Two weeks into the 2014 campaign, 18 teams in the NFL have records of 1-1.
What does this tell us?
The so-called unbeatable teams are certainly beatable and the bad teams aren’t as bad as we imagined.
It’s an easy trap to fall into, believing that a game against one of last season’s doormats is an easy win for your favorite club. We’ve all been guilty of using this famous yet immature team analysis metric: “The X’s suck!”
The Bills suck! The Texans suck!
The Bills and the Texans are undefeated and in sole possession of first place in their respective divisions … and so are the Arizona Cardinals.
Game of the Week:
A word to the wise to all you Colts fans out there that prematurely ejaculated at halftime as Indianapolis held a commanding 17-6 lead and appeared to have figured out a way to stymie Chip Kelly’s high powered offense:
With Nick Foles at the helm, the Philadelphia Eagles are never out of a ball game.
Cody Parkey nailed a 36-yard field goal as time expired to complete a stunning come from behind 30-27 win at Indianapolis on Monday Night Football.
In the second half the Eagles rode not LeSean McCoy, but free agent pick-up Darren Sproles, who proved he’s still got some gas left in the tank. Sproles had seven receptions for 152 yards to go along with 26 yards rushing on just 4 carries and a touchdown run.
McCoy averaged just four yards a pop on 20 carries.
This is what he had to say about his buddy in the backfield after the game:
“I had an average, above average game, where he came in and carried us again. It’s good to have that, because when you get that type of attention from the defense, other guys are making plays. And he’s doing it.”
The Eagles are now 2-0 after coming back from huge deficits two weeks in a row.
Foles was 21 of 37 for 331 yards with 1 TD. His one touchdown pass was a biggie, though, a 6-yard strike to Jeremy Maclin to tie the game with 3:25 to go.
Philadelphia had regained possession after a clutch Malcolm Jenkins interception of an Andrew Luck pass intended for T.Y. Hilton. The Colts had been driving and looked poised to put the game away with the ball in Eagles territory.
During the post-game press conference Head Coach Chuck Pagano blamed turnovers for the loss, both Luck’s INT late in the fourth quarter and Trent Richardson’s fumble on the Colt’s 26 yard line.
Performance of the Week:
The defense is certainly a weak link in Dallas and it’s generally an awful game-plan to simply try and outscore your opponents in a shoot-out, but if DeMarco Murray keeps it up, the Dallas offense might just be good enough to keep this team in the conversation.
Murray went off in week two against the Tennessee Titans, rushing for 167 yards and a touchdown on 29 carries. He did lose a fumble, but by averaging 5.8 yards a pop the ‘Boys were able to control the tempo and cruise to an easy 26-10 victory on the road.
The fourth-year back now leads the NFL in rushing with 285 yards after two weeks.
Biggest Upset of the Week:
The bigger they are, the harder they fall. Isn’t that what they say?
Not many expected the Chargers to upend the Seahawks last weekend but San Diego picked apart the ‘Legion of Boom’ by using a flurry of short, accurate throws and impeccable timing between Philip Rivers and TE Antonio Gates.
Rivers went 28 of 37 for 284 yards and 3 touchdowns with no turnovers.
All three TDs went to the 35-year-old Antonio Gates, who hauled in 7 passes for 96 yards.
The Chargers couldn’t get much going deep, with their longest play being a 21-yard touchdown reception by Gates, but by playing a possession game and milking the clock by consistently moving the chains they held on to the ball for an incredible 42 minutes compared to just under 18 for Seattle.
By keeping the Hawks defense on the field in temperatures that reached 43 degrees Celsius, they were able to wear down last season’s #1 D and put 30 points on the board.
The Seahawks had a chance to mount a last-minute comeback but the Chargers stuffed Percy Harvin on the jet sweep and pressured Russell Wilson deep in San Diego territory, forcing the Super Bowl champs to turn the ball over on downs.
On the ensuing possession Rivers took a knee three times and Nick Novak booted a 28-yard field goal to seal the deal.
Incredibly, the nine-point defeat is the first time that the Seahawks have lost by more than a touchdown since drafting Russell Wilson.
Marshawn Lynch had just 6 carries for 36 yards as Seattle just didn’t have enough plays to get their ground game moving.
The loss is hardly doomsday for the Hawks as there is simply no defense for a perfectly timed pass and Rivers played like a legend.
After the game some Chargers players expressed the notion that they had “exposed” All-Pro cornerback Richard Sherman.
As Sherman typically does, he headed to Twitter to express his rebuttal:
Lmao Exposed? …. Complete 3 passes 0 touchdowns 0 explosive passes…. These guys make me laugh
— Richard Sherman (@RSherman_25) September 15, 2014
The #25’s math is off as up to 5 catches could have been attributed to his man, but he does make a good point that the Seattle secondary didn’t give up many explosive plays. Rivers completed just one pass over 16 yards, the 21-yard TD, but he got the W and that’s what matters most.
What to Look Forward To Next Week:
– Denver @ Seattle: It’s a real surprise that the NFL schedule makers didn’t slide this match-up into Prime Time. While Super Bowl rematches are always a juicy affair, this Broncos-Seahawks tilt will be extra fiery.
Peyton Mannnig and company will be ravenous for revenge after being humiliated in last season’s big game. But it’s always tough to win at CenturyLink Field, just ask Aaron Rodgers.
– San Francisco @ Arizona: The Cardinals are hungry for respect. They missed the playoffs last season with a 10-6 record and have outwardly expressed confidence in their ability to hang with the Hawks and Niners in the NFL’s toughest division.
Wins over the Chargers and Giants have the Cards sitting alone atop the NFC West at 2-0, but they’ll need to topple their top division rivals if they want to legitimately compete for the crown.
– Green Bay @ Detroit: The Packers escaped a close call at home against the Jets following New York’s timeout debacle and the Lions came back down to earth, dropping their week two contest 24-7 to the Panthers.
All four NFC North teams are 1-1, leaving the division lead wide open. Both the Bears and Vikes hit the road this week, meaning the winner of the Packers-Lions game could snag sole possession of first place.
– Unlike last week’s somewhat vanilla schedule, week three has got a ton of tasty games. The Bucs take on the Falcons on Thursday Night Football, San Diego travels to Buffalo as the Bills hope to go 3-0 and hold on to first place in the AFC East, ‘Skins @ Eagles is always a battle, Baltimore heads to Cleveland, and the Steelers tie-up with the Panthers on Sunday Night.
In 2014, Indianapolis and New Orleans, two legitimate Super Bowl contenders, have started off the season 0-2.
While it would be premature for fans to start worrying that their team might not reach the playoffs, it’s not too early to hand both of these clubs a must-win game in week three.
0-3 is hardly insurmountable, of course, but presuming a minimum required record of 10-6 to get into the postseason, winning ten of thirteen in the NFL is a pretty big ask for any team.
The Colts dropped the opener at Denver after failing to pull off the comeback and then allowed a comeback of their own last night to Chip Kelly’s Eagles. So at least in Indy’s case both of their losses came at the hands of 2013 playoff teams.
But the Saints fell to the Atlanta Falcons and the Cleveland Browns. Their opponents went a combined 8-24 last season.
Now, New Orleans lost both of these contests in the waning moments of close games on the road and there’s no shame in losing to any NFL caliber team, but the problem isn’t the damage that could be done to the Saints’ collective ego. The problem is that losing the easy games means you’ve got to make up those victories against higher-quality opponents down the line.
Fortunately both clubs ought to be heavily favored in week three. The Saints take on the Minnesota Vikings in their home opener at the Super Dome and the Colts travel to Jacksonville to take on the Jaguars.
After a decent first outing, Matt Cassell showed how inconsistent he can truly be, tossing four picks against the Pats. The Jags have fallen down the rabbit-hole since blowing their 17-0 week one lead over the Eagles and getting pummeled by Kirk Cousins and the Redskins last Sunday 41-10.
Should one of these two teams falter next Sunday, we may need to put them on suicide watch.
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