Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Key Contests Recap: Week 2

Hey everybody. Here it is a little later than usual: an abbreviated version of "Key Contests" for Week 2. I'm preoccupied these days getting ready to move back home from China, and I've also been caught up with the new Giants' Steps TV. Trying to start up two sites simultaneously is a tough. Who knew?

That said, here is the run-down for Week 2. All three NFC East division rivals were in action this week, as were the Giants' Week 3 opponents - the Cincinnati Bengals - as they took on the Tennessee Titans. Here are a few thoughts on each game...

Key Contest 1: New Orleans Saints @ Washington Redskins

Washington came back in the fourth quarter to beat a tough Saints team
29-24 and an earn their first win of the season, and Head Coach Jim Zorn's first win in the NFL. The team was much improved following a lackluster performance Week 1 against the G-men. QB Jason Campbell went from looking lost one week to looking on top of his game. He went 24 for 36 and threw for more than 300 hards; he also had a touchdown.

Washington's offensive weapons looked much more weapon-like: RB Clinton Portis had 90+ yards on the ground and two rushing TD's; TE Chris Cooley returned from the dead with 5 catches for 70+ yards; and WR Santana Moss had more receiving yards Sunday than his younger Giant brother has had in his entire NFL career.

Washington looked impressive in the Week 2 win, which suggests a couple of things. First, as Campbell and co. get the hang of their new offense, they figure to be a factor in the NFC. They will probably not make the playoffs, considering their division, but they are a much better team than they showed in Week 1. The NFC East is by a long stretch the best division in the NFL, top to bottom. This could either be good news for the G-men, as they can be battle-tested come playoff time, or it can be trouble, in that everybody beats each other silly before the season's over...

For all the stat's: Saints at 'Skins Game Book

Key Contest 2: Philadelphia Eagles @ Dallas Cowboys

The other two NFC East powerhouses had a real shoot-out down in Dallas on Monday night, with the Cowboys holding off the Eagles 41-37. Dallas, like the Redskins, retook the lead in the fourth quarter, one of eight games over the weekend in which the winning team won in the last fifteen minutes of the game. There were seven lead changes in the Dallas-Philly game itself.

Both sides looked impressive offensively, much like they did in Week 1. Tony Romo threw for over 300 yards, while the usual suspects in his supporting cast all had big games. TE Jason Witten had 110 yards on 7 catches; T.O. only caught 3 balls, but two of them were for scores; and RB Marion Barber had 63 yards rushing, 51 yards receiving and 2 touchdowns: 1 on the ground and 1 in the air. Rookie RB Felix Jones was electrifying in the return game, returning one kickoff 98 yards for the score.

On the other side of the field, Philly and Donovan McNabb looked strong. I thought last week he seemed a little tentative in the open field. This week however, he looked mobile and confident, willing to put his body in harm's way to make a big play. When he was not scrambling though, he was completing 25 of 37 passes for 281 yards and a touchdown. As usual, Brian Westbrook was McNabb's main weapon, accounting for McNabb's only TD pass, and adding two more on the ground.

Elsewhere on offense for Philly, with two starting receivers out early in the season, rookie WR Desean Jackson is emerging as a big weapon, racking up back-to-back 100 yard receiving games. The rookie did have one major gaff Monday night though when he had a 60+ yard TD denied because he tossed the ball aside before he crossed the goal line. Nonetheless, impressive offensive performances by both teams...

There should be some battles in the middle of the season as the Giants hook up with these two rivals in weeks 9 and 10. I don't think the Giant D will be giving up 30 or 40 points though.

Stats: Eagles at Cowboys Game Book

Key Contest 3: Tenessee Titans @ Cincinnati Bengals

And finally, next week's opponent, the Bengals fell to 0-2, losing at home 24-7 in tough gusting wind to the tough Tennessee Titans. On either side of the ball, the Bengals are struggling big time. This week's Gameday Preview will dive deeper into their problems.

Despite having some marque names on offense, the Bengals only mustered 7 points on Sunday. QB Carson Palmer had a meager 134 yards on the day, and threw two interceptions. His big-name wideouts Chad 8-5 and T.J. "Hoashimazode" (know your fantasy players) both failed to make an impact.

On defense, the Bengals are arguably even more abysmal. What I will call "The Paper Curtain" has surrendered over 220 yards on the ground against the Titans, and currently allows an average of over 200 rushing yards per game. "Earth, Wind and Fire" and the Giants O-line must be licking their chops...but again, we'll look at that more closely in this week's Gameday Preview, due up later this week.

Stats: Titans at Bengals Game Book

That'll do it for this week's Key Contests. Keep checking in on the site and please feel free to POST YOUR COMMENTS! I want to hear from Giants' Nation!