Week 2: Matchups to watch
Here are 10 battles that will go a long way in deciding NFL games this week.
|Chris Long will be the key to the Rams' plans to contain Robert Griffin III. (Getty Images)|
1. 49ers OLB Aldon Smith vs. Lions LT Jeff Backus -- Smith can be an explosive pass rusher at times. He chased down Aaron Rodgers for a sack last week on an incredible play. Backus is a steady veteran who will fight for 60 minutes. He has to keep Matthew Stafford clean.
2. Broncos WR Demaryius Thomas vs. Falcons CB Asante Samuel -- Thomas came up big in his first game with Peyton Manning, including a 71-yard touchdown catch. Samuel was brought in to Atlanta because he plays the game with a swagger, which means he will likely match up with Thomas. Should be fun.
3. Redskins RT Tyler Polumbus vs. Rams DE Chris Long -- Polumbus and his line mates did a nice job at New Orleans last week. But Long is a step up. He is a good pass rusher, who will play a big role in the Rams trying to slow down Robert Griffin III.
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4. Bucs LT Donald Penn and RT Jeremy Trueblood vs. Giants DEs Jason Pierre-Paul and Justin Tuck -- If you want to have any chance to beat the Giants, you have to keep those ends off your quarterback. Penn and Trueblood have struggled with edge rushers at times and Trueblood has an ankle issue that could put Demar Dotson into the lineup. Whoever plays, Tuck and Pierre-Paul will be a handful.
5. Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski vs. Cardinals S Adrian Wilson -- Gronkowski is big and can run, which makes him a tough cover for both safeties and linebackers. But Wilson has the size and the speed to match up. He isn't going to back down from a physical fight either. These two will be an all-day sucker.
6. Eagles LE Jason Babin vs. Ravens RT Kelechi Osemele -- Babin had a sack last week against the Browns to get his season started the right way. Osemele, a rookie, did a nice job in his first NFL start against the Bengals. He is an athletic big man who has good feet. Babin will be a huge challenge.
7. Texans C Chris Myers vs. Jaguars defensive tackle Terrance Knighton -- Myers is perfect for the Texans zone-blocking scheme, an athletic, smart player. But he isn't overpowering. Knighton can be. He is playing for a new contract and played well last week at Minnesota. He will be key to slowing down Arian Foster.
8. Cowboys OLB DeMarcus Ware vs. Seahawks RT Breno Giacomini -- Ware, who is dinged some, showed the Giants last week why he is the NFL's best outside rusher. He is a force. Giacomini is a tough guy who won't back down, but I'm not sure if he has the athletic ability to handle Ware.
9. Jets CBs Kyle Wilson and Antonio Cromartie vs. Steelers WR Mike Wallace and Antonio Brown -- The Jets love to play man coverage against the outside receivers, but with Darrelle Revis out with a concussion, they might not be able to do it as much. Wilson is a good player, but he isn't Revis. Wallace and Brown can run. That puts a lot of pressure on the two corners.
10. Falcons LT Sam Baker vs. Broncos DE Elvis Dumervil -- Baker, who has struggled with injuries since coming into the league, did a nice job last week in Kansas City. But there was no Tamba Hali to deal with because of a suspension. Dumervil is a speed rusher who can create big problems if you don't get your hands on him. If the Falcons passing game is to continue to progress, Baker has to have another good game.
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