NFL Weeks Review
The adrenaline has started to wind down slightly from the WEEK ONE rush that every human experienced as we are starting to get used to the new normal. Some teams have been allowing fans but the majority still play in empty stadiums and likely will for the rest of the season. Regardless, we are still ready for another week of action that will give us more insight on the landscape of the season.
Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Denver Broncos
The outcome of this game was expected, the better team beating the eager, hungry team that was hoping to steal a game. The path to that outcome was unlike any we expected and leaves us pitying the Broncos fans as their season looks doomed. Broncos quarterback Drew Lock went down early in the game with a shoulder injury (it will likely sideline him for a significant amount of time) making one assume the easy Steelers victory. This would not be the case as the Steelers played down to their opponent, making this game closer than it should have been. The Steelers only won 26-21, but they are now 2-0, making any fan wonder if the Steelers are good and how good they truly are. We have seen them beat two teams that frankly aren’t good (certainly without a starting quarterback in Denver), but this team is built with a complete roster and little flaws. Expect Pittsburgh to be in the playoffs (expect Denver to fall off if Drew Lock doesn’t come back).
Carolina Panthers vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
This game was a reminder of a few storylines that we already assumed prior to the start of the game. For Carolina, we were assured that the Panthers are not going to be competitive this season. I believe Matt Rhule will become a good coach someday, I don’t know if Teddy Bridgewater is the long-term starter or just a placeholder (we need more games to determine), I just see the Panthers as setting themselves up to compete next season. The additive that we saw from the Buccaneers is the potential three-headed monster at running back. This was especially noticeable when Leonard Fournette closed out the game in the fourth quarter, his power-style is difficult to defend late in games with the Bucs possessing the lead. Despite last week’s flop, Tampa Bay will be competitive this year, Carolina will not.
San Francisco 49ers vs. New York Jets
I could not find a more suitable definition for “winning the battle but losing the war” than the San Francisco 49ers. A victory will be taken and one they expected, bringing their record to 1-1. The toll taken from the injuries will likely destroy and end any hope for the remainder of the season. The players taken to injury couldn’t have been a worse possible list, a list that includes Jimmy Garoppolo, Nick Bosa, Raheem Mostert, and Salomon Thomas. The 49ers are also likely aware that the rest of the division is currently unbeaten and is shaping into the toughest division in the NFL, being competitive is going to be incredibly difficult in the coming weeks (good thing they play the Giants next week). As for the Jets, we have to start pulling the plug on some figures. Adam Gase has made it clear that he isn’t capable of being a head coach. I wasn’t a fan of Sam Darnold and the more I watch of him the less I can believe. Every time I watch the Jets, I am forced to contrast their defense with Seattle’s, wondering if they miss Jamal Adams yet.
Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Tennessee Titans
This game had to be a reality check for the Jacksonville Jaguars, or at least a measuring stick. The Jaguars stunned us all when they upset the Colts in the opening game and made us question if they are still the worst team in the league. We were reminded that the Jaguars aren’t the worst team rather they will be in the middle of the pack or a reasonable 6-win team. The Tennessee Titans have taken advantage of the schedule they were given and are kicking off the season running. This is the exact start of a Titans team that many regarded as having a fluke season last year. The Titans are ready to prove that they have one of the more complete rosters in the NFL and are a team that can legitimately compete for the Super Bowl, the schedule will become tougher and we will see how the Titans stack in comparison to the rest of the AFC.
New York Giants vs. Chicago Bears
I don’t know how many games we need to watch to prove that Daniel Jones is a bust. I firmly believe that defenses have figured out “Danny Dimes” and have turned him into “Danny Loose Change” as fumbling issues continue. The Bears don’t have a daunting defense, but they sent Daniel Jones four-man pressures and played tight man-coverage throughout the game, causing Jones to struggle again (to make matters worse for the Giants, Saquon Barkley looks like he is done for the season, forcing more pressure on Daniel Jones to be the top offensive player for the Giants). The Bears can look at this victory as one that they escaped with, something that can be a trend this season with last week’s victory also coming in the final seconds. The Chicago Bears also have to feel optimistic considering the gap that is emerging in the division, two teams are 0-2, two teams are 2-0, the Bears are one of the 2-0 teams and have to be hopeful that a playoff spot is within reach.
L.A. Rams vs. Philadelphia Eagles
This game previewed a matchup nightmare that was destined to spell doom for the Eagles. Aaron Donald was going to rush against a retooling interior defensive line and the nightmare only got worse for the Eagles. Philadelphia was outplayed in all facets of the game and the play marked the first time in Doug Pederson’s tenure that the Eagles started 0-2. The underlying lesson we took from this game is that the Eagles aren’t good and this is going to be the toughest team for Doug Pederson to take to the playoffs. The Rams are now part of a competitive NFC West and we will still have to wait to see if they are true contenders this season or just off to a hot start (last season they started 3-0 and finished 9-7).
Minnesota Vikings vs. Indianapolis Colts
This has become embarrassing for the Minnesota Vikings, a team that looked like a Super Bowl contender now looks like one of the biggest disappointments of the season. I doubt we underestimated the Colts after last week's demise so this game falls directly on the Vikings inability to find a winning formula in a season that is quickly sinking. Kirk Cousins will receive most of the blame for this loss and will again have to explain why he is paid like a top quarterback yet hasn’t played like one yet. 3 interceptions and an 18.1 QBR aren’t going to keep your job, and this wasn’t even on Monday Night Football. Mike Zimmer might also be on the hotseat, this was one of the best rosters entering the season, I like Zimmer but if the Vikings don’t turn things around he might not make it through the season.
Detroit Lions vs. Green Bay Packers
We have to remind ourselves that Matt Patricia only has 9 wins as the Vikings head coach, Jim Caldwell had 9 wins in the season the Lions chose to fire him. Matt Patricia was hired as a defensive specialist, his defense just allowed 35 points and is continuing to be one of the worst in the NFL, this is all that needs to be said about the Lions. The Packers are clicking in all facets of the game in the first two victories. Aaron Rodgers is playing like the league's MVP and clearly is extra-motivated to play well this season. The offense is a balanced attack with Aaron Jones emerging as one of the game's best running backs. The defense is built to preserve a lead and is particularly set to defeat any team in an obvious passing down (the pass-rush, the emerging young corners). The Packers will face tougher competition soon, then we will see how the Packers stack against the NFC.
Atlanta Falcons vs. Dallas Cowboys
The Falcons have almost mastered the art of choking, it becomes impressive at some points. This loss in Atlanta makes you wonder if the fans are even affected anymore, they have endured enough pain that they have been numbed to losses like these. This game saw the Falcons boasting a 9-point lead with only two minutes to spare, the Cowboys scored a touchdown and then recovered an onside kick that rolled on the floor for at least three seconds (a football eternity). The Cowboys recovered the kick of course and marched right into field goal range to win the game 40-39. I can’t say that this victory assures anyone that the Cowboys are a good team now, the division is still theirs for the taking considering the inability for two teams in the division to win any games. It is safe to say that the Falcons season is in deep trouble, this was a game they needed, now they have a lot of ground to make up as they are 0-2 and still have the division ahead of them.
Buffalo Bills vs. Miami Dolphins
This game was a reminder that Josh Allen has the Dolphins number. Posting a 149.4 QBR on Sunday, Allen’s touchdown-interception ratio is now 14-3 with four added in the victory. The game was ultimately a 3-point win and it should raise some concern for the defense. At the same time, the Bills are again off to a hot start and appear to have little weakness on the roster, this could be
the Bills year to take the division and possibly one of the top seeds in the AFC. The Dolphins continue to trot Ryan Fitzpatrick, meaning they will win 5 games where Fitz throws five touchdowns and conversely will lose ten games where Ryan Fitzpatrick throws 5 interceptions. Until the Dolphins start Tua Tagovailoa, we can’t properly evaluate the Miami Dolphins.
Washington Football Team vs. Arizona Cardinals
It is time to buy into the Cardinals hype. While the entire division won on Sunday, leaving the NFC West wide open at the moment, we have to look at the Cardinals in a different lens. As someone who doubted the Cardinals, I now see a team that is emerging as one of the best in the NFC. The offense was expected to be strong this year, but now we see a defense starting to emerge in Arizona with Budda Baker becoming one of the league's best defenders and leading the group. Washington had a hard fall to reality on Sunday. The identity has become clear, they have a great defense that will keep them in games but an offense that can’t score. I see the Washington Football Team winning a decent number of games on the merit of their defense but it will be hard to see them in the playoffs with an offense that can’t effectively move the ball.
Baltimore Ravens vs. Houston Texans
This game was intended to be slated as one of the more competitive games of the week, the Ravens controlled the game from start to finish. The Ravens controlling the game should come as
little surprise as they continue their Super Bowl campaign. The Ravens have one of the more complete teams in the NFL and we saw how their defense is also just as deadly as their offense (holding the Texans to 16 points and scoring a defensive touchdown before the half). The surprise might have to be pinned on the Houston Texans performance as they are now 0-2 and are still searching for someone to step up on the offense to help out Deshaun Watson. The Texans played the two best teams on their schedule in the Chiefs and Ravens, but they will have to make up a decent amount of ground in the division.
Kansas City Chiefs vs. L.A. Chargers
I don’t know what to interpret from this game, as do many fans that likely followed this game. I could say that this victory for Kansas City proves how complete a team they possess as their defense kept the game close, but the Chiefs allowed 20 points in the game, which by many standards is not a great defensive performance. I could say that the Chargers found their future quarterback in Justin Herbert, as he looked sleek and NFL ready, but this was one game and the NFL hasn’t figured Herbert's style of play yet (the question will be if Herbert can adjust to the NFL after the defenses adjust to him). I could say that this victory proves how explosive the Chiefs offense is as they are a volcano ready to erupt at any point, yet the Chargers looked like they figured out Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs offense as they were able to constantly pressure him in the first half. The underlying lesson we can take from this game is that the Chiefs have the winning mentality and are not going to waver from their quest at repeating as champions. Kansas City does have to keep an eye out for next week's game as they play the Baltimore Ravens on Monday Night Football which in all likelihood is an AFC Championship preview.
New England Patriots vs. Seattle Seahawks
This game became the most exciting one of the week as we got two juggernauts battling until the final play. Many were thinking that the Seahawks were going to beat the Patriots handily, but a few minutes in we realized that Bill Belichick was going to prepare his team to make the game close and potentially steal a win in Seattle. The game reminded me that the Patriots have one of the best running games in the NFL this year, Cam Newton is continuing to be unleashed as he now has 4 rushing touchdowns on the season. The victory has to be credited to the Seahawks for not only having a great all around game, but being able to stop the Patriots on the one-yard line in the final seconds by telegraphing the Cam Newton draw and beating him to the line. The Seahawks have looked like Super Bowl contenders in the past two games while the Patriots have assured us that the team is going to be competitive this season and a certain playoff team. In an odd way, the Patriots have to feel better after this loss then they did before the game as they proved they can play close vs. anybody.