Week 2 of the NFL season is in the books. Highlighted by the New England Patriots’ recovery and a dominant effort from the Atlanta Falcons, here is a look at this week’s highs and lows across the league.
1. No Super Bowl hangover
History has shown that teams suffered heartbreaking Super Bowl losses often struggle the following year. Don’t tell that to the Atlanta Falcons. The defending NFC Champions fended off a late surge from the Green Bay Packers to win their second straight game to open the season.
The Falcons proved they are just as dangerous as they were in 2016, with their stars Matt Ryan, Julio Jones and Devonta Freeman all putting together solid performances in a 34-23 game that was much more of a route than the final score indicated. Atlanta is still a contender in the NFC.
2. Baltimore Ravens’ hungry defense
The Baltimore defense set the tone for the NFL during the Ray Lewis years. Lewis’s retirement and the departure of several other aging veterans meant a downturn in the unit’s performance over the last couple of seasons.
However, an infusion of youth into the roster seems to have restored the defense to be among the league’s elite. The Ravens forced five turnovers in their Week 1 victory over Cincinnati. They followed that performance by forcing five more turnovers in their 24-10 win over the Cleveland Browns on Sunday, September 17. The Ravens might just be the team to watch in the AFC North this season.
3. Denver Broncos still contending
The Broncos said goodbye to multiple players and even one of the best defensive coordinators (Wade Phillips). Apparently, the Broncos don’t need them. Their dominating 42-17 win over the Dallas Cowboys proved that they are still a force to be reckoned with in the AFC West. Quarterback Trevor Siemian threw for 232 yards and four touchdowns in the victory to lead Denver. Keep an eye on the Broncos; they are dangerous.
4. New England Patriots right the ship
The Patriots took the field on Sunday hoping to wipe away the memories of their opening night loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. They did, and they did it in style. Quarterback Tom Brady completed 30 of 39 passes for 447 yards and three touchdown passes. Brady did most of his damage early and often, shredding a horrid New Orleans Saints defense.
The Patriots won’t go undefeated, and now they have definitive health concerns. Yet in New England, all is well as long as Brady is under center.
5. A 49ers fight
The 2017 season won’t be pretty for the San Francisco 49ers. However, they gave their fans something to look forward to in their 12-9 loss at the rival Seattle Seahawks. The NFL is a win-now league, and there are few awards for last place.
Still, the 49ers came out and gave the heavily favored Seahawks a run for their money behind running back Carlos Hyde’s 124 rushing yards. In a year likely to be filled with lows, the 49ers provided their fans with a few highs on Sunday.
1. Cincinnati Bengals
The hot seat continues to burn in Cincinnati with head coach Marvin Lewis feeling the heat. His team dropped its second straight game to open this season in a 13-9 loss to the Houston Texans on Thursday, September 14.
Lewis deserves credit for the leadership he’s provided to what was once one of the worst franchises in the NFL. Unfortunately, his up-and-down career at the helm of the Bengals appears to be catching up with him. The Bengals finished 6-9-1 in 2016 while being outscored 33-9 in their first two losses this season. Oh, and by the way, those two losses came at home.
Sooner or later, Lewis must turn the corner for the Bengals. His 0-7 playoff record hovers over his career, but the bigger issue right now is Cincinnati’s horrid 258 offensive yards per game.
2. Buffalo Bills give up only 9 points – and still lose
More questions emerged about the rebuilt Bills offense after their 9-3 loss to the Carolina Panthers. Quarterback Tyrod Taylor provided most of the offense, which isn’t saying much. Taylor completed 17 of 25 passes for a meager 125 yards. He also added a team-leading 55 rushing yards. Unfortunately, that was about it for the hapless Bills. The Panthers even stifled the usually explosive LeSean McCoy, holding him to nine yards on 12 carries. Buffalo has some work to do if they are going to finally earn a playoff spot.
3. Cleveland Browns receivers lack those sticky fingers
The Browns entered this season as the youngest team in the NFL. They played like it against the Ravens, especially on offense. With rookie DeShone Kizer pressing to make plays, his receivers consistently let him down. Multiple drops in critical situations and poor routes left their young quarterback looking for any advantage against the Ravens. There is hope for this Browns franchise, but the team will not turn the corner until its playmakers grow up.
4. San Diego Chargers … oops L.A. Chargers
At some point, the NFL must admit that the Chargers’ experiment in Los Angeles is a trainwreck. The problem isn’t on the City of Angels. There was never really any buzz for Chargers football there. This is on the Chargers and the NFL for failing to see that the fanbase in L.A. wouldn’t support a team that it has spent years cheering against. It would be like having the Pittsburgh Steelers move to Cleveland. No one in Cleveland would stomach that; I expect few fans in L.A. to do the same. The opening crowds at the StubHub Center prove that. Even the Rams are a better draw in L.A.
5. What’s wrong in Seattle?
The Seahawks barely beat the rival 49ers 12-9 at home. A win is a win, but given the team’s struggles in the last couple of years, Seattle fans rightfully remain a bit nervous about the future. The talent is there for the Seahawks to win another Super Bowl. The only question appears to be whether or not they can play up to their talent. A three-point win over a poor 49ers team does nothing to inspire confidence in the rest of the season.