Notes from the North

I'm not sure what lessons we can take from last night's Packer win over the Bears, in which neither team played particularly well on offense and Chicago lost runner Matt Forte to injury.

Could it be that the Green Bay D is better than expected this year? That Bears QB Jay Cutler is not so good under pressure (from a big pass rush OR in a big game)? That Clay Matthews is determined to cemwent his status as an elite player on defense (I mean, 3.5 sacks plus four tackles and three assists, in a single game? Wow!)?

But, with fifteen games left on the slate for Week 2 in the NFL's regular season, here are some of the questions I expect to have answered by Monday morning:

1. Is Sean Payton truly the heart and soul of the New Orleans Saints? The Saints were listless and uninspired in their Week 1 loss to Washington. It almost seemed like they were pouting, to be honest. Is it possible that the players miss their head coach a lot more than we all expected? Have we been giving Payton too little credit for his team's success?

2. Can Ronde Barber and the Bucs defense make Tampa a contender? Barber had a great game in week one (an interception, a sack, three tackles, two assists and two passes defensed) but can he and his mates keep up the impressive work against a versatile Giants offense that is aching to redeem itself after its first week loss?

3. Can Stephen Jackson take some of the pressure off Sam Bradford in St. Louis? Jackson got off to a slow start in week one and, for some reason, I worry that he's nursing an injury. If the Rams hope to make any waves this year, however, they need production from their big running back to complement the passing game.

4. What is the real story in Oakland and San Diego? After that crazy game Monday night, I really have no clue what to expect from the Raiders or the Chargers. Oakland has a winnable game against Miami to try to straighten things out but San Diego will have to be a lot better this week if they hope to beat a decent Titans squad.

5. Can Baltimore's revamped, high tempo offense keep its mojo against a top defense? Flacco-Rice and Co hammered the Bengals defense, which to be honest isn't bad, but can they do the same thing to an Eagles D that is, in my opinion, in the top three in the league?

I'll also be watching the quarterbacks in week 2, trying to figure out if Kevin Kolb is going to make the most out of his second chance in Arizona, if Russell Wilson can raise the Seawhawks game, if Ryan Fitzpatrick has anything left, if Mark Sanchez can play at an elite level for more than one week and against a tougher defense, if Andrew Luck can post his first win, if Cam Newton can rebound and RGIII can stay hot, and if Mike Vick is going to descend into turnover hell.

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