Week 2 gives NFL fans a very interesting matchup between the Buffalo Bills and Kansa City Chiefs.
These were two teams who were picked by many experts, myself included as playoff sleepers in the preseason and who were both on the wrong side of blowouts in Week 1.
The Bills’ “new look” defense was completely humiliated by a New York Jets' offense that failed to score a touchdown during the entire preseason.
The Jets scored two full preseason’s worth of touchdowns in this one, lighting up the scoreboard to the tune of 48 points in the eventual 48-28 rout.
This came as a complete surprise as the Bills spent a lot of money this offseason, their biggest conquest being the acquisition of former 1st overall pick Mario Williams.
Williams received a record $100 million deal ($50 million guaranteed) and was expected to anchor a defense that was 26th in the NFL in 2011.
In his Bills debut, Williams recorded just one tackle as the oft-criticized Jets' offensive line held him in check the entire game.
The Chiefs did not fare much better in their Week 1 matchup, falling to the Atlanta Falcons 41-24 in Kansas City. Matt Ryan lit up a banged up Chiefs secondary, throwing for 299 yards and three scores while adding 25 yards and a score on the ground.
Granted, Ryan has one of the most dynamic receiver duos in the league with Roddy White and Julio Jones, but the Chiefs' secondary was projected to be a dominant force in 2012 with the return of safety Eric Berry, back from an ACL injury in 2011 as well as 2011 Pro Bowl corner Brandon Flowers and linebacker Tamba Hali, both of whom were inactive in the loss.
Despite these losses, it isn’t quite time to sound the alarm.
Both of these teams have talented rosters and experienced head coaches and should be able to right the ship over the next few games, with one of them getting back on track this weekend. With that said, here are three bold predictions for Sunday’s matchup:
1. Jamaal Charles gets over 200 total yards, two touchdowns: Charles has been waiting to reclaim his right among the NFL running back elite after tearing his ACL at the start of last season. A big question mark heading into this season was whether or not Charles would be able to regain the explosive speed that established him as the NFL leader in yards per carry with 6.4 YPC in 2010 where he also finished second in the league in rush yards.
The timing of the injury worked in Charles’ favor, as he was given almost a full year to heal and showed no signs of regression in the preseason. Despite not finding the end zone in the season opener, Charles managed 87 yards on just 16 carries, good for 5.4 YPC, not quite his 2010 mark, but he was going against a Falcons defense that was ranked 6th in the NFL against the run in 2011.
Charles was also one of the most heavily targeted running backs in the passing game in 2010, adding another element to his ability to rack up yardage.
2. Both teams will score over 30 points: Regardless of what happened last week, when evaluating offenses on both of these teams, one can see there is lots of potential.
The loss of starting running back Fred Jackson in the opener seems more like an opportunity than a hindrance with the emergence of speedster C.J. Spiller, who exploded for 169 yards on 16 carries, including a 56-yard touchdown against a very staunch Jets defense.
Ryan Fitzpatrick also seemed to get into a groove late in the game, throwing three touchdowns to three different receivers and only one interception in the second half. Despite the blowout, the Bills still put up just under 400 yards of total offense last week and four offensive touchdowns, showing that they have the ability to break out if their defense can hold opponents.
Lastly, the Chiefs' defense is banged up right now with several key players sitting out Week 1. In addition to Hali and Flowers, starting safety Kendrick Lewis and starting defensive tackle Anthony Toribio were also held out of the game. All are questionable to return to the field this week.
The Chiefs have the ability to breakout offensively as well, specifically with their strength in the run game. In addition to the electrifying Charles, Kansas City also added free agent Peyton Hillis to their roster.
Although like Charles, Hillis was hampered with injuries for much of the 2011 season, he was one of the more productive running backs in 2010 with the Cleveland Browns rushing for 1,177 yards and 11 touchdowns.
The passing game is a bit of a work in progress, however, star wide receiver Dwayne Bowe and quarterback Matt Cassel have developed a strong relationship over the past few seasons and are capable of putting up strong offensive numbers.
Chiefs fans are also excited about the potential of second-year wide receiver Jon Baldwin who showed flashes of brilliance last season but is yet to establish himself as a true threat in the passing game.
All that said, with one of the best two headed running attacks in the league, the Chiefs are more than capable of putting up 30-plus points against a Bills defense that was just torched for 48 points against a struggling Jets offense.
3. Eric Berry gets a pick six: There's a reason the Chiefs took this standout Tennessee star fifth overall in the 2010 Draft. Berry finished the 2010 season starting all 16 games while compiling 92 tackles and four interceptions and became the first Chiefs' rookie to make a Pro Bowl since Derrick Thomas back in 1989.
Expected to anchor the defense in 2011, Berry suffered a season-ending ACL injury during Week 1 last year and did not see a football field until last week. Berry finished with two tackles and one deflected pass in the loss, but did not appear to be bothered by his knee injury.
This bodes well for Berry and a Chiefs defense that is counting on their start safety as a leader and a standout on a young and injury-riddled defense.
I say this is the week where we see him return to form. Buffalo quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick was picked off three times against the Jets in Week 1 and there is no reason to expect that trend to end this week.
In fact, Fitzpatrick led the NFL in interceptions thrown in 2011 with 23; over one pick per game.
Berry is hungry to get back to Pro Bowl form, and who better to take advantage of than the perennially-inaccurate gunslinger in Fitzpatrick.
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