NFL 2018: Top 3 NFL Matchups for Week 2
- Top 3 matchups for Week 2 of the NFL 2018 season.
Teams, that were expected to win, lost. Teams, that had no business winning, won. Browns tied with Steelers and to top it all off, Aaron Rodgers made one of the most improbable comebacks on just one leg, thus making his case stronger in the 'Best Quarterback Ever' debate.
Week 2 of the NFL starts on Thursday with Bengals hosting the Ravens in a AFC North divisional matchup. The winner will be taking a good significant lead over the Steelers in the divisional race. This is one of the eight divisional matches to take place in Week 2.
Week 2 is highlighted by many marquee matchups, including the rematch of the AFC championship game between the Patriots and the Jaguars. Also, Vikings return to Lambeau Field for the first time since Rodgers was injured last year on a tackle by Vikings' Anthony Barr, which led the former to miss the rest of the season.
With these three marquee matchups on the card, the NFL schedule makers have missed the mark in the prime-time games this week. The two prime-time games on Sunday and Monday are between the teams that combined 0-4 record. I understand the long standing tradition of Giants-Cowboys prime-time match, but they should have done that another week and have two of these three games on SNF and MNF.
Now let's take a look at the Top 3 Week 2 matchups in the NFL 2018:
#3 Kansas City Chiefs (1-0) at Pittsburgh Steelers (0-0-1)
The Chiefs and the Steelers had some of the best matchups in the NFL in recent times, especially in the post season. As a matter of fact, their last play-off match against each other was in 2016 AFC divisional round, where Steelers beat the Chiefs 18-16 without scoring a single touchdown. That game prompted the Chiefs to trade up and grab Patrick Mahomes in the 2017 NFL draft.
Chiefs Flying Start
The Kansas City Chiefs were off to a flying start in Week 1 against the presumed favorites of winnings AFC West and the rivals the Los Angeles Chargers. Patrick Mahomes took the league by storm and made plays that he is used to doing in his College career. He stepped up and threw for 4 touchdown passes.
Mahomes got much needed help from the speedy receiver Tyreek Hill, who not only caught a TD pass from Mahomes, but also had a 91-yard punt returned for the touchdown. The explosiveness of Hill and the arm strength and gunslinger mentality of Mahomes opened up a new dynamic in the Chiefs offense that was lacking in the past few seasons with Alex Smith.
As good as Mahomes and Hill were in Week 1, there are a few concerns in the Chiefs offense, especially in the running game. Kareem Hunt had only 49 rushing yards in 16 carries which accounts for a measly 3.1 yards per carry. Hunt needs to step up and help out Mahomes and his receivers to open up. Travis Kelce, the second best Tight End in NFL behind Rob Gronkowski, also had a quiet night, reeling in just one catch off 6 targets for 6 yards.
Hunt and Kelce should find their groove back before the opposing defenses start catching up with Mahomes and Hill, which could very well happen in Week 2 against a stout Pittsburgh Defense.
The defense for the Chiefs is a concern. They let go a lot of play makers in the defense this off-season and also missed Eric Berry very much in Week 1. The Chiefs defense will need to step up and restrict the opposing offenses in order to keep winning in 2018.
Eric Berry, who missed another practice on Wednesday, looks like he will not be suiting up this Sunday against the Steelers. It's up to the other long-time Chief in Justin Houston and the newly acquired CB Kyle Fuller to step up and help the team create turnovers.
As bad as Roethlisberger was in Week 1 against the Browns, it was the road game for him and he always relishes against bad defenses, especially at home. So, if the Chiefs want to win the game, it is going to be by an all-round performance by both the offense and the defense and not just the offense like in Week 1.
Rough Steelers start
Speaking of the Pittsburgh Steelers, who started their 2018 campaign as one of the title favorites, tied their Week 1 match against the Cleveland Browns, who won only one game in last two seasons. There are a lot of things need to be cleaned up by the Steelers, if they want to stop a surging Chiefs attack.
Ben Roethlisberger had one of the worst weeks in his NFL career last week against a revamped and young Browns defense. He threw 3 Interceptions, 2 of them were picked off by the rookie Denzel Ward, and just a one TD. Big Ben needs to get back his moxie and has a very good chance of doing so against the soft Chiefs Defense.
With Leveon Bell still not reporting to the Steelers camp, it's going to be James Connor again who had an eye-opening start to his 2018 campaign as a starter and gets his audition to become the full-time starter extended against a pretty bad Chiefs defense.
The receiving core of the Steelers is the best of all the NFL. Led by Antonio Brown and Juju Smith-Schuster, The Steelers receivers had a great Week 1, along with the Tight End, Jesse James. Those three together had average of 16 yards per reception. That dominance should continue into Week 2 against a vanilla Chiefs attack.
Connor, along with Roethlisberger, needs to protect the ball. The fumbles lost by both has cost the Steelers a Wwn against the Browns in Week 1.
The defense of Pittsburgh Steelers had a great start to the season in Week 1. If not for the defense, Week 1 could have been a disaster for the Steelers against the Browns of all teams. The defense kept the Steelers in the game despite the 3 INTs and 3 Fumbles lost by the offense. That speaks volumes about how good this defense is.
But, the Steelers will be facing a different monster this week against a very, very good Chiefs offense run by a dynamic quarterback in Mahomes. The Steelers need to be wary and contain Mahomes and make him throw some off-scheduled targets. The way the Steelers D handles the Mahomes-Hill combination will set the result of the game. If those two connect one or two deep throws, it's all done for the Steelers.
Tyreek Hill and Mahomes, after that Week 1 romp-off by these two, this a no brainer.
Big Ben: Roethlisberger, granted was awful in Week 1. But, that was expected because it was on the road, in bad weather and against a sneaky good Browns Defense. But, Big Ben has a very good matchup and he is also playing at Home, where he is a different animal.
James Connor: He ran past Myles Garret in Week 1 like nobody. Chiefs do not have anyone young like that in the defensive line. Connor will go off again.
Under the Radar:
Travis Kelce: Kelce had a quiet Week 1. He only had one catch for 6 yards. But he still had 6 targets. Look for Mahomes targeting more towards Kelce, with Hill being tied by the Steelers cornerbacks.
Jesse James. James quietly caught 3 catches for 60 Yards. He could see his targets increased against this weak Chiefs Defense.
Chiefs Defense: As bad as the Chiefs Defense is, it is hard to ignore the fact that the Steelers had 6 turnovers in Week 1 against the Browns. There is a very good chance where Chiefs could come up with at least half of that many turnovers.
Chiefs and Steelers Defenses: Both these teams face monster offenses this week. I had Chiefs as Under the Radar pick as well partly because of the way the Steelers played in Week 1. But this is a new week and this is at home, So there can be a cause of concern to start the Chiefs Defense. It is a Boom or bust pick this week.
The Steelers, who had a very good Week 1 defensively, could be in some trouble against the high flying Chiefs Offense.
This rematch of the 2016 divisional playoff matchup, will have a different result than it had in January of 2017. The Chiefs will narrowly escape Week 2 at Steelers, thanks to the heroics of Mahomes and Kareem Hunt Scoring 2 TDs. This is going to be a close one.
Chiefs 24, Steelers 20.