Sunday’s NFL action represented the first full slate of the season as 14 games took place around the league. It did not disappoint.
The early games included tremendous performances from NFC rivals taking on hostile road crowds. That included the Dallas Cowboys doing their thing in D.C., and the San Francisco 49ers showing that the NFC West might be more competitive than originally thought.
Over in the AFC, the New England Patriots absolutely dominated a horrible Miami Dolphins team while the Pittsburgh Steelers proved that they are a shell of their former selves.
It’s in this that we look at the biggest takeaways from Sunday’s Week 2 NFL action.
Broncos offense is a hot mess
We knew that Sunday’s home game against the Chicago Bears was going to be a low-scoring affair. Both the Broncos and Bears boast tremendous defenses with questionable offense. We didn’t realize just how bad the Joe Flacco-led Broncos offense was going to be. Was Week 1 against the Raiders an exception to the rule? Sunday’s game proved that it wasn’t.
Denver tallied a total of six points through the first 59 minutes of the game before converting on a touchdown and two-point conversion to take the lead before blowing it defense en route to a 16-14 loss. All said, the Broncos’ offense converted on 3-of-14 third-down opportunities in the loss. That’s just not going to get it done. Now 0-2 on the season and averaging 15 points per game, it’s time to start talking about the Broncos’ offense as one of the worst in the NFL.
Houston, we have a problem
It’s simple. The Texans need to do a better job protecting Deshaun Watson. We can use all the excuses available to mankind. That’s fine. But unless Watson stays upright on a more consistent basis, he’s not going to last this season. The third-year quarterback was hit 11 times and sacked six times against the Saints last week. Despite coming out on top 13-12 against a hapless Jaguars team on Sunday, Watson was hit seven times and sacked another four times.
The backdrop is real. Houston lost recently acquired starting left tackle Laremy Tunsil to an ankle injury. He was added ahead of Week 1 to help rebuild a devastated and talent-stricken Texans offensive line. No matter the severity of Tunsil’s injury, these Texans must do a better job protecting Watson. It’s that simple.
This just in: Kyler Murray is good
For the first time since Cam Newton back in 2011, a quarterback has accounted for 300-plus passing yards in each of his first two NFL starts. Shockingly, Murray has accomplished this feat in consecutive road starts to begin his career.
It might not have been good enough to come out on top against the Ravens on Sunday, but Murray continues to prove that the NFL game is not too big for him. The reigning Heisman winner completed 25-of-40 passes for 349 yards without an interception. Since struggling through the first two quarters last week, Murray has been on fire. It’s going to be fun watching him play moving forward on the season.
Chargers blow a chance at 2-0
Following a win over the Indianapolis Colts last week, most figured that the Chargers would not have an issue on the road against the Lions on Sunday. Almost immediately, that proved not to be the case. Philip Rivers and Co. scored a grand total of 10 points in a three-point loss that was capped off by this game-winning touchdown pass from Matthew Stafford to Kenny Golladay.
It’s games like these the Chargers can’t afford to lose in an AFC West headed by the Kansas City Chiefs. And in reality, it was the offense that failed to step up. In fact, the Chargers’ defense was game against Detroit. It just wasn’t to be. And this loss could come back to haunt Los Angeles moving forward on the season.
Kirk Cousins continues to be a joke
Minnesota was able to win last week against the Falcons despite seeing Cousins attempt 10 passes. That was in no way going to be the case against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field. Aaron Rodgers and Co. opened up a 21-0 lead early in the second quarter. While Minnesota’s defense picked it up and held the Packers scoreless the rest of the way, Cousins was absolutely atrocious under center.
The high-priced quarterback completed 14-of-32 passes for 230 yards. He threw two interceptions, including a pick in the end zone with Minnesota driving for the potential go-ahead score late in the fourth quarter.
It’s getting to the point that Minnesota can’t rely on Cousins to be anything more than a game manager. Sunday’s loss to the Packers magnified this to a T. Defenses know if they put the game in Cousins’ hands, the quarterback will not be up to the task.
Julio Jones saves Falcons’ season
Teams that start the season 0-2 since 2007 have made the playoffs just 11 percent of the time. That’s what the Falcons were facing at home Sunday night against the Philadelphia Eagles. Taking on an injury-depleted squad, Atlanta almost gave this game away. That included a 13-play, 73-yard touchdown drive by Philadelphia to take the lead with just over three minutes left.
All looked lost for Atlanta. It was facing a fourth-and-three with the game on the line. That’s when Jones stepped up and hauled in a 54-yard game-winning touchdown to help Atlanta pull it out by the score of 24-20. He had put up another tremendous catch earlier in the game, too, finishing with 106 yards on five receptions. Jones saved Atlanta’s season Sunday night. It’s that simple.
No shame in Pats’, Antonio Brown’s game
Not only did Antonio Brown make his Patriots debut Sunday against the Dolphins, the team featured him early. That included Brown making multiple catches on the first drive and coming away with a touchdown in the first half. All said, Brown caught 4-of-8 targets for 56 yards with a touchdown.
The backdrop here is interesting, to say the least. It was just last week that Brown’s former trainer filed a lawsuit in federal court claiming multiple instances of sexual assault. Given these accusations, the Patriots’ decision to have Brown active for Week 2 tells us exactly where they stand on the situation. Only time will tell regarding the team’s stance moving forward. For now, Brown promises to play a huge role on offense in New England as the season progresses.
Cowboys have no problems with Redskins
It started out slowly for Dallas against the Redskins in D.C. Sunday. For the second consecutive game, the Cowboys found themselves trailing early against a lesser opponent. But much like what we saw last week against the Giants, Dak Prescott and Co. picked it up big time from that point on.
Prescott followed up a flawless opener by completing 26-of-30 passes for 269 yards with three touchdowns and a pick. He added to a rushing attack that went for 213 yards. Meanwhile, Dallas bottled up the Redskins running game to the tune of 47 yards on 17 attempts. It led to another lopsided win for Dallas. This time, by the score of 31-21. Could this team now be the class of the NFC? The Cowboys are certainly looking like it right now.
Just not the same without Drew Brees
Once Brees left early in the first quarter Sunday against the Rams with a right hand injury, it became apparent that the Saints were not going to be able to do anything on offense. Teddy Bridgewater is a shell of his former self. He did absolutely nothing to instill confidence that the former first-round pick could be a solution in this offense.
When all was said and done Sunday in Los Angeles, the Saints had put up a grand total of 244 yards and nine points. With Brees on the sideline, Alvin Kamara and Michael Thomas failed to do anything of substance against a lackluster Rams defense. It told us a story that includes the Saints being super reliant on Brees.
Jaguars are a complete mess
It was pretty obvious early during Sunday’s game against the Texans that Jacksonville did not have its head in the game. That included Jalen Ramsey getting into it with head coach Doug Marrone. From there, it was much of the same for a Jacksonville team that just can’t get out of its own way.
Down 13-12 late in the fourth quarter after a touchdown, Jacksonville decided to go for the two-point conversion rather than force overtime. It backfired big time with Leonard Fournette being stuffed just short of the goal line. It led to a second consecutive loss to start the season. Jacksonville has now won just five games since the start of last year.
Complete humiliation in South Beach
For a while there, it seemed like the embarrassment that we saw these Dolphins put up last week would not repeat itself. That was quickly replaced by complete and utter domination from the defending champion New England Patriots in Miami. The final score of 43-0 doesn’t even tell the entire story here.
New England ran 65 plays, seeing 27 of them account for first downs. At one point in the third quarter the Patriots had run more plays (57) than the Dolphins had total yards (38). We know the Dolphins are tanking. Putting two of their best young players on the trade block magnifies this. Even then, the embarrassment in South Beach is hard to fathom. Miami has now been outscored 102-10 in two games.
It’s time to replace Eli Manning in New Jersey
Giants head coach Pat Shurmur might want to stick with this two-time Super Bowl champion. That’s fine. It’s just not going to be a popular decision. That’s only magnified by the fact that Eli did nothing to help his team remain competitive against the Buffalo Bills on Sunday.
The veteran completed one of his first seven passes for 14 yards. That came in the first 22 minutes of the game. It forced the Giants to attempt a comeback from two touchdowns down in the first half. It also led to New York abandoning the run. In fact, Saquon Barkley put up another 100-yard game despite attempting less than 20 rushes. It’s now time to roll with rookie No. 6 overall pick Daniel Jones. Whether that happens moving forward remains to be seen.
NFC West is going to be competitive
It’s time to start talking about this division being among the most competitive in the NFL. Largely glossed over due to the presence of the defending conference champs, the San Francisco 49ers dominated Cincinnati on both sides of the ball Sunday, winning by the score of 41-17. The team has now won consecutive road games to start a season for the first time since 1989.
In Baltimore, the Cardinals put up a heck of an effort. The team is now 0-1-1 and playing much more competitive football than we first imagined. Meanwhile, Seattle came away with its second consecutive narrow win to start the season. All of this is a clear indication that the Rams are going to have their work cut out for them moving forward.
The end of an era in Pittsburgh
The biggest concern surrounding these Steelers has to be the health of Ben Roethlisberger. The future Hall of Fame quarterback exited Sunday’s game against the Seahawks with a right elbow injury. However, there’s a larger-scale concern relating to the overall viability of this team moving forward. Defense.
A week after giving up 33 points in a 30-point loss to New England, Pittsburgh couldn’t do anything to stop a Seahawks offense that struggled last week against a Bengals defense that just yielded 41 points to San Francisco.
Russell Wilson completed 29-of-35 passes for 300 yards with three touchdowns and zero picks. Seattle’s rushing attack went for 152 yards on 33 attempts, including this Rashaad Penny score. The Steelers are 0-2 on the season. They are a complete mess on defense. This doesn’t figure to change any time soon.
Raiders plummet back to earth
Derek Carr and Co. had to be feeling good about themselves. Up 10-0 in the first quarter against Kansas City on Sunday, Oakland was looking for a statement win. This came after the team put up a brilliant performance in a Week 1 win over the Denver Broncos. Could these Raiders be on the verge of surprising the masses?
Not so fast. Reigning NFL MVP Patrick Mahomes decided to treat Oakland Coliseum as his own playground, throwing for nearly 300 yards and four touchdowns in the second quarter alone. Kansas City turned a 10-0 deficit into a 28-10 lead, eventually winning by that score after Derek Carr threw consecutive second half interceptions. Yeah, the Raiders are nowhere near as good as they looked Week 1.