The Giants-Cowboys matchup is one of five games between 0-1 teams this week. So, entering Week 3, there will be at least five teams in crisis at 0-2. Be prepared for the dubious playoff-doom statistics to follow.
With that, here is The Post’s High Five for Week 2:
Injured star QB to watch
If you happened to watch the Packers’ comeback win over the Bears last Sunday night, you’d have a difficult time arguing that Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers isn’t the NFL’s undisputed MVP.
Rodgers shrugged off a sprained left knee, for which he was carted off the field in the first half, and came back in the second half to erase a 20-0 Chicago lead and win.
That sprained knee, though, has prevented Rodgers from practicing this week, leaving his status and health in question for Sunday’s home game against the Vikings. Rodgers vowed after the Chicago game that he would play against Minnesota, and surely he will. The question is how effective he’ll be.
Packers coach Mike McCarthy said late in the week that he had no problem playing Rodgers without a down of practice.
“He could play [the game] with no reps,’’ McCarthy told reporters. “We’ve established that point some time ago in his career. We’ll be ready for anything, but I know he wants to play. So we’ll see how it goes.”
Rodgers’ backup is DeShone Kizer, who went 0-15 as a starter last season for the Browns and looked shaky last Sunday night when he replaced Rodgers, turning the ball over twice in the three possessions he played.
After being carted to the locker room, Rodgers returned in the second half to rally the Packers to a 24-23 win, matching the largest comeback of Rodgers’ NFL career.
Vikings coach Mike Zimmer told reporters during the week he has zero doubt about whether Rodgers will play and his team was preparing all week to face him.
“He walks on water, so I’m sure he’s going to play,” Zimmer said.
Just three times since he became a starter has Rodgers been unable to play the week following an injury. Two of them were with broken collarbones (last season and 2013) and one was a concussion in 2010 that caused him to miss only one game.
Best game to watch
There was a buzz in the Jaguars locker room minutes after they’d defeated the Giants in the season opener Sunday at MetLife Stadium.
The buzz, however, had more to do with the Jaguars’ anticipation of Sunday’s AFC Championship game rematch with the Patriots in Jacksonville as it did with the Week 1 win.
The Jaguars have been waiting some eight months for this game, to avenge their 24-20 loss in New England, where they led in the second half and failed to close it out.
The stakes are not as high, of course, but this time the Jags get the Pats on their home turf, and it figures to be a spirited three hours.
“It’s going to be an emotional environment,’’ Patriots quarterback Tom Brady told reporters during the week. “Whenever you play some of the best teams, you want to see where you’re measured up to, and that defense has been ranked very high all last year. It’s going to be a great environment for football — 4:30 game, everyone’s going to be watching. It should be a really great game for us to go out and see what we’re made of.’’
There are several subplots to the game — including Jaguars loquacious cornerback Jalen Ramsey’s dig against New England tight end Rob Gronkowski in an ESPN Magazine story: “I don’t think Gronk’s good. Let me say … I don’t think Gronk is as great as people think he is. Any time Gronk has been matched up with a corner, he’s had a very bad game and that corner has had a very good game.”
Gronkowski predictably made light of Ramsey’s comments this week, saying, “It motivates you to hear that. Obviously, there’s something out there that he saw on film and stuff that I can probably get better at. You don’t always feel the best every single day when you’re out on the field, so if that’s how he feels, that’s how he feels.”
Gronk then added, “I’m sure I’m going to have opportunities to go versus him. I’m sure he’s going to have opportunities to go versus me.”
In football-related matters regarding this game, the status of Jaguars top running back Leonard Fournette, who injured a hamstring against the Giants, has been in question all week. And, Jags quarterback Blake Bortles, who’s always been perceived as a weak link to the Jacksonville offense, completed just 6 of 16 passes for 53 yards in the second half of the 20-15 win over the Giants last week.
QB-coach rift to watch
New Raiders coach Jon Gruden, who was lured from 10 years in the TV booth to return to the NFL for $10 million a year, has not exactly been making a lot of friends in Oakland so far. First, he alienated his best defensive player Khalil Mack, who the Raiders eventually traded to Chicago after a contract dispute.
And now, after only one game, Gruden tweaked his franchise quarterback Derek Carr, whom he criticized after Oakland’s 33-13 loss to the Rams last Sunday.
Two days after the loss to the Rams, Gruden was critical of the Raiders lack of a deep passing attack. Receiver Amari Cooper, whom Guden said would be the “centerpiece” of Oakland’s passing offense, had just one catch on three targets in the game.
“You look at the film [and] we had him wide open deep,” Gruden said of Cooper. “We didn’t go there. He was open a couple of times, and for whatever reason we didn’t go that route. Yeah, we want to get him going. That’s easier said than done now.”
A day after Gruden made those comments about Carr, who completed 29 of 40 passes for 303 yards with three INTs and no TDS in the loss to the Rams, failing to get the ball to Cooper, he backtracked, saying, “I don’t have any doubts that Derek Carr is going to be great. There [were] a few plays that uncharacteristically he wasn’t at his best.’’
The task for Carr to get the ball to Cooper become even more difficult Sunday when the Raiders face the Broncos, because their defense might be better than that of the Rams. The Broncos are led by their stingy secondary that features top cornerbacks Chris Harris and Bradley Roby along with a pass rush featuring Von Miller and rookie Bradley Chubb.
Backup QB matchup to watch
When Buccaneers-Eagles appeared on the schedule, it didn’t figure to be a Ryan Fitzpatrick-Nick Foles quarterback duel. But that’s what it’ll be with the two 1-0 teams play Sunday in Philadelphia.
Fitzpatrick, playing in place of suspended starter Jameis Winston, delivered perhaps the best game of his long career in Tampa Bay’s 48-40 win over the Saints last week, completing 21 of 28 passes for 417 yards, four TDs and a perfect 156.3 passer rating.
Foles continues to play for starter Carson Wentz, who hasn’t returned from his knee injury suffered last season.
The fascinating dynamic surrounding the Bucs is: If Fitzpatrick continues playing well, do they go back to Winston after his three-game suspension ends?
There, too, is an interesting subplot to this game involving Foles, who nearly signed with Tampa Bay when he was a free agent entering the 2017 season. He’d narrowed his decision to Tampa Bay and Philadelphia, which had released Chase Daniel and was seeking a backup to Wentz. Tampa was seeking a backup to Winston.
“It was close,” Foles told reporters this week of him going to the Bucs. “We were in discussions.”
Team in unrest to watch
No team in the league (other than the lowly Bills) was more embarrassed with its opening-week performance than the Lions, who were smoked by the Jets 48-17 in rookie head coach Matt Patricia’s debut before a “Monday Night Football” national audience.
In the aftermath of the loss, there have been rumblings out of Detroit that some Lions veterans have been unhappy with the way Patricia has coached and worked them so hard. One veteran suggested, in an NFL Network report, that the players were “out of gas’’ in the Jets game because of how hard Patricia, the former Patriots defensive coordinator, worked them in preseason.
It didn’t help Patricia that Jets defensive players told reporters that they were calling out Detroit offensive plays before they were run.
One writer for the Detroit Free Press, based on one game, wrote a column titled, “Detroit Lions coach Matt Patricia is in over his head.”
The Lions hired Patricia as the head coach after he spent the previous six years as the defensive coordinator for the Patriots and after the Lions went 9-7 in 2017.
For his part, Patricia, whose Lions play at San Francisco on Sunday, did his best to diffuse the unrest in the days after the loss.
“We’re not going to accept how we played the other night and we’re going to all get better. We’re going to move on,” he told reporters. “The best thing we can do is turn the page and get ready for the next opponent. Every week is different and every week you have to start over. You can’t let one week bleed into another week. We have to refocus our energy and get ready for the 49ers.”
Lions safety Glover Quin tried to offer some sanity to the team’s difficult early plight when he told reporters, “If you go out and you play well, people think you’re going to the Super Bowl. If you go out and don’t play well, they think you’re going 0-16. In this locker room, we have to stick together and go out and perform.’’
Source : https://nypost.com/2018/09/15/aaron-rodgers-health-looms-as-one-of-biggest-sunday-questions/