The more things change, the more they stay the same.
Among the vast array of visuals available in Week 1, we’ve found out J.J. Watt is still great even though his team isn’t, Tony Romo operates behind the best offensive line in football and Aaron Rodgers can make you look like an elite receiver with his ball placement.
Let’s look ahead to Week 2’s most dandy dozen contests:
Pro Football – Thursday
Denver Broncos at Kansas City Chiefs: The Broncos next offensive touchdown will be their first, so you know Peyton Manning is going to welcome a national stage to prove once again that he’s not done. Considering they held serve against an elite Baltimore defense and it was his first game in a new system where he’s not being asked to do as much, dismissing him as done may be a mistake.
Still, this challenge won’t be easy. Manning is 11-1 in his career against the Chiefs, but considering how the defense swarmed Houston’s Brian Hoyer in the season opener, Denver’s offense will be up against it on a short week of preparation.
Pro Football – Sunday
Houston Texans at Carolina Panthers: Brian Hoyer’s awful play in the midst of Kansas City pressure has sparked a QB controversy since Ryan Mallett led the Texans’ comeback bid with a pair of scoring drives. Head coach Bill O’Brien will either make the change or have Hoyer on a very short leash, which isn’t ideal when venturing on the road to face a Panthers defense that single-handedly beat the Jaguars.
Standout Carolina LB Luke Kuechly will have to pass through the concussion protocol in order to play, but DT Star Lotulelei should return to fortify the defensive front after missing the season opener.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New Orleans Saints: No team looked worse than the Buccaneers, surrendering 42 points through three quarters before the Titans took their foot off the gas. The Jameis Winston-led offense contributed via turnovers, so appearing unprepared was a collective team effort.
The Saints fell in Arizona because they had to settle for field goals instead of finding the end zone, so that will be a point of emphasis as they look to snap an unheard of five-game Superdome losing streak.
San Francisco 49ers at Pittsburgh Steelers: Preparation time is expected to be a factor here. The 49ers played the final game of Week 1 and visit the Steelers, who opened the season on Thursday night in New England.
LeVeon Bell is serving out the last game of his suspension, but DeAngelo Williams shined in his place, easing concerns.
Detroit Lions at Minnesota Vikings: The Lions were outscored in the second half of their last two important games last season, a setback at Green Bay and that 24-20 Wild Card loss at Dallas where they blew a 17-7 halftime lead.
It’s certainly an issue that they fell apart in San Diego on Sunday, surrendering 30 straight points as Philip Rivers wound up throwing for 404 yards. Teddy Bridgewater is sure to be salivating while he watches that game film following Monday night’s visit to San Francisco.
New England Patriots at Buffalo Bills: Rex Ryan and Bill Belichick square off again under vastly different circumstances than they’ve grown accustomed to meeting under, which spices things up a bit.
Both teams impressively won their openers, but Ryan has still won just one of his last eight against the Patriots and went 4-9 in his Jets career, most memorably winning in the 2011 AFC divisional playoffs. Ryan will have All-Pro DT Marcell Dareus back in the fold after a one-game suspension. RB LeGarrette Blount will return for the Patriots.
Arizona Cardinals at Chicago Bears: The Bears had some strong moments against Green Bay, so there’s optimism that John Fox can quickly spark a resurgence.
Carson Palmer is 14-2 in his last 16 starts and picked up where he left off in his first regular-season game back from a torn ACL. The Cardinals have quietly assembled a lot of weapons for him to work with.
Tennessee Titans at Cleveland Browns: Marcus Mariota became the first quarterback in NFL history to throw a pair of touchdowns in his first quarter of action, so yeah, his debut went well.
The Titans are back on the road and will see Johnny Manziel unless Josh McCown is no longer concussed, which would be a triumph of the human body given how hard he was hit on the play that most impacted Jets-Browns.
San Diego Chargers at Cincinnati Bengals: Philip Rivers connected with Keenan Allen 15 times against the Lions, so the Bengals may want to scheme a few coverages his way. It will be interesting to see how the Chargers respond on the road for the first time since they’re still looking to establish a consistent run game to minimize the burden on Rivers.
Despite their conquest of Detroit, San Diego managed just 3.2 yards per carry. Cincy’s defense blanked Oakland through three quarters before loosening up, but face a much stiffer test here.
Dallas Cowboys at Philadelphia Eagles: Life without Dez Bryant continues for the Cowboys after their Houdini act against the Giants. The offensive line helped Tony Romo find a rhythm, which will also be a key on the road against an opponent that puts pressure on opposing offenses with their own faster tempo.
Chip Kelly has failed to beat Dallas at home in each of his first two seasons.
Seattle Seahawks at Green Bay Packers: If oddsmakers are correct and the favorite holds serve, the Seahawks are going to be 0-2 before their first home game. Monitor developments regarding safety Kam Chancellor’s holdout since his position was just strengthened by how vulnerable the Legion of Boom looked without him.
If the secondary isn’t the same, the defense won’t be. Rodgers will look to take advantage as an opportunity for revenge after a painful loss in January’s NFC Championship presents itself. He did just fine without Jordy Nelson in the opener.
Pro Football – Monday
N.Y. Jets at Indianapolis Colts: Andrew Luck won’t have to deal with injured corner Antonio Cromartie, but might not have top target T.Y. Hilton against a Darrelle Revis-led secondary that helped feast on Manziel in a successful opener.
The Colts struggled mightily on both sides of the ball in a 27-14 loss at Buffalo, so they’re under immediate pressure to perform. Luck is just 1-2 in Monday night games.
Tony Mejia is a national sports writer and senior contributor at VegasInsider.com. He’s also the owner and operator of Antony Dinero, the most successful documented volume handicapper in the industry. View his analysis daily at VegasInsider.com. Email: [email protected].