Cincinnati @ Buffalo
After opening their season with consecutive MetLife Stadium wins over the Jets and Giants would it be hyperbolic to say that the Bills are the lords of New York? Maybe. Would it be hyperbolic to say that they’re the best team in all 50 states? Yes. Would it be hyperbolic to eat an entire can of kidney beans? No, that would be hyper-folic. But if you’re pregnant it may not be a bad idea. Are you pregnant? If not, then why’d you eat all those beans? Look, either you’re prego or some sort of bean freak, and I deserve to know which it is! Anyway, I think the Bills will devour the Bengals on Sunday ... just like you devoured an entire can of kidney beans, you sick twist.
Miami @ Dallas
In my season preview I predicted that the Dolphins would go 1-15. I may have over estimated them. After their performance in the first two weeks of the season, and with the front office’s eagerness to trade any and all quality players on their roster, Miami looks destined for 0-16. We’ve seen two winless teams since 2008, so that’s not the most ignominious feat imaginable, but the way that Miami is losing is what’s truly astounding. After two games they’ve already been outscored by 92 points. The record for an entire season is -287 by the 1976 Bucs, who managed that in only 14 games. At this pace though, the Dolphins will get to that mark by Week 7. Do I really think they’ll keep losing games by 40 every week? Probably not. But if you’re in an eliminator pool I would recommend riding with whoever is playing Miami. They don’t have a repeat opponent until the Bills in Week 11, and by that point you may have won your group already. That is, unless everybody in the group employs the same strategy. So I guess what I’m saying is all eliminator pools should just fast-forward to Week 11, when the real decisions need to be made.
Denver @ Green Bay
The Packers are 2-0 with two divisional wins, which on its surface is a great start to the season. But outside of the 1st quarter against Minnesota the offense hasn’t been super impressive. We were told that the offense had grown stagnant under former coach Mike McCarthy, and that the arrival of Matt LaFleur would unshackle Aaron Rodgers to fly free into a stratosphere of record production and mind-boggling statistics. Wait, a STATosphere! Damn it, that’s what I should have said. Ok, forget what you just read ... Rodgers would be free to fly into the statosphere. No that’s not a typo, it’s a fabulous new portmanteau that I created. Shakespeare did it all the time, so why can’t I? Obviously I’m not trying to compare the two of us, that would be silly; he never wrote about football (to my knowledge at least). If Shakespeare did write about the NFL he’d be hard-pressed to pen flattering prose about the Packers' pedestrian offense. That’s not to say things can’t get better for Green Bay though, and they probably won’t need an amazing effort to outscore the Broncos.
Atlanta @ Indianapolis
After a second straight putrid performance in Week 2, Adam Vinatieri made some cryptic postgame statements that led many to believe he’d be retiring on Monday. Instead, he said he’ll be sticking around, but that he just needs “clear the demons” from his head. “Greeeeeat,” replied the entire Colts organization. Indy would have likely appreciated it if he had just bowed out gracefully, but now they have to figure out how to tell probably the greatest kicker of all-time to hit the bricks. I’m not saying you have to retire because you’re 1-3 on FGs and 2-5 on PATs, but if you’re 46 you should probably think about it. If he were a rookie, or just a no-name kicker he’d have been cut by now. It’s a touchy situation. This is what it must feel like when a Midsommar elder refuses to jump off the cliff. C’mon Adam, everyone has done it before you. Your death is an offering to the football gods that will bring about a more fruitful Autumn for your brethren.
Baltimore @ Kansas City
Whoa, this Ravens team is on a roll! They’re 2-0 and look unstoppable. Or maybe they do, I don’t know, it’s kind of hard to tell. They beat the Dolphins by 49 and the Cardinals by 6. At this point we really can’t be sure if either of those wins are impressive. For all we know Miami could lose a game by triple digits by the end of the season once they’ve traded away most of their players and have resorted to filling out the roster with classic football movie/commercial extras. You know those guys where it’s like, sure they’re big, but something's just not right, and their jerseys always fit weird? Anyway, it’s safe to say that the task at hand for Baltimore this week is much more difficult. That being said, the Ravens went into Kansas City last year and probably would have beaten the Chiefs, if not for Mahomes pulling out a miraculous 4th down conversion, a no-look pass, and an overtime win. Will we have another thriller on our hands this Sunday? Your guess is as good as mine. No seriously, I’m not very good at this.
Oakland @ Minnesota
Both teams come into this game at 1-1. Not super interesting on its own, but consider this: these teams played each other in Super Bowl 11. Now it starts to seem that something larger is at play. 11, 11, 11:11 ....You thinking what I’m thinking? Say it together ... this game will be played by Us-style netherworld beings that are much stronger and more violent. Of course the offensive schemes will have to be a little more rudimentary, and the unintelligible audibles will make adjustments at the line extremely difficult. But if you’re a fan of literal knockdown, drag-out fights this will be the game for you. Or I suppose it could just be a mediocre game in Minnesota played by normal humans; but the helmets will make it easy to pretend otherwise.
New York Jets @ New England
The Patriots have started the season 2-0 by outscoring their opponents 76-3. They’ve given up a total of 6 points over their last three games if you include the Super Bowl. At this point it’s fair to wonder if New England can go undefeated. And wonder I did! So I looked ahead at the remaining 14 games on their schedule, and well, there are some definite roadblocks. Especially treacherous is a five game stretch starting in November: @ Baltimore, @ Philadelphia, vs. Dallas, @ Houston, vs. Kansas City. Looking at that, I’m not so sure the Pats will make it out unscathed. I’m certain that they will get to 3-0 though, because, well, Jets.
Detroit @ Philadelphia
The Lions’ record is beautiful in its symmetry: 1-0-1. I happen to know that Matt Patricia is a student of Taoism and believes in spiritual balance; the yin and yang. As such he’ll try his damndest to maintain this record equality. Obviously the goal now is 8-0-8. He would maybe settle for 7-2-7, but that just doesn’t look as good if you try to fold it onto itself, ya know? What do you mean no? I’m saying, sure it’s a numerical palindrome, but that doesn’t mean it’s actually physically symmetrical. I don’t know how I can make it any clearer than that. Of course, a loss here would maintain perfect symmetry for at least one more week. Unfortunately for the Lions (but perhaps fortunately for the enlightened Matt Patricia) that’s probably The Way this one goes.
Carolina @ Arizona
Is Cam Newton really hurt, or did he drop a weight on his foot after last Thursday’s game to explain his terrible play? I wouldn’t blame him if so, I mean, ya gotta come up with some sort of excuse. The Panthers’ motto is “Keep Pounding”, and Cam gave it new meaning by repeatedly pounding errant passes into the turf, well short of their intended target. He’s likely to miss this game as a result of that injured foot, which one would assume means that the Cardinals will get their first win of the season. They may have to do it with strictly field goals however, as koach Kliff Kingsbury made it clear last week that he’s risk averse in the red zone. Arizona made history by becoming the first team to ever attempt 3 FGs from inside the 5 yard line while trailing in a game. The good news is: 6-pointers may not be necessary against Kyle Allen and the Carolina offense.
New York Giants @ Tampa Bay
Eli Manning has officially been benched and he’s never looked sadder. He’s never looked happier either. The guy is completely neutral. So much so that his career record as a starter is 116-116. Perhaps his legacy will be that he was perfectly average, except if you ever watched him play you know that’s not true. He went through wild swings of maddeningly inconsistent play that peaked with him winning Super Bowls but also included countless ill-advised throws, exasperated shoulder shrugs, and an exploded face in a preseason game against the Jets. But for every down, there was an up, and so now here he sits, a perfect 116-116. It’s satisfying, yet totally confusing. He’s a two-time Super Bowl winning quarterback and we’re still not sure if he was very good. It’s an eerily similar narrative to that of Jim Plunkett, who led the Raiders to wins in Super Bowls XV and XVIII, and who’s career record as a starter ended at ... 72-72. Whoa! My head just exploded. Sorry Eli, I didn’t mean that literally.
Houston @ Los Angeles Chargers
After Eli’s benching and Ben’s trip to the IR, Philip Rivers is the only quarterback from the ‘04 draft left standing. He’s the ol’ gunman still strapping on his holster and he’s got the bolo tie to match. Sure he threw a back-breaking interception last week that basically sealed his team’s loss, but hey, sometimes that’s how it goes for an old desperado. Ya know, you’re in a duel and you misfire and hit lil’ Jack the precocious rickets-stricken youngster whom you swore you wouldn’t let down, and you’re run out of town on a rail. It happens! The great news is that Phil hasn’t been run out of town, he’ll be back out there slinging on Sunday. Now, if he throws another game-ending pick against the Texans, well maybe the fan base will start calling for his gun and his bolo.
Pittsburgh @ San Francisco
With their record already at 0-2, and Ben Roethlisberger out for the season, the 2019 Steelers seem to be in trouble. The good news is that even if they do plummet in the standings, they’ll at least have a good draft pick to help them reload for 2020. Oops, no they won’t, they just traded their 1st rounder to the Dolphins for Minkah Fitzpatrick. So maybe the future is now for Mason Rudolph and Pittsburgh. Rudolph looked inconsistent, but occasionally competent in the second half against Seattle last week. And he did lead his team on a late 3 yard touchdown drive to pull within two points. So perhaps we should buy in to the 2019 Steelers as much as their front office has. Or we could just wait for them to lose this game, assume they’ll be irrelevant, and move on with our lives. Yeah, that sounds better to me.
New Orleans @ Seattle
In case you haven’t heard, the Saints will be without Drew Brees for an estimated six weeks. As a result the New Orleans quarterbacking duties will be handled be some combination of Teddy Bridgewater and Taysom Hill, and I for one am very excited. Not necessarily because I’m a big fan of either player, but because they could set the record for QB gloves! 3! Two for Teddy, one for Taysom. I’ve heard of a three-headed running back monster, but a three-gloved quarterback monster? I haven’t heard of that! And I’m not sure anyone’s ever fathomed it. But as Walt Disney said, “If you can dream it, you can do it.” And even he only gave Mickey two gloves. This could be a really magical situation. That being said, I’m picking Seattle.
Los Angeles Rams @ Cleveland
The Browns got their first win of the season last week against a depleted Jets group. As a result we're not really sure what to expect from them next. And whenever I'm unsure of anything, in football or in life, I turn to Cris Collinsworth:
Chicago @ Washington
Washington has scored 48 points on the season while running for 75 yards. That ratio doesn’t seem sustainable to me. Meaning that either their points per game will go down or their rushing yards per game will go up. I’m tempted to go with the former. Washington is playing the Bears this week who have given up 70 yards on the ground per game, which would seem stingy, but would actually be a monumental total for this Washington squadron. So perhaps an improved Washington ground attack is in the cards. Then again, maybe the Bears will completely snuff them out. And Chicago may need to do just that based on how Mitchell Trubisky has played this season. I’m not saying Trubisky has been bad this season, his stats say that for me. Expect the Bears to slip by in spite of their quarterback again.