It's only week two right now, and the "experts" are already picking out some do-or-die games. I guess it's the reporter's way of feeling self-important. That said, there are a few important games going on this weekend…
The NFC East has some interesting matchups this weekend with only intra-divisional games taking place (AFC East is the only other division with only intra-divisional games), and at this point all four teams look to be contenders for the division title. However, only Philadelphia comes into this weekend with a W on the season. The Eagles will want to continue to show that they are back after a disappointing and T.O.-riddled 2005 season, and I expect them to win a close game at home against the Giants.
Washington looks to break their funk (5 straight losses since the beginning of the preseason) in Dallas. I've heard some analysts say that they played a good game at home against Minnesota, but neither team really looked good. In the end, the Redskins lost a close game to a team that could barely run the ball and had no legitimate receiving threats. The Cowboys can do both better than the Vikings, but watch out for the interceptions from Bledsoe. I still expect Dallas to prevail in a close game.
If both games pan out as I expect, that would put the two teams from the division to make the playoffs last year in early 0-2 holes. Nothing they can't recover from, but it'll just make things that much harder.
This Weekend's 5 Guarantees
- Atlanta over Tampa Bay – Atlanta, still having one of the strongest rushing attacks in the NFL, has strengthened their defense, and are letting Vick be Vick. This is one step towards running away with what many though would be a tough division.
- 2 weeks + 0 points = Oakland – After opening the season by being shutout against an average-but-not-dominant defense at home, don't expect much improvement as the team travels to Baltimore. Oh yea, they just lost their LT and only decent lineman in Gallery for the next few weeks with a calf tear. Maybe Brooks will lead the new "Chuck 'n' Duck" offense?
- Reggie Bush Over 150yds From LOS – Not necessarily because he's that good, but because Green Bay is that bad. His speed and change of direction will destroy the undisciplined defense of the cheeseheads.
- Arizona Over Seattle – The passing game of Arizona will be too much for the Seahawks. They'll be rushing Deion Branch into the lineup for week 3 if at all possible.
- Lions Mauled In Chicago – This week's games will show that Detroit's strong showing at home against Seattle in Week 1 really was as impressive as their fans (and Matt Millen) had hoped.
This weeks matchup between Pittsburgh and Jacksonville on Monday is one of those games you want to save for later in the season. Expect another extremely physical game between the two contenders, where both teams pray that no key players end up with lasting injuries. Especially Jacksonville, who's already lost a starting defensive lineman for the season.