NFL Nation: preview
I can't recall a Week 2 game in recent years that had this type of big-game feel to it. It's enough that the Eagles and Cowboys are both coming off successful debuts and have lofty expectations. And the fact that this has become one of the most heated rivalries in football. Now, throw in the fact that T.O. is talking about his relationship with Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb again and you have a delicious subplot.
For some reason, the Cowboys are favored by seven points over the Eagles. But I see this game coming down to the wire. The Eagles come in with a lot of confidence because they dominated the Cowboys in a 10-6 win last December in Texas Stadium. Jim Johnson will not make the mistake the Browns made in staying back in coverage the whole time. He'll bring pressure from all over the field in an attempt to throw Tony Romo off his rhythm. Also look for him to move players around just before the snap.
When the Cowboys are on defense, they will still keep a spy on McNabb. He might not have the mobility he had before the knee injuries, but he can still hurt you outside the pocket. The Eagles are old at offensive tackle and I think Tra Thomas and Jon Runyan could struggle with Greg Ellis and DeMarcus Ware. The first priority for the Cowboys defense will be slowing down running back Brian Westbrook. He's the most important component of the Eagles' offense, and he's the guy that alertly fell down at the Cowboys' 1-yard line last December to help run out the clock.
This is a golden opportunity for Redskins head coach Jim Zorn to get things back on track. Washington went south late in the preseason and didn't show any signs of recovering in the regular-season opener. The Saints are one of the sexy picks to come out of the NFC South and cause some damage in the playoffs. Reggie Bush has added some bulk to his frame, but in the opener, it didn't look like he'd lost any quickness.
Redskins defensive end Jason Taylor isn't playing at full strength and that showed up against the Giants. Tight end Kevin Boss, not a man known for his blocking skills, neutralized Taylor and the Giants gashed the Redskins with the run. Saints head coach Sean Payton loves the fact that Redskins safety LaRon Landry lines up 25 yards off the line of scrimmage, and he'll try to locate Jeremy Shockey early and often.
But a lot of this comes down to whether Redskins quarterback Jason Campbell can do a better job operating Zorn's West Coast offense. He'll have a bigger target if rookie Malcolm Kelly's ready to go, but I have a hard time thinking Kelly will be that effective. You can not finish this game with Chris Cooley having one catch.
That has to be a huge priority for Campbell early in the game. The fact that the Saints won't have Marques Colston offers the Redskins' secondary some hope. It's not the end of the world if the Redskins fall to 0-2, but it's close to it.
The Giants have a 10-game road winning streak dating back to last season, and that's a huge point of emphasis and pride for head coach Tom Coughlin. There's no way you can overlook the fact that the Rams looked awful in the season-opener in Philly, but that's why Coughlin is worried to death heading into this game.
I'm serious as I can be. I think the Rams will stand up and play in this game. The Giants are going to win, but it won't be as easy as they want it to be. Eli Manning was pretty erratic in the second half against what looked like a bad Redskins team.
I think Coughlin's going to do a better job of working running back Ahmad Bradshaw into this game. He didn't have a carry against the Redskins, and I don't think Coughlin was happy about it. Bradshaw's too good a player to stay on the sideline. Keep your eye on defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka. He has a sore ankle, but he should be OK.