Week 2 can’t come soon enough for NFL teams that lost their opener. Getting the first win of the season is a confidence booster, and it takes some of the pressure off a team’s coaching staff, as well as its players, going forward.
As it relates to getting off the schneid, it remains to be seen which NFL teams are set to bounce back from Week 1 losses. Here are six clubs with the best chance to do so.
Los Angeles Chargers
After getting torched by Patrick Mahomes for four touchdown passes in last week’s loss to the Kansas City Chiefs, it’s safe to say the Chargers’ defense will bounce back against the Buffalo Bills in Week 2. For starters, the Bills looked absolutely terrible on offense a week ago, managing just one trip to the red zone, and 153 yards of total offense against the Baltimore Ravens.
More importantly, Buffalo is starting a rookie at quarterback against the Chargers, a decision the Bills might come to regret if Josh Allen’s first start is anything like Nathan Peterman’s last season. We all know how that went. Peterman was intercepted five times by the Chargers’ defense in the first half of a Week 11 matchup in 2017.
Atlanta’s offense left a lot to be desired in last week’s loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, including going 1-for-5 in the red zone. Many were quick to blame offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian, but Matt Ryan didn’t have his best game, either. The Falcons quarterback completed less than 50 percent of his passes on the night — including going 1-for-9, with an interception, in the red zone. That can’t happen for the Falcons to get a win against the Panthers on Sunday.
The Panthers defense looked pretty good against the Cowboys last week, holding them to only eight points, and 232 yards of offense. Still, the Falcons should be able to wear down the Panthers through the air, assuming Ryan plays like his old self.
New Orleans Saints
What happened to the Saints last week can only be described as a bit of “Fitz-magic.” It’s the only way to explain 35-year-old Ryan Fitzpatrick throwing for 417 yards and four touchdowns. Despite racking up 40 points and 475 yards of offense, New Orleans simply couldn’t keep up with Tampa Bay, let alone stop it.
Unless Tyrod Taylor takes a page out of Fitzpatrick’s book, the Saints should get their first win of the season against the Browns on Sunday. As much as fans want to see the Bud Light Victory Fridges get unlocked in Cleveland, the reality is the Browns are still looking for their first win since December 2016. Furthermore, the club has lost 21 straight road games. The numbers point toward a Saints win on Sunday.
San Francisco 49ers
It was no secret that Jimmy Garoppolo’s undefeated streak as a starter was likely to come to an end against arguably the toughest defense in the NFL last week, and it did. The Vikings rattled the 49ers quarterback, sacking him three times, and forcing three interceptions in a 24-16 victory. Garoppolo, though, won’t be under as much pressure against the Lions on Sunday. As the Jets proved last week, Detroit’s defense is still one of the worst in the league, despite hiring a defensive-minded head coach in Matt Patricia during the offseason.
With the exception of a badly-thrown ball to start the game, rookie quarterback Sam Darnold didn’t seem fazed by the Lions defense, and the Jets’ running game rolled for close to 170 yards. On top of that, Matt Stafford was abysmal, throwing four interceptions and one touchdown for a passer rating of 47.9, his lowest since October 2016. It’s also worth noting the 49ers haven’t lost to the Lions at home since 1975.
After watching the Bears nearly take down the Packers last week, it’s not all that crazy to start believing the hype. Some analysts boldly predicted that the Bears could be this year’s version of the 2017 Rams, who went from 4-12 in 2016, to first place in the NFC West last season, after hiring first-year head coach Sean McVay. New head coach Matt Nagy still has a ways to go with this Bears team to get that kind of recognition, but they’re headed in the right direction.
Had it not been for an epic performance by Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers last Sunday night, Chicago might be 1-0. Still, this week’s matchup against the Seattle Seahawks could present another opportunity to get a victory early in the season. The Seahawks struggled against the Broncos’ vaunted pass rush last week, and they could see more of that again from a much-improved Bears defensive front that now has the benefit of Khalil Mack wreaking havoc on opposing quarterbacks.
An ugly loss to the Rams on Monday Night Football was definitely not what Jon Gruden had in mind for his first game back to coaching in 17 years. Despite leading at halftime, the Rams outscored the Raiders 23-0 in the second half, and it was clear right from the start how much Oakland missed Mack’s presence on defense. The Raiders hardly generated a pass rush against the Rams, as quarterback Jared Goff was sacked just once, and hit only twice.
The bigger issue was the poor play of quarterback Derek Carr, who couldn’t seem to stop himself from making bad decisions with the ball. He was intercepted three times, including one that was returned by Marcus Peters for a touchdown in the fourth quarter. It might seem foolish to think the Raiders can march into Denver and pull off a win against a Broncos team that just got done roughing up Russell Wilson and the Seahawks in Week 1, but Gruden didn’t come back to coaching to lose games. Look for the Raiders to have a much better performance against the Broncos on Sunday.