1. Bears vs. MIN
Should this even be fair? After throwing the Christian to the Lions he will be thrown to the Bears next. The Vikings offensive line looked like dog chow against the Lions after a subpar performance in the preseason too. They will have to stiffen up fast if they want Ponder to survive this game. Last year Chicago was head and shoulders the best team defense in terms of takeaways. They started out this year with three more, and Ponder…well he turned it over four times himself – ugh.
UPDATE: Watch for a sloppy field in Chicago.
2. Bengals vs. PIT
Big Ben was just sacked five times by a Titans' team that was minus one of their top linebackers. A lot of that was caused by the injury to starting center Maurkice Pouncey forcing Kelvin Beachum to slide over to center further weakening an already questionable O-line. It's only gonna get worse when the middle of the Steelers line is forced to hold back the Bengals pass rush next week. Last year only two teams recorded more sacks than Cincinnati including seven recorded against Roethlisberger over their two encounters.
3. Patriots vs. NYJ
Geno Smith looked adequate versus the Buccaneers despite none of us expecting it. I can't expect he'll get that lucky in back-to-back games. At least his leash is a little longer now, and I don't think we have to worry about Brady Quinn getting excessive playing time. New England had the second most takeaways last year and only three teams had more interceptions. In addition only five teams allowed more QB sacks last year than the Jets including 16 over the final three games of 2012. Smith was sacked five times in week one and turned it over twice and this game won't be close…ever, so the Jets will be forced to throw from the get-go.
4. Texans vs. TEN
The Titans couldn't do much of anything on offense against the Steelers in Week 1. Fortunately for them the Steelers lost their starting center and they ended up playing even worse. Houston finished last year sixth overall in sacks and only ten teams allowed more sacks than Tennessee. The Titans did improve their offensive line in the draft allowing only one sack to the Steelers, but they will need to improve on the 237 total yards as a team if they expect to continue to compete.
5. Broncos @ NYG
So the Broncos secondary set out to stop Torrey Smith last week and for the most part were successful despite the absence of Champ Bailey, what is confusing is how Joe Flacco still managed to gain 362 yards against them with no other legitimate receiving threats. This week Denver faces another QB who had a big first day throwing for over 450 yards and four scores. Bailey should return for this game assumedly to take Victor Cruz out of the equation, but the Giants have other weapons too so they will get his points. Unfortunately for the G-Men, they also have a tendency to committing brain farts on ball control turning the ball over six times including two that were housed for touchdowns.
6. Rams @ ATL
The patchwork Atlanta offensive line managed to give Matt Ryan enough time upright to find Roddy White, Julio Jones, and Harry Douglas last week as part of a 304 yard performance. Unfortunately that performance was against the non-existent Saints' secondary and blitz-averse New Orleans' front line (only seven teams had fewer sacks last year), who still managed to sack him three times and pick him off once.
7. 49'ers @ SEA
San Francisco wasn't as dominating as in years past, but the Niners got the job done against Aaron Rodgers and the Pack Week 1. Last year the Seahawks allowed Russell Wilson to get planted for only 2.2 sacks per game, but this includes a rather awful 13 sacks over their final three games. It appears that as the Hawks opened up their playbook for him he took more chances meaning more mistakes and more times swallowing the ball. Swallowing the ball might be taken literally here if he gets caught in the backfield by the 49'ers pass rush.
8. Ravens vs. CLE
The Ravens cannot be as truly bad as they appeared last week, this week we'll get a more legit gauge of how much their offseason exodus has hurt their defense. Let us face it despite a solid preseason Brandon Weeden will never be mistaken for Peyton Manning even though they are closer in age than you might have thought. Weeden was picked three times last week and he still will be without his top receiving option, Josh Gordon who is under suspension. In addition, Weeden was also sacked six times last week. If Baltimore cannot get it done against Cleveland here than bail on this defense as fast as you can.
9. Raiders vs. JAX
This one has as much to do with the futility of the opponent as it does the talent of the defense. Jacksonville scored a pathetic two points Week 1 and their QBs were sacked six times and were picked twice. It won't be quite as bad if Chad Henne gets the start next week but let's face it neither he nor Blaine Gabbert is very good. Meanwhile Oakland managed to sack Andrew Luck four times last week. The last time I looked Luck was infinitely more skilled than either Gabbert or Henne.
10. Lions @ ARI
Some fantasy pundits are saying that the Lions front four's performance against the Vikings was an aberration incurred because Minnesota's offensive line was just "out of sync", I think it shows that they are actually blossoming with the addition of the final piece Ezekiel Ansah. In Week 1, they sacked Christian Ponder three times and forced four turnovers. This week they face an offensive line that on paper at least, appears to be in much worse shape than the Vikings was. Carson Palmer got sacked four times last week and turned it over once against a very good Rams defense. Comparing the Lions performance this week with the Rams performance from Week 1 should be a good gauge of how far Detroit has come.
1. Cardinals vs. DET
Detroit got lucky they were facing the Vikings last week because in general their team played very sloppily. If they play like that against a ball-hawking team like Arizona (only three teams had more takeaways last year) they are in for a long week. In addition, Arizona already recorded a DST touchdown this year and they have the returners that can score on any kickoff, being amongst the top scoring units perennially.
2. Panthers @ BUF
The Panthers did a surprisingly good job of containing Seattle's rushing attack last week holding Marshawn Lynch to 17-43 and the team as a whole to just 70 yards. Buffalo will once again attempt to lean on running backs C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson to open up the passing game for rookie E.J. Manuel. Manuel looked serviceable in their opener against New England but the Bills offense will have to improve on their 286 total yards if they want to be taken seriously. If the Panthers can hold the Bills to 70 yards on the ground they will win this game easily as I don't foresee Buffalo having a prayer of stopping Carolina's ground game or passing game, and if Buffalo has to count on Manuel to win this one for them we will see the rookie make some mistakes.
3. Cowboys @ KCC
Despite scoring two defensive touchdowns last week the Cowboys fail to crack the top ten this week as they face a team that is made up of guys who don't make a lot of mistakes. Alex Smith has 10 interceptions total over the last two years (that's like three games for Dallas' Week 1 opponent, Eli Manning) and Jamaal Charles has ten fumbles lost for his entire career spanning 955 touches, not to be outdone their top receiver, Dwayne Bowe has one fumble lost for his entire career spanning 421 touches.