Mark Bell Spectator’s Eye
September 19, 2013
Part two of Week Two in the NFL, and there’s not that much scintillating going on this time. Read ‘em and weep. Seriously.
Rams at Cowboys – Coach Jeff Fisher is due to pull a defensive surprise around each end and stick a dagger into the heart of Romo’s offense at home this week. However, if Dez Bryant is allowed to get loose in the secondary, the Rams will have a really tough day.
When it comes to the running game, neither of these teams has much to commend, so Romo’s not likely to be protected by any sort of play action or gains through the “A” gap. And when it’s all about the quarterback, Romo usually muffs it. His sore ribs just make that all the more likely.
Browns at Vikings – That Minnesota defense may actually make a game of this even though Cleveland just traded its best rushing threat and is going with the backup to its backup quarterback. When it comes to strange behaviors, 0-2 teams are veritable factories.
(I mean, who but Cleveland gives up at 0-2 and starts playing for next year! Really!!)
While there’s no doubting the power of Adrian Peterson on the ground at home, the Browns have shown an almost elite level of defensive play among its front seven so far this year and Christian Ponder continues to make every serious football watcher think: “What the heck are the Vikings doing!” That makes this game one tough call.
All that’s left to be said is defaulting to the home team is not an excuse, it’s a method.
Falcons at Dolphins – Probably the best matchup of the day, with Miami being one of the more pleasant surprises of the early season. Going 2-0 on the road is better than anyone expected, so now they will have a lot demanded of them coming home.
Even with Steven Jackson on the shelf for a few weeks, Atlanta has a talent-loaded roster on offense. This should be a good opportunity for Tony Gonzalez to add to his Hall of Fame resume as the Dolphins have shown a weakness for all those intermediate tight end routes he runs so well.
On the other side, while Atlanta’s defense is no more injured than anyone else, they are playing like they have holes to fill or they’re trying to hide major weaknesses. Certainly on paper this matchup heavily favors the Falcons and Miami is still going to have to prove it can beat one of the offensive juggernauts of the NFC. Just don’t see that happening.
Bills at Jets – While everyone will likely focus on the rookie quarterbacks, the key will be in the running game and Buffalo has broader and superior talent. (Keep in mind that both squads are in the bottom third of any league power poll.)
New York’s defense has shown the ability to control that threat and playing at home will probably be to their benefit, but you never really know about Jets fans. This is just a gut feeling, but Buffalo’s offense is more likely to be productive and less likely to make critical mistakes.
Colts at 49ers – It wasn’t really a surprise to see San Francisco lose at Seattle last week. Not that their hour delay due to lightning wasn’t, though. There should not be any similar issues in this one, except for that weather vane tattoo Colin Kaepernick added this week. At least I think it’s a weather vane.
The game itself should be a pretty business-like affair, with everyone taking things pretty seriously. That’s just how Jim Harbaugh operates. Indianapolis will depend almost entirely on Andrew Luck for its offensive success. With Harbaugh’s flawless insight into the minutiae of Luck’s abilities (what with being his college coach and all), it’s pretty much a lock to pick the home team in this one.
Jaguars at Seahawks – I’m wracking my brain to think of another mismatch of such epic proportions. Maurice Jones-Drew now earns my “Pity Steven Jackson’s Wasted Talent” award.
Bears at Steelers – Pittsburgh at home is always a challenge, I don’t care who you are, but they are trolling the waiver wire and free agent market for offensive options and defensive band-aids. It’s not a good sign of things to come in 2013.
Chicago still has a nagging habit of making bone-headed choices in the heat of battle, but given their offensive firepower and the Steelers’ momentary lack of defensive muscle, this one should go to the boys from Chi-Town and be closer than it really ought to be.
Raiders at Broncos – Denver would win this one with their backup QB, who won’t even get to smell sweaty unless Peyton gets hurt or the home team has a five touchdown lead.