Originally posted on This Given Sunday  |  Last updated 9/10/12

 

Tonight we have the blessing of two MNF games that will take us late into the night on the East Coast and have us questioning why we stayed up until one in the morning to watch the Chargers, but we will do it anyways.

After a full dose of games yesterday, and almost too many story lines to follow, here is a rundown of the top five stories to follow tonight. Bengals-Ravens start the night, followed by Raiders-Chargers.

 

  1. Will Andy Dalton and AJ Green become the new Matt Ryan and Julio Jones?

Everyone has been raving about Julio this year, and after a solid Week 1 performance, the second year player out of 'Bama is putting his name up in the lights amongst the elite wideouts in the league.

But let us not forget his compatriot. AJ Green was also a highly touted recruit from the south, playing at Georgia in a stacked SEC. He had the better rookie season, but has fallen behind in the hype category.

If Dalton and Green can develop a consistent downfield chemistry, the Bengals could be a team to look out for. While the running game isn't overpowering, a strong defence and potentially agressive passing attack could make for a long night for the Ravens.

 

  1. Can the Ravens defence survive without Terrell Suggs?

An offseason training injury ended Terrell Suggs season before it even began, and with it, one of the leaders of the Ravens defence was wiped off the map for the year. He is as impressive of an outside linebacker that you will find in the league, and while Ray Lewis does the speeches, Suggs is arguably more valuable on the field.

How the Ravens, with a cast of youngsters and journeymen filling his shoes on the outside, fare early in the season will go a long way to showing everyone just how valuable the missing link is. Courtney Upshaw is an impressive rookie, but he has no guarantees in terms of playing time. Sergio Kindle is another name that the Ravens are waiting to see more from.

The Bengals have an offensive line that is steadily improving, and if they can consistently seal the edges and give Dalton time in the pocket, it could be a long night for the Ravens secondary.

 

  1. Is the Bengals defence big names with little substance?

If you take a look through the Bengals starters on defence, most of the names jump off the page. Whether it be from successful college careers or from previous success in the league, the squad that will be trying to shut down Joe Flacco is quite the cast of characters.

Dunlap and Johnson on the ends were studs in the collegiate ranks, and while the youngsters are still finding their way in the pro game, they have all the tools to be elite edge rushers. The secondary features a stud coming off injury in Leon Hall, and then Taylor Mays, Reggie Nelson, Nate Clements and Terrence Newman fill the other spots. If these guys can come together as a unit tonight, Flacco will have a tough time hitting anything down the field.

Down the middle is Rey Maualuga and Vontaze Burfict, a pair of imposing figures that will be in tough against Ray Rice tonight.

The Bengals need some substance from their defence, not just style.

 

  1. Who are these Raiders?

Hate to be broad with this one, but the new regime in Oakland has brought upon all sorts of new changes that most outside of the Valley simply have not paid much attention to.

Carson Palmer is the pivot for now and Run DMC will get the ball as long as he is healthy. Denarius Moore and Heyward-Bey are burners on the outside. Aside from that, well who knows?

A cast of players were sent packing due to salary cap concerns in the offseason, and what is left could struggle this year. The Linebacking corps is low on experience, and could get gouged this year.

It will be interesting to see how they preform has a group tonight, because quite simply, we do not know what to expect.

 

  1. Will this iteration of the Chargers attack finally work?

When you let a star wideout walk for nothing, something has to be done to fill the hole. With Vinny Jax in Tampa, AJ Smith brought in a laundry list of wideouts with marginal pro success looking to break out.

From Eddie Royal to Robert Meachem, the Chargers are going to look a little different this season. But this could help Philip Rivers at the end of the day. Jackson and Floyd were solid down field threats for Rivers, but Royal and Meachem could work the slot and the underneath routes and Gates will no longer be the only third down option.

Ryan Mathews will miss week one, and hopefully not much more. Without him the Chargers are not good. Not one dimensional, but simply not good. Ronnie Brown does not scare anyone, and Rivers will have to manage quite the game in a hostile stadium if he is to have any success tonight.

This article first appeared on This Given Sunday and was syndicated with permission.

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