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What to Watch For: Week 2 Part 2

Carolina @ Atlanta – 1:00 FOX

Panthers: I think everyone was a little surprised at how badly Jake Delhomme got roughed up against Arizona in the playoffs last year, but to see it happen again against Philadelphia last week was astonishing. The team brought in A.J. Feeley to back up Delhomme which shows their confidence (or lack thereof) in Matt Moore. Expect Delhomme to be on a short leash with head coach John Fox this week because the last thing he will want is to be 0-2 early in the season in games against top NFC contenders.

Falcons: I wasn’t too high on Michael Turner coming into this year after he carried the ball 370+ times in 2008 when his previous career high was 80. Needless to say, Turner did nothing to impress me in Week 1 when he gained 65 yards on 22 carries.

Carolina’s run defense suffered a huge loss in training camp when DT Ma’ake Kemoeatu went down with a torn Achilles, and it showed when they gave up over 180 yards on the ground to

Philadelphia. If Turner can’t boost his numbers this week, 2008 may have taken more out of him than people are willing to admit.

Tampa

Bay @

Buffalo – 4:05 FOX

Buccaneers: I was highly impressed with

Tampa’s ability to score 21 points last week against

Dallas. The Bucs were propelled by a solid running attack from a healthy Cadillac Williams and Derrick Ward fell right back into place as a complementary back. Perhaps the most surprising thing was that Michael Clayton led the team in receiving. If Byron Leftwich can continue to lead the team the way he did against Dallas, he will give new head coach Raheem Morris a lot of credibility back that he lost early in the preseason.

Bills: I haven’t talked to anyone who is not a Patriots fan that wasn’t pulling for Trent Edwards and the Bills to come out of Monday night with the upset win. The only thing that Edwards could have done better was find his receivers more. Terrell Owens and Lee Evans combined for five catches and just over 70 yards. Fred Jackson has proven to be a capable fill-in while Marshawn Lynch serves his three-game suspension, but

Jackson will be an even bigger weapon for the Bills if Edwards takes more looks downfield to his one and two guys.

Seattle

@

San Francisco – 4:05 FOX

Seahawks: They took on the lowly Rams last week and because of that, many people were not impressed with the victory. However, in my opinion, that’s what a good team (that is very capable of winning its division) does to a weak opponent. On top of that, John Carlson (6 catches, 95 yards, 2 TD) proved to be Matt Hasselbeck’s key target in the Seahawks’ newly improved offense and Julius Jones even crossed the 100-yard mark. The team will be without T.J. Houshmandzadeh this week, but that will just mean more opportunities for Carlson especially in the red zone.

49ers: I’m not sure if

San Francisco beating

Arizona showed me how bad

Arizona is or if

San Francisco should be looked at as a team that can run and hang with the big boys. Shaun Hill barely cracked the 200-yard mark, but the key stat is that he didn’t throw any interceptions. I was satisfied with his performance, especially against

Arizona’s stout secondary, but what scared me was the lack of effectiveness from Frank Gore (22 carries, 30 yards). If Gore cannot get into a groove on the ground, teams will be able to drop more guys into the second and third levels to defend against the 49ers’ passing attack which will impact Hill in a big way.

Baltimore

@

San Diego – 4:15 CBS

Ravens: I wasn’t quite sure why everyone was so down on Joe Flacco coming into the year. Sure he doesn’t have great weapons at his disposal, but he didn’t have them last year either. Just as I expected

Seattle to torch

St. Louis, I predicted the same thing to happen with Flacco and the Ravens when they took on

Kansas City. While Ray Rice looked impressive in his first NFL start, Flacco’s performance was outstanding. He seemed to know exactly where to find his receivers and put on a clinic against KC’s secondary racking up over 300 yards through the air. He will have a tougher go at it this week when facing the Chargers who will look to rebound after giving up way too many yards to

Oakland’s JaMarcus Russell.

Chargers: If San Diego had been upset by Oakland, it may not have been as big of a shock as Buffalo beating New England, but for a team that has been recognized as the No. 2 team in the AFC (behind the Patriots) it would have been demoralizing. The Chargers only put together a total of 78 yards on the ground behind LaDainian Tomlinson and Darren Sproles, and

Baltimore’s run defense is much better than the Raiders’. With Tomlinson ruled out for the week, the team will rely heavily on Philip Rivers to lead the squad because Haloti Ngata, Terrell Suggs and Ray Lewis will be eating Sproles alive all afternoon.

Pittsburgh

@

Chicago – 4:15 CBS

Steelers: Ben Roethlisberger has never been that great of a fantasy quarterback, but he shut up some naysayers last week. It doesn’t matter to me that the Steelers’ Week 1 tilt with

Tennessee went to overtime which helped to pad stats a little bit. He only threw one touchdown and hurled two interceptions, but he also gained 368 yards and that was with a non-existent running game. Can you imagine what he might do if Willie Parker, Rashard Mendenhall, Mewelde Moore or a combination of the three supported their quarterback? Ryan Grant had some success against the Bears last week and any success for the Steelers backs will translate into more good news for Roethlisberger owners.

Bears: Could the Bears have had a worse debut? They lost the game in the final two minutes, Jay Cutler threw four interceptions and Matt Forte gained only 55 yards on the ground without catching a single catch. Despite all of this, people are still saying that the Bears have what it takes to beat the defending champions this weekend. The only one thing to watch on Sunday is

Chicago’s offense as a whole unit. Cutler was supposed to make the offense better, but instead he dragged it down against

Green Bay. While he’s not in danger of losing his job by any means, if Cutler doesn’t want to lose the faith of Bears’ fans, he needs to show up in a big way.

Cleveland @ Denver – 4:15 CBS

Browns: Did anyone expect Jamal Lewis to have a good Week 1 especially going up against Minnesota’s run defense? I can tell you that I surely didn’t and dropping him even crossed my mind with the way backups Jerome Harrison and James Davis are being hyped up. Instead, Lewis went off for over 100 total yards. Unfortunately, he has been limited in practice this week with an unspecified neck injury. However, his performance wasn’t just a testament to what he still has left in the tank, but it also showed that the offensive line has what it takes to get it done against a top defense (which

Denver is not). Expect a combination of Harrison and Davis to rip up the Broncos if Lewis can’t go.

Broncos: Josh McDaniels is off the hottest seat in the NFL for now thanks to Brandon Stokley’s miracle touchdown grab. However, despite Kyle Orton’s QB rating of over 100, the team barely squeaked out the win and on top of it all, Orton found his top two targets (Brandon Marshall and Eddie Royal) a combined six times for 45 yards.

Denver may be 1-0, but in this writer’s opinion, it’s not because of anything that Orton did to lead his team. The only leading he did was to put his receivers in position to take bad hits. For a debut in a

new city, Orton did nothing to impress the Mile High faithful and a loss to

Cleveland in Week 2 will wipe out any nice thoughts that Broncos fans may have had toward him.

New York Giants @ Dallas – 8:20 NBC

Giants: Eli Manning’s receiving corps was already in question, but in Week 1 he lost rookie Hakeem Nicks for a couple of weeks. Manning quickly found a rhythm with Steve Smith and Mario Manningham in addition to TE Kevin Boss. In fact, these three men accounted for almost 80 percent of the team’s receiving yards, so losing Nicks might not be as big of a loss as some might think.

Dallas almost gave up 300 yards to Byron Leftwich, so Eli should have no problem navigating through the Cowboys’ secondary, especially if Brandon Jacobs can stay back and pick up blocks on Demarcus Ware when

Dallas sends its blitz packages.

Cowboys: Tony Romo stole the spotlight on Sunday when he threw for 353 yards, three touchdowns and not a single pick, but the guy who stood out on the box score to me was Patrick Crayton. He has been on the brink of breaking out for a few years now and showed fans why he beat Miles Austin for the team’s No. 2 job. Crayton may have gained 80 of his 135 yards on one touchdown play, but it’s nice to see that he has big play ability, and in combination with Roy Williams’ talent, that duo will cause a lot of problems for NFC East secondaries. In a wide open division this year,

Dallas will face its first true test of the season and we’ll see if their offense is as good as it looked against

Tampa.

Indianapolis

@

Miami – 8:30 Monday

Colts: Losing Anthony Gonzalez is a huge blow to the Colts. He was easily one of the most underrated second receivers in football this year and now that role goes to Pierre Garcon. Peyton Manning was having a bit of trouble getting in sync with Gonzalez early in the preseason seeing as he was taking over for Marvin Harrison, and it makes me wonder if Garcon and Manning will face the same learning curve this week. Miami’s pass defense allowed Matt Ryan to pile up a passer rating of 98 last week so Manning will definitely have the opportunity to pick them apart, but Garcon’s inexperience at the position will hinder the Colts offense a little bit in the early goings.

Dolphins:

Miami didn’t get a rushing touchdown last week and the team’s only score came through the air when Chad Pennington found Ricky Williams for a dinky nine-yard completion. For a team that rebounded so well in 2008 from a dismal 2007, the Dolphins failed to impress anyone in Week 1. Everyone has seen the Wildcat offense now and isn’t surprised by anything that head coach Tony Sparano might pull out of his bag of tricks. Therefore, the Dolphins have to go back to the drawing board offensively especially if they want to fool the Colts defense which stymied

Jacksonville last week. Pennington and Ronnie Brown will have to turn it on early and often if they want any chance of even coming close to competing with

Indianapolis.

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