The SEC wrapped up play this weekend with an impressive win by LSU over Miami that will be sure to ice down the hot seat that Ed Orgeron was occupying. In doing so, they made sure that Tennessee was the only team from the conference to lose in week one. As heartbreaking as that is, Tennessee fans can relax knowing they face ETSU next week.
With the NFL all set to take off this weekend, fans can finally enjoy an entire weekend of football. Let’s check out this week’s leading players and matchups in the NFL and SEC.
Players to Watch
A player from the SEC I would keep in mind this week is Kerryon Johnson. By all appearances, he appears to be the real deal. He was overshadowed in the previous draft class by some outstanding talents. But his production at Auburn is starting to look like it was the real thing. The Lions have desperately needed a running back that can consistently produce for them. Having versatile backs that can-do multiple things well ultimately pays off for teams in the NFL. Having a guy like Johnson who can run between the tackles as efficiently as he does outside of them is critical if the Lions want to take a step forward offensively.
The player I want to spotlight this week is Tennessee running back, Tim Jordan. He blew up last week after starter Ty Chandler went down from a hard blow to the head. Jordan finished the game with 118 rushing yards on 20 carries. Even more impressive were the 12 forced missed tackles that he pulled off. Pro Football Focus has that as the most in the NCAA in week one. If he can match that sort of elusiveness this week against ETSU, then he should have a monster game. Without Jordan, Tennessee’s offense appeared flat and uninspiring. Pruitt seems like a vanilla kind of guy, and the offense matches that. With a young and inexperienced team, the Vols will need to lean on the run game and Tim Jordan if they want to have a competitive season. For those reasons, I think Jordan will be one of the breakout players in the SEC this year. Some may say that’s premature after one good game, but I’ve learned my lesson when it comes to unheralded Tennessee running backs that run angry.
Games of The Week
49rs vs. Vikings
I chose this game because it features an intriguing quarterback matchup. The pressure is on both Jimmy Garrapolo and Kirk Cousins to prove they are worth their massive contracts. This game should be a back and forth battle. The Vikings will need to rely upon their defensive line if they want to slow down Jimmy G. They will be turning to 6th-year defensive tackle out of Missouri Sheldon Richardson. The off-season free agent acquisition is a beast in the trenches. The defensive line will need to create consistent pressure up the middle if they want to rattle Garrapolo.
If the 49rs expect to win this ballgame, they will need to figure out ways to engineer points. If they can create a few turnovers and limit their own, then they should be in good shape. Jimmy will need to spread the ball around and create yardage opportunities. He’ll have a slew of weapons at his disposal. Richie James Jr. is one of those weapons. The rookie receiver isn’t an SEC guy, but he did attend my alma mater, Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU). The 7th round pick was looked over by many due to his small stature, but he perfectly fits the mold that 49rs coach Kyle Shannahan has created. In the preseason per Pro Football Focus, James led all receivers in QBR when targeted at 146.7. He’s a weapon for sure, and one that many teams may not be prepared for. Any fantasy folks who are looking at the waiver wire down the road should keep this kid in mind.
Ultimately, I don’t think that the 49rs have enough juice on offense to withstand the Vikings daunting defense.
Sun 9/9 – 1:00 ET
Final Score: 28-14 Vikings
Texans vs. Patriots
This will be one of the better matchups in week one. All eyes will be on Deshaun Watson and his healed knee. The electric young quarterback still has a ways to go before he reaches Tom Brady goat status but from what we saw last year, he has the tools to get there. Watson will need some help from his defensive stars in this one though. South Carolina alum, Jadeveon Clowney will be a tough task for the left side of the Patriots offensive line. On the back end, former LSU player Tyrann Mathieu will be head hunting trying to slow down the Patriots passing attack. He’ll have his hands full with Gronk and company.
For the Patriots, watch out for former Vol Cordaralle Patterson. He is always a threat to break one on special teams. However, I’m most interested in how they will incorporate Georgia rookie Sony Michel into the offense. I thought that he was one of the better picks in the draft, so I’m sure the Patriots have big plans for him.
As good as the Texans defense is, I don’t think they will be able to slow down the ageless wonder Tom Brady.
Sun 9/9 – 1:00 ET
Final Score: 35-27 Patriots
Georgia vs. South Carolina
My Game of the Week in the SEC is this one. It has season-long implications which are always refreshing in Week 2. South Carolina looked like a team to be reckoned with last week. If they want to be a player in the east, however, they need to shake things up with a win versus powerhouse Georgia. On the flip side, if Georgia wants another shot at the SEC championship, then they will need to take care of business against the Gamecocks. Jake Fromm and company looked like they were in full swing last week. The rushing attack was impressive. It seemed like anyone who got a carry was gaining positive yardage. They will face a harder test this week versus an SEC defense, but even South Carolina will have a tough time slowing the Dawgs down.
Sat 9/8 – 2:30 ET – CBS
Final Score: 35-21 Georgia
Clemson vs. Texas A&M
We have an intriguing matchup here and a huge early test of the Jimbo Fisher-led Aggies. Competing in the SEC West is hard enough, but then you go and schedule Clemson as one of your nonconference games and, well, you probably won’t be going to the playoffs. A&M brought in Fisher to get them over the hump. Clemson’s defensive line is one of the best in the country, while A&M is starting three sophomores on the offensive line. That will be a crucial matchup heading into this one. One of the biggest tests for the Aggies though will be trying to slow down Kelly Bryant and the Clemson offense. Bryant looked sharp in his limited work last week. Expect him to have a big game if Clemson covers the spread.
Sat 9/8 – 9:00 ET – ESPN
Final Score: 45-28 Clemson
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