Week 2 did more to murk up rather than clear up the NFL landscape. Parody has definitely shown its face early this year. As of right now, there’s more we don’t know than we do know. Let’s look at the things we DID learn this past week.
5 things we learned in Week 2:
1. The AFC East may be a 2 horse race after all. Initially, it looked like New England would run away with this division (history was on their side) especially after the easiest schedule to start out the season by a defending division champ in NFL history (Week 1: at Buffalo Bills, Week 2: New York Jets, Week 3: Tampa Bay Bucs). The Dolphins made a statement this past week going on the road and beating the Indy Colts, who many consider a playoff team this year. The Dolphins host the Atlanta Falcons this coming week in their home opener. This will be yet another test for the Dolphins to prove that they are for real and to keep pace with the Patriots. The Patriots have not looked good in their two wins as their offense is sputtering without the weapons they have not had (Hernandez, Gronkowski, Amendola, Vereen).
2. The AFC West may be better than we thought. The Broncos are also a team that was expected to run away with the division. Every AFC West team won in week 2. The San Diego Chargers looked good in their loss to Houston during Week 1 and surprised many by going on the road to beat the Eagles, who also looked good in Week 1. The Kansas City Chiefs have already equaled their win total from 2012. Andy Reid has given this team a much needed shot in the arm and it will be interesting to see Reid return to Philadelphia this coming week. Oakland gave the Colts a good game in Week 1 and beat Dallas, who many believe to be a playoff contender, in week 2. It’s early but the AFC West may be interesting to watch in 2013.
3. The Seattle Seahawks are many people’s favorites in the NFC for a reason. I’ll admit I was a little nervous about picking them to go to the Super Bowl, especially after they struggled with Carolina in Week 1. I even went as far as picking their rival 49ers to beat them. I learned my lesson. The Seahawks defense made a statement forcing 5 turnovers against San Francisco. Marshawn Lynch gave head coach Pete Carroll an excellent performance on Carroll’s birthday by scoring 3 touchdowns against a pretty stout 49ers defense. CenturyLink field, the Seahawks home, also made a statement by breaking the Guinness Book of World Record for loudest decibel level in a stadium.
4. Aaron Rodgers is still good. Many wondered if Rodgers would miss Greg Jennings who left the team in the offseason. This past week against the Washington Redskins (last year’s NFC East champion), Rodgers threw for 480 yards and 4 touchdowns. This is his 5th consecutive regular season game with at least 3 touchdown passes (only P. Manning and Brady have similar streaks in NFL history). Rodgers may need to keep these offensive numbers up to keep up with the Chicago Bears, who have won both of their games with 4th quarter rallies.
5. The NFC East is not very good. At least for now. The Eagles looked like a dangerous team last week yet got beat at home this week by the Chargers. The Cowboys lost to the Chiefs, who have improved but still only won 2 games all of last year. The Giants are a turnover machine. The Redskins are in a mass of disarray with RGIII’s health (or the lack thereof). We may have to wait until the NFC East teams play each other to get a good glimpse of where these teams are.
After 2 weeks, let’s look at where these teams stand.
Week 3 (Meaningless) Power Rankings
1. Denver Broncos
2. Seattle Seahawks
3. Houston Texans
4. Chicago Bears
5. New Orleans Saints
6. New England Patriots
7. San Francisco 49ers
8. Miami Dolphins
9. Atlanta Falcons
10. Kansas City Chiefs
5 games to watch in Week 3
Last week’s record (3-2) Season record (6-4)
Thursday, September 19th: Kansas City Chiefs (2-0) at Philadelphia Eagles (1-1)
The surprise of the NFL season so far has been the Kansas City Chiefs who have already equaled their win total from 2012. New Chief’s head coach Andy Reid returns to Philadelphia Thursday night for the first time since leaving the Eagles. Nobody is claiming that the Chiefs are playoff contenders by any means, but winning in Philly on Thursday night will go a long way. Both teams have new systems in place as Chip Kelly’s offense has looked hit or miss so far. I think the Eagles offense is more dangerous than the Chiefs offense at this point so I will go with the home team.
My pick: Philadelphia Eagles
Sunday, September 22nd: Green Bay Packers (1-1) at Cincinnati Bengals (1-1)
Both the Packers and Bengals have looked good in each of their wins and losses. Each of them is expected to contend for their respective division titles. This is a rare visit for Green Bay into the Queen City and there is no doubt the city will be buzzing after their rare home Monday night win over the Steelers. The Packers offense will face a very dangerous defensive front that may give Rodgers timing problems. However ultimately I think Rodgers and the Packers will outscore the Bengals despite an improving Andy Dalton.
My pick: Green Bay Packers
Sunday, September 22nd: Houston Texans (2-0) at Baltimore Ravens (1-1)
Both of these defending divisional champs have not looked terribly impressive in their games so far. Houston has needed late game heroics to win both of their games. The Ravens are recovering from all of their offseason losses including Ed Reed, who will make his first appearance in Baltimore as a member of the Houston Texans. The Ravens are still trying to find their identity on offense without Anquan Boldin and are hoping that Ray Rice won’t miss any time due to injury. I think the Ravens have too many holes on their team right now and that Matt Schaub will take advantage of them.
My pick: Houston Texans
Sunday, September 22nd: Atlanta Falcons (1-1) at Miami Dolphins (2-0)
If it wasn’t for the Kansas City Chiefs going 2-0, the Dolphins might be considered the early surprise of the NFL season. The Dolphins, in their home opener, host the Atlanta Falcons (last year’s NFC South champ). After showing his frustrations about his role in week 1, new Dolphins receiver Mike Wallace played a great game against the Colts last week. The Falcons have had both Roddy White and Julio Jones on the field despite both of them being slowed by injury. Ryan Tannehill is being asked to manage the game while Matt Ryan has the keys to the Falcons offense. The Dolphins are a good story so far but the Falcons have the better all-around team.
My Pick: Atlanta Falcons
Sunday, September 22nd: Indianapolis Colts at San Francisco 49ers
The teacher versus the student. Andrew Luck and the Colts will travel to San Francisco where Luck will face his old coach from Stanford, Jim Harbaugh. Both the Colts and 49ers are hoping to get back in the win column after Week 2 losses. The 49ers are 13-2-1 at home in the regular season since Harbaugh took over the team. The Colts may be regressing a bit from last season, which may have been the perfect storm for them. A win on the road against the 49ers would disprove that, at least for now. 49ers rarely lose at home so I am going with the home team.
My pick: San Francisco 49ers.
A lot of interesting interleague games highlight Week 3. It will be interesting to see if one conference shows itself better than the other. Many believe the NFC to be better as of now. We shall see.
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