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NFL Week 2 takeaways: Bengals and Broncos at a crossroads, Cowboys dominate

Sunday’s NFL Week 2 action gave us a little bit of everything. From the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Atlanta Falcons moving to 2-0 to the Cincinnati Bengals falling to 0-2, things are not going according to preseason plans.

The late-afternoon action also saw the Los Angeles Rams put up a big fight against a superior San Francisco 49ers team in Southern California in yet another sign that the NFC West is better than advertised. Meanwhile, the Aaron Rodgers-less New York Jets were not able to do enough against the Dallas Cowboys.

These are among the top takeaways from Sunday’s NFL Week 2 action.

NFL Week 2 takeaways

Related: Unlock Fantasy Sports Success – Get FREE Insights From Dr. Roto and His Team Of Fantasy Winners

Baker Mayfield has his Tampa Bay Buccaneers on a roll

nfl week 2 takeaways: baker mayfield, tampa bay buccaneers
Kim Klement Neitzel-USA TODAY Sports

Last week’s win over the Minnesota Vikings now doesn’t seem to be a fluke. The embattled Mayfield was brilliant during NFL Week 2, completing 26-of-34 passes for 317 yards with a touchdown. His 70-yard pass to Mike Evans early in the first quarter set the tone. Mayfield then hit Evans for a 32-yard touchdown in the third quarter to give the Bucs A 20-10 lead.

“Mike’s a stud. There’s a couple plays today where just giving him a chance and he’s making a play,” Mayfield said after the game.

A 2-0 record for a team that many did not have high expectations for is pretty awesome. After beating out Kyle Trask for the starting job, Mayfield has played stellar ball through two games. Is this a sign that the former No. 1 pick is ready to turn his career around? So far, so good.

Micah Parsons, Dallas Cowboys are legitimate contenders

nfl week 2 takeaways: micah parsons, dallas cowboys
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Micah Parsons is your early-season favorite for the NFL Defensive Player of the Year award. Just ask Zach Wilson and the New York Jets. Parsons got to Wilson for four QB hits and two sacks. He also stripped Dalvin Cook and took the ball from the running back with the Jets actually in the game in the third quarter.

Coming off a Week 1 performance in which he spearheaded a Cowboys attack that sacked Daniel Jones seven times, Parsons continued his dominating early-season play. And in reality, it has Dallas as a legitimate Super Bowl contender through two weeks. Offensively, Dak Prescott completed 31-of-38 passes for 255 yards with two touchdowns and zero interceptions against one of the top defenses in the NFL. Yeah, the Cowboys are looking good during the early part of the 2023 NFL season.

Jacksonville Jaguars offense comes up empty

nfl week 2 takeaways: jacksonville jaguards
Corey Perrine/Florida Times-Unio / USA TODAY NETWORK

Fresh off dropping 31 points in a win over the Indianapolis Colts, some thought Jacksonville was prime for a home upset against the defending champion Kansas City Chiefs. The trio of Trevor Lawrence, Travis Etienne and Calvin Ridley looked to be unbeatable on offense.

None of this came to fruition during NFL Week 2. Ridley caught 2-of-8 targets for 32 yards. Etienne gained a mere 40 yards on 12 attempts. Trevor Lawrence also struggled big time, completing 22-of-41 passes for 216 yards without a touchdown or interception.

The end result was a 17-9 Jaguars loss at home against Kansas City. The nine points Jacksonville put up was its fewest since Week 5 of last season. Doug Pederson and Co. now have to go back to the drawing board next week against the Houston Texans.

Related: NFL Week 2 power rankings

Battle of the rookies in Houston

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This did not go according to plan. Indianapolis Colts quarterback Anthony Richardson suffered a concussion early in the second quarter after recording two touchdown runs. He was replaced by veteran Gardner Minshew, who completed 19-of-23 passes for 171 yards with a touchdown and zero interceptions in the 31-20 win.

Fellow rookie first-round pick C.J. Stroud was tasked to do too much as Houston fell down 28-10 at the half. The Ohio State product was darn good, completing 30-of-47 passes for 384 yards with two touchdowns. He did fumble twice, losing one. But for the Texans, asking a rookie quarterback who is making his second NFL start to throw 47 times is not a recipe for success.

Brandon Staley’s days in Los Angeles could be numbered

nfl week 2 takeaways: brandon staley, los angeles chargers
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For the second consecutive game to open the 2023 NFL season, Los Angeles lost a one-score game. The team is now 12-13 in said games under Staley. In particular, Sunday’s loss to the Tennessee Titans was terrible. The Chargers’ defense, coming off a disastrous performance against the Miami Dolphins, yielded a seven-play, 82-yard touchdown drive to the Titans in the fourth quarter. Los Angeles then needed to get a field goal as time expired regulation to send this to overtime.

After failing to do anything of substance on offense to open overtime, the Chargers then yielded a Titans game-winning field goal. In the end, Tennessee snapped its eight-game losing streak. Meanwhile, the Chargers are 0-2. Teams in similar situations have made the playoffs just 11% of the time since 1990. We now really have to wonder just how hot Staley’s seat is after a disastrous start to the season.

Related: NFL Week 2 Rookie of the Year rankings

NFC West much better than we first thought

nfl week 2 takeaways: seattle seahawks
Kirthmon F. Dozier / USA TODAY NETWORK

The Los Angeles Rams’ Week 1 upset road win over the Seattle Seahawks wasn’t an outlier. They played a heck of a game against the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday, falling just short by the score of 30-23. Matthew Stafford (34-of-55 passing, 307 yards, 1 TD, 2 INT) continued to play stellar football. Puka Nacua (15 catches, 147 yards) broke the NFL record for the most receptions in a rookie’s first two games.

In Arizona, the rebuilding Cardinals opened up a 20-0 halftime lead over the New York Giants. While they let the Giants come back to win the game, the competitive spirit of Jonathan Gannon’s team can’t be discounted.

Following Week 1’s loss to the Rams, Seattle responded big time against the Detroit Lions in NFL Week 3. Geno Smith completed 32-of-41 passes for 328 yards with two touchdowns in the 37-31 win. DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett did their thing, combining for 14 receptions and 134 yards. Meanwhile, Seattle got to Jared Goff for six QB hits and two sacks.

Bijan Robinson leads Atlanta Falcons to perfect record

nfl week 2 takeaways: atlanta falcons, bijan robinson
Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Robinson’s Week 1 performance was in no way a fluke. Taking on the Packers during NFL Week 2, the rookie top-10 pick continued to dominate on the ground. Robinson tallied 124 yards on just 19 attempts for an average of 6.5 yards per rush.

This was within the confines of a game in which Atlanta narrowly defeated the Green Bay Packers by the score of 25-24. The Falcons saw themselves down 24-12 heading into the fourth quarter before scoring drives of 75 yards, 44 yards and 66 yards in the final 15 minutes. Robinson helped in that regard, running the ball nine times in the final stanza to help the Falcons to a 2-0 record. Forget about being the odds-on favorite for the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year award, Robinson’s rookie season could end in All-Pro honors.

Las Vegas Raiders lay egg in Western New York

nfl week 2 takeaways: jimmy garoppolo, las vegas raiders
Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

Vegas opened up Sunday’s game against the Buffalo Bills with a five-play, 75-yard touchdown drive. It would then go on to score three points throughout the remainder of the game. Jimmy Garoppolo threw an interception on the very next possession, leading directly to a Bills touchdown and a 7-7 game. Down 28-10 in the third quarter, Garoppolo threw yet another interception. Buffalo got a field goal to take a three-touchdown lead.

That was pretty much it for the Raiders. They allowed a struggling Josh Allen to complete 31-of-37 passes with three touchdowns. James Cook gained 123 yards on 17 attempts. Meanwhile, the Raiders’ offensive line struggled in run blocking with Josh Jacobs going for negative two yards on nine attempts. The season opening win for Josh McDaniels squad against Denver is now a thing of the past following Sunday’s blowout 38-10 loss to Buffalo. It’s in this that reality might be setting in for the Raiders.

Related: 2023 NFL Playoff and Super Bowl predictions

Injury to insult for the Cincinnati Bengals

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Cara Owsley/The Enquirer / USA TODAY NETWORK

Cincinnati now finds itself at 0-2 on the season following Sunday’s 27-24 loss to the Baltimore Ravens. The backdrop here was Cincinnati’s defense yielding a 12-play, 75-yard touchdown scoring drive in the fourth quarter to fall down by two touchdowns.

While Joe Burrow would lead the Bengals to a touchdown to move the game within one score, he re-injured his calf. It’s an injury that cost Burrow pretty much all of training camp and the preseason.

“We’re going to have to wait and see. I’m not sure how it’s going to feel in the next couple of days. It’s pretty sore right now but no telling how it’s going to feel. I think we’re going to take it day by day.”

Joe Burrow after NFL Week 2 loss

At this point, it makes sense for Burrow to sit a week or two. No one wants to see an Achilles’ injury pop up like we saw with Aaron Rodgers after his initial calf issue. However, the Bengals are now in must-win mode heading into Week 3 against the Los Angeles Rams. In short, it might not be able to afford giving Burrow a game or two off.

Related: NFL Week 2 injury report

Denver Broncos already at a crossroads

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Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

It wasn’t Russell Wilson and the Broncos’ offense that let the team down. Instead, Denver’s defense did not come to play in a 35-33 home loss to the Washington Commanders. The Broncos yielded 388 total yards and 26 first downs in losing their second consecutive home game to open the season.

Denver now finds itself at 0-2 on the season. The team is also a mere 4-13 in games that Wilson has started since it acquired him in a blockbuster trade with the Seattle Seahawks ahead of the 2022 campaign. One now has to wonder where Sean Payton and Co. go from here. With a road game coming up against the Miami Dolphins, an 0-3 start is more than likely.

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