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What to watch for Sunday: Week 2

Week 1 was 'Knock the Rust Off' week for many NFL players. In Week 2, we should get a better idea whether the storylines coming out of opening weekend were aberrations or plots to keep an eye on as the season progresses. These are the things you need to know for all of Sunday's games as kickoff approaches. 

Key game-time decisions



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Larry Fitzgerald, WR (hamstring), Arizona Cardinals

Fitzgerald tentatively is expected to play Sunday against the Detroit Lions, a source told NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport. The wide receiver will test the hamstring prior to kickoff and go from there.

The Cardinals promoted Kerry Taylor from the practice squad Saturday in what smells like a "just in case Fitzgerald can't play" move.

Julio Jones, WR (knee); Roddy White, WR (ankle) Atlanta Falcons

Jones and White will suit up and play Sunday against the St. Louis Rams, multiple sources have told Rapoport. Much like in Week 1, White is expected to be limited, though.

As White pointed out earlier this week, if he's on the injury report it's a red flag for his production. Fantasy footballers take note.

Nick Fairley, DT (shoulder) Detroit Lions

Fairley's ability to take advantage of single-blocks is key to the stout Lions front four. If he can't go against the Cards it is a huge blow to a Detroit defense that relies on its line to cover for a shaky secondary.

Chris Long, DE (hip) St. Louis Rams

Long hasn't missed a game in his six-year career, and that won't change come kickoff against the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday. Rapoport is reporting that Long "is slated to play" in his 81st consecutive game.

Ed Reed, S (hip) Houston Texans

We know Reed won't start against the Tennessee Titans. Rapoport, who spoke with a source, is reporting that Reed will test out the injured hip during pregame warmups, but the odds of him playing are "trending downward." Reed is a long shot to play, at this point.

While Reed did take more reps with the first-team defense last week, if he plays against the Tennessee Titans, it will be in nickel formations, behind starter Shiloh Keo.

Dwayne Allen, TE (hip) Indianapolis Colts

Allen was downgraded to doubtful for Sunday's tilt with the Miami Dolphins. The tight end had been holding out hope he'd be able to play, but Allen hasn't practiced all week so we don't expect him to see him on the field.

Chris Clemons, DE (knee) Seattle Seahawks

Clemons still is trying to come back from a torn ACL. He was a full participant in practice on Thursday and Friday, which is a good sign. If he can go it will be a huge boost as the Seahawks try to slow Colin Kaepernick and the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday night

Key players to watch


Robert Griffin III, QB Washington Redskins

Is all the rust knocked off? RGIII rounded into form in the second half of the Redskins' season opener, but that could have been a byproduct of an Eagles defense nursing a big lead. I'll be keeping an eye how Kyle Shanahan handles Griffin on Sunday against an aggressive Green Bay Packers defense.

Brian Cushing, LB, Houston Texans

Cushing, coming back from a torn ACL, didn't quite look like himself in Week 1 until his ridiculous diving interception. Against a run-heavy Titans offense, the Texans hope the rust was all that was causing Cushing to look a step slow.

Peyton and Eli Manning

Anyone with a brother (either older or younger) is interested in how these two play Sunday. Both face banged-up defenses that struggled to sustain a pass rush in Week 1. We could see some fireworks in Manning Bowl III. Can Eli and the New York Giants finally beat his big brother now that Peyton's a Denver Bronco?

Cameron Wake, DE, Miami Dolphins

If you want a photograph of Cameron Wake hitting the snot out of Colts quarterback Andrew Luck you should have close to a dozen chances Sunday. Wake lived in the Browns' backfield last week, and he'll do the same again this week against a not-so-good Colts offensive line.

Michael Vick, QB, Philadelphia Eagles

Vick got hit a ton on Monday night's win against the Redskins. It will be interesting to see if Eagles coach Chip Kelly avoids putting his QB in tenuous situations.

Russell Wilson, QB, Seattle Seahawks

The Seahawks' leader took some time to work his magic last week. He can't afford to do that in a rivalry game against the 49ers on Sunday night. I'm looking for Wilson to spark the home crowd early.

Weather tracking


We could see several games affected by rain. Mother Nature particularly doesn't like NFC teams this week.

Rams at Falcons -- Dome

Browns at Ravens -- 74°/Partly Cloudy

Panthers at Bills -- 65°/Mostly Cloudy

Vikings at Bears -- 65°/Rain

Redskins at Packers -- 65°/Chance of Rain

Titans at Texans -- Retractable Roof (88°/Chance of a Thunderstorm)

Dolphins at Colts - Dome

Cowboys at Chiefs--79°/Chance of a Thunderstorm

Chargers at Eagles -- 74°/Sunny, Clear

Lions at Cardinals - Retractable Roof (95°/Sunny, clear)

Saints at Buccaneers -- 90°/Thunderstorm

Broncos at Giants --72° / Sunny, Clear

Jaguars at Raiders -- 70°/ Sunny, Clear

49ers at Seahawks -- 74°/Rain

Did you know?


>Teams that have started 0-2 have made the playoffs just 11.6 percent of the time since 1990. The last year it happed was 2008 (three teams: Chargers, Dolphins and Vikings).

>Some freaky brother stats from the Mannings in Week 1: Both completed 27 of 42 pass attempts. Peyton barely edged out Eli in yards, 462-450. Then there was the lucky number seven: Each Manning totaled seven combined TDs and INTs. Peyton, of course, had a record-tying 7 TDs and 0 INTs. Meanwhile, Eli had 4 TDs plus 3 INTs to get his total to seven.

Sunday's storylines


St. Louis Rams at Atlanta Falcons


Falcons running back Steven Jackson faces his former team, but can the Falcons' offensive line slow down the Rams' young 'Thunder Storm' defensive group?

Rams tight end Jared Cook was Sam Bradford's go-to target Week 1. Consistency was the tight end's biggest problem in Tennessee. This week will be an indicator of whether those troubles are in the past.

Cleveland Browns at Baltimore Ravens


Browns QB Brandon Weeden was battered in his first start of the season, now he faces what most assuredly will be an irate Ravens defense. Trent Richardson wants to run the ball more; we'll see if Browns offensive coordinator Norv Turner agrees.

Undrafted rookie wide receiver Marlon Brown could play a big role in the Ravens' ravaged receiver corps, how much Joe Flacco trusts the young player will be something to keep an eye on.

Carolina Panthers at Buffalo Bills


An unimaginative Panthers offense has been under siege. If Carolina's offensive coordinator Mike Shula doesn't open up the playbook against a banged-up Bills defense, then he never will.

Bills QB EJ Manuel looked comfortable in the pocket Week 1 against the Pats, but he didn't exactly have coach Doug Marrone's full playbook available. We'll see if this is an up or down week for Manuel, who's facing a tougher front seven.

Minnesota Vikings at Chicago Bears


Adrian Peterson did well for fantasy teams but wasn't given the chance to carry his own Week 1. He's historically played well at Soldier Field. I'm expecting him to bounce back, but, once again, can Vikings QB Christian Ponder do enough to win, or better yet, not lose the game?

Everything is warm and fuzzy for the Bears right now. Cutler looked as comfortable as ever in coach Marc Trestman's offense. Will he continue to improve or will the old Jay return if he gets knocked around this week?

Washington Redskins at Green Bay Packers


The Redskins' defense got ran over early last week. They face another -- albeit, more conventional -- high-powered offense. Pass rushers Ryan Kerrigan and Brian Orakpo will need to be in Aaron Rodgers' face early and often.

There was little sign of a revamped run game in Week 1 from the Packers. The Redskins can be run on; we'll see if this is rookie Eddie Lacy's coming out party.

Tennessee Titans at Houston Texans


I'll be watching the trenches in this one. More than any other matchup, the team that owns the line of scrimmage will win this game. Getting Antonio Smith back from suspension is an underrated addition for a Texans front that didn't impress early last week.

Miami Dolphins at Indianapolis Colts


With Vick Ballard injured, the Colts' run game is on Ahmad Bradshaw's wobbly feet. That could mean Andrew Luck drops back a lot behind that shaky offensive line.

The Dolphins' run game has been putrid. If that trend continues, look for Miami to abandon the run and let Ryan Tannehill sling it all over the field.

Dallas Cowboys at Kansas City Chiefs


The Cowboys' defense proved in Week 1 that the preseason turnovers weren't an aberration. The 'Boys will have a tougher time this week against Chiefs QB Alex Smith, who does a good job of not turning it over.

The Chiefs went up big last week against the Jacksonville Jaguars and their offense went into a lull. We'll see if that was just a product of the scoreboard.

San Diego Chargers at Philadelphia Eagles


Guess what day it is, Eagles fans? It's Philly's home opener, which means the Chargers will be winning the Super Bowl. (You're laughing, but click here for the proof).

Like Vick, Eagles running back LeSean McCoy took a ton of hits last week. I'll be keeping track of how many times these two take hits coming off a short week.

Detroit Lions at Arizona Cardinals


The world's eye (or is that ire?) will be on Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh to see how he responds after another week of scrutiny over his questionable play. Will he be self-conscious and not play up to his ability?

Calvin Johnson versus Patrick Peterson could make all the difference in who wins the game.

New Orleans Saints at Tampa Bay Buccaneers


The Buccaneers' shaky offense will be something to watch every week. After being stymied last week will Doug Martin be able to bust loose?

I also want to see how much Drew Brees attacks Darrelle Revis in the cornerback's second game back from ACL surgery.

Denver Broncos at New York Giants


The Manning brothers don't go head-to-head, so let's focus on the defenses.

Keep an eye on both pass rushes; the team that can put the most pressure on the quarterback should win the game.

Jacksonville Jaguars at Oakland Raiders


Terrelle Pryor is the best thing the Raiders have going for them, but can he continue to bring the same sort of excitement in Week 2?

With Chad Henne at the helm, the Jags need more from running back Maurice Jones-Drew. If he can't run against the Raiders the questions will start to percolate about his health and future. 

San Francisco 49ers at Seattle Seahawks


"What shouldn't I watch for in this matchup?" is the question you should be asking yourself.

The eyebrow bet and Guinness world record aside, the division rivals are even in almost every aspect.

However, if the Seahawks can't pressure and corral Colin Kaepernick, Seattle fans won't have a lot to cheer about Sunday night.

The latest "Around The League Podcast" previews every Week 2 game. Click here to listen.

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