NFL: Today’s previews
Today’s NFL games …
The Steel Curtain versus the Monsters of the Midway. How fierce. How ferocious.
And the Steelers’ visit to Soldier Field today just might be all that, a defensive standoff emblematic of the NFL histories of Pittsburgh and Chicago.
Still, the absence of Bears middle linebacker Brian Urlacher, the very face of the Chicago defense, and Steelers safety Troy Polamalu, the heart of Pittsburgh’s unit, is a downer. Urlacher won’t be back this season after dislocating his right wrist in the opening loss at Green Bay. Polamalu sprained his left knee in the victory over Tennessee and will be gone for September, at least.
Polamalu, though, was thankful he isn’t headed for injured reserve, where Urlacher landed.
“Regarding an injury to the knee, this is the best-case scenario,” Polamalu said. “There’s no question that I’m very blessed that this scenario has come about rather than any worse scenario.”
Pittsburgh is 1-11 at Soldier Field, but the last visit was in 1995, when the Steelers won.
Other games …
Baltimore (1-0) at San Diego (1-0)
The Ravens were among the NFL’s most dominant teams in their opener ó on offense. Where did that come from? Well, from rapidly maturing quarterback Joe Flacco, the three-headed running back combination, and surprisingly effective receivers, particularly wideout Mark Clayton and tight end Todd Heap.
San Diego went to the limit to beat Oakland, and now LaDainian Tomlinson (ankle) might be hobbled or sidelined.
New York Giants (1-0) at Dallas (1-0)
Jerry Jones’ palace finally gets its true Cowboys debut, and who better to provide the opposition than one of Dallas’ top rivals. The focus will be as much on the billion-dollar stadium as the players.
Tony Romo and his receivers seem revved up. Then again, can the Cowboys shut down New York’s powerhouse running game?
New Orleans (1-0) at Philadelphia (1-0)
One game in which the quarterbacks truly should be spotlighted, for entirely different reasons.
Drew Brees comes off a six-touchdown passing effort, albeit against Detroit. Kevin Kolb figures to make his first pro start with Donovan McNabb nursing a cracked rib.
New England (1-0) at New York Jets (1-0)Two teams whose performances in their openers turned heads, with New York particularly impressive in shutting down Houston’s offense and getting a solid debut from rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez.
Of course, Rex Ryan’s D will be challenged even more by Tom Brady, who needs to throw a lot less than 53 times.
Arizona (0-1) at Jacksonville (0-1)
Super Bowl losers in February, the Cardinals are in danger of falling two games behind in the NFC West if they can’t come east and win. They struggled mightily on the Atlantic coast in 2008, going 0-5 in the regular season before breaking through with a playoff romp in Carolina.
Seattle (1-0) at San Francisco (1-0)
The winner will be alone atop the NFC West.
San Francisco can legitimize itself as a contender with a win here.
Minnesota (1-0) at Detroit (0-1)
Brett Favre apparently will set the mark for consecutive starts when he makes his 271st appearance, his second in Vikings purple.
Houston (0-1) at Tennessee (0-1)
The Titans have nothing to hang their heads about from the opening loss at Pittsburgh. They usually handle the Texans well, going 11-3 overall against the franchise that succeeded them in Houston.
Cincinnati (0-1) at Green Bay (1-0)
Give the Bengals kudos for the original ways they find to snatch defeat from almost-certain victory.
Oakland (0-1) at Kansas City (0-1)
It’s sad what has happened to one of the great AFL rivalries that continued through several decades as a top draw in the NFL.
Cleveland (0-1) at Denver (1-0) Josh McDaniels’ group is not looking to produce another miracle finish, and might not need one against the Browns.
Tampa Bay (0-1) at Buffalo (0-1)
A home loss to the Buccaneers could mean an early finish to any postseason hopes in western New York.
St. Louis (0-1) at Washington (0-1)
Although the Redskins lost by six to the Giants on the road, they didn’t impress. There was nothing pretty about St. Louis’ 28-0 flop at Seattle, the only shutout of the opening weekend.
Indianapolis (1-0) at Miami (0-1)
Peyton Manning will tie John Unitas for fifth in career victories by a starting QB if he gets No. 119 at Land Shark Stadium.