By Don Banks
September 19, 2013
Andy Reid spent 14 years with the Eagles. He returns to Philly Thursday night as coach of the Chiefs.
David Eulitt/Kansas City Star/MCT via Getty Images
Last week: 14-2; Season 25-7
Thursday, Sept. 19
8:25 p.m. ET (NFL Network) Kansas City Chiefs (2-0) at Philadelphia Eagles (1-1)
Andy Reid's hasty return to The Linc is the big-story backdrop of this primetime affair, but it's a very critical game for the Eagles for reasons other than the visit from their burly former coach. Philly knows it let a winnable game get away last Sunday against San Diego, and that means the Eagles can't afford to go 0-2 against the AFC West after three weeks. Especially since Philadelphia is staring at a three-game road trip through Denver, the Giants and Tampa Bay after Kansas City leaves town. Reid and his Chiefs would love to leave a mark on the Eagles' psyche and soar to 3-0, but Chip Kelly's team absolutely has to win this showdown between the franchise's past and present.
Sunday, Sept. 22
1:00 p.m. ET (CBS) Houston Texans (2-0) at Baltimore Ravens (1-1)
The Texans are walking a tight rope that's not sustainable, becoming the first team since the 1970 merger to open the season with consecutive wins on the final play of the game. Beating San Diego and Tennessee that way is impressive enough, but the Baltimore home-field advantage is something not to be trifled with. The Ravens haven't put four good quarters together yet, but doing things the hard way is just their style. It would seem old friend Ed Reed (hip) is preparing to finally make his Texans debut this week, just in time for the trip to Charm City and the ceremony that will induct ex-teammate Ray Lewis into the Ravens' Ring of Honor.
1:00 p.m. ET (FOX) Green Bay Packers (1-1) at Cincinnati Bengals (1-1)
I didn't even realize my two Super Bowl picks were meeting in Week 3, but here you go, an early preview of the matchup that will play through the prevailing wind, snow, ice and sub-zero temperatures at MetLife Stadium in early February. Well, we can dream, can't we? I would like to think the Bengals will defend their home turf all season, but I really didn't see much out of Cincy quarterback Andy Dalton Monday night against Pittsburgh. As for Aaron Rodgers, he will one day have a game in which the ball never touches the ground. Except for, you know, when it's being snapped to him.
1:00 p.m. ET (FOX) New York Giants (0-2) at Carolina Panthers (0-2)
Since starting last season at 6-2 as the defending Super Bowl champions, the Giants are a woeful 3-7 and back to their sloppy ways on the turnover front. New York has a league-worst 10 turnovers, with seven interceptions, in eight quarters of play, and the only thing it hasn't dropped is Tom Coughlin's blood pressure. One more loss and Carolina is again going to see a season plagued by a slow start, which will no doubt doom the Ron Rivera coaching era and make all those Cam Newton questions resurface.
1:00 p.m. ET (FOX) St. Louis Rams (1-1) at Dallas Cowboys (1-1)
The Cowboys just lost a close one to a Missouri-based club (Kansas City), now here comes another scrappy bunch from the Show Me State. Dallas should be able to move the ball through the air against the Rams, and if I'm Tony Romo, Dez Bryant would be my first, second and third read all day long. If Bryant could play a whole game the way he did in the first half against the Chiefs, he'd be in Calvin Johnson's class before long.
1:00 p.m. ET (CBS) Cleveland Browns (0-2) at Minnesota Vikings (0-2)
That blockbuster Trent Richardson trade on Wednesday should make it clear the Browns front office has made its mind up about currently injured quarterback Brandon Weeden (not to mention his presumed backup, Jason Campbell, who just got jumped by Brian Hoyer on the depth chart). Thanks for dropping by, Brandon. Cleveland just went all in on the quarterback-rich 2014 draft, while the Colts just went all in on the 2013 season. It was a gutsy call by the Browns, and time will tell if it's the right move or another disaster in the making on the lakefront. Speaking of quarterbacks who have played their way out of their team's plans, the Vikings' Christian Ponder had better have an impressive Sunday or he'll soon join Weeden on the train to nowhere.
1:00 p.m. ET (FOX) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-2) at New England Patriots (2-0)
I don't know about Tom Brady, but I've never played tiddlywinks and wouldn't even know how. But I do know this: The Bucs have found creative ways to lose both of their games at the last possible minute, and the Patriots have found ways to some how squeak out two razor-thin victories. Perhaps that's the pattern both Tampa Bay and New England will follow in 2013.
1:00 p.m. ET (FOX) Arizona Cardinals (1-1) at New Orleans Saints (2-0)
Drew Brees versus Carson Palmer? One of them makes his team go, and the other one makes his team say, "Oh, no." Care to guess which is which? The Cardinals aren't going into the Superdome and coming away with the upset.
1:00 p.m. ET (CBS) San Diego Chargers (1-1) at Tennessee Titans (1-1)
The Titans had Houston beat on the road and couldn't finish the job. They should be playing angry this week. The Chargers opened eyes in Philadelphia, with Philip Rivers making like it was 2009 again. Tennessee's defense is considerably better than the Eagles', and I'm not ready to believe San Diego has discovered the long-lost art of consistency just yet.
1:00 p.m. ET (FOX) Detroit Lions (1-1) at Washington Redskins (0-2)
I offer a hopeful statistic for Washington fans needing to calm themselves and regain some equilibrium after a tumultuous first two weeks in the nation's capital: The Lions are 0-21 when visiting Washington, which might be the most remarkable set of numbers in NFL history. The Lions certainly could end that streak of futility, but Robert Griffin III and Co. should be playing with a sense of desperation at 0-2, and this is the week desperation will make the difference.
4:05 p.m. ET (FOX) Atlanta Falcons (1-1) at Miami Dolphins (2-0)
Here's what a win in their home-opener would mean for the Dolphins: Since the playoffs expanded to 12 teams in 1990, 75.4 percent (86-of-114) of the clubs that started 3-0 reached the postseason. The Dolphins haven't been 3-0 since 2002, and the bandwagon will start to fill in South Florida if they can knock off the powerful Falcons. The key will be getting pressure on Matt Ryan, the Atlanta quarterback the Bill Parcells-led Fish elected to pass on in favor of Jake Long in the 2008 draft. Miami is tied for the league lead in sacks with nine.
4:25 p.m. ET (CBS) Buffalo Bills (1-1) at New York Jets (1-1)
Barring a tie, one of these rookie quarterbacks is going to get his career off to a 2-1 start, and inspire a little early-season excitement in an NFL locale that hasn't seen much success of late. Geno Smith needs to get the turnover issue fixed -- his careless play wrecked New York's chances in the fourth quarter at New England in Week 2. But the Bills' EJ Manuel has tried his coach's patience at times, too, and will be playing in his first ever NFL road environment at MetLife Stadium. In the battle of New York -- upstate versus the metro area -- I like the Men of Green just a tad better.
4:25 p.m. ET (CBS) Indianapolis Colts (1-1) at San Francisco 49ers (1-1)
Don't ever remember seeing Jim Harbaugh wear glasses on the sideline like he did last Sunday night in Seattle. It was almost as if the 49ers' head coach couldn't believe his eyes, given the whipping the bad-ass Seahawks were administering to his talented and well-balanced team. San Francisco was probably in a foul mood this week with wounded pride, and that means the Colts could suffer the consequences. Welcome back to the Bay Area, Andrew Luck. Now kindly prepare for defeat, signed, the 49ers.
4:25 p.m. ET (CBS) Jacksonville Jaguars (0-2) at Seattle Seahawks (2-0)
Jacksonville's Gus Bradley returning to face off against the Seahawks team he used to coordinate on defense isn't our best coaching reunion sub-plot of the week, and I hope he's not expecting a happy homecoming in the Pacific Northwest. The Seahawks all go into Beast Mode on their home field these days, and that spells another long day for the winless and mostly toothless Jaguars, who have scored a league-low 11 points.
8:30 p.m. ET (NBC) Chicago Bears (2-0) at Pittsburgh Steelers (0-2)
There's no way the Steelers should be able to match scores with a Bears team that is riding Jay Cutler's hot hand and has flashed some fourth-quarter magic for two successive weeks. I'm not sure how, but if it takes one of those not-in-our-house efforts from Dick LeBeau's defense, Pittsburgh will find a way to avoid 0-3 and abject embarrassment.
Monday, Sept. 23
8:30 p.m. ET (ESPN) Oakland Raiders (1-1) at Denver Broncos (2-0)
We're coming up on the first anniversary of the Broncos' last regular-season loss in a couple weeks. Denver has won 13 in a row outside of the postseason, with that 10-point loss at New England in Week 5 of 2012 representing its most recent failure. The Broncos have started both of their games slowly, so the Raiders could hang around for a while on Monday night. But Oakland and Terrelle Pryor aren't near ready to punch in the heavyweight division of the AFC West.
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