, 6:00PM|
|Atlanta Falcons at Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 9:05PM|
|Minnesota Vikings at Arizona Cardinals, 9:05PM|
|Tennessee Titans at Seattle Seahawks, 9:25PM|
|Dallas Cowboys at Los Angeles Chargers, 9:25PM|
|Monday, 20 September|
|Kansas City Chiefs at Baltimore Ravens, 1:20AM|
|Tuesday, 21 September|
|Detroit Lions at Green Bay Packers, 1:15AM|
|15-fold @ 756/1 with Betfair (Mobile)|
|15-fold @ 756/1 with Betfair (Desktop)|
|Odds correct at time of publication.
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Nat Coombs is a British writer, broadcaster and NFL expert who has been anchoring live sport across UK TV & radio for over ten years. Nat will be providing Squawka with predictions for the 2021 NFL season.