Best NFL game to watch for each time slot: Week 2, 2020

Deshaun Watson of the Houston Texans scrambles against the Baltimore Ravens in their 2019 NFL matchup. Photo by Julio Cortez/AP Photo

Another week, another weekend full of NFL football. Week 1 of the season gave us a mixed bag of good, bad, and ugly. Some teams started out the gates strong, while others struggled to get things going. The teams who had many new faces join their franchise showed the most struggles, as this was their first time being able to work with each other in real game action.

Week 2 of the NFL season is going to give us more interesting matchups. There are two Heisman winning quarterbacks taking center stage on Thursday night, a potential AFC Championship game preview, and a few contenders looking to avoid starting the season 0-2. Some teams are looking to build off of their impressive season openers and start the season 2-0.

All three of my selections were less than great last week. The games I selected were all decided by 11 points or more and were essentially over by the fourth quarter. The highlights were there, but the game excitement was not. It’s a new week though, which means there is one game in each time slot that I think is worth watching. Here are my selections for Week 2.

Best Early Afternoon Game: Minnesota Vikings vs. Indianapolis Colts ( Sunday, September 20, 2020, at 1:00 p.m. EST on FOX)

This Vikings/Colts matchup is one of five matchups in NFL for Week 2 where both participants are 0-1. The Vikings are coming off a loss in a high scoring affair against their NFC north-rival Green Bay Packers. Minnesota’s secondary struggled against Aaron Rodgers who threw for 364 yards and four touchdowns. The Vikings went younger at the position group this season, and the youth was evident in their home opener. The Packers’ wideouts played more physical than the Vikings defensive backs in Week 1, especially Davante Adams.

Indianapolis has T.Y. Hilton, who is a star receiver with plenty of speed. They also have another speedster in Parris Campbell and a big target in rookie Michael Pittman Jr. The matchup between the Colts’ receivers and the Vikings’ secondary will be a focal point in this game. Minnesota’s pass rush needs to be more active against Phillip Rivers, who is coming off a 363-yard passing day in his Colts debut. Whether it comes from coverage or pressure, head coach Mike Zimmer’s defense must be better to avoid an 0-2 start.

The Vikings put up a 24 point fourth quarter, but the offense was very quiet before that. Dalvin Cook found the endzone twice, but only hit 50 yards on the ground. 13 total touches are not enough for a running back who just signed a $63 million extension. Minnesota had the ball for just under 20 minutes against the Packers, and the Colts can play the possession game with a strong running attack. Feeding Cook on the ground should be a point of emphasis in Week 2 for Minnesota.

Indy’s Marlon Mack suffered a torn Achilles last week, which ends his season. Mack planned to have a strong campaign this season after rushing for 1,091 yards and eight touchdowns in 2019. He had four carries for 26 yards and one reception for three yards before his injury. Second-round draft pick Johnathan Taylor is now the starter according to Colts head coach Frank Reich. Taylor was a star at Wisconsin, rushing for 6,174 and 50 touchdowns during his college career. 

Phillip Rivers hopes to improve after a two-interception performance in his first game for Indianapolis. He ended up throwing the ball 46 times, which was twice as many times as they ran the ball (22 times). Even though they don’t have Mack, the Colts will have to rely more on their run game. The Vikings defense gave up 158 yards and a touchdown against Green Bay, helping them win the possession battle. Rivers doesn’t need to carry the Colts, he just needs to provide timely throws and protect the football. He is behind one of the best lines in the NFL, so why not use them to your advantage.

Both teams are trying to avoid an 0-2 start to the year. This interconference matchup could end up being a slugfest if both teams look to establish the run game. There will be some fans at Lucas Oil Stadium, as a maximum of 2,500 fans will be allowed at the game. The Vikings are 7-17-1 against Indy all-time, including an 0-11 record on the road against them.

Best Late Afternoon Matchup: Baltimore Ravens vs. Houston Texans (Sunday, September 20, 2020, at 4:25 p.m. ET on CBS)

The Baltimore Ravens are looking to improve to 2-0 while the Houston Texans are looking to get their first win. Houston lost to the Chiefs 34-20, led by Patrick Mahomes’ 211 yards and three touchdowns. Rookie Clyde Edwards-Helaire ran through Houston for 138 yards and a score. The defense will have another lethal offense to contain in Lamar Jackson and the Ravens.

Jackson was sensational in his 2020 debut against the Browns, throwing for 275 yards and three touchdowns. He also added 45 yards on the ground to his stat line. He spread the ball to all of his targets, with Marqise “Hollywood” Brown having 101 receiving yards, Willie Snead IV with 64 yards and a touchdown, with Mark Anderson rounding out the top three with 59 yards and two touchdowns.

The Texans secondary looked less than sharp last week and will have more to worry about in Week 2. The rush defense has to worry about Lamar Jackson, Mark Ingram, and rookie J.K. Dobbins who scored twice in his first career game. Bill O’Brien said his team has “a lot to fix,” after the Week 1 loss, and their offense should be included with that.

Deshaun Watson wasn’t terrible but he wasn’t his usual self in the season opener. He threw one touchdown and ran for one. He also threw one interception, partially caused by the pressure he was under all night. The Chiefs sacked Watson four times and laid eight QB hits on him. The Texans O-line must be better if they want a shot at winning in Week 2 against Baltimore. The Ravens got after Watson in their 2019 matchup, sacking him seven times and hitting him ten times in a 41-7 rout.

Jackson had a four-touchdown performance in last year’s contest. The Texans had no answer for him through the air or on the ground. Given how they played against Mahomes and the Chiefs, Houston might be in more trouble defensively in Week 2. J.J. Watt needs to be a difference-maker if Houston has any shot at slowing Lamar down. 

This game could be a preview of a potential playoff matchup. Both teams have high expectations in 2020 and with the playoff field at seven teams, the Ravens and Texans may see each other again later in the season. If both teams handle their business and meet the expectations set before them. This early-season contest will be one of the NFL’s most entertaining games for Week 2.

Best Primetime Matchup: New England Patriots at Seattle Seahawks (Sunday, September 20, 2020, at 8:20 p.m. ET on NBC)

This week’s best primetime matchup takes place on Sunday night with the New England Patriots taking on the Seahawks in Seattle. Both teams won their season openers and want to jump out to a quick 2-0 record. The Seahawks handled the Falcons led by their star quarterback Russell Wilson. He threw for 322 yards and four touchdowns, only having four incompletions on a 31/35 passing day. He also led the team in rushing with 29 yards, something that has to change.

Chris Carson only had 21 yards on six carries. Carlos Hyde ran for 23 yards and a touchdown on seven carries. The run game needs to get going but it’ll be a challenge in playing against the Patriots stout defense. They forced three interceptions in Week 1 against the Miami Dolphins, and only allowed 269 total yards. Bill Belichick is surely going to have a gameplan in place to contain Wilson. Belichick has Cam Newton, who the Patriots featured in their running game in the season opener.

Newton rushed the ball 15 times for 75 yards and two touchdowns against Miami. He added 155 yards through the air. He didn’t seem to mind the run-heavy mindset, and that could mean more of the same against the Seahawks. Seattle limited Atlanta to 72 rush yards, the fourth least in the NFL for Week 1. Josh McDaniels is creative enough as an offensive coordinator to incorporate ways to bait Seattle with the run and hit them with the pass later on.

The Seattle defense had a mixed opening performance. They hounded Matt Ryan, sacking him over six times. Jamal Adams had a sack, 2.5 tackles for loss, and 12 total tackles in his debut with his new team. The Seahawks secondary struggled collectively, however, as three Falcon receivers had at least nine receptions and 100 yards. The Patriots don’t have many outside weapons besides Julian Edelman, but that running attack will be coming. The defensive backs for the Seahawks better be ready to tackle and get off of blocks if they want to slow down New England.

D.K. Metcalf led Seattle with four receptions for 95 yards and a touchdown. Tyler Lockett also had over 90 yards on 8 receptions. Which receiver will Stephon Gilmore guard this week? Metcalf is the bigger, more physical target while Lockett has the speed and agility. The Patriots secondary was responsible for all three of there interceptions last week with Gilmore, J.C. Jackson, and Adrian Phillips each having one. Can the Patriots secondary force Wilson into a mistake if he has to extend the play? This game could be an offensive show or a defensive war depending on the coaches’ gameplans.

Week 2 in the NFL is going to be even better than the first. Many matchups could operate in different ways based on the gameplan coaches implement. Every week of the NFL season should be considered a gift in this COVID-19 climate everyone is living in right now. It is a huge unknown whether the league will be able to finish the season without interruption. We have another week of NFL football, so let’s enjoy all of the games, especially these three Week 2 matchups.