In the Books! Week 2
Another interesting week in the books. Some teams who looked very impressive last week didn’t play to the same level this week. I’m going to take a look at some of them along with a few other things that caught my eye.
I thought the Oakland Raiders defence played to a high level last week. Against the Broncos they got after Joe Flacco, pressuring him into getting the ball out early. This played into the hands of their secondary who were all over receivers, batting passes, or at least making lots of catches contested. No one really got wide open very often against them, and the secondary was always around the ball. It was a different story this week, however.
Pre-game I picked the Chiefs but I had imagined this being a close contest, and perhaps even going under on the points spread. It was going that way to begin with, the Raiders held the Chiefs scoreless for a quarter.
Patrick Mahomes came alive in the second quarter, putting up stats that some QB’s would be proud of for a whole game. The defence that looked solid last week just couldn’t live with the Chiefs speed on offence. While they did a good job of containing Sammy Watkins, other receivers got wide open for 4 touchdowns and 278 yards. So that begs the question, who are the true Raiders? Week 1 or week 2? I think probably somewhere in the middle. The Chiefs will score points on anyone, they are too good. They have a number of receivers who are simply too fast to single cover. The raiders were also missing a big piece in the secondary with Jonathan Abram’s injury. The Broncos offence didn’t do much again this week, albeit against another talented defensive unit, hinting that might have been a factor in the Raiders looking so good. A bigger concern for me than the defence was Derek Carr. I wrote last week how comfortable and assured he looked, but this week there were 2 hideous interceptions. It was a different looking player last week, although after giving up 28 straight points, perhaps the game plan went out the window.
Last week, I was guilty of getting caught up in the Browns’ hype, much like everyone and I completely neglected the Titans as a factor. Against the Brown’s the Titans came to play, especially the defence which was fierce, the front 7 overwhelmed Cleveland’s offensive line, hurrying Baker Mayfield and baiting him into some costly interceptions.
This week, the Titans were at home in a divisional game against the Colts. They found it tougher against a much, much better offensive line, although they still managed 3 sacks forced 2 turnovers and held the Colts to 19 points. Marcus Mariota didn’t do enough to help them out going 1/10 on third down and only throwing for 154 yards on 28 attempts.
This game involved a special moment, when offensive lineman David Queensberry lined up as an eligible receiver and caught a touchdown pass. Quessenberry only returned to playing in 2017 after battling cancer for 3 years. Way to go David!
Minnesota, coming off an impressive showing against the Falcons gave the Packers 21 points of a start before tightening up and holding Green Bay in check after that. The Packers scored on their first three possessions but from then on, Aaron Rodgers found it difficult to break down the coverage and despite strong running from Aaron Jones they were held from scoring any more points. Minnesota won last week with Cousins only having to throw the ball 10 times. Dalvin Cook is running hard and one-quarter aside, this defence is playing well. That’s a recipe for success when you have questions over your QB and I am looking for a bounce back from them next week. They need to keep pace with Green Bay who could be 3-0 next week, despite not being totally convincing on offence. The Vikings offensive line has improved but Cousins still made some of the mistakes he was making last season.
The Packers defence got a lot of love after opening night, helped by a misfiring Bears offence. I was hoping to see them tested more strongly this week. They struggled to contain Dalvin Cook but were effective in limiting the Vikings passing attack, and they forced Cousins into some of the mistakes he made.
The San Francisco 49ers made a statement this week. It was a solid performance last week that went under the radar because not many people expected much from the Buccaneers, and Winston made several bad throws. This week, against a Bengals team that performed really well and were unlucky not to win in Seattle was more of a test. A lot of the talk heading into the season was about the front 7
but through 2 games the secondary has 4 interceptions and 2 touchdowns. The front 7 definitely contributes to those number by getting after the QB. In this game Andy Dalton was sacked 4 times and he was hit several more on top of that. If Jimmy Garoppolo genuinely has a defence who can hold teams to under 20 points a game, I’d bet on this team to make the playoffs.
The Patriots defence is catching eyes and generating column inches. I’m going to reserve judgement on that for a few weeks. I had extremely high hopes coming into the season and while the stats look stellar, truthfully, neither Pittsburgh nor Miami made it difficult. The Steelers and Dolphins both dropped a lot of passes and were quite dysfunctional on the night. I believe this is an elite defence and potentially better than last years but it needs a bigger test to prove it. Weeks 9 – 13 are a tough stretch, going Ravens, Eagles, Cowboys, Texans and Chiefs. That run of games is not easy and why it’s ridiculous to see some of the talk I have seen about 16-0.
Next week, the games that catch my eye are Ravens v Chiefs, a battle of the high scoring offences and early AFC contenders. Seahawks vs Saints, and 49ers vs Steelers are now interesting for very different reasons after injuries to both Drew Brees and Ben Roethlisberger. Now they become about seeing if Mason Rudolph and Teddy Bridgewater can keep these teams competitive, if not the two NFC West teams will be 3-0 and riding high.