The season really ignited last week which saw a few of the Superbowl fancies come up a little short. Both The Patriots and The Jets were beaten somewhat surprisingly while Green Bay are looking more impressive as the weeks go by. You really have to say they do look worthy Superbowl favourites even at this early stage. The first game on Sky this week sees the impressive Detroit Lions travel to Dallas to face The Cowboys. Dallas are coming off a good win last week against Washington but they will need to be right at the top of their game to beat a Lions side that is looking like a serious outfit this season. Detroit came back from a horrible first half last week against Minnesota and in QB Matt Stafford they have unearthed a real gem. He just looks so composed in the pocket for a relative rookie and is certainly now justifying being the number 1 draft pick in 2009. I think this is going to be a tight affair and the QB match up between Romo and Stafford should be fascinating. I fancy Detroit to go to an unlikely 4-0 and and emphasise The Cowboys’ continuing mental fragility.
The second game this week sees Tom Brady attempting to get The Patriots back on track on the road against Oakland. The Patriots unbelievably threw away a 21 point lead last week against the Buffalo Bills and certainly looked exposed in doing so. The suspicion is always there that Brady carries this team to a certain extent and in his absence you would have to say, given their roster, they would struggle to be an elite side. They are very poor in defence against the pass and were picked apart last week by Ryan Fitzpatrick. This week The Patriots running defence is going to be severely tested with the freak Darren McFadden in imperious form for Oakland. This guy is seriously impressive and The Raiders look to have their old agression back which is a worrying combo for New England. While we know Brady will put points on the board the question remains whether the defence can keep Oakland at bay. I think the Patriots will struggle and fancy The Raiders to go to an unlikely 3 – 1 start.
The late game on channel 4 sees old enemies Baltimore Ravens hosting the New York Jets. They suffered contrasting fortunes last week with The Ravens destroying St. Louis on the road and The Jets blowing up away to Oakland. These games are always close tactical affairs with each side knowing the other very well. Familiarity certainly breeds contempt between these two and it should be a very physical contest again this week. Traditionally both of these sides are very strong defensively but both of them have looked dynamic offensively and questionable in defence so far this year. Joe Flacco looks to be connecting well with his receivers this year especially Anquan Bolden and his match up with shut down corner Darrelle Reevis should be a great contest. The Ravens should edge it but it will be tight.
Monday night football this week sees the hopeless Colts travel to Tampa Bay to take on the Glaziers’ American franchise The Bucaneers. Quite simply without the injured Peyton Manning The Colts haven’t got a chance. No other team in the league is so heavily reliant on one player as they are. This is always the risk when you put all your eggs in one basket but given the brilliance year after year of Manning, who can blame them? It is coming home to roost now though and Tampa Bay have a young ambitious side with a very strong defensive line that should give the Colts little change without the brilliance of Manning to open them up. The Bucs to cruise to victory and the Colts to start the season with a shocking fourth loss in a row.