The Minnesota Vikings and the Philadelphia Eagles have the chance to earn league-wide respect with a win Sunday, but they'll each have to take down a perennial contender on the road. Are Sam Bradford and Carson Wentz up to the task?
Welcome to Week 2! Last night, we were treated to some “classic” Thursday Night Football action, as the Texans escaped with a 13-9 win and the Bengals fell to 0-2 (and failed to score a touchdown for the second week in a row). Now it's time to turn our attention to the action heading our way, which will culminate in a rematch of the NFC Championship Game on Sunday night (Packers at Falcons, 8:30 p.m. ET). But before that nightcap, there are two inter-conference matchups featuring NFC teams that ought to join the Packers and Falcons in the elite tier if they can pull off road wins. Though both of these teams started 2-0 last year before fading, they'll deserve renewed trust if they beat a perennial AFC contender. No teams have more to gain than the . . .
Philadelphia Eagles (at Kansas City, 1 p.m. ET)
You will know the name Brandon Graham by the end of this season, at least if the edge rusher continues playing like he did last week against Washington, when he tallied two sacks and forced the game-clinching fourth-quarter fumble in a 30-17 victory. Along with defensive tackle Fletcher Cox, Graham headlines what could be one of the top front fours, but before we go anointing anyone, let's see if they can do what the Patriots couldn't, slowing down a Chiefs attack that stands atop the league after one week. If they can, and if Carson Wentz continues developing a rapport with Alshon Jeffery—they should be able to have success with K.C. missing safety Eric Berry—Philly will emerge as Dallas' biggest NFC East threat.
Minnesota Vikings (at Pittsburgh, 1 p.m. ET)
It will be fascinating to watch a loaded Steelers offense go up against a loaded Vikings D. But the other side of things will be more telling when it comes to Minnesota's chances this season. Sam Bradford, rookie Dalvin Cook and the offensive line looked great in their own stadium against the Saints. Can they put together a similar performance in Black & Gold Country? If so, Minnesota has a chance to match (if not surpass) last year's 5-0 start, as it gets five of its next six games back in Minneapolis.
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NOW ON THE MMQB: Jenny Vrentas hosts a Week 2 roundtable ... Ben Baskin highlights the promise of Atlanta's new stadium, and new year ... Albert Breer dissects Sean McVay's strategy with Jared Goff ... Michael Beller provides Week 2 fantasy rankings ... and more in our archive.
LATER TODAY ON THE MMQB: Kalyn Kahler speaks with Chiefs linebacker Derrick Johnson ... Andy Benoit previews Sunday's action ... and more. Stay tuned.
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1. Texans 13, Bengals 9. Deshaun Watson got a win in his first start, but it was ugly. The only touchdown came on a 49-yard scamper by the rookie near the end of the first half. Cincinnati now has to avoid an 0-3 start by beating the Packers in Green Bay. Oof.
2. Giants wideout Odell Beckham Jr. returned to practice yesterday for the first time since spraining his left ankle in a preseason game against the Browns, but his return to game action remains uncertain. While the team said Beckham will be a game-time decision on Monday, the superstar was originally told he could be out as many as 12 weeks (it hasn't been a full four weeks yet). Speaking of hurt receivers, The Chicago Tribune rehashed Kevin White's "cruel and empty odyssey" to this point after he broke his left shoulder blade on Sunday.
3. A new year, the same storyline: NFL ratings were down during Week 1. Frank Schwab outlines the possible explanations.
4. In honor of USC-Texas tomorrow, The Los Angeles Times checked in with LenDale White. The story opens with White smoking weed and saying, "I'm depressed about football every day." It stays riveting.
5. The Athletic lifted its paywall for this feature on emerging cult hero Giorgio Tavecchio, the Raiders kicker who was cut seven times before blowing up in Sunday's win in Tennessee. While we're in Oakland: Marshawn Lynch was fined $12,000 for his obscene hand gesture against the Titans. Welcome back to the NFL, Marshawn!
6. One reunion I failed to mention yesterday: Bruce Arians is heading back to Indianapolis. Columnist Gregg Doyel calls the Cardinals leader, "the coach who got away."
7. For The Undefeated, Jason Reid explains how "Marlin Briscoe carved a path for black quarterbacks to follow," even if he was forced to switch to wideout after one successful season.
8. A Miami high school football team was stranded in Las Vegas after Hurricane Irma ruined their travel plans. Then the Dolphins stepped in.
9. What Adrian Peterson said to Sean Payton during Monday Night Football remains a mystery. But here's a clue. "I didn't sign up for nine snaps, though," Peterson said on Thursday. "But unfortunately that's the way the game played out."
10. The Los Angeles Chargers have their home debut on Sunday in a stadium about one-third the size of other NFL sites. What will that be like?
Have a story you think we should include in tomorrow’s Press Coverage? Let me know here.
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After his record setting debut, Dalvin Cook, well, cooked.