It's only Week 2, but many of today's games determine how seasons will unfold for our SPF teams. One game may mean nothing, but two games often represents a trend.
Let's start with our inter-SPF matchups. SPF teams in CAPS with (Week 1's T.I. Poll Ranking):
NEW ORLEANS(2) @ WASHINGTON(3) - Washington laid a serious egg in Week 1 against the defending Super Bowl champs. Although Jason Campbell looked good at times, the Redskins seem to be searching for a personality between Joe Gibbs smash mouth and Jim Zorn's WCO.
The Saints have weathered Katrina leaving a stronger connection to the Gulf Coast than ever before. Their biggest bugaboo remains inconsistency.
The Saints need to win this game to show that they've grown up.
ATLANTA(9) @ TAMPA BAY(7) - Ok, Ok. We are pulling out the must-win card for Tampa Bay, but a loss at home to the resurgent Falcons would put the Bucs at 0-2 and 0-2 in the NFC South after last week's loss at New Orleans.
Brian Griese gets the nod over Jeff Garcia. Jon Gruden won't be messing around any more. He's had a couple of years to replenish the talnet base, but he knows that he's on a short leash. That means every man on his roster is as well.
Atlanta needs to show that last week wasn't a fluke. They can't fall apart. Falcon fans are wounded and need only to see improvement from week to week.
A Falcons win would represent a serious changing of the guard in the NFC South.
TENNESSEE(5) @ CINCINNATI(11) - Tennessee fields a team that is perhaps a better version of the Baltimore team that embarrassed the Bengals last Sunday. The Vince Young saga should actually help the Titans since the players and coaches have confidence Kerry Collins.
Anything less than a Titans win would be a shock.
As far as the Bengals go, SPF has officially lit the fuse to explode the Marvin Lewis era.
INDIANAPOLIS(4) @ Minnesota - The Colts are largely coasting on reputation at the moment. They have never been a physical team and this week will mark their second straight game against a hard hitting NFC North team.
Minnesota and Indy should both be playing with a chip on their shoulder. Minnesota lost last week after being many experts Super Bowl pick while Indy opened their new home, Lucas Oil Field, with a crushing loss to the Bears.
If the Vikes manhandle the Colts like Chicago did, the Colts can officially start worrying about the 2008 season. It's only been a week, but many signs show that the Colts have come back to the AFC pack.
Chicago @ CAROLINA (9) - John Fox's brand of Panther football returned last week. All the elements (good running game, tough defense, big play passing game) were on display in their last minute win in San Diego.
This week marks their chance to show the people of Carolina that they can win at home.
Chicago looks to be a tough out for anyone this season (ask Indy). Carolina needs to man up and beat the Bears at their own game.
If they do, the NFC South better be ready to see the team that played in the Super Bowl a few years back, not the team that underachieved for the past few seasons.
Buffalo @ JACKSONVILLE (10) - The Jags can't seem to get out of their own way. Just when it seems that "Del Rio Ball" has turned the corner, they lay another early season egg to the Tennessee Titans.
The problem of the Del Rio era remains inconsistency on offense. Any defense, no matter how tough and talented, will crack if the offense can't help them out by either scoring points, getting first downs, or not committing key turnovers.
Buffalo punched Seattle in the mouth last week, but little is known about the NFC West except that it appears to be the NFL's worst division.
Again, it seems early, but this is a must win for the Jags. They need to reward their fans by showing them that they are still a strong playoff contender.
MIAMI(6) @ Arizona - Here's a statement game for the Parcells-era Dolphins. The Cardinals are a beatable road team. The Dolphins would show something to their beaten down fans by winning this game.
Last week's loss to the Jets showed that the Dolphins have some pieces. Chad Pennington knows how to manage a game.
SPF thinks that Week 2 is not too early for the Fins to show something.
NY Giants @ ST LOUIS(13) - First, they draw a strong Philly team on the road to lead off the season. Now, the Rams open at home against the Super Bowl champs.
Expectations are low, but the Rams find ways to still fall short. This team reflects a disasterous mix of too many disinterested veterans, inexperienced rookies, a foundering head coach, and a burned fan base.
Chances of an upset appear non-existent.
Philadelphia @ DALLAS - The T.O. Bowl begins the Cowboys last home season at Texas Stadium. Here's where we find out what the Cowboys are made of. Everyone agrees that their talent and swagger is off the charts, but this bunch has yet to win a playoff game.
The Eagles are a real test. They are well coached, veteran led, and pissed off after last year's season that saw them on the outside of the playoffs.
Let's see if the Boys are for real or whether they are all hat and no cattle.
(SPF Note: The #12 Houston Texans had their home game against Baltimore moved to November 9 because of damage to Reliant Stadium by Hurricane Ike)