The Seahawks-Broncos Rematch Should Be Better Than The Super Bowl & Other Things About NFL Week 3
After two weeks of play in the 2014 NFL season, just seven of the 32 teams remain without a loss. Week 3 brings some very interesting matchups, and more off-the-field drama. Here's a preview of the most interesting storylines:
Sunday, Sept. 21
The Chargers-Bills Game Is Must-See TV...Wait. What?
San Diego at Buffalo | Ralph Wilson Stadium; 1 p.m. (ET) on CBS
As recently as two weeks ago, most analysts wouldn't have thought much of this Sunday's Chargers-Bills game at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Things have changed. Buffalo (2-0) has yet to be tamed, and San Diego (1-1) shocked the seemingly invincible Seahawks last week. This game could have playoff implications later (or not; it's only Week 3). The key matchup: Buffalo's talented skill position players — Fred Jackson, C.J. Spiller and Sammy Watkins — against the suspect Chargers defense. Additionally, watch for Bills' fans expressing their desire to punch San Diego QB Philip Rivers. It's a natural inclination, especially if he wears a bolo tie to the stadium.
DeSean Jackson May Not Get His Revenge Against The Eagles
Washington at Philadelphia | Lincoln Financial Field; 1 p.m. (ET) on FOX
Nothing like injuries to help blow up a convenient revenge narrative. When the Eagles cut loose talented-but-unwanted wide receiver DeSean Jackson this off-season, he found a home with the Redskins — and everyone circled their calendars for his return date to Philly. Instead of streaking past his former teammates on the way to an obnoxious touchdown celebration this Sunday, Jackson might miss the game because of the sprained left shoulder he suffered last week vs. Jacksonville. Washington (1-1) will certainly be without quarterback Robert Griffin III, who dislocated his ankle against the Jags last Sunday. Reserve QB Kirk Cousins will attempt to do what Jacksonville and Indianapolis couldn't: finish off Philadelphia (2-0). The resilient Eagles should be in line for a big offensive day against the Washington defense.
Is The NFL Imploding? Not Yet
Baltimore at Cleveland | FirstEnergy Stadium; 1 p.m. (ET) on CBS
Minnesota at New Orleans | Mercedes-Benz Superdome; 1 p.m. (ET) on FOX
Ray Rice's suspension and subsequent release for domestic violence and Adrian Peterson's placement on the league's exempt list by the Vikings after he was accused of child abuse have rattled two of the NFL's key pillars of success: fan support and sponsorship money. The league is no stranger to legal problems, but fans — and high-dollar sponsors like Radisson Hotels, Anheuser-Busch and Nike — are beginning to react negatively to the consistent reports of bad behavior by players, coaches and administrators. More than anything else, this dynamic could hurt the NFL long-term. It just hasn't. Yet.
Minus their suspended star running backs, the Ravens and Vikings will travel to Cleveland and New Orleans respectively this week. The games will go on and most fans will continue to buy what the league is selling: America's Game. It sure felt better cheering for it before the season started.
This Seattle-Denver Game Should Be Better Than Super Bowl 48
Denver at Seattle | CenturyLink Field; 4:25 p.m. (ET) on CBS
Super Bowl 48 was a total mess. The Seahawks' 43-8 rout of the Broncos forced a nation to find more enjoyment in seven-layer dip than football on a chilly February day. Terrible (yet tasty). Things should be different this week.
Denver (2-0) has resumed its systematic dismantling of defenses thanks to quarterback Peyton Manning and a legion of receivers whose last name is Thomas. Seattle (1-1) might have been more ripe for a loss if they hadn't already fallen at San Diego last week. If Peyton thought it was loud in the Meadowlands in February, just wait until he hears the 12th Man at Century Link Field this week.
The Panthers Should Go 3-0
Pittsburgh at Carolina | Bank of America Stadium; 8:30 p.m. (ET) on NBC
Fresh off a middling off-season that raised more questions than it answered, Carolina (2-0) has two convincing wins in its first two games. Quarterback Cam Newton will see his share of blitzes from the Steelers, but he's shown that he has enough rapport with his young receiving corps for the Panthers to still be a threat. Pittsburgh (1-1) has to play better than it did while getting clobbered by the Ravens last Thursday. Including the crappy second-half against the Browns in Week 1, the Steelers haven't played much good football in 2014.
The best of the rest of the games are the suddenly relevant Cardinals hosting the 49ers in a crucial NFC West matchup, and the Monday night game between the Bears and the Jets.
Thursday, Sept. 18
Tampa Bay at Atlanta | Georgia Dome; 8:25 p.m. (ET) on CBS/NFL
Sunday, Sept. 21
Dallas at St. Louis | Edward Jones Dome; 1 p.m. (ET) on FOX
Houston at N.Y. Giants | MetLife Stadium; 1 p.m. (ET) on CBS
Tennessee at Cincinnati | Paul Brown Stadium; 1 p.m. (ET) on CBS
Green Bay at Detroit | Ford Field; 1 p.m. (ET) on FOX
Indianapolis at Jacksonville | EverBank Field; 1 p.m. (ET) on CBS
Oakland at New England | Gillette Stadium; 1 p.m. (ET) on CBS
San Francisco at Arizona | U of Phoenix Stadium; 4:05 p.m. (ET) on FOX
Kansas City at Miami | Sun Life Stadium; 4:25 p.m. (ET) on CBS
Monday, Sept. 22
Chicago at N.Y. Jets | MetLife Stadium; 8:25 p.m. (ET) on ESPN