AFCE Week 2
Patriots @ Vikings
The Patriots lost in Miami last week, look to rebound against the Vikings in Minneapolis. During the off-season, I had the Patriots basically destroying the Vikes in this game, today not so much. Vikings looked like an improved team, even if they did play the Messy Rams.
Keys to a Patriots win: First and foremost protect Brady, and give him more time to find his numerous receivers. This group is not what it used to be, and the timing with Brady is not there; evidence is how often he looked for a rusty Gronk. The OL must keep him upright and not pressured. Second, stop the run! As much as the NFL has become a passing league, very few teams can win without an effective run game, or the threat of one. Third, tackle in the open field. Do not give up extra yards after a catch.
My outlook: The week 1 Patriots were not able to actually complete any of the above-mentioned keys. The OL looked slow (I have a theory about this, look for an article on it next Tuesday). Not only was it not able to protect Tom, but also didn’t open many holes for their running backs. The Dolphins basically ran at will all day, and this week they are not facing Moreno. If AP is allowed to run free as Moreno was, this will be a very long day. Open field tackling must have been a forgotten portion of training camp, because there was none.
The Patriots are without question the better team, and the more desperate one, however desperate teams on the road, tend to make mistakes; last season the team was not a good road warrior, and that trend will continue. The OL will not be able to contain the Vikings DL, and AP will have a lot of fun, keeping the score low, but the Patriots go to 0-2. Vikings 20-17
Jets @ Packers
The Jets hit the road after beating the lowly Raiders. The SB Champs in Seattle, where nobody will probably win this year, humiliated the Packers. Reports coming from Green Bay are that Bulaga may play as will Lacy. Dee Milliner may see some action, but I’m guessing on a limited basis.
Keys to a Jets win: First of all, Pressure Rodgers all day long. The Packers OL is decimated and frankly not been that good for a few years. The Seahawks were in Rodgers face all day, if the Jets want to stay in the game, this is a must. Wilks and company will need to step it up, because they are facing the most versatile QB in the NFL, at home. Second, run, run, run it down their gut. Ivory, Powell and Johnson must punish them early and often. If the Jets effectively run it, they can wear down this Defense (see my article Tuesday, same theory as Pats OL). Third, No turnovers; Geno can you hear me? None, no way the Jets win if they lose the gifts battle. Fourth, stop the dumb penalties, that nonsense last week was reminiscent of last year against the Bills. Strangely they won both games, but this is the Packers.
My outlook: The Jets will not be able to get in Rodgers face like the Seahawks did. They will pressure him, but he is so good at avoiding the rush and getting rid of the football, the task may not be possible, not this week, not in Green Bay, not against an 0-1 humiliated Packers team. The green and white will run, and run it well, keeping the Packers from running up the score. I’m guessing 170+ yards is doable by the leading rushing attack in the NFL. I do not see turn overs this week at all; Geno made one real mistake, the fumble, the INT is one of those plays that cannot be fixed. I like his poise and his in control attitude. As for the penalties, nah, they will be penalized 7-9 times, again. It’s the nature of this team.
Only way I see the Jets winning is if Geno has a big day, 2 TDs, 40 yards rushing, 70% completion rate. It will be very hard to imagine the Packers letting the Jets walk in to Lanbeau and take the game from them. Jets will go to 1-1 heading home proud but losers, Packers 23-20
Dolphins @ Bills
As I write this article, floats from Down Under are still arriving at the Ralph. The Dolphins with a big victory in week one at home, travel to Buffalo to face off for the division lead. The Bills return victorious from Chicago and get news that they are sold. This will be a good game indeed.
Keys to a Bills Win: First of all, pressure Tannehill. The Patriots were not able to do so, and although Ryan didn’t really have a stellar day, it kept drives alive and eventually killed them. Second, run effectively. EJ Manuel alone will not win this one; a good running attack will keep the balance necessary the Bills need for a victory. Third, smart defense and continue to be opportunistic. Against the Bears two gifts by Cutler was the reason the Bills got the W, that trend must continue.
Keys to a Dolphins win: First, protect Ryan Tannehill. This new OL did a great job against the Patriots, this week the opponent is tougher, that trend must continue. Second, like the Bills, run effectively just like last week. The running game won against the Patriots, and if the Dolphins are to go to a 2-0 record, they must not abandon the run. Third, Pressure EJ into mistakes. Wake and company confused and frustrated Brady all day, if they are capable of doing that to Manuel, this game is a sure victory.
My outlook: The Bills defensive line is not that of the Patriots, it will be able to put pressure on Tannehill and he will make mistakes. The OL will also take a step back this week, and not open the holes they found so easy last week. The Bills will control the line of scrimmage on this side of the game. The Dolphins will also get to EJ Manuel, and he too will make mistakes. The Bills played a team that didn’t believe in defense last week, not this week. The Fins are a very good defensive unit, and Manuel is not ready to be a mistake free QB, not yet. I think the game will be won by the running backs, and this favors the Bills.
This is a very hard game to pick this week. The stadium will be so loud that the Dolphins will think they are playing at Century Link Park against the SB champs. I expect this to be a good but sloppy game on both sides of the ball. Eventually the Bills prevail by rushing in the 170 range. Bills will own the division after this week, Bills 27-24
Record to date: 1-2*
*Bills and Dolphins didn’t cooperate, I hope the Jets don’t this week
Seattle, Denver, San Francisco
In The Playoffs Picture
Indianapolis, Green Bay, New Orleans, Chicago, New England (-), Miami (+), Philadelphia, Carolina, Cincinnati
Contending for the Playoffs
San Diego, Detroit, New York Jets, Arizona, Pittsburgh, Atlanta, Buffalo (+), Baltimore (-)
In The Hunt
Dallas, Houston, Washington, Kansas City (-), Tennessee (+), Minnesota (+)
Battling For Draft Position
Cleveland, Oakland, St. Louis, Jacksonville, Tampa Bay (-), New York Giants (-)
Each week I will move teams up or down, according to performances.
(-) = Team was moved down
(+) = Team was moved up
Thank you for reading!