After two weeks of football, we're gaining some clarity on the league's heavyweights and pretenders.
Billick: Thoughts around the league
Brian Billick provides his early impressions on rookies Andrew Luck, Trent
Richardson, Ryan Tannehill and many more. More ...
As teams build momentum, it's easy to look past cupcake opponents toward that nightmare matchup down the road. Coaches and players preach a week-to-week mentality, but those big games define a season, and everyone knows it. That's where the infamous "trap game" comes into play.
Here's a look at three teams (in caps) walking into ugly scenarios in Week 3;
1. DALLAS COWBOYS vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: What a difference a week makes. We saw a hungry Cowboys team feast on the New York Giants, but then the Seattle Seahawks stole their lunch money. Tony Romo looked human and the Dallas defense fell flat. With an ugly stretch upcoming against the Chicago Bears, Baltimore Ravens, Carolina Panthers, New York Giants and Atlanta Falcons, Dallas can't afford to sleep on the Tampa Bay. The Buccaneers surprised everyone by rocking the Panthers in the opener before taking Big Blue to the brink last Sunday. The Bucs continue to open the floodgates on defense, but this looked like a gimme for the 'Boys in August. No longer.
2. BUFFALO BILLS vs. Cleveland Browns: The Bills house their most exciting offense in years. Chan Gailey's no-huddle, spread attack was a dud against the New York Jets in the opener but came to life in a romp over the Kansas City Chiefs. The Browns look like easy pickings without Joe Haden at corner, but this defense picked off Michael Vick four times and played physical (if not spectacular football) against the Cincinnati Bengals. Besides, Ryan Fitzpatrick has lacked a compass this month. Buffalo faces the New England Patriots and San Francisco 49ers over the next two weeks. Which Bills team shows up to Cleveland?
3. NEW YORK JETS vs. Miami Dolphins: Miami hasn't enjoyed much success of late, but they've remained a thorn in the side of the Jets. The Dolphins have operated as a momentum killer for Rex Ryan's team, sweeping them in 2009 and splitting with them over the past two campaigns. Their 19-17 win over Gang Green in Week 17 last year sealed New York's disappointing 8-8 finish and spun the Jets into utter chaos. The Jets have the 49ers and Houston Texans after this one. "Any time you play a divisional team, that's as big as it gets," Ryan said Wednesday, but talk is cheap. The last time these two met, the Jets were unprepared. A repeat performance will have Gotham melting.
While we're at it, the Around the League gang is on public record with our picks this week and every week. One of us picked the Dolphins, too.