NFL Week 1 is in the books and the Week 2 slate has kicked off with Thursday Night Football. Brilliant performances, surprise upsets, and key injuries reshaped the landscape of what we expected in week 1. We got our first real glance at a stud rookie class and the record 13 starting quarterbacks with new teams. At the end of the day, the NFL landscape became both clearer and more convoluted at the same time. Now comes the time to try to make sense of Week 2.
The elite of the NFC West clashes yet again with an AFC South that disappointed in Week 1 of the NFL season. The AFC East and NFC South square off versus themselves in four key divisional battles. Former MVPs, Patrick Mahomes, and Lamar matchup in the SNF spotlight. Meanwhile, former Offensive Rookies of the Year at pitted versus each other in Los Angeles. Teams on the rise do battle with established powerhouses. Sadly, we do have some games which should be hilarious blowouts, including a terrible MNF matchup in Green Bay.
But first, let’s take a glance at the exciting TNF matchup which kicked off Week 2 of the NFL season.
Thursday Night Football
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Week 2’s TNF game was a classic example of a close game not necessarily being a good game. Before I go on, I need to clarify a few things: I am not a Giants fan, in most situations I want the Giants to lose, I am one of those Jets fans that despise the Giants, if you don’t like that it’s your problem. With that said, the Giants had no business losing that game. They were the better and more prepared team by a mile, and it was a shame to see them lose.
This “legendary” Washington defense that I hyped up far too often in the off-season didn’t show up at all. Yeah, they got some sacks and they limited Saquon Barkley, but they had no key stops which weren’t aided by the Giants. Dare I say it? They were bad. Fortunately for them, their offense is much better than last year’s.
Taylor Heinicke was brilliant for the WFT. Filling in for the injured Fitzmagic he demonstrated the poise and leadership of a true starting quarterback. Heinicke threw for 336 yards, spreading the ball around between all of Washington’s top receiving options while sending a healthy dosage to Terry McLaurin. Scary Terry led all receivers, hauling in 11 passes for 107 and 1 of Heinicke’s 2 touchdowns. Heinicke did more than enough to already create mumblings of the job being his after Fitzmagic returns.
The other 2 WFT touchdowns were both scored by JD McKissic, one on the ground and one through the air. He also had a huge 41-yard reception to help set up a Washington score. He paced all RBs with 93 all-purpose yards.
In the end, though, WFT did not do enough to win the game on their own. They needed the Giants shooting themselves in the foot repeatedly to win. I am not going to cover all of the Giants’ miscues that benefitted Washington, the point of this isn’t to nitpick. The point is to reveal the significant game-changing moments.
With five minutes left to go in the first half, Daniel Jones took the ball and ran around the edge for a 58-yard touchdown run for the Giants. Except that play will not appear in the official score. Which play will instead? A 10-yard holding penalty by Chris Board. To make matters even worse, Jones was would not even have been hit if the hold didn’t happen. The Giants later kicked a field goal on that drive, leaving 4 points off the board.
On their first possession of the fourth quarter, the Giants really had a chance to put the game away. They were leading by 3 points and driving when a huge miscue happened in the Washington secondary. Darius Slayton was wide open and streaking 43 yards down the field. Danny Dimes threw a very catchable pass that hit Slayton right in the gloves. He dropped it. The Giants would go on to score another field goal, but they still led another 4 points off the board.
The worst was yet to come. On the final drive of the game, Heinicke was able to methodically move the WFT up the field by spreading the ball around. Eventually, however, they needed to settle for a field goal attempt which was barely on the inside of Dustin Hopkins’ range. The snap, the hold, the kick…NO GOOD! Giants win! And then came the yellow flag.
Apparently, Lawrence was offsides for the Giants. The ball moves 5 yards close and Hopkins gets a second chance with a much easier field goal. It’s good. Washington wins 30-29.
I know miscues happen every game, but the Giants had three huge miscues that should never have happened. If they just executed like a normal, disciplined NFL team, they would have won this game 37-27. In the end, they wasted a beautiful 344 combined yard, 2 touchdown effort by Jones, falling to 0-2. Washington survives but has many pieces of their own to pick up and re-sort.
My Favorite Week 2 Games
San Francisco 49ers at Philadelphia Eagles
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This match has some great intrigue from me, as both teams seem to be flirting with eliteness while moving in opposite directions. The 49ers need to figure out how to stop their injury woes and quickly before this season devolves into last. Meanwhile, the young Eagles are starting to look more like a serious contender rather than the bottom dweller they looked like earlier this year.
Games like this are also very misleading because one team is surrounded with a lot of positive hype, while the other is surrounded with negative hype. Though we have to make sure to remember that most of this same San Francisco team was in the second to last Super Bowl, we don’t want to sleep on a team as talented as this one.
In this game, we see a strong Eagles’ rushing attack led by Miles Sanders and QB Jalen Hurts take on a stout defensive line and LB core led by Fred Warner. In the passing game, Nick Bosa and company will try to keep the pressure on hurts, as Devonta Smith tests a secondary that recently lost its top CB for the season.
On the other side of the football, a strong San Fran rushing attack, led by Eli Mitchel, will collide with a stout run defense led by Vernon Hargraves. Meanwhile, an Eagles’ secondary which appear to overperform last week needs to stop the explosive Deebo Samuel and whichever QB is throwing him the passes.
The only way this game would look more like a mirror match would be if Trey Lance were to take over for Jimmy G and QB. If we get that, watch out, this game will become even more thrilling.
New Orleans Saints at Carolina Panthers
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I really want to learn more about these two teams. Last week, the Panthers and Saints showed flashes of brilliance and dominance respectively, but I feel like we have not seen the true picture yet. The Panthers were playing again a stud rookie QB and rebuilding team, the Saints will be a real test of what they can do against a good opponent. Meanwhile, everything about the Saints’ game last week seemed like an aberration. The poor team-wide performance of Green Bay, Winston’s ability to throw for 5 touchdowns on just 140 yards, most if not all of this is NOT repeatable.
So what do we have? We have an elite Panthers’ pass rush featuring Haason Reddick and Brian Burns, challenging a QB in Winston who has been prone to missteps in the past. We have a speedy group of New Orleans receivers testing a physical Carolina secondary, highlighted by Jeremy Chinn. The only thing predictable about this offense versus this defense is that together they are a big play waiting to happen.
On the other side of the football, we have a QB who is also trying to resurrect his career in Sam Darnold, going against what we believe to be one of the top defenses in football. Their secondary, however, is currently weakened by injury, giving a young and talented WR core a chance to prove themselves.
What I mentioned above isn’t enough for this game to be a must-watch, however, I saved the best for last. The matchup features two of the most elite RBs in football, as Christian McCaffrey and Alvin Kamara look to make their mark on this game. Kamara is looking to bounce back from an 80-yard performance to return to his dominant ways. Meanwhile, CMC has proven he is back from injury, racking up 180 plus total yards last week. Either one of these guys could take this game over, let’s see if either one does.
Los Angeles Rams at Indianapolis Colts
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If we were just going off of last week, this is a no-contest. The brilliant Colts’ D was shredded by the Seattle offense. Meanwhile, the Rams’ high-powered offense had its way with a strong Bears’ D. But it would be very hard to imagine Indy getting embarrassed like that in back-to-back weeks.
Even without Xavier Rhodes and a Darius Leonard who struggled in week 1, the Colts still have an elite defense that can match up with a Rams offense which is striving to be one of the elite. Part of this battle will be seeing if the Rams can establish a rushing attack that was non-existent in week 1 versus a run defense that features Deforest Buckner. If not, Buckner is talented enough to convert his presence into a pass rush. Matthew Stafford’s newfound scrambling ability will be more than tested.
On the other side of the football, the Rams’ D, let by Aaron Donald are looking for redemption for a rushing defense that Montgomery had no problem with last week. The Colts’ star RB Jonathan Taylor provides a worthy challenge. Donald hopes to reinstall fear in opposing RBs, while Taylor looks to take his next step into super-stardom.
Tennessee Titans at Seattle Seahawks
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So, if last week really featured the new-look Titans then this game will be an utter mismatch, but we all know that isn’t the case. Popping this game on the list as one of my favorites does come with caution, however, being that I can see many different results for this game.
The Titans’ loss last week is easily a game that they could lose twice. On the flip side, it is also easily a game that can trigger Derrick Henry into a ridiculously dominant performance. This game could easily be a blowout either way though I must admit that is part of the intrigue.
At its best, however, this game can turn into a brilliant shoutout, featuring superstar performances from Russell Wilson, Tyler Lockett, DK Metcalf, Ryan Tannehill, Derrick Henry, AJ Brown, and Julio Jones. Expect a monster game from any three of them regardless of the narrative. We may not necessarily get a good game, but we will have several superstar performances worth watching either way.
Dallas Cowboys at Los Angeles Chargers
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This is my Game of the Week, and I’m pretty sure it is America’s too. The best offense in football versus an offense rising to eliteness. Two QBs in Dak Prescott and Justin Herbert who are both former Offensive Rookies of the Year playing like they have something to prove.
That’s the storyline how some people paint it, and though I like it, that is not what has me most excited. I really want to see what this new look, Staley coached, Chargers’ D looks like versus the juggernaut which is the Cowboys’ offense. No, I am not expecting them to shut it down, but I am expecting guys like Joey Bosa and Derwin James to make their make on this game. I want to see how good this unit can be.
Then, it comes down if this rising offense featuring Herbert, Austin Ekeler, and Keenan Allen can overcome the Dallas O which is being slowed down by the Chargers’ D. I don’t see the Chargers’ offense keeping pace with Dak, Zeke, CeeDee, Amari, and company if their D doesn’t help. I am looking forward to what odd variation of shoutout we might see with these two teams colliding.
Side note: as a lover of defensive football, I am very interested in watching this Dallas LB rotation. For those who didn’t catch it last week, Leighton Vander Esch and Jaylon Smith played the obvious rushing downs, while Micah Parsons and Keanu Neal played the obvious passing downs. It will be interesting to see if this becomes a new trend for NFL teams, a failed experiment, something in between. However it ends up, it is something different.
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