Falcons 41, Cardinals 7
CHRIS PUMMER: Guess Matt Leinart wasn’t going to play any better than Derek Anderson.
ALEX PREWITT: Good that the Falcons got this out of their system after getting abused by the Steelers’ defense in Week 1. Jason Snelling is proving to be a solid option (granted, his 129 yards and 2 TDs on the ground were against the Cardinals) and Atlanta can make a big statement on the road next week at New Orleans.
Bengals 15, Ravens 10
CHRIS PUMMER: Win in your division and the rest takes care of itself. The Bengals (1-1) have to be happy that their defense showed more life than it did the previous week.
ALEX PREWITT: Joe Flacco was a trendy pick for a breakout QB and the Ravens were atop many lists to make it out of the AFC and into the Super Bowl. Now, Baltimore is 1-1 after a lackluster win over the New York Jets in Week 1 and now this. Flacco only has 402 yards through two games and one TD against five interceptions for a 41.2 rating, which currently ranks him as the lowest among all 32 starters. Is it time to hit the panic button? Things aren’t going to get easier in the next few weeks, what with road dates with Pittsburgh and New England coming up.
Chiefs 16, Browns 14
CHRIS PUMMER: Two offensive touchdowns, two wins for Kansas City (2-0). Something’s going to have to give. Maybe not next week against a dismal-looking 49ers team, and maybe not even in Week 5 if the Chiefs make good use of the bye week to prepare for Indy. But it will happen.
As for the Browns (0-2), I’m all out of Eric Mangini jokes.
Bears 27, Cowboys 20
CHRIS PUMMER: Bears coach Lovie Smith was right when he described this as his team’s signature win. Chicago is the ugliest 2-0 in the NFL right now. Give credit where it’s due to Bears QB Jay Cutler and offensive coordinator Mike Martz. Chicago scored enough points and didn’t cough up the pill.
Dallas (0-2), however, had another dismal showing. Their three turnovers were devastating, and the running game vanished. The Cowboys aren’t going to be carried by QB Tony Romo.
JASON CLINKSCALES: The way that Dallas played, you swore that they were playing the 1970s All-Decade team on Madden. That is all.
ALEX PREWITT: Does Wade Phillips suddenly find himself on the hot seat after this? We all know Jerry Jones has a short fuse when it comes to coaches, and suddenly the preseason dreams of playing in the Super Bowl in Dallas seems like just that — a dream. The ground game was practically nonexistent (Marion Barber and Felix Jone combined for 18 carries and 38 yards; Tony Romo threw the ball 51 times in catch-up mode) and taking one on the chin at home has to the resonate with the big boss upstairs.
Eagles 35, Lions 32
CHRIS PUMMER: Rallies that fall short don’t count for anything in the standings. The Lions (0-2) is in danger of letting the little things snowball into another avalanche of apathy an losing. At least Detroit is used to cold winters.
The Eagles got good work from Vick, but are sticking to their guns with Kolb as the starter when healthy. Having to prepare for both guys will be a nightmare for opposing teams the rest of this year so long as Kolb doesn’t throw cold water on Philadelphia (1-1) with some poor play. Then a real QB controversy might ensue.
ALEX PREWITT: Obviously, the Vick-Kolb situation is the biggest story to come out of this game, and will continue to follow the Eagles as far as they go. If Kolb proves worthy of the starting role (which, given how he played in the preseason and before he got hurt in Week 1 seems unlikely at this point), then Philadelphia will find itself with two quality QBs, one of whom is an electrifying weapon on the rebound. But, if Kolb fails, then Andy Reid will have scrutiny follow him for the rest of the season, until he starts Vick again.
The issue, though, lies with how much stock the Eagles put in Kolb. Donovan McNabb got driven out of town in favor of the “quarterback of the future.” The problem is that the quarterback of the present is Michael Vick.
Packers 34, Bills 7
CHRIS PUMMER: Nothing to see here.
ALEX PREWITT: The Bills are really good at football. Seriously.
Steelers 19, Titans 11
CHRIS PUMMER: A different kind of QB controversy here as Kerry Collins spelled Vince Young as Titans coach Jeff Fisher tried to crack the Steelers’ defense with a different look. It almost worked for the Titans (1-1), but Fisher might be opening a can of worms here.
Pittsburgh (2-0) is getting a nice leg up while QB Ben Roethlisberger is out, though they’ve got more problems under center as Dennis Dixon is hurt now. Any more wins this great Steelers defense can carry the team to over the next four games should be considered a bonus.
ALEX PREWITT: Realistically, the Steelers can be 3-1 when Roethlisberger returns in Week 6 (Pittsburgh has a bye in Week 5 after his four-game suspension), and that’s not terrible at all. They get Tampa Bay on the road next week before hosting Baltimore and can easily ride their defense to a win in at least one of those games. The amazing thing is how well the defense has stepped up recently and has looked, hands down, like one of the best units in the league, especially given the circumstances and colossal amount of pressure put on it.
Buccaneers 20, Panthers 7
CHRIS PUMMER: It’s too early to say the Buccaneers (2-0) are for real. But I think we already know the Panthers (0-2) are for real bad.
ALEX PREWITT: Josh Freeman to the Pro Bowl? Anyone?
Broncos 31, Seahawks 14
CHRIS PUMMER: Denver (1-1) didn’t run the ball very effectively. If the Broncos had not been playing an inconsistent Seattle team, this could have been the kind of barn-burning blowout they couldn’t pull out in the end.
Matt Hasselbeck had a bad game for the Seahawks (1-1). He’ll have better, but he’ll have more like this, too. Justin Forsett wasn’t a factor with his team trailing.
Dolphins 14, Vikings 10
CHRIS PUMMER: Still waiting for Brett Favre to find his game again. Maybe this time the wait is forever, in which case the Vikings are in trouble. Could they bench the guy who has held them hostage the last two years? Maybe this will be the ugliest QB switch this season, both for how the Favre era would end mid-year, and how Tavaris Jackson is likely to play as his replacement.
The Dolphins (2-0) pounded the ball well enough, as they’ll probably continue to do. A presence more dynamic than Chad Henne under center would be nice, but that ship sails in the offseason. Nothing for it now.
ALEX PREWITT: There is no Plan B for the Vikings — Brad Childress would never bench Brett Favre in favor of Tavaris Jackson, no matter how many picks the future Hall of Famer throws (OK, if he has a few more 3-INT games then maybe Childress considers it). Vikings fans have to be concerned at this juncture, though; the offense has looked terrible — save Adrian Peterson — through two games. Something has to be done, but I just can’t envision the likely scenario involving Favre on the sidelines holding a clipboard.
JASON CLINKSCALES: Miami has had a pretty good defense for a few years now, though the Wildcat offense and the minority ownership of seemingly everyone in entertainment have received the attention. This game showed how much better it has been with the addition of Karlos Dansby and defensive coordinator Mike Nolan. Registering nine tackles – including a fantastic drive-killing stop on Adrian Peterson on 4th-and-1 with three minutes left in the fourth quarter – Danbsy has run the proverbial point quite well for a team with seven new starters on defense. The secondary moved quite well, even if you knew that Brett Favre was going to give a few gift interceptions.
Yeah, Minnesota’s offense looked awful while the Dolphins’ offense is still working out some kinks. Next week’s contest between the Dolphins and New York Jets should be a lot more interesting than in recent years as there’s a pretty good chance someone’s going to get smashed in the grill. Hard.
Raiders 16, Rams 14
CHRIS PUMMER: There has been a surprising spate of ugly games early this NFL season, but from these two teams that’s exactly what you’d expect.
I guess the Jason Campbell era is already over in Oakland (1-1), though you could probably say it was over before it started.
Jets 28, Patriots 14
CHRIS PUMMER: The opposite of what I expected. Another step for Matt Sanchez as he establishes himself as a top signal-caller for the Jets (1-1). And even if it is a mirage, or a temporary burst, LaDainian Tomlinson looks like the guy he was five years ago. Hopefully New York manages his workload so that he can give them this in bursts throughout the season.
JASON CLINKSCALES: New York’s front seven was impressive late. All the talk can go to Darrelle Revis, but those linemen and linebackers obliterated what used to be the premier offensive line in the AFC East (and one of the best in the league this decade).
What stuck out to me more than the Jets or the second-half disappearance of New England’s passing attack was how the Patriots’ defense has played. Even though it wasn’t what would be considered an all-time great defense in the Super Bowl days, you knew who the players were: Teddy Bruschi, Ted Johnson, Mike Vrabel, Rodney Harrison, Ty Law and Lawyer Milloy. At this point, with the exception of nose tackle Vince Wilfork, there’s not that notable player that offenses are terrified of. This youth movement that fans and media pleaded for three, four years ago is taking place at a time where New York and Miami boasts potentially dangerous offenses. There will be more games like this, but Pats fans should hope that these players are sleeping with the film from Sunday’s contest.
Chargers 38, Jaguars 13
CHRIS PUMMER: Winning in Week 1 maybe made people forget that the Jaguars (1-1) aren’t a very good team. This will remind everyone.
The Chargers (1-1) underperformed against the Chiefs a week earlier, but look to be back on track now.
Texans 30, Redskins 27 (OT)
CHRIS PUMMER: Even after a loss, the Redskins (1-1) can’t be unhappy with what they’re getting from Donovan McNabb. Now Washington needs to get more from its running game.
The Texans (2-0) have to be thrilled. In a tough division, to come back and steal this game after trailing by as much as 17 points is some nice cushion should some speed bumps arise.
Coltz 38, Giants 14
CHRIS PUMMER: Peyton shows Eli who’s still the Big Manning.
JASON CLINKSCALES: Yeah, it was ugly for Big Blue. As much of the onus will be placed on Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw, the offensive line just isn’t getting their push on the run as they’d like. Almost every offensive lineman in any level of football will tell you how much they prefer run blocking than pass protection. Right now, it just seems that the line isn’t getting that push.
Raise your hand if you wouldn’t be shocked if Indianapolis plays in the Super Bowl again in February. *slowly raises to eye level*
Saints 25, 49ers 22
JASON CLINKSCALES: As impressive as some defenses looked, arguably, the best defensive performance this week took place in Candlestick Park as San Francisco’s unit rebounded mightily against the defending champs. Unfortunately, four turnovers made their showing rather moot.
If Monday night’s game was the first time you saw Patrick Willis, you saw everything that makes him the best linebacker in the NFL today; sideline to sideline speed, rarely looks beat on any play and has a tremendous command of his teammates.
Yet, you also saw what is holding back the Niners, even in the weak NFC West. As long as the offense keeps sputtering in the first half of games, the Jason Cole article from Yahoo! Sports will continue to rear its ugly head, no matter how much the offense continues to gel.
San Francisco’s defense is the best the Saints will see until Halloween when the Pittsburgh Steelers come to New Orleans. Against Cleveland and Arizona, you may see that pinball offense, but in three games against division rivals, you never know what will happen.