Previewing NFL Week 2

—The 16 teams that lost their openers will be trying to avoid 0-2 starts. Only one team, Cincinnati, started out 0-2 last year and made the playoffs. By contrast, six teams that started off 2-0 made the playoffs.

—The feature game is Miami at New England Sunday night. Patriots coach Bill Belichick took defensive players with the first three picks in the draft and held Philadelphia to a touchdown in the opener but still lost. If his defense can’t stop the explosive Dolphins, the Patriots will start off 0-2 and be two games behind the Dolphins in the division. And owner Bob Kraft may be frustrated.

—The Bengals are trying to avoid a 0-2 start for the second year in a row after a listless performance in the opener against the Browns as Joe Burrow seemed to show the effects of missing most of camp with a calf injury. The Ravens opened with a win against Houston and are going for a 2-0 start.

—The defending champion Chiefs are trying to avoid a 0-2 start when they go to Jacksonville, a team they beat twice last year. The Chiefs lost to the Lions in the opener when Kadarius Toney dropped some key passes and Travis Kelce was injured and Chris Jones was holding out. They are both back although Kelce probably won’t be 100 per cent. The Jaguars may have the weather on their side. It will be hot and may rain so Chiefs have to show they can avoid wilting.

—Zach Wilson, the Jets starter now that Aaron Rodgers is injured, faces a tough task at Dallas. The Jets aren’t expected to win but need to show they can be competitive and not be blown out the way the Giants were last week by the Cowboys.

NFL Week 1 in review

 –Maybe the Jets are a cursed franchise. They’ve spent over half a century looking for their next Joe Namath and this year they decided to hitch their wagon to aging Aaron Rodgers as a short term fix.  And for several months and through training camp, Rodgers seemed the right choice. He seemed happy and the Jets figured he could lead them to a Super Bowl. But four snaps into the season against the Bills, he was lost for the year with a ruptured Achilles. The Jets still pulled off a dramatic victory with an overtime punt return for a touchdown. But the road to the playoffs may be a bumpy one. They have a good defense and running game, but will need to find a quarterback if third year quarterback Zach Wilson isn’t the answer.

Meanwhile, the Bills have to wonder if Josh Allen is the quarterback who will take them to the Super Bowl. He threw three interceptions and lost a fumble and virtually gift wrapped the game to the Jets. He needs to stop being a turnover machine if the Bills are to do deep into the playoffs. He is now 0-5in overtime games.

—With Kansas City, Buffalo, Cincinnati, and Chargers all stumbling, Miami may emerge as the favorite in the AFC. A year ago, there were concerns that Tuo Tagovailoa’s concussions  might severely affect his career. But he had one of the best opening day showings ever, throwing for 466 yards with Tyreek Hill making 11 catchs for 215 yards in a 36-34 win over the Chargers. But it was a disappointing finish for the Chargers Justin Herbert, who needs to put a field goal on the board at the end, but didn’t get much protection and failed to pull the game out. He was even called for intentional grounding and sacked on last series.

—The two more impressive performances of the weekend were Dallas crushing the New York Giants 40-0 and San Francisco routing the Steelers, 30-7. Along with defending NFC champion Philadelphia, they look like the top three NFC teams. Meanwhile, the Giants and Steelers had high hopes for this year and have to hope the openers were a one off.

–Joe Burrow just got the best contract ever but that doesn’t change the fact he was rusty after missing training camp and it showed as he passed for just 82 yards and had a passer rating of 52.2. Both were career lows in the 24-3 loss to the Browns, who appear to know how to defend him. He is 1-5 against them.

–No surprise that the three rookie quarterbacks starting their openers – C.J. Stroud, Bryce Young and Anthony Richardson – all lost. So did the five coaches in their first season with their current teams –Sean Payton, Frank  Reich, Shane Steichen, Jonathan Gannon and DeMeco Ryans. Meanwhile, Jordan Love sat for three years behind Aaron Rodgers and led the Packers to the win over the Bears. Maybe Love can own the Bears the way Rodgers did.

–How much do the Chiefs miss Travis Kelce? Since he was sidelined with an injury, Patrick Mahomes tried to hit Kadarius Toney and one pass went off his hands for a pick six and he dropped a pass that would have set up a game winning field goal late in the game as Chiefs lost to the Lions, 21-20. Chiefs tackle Jawaan Taylor got a lot of attention for lining up off the line of scrimmage. He did it in Jacksonville, but the Jaguars didn’t play in a lot of high profile games and it wasn’t noticed. Now the Chiefs come to Jacksonville on Sunday we will see if he gets called for it.

‘Inside the NFL’ looks like it’s on its last legs

Forty seven years ago when Inside the NFL made its debut on HBO, it had a niche as an NFL highlight show.

But over the years as the number of highlight shows has exploded and the NFL Red Zone shows every touchdown every Sunday, the show has lost its novelty.

The result is that it has moved from HBO to Showtime to streaming last year on Paramount.

Now it is back on cable on the CW channel but there are questions about whether it will attract an audience.

It also has a new group of commentators with Ryan Clark being the host and joined by Channing Crowder, Jay Cutler, Chad Johnson and Chris Long.

Clark said he’s always wanted to be a host but never in his wildest dreams did he think he would be hosting Inside the NFL.

But is Inside the NFL the show that it once was? Will the new group of analysts have good chemistry? What will the ratings be like? Will fans even know it is on the CW?

The show debuts Sept. 5. We will then start getting the answers to those questions.

Previewing NFL Week 1

—The Lions didn’t make the playoffs last year and struggled at times in the preseason, but they like to think they are an up-and-coming team. The NFL even gave them the high profile opening Thursday night game at the defending champion Chiefs. The Lions will find out if they are ready for the challenge. Meanwhile, the Chiefs begin their bid for their fourth Super Bowl appearance in the last five years.

–The NFL didn’t waste any time showcasing Aaron Rodgers’ transition to the Jets. He will play his first Jets game on Monday against the Bills, who have beaten the Jets six times in a row so it won’t take long to find out how much of a difference Rodgers can make.

–Rodgers used to say he owned the Bears. Now Jordan Love takes over as the Packers quarterback after sitting on the bench for three years and will play the Bears in his first game. The Packers have beaten the Bears eight consecutive times. Can Love keep the streak going?

–The Cowboys have beaten the Giants 11 times in the last 12 meetings, but they will get the first Sunday night game because, well, they are the Cowboys and are ratings gold. And New York is the biggest market.

–The 49ers will play the Steelers for just the fourth time since 2011 and it an important game for two second year quarterbacks. Brock Purdy of the 49ers wants to pick up where he left off last year when he was injured in the NFC title game. The last pick in the draft last year, Purdy was so effective that the 49ers are convinced he is their quarterback of the future and traded away Trey Lance. Meanwhile, the Steelers’ Kenny Pickett was drafted in the first round by the Steelers last year to be their quarterback of the future and he may live up to that billing.

–Philadelphia, the Super Bowl losers, will be shown in much of the country as the doubleheader game on Sunday afternoon. They play at New England, but the Patriots aren’t what they were when they had Tom Brady and the Eagles may dominate this game.

Niners need to win big to atone for Lance debacle

San Francisco coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch said all the right things after they traded Trey Lance, the quarterback they gave up three first round picks and a second to select him with the third pick in 2021.

“I always feel like I let Trey down,” Shanahan said. I always believed in Trey.”

“We took a shot and it didn’t work out,” Lynch said. “We are accountable for that.”

Well, they have proved that talk is cheap.

You just don’t give up four high picks for a quarterback and get rid of him after he was injured two years in a row and started only four games.

We still don’t know if Lance will be a bust. He is now in Dallas as the third stringer and who knows what his future will be.

Meanwhile, the 49ers will go forward without those four high draft picks they gave up for Lance. The amazing thing is that they built a contender without them and found Brock Purdy in the seventh round to be their quarterback.

But they haven’t gotten a ring yet despite three trips to the NFC title game and a Super Bowl appearance in the last four years.

If they don’t get a ring, their legacy will likely be making one of the worst draft trades ever.