Aaron Rodgers and Green Bay seem to be firing on all cylinders now. After their win over Chicago last week, the team will be full of confidence heading into this one. This season Lonnie Johnson Jr. leads the super fast reply team with two interceptions and has added 26 tackles and three passes defended. Chris Conley has been targeted 12 times, and added 134 yards and one touchdown. Brandin Cooks has 40 catches and paces his team with 481 receiving yards (80.2 per game) while scoring one touchdown. Christian Kirk has been targeted 31 times and tacked on 358 yards plus three touchdowns.
That weakness could be exploited by the Cardinals’ fast-paced, high-powered offense. The informative post Patriots have been challenged to consistently moved the ball through the air irrespective of who’s been under center. Newton averaged just 6.3 yards per attempt against the Broncos while throwing a pair of interceptions, fumbling twice and taking four sacks.
Ben Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh Steelers will travel to Buffalo in week 1 of the 2021 season to take on the Bills who are many people’s Super Bowl favorites to represent the AFC this season. For the Raiders, they’re coming off a 2020 season where they were just left out of the playoff race and the wildcard. Jon Gruden is returning many of his weapons and they’ve added to their defense lead by Gus Bradley.
The Payton offense has successfully tempered Jameis’s gunslinging in a way that caps the team’s upside but makes his performance more predictably good than in the past. The Dolphins’ poor statistical profile is largely the result of blowouts against two of the best teams in the league without Tua Tagovailoa on the field. Not that they’ve been world-beaters (or even Jaguars-beaters) with him under center, but the offense has been 7 EPA per 60 plays better with him on the field. Atlanta is coming off a bye, while Miami has the misfortune of playing stateside the week following a London game, as rarity but something some teams have requested in recent years.
Kamara leads the Saints with 546 yards rushing and he is the team’s second-leading receiver with 55 catches for 473 yards. Michael Thomas leads the team with 78 receptions and 950 yards. One of the keys for Chicago has been the play of edge rusher Khalil Mack who returned to the Bears lineup last week after missing two games due to injury. That gives Mack seven for the season on a defense that is one behind the NFL leaders – Green Bay, Kansas City, Pittsburgh, and yes, Minnesota. SS Kentrell Brice and LB Nick Perry both missed last week’s win over Miami and may not be ready with the quick turnaround this week.
Many teams have struggled to figure out Lamar Jackson and his unique talents, but if any coach can scheme a way to shut him down, it’s Patriots’ coach Bill Belichick. Look for the Patriots to try to keep Lamar in the pocket and use a spy linebacker to shadow his every move, not letting him beat them with his legs, and instead forcing him to throw from the pocket. If Lamar can pass accurately and open up the running game, it’ll be a long day for Tom Brady and the Patriots.
The Chiefs have one of the better rushing attacks in the NFL led by Hunt who rushed for 1,327 yards in his rookie season. The Saints and Vikings met in the regular season opener and both teams are much different now compared to then. It was Sam Bradford who passed for 346 yards and Dalvin Cook who ran for 127 more in a Minnesota win in Week 1. Cook blew a knee later in the season, but the Vikings’ approach on offense is much the same. Precise, high-effective passing coupled with a powerful running game. Only now, it’s QB Case Keenum running the show and RB Latavius Murray leading the ground attack.
Chicago allowed Buffalo just 264 yards including just 64 on the ground. The Panthers are built like a playoff team with a sound defense and the NFL’s second-best rushing offense. The Panthers average 143.9 yards rushing per game thanks to the duo of RB Christian McCaffrey and QB Cam Newton.
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