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Surprising performances and tragic injuries abound in Week 2 of the 2023 NFL season. After beating a Saints squad that dominated Green Bay in Week 1, Sam Darnold and the Panthers are now 2-0. The Bills rebounded with a rout of the Dolphins in Miami, the Rams eked out a victory in Indy, and Derek Carr and the Raiders beat the Steelers in Pittsburgh.
Other quarterbacks in the league had a difficult week as well. Tua Tagovailoa of the Dolphins, Carson Wentz of the Colts, Andy Dalton of the Bears, and Tyrod Taylor of the Texans all left the game with injuries, while Jalen Hurts was unable to lead the Eagles over the 49ers.
Tom Brady led the Super Bowl champion Buccaneers to a huge victory against the Falcons in the late games, while Russell Wilson and the Seahawks fell in overtime to the Titans. The Cardinals won when the Cowboys scored a game-winning field goal as time expired, while the Vikings missed a late field goal.
The key takeaways and lingering concerns from this week’s events — and what it all means moving forward — are discussed by our NFL Nation writers. Furthermore, they consider the larger picture with their present team confidence rating, which is a 0-10 assessment of how they feel about the team’s future prospects at the end of the week. Let’s get started. (Games will be updated during the day on Sunday, and then again after Monday Night Football.)
TEN-SEA | DAL-LAC | MIN-ARI | TB-ATL BUF-MIA | LAR-IND | NO-CAR SF-PHI | LV-PIT | HOU-CLE NE-NYJ | DEN-JAX | CIN-CHI NYG-WSH TEN-SEA | DAL-LAC | MIN-ARI | TB-ATL
What you should know: Julio Jones and Ryan Tannehill, the quarterback and receiver, seem to have ironed out the wrinkles. In Seattle, the two connected six times on eight targets for a total of 128 yards. One of the incompletions was a straight-up drop, while the other was a reversed touchdown. When Tannehill needed a play, he always turned to Jones. Their finest connection came on a 50-yard bomb, when Tannehill expertly lay out the ball for Jones to chase down on the post. After a rocky start together last week, they seem to have found their stride. Turron Davenport (Turron Davenport)
Why is it that the defense is allowing so many big plays? Against the Seahawks, the Titans’ defense allowed three plays of 50 yards or more. Tyler Lockett started things off with a 51-yard gain in the first quarter, then raced free for a 63-yard score in the second. On a botched coverage by Chris Jackson and Kristian Fulton, Freddie Swain went free for a wide-open 68-yard score. It all boils down to one thing: self-control. On Lockett’s first deep grab, Titans safety Bradley McDougald was caught off guard by the play-action. For the second huge grab, rookie Elijah Molden allowed Lockett cross his face. Davenport, Iowa
Davenport’s confidence rating (on a scale of one to ten) is now 6.5, up from 4.5. The Titans went into a difficult atmosphere and fought their way to a hard-fought victory, and they always seem to rise to the occasion in such situations.
The Colts are the team’s next opponent (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET)
What to know: This was the Seahawks’ most difficult defeat in recent memory. For the first time in 630 days, they were playing in front of their home crowd at Lumen Field. They were up against a club with O-line problems, which made Seattle’s powerful pass rush a good matchup. They also had a 24-9 halftime lead before allowing 17 consecutive points in the fourth quarter and overtime. It’s one thing to be unable to answer Derrick Henry’s questions. The Seahawks, on the other hand, shot themselves in the foot by missing a PAT that would have kept the game out of overtime and committing ten penalties for 100 yards. And they didn’t have any late Russell Wilson magic to save them this time, as their offense limped to a three-and-out on the last drive. With the NFC West looking so strong right now — every other team went 2-0 on Sunday — the Seahawks don’t have much of a margin for error in games like these. Brady Henderson’s quote
Will the Seahawks’ defense be hampered by cornerback play? Since letting Shaquill Griffin go in free agency, that’s been their most shaky position group. The Seahawks’ roster and lineup shuffles before the season opener didn’t alter that. Neither did the way Tre Flowers and D.J. Reed performed in Week 1 against a Colts receiving corps that was without T.Y. Hilton. They couldn’t hold their own against Julio Jones and A.J. Brown, who were much superior. Flowers fumbled a tackle attempt on Derrick Henry’s 60-yard touchdown run and was in coverage on Jones’ 51-yard reception. Reed’s major blunder was a 15-yard taunting penalty. Pete Carroll has said that the cornerback battle is still ongoing. Sidney Jones should be comfortable enough with Seattle’s defense at this point to challenge Flowers for playing time. Henderson’s words
Henderson’s confidence rating (on a scale of one to ten) is 7.5, down from 8.7. Wilson and the offense struggled late Sunday, but despite the fact that the season is just two weeks old, he still seems to be the best quarterback in the division.
The next game will be against the Vikings (Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET)
What you should know: Moments like Sunday with the game on the line were what Prescott missed the most during his 11-month layoff due to a complex fracture and dislocation of his right ankle. It wasn’t the most beautiful of game-winning drives, but Greg Zuerlein’s 56-yard field goal with no time remaining gave Prescott his 11th fourth-quarter triumph and a 20-17 victory against the Los Angeles Chargers. People will have to determine how they won this game, but Prescott completed all five of his throws for 35 yards on the last drive. A victory is a win, particularly for a club that had only won six of Mike McCarthy’s first 17 games. Todd Archer is a writer.
Can the Cowboys keep going in this direction? To win, the offensive must perform near-perfectly. Tony Pollard rushed for more than 100 yards and Ezekiel Elliott scored on the ground. Two of the Cowboys’ three red-zone chances resulted in scores. They earned a team-high 13 first downs in the first quarter, but only held the ball for a few minutes in the second half. As Mike McCarthy loves to say, it’s a one-possession league, but they can’t keep playing like this for another 15 games. (Archer)
The confidence rating of Archer (0-10) is 6.1, down from 7.5. The Chargers were a huge assistance to the Cowboys. Greatly. Penalties wiped away two throwing scores for the Chargers, and Justin Herbert was intercepted in the end zone.
The Eagles are the team’s next opponent (Monday, 8:15 p.m. ET)
What you should know: How did the Chargers lose this game? The Chargers were defeated by penalties and ill-timed fumbles despite dominating the ball for the most of the second half. The Chargers were penalized 12 times for 99 yards, two of which resulted in touchdowns and six of which resulted in first downs being taken away. Not to mention an interception in the end zone by quarterback Justin Herbert and a failed field goal at the conclusion of the first half that bounced off the upright. Shelley Smith says:
How can the Chargers improve their red-zone performance when they visit Kansas City next week? After two games of turnovers and penalties in scoring area, their confidence had to be shattered. Austin Ekeler was a larger part of the offense, receiving nine receptions for 61 yards and rushing for another 54 yards. Justin Herbert made excellent plays to put the Chargers in scoring position, completing 31 of 41 passes for 313 yards. They would be 2-0 right now if it weren’t for the errors, thus greater focus and execution are essential. ‘Smith’
Smith’s confidence rating (on a scale of one to ten) is 4.0, down from 5.4. Penalties and turnovers are a stumbling block for this squad.
The Chiefs’ next game is on the road (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET)
What you should know: Kyler Murray is an MVP candidate. He carried the Cardinals’ offense on his shoulders Sunday, passing for 400 yards and three touchdowns, as well as two interceptions, while also gaining 31 yards on the ground. Murray produced huge plays when Arizona needed them the most, like as spinning out of a sack and throwing a 77-yard touchdown pass to Rondale Moore. Arizona will lose if this does not happen. Or coming out of another sack early in the game to find DeAndre Hopkins for a score. Other players may be doing better, but none are as important to their teams as Murray is to the Cardinals. Josh Weinfuss (@JoshWeinfuss)
Is the Cardinals’ offense capable of carrying them to the postseason? Yes, in a nutshell. However, it need assistance. Through two games, Arizona’s offense has shown that it can compete with any in the league this season. That’s how wonderful it is. Kyler Murray is playing at an MVP level, and he has enough weapons to keep defenders on their toes throughout the game. They can score with anybody in the NFL, scoring 38 points in Week 1 and 34 points against the Vikings on Sunday. Weinfuss’s words
Weinfuss’ confidence rating (on a scale of one to ten) is 8.6, down from 9. The Cardinals’ offense remained outstanding, even dominating at times, but the defense lowered Arizona’s confidence rating.
Jaguars’ next game is on the road (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET)
What to know: Only two weeks into the 2023 season, the Vikings are in serious trouble. The Vikings are 0-2 after a 34-33 defeat to the Arizona Cardinals, and with Seattle and Cleveland visiting Minnesota in Weeks 3 and 4, the prognosis for this club and its playoff prospects is already grim. According to ESPN Stats & Information, 50 of 59 teams in the Super Bowl era have missed the playoffs after starting the season with two road defeats, including the Vikings in 2013. Courtney Cronin (Courtney Cronin)
How can the Vikings’ defense avoid allowing huge plays to be scored on? Kyler Murray shredded Minnesota’s defense with his deep ball, completing 6-of-7 passes for 200 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception on throws of 15 yards or more. Do you know anybody else who enjoys throwing it far? The quarterback the Vikings will play at home next week is Russell Wilson. Wilson’s ability to escape the pocket and make huge, precise passes on the run, while remaining unfazed by defenders barreling down on him, is eerily similar to Murray’s ability to confound Minnesota’s defense. When he was pressed, Murray went 6-of-10 for 140 yards, two touchdowns, and an interception. Cronin’s
Cronin’s confidence rating (0-10) has dropped from 5 to 4.5. The Vikings had every chance to defeat Arizona but didn’t, and special-teams miscues cost them dearly.
The Seahawks are the team’s next opponent (Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET)
What you should know: On Sunday, Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady tossed five touchdown passes against the Atlanta Falcons, with safety Mike Edwards contributing two fourth-quarter pick-sixes of Matt Ryan to help clinch the win. In the second half, though, they fell asleep at the wheel, enabling the Falcons to reduce a 28-10 advantage to 28-25 in the third quarter. As their schedule heats up over the next two weeks, with road trips to the Los Angeles Rams next week and then the New England Patriots in Week 4, putting four quarters together and avoiding turnovers — Brady coughed up the ball on a sack-fumble in the first quarter — will continue to be a point of emphasis. — Jenna Laine is a model and actress.
After allowing over 300 yards in back-to-back weeks, how will the Buccaneers’ pass defense respond? The Bucs’ secondary held up well despite the absence of starter Sean Murphy-Bunting and another starter, Carlton Davis, who is nursing a hamstring ailment, as well as third corner Jamel Dean, who was forced to leave momentarily due to injury. Despite allowing over 300 passing yards, the defense intercepted Ryan three times (one by Shaq Barrett and two by Edwards). Things fell apart when cornerback Ross Cockrell struggled on man coverage on a 3-yard score against the Falcons’ top receiver Calvin Ridley, but Edwards, a backup safety and large nickel, played up to the hype this coaching staff had for him all summer: a ballhawk. With the plague of injuries, he’ll have more chances. Laine –
Laine’s confidence rating (0-10) is 7, which is the same as last week. The Bucs proved they’re finishers when the game grew uncomfortably close. Can they do it on the road against stronger competition over the following two weeks?
The next game will be against the Rams (Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET)
What you should know: If you had any doubts before, you shouldn’t have any now. If the Falcons want to compete against the top NFL teams this season, they have almost no room for mistake. Atlanta fought back for the whole of Sunday’s defeat to the Buccaneers, reducing the deficit to three points early in the fourth quarter. However, a crucial error here (a Matt Ryan pick-six) and another vital error there (another Ryan pick-six) turned a tight game into a blowout. The Falcons showed more promise in Week 2 than they did in Week 1 — the offense moved the ball, and the defense put pressure on Tom Brady — but not enough to make a difference. Fortunately for Atlanta, the Giants, Washington, and Jets are all mid-level or worse teams. The remainder of the season will be determined by how they do there. Michael Rothstein is a writer and producer.
What happens if CB A.J. Terrell is out for an extended period of time? Terrell, Atlanta’s best defensive back, made two diving pass breakups but exited the game in the third quarter with a concussion. If he is forced to miss time, it will be a major setback for the Falcons’ already-weak defense. Atlanta employed T.J. Green, a converted in-camp safety, as an outside corner on Sunday. That didn’t work out so well. Atlanta has guys to build around, but Terrell’s development will determine how big of a void the secondary will be. — According to Rothstein
The confidence rating of Rothstein (0-10) is now 4.8, up from 4.2. Yes, this is greater than a week ago, but even in another Falcons final-score defeat, there were more positives than in Week 1 versus Philadelphia, which presumably reflects where Atlanta is at this point in the season.
The next game will be against the Giants (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET)
What you should know: If you can win the turnover fight, you can win the game. Following a dismal season-opening defeat in which the Patriots fumbled four times (losing two), they were given some gifts by rookie Jets quarterback Zach Wilson (four interceptions) and were able to take advantage of them. At the same time, they (mostly) fixed their ball-security problems and didn’t have a turnover. When the Patriots have a positive turnover differential, they are 167-18 under Bill Belichick (2000-present). — Reiss, Mike
With rookie quarterback Mac Jones at the helm, how much is the Patriots’ offense holding back? Those expecting for a more aggressive approach from the Patriots in Jones’ second career start were disappointed, as the team opted for a more cautious strategy. Jones completed 22 of 30 passes for 186 yards and no touchdowns or interceptions. He hasn’t thrown a lot of deep downfield passes. Of course, there are reasons for this, beginning with some poor pass protection, especially at right tackle. (Yasir Durant began, but Justin Herron took his place.) Next week’s return of starting right tackle Trent Brown (calf) would be a huge help. — Reiss
The confidence rating of Reiss (0-10) is now 6.2, down from 6.5. It’s difficult to see the Patriots contending with some of the NFL’s best teams unless they resolve their pass-protection issues.
The Saints are the team’s next opponent (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET)
What you should know: QB Zach Wilson was a beast. The much-heralded rookie tossed four interceptions in his first ten throw attempts, evoking frightening flashbacks of Sam Darnold’s “ghost” game against the Patriots in 2019. Wilson was overconfident, pushing throws downfield rather than opting for safe checkdowns. He got away with it at BYU; he’s no longer in Utah. The most alarming aspect was that, unlike last week, he was not under duress. No, it was all on Wilson, who produced a career-worst performance. Cimini, Rich
How will coach Robert Saleh manage his first brush with failure? In six of eight quarters, the first-year coach’s squad hasn’t played good, complimentary football. And now he gets to play the Broncos, another strong defensive club, on the road. Coach, welcome to the Jets. Saleh said before to training camp that he would not learn about his team’s character unless it faced hardship. He was overjoyed. He had just received a large dosage. No one expects the Jets to reach the playoffs; instead, they’ll be judged on how far they’ve come. This isn’t a step forward. Cimini’s
Cimini’s confidence rating (on a scale of one to ten) is 3.0, down from 3.5. Bill Belichick and his staff put Robert Saleh and Zach Wilson through their paces, following a long line of predecessors.
The Broncos will be the opponent in the next game (Sunday, 4:05 p.m. ET)
What to know: It wasn’t beautiful, but the Browns eventually finished off the Houston Texans, who had sustained many injuries during the game. Cleveland will face more difficult challenges in the future. And if the Browns want to make an impact in the AFC this season, they’ll have to improve their defense, which failed to get off the field on Sunday. Jake Trotter’s remark
When can we expect Jarvis Landry to return? With a knee injury, the Pro Bowl receiver exited the game in the first quarter. The Browns are already missing their other starting wideout, Odell Beckham Jr., who has yet to play since undergoing knee surgery last year. Cleveland will rely on Rashard Higgins, Donovan Peoples-Jones, and youngsters Anthony Schwartz and Demetric Felton to keep the passing game alive while its big-money wideouts are sidelined. ‘Trotter’
Trotter’s confidence rating (0-10) has dropped to 7.5 from 8.0. It’s hardly surprising that Cleveland’s defense struggles early in the season, even against the Texans, with eight new starters.
The Bears are the team’s next opponent (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET)
What to know: The Texans had to be optimistic going into halftime, knotted at 14 against a strong Cleveland Browns squad. When they returned to the field, though, it was rookie quarterback Davis Mills at the helm, since Taylor had been ruled out due to a hamstring injury. Although it’s unclear how long Tyrod Taylor will be out, Mills struggled in his first half as a starter, going 8-of-18 for 102 yards, a score, and an interception. Sarah Barshop is a writer.
Can Mills help the Texans win? Mills struggled on his first two series before settling in for a strong third drive that brought the Texans to within a field goal of the playoffs. He will have another challenge with a short week to prepare for a 2-0 Panthers club that defeated the Saints on Sunday. Mills struggled in the preseason, but the Texans will get an opportunity to give him a longer look to see whether he should be in their long-term plans at the position. — Bar & Grill
The confidence rating (0-10) of Barshop is 2.0, down from 3.5. In the defeat, the Texans shown their ability to compete with a talented team, but it’s difficult to believe this club can win regularly without Taylor.
The Panthers are the team’s next opponent (Thursday, 8:20 p.m. ET)
What to look out for: The quick start versus two young quarterbacks, with a third on the way. The Broncos, who are now 2-0 after a win in Jacksonville on Sunday, frustrated Giants rookie quarterback Daniel Jones in the season opener and proved to be a difficult puzzle for Jaguars rookie quarterback Trevor Lawrence on Sunday as well — Lawrence had 99 yards passing with an interception at the start of the fourth quarter. Next up for the Broncos is rookie quarterback Zach Wilson of the New York Jets, who may give them their first 3-0 start since 2016. The Broncos had gone 0 for September in coach Vic Fangio’s first two seasons before to the victories over the last two weeks. Legwold, Jeff
When will the Broncos be able to witness Von Miller and Bradley Chubb at their finest in the same defense? The desired pass-rush combination of Miller and Chubb has been a star-crossed affair since Chubb tore his ACL in a Week 4 game against the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2019. Chubb and Miller were in the same game on Sunday for the first time since 2019 — Miller missed the whole 2023 season due to ankle surgery, while Chubb missed the season opener last week due to an ankle ailment — but Chubb did not participate in the second half due to an injury. In Denver, he will be examined on Monday. After Chubb’s absence, the Broncos’ defense took care of business, but the statistic that continues to indicate what the Broncos had wanted to go back to is 30.5 combined sacks in the 21 games the two have played at least some together. Legwold’s
Legwold’s confidence scale (0-10) is now at 8.0, up from 7.8 before. On offense, the Broncos haven’t always looked seamless, but quarterback Teddy Bridgewater has continued to lead them through adversity, and the defense is stronger than it has been since their Super Bowl run in 2015.
The Jets are the team’s next opponent (Sunday, 4:05 p.m. ET)
Teddy Bridgewater throws a 14-yard touchdown pass to Noah Fant to cap a 75-yard scoring drive.
What to know: The Jaguars need to acquire wide receivers, tight ends, and offensive line assistance for quarterback Trevor Lawrence. Let’s get it out of the way first: Lawrence didn’t play well versus Denver. The Jaguars, on the other hand, lack a playmaker who opponents must prepare to stop. Marvin Jones Jr. is a capable receiver, but Laviska Shenault Jr. isn’t a game-changer, and DJ Chark Jr. just had one reception. In the passing game, the tight ends aren’t very useful. Both tackle areas are in desperate need of improvement. The Jaguars won’t be able to solve those concerns until the summer, and they already have defensive problems to deal with. However, if you’re constructing a team around Lawrence, the offense must come first. Mike DiRocco’s remark
What’s the matter with K? Lambo, Josh? He isn’t injured this season, but he may be suffering with the aftereffects of a hip ailment that kept him out for the most of previous season. In 2023, the athlete dubbed “Lambomatic” by fans because he seldom missed has yet to hit. He is 0-for-3 this season after going 0-for-2 against the Broncos. Despite two misses from 50 yards or more, he has made 12 of 13 kicks from 50 yards or more entering his fourth season with the Jaguars. You can’t have an inconsistent kicker when your offense struggles to generate points, particularly when games are tight early on. The Jaguars are expected to bring in kickers for training this week. DiRocco’s words
DiRocco’s confidence rating (on a scale of one to ten) is now 2.6, up from 2.5. The Jaguars were able to address their procedural problems from Week 1 (everyone lined up properly, and they didn’t have to waste a couple of timeouts in the first quarter), but the offense is still a work in progress.
The Cardinals are the team’s next opponent (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET)
What to know: After halftime, rookie quarterback Justin Fields handled every offensive action as Andy Dalton (knee injury) sat on the bench. Fields’ statistics were modest (6-of-13 for 60 yards and seven running attempts for 35 yards), but he adds a level of excitement to the game that Dalton lacks. Fields is such a danger on the run that opponents are often frozen. Fields had some of his finest moments against the Bengals while he was rushing outside the pocket. Allen Robinson dropped a sure touchdown throw by the first-round selection in the fourth quarter. The disadvantage is that Fields threw a terrible interception late in the game. He is not yet a completed product. Dickerson, Jeff
Will Fields be able to significantly boost the offense? Regardless of whether quarterback is at the helm, the offense continues to suffer. The gang is heavily reprimanded and is often careless. Fields, on the other hand, is a playmaker, and the Bears are in dire need of more playmakers on offense. It’s fair to anticipate the offense to improve, but not by leaps and bounds, thanks to Fields’ explosive athleticism. However, if the Bears’ defense goes after the quarterback and takes the ball away in bunches as it did in Week 2 — along with Fields’ rise — the Bears will have a far greater chance of succeeding this season. Dickerson’s words
Dickerson’s confidence rating (on a scale of one to ten) is now 5.0, up from 2.0. Defense, defense, defense, defense, defense, defense, defense, defense, defense, defense
The Browns are the team’s next opponent (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET)
What to know: Cincinnati wasted a chance to get off to a fast start this season. The Bengals were in position to start 2-0 in a year in which they were supposed to turn the turnaround after a thrilling overtime victory against the Vikings in Week 1. Instead, the Bengals put up a lackluster effort against Bears rookie backup quarterback Justin Fields, which led to a huge hole that the club couldn’t climb out of. This adds to the strain on the Bengals and third-year coach Zac Taylor as they prepare for a road game in Pittsburgh in Week 3. – Ben Little
Was the Bengals’ offensive improvement seen in Week 1 genuine? Sunday’s game revealed all of the Bengals’ familiar weaknesses from the previous two seasons: poor offensive line performance and a sluggish offense. The performance was much too similar to that of a Bengals club that has been among the league’s worst for the previous two seasons. — Little one
The confidence rating of the baby (0-10) is 5.5, down from 7.0. Aside from a wild finale that included two late touchdowns, Cincinnati appeared rattled offensively against a Bears team that had given up 34 points to the Rams in Week 1.
The Steelers are the team’s next opponent (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET)
What you should know: The Rams’ defense is on track to have another strong season. Despite enabling quarterback Carson Wentz and the Colts to get near the goal line twice in the first half, defensive tackle Aaron Donald and his teammates came up with two huge stops, including a linebacker Troy Reeder interception and a turnover on downs. With 2:13 left in the game, cornerback Jalen Ramsey intercepted backup quarterback Jacob Eason to clinch the win. Since his arrival in Los Angeles, first-year defensive coordinator Raheem Morris has stated that numbers are for losers and that his team must generate “make a difference” plays. They’ve clearly taken to the message. Lindsey Thiry (Lindsey Thiry)
This week’s essentials include: • Check out the full schedule » | Check out the standings » • Every team’s depth chart » • Injuries » | Transactions » • Rankings of the Football Power Index » Additional NFL coverage »
What is the status of Darrell Henderson Jr., the running back? Coach Sean McVay showed confidence in Henderson’s ability to take over the starting position after running back Cam Akers suffered a season-ending injury before training camp, but he expressed worry about Henderson’s durability. Henderson’s rib ailment forced him to leave the game late in the third quarter, confirming those fears. In his absence, rookie Jake Funk and Sony Michel, who were acquired in a late preseason trade with the New England Patriots, took over. — Thirty
Thirty’s confidence rating (0-10): 8.0, which is the same as the previous week. The Rams were held at 8.0 because they played poorly in all three phases but showed they could grind out a victory on the road in front of a hostile crowd.
The Buccaneers are the team’s next opponent (Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET)
What to know:right Wentz’s ankle injury is the most pressing concern for the Colts right now and in the future, but if they were a stronger red zone team, they would not be 0-2 for the first time under coach Frank Reich. The Colts made two drives within the Rams’ 20-yard line, but both efforts ended with no points. The worst of the two drives occurred on the first series, when the Colts faced a first-and-goal situation from the Rams’ 1-yard line. They tried to run up the middle three times in a row but were stuffed each time, and then Wentz was sacked on fourth down when the Eagles went for it. According to ESPN Stats & Information, just three teams failed to score on a drive after running four plays from the 1-yard line last season. In the first two games of the season, the Colts have failed to score three times when they have reached the opponent’s red zone. Reich is supposed to be a creative playcaller, but he hasn’t been able to do so with the Colts. Mike Wells’ remark
Will Carson Wentz be able to make it through the season despite absorbing a ton of hits? To his credit, Wentz was able to prolong a handful of plays for the Colts by scrambling to make things happen. However, as much as Wentz scrambled, he also took far too many needless blows, including an ankle injury halfway through the fourth quarter when his right leg was twisted while being tackled by Rams All-Pro defensive liner Aaron Donald. Wentz was sacked three times and hit 11 more times, giving him a total of six sacks and 21 hits on the season. That was not the plan when Wentz and the Colts brought him to Indianapolis over the summer. Wells’s
Wells’ confidence rating (on a scale of one to ten) is 5.0, down from 5.8. Due to Wentz’s health and the fact that the Colts will be playing three consecutive road games against teams that reached the playoffs last season, their ranking has dropped. The next time they play in Indianapolis, they might be 0-5 on the season.
The Titans host the next game (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET)
What to know: The Raiders, who are 2-0, are the genuine deal. How else to explain a squad that flew across the nation in a single week to play in the NFL’s early window sans injured Pro Bowl running back Josh Jacobs and a makeshift offensive line that required more duct tape? Derek Carr threw for 382 yards and two touchdowns on 28-of-37 passing, including a 61-yard touchdown throw to Henry Ruggs III in the fourth quarter after his surgically repaired right ankle was rolled up on a 9-yard touchdown pass to Foster Moreau in the third. Gutierrez, Paul
What strategy will the Raiders use to deal with their offensive line injuries? Getting left guard Richie Incognito back on the field this week would help a lot. But the larger story is at right tackle, where first-round pick Alex Leatherwood went down with an oblique injury at halftime after a difficult first half against T.J. Watt, which included a hold, a false start, and a sack. The Raiders’ offensive line was made up of three backups: John Simpson at left guard, Jermaine Eluemunor at right guard, and Brandon Parker, who filled in admirably for Leatherwood. Gutierrez’s words
Gutierrez’s confidence rating (on a scale of one to ten) is now 8.2, up from 8.1. Yes, it’s just a tenth of a point higher than last week, but despite the Raiders’ many ailments, things are looking up for the team, which hosts the Dolphins on normal rest next week.
The Dolphins are the team’s next opponent (Sunday, 4:05 p.m. ET)
What to know: With the offense faltering for the second week in a row, the Steelers’ defense, which is now missing four starters due to injury, was unable to take up the slack and stop the Raiders’ passing game. Prior to start, Joe Haden and Devin Bush were inactive, and T.J. Watt joined them on the bench with a groin injury late in the first half. Tyson Alualu, the nose tackle, left the game early due to a serious ankle injury. The Steelers largely succeeded in silencing Darren Waller, but Derek Carr made them pay with a 61-yard touchdown throw to Henry Ruggs III and a 9-yard touchdown pass to Foster Moreau. Brooke Pryor is an actress who plays Brooke Pryor.
Where is the offence with the new look? The Steelers sacked coordinator Randy Fichtner and elevated quarterbacks coach Matt Canada to offensive coordinator in the summer, but the misdirection and pre-snap motion that are trademarks of a Canada offensive system were mostly missing for the second week in a row. JuJu Smith-first Schuster’s career running touchdown came on a 3-yard run off an inside handoff on an end-around, demonstrating Canada’s impact. The offensive line, which has been a work in progress, did not seem to have improved since Week 1 and enabled Roethlisberger to be hit ten times. Trai Turner was also dismissed for unsportsmanlike behavior in the fourth quarter after spitting on a Raiders player. The offense looked disorganized and uninspired outside of bursts of spectacular plays, particularly when they went no-huddle — things that might be addressed with time, but haven’t improved two games into the season. — Pryor
Pryor’s confidence rating (on a scale of one to ten) is 5.7, down from 6.8. The Steelers shown a week ago that they can win with a dominating defense, but when the defense was beaten and not playing at its best against the Raiders, it couldn’t compensate for the offense’s deficiencies.
The Bengals are the team’s next opponent (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET)
What to know: It’s early, but the 49ers have already shown their ability to win games in a variety of ways, which is a sign of a club capable of competing. The 49ers outslugged the Eagles in a nasty fistfight a week after winning a high-scoring game in Detroit, a game that native Philadelphia son Rocky Balboa would enjoy. The 49ers’ offense slept through much of the first half, and while allowing some huge plays, the defense consistently kept the Eagles out of the end zone. The 49ers went 2-0 with both victories on the road for the sixth time in club history on Sunday. Nick Wagoner is a writer.
Will the 49ers’ running backs be depleted? After losing Raheem Mostert last week, the 49ers went to youngster Elijah Mitchell as the starter, and he received the most of the playing time until succumbing to a late shoulder injury. JaMycal Hasty took his place and was up to speed before leaving with an ankle injury. Trey Sermon, a rookie, sustained a head injury on his first run, requiring Mitchell to complete the game. On the injury front, this team has already had a rough start, and veteran Jeff Wilson Jr.’s return from a knee injury can’t come soon enough. Wagoner —
Wagoner’s confidence rating (on a scale of one to ten) is now 6.8, up from 6.5. Given the ongoing injury concerns, it’s difficult to inflate this figure too much, but coming out of this far east journey 2-0 is worth a small boost before the competition heats up in the coming weeks.
The next game will be against the Packers (Sunday, 8:20 p.m. ET)
The Eagles attempt the famed “Philly Special” play once again, but the 49ers see it and stop them on fourth down.
What to know: The Eagles have a long way to go in terms of maturation. They let a winnable game slip through their fingers. Technical errors were made, such as Jalen Reagor stepping out of bounds to prevent a score. They also failed to take advantage of chances, especially after Quez Watkins’ 91-yard touchdown catch. Meanwhile, despite impressive Week 1 performances, several of the young playmakers, like as Jalen Hurts (12-of-23, 190 yards) and DeVonta Smith (two receptions on seven targets), have cooled. Through two weeks, Philadelphia has looked like a stronger squad than anticipated, especially on defense, but Sunday reminded us that there are still some growing pains ahead. Tim McManus, Ph.D.
What will they do when they face their first setback? Not only was it a heartbreaking defeat, but it also resulted in the injury of two important veterans, guard Brandon Brooks (chest) and defensive end Brandon Graham (ankle). In their absence, rookies Landon Dickerson and Tarron Jackson received greater responsibilities, with mixed outcomes. Each week in the NFL, according to Coach Nick Sirianni, is like a round in a boxing fight. When they go to face the rival Dallas Cowboys on Monday night, we’ll see how they react to a succession of body blows. McManus remarked
McManus’ confidence rating (on a scale of one to ten) is 5.9, down from 6.3. Two Pro Bowl players have been injured. This season, the Eagles rely on their key veterans to remain healthy and contribute. That’s hardly a promising start toward that goal.
The Cowboys will host the next game (Monday, 8:15 p.m. ET)
What you should know: The acquisition of quarterback Sam Darnold continues to seem to be a wise move. He’s become consistent and efficient thanks to excellent coaching and reliable weaponry. Darnold displayed patient, played smart, and checked down to Christian McCaffrey in stride on one of his many huge plays on Sunday. For the second week in a row, Darnold surpassed 200 yards passing in the first half, something no Carolina QB had done before. The feeling of self-assurance is growing. David Newton is an author.
How much of Carolina’s 2-0 start can be attributed to facing a poor Jets club and a Saints squad that is short-handed? You can’t dismiss that, and the next opponent on Thursday night is a poor Houston club. However, Darnold’s performance, coupled with the contributions of running back Christian McCaffrey and a defense that has a lot of young, bright players, cannot be overlooked. Every week, the Panthers have a chance. They needed to get their season off to a quick start. So far, everything has gone well. Newton’s words
Newton’s confidence score (0-10) is now 6.4, up from 5.1 before. The defense has rapidly gelled and has the ability to stymie any attack. It’s not a coincidence.
The Texans are the team’s next opponent (Thursday, 8:20 p.m. ET)
What to know: The Saints have had two surprising outcomes in the first two weeks, following a dominating victory over Green Bay with a troubling failure against Carolina. Given the amount of attrition they experienced this week (losing nine starters due to injuries/suspension, missing eight assistant coaches due to COVID-19, and being displaced for three weeks by Hurricane Ida), the reality is probably somewhere in the center. However, the depth concerns we had heading into the season are causing significant issues, particularly on offense. Triplett, Mike
Was this a one-time occurrence for Jameis Winston and the Saints? Not completely, at least. Winston was under constant pressure throughout the game, resulting in his first two interceptions and four sacks of the season. (When he attempted to force desperation deep balls at the conclusion of each half, he was dubbed “Bad Jameis.”) Despite the fact that center Erik McCoy is out with a calf injury, we anticipate more from New Orleans’ established offensive line. And after Winston’s five touchdown passes last week, we know how much better the offense can be. However, after struggling to get open regularly, there are real worries about the Saints’ lack of explosive playmakers at wide receiver and tight end. Triplett’s
The confidence rating of Triplett (0-10) is 6.8, down from 8.1. With so many important players set to return by Week 7 or 8, there is reason for optimism if the Saints can stay afloat over the next several weeks. However, we now know that they will not be able to overcome all obstacles.
The next game will be against the Patriots (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET)
What to know: The Bills’ defense performed well against the Dolphins. Tua Tagovailoa, the Dolphins’ starting quarterback, suffered a rib injury early in the game, and Buffalo made life tough for backup Jacoby Brissett by keeping the Dolphins scoreless. With 6 sacks, 11 quarterback hits, 9 tackles for loss, and 3 takeaways, the Bills had an all-around dominating effort. In his homecoming to his alma mater, first-round choice Greg Rousseau put on a show with two sacks, five tackles, two quarterback hits, and two tackles for loss. The victory matches the Bills’ biggest margin of victory in the last 25 seasons (the previous time was against the Jets in 2014), and it was their first shutout since a 16-0 win over a New England Patriots squad led by Brissett in 2016. Alaina Getzenberg is a writer who lives in New York City.
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Are Josh Allen’s inconsistencies a cause for worry in the future? With two touchdown drives in the first quarter, the Bills grabbed an early lead. Following that, the squad fell to a total of 30 net yards on the following four drives. Some of the problems stemmed from Allen’s inability to connect with his receivers, particularly downfield. According to ESPN Stats & Info, he completed 1 of 5 throws for 35 yards and an interception in the first half on passes thrown more than 10 yards downfield. Allen has completed 6 of 14 throws targeted for Emmanuel Sanders after two games, putting him well below last season’s 69 percent completion rate. Getzenberg’s words
Getzenberg’s confidence rating (on a scale of one to ten) is now 7.3, up from 6.3. After a poor opening, the Bills pulled together a full game against the Dolphins, due to strong performances from their youthful pass-rushers and a good day for the running offense (143 yards on 30 attempts).
The next game is against Washington (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET)
Tua Tagovailoa, the Dolphins’ quarterback, was taken out of the game early in the first quarter with a rib injury and did not return. His absence seemed to suffocate Miami’s sideline before it could really get started. As his substitute, Jacoby Brissett was excellent, but the Dolphins’ offense went flat in their first shutout defeat since 2019. — Louis-Jacques Marcel
What went wrong with the offense of the Miami Dolphins? Before his injury, Tagovailoa was pressured on four of his six plays, including two sacks on the Dolphins’ first drive. The Bills completed the game with six sacks and 11 quarterback hits, so things didn’t get any better. Miami’s offensive line is rapidly establishing itself as the team’s worst unit, which is particularly surprising given the amount of draft capital invested on it in the previous two rounds. If the Dolphins can’t improve up front, their offense’s upside will be restricted in the future. Louis-Jacques –
Louis-Jacques’ confidence rating (on a scale of one to ten) is 5.0, down from 6.5. The only reason it’s even this high is because of Miami’s superb defense, which stopped the Bills to six straight empty drives to finish the first half before the wheels came off in the second. This season, the Dolphins’ offense has become a real issue.
The Raiders will host the next game (Sunday, 4:05 p.m. ET)
What you should know: Taylor Heinicke has a tiny arm, is short, and has durability problems. He does, however, have this: It. And, although it’s difficult to explain, you can see when players are enamored with a player’s game and point to his swagger. It remains to be seen if Heinicke’s magic lasts for a few games or much longer. Those other characteristics will be important in the long run. But it doesn’t alter the fact that players like him and have faith in him, and he continues to produce. ‘John Keim’
Is the defense in good shape? The unit must play with much more discipline if it wants to succeed against stronger attacks than New York’s. It’s about filling up the gaps, performing your job, and acting more maturely. The Washington defense, particularly the front seven, had high hopes heading into the season. It’s supposed to be the cause for this team’s NFC East success. This team has yet to live up to the expectations after two games. Keim’s words
Keim’s confidence rating (0-10) has increased to 5.2 from 5.0. Heinicke has given the defense a new lease of life, but the defense’s problems with understanding the other quarterbacks on the schedule must be addressed.
The Bills’ next game is on the road (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET)
What you should know: The Giants don’t seem to understand how to win. They let the game slip away on many times this time, with the ultimate blunder coming when they jumped offsides on a last-second field goal try, giving Washington the opportunity to win. “It was a difficult one,” Sterling Shepard, a wide receiver, said. That’s putting it mildly. For the sixth year in a row, the Giants are 0-2 and need to figure out how to win. Learn how not to lose, as Joe Judge loves to say. Jordan Raanan is a writer.
What exactly is the problem with the Giants’ defense? This defense is not putting any pressure on the quarterback and is allowing huge plays all over the field. The Giants only had four pressures against the Redskins and have given up 57 points in their opening two games. Only three occasions last season did they surrender 27 or more points. Raanan’s words
Raanan’s confidence rating (on a scale of one to ten) is 3.2, down from 4.2. After two weeks, things aren’t looking good. An 0-2 deficit is not insurmountable in a 17-game season, but it is both prohibitive and familiar.
The Falcons are the team’s next opponent (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET)
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