Week 2 is in the books, and there are still plenty of storylines floating around the NFL… including my 14-2 record! Although I saw most of the results coming, there were a few surprises, and there are things I’m looking forward to seeing over the course of the season. Let’s take a look at this past week in football.
Texans squeak by Bengals 13-9
It was an ugly start to the week as we saw a cringe-worthy 13-9 score between two of the league’s most mediocre teams. Andy Dalton did a fine job of not allowing any turnovers in the contest, which is infinitely better than the 5 he gave up in Week 1. Unfortunately, Cinci is still without a touchdown in 2017, and things won’t get any easier as the team goes to Green Bay. It could be a really tough season for Bengals fans this year.
The Texans didn’t do much better, but rookie QB Deshaun Watson was able to scamper 49-yards for the lone touchdown just before halftime. It was a promising debut for the Clemson star, but nothing too exciting yet. If nothing else, he has assured Houston that he will be the quarterback from here on out, and stability is never a bad thing. This was a good win for the Texans, but I wouldn’t hang my hat on it right now.
Steelers thwart Vikings 23-9
Speaking of not allowing a touchdown, the Steel Curtain came down on Minnesota. After scoring at will against the Saints in Week 1, the Vikings struggled on the road in Pittsburgh. Dalvin Cook was relatively shut down with just 44 yards, and the passing game was nearly non-existent without Sam Bradford. I never thought a team could be so dependent on one man, so here’s to wishing Bradford a speedy recovery so the Vikings can get back on track.
The Steelers have got to be happy with how their “weak, poor, and terrible” defense has been playing. Those clearly aren’t my words, as I can’t find many weak spots in their D. They have big men up front who have allowed only 74 yards per game on the ground, and they have a very deep secondary that should get better with every game they play. The problems are penalties and Le’Veon Bell’s production. The Steelers continue to give free yards to their opponents, and Bell hasn’t been himself so far. Look for the Steelers to work on this during their trip to Chicago next Sunday.
Ravens too much for Browns 24-10
The Ravens followed their 5-turnover performance against Cincinnati with a 4-spot against Cleveland. The 8 INTs are best in the league and twice as much as those of the 2nd best team in interceptions. I’m not saying Andy Dalton, Deshone Kizer, and Kevin Hogan are expert marksmen by any stretch of the imagination, but that’s still impressive. Now Baltimore has a very real chance to go 3-0 when they go to London this weekend to face the Jaguars.
It only took a fortnight for the Browns to be fighting off the injury bug. Among the numerous players going down were first overall pick Myles Garrett and Deshone Kizer. Cleveland already has an uphill climb to picking up a couple of wins, and the last thing they need is to be less than full strength. Also, either Kizer really did have a serious migraine and needed to sit out longer, or his 3 picks foreshadow his true talent. Just something to keep an eye on…
Panthers kick Bills 9-3
The worst ticket on Sunday was undoubtedly in Buffalo. Sixty minutes and exactly 0 touchdowns. Even if you like defensive struggles, I’m sure you were less than impressed with what these teams brought to the field. The Bills were a mess offensively. Tyrod Taylor only threw for 125 yards and was the team’s lead rusher with only 55 yards. The highest-rated fantasy running back, LeSean McCoy, got 12 carries for just 9 yards in a very disappointing performance, but at least he led the team in receiving yards. So if you’re keeping track at home: the quarterback led the Bills in rushing yards and the running back led them in receiving yards. Never a good sign.
The Panthers didn’t do very well either. The trio of Cam Newton, Christian McCaffrey, and Jonathan Stewart didn’t shine like I’ve expected them to, so there may be an issue of sharing the spotlight. Just like the Saints, there might be too many cooks in the kitchen which can lead to a train wreck in a stacked NFC South. Luckily, Carolina is 2-0 and they have some luxury to build chemistry before things get too serious. Coincidentally, next up on the docket is New Orleans, so I’m excited to see which offense can finally put it all together.
Cardinals comeback over Colts 16-13
Jacoby Brissett started out strong against a stingy Cardinals defense by facilitating a 14-play opening drive that resulted in a touchdown. It appeared that he was the solution at quarterback until Andrew Luck returns, as the energy in Lucas Oil Stadium was immediately elevated after that terrible Week 1 performance. However, as the game went on, it was slow going until finally, midway through the 4th quarter, the wheels came off.
Carson Palmer finally found the end zone for the Cards and cut into the 10-point deficit. A Phil Dawson field goal a few minutes later tied the game, and he had a chance to win the game before OT but missed it wide right. No matter…the Colts immediately threw an interception and Dawson got redemption.
So first it was a crushing loss to the Rams, and then a heartbreaking loss to the Cards. Where does Indy go from here? For Arizona, their post-David Johnson offense looks very weak. They’ll have to turn that around if they want to beat Dallas next Monday night.
Titans smash Jaguars 37-16
Just as I expected, all is right again. The Titans showed their dominance against Jacksonville in what was an offensive show in the second half. With DeMarco Murray sidelined with a tight hamstring, it was a free-for-all at running back. Seven different Titans got carries, but Derrick Henry made the most of his opportunities by rushing for 92 yards and a TD. Even though Marcus Mariota didn’t excel in this one, the Tennessee offense is certainly meeting my expectations.
The Jaguars have to start calling into question the future of Blake Bortles. It took a long time for him to get going on Sunday as his first touchdown pass came after two interceptions and a lot of scoring on the other side of the ball. In garbage time, Leonard Fournette finally found the end zone (which was answered by a Titan touchdown), then Bortles got a touchdown on their final drive of the afternoon. So honestly, the score makes the day look better for the Jaguars than it really was. Bortles is really going to need to improve upon this 10.4 QBR performance or he may be watching the Jaguars lose from the sidelines.
Chiefs hunt Eagles 27-20
That is also a pun! Kareem Hunt had another great game in Kansas City. If people were still questioning his value after his game against New England, I think a 109-yard, 2-touchdown performance answers any concerns. Alex Smith kept the ball among 5 receivers, but still threw for a cool 251 yards including 103 to TE Travis Kelce. This offense is definitely clicking, and with their stout defense, the Chiefs are looking really dangerous.
Meanwhile, Carson Wentz got the ball out to 9 different receivers for a very nice 333 yards and 2 touchdowns. He also led the team with 55 rushing yards. Ah, so a quarterback leads the team in rushing again… maybe you’re seeing a trend. It seems like every time the quarterback leads a team in rushing, that team winds up with an L. Now, the Eagles aren’t going to be known for the rushing attack which makes Philly pretty one-dimensional. While the results of this game look promising, I’m still not excited for the Eagles this year.
Patriots surpass Saints 36-20
Tom Brady is back, ladies and gentleman. Yes, it was a tough start to the season in New England, but there is no doubting he’s still as elite as ever after what he did in New Orleans. Here we go: 9 receivers, 447 yards, 3 touchdowns, 91.8 QBR, and a nearly perfect 139.6 passer rating. He was simply phenomenal and there was nothing the Saints could do about it. Not that you were, but don’t sleep on the Patriots.
Drew Brees did all that he could do. His 347 yards, 2 TDs, and 0 turnovers is as much as you can expect from your quarterback, but there was no beating the Pats on Sunday. The running game still struggled though. A theme with the Saints will definitely be managing the 3 person committee of running backs and finding ways to get guys hot. I know their egos need those touches, but for the good of the team, Sean Payton might need to pick a side to get a heavier workload.
Buccaneers plunder Bears 29-7
I’m not a fan of Mitch Trubisky at all, but it’s time. I can’t remember Mike Glennon ever being all that good, and he isn’t getting better. His 3 total turnovers aren’t helping his team, and while the Bucs will be pretty good this year, it was an ugly showing for Chicago after a really good game against the Falcons. I’m interested to see which of these games was the fluke when the Bears welcome the Steelers next week.
Meanwhile Tampa Bay is 1-0. Jameis Winston had a good game with 204 and a score, but the story was on the ground. The Bucs favored the running game in 52% of plays, which could be a side effect of the lopsided score, but it was odd to take the ball out of their receiving core’s hands. This win was a great start, but I’m expecting better things in the future for this passing attack.
Dolphins gifted by Chargers 19-17
Another week, another loss in a close game for the Chargers. I should have known Younghoe Koo was going to miss that game-winning field goal. The Chargers are now 1-9 in the past two seasons in games decided by 7 points or less. I thought they could turn a new leaf in their home debut, but their 4th quarter woes don’t seem like they’re changing soon.
The Dolphins should consider themselves lucky to be 1-0. Jay Ajayi is back to his tricks with a 122-yard performance, but the other three players who got carries only lost yards. While Ajayi is pretty dynamic, it’s concerning to see how much the offense is going to rely on him having big games. Speaking of which, of Jay Cutler’s 24 passes caught, 13 of them were by Jarvis Landry. So there’s the whole offense. That shouldn’t be too hard to stop in the future. Nonetheless, I’m sure Miami will take the win.
Raiders ground Jets 45-20
My 42-13 prediction was one of my scores just slightly off, but it got the point across. Michael Crabtree led the massacre with 3 touchdowns and 80 yards on 6 receptions. Derek Carr kept it going for 230 yards and a stellar passer rating of 136.6. Add 180 yards on the ground, and you have an Oakland offense that is going to be incredibly difficult to keep quiet.
Honestly, the Jets weren’t so bad in this game. Josh McCown only threw for 166 yards, but his 2 touchdowns helped him to a 78.5 QBR, just 3.6 less than Carr. They split their play calls 50-50 and got 126 yards on the ground too. I expect more from teams on the contender side of things, but for New York, it was a good day despite the large scoring margin.
Redskins rock Rams 27-20
There were some bright and dim spots in an all-around quality game in L.A. The Rams’ Jared Goff mixed the ball around for 224 yards and a touchdown to Todd Gurley…and Gurley was phenomenal. His two touchdowns and 136 all-purpose yards carried the team and was almost enough to get the win. However, it was not to be as the Rams’ defense allowed a score from Kirk Cousins and Ryan Grant with just 1:49 remaining in the game. It could’ve been worse for the Rams, but 2-0 would’ve sounded a lot nicer than 1-1.
It was a similar story for the Skins. Cousins managed the game well but only threw for 179 yards and the late touchdown. The game was won on the ground for sure. Washington’s running backs combined for 222 yards on 36 carries. That’s an impossible pace to keep up, but it certainly gives coach Jay Gruden something to think about moving forward. The last thing the Redskins need is to fall into the mess the Saints have inadvertently created.
Broncos stampede Cowboys 42-17
If you weren’t a Bronco Believer (myself included) it might be time to change our tune. Yes, it’s only Week 2, but after a steady performance in Week 1 and the destruction of the reigning NFC #1 seed, the Broncos just might be for real. Nothing seemed to go wrong for Denver. Second-year quarterback Trevor Siemian tossed 4 TDs, and C.J. Anderson gathered 154 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Also, the 2 INTS on defense included a 103-yard return for a touchdown. I’m ready for an encore.
The Cowboys are not. In what might be their toughest loss in the past two years, the team will turn to Ezekiel Elliott. Perhaps with his legal battles looming in his head, his 8 yards rushing was by far the worst of his career. Even Coach Jason Garrett called into question Elliott’s lack of effort. It’s just one loss for what might be a really good team, but when there is already locker room controversy, things might not be better this Monday.
Seahawks survive 49ers 12-9
Here we have another field goal battle on the West Coast. It took almost 53 minutes until we saw our first touchdown by what seems to be an uncharacteristically bad Seahawks team. Russell Wilson was supposed to explode against one of the worst defenses in the league, but instead, he couldn’t eclipse 200 yards and only scored a mere game-saving touchdown. If this team is going to be successful, Wilson is going to have to do better. Period. If not, Arizona will gladly take the division and likely home-field advantage in the playoffs.
The 49ers shouldn’t be too proud either. Still without a touchdown in 2017, San Francisco must be getting frustrated. Brian Hoyer couldn’t hit triple digits, and Carlos Hyde actually ran 25 more yards than Hoyer threw. With offensive mastermind Kyle Shanahan at the helm, that’s more than a little embarrassing…especially considering that a single touchdown instead of a field goal would have won this game. It’s back to the drawing board as they welcome the Rams next week.
Falcons foil Packers 34-23
The Falcons opened the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium with a solid win to move to 2-0. After a scare in Chicago, Matt Ryan and Julio Jones connected for 108 yards while Devonta Freeman ran for 84 with a couple of touchdowns. This is the kind of 3-dimensional attack they used against Green Bay in last year’s NFC Championship game, and it was just as effective on Sunday night. As long as these three stay in rhythm, the Falcons will be a tough matchup for anyone.
As usual, Aaron Rodgers did all that he could for the Packers. His 343 yards and 2 TDS were just not enough to outscore Atlanta. Ty Montgomery is emerging as a dual-threat feature back that really helps ease some pressure off Rodgers. He was able to get 110 all-purpose yards on 16 touches and 2 TDs of his own. If the Packers become more of a passing threat, we could easily see a rematch of these powerhouses in the playoffs again.
Lions squash Giants 24-10
I’ll start with the good… the Lions. Ameer Abdullah ran for a career-high 86 yards and a score on 17 carries which almost beat Matthew Stafford’s 21 pass attempts. It’s fascinating to see Detroit run more than the highest-paid player off all time throws, but with the way New York played, there was no reason to pass. The defense completely shut down Eli Manning by sacking him 5 times and only allowing 301 total yards. Now, they sit 2-0 atop the difficult NFC North.
Oye. The Giants. Listen guys, on third down and long, don’t throw to the check-down receiver every time. It didn’t work the first time… or the second time… or the third time… or the-…you get it. Whether it’s bad play calling, Manning’s poor field vision, or the Lions’ pass rush, New York was terrible in the air. And hey, passing isn’t for every team as I’ve described, but when you have Odell Beckham Jr. and Brandon Marshall, there is no excuse. It’s probably a must-win Week 3 game in Philly for the last-place Giants who are lucky to only be a game back… for now.