nfl week 2: four things to keep an eye on

By Tayyib Abu

Week 2 of the NFL season started with a bang as the Kansas City Chiefs and Los Angeles Chargers delivered a dramatic game on Thursday Night Football. Kansas City outlasted the Chargers to move to 2-0, and others will want to follow as all 30 teams play their fixtures this weekend. Here are four things to look out for in Week 2.

Can The New Orleans Saints Do It Again?


The New Orleans Saints open their home campaign by welcoming the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Saints have swept the Bucs home and away in the last two years and will be eager to do it again. In Week 1, the Saints labored to a win over a brave Atlanta Falcons side, while the Bucs sauntered to victory over the hapless Dallas Cowboys. But none of that matters. Why? Well, if you allow me to borrow a phrase from English football, form really does go out of the window when these two meet. 

And there are several key matchups to watch in this one. 

Firstly, the battle between Saints cornerback Marshon Lattimore and Bucs wideout Mike Evans is arguably the most important. Evans is Tom Brady’s go-to guy, but the Saints have a habit of neutering Evans. Across last season’s two games, the Saints let Evans amass three receptions for 62 yards. That is astonishingly good defense from New Orleans. And a defensive backfield with Lattimore, Bradley Roby, Marcus Maye, and hometown hero Tyrann Mathieu will make life difficult for the Bucs’ passing attack. Do not forget that Chris Godwin is already ruled out of this game. 

And there is more concerning news for the Bucs. Left tackle Donovan Smith is doubtful, while right tackle Tristan Wirfs is nursing an abdomen injury. If the Bucs can’t find fluency in the passing game, running the ball will become more critical. Tampa dominated the Cowboys in Week 1 as their overload and heavy formations pulverized Dallas’ run defense. New Orleans toiled for three quarters in run defense last Sunday. Cordarelle Patterson rushed for 120 yards, and Football Outsiders ranked the Saints’ run defense 27th in Week 1. Conversely, Tampa ranked 10th in run-offense last week. New Orleans must correct that this Sunday. 

On the offensive side for New Orleans, they’ll hope that enigmatic quarterback Jameis Winston stays hot. Last Sunday, Winston started slowly before hitting overdrive in the 4th quarter. Winston threw for 213 yards and two touchdowns as the Saints offense finally figured out the Falcons’ defensive pressure packages. However, the Bucs can create interior pressure with Vita Vea. Additionally, thunderous linebacker Devin White is capable of blowing past offensive linemen and getting into the backfield. 

Overall, this matchup should be extremely close. Both teams possess superstars, and both sides won’t shy away from the big moments. The Superdome will be a cauldron of noise and hostility, and it promises to be a thriller.

How Low Can Offenses Go?

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For anyone that longs for the 1960s, the New England Patriots game at the Pittsburgh Steelers is for you. Mitchell Trubisky was mediocre as the Steelers’ defense wreaked havoc in Cincinnati. While all hell broke loose in the Queen’s City, Mac Jones and the Patriots looked outmatched as they lost to the Dolphins.

Once defined by Tom Brady and Ben Roethlisberger, this game will look very different this Sunday. Both offenses looked turgid. Jones’ EPA per play was -0.1, and his QBR was 13.2, the worst among starting quarterbacks. Trubisky was 18th overall in QBR as he used short-fields and quick passes to keep the Steelers moving. However, he was average or below average when throwing outside the numbers. Trubisky was 12-22 when throwing to his wide receivers. Jones’ struggles were more problematic. 

The concerns from training camp hit the Patriots as their new look offense looked abject in every department. New England couldn’t diagnose and pre-empt the Dolphins’ pressures and disguised fronts. For anyone that followed the Patriots in August, it wasn’t a surprise. The Steelers can be notorious for blitzing and sending pressure. While they only blitzed Joe Burrow 12.3% of the time, that may change with TJ Watt out with an injury. His injury is a significant loss. 

Nevertheless, the Steelers still boast devastating weapons on defense. With Mike Tomlin, Brian Flores, and Teryl Austin coaching the defense, the Steelers will have a comprehensive plan. The same goes for New England. New England’s defense was still solid against Miami, and the Steelers offense still has issues. Per offensive DVOA, the Steelers are 26th, and the Patriots are 23rd. Two ugly offenses taking on two well-coached defenses could get ugly in a hurry.

Can The Colts End The Hoodoo?

The Indianapolis Colts have not won in Jacksonville since 2014. Traveling to Duval County seems to be a hex-filled trip filled with nightmares for Indianapolis. And after last week’s bizarre draw with the Houston Texans, Indy needs a win. 

And there is already bad news afoot. All-Pro linebacker Shaquille Leonard is out, as is rookie wideout, Michael Pierce. The Colts also have a new kicker as they cut Rodrigo Blankenship. Colts fans may be thinking, ‘here we go again.’ Do not despair, Colts fans; there is a sliver of hope coming from the Jacksonville Jaguars offensive line.

Quarterback Trevor Lawrence felt pressure on 22 dropbacks in Week 1. The Colts’ defensive front is formidable, with a collection of talent headlined by DeForest Buckner, Kwity Paye, Grover Stewart, and Yannick Ngakoue. Indianapolis has the players to get to Lawrence and disrupt the young quarterback. Offensively, the injury situation is not great. 

However, this is the reason why they acquired Matt Ryan. Ryan’s veteran leadership, experience, and calming presence will be much-needed if the Colts are to snap the losing streak in Jacksonville.

How Hot Is Kliff Kingsbury's Seat?

AP Photo/Jae C. Hong

The Arizona Cardinals got routed by the Chiefs last Sunday. It was the worst possible start after a chaotic offseason. Kingsbury is already under enormous pressure, and this game against the Las Vegas Raiders is a must-win. So, can the Cardinals win? On the evidence of last week, probably not. Arizona’s defense looked overrated, and the Raiders arguably boast more weapons than the Chiefs. 

Tight end Travis Kelce racked up 121 yards in last week’s game, and Raiders tight end Darren Waller will be licking his chops after seeing the game film. Arizona couldn’t match Kelce’s size with any of their defensive backs, while their linebackers failed to match Kelce’s dynamic athleticism. Sticking with the defensive difficulty, Davante Adams could feast on a defensive secondary ranked 32nd by Football Outsiders.

It is impossible to see how the Arizona defense can stop the Raiders.

Consequently, the onus will fall on Kingsbury and Kyler Murray to win a shootout. That is difficult to do when DeAndre Hopkins sits at home, and your best receiving threat is Greg Dortch. Dortch was the only Arizona pass-catcher to create any separation against the Chiefs. Finally, the Cardinals were poor on 3rd down. Their EPA on 3rd & 4th downs was -0.30. Kingsbury needs to get this offense clicking quickly. The defense is what it is; offensively, Kingsbury must get the best out of his available players. If not, his job is on the line.

The ingredients are there for the mood to turn against Kingsbury. He needs something, fast.



Tayyib is an avid NFL fan and, as a follower of the detroit lions, is a permanent resident in the honolulu blue heartbreak hotel. writing football articles since 2019, tayyib loves everything about the sport except that wins are not a qb stat. follow him on twitter @TayyibABU1