As expected, a weird Week 1 threw us off the scent a bit.
After dominating performances in Week 1, the Pittsburgh Steelers and New Orleans Saints came tumbling back to Earth, looking more like the teams I expected heading into the season. On the flip side, Josh Allen and his 55 percent completion rate bounced back and blistered a lifeless Miami Dolphins team 35-0.
The 49ers got into a trench fight with the Philadelphia Eagles, but escaped Lincoln Financial Field with a 17-11 win thanks to a punishing ground game and some curious play calling from Nick Sirianni.
Derek Carr has looked like an MVP candidate early on, and the Las Vegas Raiders are one of the NFL’s surprise 2-0 teams. Put Sam Darnold and the Carolina Panthers in that category as well.
As for the heralded 2021 rookie QB class, it was a tough Sunday. Zach Wilson was picked off four times, Trevor Lawrence threw for just 118 yards and Justin Fields, who relieved an injured Andy Dalton, looked inexperienced. Trey Lance didn’t see the field.
The Death Stars in Tampa Bay and Kansas City appear fully operational, while there is only sadness in New York, err, New Jersey.
Here is where each team stands after Sunday’s Week 2 action:
32. Jacksonville Jaguars (0-2): Through two games, Trevor Lawrence has a Completion Percentage Over Expectation of minus-12.5 percent, per NFL Next Gen Stats. It hasn’t been an easy start for the anointed one.
31. New York Jets (0-2): Zach Wilson became the fourth rookie top-five pick quarterback with four interceptions and zero passing touchdowns in a game in the last 20 seasons. Two others (Sam Darnold and Mark Sanchez) were also Jets. Cursed franchise.
30. Detroit Lions (0-2): Did you see the look on Peyton Manning’s face watching Jared Goff play quarterback? That was Sean McVay for the last four seasons.
29. Houston Texans (1-1): You have to feel for Tyrod Taylor, who left his “revenge game” against the Browns with a hamstring injury and isn’t expected to play in Week 3. Guy can’t catch a break. At least he won’t get Wally Pipped by Davis Mills. Probably.
28. New York Giants (0-2): Daniel Jones and Kenny Golladay are fighting on the sidelines, Kadarius Toney is a relative no-show, Saquon Barkley looks like a below-replacement level running back and Joe Judge’s honeymoon is over. The Giants are a bad football team. Full stop.
27. Atlanta Falcons (0-2): What do the Falcons do well? I’ll wait.
26. Minnesota Vikings (0-2): Death. Taxes. Vikings kickers missing game-winning field goals. Heartbreak in the Twin Cities.
25. Cincinnati Bengals (1-1): After throwing interceptions on three straight throws, Joe Burrow rallied to lead back-to-back touchdown drives and give the Bengals a chance to win. Cincy’s O-line has to do a better job of protecting the franchise after allowing the Bears to sack Burrow four times and register nine QB hits.
24. Indianapolis Colts (0-2): The Colts got the full Carson Wentz experience in Week 2 as Wentz threw a red-zone pick on a shovel pass, led the Colts back from a 14-point deficit before leaving the game with an ankle injury.
23. Chicago Bears (1-1): The Bears picked off Joe Burrow three times, Justin Fields got some important snaps and Chicago got a win without Matt Nagy doing anything worthy of credit. A good Sunday in the Windy City.
22. Tennessee Titans (1-1): Derrick Henry came alive in the second half to carry the Titans to a comeback win in Seattle. Tennessee’s secondary couldn’t cover leftovers with tin foil, but it might not be an issue in the dumpster fire AFC South.
21. Washington Football Team (1-1): Dexter Lawrence’s questionable offsides call handed the WFT a win. But allowing 29 points to Daniel Jones without forcing a turnover is a tough look for a defense that was expected to be elite this season.
20. Philadelphia Eagles (1-1): In the last 20 years, there have been 46 plays of 91 or more yards in the NFL, and only twice has the team not received points out of the drive. Nick Sirianni’s curious fourth-down “Philly Special” play call put the Eagles on that list Sunday. Morning drive time radio in the City of Brotherly Love should be fun Monday.
19. Miami Dolphins (1-1): Miami’s big offensive line investment has been a bust early on. The Dolphins gave up five sacks Sunday and Tua Tagovailoa exited the game with a rib injury. The truth is, the Dolphins are a Damien Harris fumble from being 0-2 and in big trouble. Eh, they still might be in trouble with the Raiders coming to town.
18. New Orleans Saints (1-1): It was a humbling and historic loss for Sean Payton and the Saints in Carolina on Sunday. New Orleans managed just six first downs and 128 net offensive yards, the fewest of the Payton era (2006). It’s hard for Jamies to eat Ws if the punt team is getting that much work.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers (1-1): The Steelers’ offense is an eye sore, and Mike Tomlin knows it. Pittsburgh tried to put lipstick on a pig in promoting Matt Canada to OC, but Ben Roethlisberger is just cooked. Can’t get around that.
16. Carolina Panthers (2-0): Sam Darnold passed for 300 yards for the first time since Week 12 of the 2019 season. What a difference going from Adam Gase to Joe Brady makes.
15. New England Patriots (1-1): Mac Jones has been solid in his first two starts, but the Patriots are going to have to open it up for the rookie to reach their ceiling in 2021. I’m one week away from starting #LetMacCook.
14. Dallas Cowboys (1-1): Dak Prescott and Greg Zuerlein’s right leg rescued Mike McCarthy from a Monday morning debate show firing squad. ‘Boys got a win they didn’t deserve, but it counts the same in the win column.
13. Green Bay Packers (1-1): Aaron Rodgers wasn’t going to lay an egg in back-to-back games, but is he back? We’ll find out Sunday night at Levi’s Stadium. Did you know the 49ers could have drafted him? Fun fact.
12. Buffalo Bills (1-1): In two games, Josh Allen is completing just 55.9 percent of his passes and averaging just 5.4 yards per pass attempt. The Bills have faced two good defenses in Pittsburgh and Miami, but it’s a troubling start for a team that is expected to be a legitimate AFC title threat.
11. Los Angeles Chargers (1-1): A horrific illegal shift penalty cost the Chargers a win over the Cowboys. Bolts played their C game and were still the better team on the field. Sometimes the breaks don’t go your way.
10. Denver Broncos (2-0): Through two games, Teddy Bridgewater is 54-for-70 for 592 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions, and the Broncos are 2-0. That’s why Steady Teddy is under center and Drew Lock is holding a clipboard.
9. Seattle Seahawks (1-1): The Seahawks squandered a 24-9 lead to a Titans team that is allergic to covering wide receivers past 10 yards. That’s a loss that could haunt Seattle two months from now.
8. Baltimore Ravens (1-1): Lamar Jackson rebounded after a disastrous start and finally got a win against Patrick Mahomes. Jackson and the Ravens’ running game bulldozed the Chiefs’ defense to keep them from falling into an 0-2 hole. I won’t complain if Jackson and Mahomes meet again in January.
7. Cleveland Browns (1-1): Baker Mayfield is 40-fo-49 so far on the season. If it walks like a franchise QB and talks like a franchise QB, it’s probably a franchise QB.
6. Las Vegas Raiders (2-0): Derek Carr and Jon Gruden are firing on all cylinders, and Gus Bradley’s defense has looked competent through two weeks. It’s the first time the Raiders have opened 2-0 with wins over teams that were playoff teams in the previous season during the Super Bowl era. Hard to imagine a better start for the Silver and Black.
5. Arizona Cardinals (2-0): Kyler Murray (400 passing yards, four total touchdowns) is an early-season MVP candidate, but he also said he has never seen Star Wars, so I’m not sure how seriously we can take him.
4. San Francisco 49ers (2-0): Through two weeks, the 49ers have played 2.5 good quarters against a bad Lions team and have otherwise looked mediocre at best. Still, they head back to the Bay at 2-0 and have a lot of room for growth. But the improvement has to come quick with the Packers and Seahawks on deck.
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3. Kansas City Chiefs (1-1): Patrick Mahomes finally threw an interception and lost a game in September. So, he can bleed. The Chiefs’ defense has some real issues, especially in the red zone, that can plague them in the postseason.
2. Los Angeles Rams (2-0): The Rams have taken care of Andy Dalton and Carson Wentz to open the season. Want to prove you’re for real? Here comes Tom Brady and the Bucs in Week 3.
1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-0): Gronk catch. Gronk score. Gronk spike. Gronk party with Tom. Tale as old as time.