Cam Newton will hope to bounce back from a week one loss in the NFL this weekend. MARGARET BOWLES/AP/Press Association Images

The Redzone: Can Panthers pounce on stumbling Saints?

15 teams will go into week two of the NFL knowing a loss significantly reduces their chances of making the play-offs.

IF THE START of this week is traditionally known by the moniker ‘Overreaction Monday’; last night’s implosion by the Chicago Bears should serve as as a significant warning to the likes of the New York Jets and Dallas Cowboys that the end could well become known as ‘Comedown Sunday.’

It was, in truth, a horrible game to watch. Neither offensive line is great, we already knew that. Between them, Rodgers and Cutler have been sacked 227 times in the last three seasons and have started this year with 17 combined already.

On top of that, or maybe because of it, their decision making last night was very poor. Rodgers, not known for giving up many picks, is on course for his worst season ever while Cutler will have more than 30 interceptions if his current form keeps.

However, conclusions are not jumped to in The Redzone until at least October. Other than to say I haven’t seen anything yet to make me question my Patriots/Falcons Super Bowl prediction.

New Orleans Saints @ Carolina Panthers
Since 1990, only 22 teams have started the season at 0-2 and gone on to make the play-offs. Only three (Cowboys, 1993; Patriots, 2001 and Giants, 2007) have won a Super Bowl. Therefore, after stumbling in their opening fixtures, this is already a virtual must-win for two playoff contenders.

Both teams were expected to win their respective season openers but the Saints fell to RGIII while Cam Newton and the Panthers were shocked by the Buccaneers after all the pre-season hype. However, the Redskins’ success against the New Orleans (459 yards gained) should encourage Panthers fans.

For the Saints, the loss of Sean Payton from the sidelines and locker room cannot be underestimated. Interim coaches can cover the x and o part of the game, but rebuilding the confidence of a team humiliated at home by a rookie? It’s difficult to see.

Verdict: Panthers in a shootout.

New York Jets @ Pittsburgh Steelers
The Jets 48 points in their season opener against Buffalo last week was a franchise record but it should come as no surprise either. The Jets have dominated the Bills in recent years, winning eight of the last ten.  Indeed, the 28 they conceded was the most they’d allowed the Bills to score since 2006.

However, the inevitability of the result hasn’t stopped Jets fans allowing their imagination run wild. If my Twitter feed is to be believed, there’s no-one to match the Bills in the AFC. I’m sure the Patriots, Ravens and Broncos might have something to say about that but I doubt the Steelers will.

The Pittsburgh offensive line looked almost Bears-esque last Sunday and don’t be surprised if Rex Ryan’s defence look to add to their three interceptions last week by heaping pressure on Ben Roethlisberger and his receivers. If Big Ben attempts 40 passes again, I wouldn’t bet against it.

Verdict: Jets by 5+

Detroit Lions @ San Francisco 49ers
The Lions looked shaky against the Rams last week – or, at least, Matthew Stafford did – and the 49ers were imperious in beating the Green Bay Packers. However, this game is also fascinating because it will be the first time Lions coach Jim Schwartz and 49ers boss Jim Harbaugh have squared up since their infamous handshake last year.

[YouTube Credit]

On the field, the Lions will hope Kevin Smith can continue to be a threat in both the pass and run game though, against the stingy 49ers defensive line, it’s likely the Detroit tight ends will have a busier day.

The 49ers are boring. Effective, both oh so incredibly boring. 63 yard field goals are great, but when your place kicker scores nearly 44% of your points, you’re never going to win over the neutrals.

Verdict: 49ers by 3+

Other fixtures and predictions
Kansas City Chiefs @ Buffalo Bills – Chiefs
Cleveland Browns @ Cincinnati Bengals – Bengals
Minnesota Vikings @ Indianapolis Colts – Vikings
Houston Texans @ Jacksonville Jaguars – Texans
Oakland Raiders @ Miami Dolphins – Dolphins
Arizona Cardinals @ New England Patriots – Patriots
Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ New York Giants – Giants
Baltimore Ravens @ Philadelphia Eagles – Ravens
Dallas Cowboys @ Seattle Seahawks – Seahawks
Washington Redskins @ St. Louis Rams – Redskins
Tennessee Titans @ San Diego Chargers – Chargers
Denver Broncos @ Atlanta Falcons – Falcons

Sacked in the evening: Cutler nightmare as Chicago crumble

Illness puts Wiggins out of Tour of Britain

Your Voice
Readers Comments
    Submit a report
    Please help us understand how this comment violates our community guidelines.
    Thank you for the feedback
    Your feedback has been sent to our team for review.