The US’ most popular sport is back for what is sure to be another exciting season.
Week 1 of the National Football League was no exception, with seven season-opening games decided by three points or fewer.
Week 2 features another slate of great matchups, with Tom Brady’s Buccaneers (1-0) meeting their Achilles’ heel New Orleans Saints (1-0), Joe Burrow’s Cincinnati Bengals (0-1) facing the Dak Prescott-less Dallas Cowboys (0-1), and another installment of the NFC North rivalry between the Chicago Bears (1-0) and Green Bay Packers (0-1).
Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. New Orleans Saints
Brady made headlines this week off and on the field, discussing his eventual retirement and marriage with Gisele Bündchen, and leading the Bucs to a comfortable 19-3 season-opening win over the Cowboys.
His second matchup of the season projects a greater challenge as the Bucs travel to New Orleans to meet the team they just can’t shake. The Saints have won their last seven regular season games against the Bucs, four of those in the Brady era.
Most recently, the Saints handed Brady the first home shutout defeat of his storied NFL career. The 45-year-old quarterback, who returns for his 23rd season, has not lost more than three consecutive games against a single opponent since the Patriots’ 0-3 streak against the Broncos from 2005-09.
The biggest challenge this Sunday for the Bucs? Eliminating turnovers and sacks. In Brady’s last four losses to New Orleans, the Saints boast an 11-2 turnover advantage and the defense has 13 sacks to Tampa Bay’s four.
On the other sideline, the Saints will need to perform much better than they did in their season opener against the Atlanta Falcons to keep the streak alive.
New Orleans fell short on both sides of the ball early in the game, putting them down 16-3 at halftime. However, led by quarterback Jameis Winston, the team rallied, producing a 16-point fourth-quarter comeback behind Winston’s 213 passing yards and two touchdowns.
The Saints left Atlanta with a narrow one-point win, but just barely. The Bucs should be much stronger opponents and will require the Saints to deliver for all four quarters, not just the final minutes if they want to walk away victorious.
It’s also worth noting that Saints current head coach, Dennis Allen, is the former defensive coordinator that orchestrated the defense that has been able to shut down Brady in the past. He has a proven history of finding and exploiting weaknesses in the seven-time Super Bowl Champion’s game.
Even though it’s only week two, both teams have an early opportunity to battle for first place in the division. They face off for their first of two regular season meetings on Sunday at 1 p.m. ET.
Cincinnati Bengals vs. Dallas Cowboys
Joe Burrow’s Bengals had an unideal start to the season, to say the least.
An underwhelming performance from Burrow (he threw five interceptions), and series of missed opportunities, led to a wild overtime loss to the Steelers.
The Cowboys also opened the season with a dud as the only team in week one to not record a touchdown, a testament to a lackluster performance by the offense.
To exacerbate things, quarterback Dak Prescott sustained an injury to his throwing hand in the fourth quarter, which will see him out for multiple weeks.
Despite the disappointment that follows beginning a season 0-1, starting the season with a losing record is nothing for either of these teams to be too worried about.
Since 2002, 59.4 percent of playoff teams started the season at either 1-1 or 0-2. Just last season, the Los Angeles Rams emerged Super Bowl Champions after beginning the season 0-2. All this to say, getting a win in week two would be a big confidence booster.
The Cowboys will have to adapt to offense without Prescott. Backup quarterback Cooper Rush only has one career start, which came during week 8 last year when Prescott was sidelined by a calf strain.
Rush had an impressive showing, throwing a clutch game-winning touchdown to wide receiver Amari Cooper in the final minute of play. Nonetheless, his inexperience could show against a gritty Bengals defense.
Kickoff is set for Sunday at 4:25 p.m. ET.
Chicago Bears vs. Green Bay Packers
The Bears meet the Packers at historic Lambeau Field on Sunday night.
The Packers look to bounce back from a 23-7 drubbing by the Vikings and continue their reign over this lopsided NFC North rivalry.
The Packers have won 20 of their last 23 regular season matchups, the Bears’ last win occurring in 2018. But the way things have looked for Green Bay, it could be the Bears’ chance to muscle into the win column.
Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers struggled against the Vikings, clearly missing wide receiver Davante Adams. Throughout the game he looked visibly frustrated as Green Bay failed to break double-digit scoring, and Rogers finished 22 for 34 for 195 yards with no touchdowns with an interception.
Heading into Sunday night, the Bears are riding the high of week one’s win over the 49ers, in which they scored 19-unanswered second half points on a rain-soaked Soldier Field. The Bears have momentum, but the Packers have history. We’ll find out Sunday night, 8:25 p.m. ET.
Monday Night Football preview
The Buffalo Bills took down reigning Super Bowl champion Rams in their season opener, with quarterback Josh Allen throwing for 297 yards and four touchdowns in the 31-10 blowout win.
What’s the key to the Bills wins? The numbers say Allen’s versatility. The team’s winning percentage is 20-1 when the QB rushes and passes for at least one touchdown in the same game.
Including the season opener, Allen’s 21 games with at least one rushing touchdown and at least one passing touchdown are the most in the NFL since he entered the league in 2018.
Allen and the Bills will try to make their season record 2-0 against the Tennessee Titans on Monday night at 7:15 p.m. ET.
How to watch
Here’s how to catch these teams and others across the league in action, from wherever you are.
Australia: NFL Game Pass, ESPN, 7Plus
Brazil: NFL Game Pass, ESPN
Canada: CTV, TSN, RDS, NFL Game Pass on DAZN
Germany: NFL Game Pass, ProSieben MAXX, DAZN
Mexico: NFL Game Pass, TUDN, ESPN, Fox Sports, Sky Sports
UK: NFL Game Pass, Sky Sports, ITV, Channel 5
US: NFL Game Pass, CBS Sports, Fox Sports, ESPN, Amazon Prime