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Arizona Cardinals

NFL Week 2 Preview

Week 1 of the 2016 NFL season featured blowouts, close games, breakout performances and injuries making it one of the wildest opening weekends in recent memory.  And with a full slate of games again this weekend there is no reason that Week 2 will be any different.

Week 2 kicks off on Thursday night in Buffalo when the Bills host their AFC East rivals, the New York Jets.  Both teams are looking for their first wins of the season after falling in their opening games, and it could end up being a very important game when the playoff race thickens at the end of the season.  Each squad came in with high hopes for the playoffs and this game is a crucial head to head matchup that could determine position in the AFC East at the end of the season.  Despite Sammy Watkins’ health being in question, I expect Rex Ryan’s defense to swarm his former team in a low scoring affair to open the weekend.

Another big game with division implications is when the Washington Redskins travel to Jerry’s World in Arlington, Texas to face the Dallas Cowboys.  Like the Bills and the Jets, the ‘Skins and Cowboys are coming off of week one losses and are looking to get back on track to compete for an NFC East crown.  The Redskins have a short week after their 38-14 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers on Monday Night Football and will need to do a much better job stopping the run against Ezekiel Elliot and the dominant Cowboys offensive line.  Cowboys rookie quarterback Dak Prescott is still looking for his first career touchdown pass after throwing for 227 yards in their loss to the Giants.  But the matchup that everyone is looking forward to is Dallas wide receiver Dez Bryant and new Redskins cornerback Josh Norman.  Although Norman plays the majority of the game on the left side of the defense, whenever he and Bryant are facing each other one on one it will surely be a sight to see.  I expect the Redskins to throw the book at Dak Prescott and the Dallas offense, and if they can contain the running game they have a very good chance at winning the game.

The Cincinnati Bengals travel to Pittsburgh to face the Steelers in a rematch of the Divisional Round Playoffs from a season ago.  In that game, the Steelers went on the road and advanced to the next round on a game winning 35 yard field goal by Chris Boswell after two consecutive 15 yard penalties by the Bengal defense.  But a lot has changed since that game, most notably at the quarterback position.  Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger had an extremely hurt shoulder and could barely throw the ball down the field and Bengals QB Andy Dalton was in street clothes on the sideline with a right thumb injury.  These are the two favorites to win the AFC North, but watch for the Steelers front seven to cause a lot of problems for Dalton, who was sacked 7 times in the Bengals 23-22 win over the Jets in Week 1.

There are several other games in Week 2 that should come down to the final whistle, but these are the three that will have an immediate impact on how the playoffs will look at the end of the season.  Games within the division are always important and they are especially important when the teams are most healthy early on.  The three divisions I mentioned will be extremely competitive as the season goes on and every win matters.

Pat’s Picks:

NYJ @ BUF:  Buffalo Bills

WSH @ DAL:  Washington Redskins

CIN @ PIT:  Pittsburgh Steelers

TEN @ DET:  Detroit Lions

NO @ NYG:  New Orleans Saints

KC @ HOU:  Houston Texans

MIA @ NE:  New England Patriots

SF @ CAR:  Carolina Panthers

BAL @ CLE:  Baltimore Ravens

SEA @ LAR:  Seattle Seahawks

TB @ ARI:  Arizona Cardinals

IND @ DEN:  Denver Broncos

JAX @ SD:  Jacksonville Jaguars

ATL @ OAK:  Oakland Raiders

GB @ MIN:  Green Bay Packers

PHI @ CHI:  Philadelphia Eagles

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