Here are 10 match-ups I can't wait to see from Week Two of the NFL season:
Freeney is one of the game's best pass rushers. He is explosive off the edge, but he can also bull rush a tackle. Thomas is one of the better tackles, but speed players can sometimes get the best of him. These two should be fun to watch all day long -- especially if it is loud, which will play to Freeney's speed.
Brown had a tough time last week against Carolina and still doesn't come close to resembling a top-10 pick, which he was. Orakpo now has help on the other side from rookie Ryan Kerrigan, which will mean fewer doubles. If the Cardinals single-block him, it could be trouble for Brown. Orakpo has been bothered by an ankle injury this week, but he expects to play.
Smith had a huge game last week against the Cardinals secondary. The Packers are significantly better on the back end than Arizona. Charles Woodson, Tramon Williams and Sam Shields form the best corner threesome in the league. That will make for tough going for Smith. If the Packers single him, as good as they are, they will be playing with fire. Williams has a sore shoulder and hasn't practiced, but there is a chance he can play.
Abraham had a sack last week against J'Marcus Webb of the Bears and he's usually even better at home in front of loud crowd. Peters was solid last week against the Rams, but Abraham is a step up in competition. If the Falcons get a lead, and Abraham can pin his ears back and go, this could be a bad matchup for the Eagles.
The Titans got little push inside last week against the Jaguars. Amano isn't over-powering at the point of attack, which could be a big problem against Cody. He was fantastic last week against Steelers Pro Bowl center Maurkice Pouncey. He pushed him into the backfield a couple of time. If the Titans want to get Chris Johnson going, Amano has to do a good job on Cody.
The Patriots tight ends destroyed Miami, catching 13 passes and two touchdowns Monday night. They did a lot of damage against the linebackers, but the Chargers have the cover safeties to handle them. I look for Sanders and Weddle to spend a lot of time on those two second-year tight ends. If they can take those two away from Tom Brady, force him to go to his receivers more, it should be a big help to the Chargers defense.
The Bill front, which is a major concern this season, did a nice job against the Chiefs last week. They weren't dominant, but they held their own and gave Ryan Fitzpatrick time to throw. But this Raiders defensive line sacked Kyle Orton six times and dominated the Denver offensive line, which is a step above the Bills line. This is the battle that will decide this game, not what happens outside.
Dolphins corners Sean Smith and Vontae Davis had a rough start to their season last Monday against the Patriots. They both got beat at times, and both had cramps. They had to live with Tom Brady throwing for 517 yards. Now they get the NFL's best receiver and another top-tier passing game. I would imagine Smith, who is bigger, might spend more time on Johnson than Davis. They can only hope to contain Johnson. They won't stop him.
Peppers is one of the top pass rushers in the game. But he also can hold up against the run. If the Saints are to get the run game going, Bushrod has to win against Peppers. But even more importantly, Bushrod has to handle him in pass protection. Drew Brees is good getting the ball out, which will help neutralize Peppers some, but I was there when DeMarcus Ware worked over Bushrod a couple of years ago. Peppers has that same type of ability.
You know the 49ers want to run the football with Frank Gore. Goodwin is a good center the 49ers added in free agency. He will be matched against Ratliff, a smaller nose tackle who is quick at the point of attack. Goodwin has to handle Ratliff to allow the guards to get out on the Cowboys linebackers if Gore is going to run the football.