Week 2 has come and gone. While the takes will not be as hot as they were after a crazy Week 1, there were still plenty of noteworthy storylines to follow. Some of the offseason narratives have been proven true—the Cardinals and Bills are both atrocious—and others are being tested—the Bucs, somehow, are 2-0 and looking good.
Read on for my hottest and freshest takes from Week 2 of the 2018 NFL season.
You have to feel bad for Browns’ (0-1-1) sophomore kicker Zane Gonzalez, who has had a truly hellish two week stretch that led to his release by the team. Gonzalez missed two extra points and two FGs, and the Browns let another win slip out of their grasp. It would’ve been glorious to see the Saints (1-1) lose to the Browns at home, but apparently this is why we can’t have nice things.
Anyway, the upside to all this is that the Saints have looked quite bad through the first two games. New Orleans’ defense is not the top-10 unit they appeared to be in 2017, and the offense clearly misses Mark Ingram in the running game. The Falcons will still have their work cut out for them in Week 3, but this Saints team certainly looks more vulnerable than we would’ve thought to open the season.
Fitzmagic claims another victim
Somehow, someway, Ryan Fitzpatrick is an MVP candidate after two weeks in 2018. We live in a weird world. The Bucs (2-0) had an aerial offensive explosion against the Eagles (1-1), putting up 402 yards and 4 TDs through the air and narrowly holding on for the victory after a late rally by the defending Super Bowl champs. This type of offensive efficiency is extremely unlikely to continue, but it’s pretty entertaining to watch.
Plus, did you see Fitzpatrick’s outfit at his press conference?
How can you root against this guy?
Patrick Mahomes is legit
There were certainly high expectations for a Chiefs’ (2-0) offense absolutely loaded with weapons in 2018, but the wild card was second-year QB Patrick Mahomes. Kansas City felt comfortable enough with him to trade MVP-candidate QB Alex Smith to Washington, and it appears their analysis was correct. Mahomes tossed six (!!) TD passes on Sunday to lift the Chiefs to a 42-37 victory over the Steelers (0-1-1). KC may have the worst defense in the league—and that will catch up to them at points during the season—but their offense could be historic.
The Bills are terrible and we should ignore anything that other teams do against them
The Bills (0-2) were so bad on Sunday that CB Vontae Davis left the field and retired at halftime. I’m not sure that’s ever happened before. The Chargers (1-1) were up 28-6 before halftime, and while the Bills offense some points on the board in the second half, this team is still a dumpster fire. While the Chargers certainly looked like a much better team this week, I would remind you that the Ravens looked like an elite offense against the Bills in Week 1. Thus, the truth is that we should pretty much ignore anything that other teams do against Buffalo—they’re just that bad.
The Rams are back to looking like one of the NFL’s best teams
After a shaky Week 1 which saw Los Angeles struggle with the Gruden-led Raiders, the Rams (2-0) rebounded in a big way on Sunday. RB Todd Gurley scored 3 rushing TDs and the Rams routed the Cardinals (0-2), who were shut out on the day. The defense was suffocating and the offense was running on all cylinders. I’d expect this performance to be more typical of Los Angeles than that sloppy Week 1.
It’s time to play Josh Rosen in Arizona
On the other side of that impressive Rams performance was an utterly unwatchable effort for the Cardinals. QB Sam Bradford, who the Cardinals paid a handsome sum to acquire, has been abysmal through two weeks. Bradford put up only 90 yards against Los Angeles, and the running game managed only 54 yards on 15 carries. It’s time to go to the rookie Josh Rosen, who should be the future of the franchise. It’s looking like a rebuilding year for Arizona, but it’s still important to get your young QB some real NFL reps.
The Jaguars might be the new class of the AFC
Jacksonville (2-0) fell just short of the Super Bowl in 2017, but it’s easy to forget just how dominant they were for stretches of the season. Even in that AFC Championship game, the Jaguars appeared to have the Patriots (1-1) on the ropes before returning to a conservative gameplan and letting New England back into the game. The Jags got some revenge for that loss on Sunday, thoroughly outplaying the Patriots in a game where Blake Bortles looked...good? With Pittsburgh struggling and New England beat up, the Jaguars could be the top dogs.
Andrew Luck is back, and the Colts’ defense did some things
We saw Andrew Luck play in his first regular season NFL game since returning from injury last week (and look good), and he did it again in Week 2. The Colts (1-1) put on a show against Washington (1-1), and somewhat surprisingly did it with the help of a strong game by their defense—who held Alex Smith and company to just three field goals. Luck still has some things to work out—namely, those bad INTs—but the Colts could end up being relevant in the weak AFC.
Washington looks inconsistent...again
It’s been a tale of two games for Washington, with the team looking downright dominant in a 24-6 beatdown of the Cardinals and then coming out flat against the Colts in Week 2. Alex Smith was efficient, throwing for nearly 300 yards against Indianapolis, but the ground game got stuck in the mud. A week after Adrian Peterson looked like his old self again, he was shut down to the tune of 11 carries for only 20 yards. WR Jamison Crowder was the team’s leader rusher with 29 yards on 2 carries. We’ll see how this team looks throughout the season, but as with many previous Washington teams, inconsistency could be their calling card.
Tennessee beat the Texans with Blaine Gabbert
In the realm strange games, this one might take the cake. The Titans (1-1) managed to hold off the Texans (0-2) with some trick-play theatrics and some good old-fashioned defense. Tennessee was forced to start Blaine Gabbert with Mariota still recovering from injury, and he did just enough to hold off the Texans—who have gotten off a rocky start in 2018. The play of the game was S Kevin Byard’s TD pass on a fake punt.
All in all, the Texans should be very concerned. Their defense hasn’t been as good as they hoped, and Deshaun Watson has not lived up to the hype he generated in 2017. They’ve lost two close games—so don’t hit the panic button just yet—but they won’t get many easier match-ups than a Titans team with a back-up QB.
The Khalil Mack trade might go down as a huge move for the Bears (1-1), and a gigantic mistake for the Raiders (0-2). Mack has been dominant in his first two weeks with Chicago, and he showed off his skills once more against the struggling Seahawks (0-2). The Bears shut down Seattle’s running game, with Rashaad Penny and Chris Carson combining for only 54 yards on 16 carries. Meanwhile, Mitch Trubisky was efficient with the ball and is showing great chemistry with WR Allen Robinson.
The Seahawks, on the other hand, fell short once again. Russell Wilson is doing what he can, but the running game is still a weakness and the passing game has lost significant juice without Doug Baldwin in the lineup. Plus, the Seattle defense of old is a thing of the past. If the Seahawks want to keep pace in a stacked NFC, they’ll have to turn things around quickly.
Talk about a deflating end to what could’ve been a legendary game between the Vikings (1-0-1) and the Packers (1-0-1). Yes, it did end in a tie in overtime after a truly bogus roughing the passer call (which the NFL has provided a vehement defense of). But the rest of the game was an awesome match-up between two of the NFC’s biggest contenders. Kirk Cousins and the WR duo of Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs put on a show, with Cousins throwing for 425 yards and 4 TDs. Unfortunately, rookie K Daniel Carlson missed 3 (!!!) FG attempts and ended up costing the Vikings the game (and him his job).
The Packers, despite playing with a hobbled Aaron Rodgers, were equally impressive in this game. Rodgers made the best of his situation, and TE Jimmy Graham assumed a much larger role. The running game and the defense are still pretty big question marks, however, after the Packers have struggled to stop opponents in back-to-back weeks.
Baker’s Bonus Take: Don’t worry about the Patriots trading for Josh Gordon
I know the topic of the day is the Patriots’ acquiring WR Josh Gordon. While it is always fun to lampoon the Browns for poor personnel decisions, the Patriots have made a slough of bad ones at the WR position this offseason. Think of all the names they’ve brought in, and just about every one of them has flamed out or not become a major factor. Corey Coleman. Kenny Britt. Cordarelle Patterson. Their leading receiver was RB James White against the Jaguars.
Could Josh Gordon blow up and become a huge contributor in New England? Yeah, sure. But let’s all pump the brakes a little and remember that the Patriots haven’t exactly done a great job at finding a stand-in for Julian Edelman all offseason.
What were some of your biggest takeaways from the second week of NFL action? Share them in the comments below!