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Your Week 2 Matchup Guide: The Saints Get Their Chance at Revenge

Sean McVay and Sean Payton square off in a rematch from last season’s infamous NFC championship game. Plus, the point spreads, injuries, story lines, and everything else you need to know for every Week 2 game.

Getty Images/Ringer illustration

Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger reminded reporters this week that half the teams in the league lost their first game. Technically, he’s wrong. The Lions and Cardinals tied. But Roethlisberger’s point stands. Starting the year 0-1 is no big deal. But a team starting 0-2 is. In the past 20 seasons, 167 teams have started the year 0-2. Just 17 of those teams, or 10.2 percent, made the playoffs. Two of those 167 (the 2001 New England Patriots and 2007 New York Giants) won the Super Bowl. Another two of those 167 (the 2008 Detroit Lions and the 2017 Cleveland Browns) went 0-16. Week 2 is when our overreactions from Week 1 are separated from the new trends of 2019, and the big-picture view of Week 1 was scoring. Week 1 featured 90 touchdowns, the most touchdowns in the first week of a season in league history. Perhaps the Steelers and Bears, the only two teams without a touchdown in Week 1, will join the party in Week 2.

Plan Your Weekend Around This Game

New Orleans Saints (1-0) @ Los Angeles Rams (1-0)

Kickoff time: 4:25 p.m. ET
Channel: Fox
Announcers: Joe Buck, Troy Aikman, Erin Andrews (sideline reporter)
Opening line: Rams -3
Over/under: 52.5
Key Saints injuries and absences: Defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins (Achilles), left tackle Ryan Ramczyk (thigh), safety Marcus Williams (groin)
Key Rams injuries and absences: Safety Eric Weddle (concussion), defensive tackle Michael Brockers (shoulder), linebacker Clay Matthews (back)
What to watch: Whether the Saints can take vengeance

This is not New Orleans’s Super Bowl, but forgive their fans if they treat it that way. The NFC championship game no-call heard around the world sent the Saints, and the entire city of New Orleans, into a tailspin. Head coach Sean Payton recovered by bingeing The Ted Bundy Tapes, eating Jeni’s ice cream, and then convincing the league’s 31 other coaches and 31 of 32 owners to make pass interference reviewable. What Saints fans don’t want to hear is that they got the ball in overtime with a chance to win the game but Drew Brees threw an interception as he got hit one minute in and the Saints lost five plays later.

The refereeing controversy distracts from how good these two teams were last year. Here is how their offenses compared in 2018.

Saints Offense vs. Rams Offense Statistical Rankings

Statistic Saints Rank Rams Rank
Statistic Saints Rank Rams Rank
Points per game 3 2
Points per drive 2 3
Touchdowns (from scrimmage) 2 3
Touchdowns per drive 2 3
Passing touchdowns 7 8
Rushing touchdowns 1 2
Yards per game 8 2
Yards per drive 2 3
First downs 1 1
Drive success rate (first downs per series) 2 3
Average starting field position 1 3
Punts per drive 3 1
Three-and-outs per drive 2 1
Adjusted line yards (run blocking) 2 1
Percentage of runs "stuffed" 1 2
Pass protection 3 6
Third-down-conversion % 7 6
Fourth-down-conversion % 2 30
Time of possession per drive 1 17
% of red zone drives ending in a TD 5 18

The matchup of Sean McVay vs. Payton will likely be overshadowed by Payton vs. the refs, but the coaching matchup is far more compelling. These were two of the three best offenses in football last year, and this will be the third time they’ve played in less than a year. Home-field advantage in the NFC was decided by their regular-season matchup last year, and it could be again this season.

Early Games

Minnesota Vikings (1-0) @ Green Bay Packers (1-0)

Kickoff time: 1 p.m. ET
Channel: Fox
Announcers: Chris Myers, Daryl Johnston, Laura Okmin (sideline reporter)
Opening line: Packers -3
Over/under: 44
Key Vikings injuries and absences: Cornerback Mike Hughes (out), cornerback Mackensie Alexander (elbow), cornerback Holton Hill (suspended) guard Pat Elflein (knee), linebacker Anthony Barr (knee)
Key Packers injuries and absences: Tackle David Bakhtiari (back), tight end Jimmy Graham (finger)
What to watch: Who will become the NFC North clubhouse leader

Both of these teams are 1-0, and the winner will be alone at the top of the division. Of course, that assumes there will be a winner, and there wasn’t when these two teams met in Week 2 last year after the Packers came off a Week 1 victory against Chicago and tied with the Vikings, 29-29. This year, the Packers are once again coming off a Week 1 win against Chicago and taking on Minnesota in Week 2, but scoring 29 points might be harder this year against the Vikings, who shut Atlanta out for three quarters last week.

Seattle Seahawks (1-0) @ Pittsburgh Steelers (0-1)

Kickoff time: 1 p.m. ET
Channel: Fox
Announcers: Kenny Albert, Ronde Barber, Lindsay Czarniak (sideline reporter)
Opening line: Steelers -4
Over/under: 46.5
Key Seahawks injuries and absences: Wide receiver Tyler Lockett (back), safety Tedric Thompson (hamstring)
Key Steelers injuries and absences: Cornerback Joe Haden (shoulder), center Maurkice Pouncey (ankle)
What to watch: Can the Steelers rebound?

”The sun is still shining,” Ben Roethlisberger told Steelers teammates the day after their 33-3 loss to New England. He failed to note that sunshine is and has always been indifferent to human suffering. This game is a rematch of Super Bowl XL, one of the worst-officiated playoff games of all time. Both franchises have hired different head coaches who have won and lost a Super Bowl since that game, and both franchises are on the down slope with that coach this season. The forecast in Pittsburgh on Sunday is 81 degrees and sunny.

Dallas Cowboys (1-0) @ Washington (0-1)

Kickoff time: 1 p.m. ET
Channel: Fox
Announcers: Kevin Burkhardt, Charles Davis, Pam Oliver (sideline reporter)
Opening line: Cowboys -7
Over/under: 46.5
Key Cowboys injuries and absences: Guard Zack Martin (back), defensive tackle Tyrone Crawford (hip), receiver Tavon Austin (concussion)
Key Washington injuries and absences: Running back Derrius Guice (knee), tight end Jordan Reed (concussion), defensive lineman Jonathan Allen (knee), cornerback Quinton Dunbar (knee)
What to watch: Dallas’s play-action passes

Dak Prescott’s first game of the year was so good that Jerry Jones learned the Dallas offensive coordinator’s name.

“Well, he got my name right,” new offensive coordinator Kellen Moore told reporters after the game. “[Jerry] used to call me Keelen. It must mean I’m doing something right.”

Indeed. Prescott had perhaps the best game of his career with 405 yards, four touchdowns, and a perfect passer rating in Week 1’s 35-17 win over the Giants, but the most dramatic change came on play-action. Prescott dropped back to pass 611 times last year, and a quarter of those were play-action passes. That put him 16th in the league in play-action rate (minimum 50 play-action attempts) according to Pro Football Focus. In Week 1 against the Giants, Prescott dropped back 32 times and almost half of them (15 of 32, or 47 percent) were play-action passes, the second-highest rate among Week 1 starting quarterbacks (Lamar Jackson was no. 1). On Prescott’s 15 play-action dropbacks he went 14-of-15 (93.3 percent completion rate) for 207 yards (13.8 yards per attempt) and three touchdowns. That’s almost half of the seven touchdowns he had on play-action last season. If Dak can repeat his shredding of the hapless Giants defense against Washington’s solid unit on Sunday, the Cowboys will look like a Super Bowl team. If they can’t, Moore might go back to being called Keelen.

San Francisco 49ers (1-0) @ Cincinnati Bengals (0-1)

Kickoff time: 1 p.m. ET
Channel: Fox
Announcers: Thom Brennaman, Chris Spielman, Shannon Spake (sideline reporter)
Opening line: 49ers -1.5
Over/under: 45
Key 49ers injuries and absences: Pass rusher Nick Bosa (ankle), running back Tevin Coleman (ankle), receiver Jalen Hurd (back), receiver Trent Taylor (foot), safety Jimmie Ward (hand)
Key Bengals injuries and absences: Running back Joe Mixon (ankle), wide receiver A.J. Green (ankle), left tackle Cordy Glenn (concussion), left tackle Jonah Williams (shoulder)
What to watch: Cincinnati’s scoring

”Once we get A.J. [Green] back, there ain’t no talking about the Browns no more.”

That was Cincinnati receiver Tyler Boyd to Tyler Dragon of the Cincinnati Enquirer on Wednesday. The Bengals lost their opener to the Seattle Seahawks, 36-year-old Zac Taylor’s first game as head coach, , 21-20, but Andy Dalton had a career-high 418 passing yards and 2017 first-round pick John Ross, one of the fastest people on earth, had his best game as a pro. The Bengals will be better with Green, but if they can’t beat the 49ers on Sunday they may already be out of the playoff race by the time he returns.

Los Angeles Chargers (1-0) @ Detroit Lions (0-0-1)

Kickoff time: 1 p.m. ET
Channel: CBS
Announcers: Kevin Harlan, Rich Gannon, Jay Feely
Opening line: Chargers -2.5
Over/under: 48
Key Chargers injuries and absences: Tight end Hunter Henry (knee fracture), receiver Mike Williams (knee), running back Melvin Gordon (holdout), left tackle Russell Okung (blood clots), safety Derwin James (foot), kicker Michael Badgley (groin), cornerback Trevor Williams (quadricep), linebacker Jatavis Brown (ankle), linebacker Denzel Perryman (ankle)
Key Lions injuries and absences: Left tackle Taylor Decker (back) defensive end Da’Shawn Hand (elbow), cornerback Rashaan Melvin (knee)
What to watch: Austin Ekeler’s breakout

In 2017, Ekeler, then an undrafted rookie out of Western Colorado University, asked Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn how to make the team, as relayed by NBC Sports’ Peter King in his column this week. Lynn gave Ekeler vague advice about working hard.

“I didn’t even know who he was,” Lynn told King.

Everyone knows who Ekeler is now. He had 18 touches for 154 yards and a league-leading three touchdowns last week against Indianapolis. With Melvin Gordon holding out for a new contract, Ekeler has gone from backup to starting running back. In Week 1 he was the lone bright spot for a team that has once again been bitten by the injury bug, with the latest loss being tight end Hunter Henry.

Indianapolis Colts (0-1) @ Tennessee Titans (1-0)

Kickoff time: 1 p.m. ET
Channel: CBS
Announcers: Spero Dedes and Adam Archuleta
Opening line: Titans -3
Over/under: 44.5
Key Colts injuries and absences: Quarterback Andrew Luck (retired), wide receiver Devin Funchess (collarbone), defensive end Kemoko Turay (neck)
Key Titans injuries and absences: Left tackle Taylor Lewan (suspended)
What to watch: Tennessee’s defense

The Titans throttled the Browns last week because their front seven—led by the newest member of the 100-sack club, Cameron Wake—dominated Cleveland’s thin offensive line. We’ll have to take this Titans team seriously if they can do the same against a “hyped” Colts offensive line.

New England Patriots (1-0) @ Miami Dolphins (0-1)

Kickoff time: 1 p.m. ET
Channel: CBS
Announcers: Ian Eagle, Dan Fouts, Evan Washburn (sideline reporter)
Opening line: Patriots -14.5
Over/under: 48
Key Patriots injuries and absences: Tackle Marcus Cannon (shoulder), guard David Andrews (blood clots)
Key Dolphins injuries and absences: Tackle Julie’n Davenport (out, tibia), receiver Albert Wilson (hip)
What to watch: Whether Antonio Brown plays

The focus will be on Antonio Brown after a federal civil complaint says he raped a former trainer in Miami last year. It is unclear whether Brown will suit up for the Patriots in Miami on Sunday, but he practiced with the team on both Wednesday and Thursday. Both teams are preparing as if he will play.

Buffalo Bills (1-0) @ New York Giants (0-1)

Kickoff time: 1 p.m. ET
Channel: CBS
Announcers: Greg Gumbel, Trent Green, Melanie Collins (sideline reporter)
Opening line: Bills -2.5
Over/under: 43.5
Key Bills injuries and absences: Receiver Cole Beasley (illness)
Key Giants injuries and absences: Receiver Sterling Shepard (questionable, concussion), linebacker Kareem Martin (knee)
What to watch: The best (only?) team in New York

New York has four tragicomic quarterbacks in Buffalo’s Josh Allen, the Jets’ mono-riddled and quarantined Sam Darnold, the Giants’ Eli Manning, and their Manning cloning experiment code-named Daniel Jones. But only the Bills have a defense good enough to drag one of those quarterbacks to the playoffs. Buffalo’s defense bailed Allen out from four first-half turnovers as the Bills came back to beat the Jets in Week 1. If Buffalo beats the Jets and Giants in back-to-back weeks, it would remind everyone that the Giants and Jets are just Jersey trash pretending to be from the city.

Arizona Cardinals (0-0-1) @ Baltimore Ravens (1-0)

Kickoff time: 1 p.m. ET
Channel: Fox
Announcers: Brandon Gaudin, Cris Carter, Peter Schrager (sideline reporter)
Opening line: Ravens -13.5
Over/under: 46.5
Key Cardinals injuries and absences: Cornerback Patrick Peterson (suspended),
Key Ravens injuries and absences: Wide receiver Marquise Brown (hip), running back Mark Ingram (shoulder), cornerback Jimmy Smith (knee), cornerback Marlon Humphrey (back)
What to watch: Lamar Jackson and Kyler Murray

A Heisman winner and the first pick of the first round in 2019 against a Heisman winner and the last pick of the first round in 2018. Aside from the star power, this game is also a football nerd’s delight. Both head coaches promised NFL revolutions this season with Arizona’s Kliff Kingsbury using the Air Raid offense in the NFL and Baltimore head coach John Harbaugh comparing the Ravens offense before the season to the Bill Walsh’s West Coast offensive innovation in the 1980s. Jackson, the reigning AFC Offensive Player of the Week, will have an easier time against Arizona, which is missing its top two cornerbacks, than Murray will against Earl Thomas.

Jacksonville Jaguars (0-1) @ Houston Texans (0-1)

Kickoff time: 1 p.m. ET
Channel: CBS
Announcers: Andrew Catalon and James Lofton
Opening line: Texans -9.5
Over/under: 43.5
Key Jaguars injuries and absences: Quarterback Nick Foles (collarbone), defensive end Yannick Ngakoue (hamstring), tackle Cam Robinson (knee)
Key Texans injuries and absences: DeAndre Hopkins (ribs)
What to watch: Gardner Minshew II, the meme of Week 1

Gardner Minshew looks like the star of a football-themed porno on a VHS tape.

Nick Foles leaving Jacksonville’s Week 1 game with a broken collarbone less than a quarter into his first game with the team was sad, but his replacement has given this season an early distraction. His name is Gardner Minshew II, but there is no Gardner Minshew I. The alternative was naming him Beowulf Minshew. In college, teammates said he did arm stretches after practice wearing nothing but sunglasses and a jockstrap. Sometimes it was just the sunglasses. The first time he went out with teammates in college, he had vanilla Crown Royal wedged in his waistband. His press conference on Tuesday was pure joy, first discussing the quarterback room without Nick Foles and deflecting a question about how smart he is based on his wonderlic test score.

Minshew is the meme of the hour, but let’s hope he has staying power.

Afternoon games

Kansas City Chiefs (1-0) @ Oakland Raiders (1-0)

Kickoff time: 4:05 p.m. ET
Channel: CBS
Announcers: Jim Nantz, Tony Romo, Tracy Wolfson (sideline reporter)
Opening line: Chiefs -8.5
Over/under: 53.5
Key Chiefs injuries and absences: Wide receiver Tyreek Hill (out, shoulder)
Key Raiders injuries and absences: Cornerback Gareon Conley (neck), safety Johnathan Abram (shoulder), guard Gabe Jackson (knee), wide receiver J.J. Nelson (ankle)
What to watch: Patrick Mahomes’s opening-drive touchdown before the Rams-Saints game begins

Mahomes eclipsed 200 yards passing against the Jacksonville Jaguars in the first quarter on Sunday. The Chiefs went on to score 40 points and accrue 491 yards despite losing Hill to a shoulder injury in the first half and kicking three field goals inside Jacksonville’s red zone. This week, they take on Oakland, who gave up the most points in the league last year. You can flip channels to Rams-Saints when this is 14-0.

Chicago Bears (0-1) @ Denver Broncos (0-1)

Kickoff time: 4:25 p.m. ET
Channel: Fox
Announcers: Dick Stockton, Mark Schlereth, Jennifer Hale (sideline reporter)
Opening line: Broncos -1
Over/under: 40.5
Key Bears injuries and absences: Tight end Trey Burton (groin), defensive tackle Eddie Goldman (oblique)
Key Broncos injuries and absences: Tackle Ja’Wuan James (knee), cornerback Bryce Callahan (foot), guard Ron Leary (quadricep)
What to watch: Vic Fangio’s Chicago reunion

Nine months ago, Fangio was Chicago’s defensive coordinator watching helplessly as kicker Cody Parkey’s double-doink cost the team a playoff win. Exactly 36 weeks later, Fangio is the head coach of the Broncos and will host his former ferocious Bears defense at Denver’s stadium. It’s a luxury to go from coaching Khalil Mack to Von Miller, but we’ll see on Sunday whether Fangio can get Miller going after the Broncos failed to stop Oakland’s offense on Monday. If anyone knows how to stop Mitchell Trubisky—and it doesn’t seem that hard—it’s Fangio.

Sunday Night Football

Philadelphia Eagles (1-0) @ Atlanta Falcons (0-1)

Kickoff time: 8:20 p.m. ET
Channel: NBC
Announcers: Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth, Michele Tafoya (sideline reporter), Terry McAulay (rules analyst)
Opening line: Even
Over/under: 51
Key Eagles injuries and absences: Defensive tackle Malik Jackson (foot), defensive tackle Fletcher Cox (toe)
Key Falcons injuries and absences: Guard Chris Lindstrom (injured reserve, foot), guard Wes Schweitzer (shoulder)
What to watch: The Eagles continuing to own the Falcons

The Falcons are 18-17 since they blew a 28-3 lead in Super Bowl LI. Their revenge tour the following season ended in Philadelphia in the divisional round of the playoffs when, down 15-10 with less than 90 seconds left in the game and less than 10 yards from the end zone, they tried to get the ball to Julio Jones three times. They couldn’t, and they lost. Atlanta’s next game was the 2018 season opener on Thursday night … in Philadelphia. Once again, the Falcons had the ball with goal to go late with the chance to score a game-winning touchdown. Once again, they failed. If they lose their third straight game to the Eagles on Sunday, they will drop to .500 since that Super Bowl loss, and if it happens it will probably be because they couldn’t get the ball to Julio Jones in the end zone.

Monday Night Football

Cleveland Browns (0-1) @ New York Jets (0-1)

Kickoff time: Monday, 8:15 p.m. ET
Channel: ESPN
Announcers: Joe Tessitore, Booger McFarland, Lisa Salters (sideline reporter)
Opening line: Browns -2.5
Over/under: 46
Key Browns injuries and absences: Guard Joel Bitonio (abdomen), wide receiver Rashard Higgins (knee), tackle Kendall Lamm (knee), running back Dontrell Hilliard (concussion)
Key Jets injuries and absences: Quarterback Sam Darnold (out, mono), running back Le’Veon Bell (knee), linebacker C.J. Mosley (groin), defensive tackle Quinnen Williams (ankle), safety Jamal Adams (hip), tackle Kelvin Beachum, guard Brian Winters (shoulder)
What to watch: Odell Beckham Jr. stunting on Gregg Williams’s defense

The Baker Mayfield NFL legend was born against the Jets in Week 3 last year. Mayfield entered the game for the first time as a pro and was getting chirped at by a Jets linebacker. Mayfield responded by turning directly to the linebacker and hollering back, “I don’t even know who you are. Who are you?”

Mayfield led the Browns to a comeback victory in that game, their first in 635 days, which led to the Bud Light coolers opening. Jets head coach Adam Gase preferred Baker Mayfield to Sam Darnold in the 2018 pre-draft process, according to a report from Manish Mehta of The New York Daily News. On Thursday Gase tepidly revealed that Darnold had mono and would not make the rematch between the no. 1 and no. 3 picks in the 2018 draft. But there will still be plenty of drama when the Browns offense is on the field.

Former Browns defensive coordinator Gregg Williams was interim head coach in Cleveland for a stretch last year, but Freddie Kitchens was ultimately given the full-time gig and Williams was fired at the end of the year. He is now coaching the Jets defense in a revenge game. Browns wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., formerly of the New York Giants, injured his ankle against the Browns in the preseason of 2017, and he recently told reporters that he has been told by Browns players that Williams wanted him taken out of the game.

”That’s the man calling the plays,” Beckham said.

Both the Browns and Jets are 0-1. Less than a year since the Browns’ winless streak ended, Cleveland is projected by many to make the playoffs. Whichever team that loses on Monday will have long odds to get there.