Week 1 of the NFL season served some incredible action that included some small upsets, some unbelievable comebacks and a brief reminder that preseason games don’t mean a whole lot. As we flip the page to Week 2, here are the most important games to keep an eye on.
New York Jets @ Buffalo Bills
The Jets and Bills both had hopes of making the playoffs this year, but time is quickly ticking. For the Bills, they saw their newly minted “franchise” quarterback Tyrod Taylor pass for just 111 yards last week while the team managed just seven points. Now there’s news that the team’s top receiver, Sammy Watkins, is far less than 100%. As for the Jets, they suffered a tough opening loss at home to the Cincinnati Bengals, and now have four of their next five on the road. That includes back-to-back games at Buffalo and Pittsburgh, and then they get Seattle at home. After that, they get Kansas City and Arizona. They need to win this week as it’s tough to see where the wins will come from after that.
Cincinnati Bengals @ Pittsburgh Steelers
Odds: Steelers -3.5
The Bengals and Steelers renew their physical rivalry in Week 2 as one of these teams will get an early leg up in the AFC North race. The Steelers have had the upper hand in this series in recent years, winning four of the last five meetings as well as 15 of the last 24 matchups they’ve hosted.
Remember that the Steelers are still without suspended running back Le’Veon Bell. He’s one of their best offensive weapons, although his absence didn’t seem to matter in Week 1 when the Steelers scored 38 points on the Washington Redskins.
Kansas City Chiefs @ Houston Texans
Odds: Texans -2
The Chiefs and Texans climbed out of deficits at home last week to earn wins. Now both teams are looking to make a case that they’re at or near the top of the AFC power rankings, which makes this a measuring stick game for both teams.
The Texans offense showed clear signs of improvement last week as Brock Osweiler was competent under center, which is much more than the Texans quarterbacks could say last year. And he has a solid cast around him, including running back Lamar Miller, who was fed a career-high 28 carries, and rookie receiver Will Fuller.
As for the Chiefs, they climbed out of a massive hole last week to stun the San Diego Chargers. They’ll have to play more like the team that came from behind in the second half rather than the one that got worked over in the first half. The good news is they’ve been a solid road team. Their five road wins were the second-most in the AFC last year.
Green Bay Packers @ Minnesota Vikings
Odds: Packers -2.5
The Packers and Vikings sparked a fierce rivalry in the AFC North last year and we’ll see it rekindled in Week 2. There are concerns for both teams in this spot, notably that Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers had just 199 passing yards last week and Vikings running back Adrian Peterson managed just 31 yards on the ground. That despite both teams scoring in the high 20’s.
Keep an eye on the Vikings quarterback situation as it looks like newly-acquired starter Sam Bradford could get the call.
Miami Dolphins @ New England Patriots
Odds: Patriots -6.5
The Dolphins were a play away from stunning the Seahawks in Seattle last week and now they have to make one of the toughest back-to-backs a team can make in the NFL. Such a promising start could still see them land 0-2.
The Patriots were supposed to get flattened by the Arizona Cardinals last week but Jimmy Garoppolo looked competent and the Pats defense passed the test. The Patriots were 7-1 at home last year and they’ll be tough to beat in their home opener.