I know everyone’s a fan of quick hit thoughts on our biggest pro sports league, the NFL, so here are mine for Week Two.
- The Thursday night game was an absolute mess if you’re New England‘s Tom Brady. The guy known to turn any wide receiver into a quality NFL talent is being put to the test in a huge way. First, he lost 360 of last year’s 402 receptions. Think about that. The loss of 89.5% of your completions cannot be understated, and it’s playing out in the flesh early on. Brady struggled against the Jets to his first game in four years with a completion percentage under 50%. Rookies Kenbrell Thompkins and Aaron Dobson have had more than their fair share of misses, and as long as the “new Welker,” Danny Amendola sits out injured, it won’t get much better. The lone bright spot? Former Kent State Quarterback Julian Edelman is doing work, ringing up 13 receptions against the Jets.
- Moving on to Sunday…Packers-Redskins was expected to be the second in Green Bay’s meat grinder start to the season, but Robert Griffin III’s comeback tour is still stuck in neutral. After trailing 33-7 in Week One, Washington went down 31-0 at Green Bay before the stat padding began. Griffin was gracious in defeat, taking credit for the team’s slow start, but if he can’t get back to his dual threat ways under center, the ‘Skins are in big trouble.
- On the other hand, what a job by Green Bay to show they weren’t brought down by the tough opening loss at San Francisco. The Packers lost Eddie Lacy on his first carry of the game to a concussion, so what do they do? Post a 400-yard passer (Aaron Rodgers: 34-42, 480 yd, 4 TD, 0 INT) and 100-yard rusher (James Starks: 20 car, 132 yd, TD) for the first time in the franchise’s 95-year history.
- Staying in the NFC North, it was interesting (and nice for Bears fans) to see a little fight out of Jay Cutler. The man known by many to come up small at the biggest times led a 10-play drive capped off with a game winning touchdown pass to Martellus Bennett in the final 10 seconds against Minnesota. Speaking of Bennett, it seems Cutler finally has the security blanket tight end he wanted. The former Texas A&M star has had a ho hum career, but in two weeks his line (10 rec, 125 yd, 3 TD) shows a big season ahead.
- There’s plenty to say about the Bills‘ 24-23 win at home against Carolina. On the positive side, EJ Manuel might just be the guy for this team. In only his second start, (and after watching his team lose in the final five seconds a week ago) the 23-year-old outgunned Cam Newton and threw the game winning TD with just two seconds to go.
- On the other sideline, it’s the same old Panthers. In Newton’s three seasons, the quarterback has put up Pro Bowl-type numbers, but two other numbers stick out: 13-21 overall, 2-14 in games decided by a touchdown or less. In many of those, Carolina led in the 4th Quarter, including both so far in 2013.
- Speaking of “same old,” how ’bout those Cowboys? Dallas showed some life against the Giants last week, beating New York for the first time ever at Jerry World, but then they went ahead and gave up that momentum against the resurgent Chiefs. Even with a lost fumble, it wasn’t Tony Romo that was the problem this time. In my eyes, the real concern lies with running back savior DeMarco Murray. When healthy, Murray’s been a force so far in his young career. This year, though: 32 car, 111 yd, 0 TD. That’s just 3.5 yards per carry, well below his 4.8 ypc average leading up to this year. Something to keep an eye on in Big D.
- The Chiefs are a surprising 2-0, and so are the Miami Dolphins after denying comeback artist Andrew Luck another 4th Quarter masterpiece in Indy. Joe Philbin has committed to Ryan Tannehill at quarterback, and the 2nd-year signal caller is making him look good so far. Think about this: The top three quarterbacks from the Class of 2012 are (in no given order): RG3, Russell Wilson and Luck. This season, Tannehill has a better completion percentage than any of them, has thrown a single interception, and has more passing yards than Wilson and Luck. Not bad at all for the forgotten member of the draft class.
- Texans‘ fans have no fingernails left, but their team is 2-0 after a second Overtime win. The takeaway here, and something Clemson fans already knew: DeAndre Hopkins is a star. When Andre Johnson left the game after he was shaken up, Hopkins stepped up and showed out to the tune of 7 receptions for 117 yds and the game-winning TD. “Nuk” made big plays routine last year at Clemson, and Houston just might finally have its second receiver threat to help out the often double covered Johnson.
- Houston denied San Diego an opening win a week ago, but it was the Chargers this week slowing down the breakneck Eagles and getting in the winning column, 33-30. Mike Vick was masterful again in Philly, (23-36, 428 yd, 2 TD; 6 car, 23 yd, TD) but Philip Rivers was slightly better in the QB Redemption Bowl (36-47, 419 yd, 3 TD). The problem here isn’t the fast paced Eagles offense. It’s the Philadelphia defense’s inability to keep up. That unit is 30th in yards per game and 28th in points per contest. If the Eagles will win in 2013, it’s going to take a lot of 33-30 type games to do it.
- Manning Bowl III was the marquee of the afternoon, and it played out like it for a little bit. Then, in a matter of 6:00 spanning the 3rd and 4th Quarters, the Broncos increased their lead from 17-16 to 38-16, and the game was over. It was the same narrative. Big brother Peyton was great (30-43, 307 yd, 2 TD), and little brother Eli was not (28-49, 362 yd, TD, 4 INT).
- On Sunday Night Football, Carrie Underwood continued to prove that Faith Hill isn’t the only one who can make us wait all day for Sunday night…and there was also a game to be played.
- First, a shout out to the Seattle fans at Century Link Field. At 136.6 decibels, the CLink is now Guinness recognized as the loudest stadium ever. It’s incredible to hear that sound coming over the TV, let alone being there in person. As for the game, a defensive slug fest turned into the Marshawn Lynch show. “Beast Mode” totaled 135 yds of offense and 3 TDs, most of that in the 2nd half to wrap an easy Seahawks win.
- Fun fact: the Seahawks have won the last two meetings with the 49ers: the first on San Fran Head Coach Jim Harbaugh’s 49th birthday, this one on Seattle Head Coach Pete Carroll’s 62nd birthday.
- Injury concerns: The Falcons better hope Steven Jackson’s thigh bruise isn’t an issue because if he’s out, they’re just a worse version of last year’s team. The same can be said about Reggie Bush missing some time for the Lions against Arizona. If Bush is out, it’s bad times in Detroit.
- Stat Watch: The most talked about stat this week: Peyton Manning leads the NFL with 9 TD passes. Eli leads the NFL with 7 INTs. The most interesting stat to me though comes from the receiving column. San Diego‘s Eddie Royal already has 5 TD catches in two games. No one quite knew what to expect from the Chargers’ receiving corps this year. Top wide out Danario Alexander tore his ACL in August, and most thought the combination of Malcom Floyd, Antonio Gates and Vincent Brown would do the work (with Brown having the most upside to emerge as a star). In steps Royal. In five seasons before 2013, he caught 10 TD passes. He’s halfway to that total two games into 2013.