The 3 Most Intriguing NFL Week 2 Matchups

An NFC rematch w/ bad blood

Will Darkins
September 11, 2019 - 1:07 pm
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Week 1 of the 2019 NFL season was electric, with the Baltimore Ravens, Dallas Cowboys, New England Patriots and Tennessee Titans making statements in blowout victories, while the Cleveland Browns and Pittsburgh Steelers were blown out to open seasons that they entered with high expectations. The best part about it all is that there are 16 more weeks of this.

Here's The FAN's look at the best matchups of Week 2 of the NFL season.

1. Vikings at Packers

In this week's RADIO.COM NFL Power Rankings, the Minnesota Vikings came in at No. 10, one spot ahead of the Green Bay Packers and two ahead of the Chicago Bears. It's early, but it looks like there could be a three-way fight atop the NFC North. Sunday's Packers-Vikings tilt will give us a good look at the power structure in the division.

The Packers defeated the Bears in Week 1, but it wasn't because Aaron Rodgers willed the Packers to a victory. Perhaps that's a good sign, though - Mike Pettine's defense limited the Bears to just three points in a 10-3 victory. Matt LaFleur's offense was underwhelming in his debut, though that came against arguably the best defense in the NFL, and it's hard to imagine an offense that includes Rodgers, Davante Adams and Aaron Jones not gaining traction as the season goes along.

With that said, things won't get much easier for Rodgers and company this week, as they head to Minnesota. Mike Zimmer's defense limited an Atlanta Falcons offense that's littered with skill position talent to just 12 points in an impressive Week 1 victory.

Even though they missed the postseason a year ago, the Vikings have arguably one of the five most complete rosters in the NFL. On top of a defensive unit that was the best in the sport two seasons ago, they have two No. 1 receivers in Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs, while running back Dalvin Cook ran for 111 yards and two touchdowns in Week 1.

Here's the amazing (and unsustainable) thing about the Vikings 28-12 victory over the Falcons - Kirk Cousins threw the ball just 10 times. Sure, he completed eight passes, but for the Vikings to reach the postseason and potentially make a run, they're going to need Cousins to lead them on a few career-defining late game drives. One of those drives may need to come this Sunday.

2. Saints at Rams

Though the Saints have a tremendous home field advantage at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, it's probably best for all parties involved that this week's NFC Championship Game rematch isn't being played in New Orleans.

After perhaps the worst missed call in NFL history ended the Saints 2018 season in January, it took them a little time to heat up in their Week 1 matchup with the Houston Texans. Ultimately, though, Drew Brees finished with 370 yards and two touchdown passes on Monday Night Football. Most notably, the 40-year-old got the ball back down one with just 37 seconds remaining, and led a drive that allowed Will Lutz to kick a game-winning field goal as time expired.

The Rams, meanwhile, held off the Carolina Panthers for a solid, if unspectacular, Week 1 victory on the road. The workload of Todd Gurley will be interesting to monitor in Week 2 - he ran for 97 yards in Week 1, but had just 33 of those yards in the first three quarters. It's unclear how willing Sean McVay will be to push Gurley early in the season after last year's run to the Super Bowl led to short and long-term concerns about his left knee.

Theoretically, the Rams should have an advantage in this game. The Saints are traveling across the country on a short week after pulling out a last-second victory on Monday Night Football. But given the history between these two teams, this may be the most difficult game to predict this week.

3. Browns at Jets

It will be difficult for Monday Night Football to top the tremendous game between the New Orleans Saints and Houston Texans that they had in Week 1, but their Week 2 matchup isn't too shabby.

There's a bunch of interesting angles to this game, the first of which is that it will be the first time that Baker Mayfield, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, squares off with Sam Darnold, who the Jets selected two picks after Mayfield in 2018.

Beyond that, both the Browns and Jets had productive offseasons that made them trendy picks to reach the postseason in 2019. Both teams - the Browns specifically - ultimately suffered bad losses at home in Week 1. The Jets were defeated 17-16 by a Bills team that won just six games a season ago. In head coach Freddie Kitchens' head coaching debut, the Browns were throttled 43-13 by the Tennessee Titans. Falling to 0-2 - and doing it on a national stage - would be a disaster for either team.

There's also the Odell Beckham Jr. angle to this game. Though it won't come against the Giants, Sunday will be OBJ's return to New York, and he apparently plans to do so with his $190,000 watch on his wrist again. In his first game as a Brown, Beckham Jr. had seven catches for 71 yards.

It's unclear how good of a game this will ultimately be, but there's a real chance it will be one of the most-discussed games one way or another when Week 2 concludes.

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