If you were waiting for things to get interesting in the NFL season, hopefully you were able to catch the games that were on tap during the second weekend of the season. While some teams proved that they belonged exactly where some analysts have them (both high and low in their respective divisions), other teams puzzled their respective fans and those that watch football on a regular basis. Here is a breakdown of the games that took place during week two of the NFL season.
Things started out on Thursday night in a boring matchup between The Patriots and the Jets. If you didn’t catch this one, consider yourself lucky that you found something better to do with three-hours of your time. Neither team looked impressive, and this is detrimental to the Jets who needed a statement win. On the other hand, the Patriots didn’t look very good as Tom Brady couldn’t find a receiver to hook up with at all during the game in their 13-10. Even though the Patriots are now 2-0 and atop their division, there are some obvious holes in their team that will be exposed once they play more potent teams. The Jets, even after replacing Mark Sanchez with Geno Smith full time, are still not that team. The rain began to fall during the second half of this game and made it even less of an appealing matchup to watch. Brady failed to complete over 50% of his passes for the first time in his career since 2009, and Geno Smith had the same luck, going 15-35. Both of these teams need to figure out how to fill the gaps that they are missing, if they hope to win games outside of their own weak division.
While the Rams came into their week 2 showdown against Atlanta confident with a 1-0 record, the Falcons came in angry and disappointed with their week 1 loss against the Saints. This game was a great one to watch as both teams fired back shots and ended with the Flacons winning 31-24. The downside for the Flacons has been their continual loss of players, as Roddy White was added to that list with his own hamstring injury. He was more of a spectator on Sunday, than the difference maker that he can be. The Flacons were hopeful that Steven Jackson would make an impact during his second game for Atlanta, but he too was injured in the first quarter and didn’t return for the game. Despite all of this, Matt Ryan still racked up 373-yards of his own and went 33-43 over the course of the game. For St. Louis, Sam Bradford looked good, despite an interception through to Osi Umenyiora that was returned for a touchdown. Had that play not happened, this game would’ve been much closer and we could be talking about a different outcome. Nonetheless, the Rams still looked impressive and shouldn’t be too disappointed with their 1-1 record. After all, they are still a rebuilding team with a lot of upside. The Rams should look to continue to build confidence, considering they went toe-to-toe with a team that played in the NFC Championship game last year.
The Ravens and Browns played in a game that most people were truly not interested in. This is such a difficult predicament as well, considering the Ravens were the Super Bowl champions last year and this year have already faded into near non-existence. Nonetheless, the defending champs went into Baltimore and left with a 14-6 victory. Ray Rice left early for the Ravens with a hip flexor injury and the extent of it is yet to be known. The Browns once again failed to rely on running back Trent Richardson. Instead, they put their hopes in the arm of Brandon Weedon, who once again showed he isn’t quite ready for that. If the Browns hope to stop themselves from having another forgettable season, they will need to begin implementing Richardson better into the factor, and let Weedon continue to develop without the workload that is expected among some of the best quarterbacks in the league.
In our preview for the Bills and Panthers game, we noted how this is a bit of a must-win for both of these teams as they try and turn the page in their franchise. We don’t want to take credit for the amazing game that went down, but the nail-bitter 24-23 finish may have been one of the best games of the weekend. Staring on their final drive, the Bills stormed down the field with E.J. Manual, who went 6-for-8 for 51 yards, before capping it off with a pass to Stevie Johnson for the win. Speaking of Johnson, he was a beast throughout the game, accounting for eight catches and 111 yards. And, oh yeah, that game winning touchdown doesn’t hurt to add to the stats for fantasy fans. CJ Spiller also had a 100-yard game with 16 carries. His stat line could’ve been much bigger, had Fred Jackson not been put in late for a touchdown on the goal line. Nonetheless, the Bills looked much better than the Panthers. Cam Newton had a mediocre game for the Panthers, going 21-38 for 229 and two touchdowns. Carolina just needs to find bigger playmakers in their offense, because until Cam Newton has someone to throw to, he wont be happy in a below average receiving core. Don’t let the Panthers 0-2 record fool you, both of these teams looked good and we hope to see them continue doing well throughout the rest of the season.
Another amazing game that you probably didn’t leave your couch during was the Bears and the Vikings. The 31-30 win put the Bears to 2-0 and the Vikings down to 0-2, with two close loses. Despite AP being AP, he didn’t look very impressive in this game with only 88 yards on 26 carries. Although, after being benched to start the third quarter, Christian Ponder came back into the game and finished 10-16 in the second half. If Ponder can keep up this type of play, expect things to open up for AP and the rest of the Vikings offense. Its still early for them, despite being back in their division by two games. As we mentioned, the Bears moved to 2-0 with the win, looking solid in both of their games thus far. Jay Cutler threw 3 touchdowns while going 28-39 and accruing 290 yards. The Bears are looking good early, which is a good sign for Chicago fans. They will need to be able to close out close games all year long, much like they did in Minnesota, if they hope to continue to succeed this year.
All those that were aboard the RGIII and Redskin bandwagon last year, are quickly beginning to pile off after another disappointing loss. This time, it came in the form of a 38-20 defeat to the Packers, even though it was in the nations capital. The worse part about the loss for the Redskins is that RGIII just hasn’t looked well this season thus far. After the tremendous season he had last year, it may be unfair to expect so much from a sophomore back. But with Kurt Cousins waiting in the wings, the clock might be ticking for RGIII in D.C. On the other side of the ball, Aaron Rodgers had himself a career game. Rodgers went 34-for-42 (yes, reread that if you didn’t get it the first time) for 480 yards. I mean, 80% passing is one thing, but over 450-yards is another. Needless to say, Rodgers looked phenomenal on Sunday and fans in Green Bay hope it’s a sign of things to happen the rest of this season. All around, the Packers just outplayed the Redskins in this game and flexed on them at every point possible. The Pack will hope to carry this on for many games to come, while the Redskins may be moving closer to the panic button if things don’t change in a hurry.
In a battle between sophomore quarterbacks, a surprising victory for Ryan Tannehill may have people putting his name in the mix of things with RGIII, Russell Wilson and Andrew Luck. As for this Sunday, Tannehill and his Dolphins beat Luck’s Colts, 24-20. Granted Tannehill played a pour Indianapolis defense, but he made his spots count when he needed too. He threw for over 300 yards and spread the ball to a variety of receivers. Luck looked impressive as well, but didn’t have the same protection from his offensive line that Tannehill had. The reigning rooking of the year still had 321 yards and one touchdown. This game was a bit of a tell for both teams. While some expect the Colts to be in the thick of things in their division this year, the Dolphins proved that they are ready to make their own statement in the AFC East.
A battle between two week 1 winners was another highlighted matchup for week 2. As the Chiefs went into Dallas to play the Cowboys, both teams were hoping to keep a head of steam going for their seasons. However it was Kansas City that walked away with a 1 point win in a 17-16 affair. For the Chiefs, Alex Smith got more acclimated to his new system and offense. He went 21-36 and had 223 yards. Overall, he is looking to get a hang of things, and he’s obviously winning when it matters. As for the Cowboys, Dez Bryant had a career game on Sunday, going of for 141 yards on 9 catches. If he can remain a viable option for Tony Romo, expect this loss to be only a hiccup in the Cowboys season. IT’ll be interesting to see how both teams respond next week. The Chiefs will look to keep their momentum going as Andy Reid goes back to Philly, and the Cowboys will look to get back on the winning track before falling to far back in their division.
After both winning in impressive fashion last weekend, the Eagles and the Lions both faltered in week 2. The Eagles lost 33-30 to the Chargers (who were still reeling after their collapse on Monday night), and the Lions lost to the increasingly impressive looking Cardinals. Chip Kelly’s offense, which received such praise in its first week win, still looked good in week two. But they will need to figure out how to keep the opposing team from scoring as well, if they plan to win more often than not this season. As for the Lions, well Carson Palmer is starting to look good in Arizona and Detroit just had to many penalties to legitimately stay in the game. Both teams will hope to rebound next weekend, while the Chargers and Cardinals will hope to keep winning when it counts.
A week after losing in the final minute on a field goal from the Jets, the Buccaneers welcomed a 1-0 Saints team into Tampa. It was a bit eerie how close this game resembled last weeks Bucs/Jets game, winding all the way down into the final minute. This game, like last week, came down to a final field goal by Garret Hartley, as he kept the Saints in the undefeated category, and the Bucs winless. Although this game was down to the wire, it wasn’t quite as close as it looked. All of Tampa’s points came off Drew Brees interceptions and they just failed to get it going otherwise throughout the game. Tampa is in serious need of changes. And with two loses in consecutive weeks, with close games in both, the panic meter may be within reach.
The final game we’ll look at was Manning-Bowl part III in the Meadowlands. Peyton lead his 1-0 Broncos into New York with a impressive 1-0 record and over 10 days of rest, while the Giants were led by Eli, who are coming off a disappointing loss that they probably shouldn’t have lost in Dallas. Nonetheless, this game was relatively close in the first half, much like the Broncos first game. But once again, Peyton opened it up in the second half and the Broncos cruised to a 41-23 victory. The Broncos defense also looked extremely good during this game, and keep in min that they still don’t have Vaughn Miller or Champ Bailey. Once those two come back, the Broncos will have an even more well-rounded team, if its possible to get any better than they currently are. As for New York, its tough to go down with an 0-2 record. But if there’s one thing we know about Eli, its that he is known for his late comebacks. Whether its in the fourth quarter of a game, or a second half of the season, if Eli is in the conversation when the game is close, don’t count the Giants out.
There is a certain specialty about NFL games that are played in primetime on national television. One of the most anticipated games of the weekend was on Sunday night between the Seahawks and the 49ers, while week 2 of Monday Night Football included an AFC North showdown between the Bengals and the Steelers.
Sunday’s matchup between the Seahawks and the 49ers was a preview of what some say could be the NFC Championship game that will be played later this season. And although it was a rather one-sided 29-3 affair in favor of the Seahawks, if these two teams meet again, we would expect it to be a closer game that fans would enjoy.
As for Sunday, thunder and lightning in Seattle called for a delay during the first quarter that saw both of the teams retreat to their respective locker rooms for about 45-minutes. But as both teams came back on the field, a ruckus CenturyLink Field was ready to make a difference in the showdown. The fans in Seattle attempted to break the world record for the lowest crowd to ever attend a football game, a feat that they accomplished TWICE on Sunday evening.
It was this loud crowd that helped Seattle and their stingy defense keep Colin Kaepernick and the rest of the 49ers offense in a rut. Kaepernick couldn’t get anything going on Sunday night, and he certainly didn’t have much support from Frank Gore, Anquan Boldin, Vernon Davis, or the rest of the 49ers offense. Kaepernick went 13-for-28 for 127 yards and four crucial turnovers. Needless to say, the 49ers have had trouble in recent years against the Seahawks in Seattle. If they play again, San Francisco will certainly hope it be at Candlestick instead.
As for the Seahawks, Russell Wilson certainly wasn’t impressive in his own right. We expected two sensational quarterbacks to come out during this game and put their respective teams on their backs. Instead, it was Marshawn Lynch’s 98-yards rushing, 37-yards receiving and 3 touchdowns that highlighted the stat sheet.
This game was certainly the blowout that the final scored suggested. It was said once during the broadcast that home field advantage is worth a good three points in stadiums that really get loud. But then Chris Collinsworth suggested that the advantage in Seattle is more worth “a solid 5 points” because of their fans. However on this night, the record-setting noise may have been worth at least 20-points. We’d guess that if these teams played again in a mutual location or in San Francisco, the score would be much closer. But if Seattle can use this win as an advantage throughout the rest of the season, we may not get the chance to see that happen again. And the last thing the 49ers want to do is go back to Seattle in January with a Super Bowl spot on the line.
Monday’s game between the Bengals and the Steelers wasn’t necessarily as boring as a 20-10 score line suggested. What may have been more telling during this game was the Bengals ability to beat a Steelers team that has dominated their division for such a long time. Jon Gruden and Mike Tirico were sure to inform viewers that this was a completely different Bengals team that is ready to win their division this year. We have heard that quite a bit over the offseason, and for the first time, Monday night it looked like this prediction may have come into fruition.
It’s a bit uncertain as to what was the reason for the Bengals 20-points on Monday. Whether it was the Steelers unpreparedness for rookie Giovanni Bernard, or simply the Steelers being an older squad that can’t compete with younger players. Sure, Troy Polamalu is, well, Troy Polamalu. But with James Harrison switching to the Bengals in this offseason, the Steelers defense certainly isn’t as formidable as it has been in previous years.
Nonetheless, Gio Bernard deserves his airtime in only his second career game. The rookie had 38-yards on 8 carries, but it was the 27-yard reception and 2 total touchdowns that he will remember on his first Monday Night Football appearance. Bernard has shown that he can score when it counts, something Andy Dalton won’t soon forget. As long as Bernard can do what he did on Monday, than you can expect him to be a favorite target for Dalton in coming weeks.
Tyler Eifert and Jermaine Gresham were also potent receivers for Dalton, aside from having their share of missed opportunities as well. This win was a huge one for the Bengals and you can expect it to give them much needed confidence as they progress throughout the remainder of the year.
On the other side, Mike Tomlan and the rest of the Steelers look disappointed with an 0-2 start. This is the first time since 2002 that the team has started their first two games without a win. The good news is that in that ’02 season, the Steelers still made the playoffs. Either way, the AFC North is still wide open .The Ravens got an average win against the Browns and now sit atop of the division at 1-1 with the Bengals. But by no means are the Steelers or Browns out of it with 0-2 records. This division is still wide open and you can bet that it’ll be that way all season. Unfortunately, this could be a division that ends up with a sub-.500 team that ends up making the playoffs come January.
As quickly as the NFL season started, we are now 2 weeks into it. The Broncos, Seahawks, and Saints all look great. The Dolphins and Cardinals look surprisingly good and continue to turn heads around the league. And a bunch of other teams look average with their own success and failures. The good news is, its only 72-hours until Thursday Night when Andy Reid goes back to Philly with his undefeated Chief and we start another week of NFL showdowns.