NFL Sunday: Five things to watch

Looking at the Week 2 Sunday schedule in the NFL, here are five things to check out before you settle in tomorrow to watch some football.

1. Calvin Johnson vs. the Chiefs' secondary: Without FS Eric Berry in the lineup, the middle of the field becomes a target. Think of the deep inside breaking routes (post, dig, seam), plus don’t forget about the vertical game outside of the numbers. You lose a player with the range and balls skills of Berry and there is no question I test the top of the defense—consistently. Let’s see how this plays out in the Lions’ game plan, but there will be opportunities for QB Matthew Stafford to get the ball down the field to Johnson.

Jay CutlerICONHow does Cutler handle the pressure from the Saints defense?

2. Cutler vs. the Saints' pressure: I was impressed with Cutler in the Week 1 win over the Falcons because he played like he was complete control of the offense. But the question here is how the QB produces vs. the Saints pressure package. If Gregg Williams can get solid play from his secondary (which he didn’t have in the loss to Green Bay), look for New Orleans to use their blitz concepts to take away the deep dig and the 3-level concepts from Mike Martz’s offense. The Bears have to be sound in their protection schemes, account for safety pressure and give some help to their young offensive tackles to see production on offense.

3. Chargers vs. the Patriots' TEs: What would I do after seeing Tom Brady throw for 517-yards in the Monday night win over Miami from a defensive perspective? Focus on TEs Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski. If you want to slow down Brady and this offense, work to defend inside breaking route schemes that target the middle of the field. Force the ball to go outside and win with your safeties. That falls on Eric Weddle and Bob Sanders for the Chargers. This is good football to watch.

4. Cam Newton: We all know the story here with the rookie QB after Week 1, but as I talked about earlier in the week, this is the real test for Newton. This Packers’ secondary is loaded with talent and players that will break on the ball. For Newton, he has to handle the pressure of Dom Capers, get the ball to WR Steve Smith and show up when the Panthers have a chance to score points. We talked about the vertical game with Newton after his production vs. the Cards, but to move the ball against this defense, he must work the short to intermediate route tree. Interested to see how he responds.

5. Falcons’ run game: What type of team do the Falcons want to be on offense? They have the talent at the skill positions to spread the field, but if they want to keep Michael Vick and the Eagles on the sidelines, I would ride RB Michael Turner in the game plan. Get back to running the football, moving the sticks and setting up the deep play action game to WRs Roddy White and Julio Jones. This offense can be productive if they lead with the run game.

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