The second week of the NFL season is loaded with interesting matchups that should have you flipping between channels. Not to mention an intriguing tilt on Monday night. Before we concern ourselves with Monday, let’s dive into some of the early games.
Indianapolis Colts vs Tennessee Titans 1:00pm EDT
A player who has flown under the radar among ProCanes is Colts’ defensive end Al-Quadin Muhammad. Well, No. 97 blipped on the radar last week when he turned in a disruptive performance against the Los Angeles Chargers. AQM recorded his first career sack in a regular season game, finishing with a stat line of two tackles — a sack and tackle-for-loss.
The Colts will try to rattle QB Marcus Mariota who has a 2-4 record as a starter against Indianapolis. To get to Mariota, AQM will see plenty of RT Jack Conklin for the Titans. Conklin allowed just 19 pressures (four sacks, one QB hit and 14 QB hurries) in 2018. Muhammad will be most useful helping the Colts stymy the Titans’ rushing attack led by RB Derrick Henry. A week ago, Tennessee galloped to 123 rushing yards against the Cleveland Browns — 4.4 yards-per-carry.
Buffalo Bills vs New York Giants 1:00pm EDT
Frank Gore is just 501 yards away from surpassing Barry Sanders for third on the NFL’s all-time rushing list.
If you ask Gore about the rushing record, he’ll likely brush nearing the accolade aside. Playing down the accomplishment speaks to the RB’s humble demeanor. Gore has other priorities aside from padding his career rushing yardage, especially with Buffalo focused on contending for the AFC East crown. Today, they’ll try to pound some respect into one of their New York state neighbors. The Bills have lost their past three games against the Giants, including the last meeting in 2015 by a score of 24–10. In 2019, Frank Gore rushed for 95 yards on 19 carries to help the San Francisco 49ers pull off a win. While much has changed, Gore’s downhill running style remains consistent to the younger version of himself.
A pair of ProCane defensive linemen will try their best to make Gore’s day as unproductive as possible. Olsen Pierre and RJ McIntosh are key rotational members of a remade Giants’ defense. NYG defensive coordinator James Bettcher has shifted the team to a 3-4 defense from their longtime staple as 4-3 group. In a system that is built for the linebackers to make plays, credit needs to go to the big man upfront, who occupies blockers to allow those second-level defenders to do so. Both McIntosh and Pierre will battle it out in the trenches with a Buffalo O-line that is still trying to gel after a preseason plagued by injuries and ongoing experimentation to find the best starting five.
Perhaps this is a week where Big Blue’s defensive line gets to shine.
Los Angeles Chargers vs Detroit Lions 1:00pm EDT
There’s no concern about receiving enough attention for the Los Angeles Chargers. The Bolts took care of business last week against the Colts. They’ll now turn their attention to NFC opponent, the Detroit Lions. Although LB Denzel Perryman is sporting a brace, the ProCane looks as healthy as he’s ever been in his 5th season in the league — listed as questionable with an ankle injury. Rayshawn Jenkins looks comfortable as the Charges’ new starting free safety. The Farragut High School alum delivered a two-tackle performance, helping the Chargers shutdown Indy’s passing game.
Chargers’ WR Travis Benjamin remains the home run threat that we expect him to be. That quality did not show up in week one (two catches, 12 receiving yards). Yet, when you’re gifted with top-end speed, you’re always just a breath away from being on the receiving end of a big play.
The Chargers are hopeful that K Michael Badgley AKA ‘The Money Badger’ will make his season debut today— he’s listed as questionable — after being held out of week one with a groin injury. UM’s all-time leading scorer has not missed a field goal since December 2nd of 2018 and has not shanked an extra point since last November. A Money Badger does what a Money Badger does.
Jacksonville Jaguars vs Houston Texans 1:00pm EDT
The days of the Jacksonville Jaguars being considered one of the best defensive units in the league are a distant memory — which was two seasons ago for those counting. The D is a shell of its former self. Playing the reigning MVP in week one did not help, but the situation only gets tougher for the North Florida cats. The Jags take on the Houston Texans in an early season AFC South divisional game that will have lasting ramifications. Another loss out the gate could put Jaguars’ head coach Doug Marrone on the hot seat.
With that said, we should expect a big game from Jacksonville and ProCane DE Calais Campbell. The 33-year-old lineman still plays with an intense passion for the sport. He’s also a tall order for blockers to handle. Facing a revamped Houston O-line that has talent but also plenty of unknowns early in the season, the Jags have an advantage in the trenches.
On the other side of the ball, RB Duke Johnson Jr. is going to need his blockers to refute our previous statement. While Duke is a gifted offensive weapon, capable of lining up across the formation, eventually he’ll need some space to work between the tackles. Duke gained 57 rushing yards and averaged 6.3 yards-per-carry in his first game in a Houston uniform. After trading a third-round pick for his services, the team will expect more from the ProCane as the season unfolds.
New England Patriots vs Miami Dolphins 1:00pm EDT
The Dolphins are in full on ‘tank mode’. After getting pummelled by the Baltimore Ravens in their opening week, the Phins square off with AFC East nemesis, New England Patriots. The hooded menace that is Bill Belichick, the golden boy that is Tom Brady and the on-going saga that is WR Antonio Brown will all take the field at Hard Rock Stadium.
There’s always hope that the ProCanes on the Phins can make an impact against New England’s defense. To do so, they’ll need more opportunities. RB Mark Walton had a single carry for just one yard a week ago. WR Allen Hurns was limited to one reception for 22 receiving yards. Nothing went the Dolphins’ way in week one, but the Patriots provide the ProCanes with another opportunity to showcase improvement — or not.
DE Trent Harris was inactive last week dealing with a foot injury. He’s questionable to play today. The Dolphins will need all the help they can afford if they want to make this contest competitive. It’s why Miami enters as tremendous underdog. However, who could forget last year’s ‘The Miracle in Miami’?
The Dolphins make you truly thankful for Hurricanes football in South Florida.
Monday Night Football
Cleveland Browns vs New York Jets 8:20PM EDT
This should be a meeting of ProCanes tight ends, but New York Jet’s TE Chris Herndon is serving the second of a four-game suspension for violating the league’s personal conduct policy. That leaves WR Braxton Berrios as the lone ProCane for the Gang Green — listed as questionable with a hamstring injury. Berrios continues to be the Jets’ primary kick returner and should have more than one opportunity to provide favorable field positioning for his side.
The Browns scored a touchdown on the first drive in their season opener against the Tennessee Titans last week. That score turned out to be an anomaly as Cleveland struggled to overcome 18 penalties for 182 yards. ProCane TE David Njoku was a positive for the offense, hauling in four receptions for 37 receiving yards and a touchdown reception from a yard out. Against a New York defense that was in severe disarray after losing middle linebacker CJ Mosley, Njoku should have a more favorable matchup in week two.
It was a quiet weekend for the ‘Cleveland Canes’ on defense. S Sheldrick Redwine got on the stat sheet with a tackle, while Olivier Vernon was able to generate pressure on the pass rush. NYJ surrendered four sacks against the Bills in week one. Facing a Browns squad that is highly motivated after a letdown, Jets’ QB Sam Darnold will be running for survival in this primetime matchup. Or he would be, if he wasn’t ruled out indefinitely after being diagnosed with a case of mononucleosis. So, it’ll be up to QB Trevor Siemian to lead the Jets to glory on Monday night.
News and Notes
Dallas Cowboys’ DE Joe Jackson will make his second appearance in front of the Cowboy faithful. Jackson accounted for a QB hit as the Cowboys routed the Giants 35–17 in week one. According to Pro Football Focus, Jackson turned in a grade of 65.6 — PFF’s grading scale goes up to 100.
ProCanes Fantasy Player of the Week
As we just mentioned, the Cleveland TE is in line for a decent amount of targets on Monday. There’s a reason why they call UM ‘Tight End U’, and we expect Njoku to live up to the standard when the lights shine bright!
IT’S ALWAYS ABOUT THE U!