Initial thoughts on the three games we’ll be watching this weekend:
The Texans are very strong up front defensively, and the Jaguars have a very beat up offensive line. Jacksonville could be down two more starters -- with left guard Eben Britton and right tackle Cameron Bradfield in doubt. Backup right tackle Guy Whimper would look to be an exceptional weak link against rushers that could include combinations like end Antonio Smith and outside linebacker Brooks Reed. Blaine Gabbert has improved his pocket presence, but I expect it will be put to the test here.
The Jaguars could still be missing outside linebacker Daryl Smith and cornerback Derek Cox. Offensively, Houston can scheme to take advantage of replacements. I think Arian Foster against linebacker Kyle Bosworth is a favorable matchup, and if they can get Andre Johnson with corner William Middleton, they’d feel good about that, too. Jacksonville will need some plays from unexpected places to slow a team that’s not happy with the way it ran in the opener.
The Chargers were not especially good offensively in their opener, a win over Oakland. Tennessee’s defense struggled against Tom Brady and the Patriots, but perhaps we get a more realistic gauge now of what exactly coordinator Jerry Gray has and what he wants to do with it. The Chargers were pretty good against the run, and defensive tackle Antonio Garay and linebacker Jarret Johnson aren’t going to make it easy for Chris Johnson to get on track.
Does Minnesota rookie left tackle Matt Kalil get a big break, facing the Colts without Dwight Freeney? The outside linebacker/prime pass-rusher left the opener early with an ankle injury. We’ll get news shortly on his status. Jerry Hughes did little in Freeney’s place and would be far easier for Kalil. Running back Adrian Peterson looked back to form against the Jaguars with a couple of touchdowns, and the Colts will be vulnerable to a good running game.