Week 2 Free-To-Air Games Preview
Another week, another cracking selection of free-to-air games to sink your teeth into including the ‘Handshakegate’ rematch of the Lions and 49ers.
Ravens @ Eagles 3:00 am EST
Philadelphia and Baltimore come into this game with the same record but vastly different week one performances. The Eagles looked awful and needed a last minute touchdown to overcome the Browns while the Ravens could not have been more impressive, with both sides of the ball firing in a 44-13 rout of the Bengals.
Philadelphia will be looking to bounce back after last week’s disappointing effort, but they may have to do it without two of their best attacking weapons. Number one receiver Jeremy Maclin looks certain to miss the game and speedster DeSean Jackson is also carrying an injury that may keep him on the sidelines. Not good news for Michael Vick who is coming off a four interception game. Fortunately for Vick he has one of the best runners in the game to fall back on in LeSean McCoy. I expect to see a heavy dose of McCoy after he was underutilised in their week one match up and a much better outing from Vick.
Joe Flacco pulled an Eli Manning at the beginning of the season telling reporters he believed he was the best quarterback in the game. Watching him play in the Ravens new look ‘no huddle’ offence last week made those claims seem not as far fetched as some believed. The biggest thing for Flacco will now be how well the offence runs in the next couple of weeks. Last week the Bengals seemed unprepared for what the Ravens threw at them and they were undoubtedly caught off guard. Now that the opposition coordinators have had a chance to study this new system, it will be interesting to see if this revamped attack is just as effective moving forward.
With Flacco looking at home in his new offence and the defence looking as intimidating as ever, I can’t go past the Ravens in this one.
My Prediction – Ravens by 10
Jets @ Steelers 6:15 am EST
Well I’ll be honest, I didn’t see that coming. The Jets offence shook off their poor preseason form with Mark Sanchez throwing three touchdowns in a 48–28 pounding of the Bills last week. The much hyped new Bills defence did not fire a shot and New York came out with an easy win. They will face a much stiffer test this week against a Pittsburgh side looking to atone for a loss against the Broncos.
With the Jets seemingly finding their offensive rhythm last week, the Steelers defence will need all hands on deck to stop Sanchez. Unfortunately, they may be without two of their biggest names with James Harrison (knee) and Troy Polamalu (calf) yet to practice this week and looking increasingly doubtful for the game. This would be a massive blow to Pittsburgh and Music to Sanchez’s ears.
This match up looks like the perfect opportunity for Pittsburgh to get the running game going after C.J. Spiller burned the Jets for 169 yards last week. Look for a big game from Jonathan Dwyer who looks to have supplanted Issac Redman as the lead running back for the time being. The Steelers should improve on the lowly 75 rushing yards they posted last week which will help to keep their attack balance and not force Big Ben to throw too often.
Call me a sceptic but I think the Jets performance last week was a one-off and I can’t see them replicating those strong offensive numbers against a much better defence, even with the possible absence of Polamalu and Harrison.
My Prediction – Steelers by 3
Lions @ 49ers 10:20 am EST
Much of the pre-match discussion has centred around off-field matters. Specifically the handshake gone awry between the two opposing coaches during last years match up and whether there will be a repeat this time around. Unfortunately this has distracted from what looks like another classic high power offence vs all-conquering defence clash.
Detroit scraped home against the Rams last week, with a last minute touchdown by Kevin Smith saving them from a 0-1 start. The challenge they face against the 49ers defence will be much more difficult than the one the Rams provided, evidenced by the way the 49ers manhandled the Super Bowl favourite Packers last week. Matt Stafford needs to avoid early turnovers, keep a balanced attack and ensure he keeps the chains moving so the San Francisco defence doesn’t have a chance to keep fresh.
San Francisco’s defence picked up where it left off last season harassing the Packers and never giving MVP Aaron Rodgers a moments peace. They will need to be equally as aggressive against a Lions offence that is one of the most explosive in the NFL. Frank Gore looks set for another big year.
I know you shouldn’t read too much into week one results but the 49ers were so impressive last week it’s hard to see them not carrying that form forward.
My Prediction – 49ers by 4
That’s the previews for this week in what looks like another great week of football. Let me know if you agree with my picks below!