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NFL Week 2: 10 burning questions, including Patrick Mahomes against Justin Herbert

Vincent Frank

NFL Week 2 kicks off Thursday with the Kansas City Chiefs hosting the Los Angeles Chargers in a huge early-season AFC West matchup. Can Justin Herbert and the Chargers pull off an early-season statement win?

Three teams that struggled big time to open the season must respond big time. That includes the Dallas Cowboys playing without Dak Prescott and a San Francisco 49ers squad licking its wounds following an ugly opening week loss to the Chicago Bears. Below, we focus on 10 burning questions leading up to NFL Week 2.

Related: Sportsnaut’s NFL Week 2 power rankings

Another statement game for the Chicago Bears?

nfl week 2: chicago bears at green bay packers
Daniel Bartel-USA TODAY Sports

After struggling big time in the first half of last week’s season opener against the San Francisco 49ers, Fields picked it up big time once the third quarter started. It helped Chicago score 19 unanswered points after falling down 10-0 en route to pulling off an epic win in Matt Eberflus’ debut as the Bears’ head coach.

Fields and his Bears will now take their act to Green Bay in a divisional matchup with the struggling Green Bay Packers in what could be another early-season statement game. It will come on Sunday Night Football with all eyes on the young team. Should Chicago pull off yet another upset win come NFL Week 2, it would be a true representation of a change of culture in the Windy City.

Indianapolis Colts looking to rebound from mistake-prone opener

nfl week 2: indianapolis colts at jacksonville jaguars
Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

A 20-20 tie against a team that won all of four games a season ago is not how Indianapolis expected to open the Matt Ryan era. But that’s where the Colts are heading into NFL Week 2 following their ugly performance against the Houston Texans this past weekend. Ryan’s four fumbles coupled with questionable special teams play has things looking bad heading into a must-wing game against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

“When you gain those kind of yards, you got to score 40 points,” Indianapolis Colts head coach Frank Reich said after the game. “You can’t walk away with 20 points.”

It is certainly the missed opportunities that hurt. Indianapolis put up 33 first downs and 517 yards of offense. Indianapolis pushed the ball into Houston’s side of the field five times without coming away with a score. That included a missed field goal in overtime, leading to the tie. This just isn’t going to cut it moving forward.

Also Read: Everything you need to know about the NFL Sunday Ticket

Was the Minnesota Vikings Week 1 performance a mirage?

nfl week 2: minnesota vikings at philadelphia eagles
Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Was Minnesota’s win over Green Bay to open the season impressive? Did Justin Jefferson dominate what was expected to be one of the best defenses in the NFL. Both of these questions should be answered with a resounding yes. It also looks like the culture has changed big time under first-year head coach Kevin O’Connell.

But we can’t overreact to one September game. The Vikings must turn the page and prepare for NFL Week 2 against a Philadelphia Eagles team that scored 38 points and tallied 455 total yards of offense against the Detroit Lions. If the Vikings fall back to earth and drop this “Monday Night Football” affair, their season-opening victory over Green Bay will mean nothing.

The Miami Dolphins’ change of culture under Mike McDaniel

nfl week 2: miami dolphins @ baltimore ravens
JIM RASSOL/THE PALM BEACH POST / USA TODAY NETWORK

NFL Week 1 brought Mike McDaniel up against a New England Patriots team that had dominated the AFC East landscape for the better part of the past quarter century. To put New England’s dominance under Bill Belichick into perspective, McDaniel wasn’t old enough to drink when the former won his first title with New England.

Needless to say, this was a huge head-coaching debut for McDaniel against New England in South Beach. Miami responded by handing it to the Patriots by the score of 20-7. McDaniel focused on this following the win.

“It was a very, very cool moment, against my wishes. They just showered me in Gatorade and made it about me, which I know for a fact it’s not. But the team celebrated together, and just being happy for the direction that we’re going in.”

Mike McDaniel on post-game Week 1 celebration

Riding the high of this season-opening win, there’s going to be no break for the Dolphins. They are set to take on Lamar ackson and the Baltimore Ravens in Week 2 before facing off with the Buffalo Bills and Cincinnati Bengals to close up shop on the September slate. This will tell us what we need to know about whether there’s an actual change of culture in Miami.

Related: NFL Week 2 defensive rankings

How the Dallas Cowboys respond with Dak Prescott sidelined?

nfl week 2: cincinnati bengals at dallas cowboys
Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Getting blown out in Week 1 by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at home isn’t great. Scoring zero points after a field goal to open the game is pathetic. Losing your starting quarterback for at least a month disaster. That’s the situation Dallas finds itself in heading into NFL Week 2 against the Cincinnati Bengals. Cooper Rush will start under center with Dak Prescott injured. The Cowboys find themselves as more than a touchdown home underdogs.

How will Mike McCarthy and Co. respond to the embarrassing start to the season with Prescott on the sideline? For Dallas, it now has to be all about coming together as a team and overcoming what we saw in Big D on Sunday night.

A win here could set Dallas up well to rebound as the calendar turns to October. The team has outings against average opponents in that of the division-rival New York Giants and Washington Commanders before an Oct. 9 clash with the defending champion Rams. A loss could create a trickle-down effect in which the Cowboys’ season is lost before that outing against Los Angeles.

Justin Herbert leading his Chargers into Kansas City

nfl week 2: los angeles chargers at kansas city chiefs
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Justin Herbert was brilliant in Los Angeles’ season-opening win over the Las Vegas Raiders. He completed 26-of-34 passes for 279 yards with three touchdowns and zero interceptions, vastly outplaying Derek Carr in the process. Despite this, his Chargers didn’t score for the final 22 minutes of the game and nearly blew a two-score lead in the fourth quarter.

Heading into NFL Week 2, the Chargers must play all four quarters in every aspect of the game if they want to take out the Kansas City Chiefs in Arrowhead on Thursday night. Kansas City is coming off a blowout win over the Arizona Cardinals in which Patrick Mahomes threw five touchdown passes. Los Angeles’ offense going quiet for any extended period of time will lead to a road loss and a 1-1 start to the season.

Related: Top quarterbacks heading into NFL Week 2

Is Matthew Stafford going to be alright?

nfl week 2: atlanta falcons at los angeles rams
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Stafford put up one of the worst season-opening quarterback performances around the NFL. He was also the victim of disastrous offensive line play (seven sacks) and a lack of true weapons behind Cooper Kupp in the passing game. It led to an ugly 31-10 home loss for the defending champs on national television.

The backdrop here is obvious. Stafford was dealing with an elbow issue in his throwing arm during the regular season. He even underwent a procedure. There’s now questions about whether the quarterback is 100%. Rams head coach Sean McVay touched on that following last week’s loss.

“It looked good. I mean, there was a couple things that…whether it was the rush kind of got in his face where he wasn’t able to see certain things. Matthew’s got such high standards, as we do for him and as he does of himself, that there was some plays that I’m sure he’ll went back.”

Sean McVay on Stafford’s throwing arm following season-opening loss

Stafford and the Rams get a bit of a reprieve heading into NFL Week 2 with an outing against the lackluster Atlanta Falcons. If Los Angeles doesn’t take control of this game early, it will tell us a lot about the direction of this team moving forward. In the process, Stafford’s health will take center stage.

New York Giants off to a 2-0 start?

nfl week 2: carolina panthers at new york giants
Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

New York was up against it to open the season. Daniel Jones had just thrown an ugly late-game interception with his team down. Taking on a superior Tennessee Titans squad in Nashville, first-year head coach Brian Daboll let Jones have it on the sideline. It looked to be much of the same for New York. That’s when Jones and star running back Saquon Barkley led New York down the field for a game-winning drive and an improbable opening to the 2022 season.

New York now has a plus-level matchup against the Carolina Panthers at home Sunday afternoon. Is it possible that things have changed big time for the long-downtrodden team or will we see another let down in Jersey? How this plays out is among the biggest question marks on the NFL Week 2 slate.

Related: Sportsnaut’s updated NFL Playoff and Super Bowl predictions

Quick hook for Trey Lance in San Francisco?

nfl week 2: seattle seahawks at san francisco 49ers
Mike Dinovo-USA TODAY Sports

Trey Lance is one of the reasons San Francisco put up a brutal performance in a Week 1 loss to the Chicago Bears. With that said, the young quarterback is not the primary reason for the 49ers’ season-opening upset loss. The offensive line struggled in front of him. Defensively, San Francisco committed dumb penalty after dumb penalty. Meanwhile, the game was being played in a monsoon.

In no way does this alleviate the pressure for Lance heading into Week 2 against the Seattle Seahawks. He has Jimmy Garoppolo breathing down his neck from the sidelines. He will be facing a bad Seahawks defense that yielded 433 total yards despite a Week 1 win over the Denver Broncos. Should Lance struggle in a game that should be played under stellar conditions, there’s going to be talk about a short leash. It’s just human nature for a team that entered the season with Super Bowl aspirations.

Related: NFL Week 2 injury report

The New England Patriots dynamic

nfl week 2: new england patriots at pittsburgh steelers
BILL INGRAM/THE PALM BEACH POST / USA TODAY NETWORK

It seems as if Mac Jones will be able to go Week 2 after dealing with back spasms in the opener. That’s the good news. The bad news? These Patriots looked nothing like the teams that we have seen under Belichick over the past two-plus decades in a loss to the Miami Dolphins. How bad was the 20-7 loss? Belichick attempted to sound optimistic heading into Week 2.

“It was really a pretty even game. Two big plays, 14 points, really skewed the game. Moved the ball. We couldn’t get enough points, and we got into their territory. We got in there six, seven times, whatever it was, and it was 7 points. So, we’ve got to do a better job of finishing.”

Bill Belichick heading into NFL Week 2

Despite this, there’s major issues on both sides of the ball. Jones turned the ball over two times. New England’s defense gave up a few bulk plays. Heading into Sunday’s game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, these things must be rectified. If not, the Pats could be looking at that rare 0-2 start to a season.