Week 2 Thoughts

2 weeks down.  15 to go.

Let’s break down 2-0 teams first:

  • Seattle: A Superbowl pick for many, and after an ugly win in week 1, the Hawks walked all over the 49ers, another consensus playoff pick in the NFC.  The defense was a takeaway machine, and Marshawn Lynch made it look easy, scoring 3 touchdowns against a good run defense.
  • Patriots: 2 wins by a combined 6 points.  Tom Brady isn’t getting much help from his receiving core, which is down 2012 stars Wes Welker, Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski.  They’re lucky to have faced two rookie quarterbacks to start the season.
  • Dolphins: They’re much improved under second year QB Ryan Tannehill, and their defense has picked up where it left off last year.  They’ve looked better than New England early.
  • Texans: First team since the merger to win their first two on the final plays of the game.  They haven’t made it easy on themselves, but Arian Foster woke up this week and sometimes you’ve gotta win ugly.
  • Broncos : No surprise here. Peyton Manning has put his neck injury far behind him, and is getting contributions from his entire receiving core.  9 touchdowns and 0 interceptions is a nice way to start your season.
  • Saints: Bounty gate behind them, Drew Brees continued to be Drew Brees, and New Orleans is showing they should be feared once more in the South.
  • Chiefs: Yes, after just 2 wins last year, the Chiefs find themselves at that mark heading into week 3.  Many, including myself, had them improving quick. With a good defense, an actual QB, and a healthy Jamaal Charles, this team will continue to make noise in the West.
  • Bears: Their defense has a knack for scoring off turnovers.  A big game from Matt Forte and Martellus Bennett helped them outlast the Vikings.

Next up the 1-1 teams:

  • Packers: Aaron Rodgers is really good, and with James Starks finally providing a 100 yard rushing game, Green Bay looks like the toast of the NFC North once again.
  • Lions: They looked poised to move 2-0, but they were shut out in the 4th quarter against Arizona.  A good day from Calvin Johnson was about the only thing they got on offense.  After a big first game by the running back tandem of Reggie Bush and Joique Bell, the two combined for just 56 yards on 17 carries.
  • Colts:  Andrew Luck couldn’t lead another of his usual 4th quarter comebacks.
  • Eagles:  Offense isn’t the problem for Philly early, with Michael Vick looking like the guy Atlanta drafted so many years ago.  The defense however, has looked liked Swiss cheese, allowing 539 yards in their loss to San Diego.
  • Cowboys: They barely held off the Giants in week one, and bad offensive play calling saw them drop a 1 point game to the new and improved Chiefs.  Another year of mediocrity could be in Dallas’ future if they don’t get the run game going.
  • Falcons: Matt Ryan and Julio Jones got going against the Rams, but concern over a thigh injury to off-season acquisition RB Steven Jackson doesn’t help a team with Superbowl aspirations.  But with a great receiving core and defense, Atlanta should be fine.
  • Raiders: They’re 1-1 record is about as much as you can ask for.  They could be 2-0 if not for Luck’s comeback in week 1.  After years of sub-500 play, improvement each week is all you can ask.  They need more from WR Denarius Moore, their most athletic receiver, who was 0-2 on Sunday.
  • Titans: They held a big lead over Houston, but they the Texans overcome an 8-point 4th quarter deficit to win in overtime.  Chris Johnson looked good on the ground, while Jake Locker was okay.
  • Ravens: The defending champs have not looked good through 2 games.  The offense hasn’t gotten going, and with an injury to Ray Rice midway though their 14-9 win over Cleveland, a weak run game could get worse.
  • Chargers: A big day from Eddie Royal, Phillip Rivers and a 46-yard field goal from Nick Novak saved San Diego from an 0-2 start.
  • Cardinals: Their defense has shown flashes of greatness, but a hamstring injury to pro-blow wide-out Larry Fitzgerald hurts.   You have to hope it’s not serious.
  • Rams:  Sam Bradford had a good day, but a big pick 6 helped Atlanta take a big 24-3 halftime lead.  Bradford played well in the second half, but it wasn’t enough.
  • 49ers:  They’re usually stout defense has been suspect in two games early, and Colin Kaepernick has had one top-notch performance, and one full of bad decisions.  San Fran will need more consistency if they want to stay with Seattle all year in the division.
  • Jets: They held their own against the Pats, but when you hold Tom Brady to 13 points on the road, you need to win that game.  Geno Smith is a rookie, so you’re going to have to live with some mistakes, but you can’t have your QB throw 3INTs in the 4th quarter, especially in a division game.
  • Bills:  EJ Manuel has looked good in his first two career starts.  This team could be 2-0, but leading his team back against the Panthers for a win showed Manuel is capable of playing big when his team needs it most.
  • Bengals: After a 3-point loss on opening day, a big performance from rookie runner Giovani Bernard helped Cincy take down their division foe the Steelers.

And finally 0-2 teams:

  • Giants: 7 INTs for Eli Manning is concerning, but the lack of a run game might be more of a worry.  Manning had another big yardage game, but that doesn’t mean much with the 4 INTs.  In 300+ yard games for his career, the Giants are just 13-14, showing just how important the ground and pound game is to Big Blue.  They’re lucky no one in their division is better than 1-1.
  • Redskins:  The defense has looked bad through 2 games, and RGIII is clearly not the same player right now as he was last season.  It’s early, but they could go from first to worst in the East if they don’t pick it up soon.
  • Panthers: Two hard-fought games for Carolina, but two losses none the less.  A hungry Giants team awaits in week 3.
  • Buccaneers: Two tough losses to start the season.  They had week 1 locked up, and would’ve beat the saints if not for Drew Brees and his ability to drive quickly and easily.
  • Jaguars: No surprise here.  Not many wins to be had for Jacksonville once again.  No TDs through 2 games, tough to win that way. Not much else to say.
  • Browns: Their defense is doing the job early.  Their offense is bad.  You hold the defending champs to 0 points in the first half, you’ve gotta find a way to score more than 3.  Plain and simple.
  • Vikings: Adrian Peterson started off their season with a 78-yard TD run on the first play from scrimmage.  He’d score 2 more in the game, but it wasn’t enough to save them opening night.  And the Bears defense was too much for Christian Ponder and co in week 2.
  • Steelers: Ben Roethlisberger misses tight end Heath Miller and it shows.  Pittsburgh is going with tight end by committee, with the do-it all Miller out.  The defense hasn’t looked bad, and the return of Troy Polamalu has helped.

Looking ahead to Week 3:

  • Chiefs @ Eagles – Andy Reid comes home to Philly looking to get Kansas City to 3-0, while the Eagles look to improve defensively.
  • Texans @ Ravens – A match-up of AFC powerhouses.  The defending champs look to put together a complete game, while Houston looks to put a game away before the final drive.
  • Giants @ Panthers – one of these teams will pick up their first win, the other will be in trouble at 0-3
  • Lions @ Redskins – Detroit looks to keep pace with a couple of 2-0 teams in Green Bay and Chicago, while Washington looks to pick up their first win of 2013.
  • Chargers @ Titans – Phillip Rivers looks to grow off a big performance in week 2, while Jake Locker and Tennessee hope to rebound from an overtime loss to Houston.
  • Cardinals @ Saints – The Super Dome will be rocking, and as much as Arizona looks better than a year ago, I think Drew Brees will get his team to 3-0.
  • Buccaneers @ Patriots – The bucs have played well enough to be in both their games, only to lose late.  The Pats have done the opposite.  They’ve allowed teams to stay in it only to win on field goals late. I really dont like how New England is playing, but I have to give the home team the edge, and say they become a 3-0 team.
  • Packers @ Bengals – Two good defenses.  Aaron Rodgers is a former MVP QB, but Andy Dalton has some offensive weapons to work with himself.  Look for the run game to tell the story.  If James Starks can provide a spark like he did against Washington, Cincy has to hope for a big game from the tandem of BenJarvus Green-Ellis and rookie Giovani Bernard.
  • Rams @ Cowboys – St Louis is no pushover, but I don’t see them pulling out the road win.  Tony Romo and Jason Witten have things going early, and after Dez Bryant got going last week, look for the boys to pull out a fairly easy win at home.
  • Browns @ Vikings – Another case of two teams looking for their first wins of the season.  The Browns defense has played much better than the Vikings has, but Minnesota’s offense has looked better than the boys in orange.  Special teams play could tip the scales in this one.  Look out for Vikings Rookie returner Cordarrelle Patterson to play a big role, he had a 105 yard punt return TD in week 2.
  • Falcons @ Dolphins – This is one of the more intriguing games on the slate.  Atlanta wants to continue to rise up and make a statement in the NFC, while Miami looks to surprise and keep pressure on the Pats in the AFC.  Atlanta is more polished on offense, but don’t look past an improved Dolphins team from top to bottom.
  • Bills @ Jets – It’s a match-up of rookie QBs, each looking to get their teams to 2-1.  Division games are always fun and this should be no different.
  • Colts @ 49ers – It’s a bounce back for both teams this week.  If you’re San Fran you want to score early and often, with the comeback ability of Luck and the Colts.
  • Jags @ Seahawks – Seattle will be 3-0.  Not even a thought of an upset here, especially after the Jags best hope on offense in RB Maurice Jones-Drew was hurt in week 2.
  • Bears @ Steelers – The bears defense has allowed a lot of points, but have also gotten a lot of takeaways through 2 weeks.  I never feel comfortable picking Jay Cutler, but I think he has more weapons to work with than Ben Roethlisberger, so I say they move get to 3-0.
  • Raiders @ Broncos – Another easy 3-0 team in Denver.  Oakland has looked okay so far, but the high flying Broncos offense at home is just going to be too much for Terrelle Pryor to try and out gun.

Enjoy week 3 everyone.

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Week 1 Thoughts

One week down. 16 to go.

Let’s start with Opening Night: Baltimore @ Denver.

  • Something we already knew heading into this one, Peyton Manning is pretty good. All he did week 1 was throw for 7 TDs, with no turnovers against the defending Superbowl Champion Ravens.   While the Broncos took home the 49-27, they didn’t look great on defense without Champ Bailey and Von Miller.  And second year linebacker Danny Trevathan picked Joe Flacco off late in the game, but fumbled at the one yard line celebrating the pick 6 too early.  That along with a lack of a run game were concerning, but overall if you’re a Denver fan, you’ve got to like what you saw.  Manning spread the wealth between his receivers, and new addition Wes Welker is fitting in already.  The Ravens have to hope Ray Rice can get it going to help Flacco in the pass game, and with punt-returner Jacoby Jones out 4-6 weeks, a big piece will need to be filled.  Not worried about Baltimore just yet though, Denver was just on a different level at home to start the season.

The first full Sunday of the season saw a lot of big performances, and some strange things as well.

  • The strangest of them all, the number of safeties.  Three were scored in the first quarter of games (Steelers, Jaguars and the Jets).  The one Pitt picked up, according to the NFL, was the first on an opening kickoff since 1988.
  • In an NFC North match-up between the Vikings and Lions, 2012 MVP Adrian Peterson showed last season’s comeback from an ACL injury wasn’t a fluke.  On the first play from scrimmage, AP ran for a 78-yard touchdown.  He’d run for a second, and catch a third from QB Christian Ponder.  But despite the 3 TDs, after the big first run, Peterson only ran for 15 yards on 18 carries.  Ponder threw for 3 picks.  The lions are coming off another losing season, and they needed a big first games from Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson.  But it was the running tandem of Reggie Bush and Joique Bell, that carried the load.   Bush ran for 90 yards, but went for 101 and a TD in the pass game, while Bell only picked up 25 rush yards, but scored 2 TDs for the Lions.
  • Geno Smith can lead the Jets to victory.  Sure it was helped by a Buccaneer personal foul, but 256 yards passing, 47 rushing, a TD and an interception to go along with getting them within field goal range to win in your first NFL start is more than Jets fans could’ve hoped after he hurt his ankle in the preseason.
  • The Saints made a statement week 1, taking down the NFC South favorite Falcons.
  • EJ Manuel can keep things interesting, forcing the Patriots eek out a 23-21 win.
  • The Jaguars are who we thought they are, a team who will be in the worst record of the season conversation all year.
  • The Browns didn’t show much progress, losing their 9th straight opening day game.  QB Brandon Weeden threw 4 picks and was sacked 6 times.  But if the Dolphins want to make noise in the AFC East, they’ve got to do a better job protecting Ryan Tannehill, who was dropped 4 times as well.
  • Andrew Luck is the real deal.  Terrelle Pryor and the Raiders looked impressive for 3 quarters.  But then Mr. Comeback struck.  The Colts QB led his team on 7 4th quarter comebacks last year.  And he did it again week 1.
  • The Seahawks are a Superbowl favorite for many, but they struggled week 1 with the Carolina Panthers.  It took until the 4th quarter to score a TD, a Russell Wilson 43-yard strike to Jermaine Kearse.
  • AJ Green continues to be a really scary player (162 yards, 2 TDs), but the Chicago Bears still found a way to pull out a 3-point win over Cincy.
  • The Steelers O-Line was no match for the revamped Titans defense, allowing Ben Roethlisberger to be sacked 5 times in a 16-9 loss.  Adding injury to insult, Pitt lost a number players to injury, including Pro Bowl Center Maurkice Pouncey.
  • The Rams and Cardinals played a close, hard-fought game, showing just how improved the NFC South is.  Carson Palmer with a big day in his first day as a Cardinal, throwing 2 TDs to Larry Fitzgerald.  New St. Louis TE Jared Cook with 141 yards receiving to help the Rams win their first opener in 7 years.
  • Packers/49ers was fun to watch.  Both offenses showed up big time, combining for 62 points, but San Fran and Colin Kaepernick got the best of Aaron Rodgers once again.  The NFC Championship rematch ended the same way, but in this game it wasn’t Kaepernick’s legs that made the difference.  Kaepernick was on point with his throws, getting his first career game of 300+ yards.
  • The Texans are lucky they woke up in the second half against the Chargers.  Houston is a team that has been getting better every year, but it took a half for Matt Schaub and his offense to wake up.  They got help from a guy they missed last year, when Brian Cushing Picked off Philip Rivers for a 19-yard TD return to tie the game late.
  • The Eagles, not the defending NFC East Champion Redskins, took their Monday Night opener.

Sunday Night Football was an NFC East Matchup: Giants @ Cowboys.

  • The Giants were 4-0 in the new Cowboys home arena heading into action, but things would change.  Eli Manning threw a pick on the first play of the game.  Then the Giants turned over the ball on their next two possessions.  But Dallas couldn’t take advantage, scoring just 3 points off those turnovers.  Tony Romo took a big hit late in the 2nd half, but was able to finish the game, and throw 2 TDs to his security blanket, TE Jason Witten.   You’d think forcing 6 turnovers would’ve meant that the Cowboys won easily.  Wrong.  Down 13-3 late in the half, Eli Manning got a big play off to Victor Cruz to make it a game at the half.  Cruz would go on to catch 3 of Manning’s 4 TDs in the game.  Two fumbles by starting running back David Wilson saw Tom Coughlin bench the second year player, at a weak position for New York with the loss of Andre Brown.
  • Despite all the turnovers, the Giants had the ball with two timeouts and the two-minute warning left with a chance to win.  And there are few QBs in the history of the NFL you’d feel better about in that situation than Eli Manning.  But with the Wilson benching, back-up Scott was in, and on a pass play to him, he didn’t turn quick enough, causing the ball to bounce off his shoulder and fall right into the arms of Brandon Carr for a 49 yard interception return TD to seal the 36-31 win.
  • So the Giants receiving core (Cruz, Hakeem Nicks and Ruben Randle) all went for 100+ yards, and secondary looked pretty good.  But a lack of pass rush and the turnovers are a cause for concern heading into a week 2 match-up with the Broncos.  And for the Cowboys, they snapped their home losing streak to the Giants, start out 1-0 and Tony Romo came out healthy.  Their big concerns heading into week 2 lie with needing to get RB DeMarco Murray going, and hoping start wide-out Dez Bryant’s tweaked ankle isn’t serious.

It’s still early.

  • Don’t forget that.  Whether your team won or lost week 1, there’s still plenty of football to go.