The best one-on-one matchups in every Week 2 NFL game
The second week of the 2016 NFL season is already underway, with the Jets’ 37-31 victory over the Bills on Thursday. As the action continues, be sure to watch these key one-on-one matchups in every remaining NFL game.
Kansas City Chiefs at Houston Texans
Last season, Texans WR DeAndre Hopkins earned the fourth-highest overall grade among NFL WRs, at 90.6. With a new quarterback at the helm in Brock Osweiler, and an emerging threat opposite him in Will Fuller, can Hopkins best second-year cornerback Marcus Peters?
Dallas Cowboys at Washington Redskins
Cowboys WR Dez Bryant got off to a slow start in Week 1, hauling in just one reception on five targets. Can he and Dak Prescott get on the same page in Week 2? They’ll have to do so against Josh Norman, who surrendered three catches into his coverage against the Steelers. It’s worth noting, though, that Norman broke up both pass attempts to Antonio Brown when he was the primary coverage defender.
Cincinnati Bengals at Pittsburgh Steelers
In this heated AFC North rivalry game, Steelers guard David DeCastro will likely have his hands full with DT Geno Atkins. Last season, Atkins recorded the second-best pass-rushing productivity mark among NFL DTs, behind only the Rams’ Aaron Donald. In Week 1 of 2016, the Bengal recorded a sack and QB hurry against the Jets.
Miami Dolphins at New England Patriots
While the spotlight will remain largely on Patriots QB Jimmy Garoppolo throughout this AFC East meeting, a key matchup to watch will actually come when the Dolphins have the ball. Last season, Jarvis Landry owned the league’s seventh-highest yards per route run mark from the slot (where he lined up for 69.9 percent of his snaps); on the other side, Logan Ryan surrendered 20 receptions on 169 snaps in slot coverage.
Atlanta Falcons at Oakland Raiders
Raiders OLB Bruce Irvin, a free-agent addition by Oakland this offseason, impressed in his silver-and-black debut. In fact, fifth-year veteran earned the third-highest overall grade among all edge defenders in Week 1, as well as 15th-best pass-rushing productivity mark among 3-4 OLBs. In Week 2, however, he’ll face 2015’s highest-graded RT, Atlanta’s Ryan Schraeder.
New Orleans Saints at New York Giants
Last season, defensive end Olivier Vernon went on an incredible second-half run for the Dolphins, earning a big payday in free agency with the New York Giants. In Week 2, he’ll have quite the test, however, as he faces Saints LT Terron Armstead. Armstead recorded the second-highest pass-blocking efficiency in the league last year, behind only Browns LT Joe Thomas.
Tennessee Titans at Detroit Lions
In Week 1 versus the Colts, Theo Riddick recorded 45 rushing yards, a touchdown, and two missed tackles on seven attempts. Add on 63 more receiving yards and another touchdown through the air, and it’s easy to see how the former Fighting Irish RB is the man to watch on offense against the Titans.
Baltimore Ravens at Cleveland Browns
Returning from an injury that forced him to miss most of the 2015 season, OLB Terrell Suggs wasn’t quite up to his usual performance levels in Week 1, earning a 45.0 overall grade (albeit on just 31 snaps). It will certainly be difficult to take a step forward in Week 2, however, as he’ll often be facing Joe Thomas, the standard for an NFL left tackle for quite some time.
San Francisco 49ers at Carolina Panthers
WR Kelvin Benjamin was Cam Newton’s favorite target in 2014, and the pair looks to continue building that relationship in Week 2 against the 49ers. In Week 1, Newton targeted Benjamin 10 times, with the 6-foot-5 receiver hauling in six receptions—one for a touchdown. He also forced two missed tackles on his catches.
Seattle Seahawks at Los Angeles Rams
While most of the matchups on this list highlight strength-versus-strength, we felt compelled to note this serious mismatch heading into Week 2, especially given Russell Wilson’s injury situation. The best player in football last season, Rams DT Aaron Donald, was one of the few bright spots in Los Angeles’ Week 1 loss to the 49ers, earning the highest overall grade among all NFL interior defenders. In Week 2, he’ll face Seahawks G J’Marcus Webb, who recorded the third-lowest grade among all guards last week.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers versus Arizona Cardinals
Mike Evans and Jameis Winston got off to a hot start against the Falcons in Week 1, and hope to carry that momentum into Tampa Bay’s Week 2 meeting with the Cardinals. Evans will likely be facing Arizona CB Patrick Peterson on a regular basis; Peterson earned the 11th-highest coverage grade among all NFL cornerbacks last week in the Cardinals’ loss to the Patriots.
Indianapolis Colts at Denver Broncos
While Andrew Luck earned the highest grade among QBs in Week 1, T.Y. Hilton also produced a solid outing against the Lions. In Week 2, however, arguably one of the best cornerbacks in the game, Broncos CB Chris Harris Jr., could limit Hilton’s production. The Indianapolis-Denver meeting should produce a fun day of high-powered offense versus high-powered defense.
Jacksonville Jaguars at San Diego Chargers
Both Danny Woodhead and Melvin Gordon had big Week 1 showings in the Chargers near-upset of the Chiefs. On just 23 snaps, Gordon earned the highest overall grade among NFL running backs, while Woodhead walked away with the 29th-best mark. If the Jaguars hope to contain the Chargers’ RB-duo in Week 2, Telvin Smith—who tied for the third-most defensive stops (61) in the league among linebackers last season—will have to play a major role in the game.
Green Bay Packers at Minnesota Vikings
In an impressive Week 1 outing versus a talented Jacksonville receiving corps, Packers CB Damarious Randall earned the top overall grade of any NFL cornerback to start the year. Randall surrendered two receptions on six targets into his coverage, for an average of just 2.7 yards per catch and an NFL passer rating of 42.4 when thrown at. He’ll be facing new Vikings QB Sam Bradford in Week 2, with the former Eagle likely to lean on top Minnesota wideout Stefon Diggs.
Philadelphia Eagles at Chicago Bears
With Kyle Long now back at right guard, the veteran recorded a solid first outing in Week 1 versus the Texans, earning the ninth-best overall grade at the position (LGs and RGs included). He’ll be tested in Week 2, however, as Eagles DT Fletcher Cox recorded a sack, a hit, and hurry in Week 1 against the Browns, as well as four defensive stops.