By Monday’s end, 20 of 32 NFL teams will be sporting an identical 1-1 record. While a two-week measuring stick isn’t the most accurate way to gauge teams, expect unpredictability to rule this season, highlighted by fewer juggernaut teams and a larger, healthier middle class. And after two weeks of football, we’re still unclear about where most of the teams in the NFL stand.
New England’s loss to the unheralded (and undefeated) Cardinals exemplifies this perfectly. Heading into Sunday, the Patriots matchup with Arizona didn’t inspire more than a quick gander. Surely, Tom Brady would throw for 350 and three touchdowns, while Kevin Kolb would continue to master the deer-in-the-headlights look. Reality proved to be much more interesting than what anybody would have guessed, though; especially in the red zone, Brady never quite figured out Arizona’s bend-but-don’t-break defense, and Kolb did just enough to lead his team to victory.
While the Pats played uninspired all game against the Cards, a big chunk of the criticism goes to Bill Belichick who opted to play conservatively and settle for a missed field goal instead of pressing for a touchdown. So much for the Patriots at the top of the power rankings. Time will tell whether or not the Cardinals can keep up their solid play, but the Super Bowl runner-ups have to be a bit concerned that their cupcake schedule has already bitten them.
Pittsburgh entered Sunday on the other end of the spectrum: win to avoid starting the season in a nasty 0-2 hole. Like they seem to do at some point every year, the Steelers muted talks of “oh, they’re too old” by defeating a Jets team with playoff aspirations of their own. Thank Big Ben and a suffocating Pittsburgh defense for that one; Mark Sanchez was bullied into an atrocious 10-27 afternoon, and even though he didn’t throw a pick, he rarely put his team in a position to win.
Still, if the teams played each other again, can we really be confident that we’d witness the same outcome? Both teams should be battling for division leads all season, so even is the rest of the playing field.
— In typical Cowboys fashion, Dallas took their week 1 momentum up to Seattle and looked like the dysfunctional ‘Boys we’ve come to know and love. They looked totally out of sync and got blown away by 20 points, final score 27-7. The offense never got going and now we’re wondering if they’ll disappoint like so many years past.
— Kansas City Chiefs. Cleveland Browns. Jacksonville Jaguars. Tennessee Titans. New Orleans Saints. All 0-2. One of those teams doesn’t belong and that team would be the suddenly abysmal team from the Big Easy. Week two of the Sean Payton for Coach of the Year campaign is in full effect as the Saints gave up 35 points to Cam Newton and got outplayed the whole game.
— Eli Manning is a stone cold assassin. After getting down big against Tampa Bay – including three interceptions – the reigning Super Bowl MVP threw for 510 yards in a comeback win for the ages, complete with an 80-yard bomb to Victor Cruz late in the game. Can we please stop pretending like Eli isn’t a top quarterback? Please?
— The Philadelphia Eagles have played eight quarters. They have nine turnovers and two wins. Somehow, Michael Vick pulled off another comeback win against another team that was crowned after week one: the Baltimore Ravens. The same Eagles team that squeaked out a win against the Browns are suddenly 2-0 with sole possession of first place in the NFC East. Meanwhile, we can all rest easy knowing that Joe Flacco is a crappy quarterback again and all is right with the world.
— Don’t look now but the Houston Texans are beasting teams with little regard for their feelings. My AFC Super Bowl pick hasn’t had much competition this year but they look like they may be emerging as the team to beat in the AFC.
— Speaking of the team to beat, the San Francisco 49ers look downright scary. Everything is clicking and they’re on the field beating players within an inch of their lives. It pains me so much to say it but the Niners look better than anyone else in the league and it’s not even close. They’ve made Matt Stafford and Aaron Rodgers look downright pedestrian in two consecutive weeks.
— In his home debut, Andrew Luck didn’t dazzle but was solid, going 20 of 31 for 224 yards, two TDs and no picks while leading Indy to a 23-20 victory over the Vikings.
— Chris Johnson is a worthless waste of humanity right now. Yes, this has everything to do with the fact he’s on my fantasy team. On the other side of the spectrum are Reggie Bush (175 yards and two TDs) and C.J.Spiller who had monster games this week.
— And you know we couldn’t leave you without mentioning the embarrassment that was the replacement officials. One referee didn’t even make it to the Saints game because his Facebook page was inundated with Who Dats and proclamations of love for the Black and Gold. The refs that made it to the field weren’t much better as they robbed the Rams of a touchdown, allowed the Eagles to hold the Ravens secondary on every play and basically botched their way through Week 2. Please bring back the refs.
— Even though the Redskins lost, RGIII is the truth. Here’s some video evidence to that fact.