Week 2 NFL Preview: The Steelers & Bengals Still Really Hate Each Other
Several key early-season divisional games highlight the Week 2 NFL schedule. Here’s what to expect:
Sunday, September 18
The Steelers & Bengals Resume Their Love Fest
Cincinnati at Pittsburgh | Heinz Field, Pittsburgh; 1 p.m. (ET) on CBS
Remember how the Steelers and Bengals congratulated each other in an exemplary show of sportsmanship after such a well-contested wild-card playoff game last season? J/K… these teams HATE each other. Both Pittsburgh (1–0) and Cincinnati (1–0) are contenders for the division and conference titles, and each team is dealing with suspensions to key players to start the 2016 season.
The Bengals are without linebacker Vontaze Burfict, who is serving a three-game suspension for repeated violations of safety-related playing rules during his team’s catastrophic playoff loss to the Steelers in January. Pittsburgh will be without Le’Veon Bell and Martavis Bryant, both of whom are serving suspensions for violations of the league’s substance-abuse policy.
Still, every player who will play this Sunday wants to see their opponent lose, grovel, suffer and ultimately perish in a pit of fire… If George R. R. Martin was the commissioner instead of Roger Goodell, this game might be flexed to Sunday night on HBO. The key question: can the Steelers protect Ben Roethlisberger from the Cincy pass rush long enough for him to get the ball to the un-coverable Antonio Brown? If so, expect lots of Terrible Towels to wave their team to victory.
Jimmy Garoppolo Is the New Tom Brady for Dolphins Fans
Miami at New England | Gillette Stadium, Foxboro, Mass.; 1 p.m. (ET) on CBS
Like many fans around the NFL, Dolphins boosters have spent the last 15 years hating Tom Brady’s quick-release, pinpoint passes and dimpled chin. Over his career Brady has led New England (1–0) to a 19–9 record against Miami (0–1), including a loss in last year’s regular-season finale that kept the Pats from clinching home-field advantage in the AFC. (Remember that AFC title game in Denver?)
Of course, Brady won’t be under center this week thanks to his four-game Deflategate suspension, so Dolphins fans will have to learn how to hate the quick release, pinpoint passing and dimpled chin of Jimmy Garoppolo, who was more than capable in his team’s season-opening win over the Cardinals last week. Just as he did against Arizona, Garoppolo will face a fearsome pass rush that will try to take him and the Pats out of their systemic offense.
Miami quarterback Ryan Tannehill will simply try to lead his team to more than one touchdown, something he couldn’t do in Seattle on Sunday.
The NFL Returns to L.A. (It’s Just the Rams, Though)
Seattle at Los Angeles | Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, Los Angeles; 4:05 p.m. (ET) on FOX
Glitz! Glamour! Excitement! That’s what fans expect when the NFL makes its regular-season return to Los Angeles after a more than two-decade absence. What they’ll get: semi-pro-level football with an offense that’s really good at getting the punter on the field after three plays. “Led” by quarterback Case Keenum, the Rams offense managed just 10 first downs in the season-opening 28-0 loss to the Niners on Monday. Yet, Los Angeles (0–1) doesn’t think No. 1-overall draft pick Jared Goff is ready to quarterback this team?Perhaps they are concerned for his physical safety.
Seattle (1–0) isn’t going to care. The Seahawks will likely win with their standard mixture of Pete Carroll’s defense, Russell Wilson’s wizardry and some act of God.
Can There Be a Colts-Broncos Game Without Peyton Manning?
Indianapolis at Denver | Sports Authority Field, Denver; 4:25 p.m. (ET) on CBS
Other than being the only two NFL teams with horses for mascots, the Broncos and Colts were never a natural rivalry (because horses don’t fight, duh) until Peyton Manning took his future Hall of Fame resume from the Midwest to the Rockies. Even though Manning has been put out to pasture, both Denver (1–0) and Indianapolis (0–1) remain AFC powers, though Andrew Luck is now the only quarterback with any star power. Luck had a great first week, but he couldn’t stop Matthew Stafford from slicing up the Colts defense in the waning seconds of Indy’s opening-week loss.
Broncos quarterback Trevor Siemian doesn’t have the same skills as Stafford, but his defense should be much better at keeping Luck from running up the points. The best thing about the game: the only time you’ll see Peyton Manning is during the commercials.
The Vikings Show Off Their New Stadium … and Quarterback?
Green Bay at Minnesota | U.S. Bank Stadium, Minneapolis; 8:30 p.m. (ET) on NBC
The Vikings are all-in for 2016: a killer first-round draft pick; a late-training-camp trade to replace their injured franchise quarterback AND the debut of their giant, modern stadium that looks sort of like a Viking ship.
Minnesota (1–0) will need their new house to be very loud so that Aaron Rodgers and Green Bay (1–0) don’t get into the sort of comfort zone that gives defensive coordinators nightmares. In addition to debuting their fancy new stadium, the Vikings should also give Sam Bradford his first start in purple. Unless, of course, they traded two high draft picks so that he could serve as understudy for Shaun Hill. Bradford has never lived up to his No. 1-overall pick status. This is his chance to prove himself — one way or the other.
Thursday, September 15
N.Y. Jets at Buffalo | New Era Field, Buffalo, N.Y.; 8:25 p.m. (ET) on CBS
Sunday, September 18
Tennessee at Detroit | Ford Field, Detroit; 1 p.m. (ET) on CBS
Baltimore at Cleveland | FirstEnergy Stadium, Cleveland; 1 p.m. (ET) on CBS
Dallas at Washington | FedEx Field, Landover, Md. ; 1 p.m. (ET) on FOX
Kansas City at Houston | NRG Stadium, Houston; 1 p.m. (ET) on CBS
New Orleans at N.Y. Giants | MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, N.J.; 1 p.m. (ET) on FOX
San Francisco at Carolina | Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, N.C.; 1 p.m. (ET) on FOX
Tampa Bay at Arizona | U of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, Ariz.; 4:05 p.m. (ET) on FOX
Jacksonville at San Diego | Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego; 4:25 p.m. (ET) on CBS
Atlanta at Oakland | Oakland Coliseum, Oakland, Calif.; 4:25 p.m. (ET) on CBS
Monday, September 19
Philadelphia at Chicago | Soldier Field, Chicago; 8:25 p.m. (ET) on ESPN