My weekly look at key matchups and storylines to watch in one game at each time slot. (All times Eastern)
Many viewing this game will be focused on the matchup between Randy Moss and Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis, and rightfully so. Moss is an elite game breaker and Revis is fast becoming one of the top five corners in the league. His performance against the Texans' Andre Johnson last week was masterful, and if he can do it again against Moss, he'll merit serious consideration for being the number two cover man in all of football, behind only Nnamdi Asomugha.
But while that battle will be enticing, I'm more intrigued by how new middle linebacker Gary Guyton and New England's front four hold up against a solid Jets running game. One reasons the Patriots started using a four-man front more often was because of the unique skills of Jerod Mayo, last year's unquestioned Defensive Rookie of the Year. But he's injured, so it's on Guyton to fill that void. He was a great find a year ago as an undrafted free agent out of Georgia Tech, but he's no Mayo. Can he bring down Thomas Jones and Leon Washington? I'll be watching to find out.
I'll be at this one in my role as a color commentator on the Sports USA Radio Network, and my main focus will be on the Steelers safeties matched up against Bears tight end Greg Olsen. Olsen is part of the new breed of extremely athletic tight ends, like the Seahawks' John Carlson and the Jets' Dustin Keller, and the Bears absolutely have to take advantage of the mismatches his size and speed combination represent. That's something Jay Cutler didn't do last week.
But with Troy Polamalu sidelined for this game with his knee injury, Olsen will be primarily matched up against Ryan Clark and Tyrone Carter. For Chicago to win, Olsen has to win those battles and Cutler has to get him the ball deep down the middle of the field. The Bears won't be able to run the ball against the new version of the Steel Curtain and their receivers aren't good enough to win this one. It's gotta be Olsen.
I know everyone else is talking about how the Cowboys need to stop the run, but this one is all about the young Giants wide receivers against the Cowboys secondary. I am assuming the Boys will bone up against the run, which means Steve Smith, Domenik Hixon and new-found playmaker Mario Manningham will have to win against the favorable coverages they'll see as a result of the Cowboys having a safety placed firmly and permanently in the box to stop the run.
No Anthony Gonzalez in Indy is a serious problem because it doesn't appear as if Peyton Manning completely trusts young wideouts Pierre Garcon and Austin Collie at this point. Manning was seen having several side conversations with those guys after plays during the Colts win over the Jags on Sunday. That means they weren't on the same page. Unfortunately for Manning and Co., the Dolphins are too well coached to allow Reggie Wayne to take them down like he did against Jacksonville, and there is no chance they will be run on. That means Collie and Garcon will need to blossom on Monday night.
Now onto your e-mails and your tweets ...
Do Packer fans risk looking bad if we boo Favre when he returns to Lambeau? I think we do, given the national spotlight and the fact that he was "our guy" for 16 seasons and considered one of the greats of the game by many. To me it's similar to publicly dissing an old girlfriend because she dumped you.-- Rich Norenberg of Fond Du Lac, WI.
That's an interesting question and way of looking at it with the girlfriend analogy, but if she started dating your mortal enemy I would think you would have cause to think and speak negatively about her. I say boo if you feel like booing. I can tell you from my travels that I really don't think the rest of the country will think poorly of you. Many of them will be feeling your pain and react the same way.
Your point about not overreacting to Week 1 is well-taken, but unfortunately Jake Delhomme's opening performance was neither surprising or out of character. While it's true that the Panthers went 12-4 last season, they had to fight for that record with Delhomme hanging around their neck like an anchor. This is a quarterback who had more turnovers than passing touchdowns last season, completed fewer than 60% of his passes (terrible for this era), and had a QB rating of 12.3 against Oakland.
Jake seems like a good guy, but he's a well below average, turnover-prone quarterback on a team that just needs a consistent caretaker. Jason Campbell gets maligned in Washington, but put him on the Panthers and Carolina is a legitimate Super Bowl contender. With Delhomme, they'll go 6-10.-- J.D. Bolick, Denver, N.C.
I'm a Jason Campbell fan and I still believe he can be a winning quarterback, but I think it is a stretch to suggest that he is far superior to Delhomme. Let's see what Delhomme does the next couple of weeks before you guys tar and feather him.
Rolls Ross: You mean the Cardinals aren't who we thought they were? I'm not jumping off the Warner bandwagon, but doesn't Whiz have to at least allow Leinart the chance to play? When Leinart was the starter, Whiz said, "The best QB plays, regardless." Leinart played well in preseason, and I'd be shocked if Whiz didn't at least take a good look at Leinart.-- Shane Richardson, Phoenix
You must not have read my last article. You want to bench Warner after one game? He, along with Larry Fitzgerald, are why the Cardinals are even relevant or a topic of conversation at this point. Please read my column or my thoughts on Delhomme above.
Ross, if you were starting a franchise today and had to pick one all-purpose back, would you take Darren Sproles or Leon Washington -- and why? Thanks! --P. Jay Guthy, Shakopee, MN
Washington because he is sturdier and seems to me to be much more likely to be able to withstand a pounding. I'd gladly take either, however, if I was starting a team.
Just a comment. No one is calling Sanchez a HOF, it would be crazy to. But you also can't say he probably won't be a HOF. Can you see the future? No one thought Tom Brady was going to be much either; he was drafted in what the 6th round correct? Now look at him. So just like people are quick to say he is going to be great, don't be so quick to say he isn't. You can't tell the future. Because if you can. Then tell me the next Mega Millions Lottery Numbers now......-- Chris, Brooklyn
Sanchez had an awesome debut and may in fact be a Hall of Famer someday, but both the likelihood and probability are against it. That's all I'm saying.
IFollowAthletes@SI_RossTucker Which hurts team more? Urlacher/Wrist, McNabb/ribs, Polamalu/Knee, or Delhomme still healthy?
We have a comedian in our midst. Urlacher's injury is devastating for the Bears. He was supposedly healthy and was their unquestioned leader. All of the Bears players I interviewed looked like their dog had died, I've never seen anything like it. Most guys shrug it off and talk about the "next man up" philosophy.
Rezzo35@SI_RossTucker how about the 16 year old FANS facing charges for harmless prank! Fans don't have a union to rep 4 us, r voice isn't heard!
Totally disagree and I think those kids are lucky that Leodis McKelvin isn't going to press charges. What if McKelvin was home with his family and two people were on his property dressed in dark clothes? In today's day and age? Not a good situation.