Its only one week

2 of 2

Can the Pittsburgh Steelers rebound from their disastrous showing in week one? The Steelers got steamrolled by division rival Baltimore last week. They turned the ball over seven times en route to a completely one-sided loss. While there have been some exceptions, recent history shows that teams that lose the Super Bowl typically struggle the following season and often fail to reach the playoffs altogether. I expect the Steelers to rebound this week, playing at home against the mediocre Seattle Seahawks. One key to watch will be the Steelers’ run defense, which will need to play much better than it did in week one. The Steelers led the NFL last year giving up only 63 rushing yards per game. Last week the defense struggled mightily against the Ravens, allowing 179 total rushing yards. Marshawn Lynch and the Tavaris Jackson-led Seahawks are a far cry from the Ravens, so if the Steelers’ run defense is once again exploited, it will show a serious problem instead of a one game anomaly.

Another story line going into week one this year: Is this finally the year the Texans supplant the Colts in the AFC South? Now some people might look at the Texans’ blowout win over the Colts last week as the answer, but I am not that shallow. Here is my in-depth take on whether the Texans finally make the playoffs…. Yes, yes they do.

Do we get a possible AFC championship preview in week two when the New England Patriots face off against the San Diego Chargers? In our preseason predictions column, I had the Chargers winning the Super Bowl this year and several fellow With the First Pick writers had the Patriots as champs. This game will not make or break either team, as I have both winning their divisions handily, but it is easy to see a scenario where this game could play a role in deciding home field advantage in the post season. Both  teams won their openers, the Patriots beat Miami in an impressive aerial display, and the Chargers overcame a slow start to beat the Vikings. The matchup to watch in this game will be the Chargers’ secondary vs. the Patriots’ passing game. The Chargers defense completely bottled up the Vikings’ passing attack, holding Donovan McNabb to an embarrassing 39 passing yards. Those who read my article know I was not expecting much out of Donovan this season, but even accounting for that, the Chargers’ defense was impressive. They will find this week’s challenge to be a touch stiffer. Tom Brady carved the Dolphins defense apart Monday night, seemingly finding open targets at will; his stats are all the more impressive considering he lacks the weapons that Rivers has at his disposal. Vincent Jackson, Malcom Floyd and Antonio Gates are all far superior to Dion Branch, Ochocinco and Aaron Hernandez. The Chargers will try to get pressure on Brady and hope to disrupt the precise timing of the Patriots’ offense.  The Patriots’ offensive line is a question mark; starting center Dan Koppen was lost to a leg injury in week one and will be a spot the Chargers try to attack. The Patriots are well coached and adept at making changes, so it will be a fun matchup to watch. Overshadowed by Tom Brady’s gaudy numbers, Chad Henne threw for 416 yards against the Patriots’ defense. Clearly the Patriots can be thrown on, and Philip Rivers will try to take full advantage of that. I expect a great game, with both offenses having success.  Despite my Super Bowl prediction, I think the Patriots come out on top in front of their home crowd.

The return of Vick: few angles will get as much play as this in the national media. Everyone knows the story of Vick, and I guess it warrants some coverage—this being his first game back in Atlanta. The fact that this is now his third season back in the NFL, the return to Atlanta is not as big as if it had taken place in his first season, though I am sure some in Atlanta probably feel differently. This game is interesting to me strictly for the on-field implications. These two teams were highly touted as the upper echelon of the NFC. The Eagles beat a young Rams team last week but were far from perfect, especially on the offensive line. The Falcons, on the other hand, were beaten convincingly by the Chicago Bears. The Bears were able to get consistent pressure on Matt Ryan and seemed to confuse him throughout the game. One thing to keep an eye on will be the Eagles’ corners’ ability to man up on receivers, which will allow the Eagles to use blitz packages and be aggressive. Will Atlanta be able to shore up their protection and allow Ryan enough time to find a target? Even though they won, the Eagles did not get a great game from Vick; he completed fewer than 50% of his passes and was hit far more than the team would like. With Matty Ice at quarterback, the Falcons have been very hard to beat at home, but the dome’s fast track probably aids the Eagles as well. I think the Eagles are still trying to integrate all of the new personnel they acquired this offseason, and the Falcons are a better team than they showed against the Bears. Falcons rebound and win a close game.

These are just a few of the games that stood out to me as interesting, but in the NFL every game has a story line and on any given Sunday any team can provide us with great theater.