The opening couple of weeks of the NFL have been anything but predictable, but so is life in the NFL. One injury, poor performance or questionable call can halt one team’s momentum, or spark another to catch fire. This substantial variability in week-to-week play has undoubtedly led to anxiety and frustration from fans, however, it provides for great entertainment, especially for these three upcoming games.
Denver Broncos at Cincinnati Bengals, 12:00 P.M. on CBS
Coming off of a fortuitous championship season last year, experts predicted the Broncos to regress back to the mean. The ball couldn’t keep bouncing their way on chance fumbles and missed PAT’s from kicker Stephen Gostkowski for another season, and cycling through Mark Sanchez, Paxton Lynch and Trevor Siemian to line up behind center seemed analogous to picking between a toddler or a senior citizen to race Usain Bolt. Conversely, the Bengals were projected as favorites; a feel good team that would reap the benefits of virtuous stability, returning more or less the same team and coaching staff. And yet, the inverse has occurred.
Cincinnati has already lost to Pittsburgh, a division foe, and Baltimore is 2-0. If the Bengals drop to 1-2, the pressure will be on, bringing into focus the togetherness and leadership of their locker room. It’s nearly a must win for the Bengals, and with Denver looking to keep pace with New England for the top spot in the conference, Sunday’s game will go a long way in determining the real contenders for the AFC crown.
Broncos 24, Bengals 17
San Diego Chargers at Indianapolis Colts, 3:25 PM on CBS
The curtain has been pulled back on the Colts, a team that relied too much on the brilliance of quarterback Andrew Luck, while neglecting the offensive line, defense and rushing aspects of the game. Still, wouldn’t it be just a little odd if a Luck-led team dropped to 0-3? This game could have serious implication on the jobs of general manager Ryan Grigson and coach Chuck Pagano, who were both nearly fired last year.
The Bolts feature a strong running game, amassing 151 yards per game, good for third in the league, which should be featured prominently against the Colts’ 28th ranked rush defense. The Colts’ porous secondary should leave holes big enough for quarterback Phillip Rivers to thread passes to Travis Benjamin down the field as well. Unfortunately, the Chargers defense isn’t much better especially against the pass and could facilitate the reemergence of the Colts once explosive and efficient aerial attack.
The game will be decided by the turnover battle, as both teams are going to put up major yards and points. Whoever can force a few mistakes by the other team will win, and my bet is on Indy.
Colts 38, Chargers 34
Washington Redskins at New York Giants 12:00 PM on FOX
The key matchup will be between Giants receiver Odell Beckham Jr. and Washington cornerback Josh Norman, who last year got into numerous after the play incidents and appear to have a mutual disdain for each other. The question is whether Washington will have Norman shadow Beckham all over the field, or keep Norman strictly at left corner. If the Giants offense can put up points, the Redskins will be forced to rely on quarterback Kirk Cousins to make big plays, which he’s shown to be less than comfortable in doing, mostly because he lacks the arm strength to launch the ball downfield to speedsters Pierre Garcon and Desean Jackson.
If Washington loses, they can kiss the playoffs goodbye, and I think they should get ready to pucker up.
Giants 31, Washington 20