Countdown: Previewing all of Week 2's games

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John Czarnecki

John Czarnecki has been the editorial consultant for "FOX NFL Sunday" since its 1994 inception. This season marks Czarnecki's 32nd year covering the NFL. He is one of 44 selectors to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.


New Orleans at Philadelphia, 1 ET

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WHAT TO WATCH FOR: Kevin Kolb (pronounced Cobb) gets his first NFL start for the injured Donovan McNabb. Newly acquired Jeff Garcia is the backup and Eagles coach Andy Reid won't hesitate to play him if Kolb falters. Kolb has thrown just 45 regular-season passes, including 11 last week after McNabb got hurt. He has thrown four INTs and fumbled twice, so ball security will be his main objective. When Reid benched McNabb last season in Baltimore, Kolb came in and played horribly, ending any doubts of keeping McNabb on the bench. One of those picks was returned by Ed Reed a record 108 yards for a touchdown. "If we play well this week and I play well this week, it washes it all away," Kolb said of the bad taste his disappointing play against the Ravens left with him. Kolb had an uneven summer and the Eagles will get a better read on him because he worked all week with the first-team offense and took all the reps. The Saints figure to put safety Roman Harper in the box, hoping to stop Philly's running game of Brian Westbrook and rookie LeSean McCoy. The Eagles plan to rush Drew Brees up the gut and force him to his left, if they can. RB Mike Bell figures to get the majority of the carries once again for the Saints. New Orleans RB Pierre Thomas (knee) figures to be an inactive because the Saints don't want to rush him back while Reggie Bush is feeling better and should be ready for 12-15 touches. CZAR'S SCOOP: The Eagles had to release Hank Baskett to make room for Garcia because they are stuck with WR Reggie Brown. They gave Brown a contract through 2014 that included $7.3 million in pro-rated bonus money over the next four years. Brown's cap number is $3.2 million this year, which includes $2.35 million in bonus proration. The Eagles, as of Friday, had $6.16 million in salary cap room. Anybody who went to Eagles' practice this week thought it was so odd to see McNabb, Garcia and Michael Vick standing on the sidelines watching Kolb running the offense. "It's not a switch you can just flip on and off," Kolb said of playing quarterback. "That's what's hard about being a backup during a game. It's hard to flip that switch. I want to make sure I'm prepared mentally, physically and emotionally." Reid has benched RG Stacy Andrews in favor of Max Jean-Gilles while Nick Cole continues to start for injured LG Todd Herremans.

Carolina at Atlanta, 1 ET

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WHAT TO WATCH FOR: Look for a smash-mouth game from the Panthers, who abandoned the running game last Sunday. Going back to basics — running DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart — may also be the best thing against Atlanta's re-tooled defense, which is big on speed but a little light against power football. Also, a running game could be embattled Jake Delhomme's best friend. Delhomme has committed 11 turnovers in his last two games and had a quarterback rating of 14.7 last week. Panthers RDE Julius Peppers, who tried to force a trade in the offseason but was slapped with the franchise tag, goes against Falcons LT Sam Baker, who was sturdy against Miami's Jason Taylor last week. Peppers usually saves one of his big games for the Falcons. On the flip side, Panthers LT Jordan Gross must contain Atlanta DE John Abraham, who had two sacks last week after collecting 16 1/2 last season and missing a Pro Bowl invite. Carolina is sticking with Delhomme because coach John Fox simply doesn't have any confidence in Matt Moore right now. The key to the game may be Matt Ryan and his ability to go deep to open up the Panthers, who are still minus SS Chris Harris. CZAR'S SCOOP: There are stronger and stronger indications that Bill Cowher, a CBS studio analyst and former Pittsburgh coach, is very serious about returning to the sidelines next season. Since Cowher retired to Carolina, most believe that the Panthers' job would be one that he would be interested in. Another is Washington, a franchise that has already made a run at him. Atlanta TE Tony Gonzalez now has 11,013 career receiving yards, which is tops among tight ends, after catching a touchdown and four other passes last Sunday. He has a streak of 132 consecutive games with a reception, or 18 behind Hall of Famer Ozzie Newsome's record. Ex-Eagles QB A.J. Feeley signed with the Panthers, believing he has a chance to play should Delhomme continue to falter. Carolina GM Marty Hurney stood behind his decision to sign Delhomme to a three-year extension in the offseason. There is no question that Hurney and Fox believe that Delhomme will turn things around. Even the Falcons admitted that Carolina's offensive line simply played poorly in protection and overall last Sunday against the Eagles.

St. Louis at Washington, 1 ET

WHAT TO WATCH FOR: Most experts are saying that the Rams are one of the league's worst teams this season; maybe they are the team Redskins coach Jim Zorn and QB Jason Campbell need to snap out of their scoring slump, averaging 13 points in their last 8 games. Zorn's team has never scored 30 points. Funny, though, two of the Rams' five wins over the past two seasons have come against the Redskins. Washington will stuff the line, hoping to stop the Rams' best player, RB Steven Jackson. Last week, veteran MLB London Fletcher had 18 tackles against the Giants. On the flip side, Campbell must get WR Santana Moss more involved in the offense while hoping that RB Clinton Portis gets untracked. After one long run, the Giants held Portis in check last Sunday and Rams rookie head coach Steve Spagnuolo knows the Redskins very well, having been the Giants' defensive coordinator and a former Eagles assistant. CZAR'S SCOOP: Rams OG Richie Incognito thinks he's a marked man by officials and he's right because he is a hothead, a player who may eventually test Spagnuolo's patience. In last week's loss in Seattle, Incognito had two personal foul penalties. He had two meltdowns in games last season, too, and he better start being careful. Incognito was fined $12,500 for those incidents, plus Steven Jackson was fined $5,000 for a late hit on Seattle's top rookie, LB Aaron Curry, last Sunday. All total the league handed down $275,000 in fines this past week. If Bill Cowher is serious about a return to coaching, you have to believe that Washington owner Daniel Snyder may be interested. He was before and Cowher said he wasn't interested. The Rams' lease in St. Louis runs through the 2014 season and the rumors have already started that any new owners may move the franchise.

Minnesota at Detroit, 1 ET

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ALTTEXT Can the Vikings extend Detroit's losing streak? John Lynch preview.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR: Detroit's run defense allowed New Orleans backup RB Mike Bell to gain 143 yards last Sunday, so how are they going to stop Adrian Peterson, who rushed for 180 yards and three touchdowns at Cleveland? The Lions had trouble with linebacker misalignments against the Saints and that can't happen if they want to stay in the game. Detroit rookie QB Matthew Stafford, who had three interceptions last week, will continue to zero in on WR Calvin Johnson. Stafford fired Johnson's way 13 times last Sunday, connecting only three times. The Vikings want to get WR Bernard Berrian untracked and may take some shots down the field with Brett Favre. But why waste any downs if the Lions can't stop Peterson? Detroit has lost 18 straight; if they lose today they will tie two teams for the second-worst losing streak of all time: the 1961-62 Oakland Raiders and the 1942-43 and '45 Chicago Cardinals. The 1976-77 Tampa Bay Buccaneers have the record of 26 straight. CZAR'S SCOOP: What a housecleaning job by GM Martin Mayhew and coach Jim Schwartz in Detroit. Thirty-one of the 53 players on the opening-day roster weren't with the team last season and there's even a chance that newly acquired DE Turk McBride, picked off the waiver wire, might be active today because defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham knows him from his days in Kansas City. The Lions weren't particularly pleased with the play of their linebackers last week, particularly OLB Julian Peterson. Ernie Sims is still making mental mistakes. The Viking players seem to be buying into Favre. Coach Brad Childress said that his 39-year-old quarterback has brought a special energy to the locker room. Favre says he feels good despite four sacks last week. Still, no comment about opening his mouth about his injured throwing arm last season, which cost the Jets $75,000 in fines, plus $25,000 each for Jets GM Mike Tannenbaum and former coach Eric Mangini.

Arizona at Jacksonville, 1 ET

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ALTTEXT What do the Jags have to do to beat the Cards? Chris Myers/Trent Green preview.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR: With Anquan Boldin (hamstring) and Steve Breaston (knee) still hurting, the Cardinals need to get the ball to WR Larry Fitzgerald early. He didn't catch his first pass last week until late in the first half. But none of that will work unless the Cardinals run the ball better than they did a week ago. Boldin will definitely play, while Breaston needs to test his knee in pregame warm-ups, but the Cardinals believe he will play. Jacksonville effectively used six defensive backs against Peyton Manning last Sunday and will do the same today. They may even use seven. The Cardinals actually stuffed Frank Gore pretty well and figure to do the same to Jaguars RB Maurice Jones-Drew. Arizona DE Darnell Dockett needs to use his quickness to dominate Jaguars rookie RT Eben Britton. Jaguars WR Torry Holt plans to work Cardinals CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. Holt, the ex-Ram, knows him well and feels that Rodgers-Cromartie is susceptible to double moves because he's so eager to make an interception. Look for Jaguars CB Rashean Mathis to shadow Fitzgerald and also for the defensive front to shift between a 3-4 and 4-3 look, hoping to confuse Cards QB Kurt Warner. CZAR'S SCOOP: Warner is tired of being asked about his offseason hip surgery and whether or not he's all right. There is no question that Arizona's offense remains in a state of flux right now and it's something that head coach Ken Whisenhunt must start taking control off or the season could slip away. Do they miss former offensive coordinator Todd Haley? Well, last Sunday it sure looked like it. The big news in Jacksonville was owner Wayne Weaver talking about drafting Florida Heisman winner Tim Tebow, who isn't considered an NFL quarterback prospect by a lot of scouts. People in the organization are taking the comments seriously because of Weaver's insistence on staying in Jacksonville and the city's proximity to Gainesville. Tebow could sell tickets. Speaking of ticket sales, this is the first official blackout of the NFL season. Everyone knew the Jaguars were in trouble with season-ticket sales around 40,000. Fitzgerald went over to watch the Florida-Tennessee game on Saturday. After leading the league in penalties in 2007, the Cardinals did a much better job last season. However, they had 12 penalties in the loss to the 49ers.

Tampa Bay at Buffalo, 4:05 ET

WHAT TO WATCH FOR: This is Tampa Bay's first visit to Ralph Wilson Stadium, and Buffalo, and they better figure out their secondary coverage responsibilities or maybe Terrell Owens and Lee Evans will get their wish: more passes thrown in their direction. Those two never got untracked against the Patriots as Fred Jackson seemed to be Buffalo's entire offense. The Bucs surrendered three touchdown passes of 40 yards or more against T.O.'s former team, the Cowboys, last Sunday. The potent Tampa Bay running game loses a major cog in center Jeff Faine for this game, and Faine, besides being very good, makes all the line blocking calls. Sean Mahan replaces him. RB Cadillac Williams starts again for the Bucs. Buffalo LB Keith Ellison is coming off a career game with 16 tackles Monday night. CZAR'S SCOOP: New Bucs offensive coordinator Greg Olson is calling this game the game of the fired offensive coordinators. Pretty funny, considering Olsen replaced Jeff Jagodzinski while Alex Van Pelt replaced Turk Schonert in Buffalo in the final weeks of preseason. After an awful preseason, the Bills looked pretty good on offense in the Monday night loss in New England. Still no word if special teams coach Bobby April told Leodis McKelvin to stay in the end zone for a touchback on the final kickoff instead of running it out. McKelvin fumbled, New England recovered and then Tom Brady threw the winning TD pass. Two teenagers vandalized McKelvin's front lawn after that loss, but he decided against prosecuting the youngsters. Bucs GM Mark Dominik defended the Glazer family and their ownership of the team, which has been criticized for not spending enough money to field a better team. The Bucs have $29.9 million in salary cap room. The Packers are next with $18.4 million, followed by Kansas City and Cleveland, both above $15 million.

Seattle at San Francisco, 4:05 ET

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ALTTEXT Can the 49ers continue their winning ways at home? Brian Billick preview.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR: San Francisco RB Frank Gore gained only 30 yards on 22 carries in the win over Arizona and you can bet offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye is going to figure out a way to get him some running lanes. QB Shaun Hill won't have a chance against the Seahawks unless he can rely on some play-action. The Seahawks added veteran D.D. Lewis in order to add depth at linebacker with Leroy Hill (groin) out of this game. Will Herring will start for Hill at weak-side linebacker. It seems that WR Nate Burleson, not T.J. Houshmandzadeh, is Matt Hasselbeck's favorite target, along with TE John Carlson. SS Lawyer Milloy saw limited action last week, but will play more this week because he knows the defense a lot better. The Seahawks will continue to use the wildcat offense with backup QB Seneca Wallace running the show. CZAR'S SCOOP: Former 49ers owner Eddie DeBartolo said he wouldn't have allowed unsigned No. 1 pick Michael Crabtree to push him around if he still owned the team. The Crabtree negotiations are a mess and both sides are losing on this one. One thing is certain. The 49ers won't be receiving a supplemental pick in next year's first round if Crabtree re-enters the 2010 draft and the club receives no compensation for wasting this year's selection on him. Former Seattle coach Mike Holmgren is currently vacationing in Ireland with his wife and he's far, far removed from football. Seattle LT Walter Jones figures to see some playing time after missing the preseason following knee surgery.

Other games

New England at N.Y. Jets: Pats coach Bill Belichick has heard all the smack talk out of New York while knowing he's won eight straight in the Meadowlands and the one memorable game when he allegedly was cheating, stealing the Jets' defensive signals. ILB Gary Guyton replaces the injured Jerod Mayo and he could have his hands full with Thomas Jones, but more importantly Leon Washington, who has game-breaking speed. Jets NT Kris Jenkins is expected to play. New York rookie QB Mark Sanchez better know his hot reads because history says that Belichick will be coming after him. Cincinnati at Green Bay: If the Packers are a true playoff contender, this is the type of game they must dominate and control. However, their offensive line is a little beat up and Allen Barbre struggled in pass protection against the Bears, giving up two sacks. The Bengals are 0-4 in Lambeau Field. The Packers' new 3-4 defense should apply a lot of pressure to Carson Palmer. Houston at Tennessee: The bad news for Houston fans, besides their offense not scoring any points last Sunday, is that the Texans have lost four straight in Nashville and are 1-6 overall. Texans QB Matt Schaub was KO'd in the 2007 game here and last year he was sacked three times and intercepted three times. The good news for Houston is that RB Steve Slaton was the only one to rush for 100 yards against the Titans last season and he did it twice! Oakland at Kansas City: The Raiders practiced this week, believing that Chiefs QB Mass Cassel's ankle will be ready, and he did look better and better as the days went by. Cassel is supposed to be a game-time decision, but he could play unless he suffers a relapse in warm-ups. Last Sunday in Baltimore, Cassel warmed up but after 15 minutes he started limping again and was scratched. The Raiders will cart out their power running game of Michael Bush and Darren McFadden, plus JaMarcus Russell appears to have a new weapon in rookie WR Louis Murphy. Give Raiders owner Al Davis credit; he wanted to hire current University of Washington head coach Steve Sarkisian a couple years ago but got stuck with Lane Kiffin. Pittsburgh at Chicago: Steelers coach Mike Tomlin is talking about rotating running backs Willie Parker and Rashard Mendenhall in order to get something going with the rush offense. He doesn't want to be a pass-only team with Ben Roethlisberger. Since 2003, the Steelers have a 16-4 record against NFC teams, including two Super Bowl wins. After his four-interception game against the Packers, Bears QB Jay Cutler might come out throwing, knowing Pittsburgh can stop the run. Baltimore at San Diego: The Ravens are showing a more balanced attack with QB Joe Flacco. The Ravens are 10-2 in games in which Flacco throws at least one touchdown. San Diego must put a better pass rush on Flacco to pull out the win, especially without LaDainian Tomlinson and two starting offensive linemen. The Chargers simply didn't look ready to play Monday night in Oakland and almost lost. Darren Sproles isn't big enough to carry a full load. Cleveland at Denver: This is an interesting matchup of two Bill Belichick clones. Eric Mangini is getting ripped right now for fining one of his players $1,701 for failing to pay for a $3 bottle of water at the team hotel. Josh McDaniels was fortunate to get a win last Sunday in Cincinnati on a deflected pass. Both of these teams are struggling on offense right now. Browns' kick returner Josh Cribbs now has seven touchdown returns, tying Eric Metcalf. Denver has won nine consecutive home openers. N.Y. Giants at Dallas: Yes, the Cowboys' offense looked great, but the defense didn't get a sack last Sunday in Tampa while allowing 276 passing yards and 174 rushing yards. That last number has to be welcome news for New York RBs Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw. Cowboys QB Tony Romo's right ankle is good enough to start, plus he practiced all week. Ex-Cowboy DE Chris Canty has been ruled out. Dallas figures to utilize its double-tight-end set in order to help the edge blocking. Felix Jones is closer to 100 percent after a recent thigh injury. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones is expecting to break the NFL attendance record for a home game with over 103,000. Indianapolis at Miami: The Colts are altering their defensive strategy under new coordinator Larry Coyer, who dialed up 11 blitzes against the Jaguars last Sunday, so Chad Pennington is forewarned. Indy may have the speed on defense to contain Miami's wildcat offense. Colts DT Ed Johnson returns after a one-game suspension. Young receivers Pierre Garcon and Austin Collie will continue to play ahead of newcomer Hank Baskett, who signed this past week and has practiced only twice with the Colts.
Tagged: Falcons, Bills, Bears, Bengals, Cowboys, Lions, Packers, Titans, Colts, Chiefs, Raiders, Rams, Dolphins, Vikings, Patriots, Saints, Giants, Jets, Eagles, 49ers, Seahawks, Buccaneers, Redskins, Panthers, Jaguars, Ravens, Cardinals, Steelers, Chargers, Texans, Michael Vick, T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Brett Favre, Peyton Manning, Tony Gonzalez, Kurt Warner, London Fletcher, Torry Holt, Jason Taylor, Tom Brady, Lawyer Milloy, Jake Delhomme, Chad Pennington, John Abraham, Santana Moss, Donovan McNabb, A.J. Feeley, Thomas Jones, LaDainian Tomlinson, Drew Brees, Julian Peterson, Jeff Garcia, Terrell Owens, Walter Jones, Matt Hasselbeck, Kris Jenkins, Clinton Portis, Julius Peppers, D.D. Lewis, Adrian Peterson, Shaun Hill, Brian Westbrook, Ed Reed, Anquan Boldin, Nate Burleson, Jordan Gross, Jeff Faine, Rashean Mathis, Sean Mahan, Seneca Wallace, Tony Romo, Matt Schaub, Larry Fitzgerald, Ben Roethlisberger, Lee Evans, Steven Jackson, Darnell Dockett, Bernard Berrian, Stacy Andrews, Willie Parker, Jason Campbell, Reggie Brown, Frank Gore, Richie Incognito, Leroy Hill, Brandon Jacobs, Todd Herremans, Darren Sproles, Chris Canty, Reggie Bush, Ernie Sims, Jay Cutler, DeAngelo Williams, Roman Harper, Maurice Jones-Drew, Keith Ellison, Max Jean-Gilles, Leon Washington, Mike Bell, Hank Baskett, Nick Cole, Fred Jackson, Ahmad Bradshaw, Steve Breaston, Will Herring, Turk McBride, Michael Bush, Allen Barbre, JaMarcus Russell, Calvin Johnson, Kevin Kolb, Ed Johnson, Matt Moore, Pierre Thomas, Leodis McKelvin, Jonathan Stewart, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Joe Flacco, Sam Baker, Felix Jones, Rashard Mendenhall, John Carlson, Matt Ryan, Darren McFadden, Jerod Mayo, Pierre Garcon, Steve Slaton, Gary Guyton, Louis Murphy Jr., Austin Collie, Matthew Stafford, Aaron Curry, Mark Sanchez, Michael Crabtree, Eben Britton, LeSean McCoy

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