1. Drew Brees vs. TB – 10
Marcus Mariota, in his first ever NFL start, just carved up the Tampa Bay secondary. There's no reason to think that a Hall Of Famer, Drew Brees, won't post a giant game. The Bucs antiquated cover 2 defense has been problematic for years, and it remains a major opportunity for Brees. Over last his four meetings with the Bucs, he's topped 322 yards in each game, and thrown eight touchdowns. Brees is coming off a 355-yard game against a dramatically better opponent, Arizona. What's more, it's at home where Brees has performed better over the past couple years.
2. Aaron Rodgers vs. Sea (SNF) – 9.5
The Seattle secondary has been ferocious for the past two years. No team has allowed fewer passing touchdowns, and it's not close. So, what about 2015? Kam Chancellor is holding out (don't cave, John!), which helps account for a solid performance from Nick Foles last week (297 yards, 1 touchdown, 0 interceptions). But even without Kam, this is an elite secondary, anchored by Richard Sherman and Earl Thomas. Cornerback Cary Williams is a coverage liability, and I expect Rodgers to pick on him. I wasn't blown away by Devonta Adams, Randall Cobb, or James Jones last week, but they do enough to make Aaron Rodgers an every week threat. However, two touchdowns is his likely max. In the Seahawks last 41 games, only one quarterback has managed three touchdowns against Seattle. In his last three games against Seattle, Rodgers has thrown 1, 1, and 0 touchdowns, and his average yardage is 196.
3. Matt Ryan @ NYG – 9.5
Even with a couple picks on Monday night, Matt Ryan looked very comfortable in the new Falcons offense. He threw 19 times to Julio Jones and Roddy White, and made it look easy. Sadly, he can't play the Eagles each week, but his game with the Giants isn't much tougher. Last week, Tony Romo lit up the Giants, both at the linebacker level, and in the secondary. And that was without Dez Bryant for most of the game. Normally, I worry about the Falcons offensive line, but the Giants generated very little pass rush on Monday night. Ryan threw for 316 and 1 when these teams met last year. But that was with both Jones and White hobbled. He'll top both numbers this week.
4. Ben Roethlisberger vs. SF – 9.5
On Monday night, the Vikings made the 49ers secondary look like they'd returned to the days of Deion Sanders. But the reality is that their personnel just isn't good. And Ben Roethlisberger is going to exploit them in ways that the Vikings didn't. He's got Antonio Brown, arguably the best overall receiver in the NFL, and unlike the Vikings, he always finds ways to get the ball into his playmakers' hands. Going back to last year, Ben has topped 300 passing yards in: A) Three straight games B) 6 of the past 7 games, and C) 8 of the past 10 games. He's a virtual lock for another giant yardage game, and without LeVeon Bell, he's that much more likely throw touchdowns than hand them off.
5. Carson Palmer @ Chi – 9.5
Despite facing Aaron Rodgers in the opener, the Bears secondary looked a little better than expected, holding him to just 189 yards. But at the end of the day, Rodgers still threw three touchdowns and only had five incompletions. Carson Palmer is the next quarterback in line to take advantage of a secondary filled with journeymen and inexperience players. Palmer looked surgical in dissecting an equally bad Saints' secondary last week, and I see little reason to expect much different this week. He's now thrown multiple touchdowns in six of his past seven games. Two other elements that work into his favor: Michael Floyd will be one week healthier from his finger injury, and Andre Ellington may not play.
6. Andrew Luck vs. Jets – 9.25
The Jets secondary was a train wreck last year, so they signed Darrelle Revis and Buster Skrine in the offseason. The results were immediate, as they shut down the Browns' "passing attack" in week 1. But, they lost Antonio Cromartie to a knee injury, which will push Skrine into a starting role. Still, it's a tougher matchup than people may think if they look at the whopping 31 touchdown passes the Jets allowed last year. Also working against Luck is the likely loss of TY Hilton to a knee injury. Donte Moncrief will take his place. Luck looked very mortal last week, but still managed to get to 243 yards and two scores. In a sneaky-tough game, that's about the right range here too.
7. Matthew Stafford @ Min – 9.25
The Vikings defense looked dreadful in the season opener, and unless they reverse course dramatically (in a short week) Matthew Stafford is sitting on a very big game. Last week, Stafford was inconsistent, but managed to find his way to two touchdown passes, without a meaningful contribution from Calvin Johnson or Golden Tate. So, there's plenty of upside for Stafford, even if Calvin is held in check, as he usually is against Minnesota. Stafford did little against the Vikings last year, but this time around, everyone's healthy, and he's playing behind a better offensive line.
8. Tony Romo @ Phi – 9.0
If Monday night's game is any indication, the Eagles secondary looks just as bad this year as last year. Matt Ryan coasted to 300 yards and 2 scores, and Romo could hit similar levels, even without Dez Bryant. Clearly, there's nobody on roster who will replicate Dez. But Romo still has plenty of capable weapons in Jason Witten, Lance Dunbar, Cole Beasley and Terrence Williams. In the most recent meeting with Philly, Romo put up 265 yards and three scores. But all three went to Dez. Romo isn't a lock for the usual upside I'd project in this matchup, but the Eagles secondary is bad enough that you shouldn't write him off either.
9. Sam Bradford vs. Dal – 9
The opening game was a mixed bag for Sam Bradford. I'm willing to forgive his shaky first half, because he settled down nicely and took command of the offense in the second half. Most importantly, he threw 52 (!) passes. With that kind of volume, it's hard not to have some strong statistical success. If Jordan Matthews hadn't created an interception, Bradford could have rallied the Eagles to a win. The Dallas secondary did a great job with Eli Manning on Sunday night, but this offense is a different beast, and I'm not sold on Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne as solutions at cornerback. Bradford's passing volume keeps him as an alluring option to me.
10. Tom Brady @ Buf – 8.75
Last time Tom Brady travelled to Buffalo he broke out of year-long slump and drilled his division rival for 361 yards and four touchdowns. Both measures were, by far, the most any quarterback put up against the Bills. This is a great Bills defense. To call Brady's game an outlier is an understatement. After Brady threw for four touchdowns in Buffalo in week 6, the Bills allowed five passing touchdowns the rest of the year. Last week, Andrew Luck was humbled en route to a very shaky 243-2-2. The Bills defense has a swagger we haven't seen in years, and a big game from Brady is very much in doubt. Still, it's Brady, and anything can happen.
11. Eli Manning vs. Atl – 8.25
Eli had a poor showing in the opener, with just 193 yards and no touchdowns, despite playing a Dallas secondary missing its best player. He's got another chance for a good game as he takes on a Falcons secondary that was awful last year, and inconsistent last week. The Falcons yielded 336 yards to Sam Bradford last week, although in fairness, it took Bradford 52 passes to get there. New head coach Dan Quinn has already improved the Falcons defense, but they're hardly a shutdown unit. Eli was unable to connect with Odell Beckham last week, but that never happened in back to back weeks last year.
12. Peyton Manning @ KC – 8.25
As feared, Peyton Manning looked discombobulated last week, as the Broncos failed to adapt to an offseason rife with change: a new offensive scheme, new (worse) offensive line, and the loss of two key receivers. I'm not sure much will change from Week 1 to Week 2. Manning's arm isn't likely to look any less wobbly, and the offensive line will be under duress from Justin Houston and Tamba Hali. The Chiefs also get a boost from the return of their best cornerback Sean Smith, and safety Eric Berry had a chance to shake the rust off last week. Last time these teams met, Manning put up 179 yards and two passing touchdowns, and I don't expect him to improve on those numbers by much this week.
13. Philip Rivers @ Cin – 8.25
You might be tempted to dismiss the Bengals dominating defensive performance in Week 1 as a product of a bad opponent, Oakland. And, yes, Matt McGloin is pretty bad—his two garbage time touchdowns against the Bengals were just that, garbage. But, understand that Cincinnati is going to frustrate a lot of opponents, and quite possibly Philip Rivers next week. Rivers had a terrific second half last week, and ended up at over 400 yards. He might have closer to half that number this week, though. Seven times last year, opposing QBs threw for 235 yards or less, and this defense is healthy now.
14. Ryan Tannehill @ Jac – 8.0
Ryan Tannehill was an epic disappointment last week, but I'm optimistic for a bounceback against a meh Jaguars secondary. Granted, the held Cam Newton in check last week, but considering his receivers that's not saying much. This is a rebuilt secondary that allowed passing touchdowns to every opposing quarterback last year, except Brian Hoyer, Charlie Whitehurst, and Ryan Fitzpatrick. Tannehill has plenty of weapons at his disposal, and DeVante Parker is another week further along in his recovery. I don't see three or four touchdown upside, but two is a reasonable expectation.
15. Colin Kaepernick @ Pit – 8.0
Here's your sneaky play of the week as Colin Kaepernick takes on one of the worst secondaries in football. The Steelers were blown apart by Tom Brady in the opener, and it's not just because Brady is NFL immortality. The Steelers are going to struggle against the pass in every game. They gave up the fourth-most pass touchdowns last year, and the four they allowed to Brady means they're in last place this year. Kaepernick didn't need to do a lot last week to topple a lost Vikings squad. He only threw 26 passes. The Steelers will post a ton of points in this game, and Kaepernick won't have the luxury of handing off throughout the game.
16. Russell Wilson @ GB (SNF) – 8
17. Andy Dalton vs. SD – 8
18. Tyrod Taylor vs. NE – 7.75
19. Jay Cutler vs. Ari – 7.75
20. Ryan Fitzpatrick vs. Ind – 7.75
21. Marcus Mariotta vs. Cle – 7.75
22. Joe Flacco vs. Oak – 7.75
23. Jameis Winston vs. NO – 7.75
24. Nick Foles @ Was – 7.5
25. Cam Newton vs. Hou – 7.5