Buffalo Bills (0-2) vs. Arizona Cardinals (1-1)
The bout between the Cardinals and Bills promises to be an entertaining one, regardless of the final score. It’s only been two games, but the Bills’ season thus far has played out like a soap opera. The Bills have been all over the place, following a 13-7 defensive struggle against the Ravens with a 37-31 heart-breaker to the division rival Jets. Quarterback Tyrod Taylor, who last season shined as a diamond in the rough, now seems stained with inconsistency yet remains wildly fun to watch as a poor man’s Russell Wilson. After two games the Bills decided to part ways with offensive coordinator Greg Roman, who a year ago was a wanted commodity around the league. The firing of a coach during a season always peaks the interest of fans. To top it all off, at the helm of the Bills are the notorious sons of defensive coaching legend Buddy Ryan, the always engaging Rex and Rob Ryan. While the Bills are proving to be must-see TV, the Cardinals have put the league on notice that they are once again Super Bowl contenders. Some may call Arizona “the place careers go to die”, but 36 year-old Carson Palmer has found new life alongside the ageless Larry Fitzgerald and 63 year-old head coach, Bruce Arians. Both teams pit unpredictable offenses against stellar defenses that can get to the quarterback, so you better record your favorite team because you won’t want to miss this clash.
Carolina Panthers (1-1) vs. Minnesota Vikings (2-0)
When franchise quarterback Teddy Bridgewater tore his ACL in practice, it seemed that nothing short of Odin himself could save the Vikings season, yet here they are with an unblemished record. After Bridgewater joined Jeremy Maclin, Jason Peters, Bryan Bulaga, and Dante Fowler Jr., among others, to tear an ACL during training camps or practice in recent years (cue Allen Iverson rant), the Vikings became one of the most interesting teams in the league. Reports surfaced that Bridgewater could have lost his leg completely; head coach Mike Zimmer went on record as adding “Bridgewater shoelace tier” to his list of responsibilities, and Minnesota traded for glorified journeyman, Sam Bradford. Then NFL legend Adrian Peterson tears his meniscus, yet somehow the overmatched Vikings beat Green Bay Packers in week two. The Vikings are currently one of only eight teams that are still unbeaten, and emerging star Stefon Diggs leads the league in receiving yards with 285. Then there’s the reigning NFC champion Panthers, who seemed to still be licking the wounds of their Super Bowl defeat at the beginning of the season. But in a 46-27 thriller over the San Francisco 49ers, the Panthers once again resembled the 2015 unit that started 14-0. Both the Panthers and Vikings come into this game with white-hot momentum, the only difference is the Panthers have everything to lose, and the Vikings have everything to prove.
Tennessee Titans (1-1) vs. Oakland Raiders (1-1)
Three years ago if you saw the Titans face the Raiders, you were watching the two minute warning, waiting for the game to end so you could enjoy the next game. While that game pitted the “Amish Rifle” Ryan Fitzpatrick against undrafted rookie Matt McGloin, this clash will feature two former first round draft picks, Marcus Mariota and Derek Carr. Both the Titans and Raiders found franchise quarterbacks in Mariota and Carr respectively. These two teams are led by high-octane offenses: Tennessee’s two-headed monster in the backfield, 2014 leading rusher DeMarco Murray, and 2015 NCAA Heisman Trophy winner, Derrick Henry, and Oakland’s breakout stars, Latavius Murray and Jalen Richard. Make no mistake, there will be plenty of fireworks in this offensive showcase, but the X-factor will be Oakland’s star linebacker Khalil Mack. Mack has proven to be a big-time playmaker on defense, but Oakland has allowed 34 and 35 points in their first two games, Mack will have to make some big plays to prevent the Titans from lighting up the scoreboard like a pin-ball machine.