It’s that time of the week again: Time to plan out and arrange your weekend football viewing around all of the other events, responsibilities, or conflicts happening in your busy life. We want to be helpful to you in this endeavor, so we’ve analyzed the Week 2 NFL schedule and picked out a half-dozen games that are worth your time and interest (in addition to your favorite team’s game, the matchups that will make or break your fantasy team, etc., of course).
Without further ado, here are the six NFL Week 2 games you need to watch, listed in chronological order.
Steelers at Ravens – Thursday, 8:25 p.m. ET, CBS and NFL Network
This AFC North battle is the debut of Thursday Night Football on CBS, and it’s hard to find many (any?) more attractive games on the Week 2 slate. The Ravens can’t afford to drop a second straight home divisional game to open the season, yet the 1-0 Steelers loom as a tall task indeed.
The stories out of Baltimore this week have all been non-football-related with the news of Ray Rice’s release. With Rice no longer part of the franchise, will the rest of the Ravens team be able to put 100 percent of its focus on the field Thursday night?
Dolphins at Bills – Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, CBS
Quick: Who thought this Week 2 game would be a matchup of 1-0 teams? Anyone? Anyone at all? Bueller?
The Dolphins had one of the more surprising victories in the league last weekend, handing the Patriots their first Week 1 loss since 2003. The Bills also impressed in their opener, going on the road to edge Chicago in overtime. Thanks to these two unlikely outcomes, Sunday’s Bills-Dolphins matchup could very well be for sole possession of first place in the AFC East (assuming the Jets can’t take down the Packers in Green Bay).
Whichever team is able to run the ball most effectively should have the upper hand here: After one game, the Bills currently rank third in the league with 193 rushing yards, while the Dolphins check in just behind them, at fourth, with 191 yards on the ground.
Falcons at Bengals – Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, CBS
Are the Falcons for real? It’s too soon to know, but a road date with the defending AFC North champion Bengals will tell us a lot more about Mike Smith’s team. Atlanta rallied past New Orleans, 37-34, in overtime in Week 1 and can take another giant step toward rebounding from an uncharacteristic four-win season with an upset in Cincinnati.
On the Bengals’ side, can the pass defense slow down Matt Ryan? Cincinnati currently ranks 26th in the league after allowing 329 yards through the air, and the Bengals will have their work cut out for them against Ryan, who had the highest Week 1 passing yardage total in the league (a team-record 445 yards).
Lions at Panthers – Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, FOX
Besides Bills-Dolphins and Falcons-Bengals, there is just one other matchup of 1-0 teams in Week 1, and it happens in the same 1 p.m. ET time slot, when the Detroit Lions visit the Carolina Panthers. This game marks the expected 2014 debut of Panthers quarterback Cam Newton, who missed the team’s 20-14 win in Tampa with fractured ribs.
Keep an eye on the matchup between Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson and the Panthers’ pass defense. Carolina only allowed the Bucs 162 yards through the air in its opening game, while Johnson had 164 receiving yards all by himself against the Giants.
Chiefs at Broncos – Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET, CBS
This AFC West game features a pair of playoff participants from a season ago, including the defending AFC champion Broncos. Last year, the teams didn’t meet for the first time until mid-November, with the Chiefs boasting a 9-0 record at the time. But,Denver took two games from Kansas City in the span of 15 days to turn the tables in the division, and Kansas City will be looking for revenge in 2014.
The Chiefs’ record is already blemished this season after a 16-point home loss to Tennessee, and Kansas City is staring 0-2 in the face if the team can’t figure out how to solve Peyton Manning and the Broncos at altitude. Denver comes into the game off a 31-24 win over fellow 2013 playoff participant Indianapolis, and the Broncos need to be careful not to overlook KC with a Super Bowl rematch in Seattle next on the docket.
Eagles at Colts – Monday, 8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
Both the Philadelphia Eagles and Indianapolis Colts won divisional crowns in 2013, so on paper, this should be among the best games of Week 2. The Colts return home from Denver trying to right the ship, while the Eagles will be searching for consistency after a Jekyll-and-Hyde performance against Jacksonville a few days ago.
In a tale of two halves, Philadelphia fell behind 17-0 at home to the Jaguars, stunning scoreboard-watchers all over the country, but turned things around after intermission by outscoring the visitors 34-0 en route to a 17-point victory. Chip Kelly’s team will now try to build on that second-half momentum with a victory at Lucas Oil Stadium.