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Bird’s Eye View: How Atlanta’s remaining opponents played in Week 2

What awaits the Falcons in the weeks and months beyond Sunday’s road game? Well, that’s what you’re here to find out. 

Welcome back to Bird’s Eye View!

The Falcons emerged victorious against the Packers in what was their toughest test so far in the young season. Week 3 likely won’t be any easier, although the Lions could be very banged up heading into the contest.

As for what awaits the Falcons in the weeks and months beyond Sunday’s road game? Well, that’s what you’re here to find out. A brief refresher for those who may be reading this piece for the first time: This exercise is meant to provide a quick synopsis of how each team did the previous week. I’ll highlight a standout player from each side of the ball, and for the two teams next on Atlanta’s schedule, I’ll include a potential x-factor player for the upcoming matchup.

Here’s how Week 2 went for the Falcons’ remaining opponents.

Week 3 – Detroit Lions (1-1)

Last three games:

- Week 1: Win at Kansas City (21-20)

- Week 2: Loss vs Seahawks (37-31)

Tweet-length summary of Lions in Week 2:

A fourth-quarter pick-six ultimately doomed the Lions in a very entertaining game against the Seahawks. Even with injuries mounting, the Lions have the offense to turn any game into a shootout. And the defense, frankly.

Best offensive player in Week 2: WR Josh Reynolds

Amon-Ra St. Brown, Detroit’s other excellent starting receiver, is deserving of this slot as well, but Reynolds is my choice. He made some incredibly tough and timely catches in this game, and he was the one who reeled in two touchdown passes to go with his 66 yards. The Falcons will have their hands full with the Lions’ talented pass-catchers.

Best defensive player in Week 2: SS Kerby Joseph

Joseph played well in virtually every facet of the game against Seattle. He was deployed pretty equally in the slot, box and centerfield roles for Detroit’s secondary, and he looked comfortable and skilled in each. Against a team as versatile as Atlanta, Joseph is a good player to have.

X-factor for Lions in Week 3: DE Aidan Hutchinson

After harassing Patrick Mahomes in the league’s Thursday night opener, Hutchinson had a quieter performance against Seattle. Nevertheless, he is already a very tough matchup for opposing tackles and he figures to be up against Kaleb McGary, who has struggled to start the season. The Falcons will need a plan to prevent Hutchinson from wrecking their offensive rhythm.

Team stat to know: The Lions are 2nd in the league with 8.09 passing yards per play.

Week 4 – Jacksonville Jaguars (1-1)

Last three games:

- Week 1: Win at Indianapolis (31-21)

- Week 2: Loss vs Kansas City (17-9)

Tweet-length summary of Jaguars in Week 2:

Jacksonville played more than well enough to win this game but had one too many offensive stalls and red-zone lapses. With the way the Jags’ defense is playing, they are going to be a tough out. Miss you, Calvin.

Best offensive player in Week 2: TE Evan Engram

Although Christian Kirk led the team with 11 catches for 110 yards, it was Engram who felt like the Jags’ unstoppable weapon. He began to take over in the fourth quarter before Kansas City ultimately salted the game away and finished with 57 yards on six catches. Working with a decisive and talented passer has turned Engram back into the incredible weapon he was entering the league.

Best defensive player in Week 2: SS Andre Cisco

Cisco had one of the Jags’ three turnovers on a beautifully timed read on a Patrick Mahomes deep ball. Jacksonville’s strength is still the front, but Cisco, who also had a pair of pass breakups, gets the nod here.

X-factor for Jaguars in Week 4: WR Calvin Ridley

The matchup between A.J. Terrell and Ridley may be the most I’ve ever anticipated a matchup between two NFL players.

Team stat to know: Jacksonville’s third-down conversion rate of 25 percent is the worst among NFL offenses.

Week 5 – Houston Texans (0-2)

Last three games:

- Week 1: Loss at Baltimore (25-9)

- Week 2: Loss vs Colts (31-20)

Tweet-length summary of Texans in Week 2:

Best offensive player in Week 2: WR Nico Collins

For the second-straight game, Collins was a true No. 1 receiver for the Texans, who are quickly becoming a fun and frisky team. The passing game has taken a huge step forward under C.J. Stroud, who threw for 384 yards and two touchdowns, but Collins, who finished with 146 yards and a score, is helping big time in that area.

Best defensive player in Week 2: CB Steven Nelson

Nelson was really reliable in coverage against Indianapolis, allowing just one catch for 11 yards and breaking up another pass thrown his way.

Team stat to know: Houston has scored a touchdown on just 16.67 percent of its red-zone trips, which ranks last in the league.

Week 6 – Washington Commanders (2-0)

Last three games:

- Week 1: Win vs Arizona (20-16)

- Week 2: Win at Denver (35-33)

Tweet-length summary of Commanders in Week 2:

If the Commanders win the Super Bowl, do they have to keep the name?

Best offensive player in Week 2: LG Saahdiq Charles

The Commanders rallied from a 21-3 deficit in the second quarter in large part because of their effectiveness on the ground and in the quick passing game. Charles was a big factor in both aspects for Washington. He finished with an 85.9 PFF run blocking grade Sunday, which was second among all league guards.

Best defensive player in Week 2: DE Chase Young

If Washington does emerge as a surprise team in the NFC, expect this to be the year they become nationally recognized for their defensive line. Young, Montez Sweat, Daron Payne and Jonathan Allen are all worthy of this spot on any given week, but Young, who had seven total pressures and 1.5 sacks, gets the nod here.

Team stat to know: Washington is currently ranked 11th in offensive DVOA and 10th in defensive DVOA, highlighting its balance as a team.

Weeks 7 & 14 – Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-0)

Last three games:

- Week 1: Win vs Minnesota (20-17)

- Week 2: Win vs Chicago (17-27)

Tweet-length summary of Buccaneers in Week 2:

Are the Bucs good or are the Vikings and Bears bad? Baker Mayfield is playing like a Tampa quarterback from the early 2000s without Jon Gruden around to shatter his confidence. Mike Evans and this defense are still as good as we remember.

Best offensive player in Week 2: WR Mike Evans

Evans caught six passes for 171 yards and 1 touchdown on Sunday, and virtually every time he had the ball it was a highlight-reel play. The veteran receiver is currently fourth in the league with 237 receiving yards, and he has quickly developed a rapport with Mayfield.

Best defensive player in Week 2: LB Shaq Barrett

Interior defenders Vita Vea and Joe Tryon deserve a lot of credit for the combined 3.5 sacks they earned against Chicago, but Shaq Barrett’s pick-six is one of the coolest plays I’ve seen in a while.

Team stat to know: Tampa Bay’s eight sacks are tied for fourth-most in the NFL.

Week 8 – Tennessee Titans (1-1)

Last three games:

- Week 1: Loss at New Orleans (16-15)

- Week 2: Won vs Los Angeles Chargers (24-27)

Tweet-length summary of Titans in Week 2:

A classic Titans game that was smashmouth and effortful as well as a class Chargers game that saw them come up empty-handed in the clutch.

Best offensive player in Week 2: QB Ryan Tannehill

Although it’s been a long time since Tannehill took the football world by surprise with his resurgence in Tennessee, he put on a class performance Sunday. The Titans quarterback finished 20-of-24 for 246 yards and one touchdown. He had a few big throws down the stretch that helped seal the deal.

Best defensive player in Week 2: CB Roger McCreary

McCreary played a very physical game at slot corner for the Titans on Sunday, making his presence felt in the run game as much as in coverage. His PFF grade of 73.6 was fourth-best among Tennessee defenders, but his ability to shut down the Chargers’ potent passing game had a big hand in the game’s outcome.

Team stat to know: Tennessee has the league’s third-best run defense, allowing 65 yards per game.

Week 9 – Minnesota Vikings (0-2)

Last three games:

- Week 1: Loss vs Tampa Bay (20-17)

- Week 2: Loss at Philadelphia (28-34)

Tweet-length summary of Vikings in Week 2:

Best offensive player in Week 2: QB Kirk Cousins

This was a vintage Cousins game for the Vikings, so, despite the tweet above, this loss wasn’t all about the quarterback. Cousins was 31-of-44 for 364 yards and four touchdowns with no interceptions against the Eagles’ defense. We know Cousins can put up the stats, but that’s not everything. Just ask Arthur Smith.

Best defensive player in Week 2: MLB Ivan Pace Jr.

The Vikings’ middle linebacker was effective in pretty much every role on Thursday night. He had eight tackles and a sack to go along with three total pressures. He didn’t do too much to stop the Eagles’ short-yardage sneak play but, then again, who did?

Team stat to know: Minnesota averages 34.5 rushing yards per game, which ranks last among NFL offenses.

Week 10 – Arizona Cardinals (0-2)

Last three games:

- Week 1: Loss at Washington (20-16)

- Week 2: Loss vs New York Giants (31-28)

Tweet-length summary of Cardinals in Week 2:

Close It Down for Caleb.

Best offensive player in Week 2: RB James Conner

This could have easily gone to Josh Dobbs, who threw for 228 yards with a touchdown and no picks, but Conner was also excellent in this one. He carried the ball 23 times for 106 yards and a touchdown. The Cardinals had things rolling in the first half but couldn’t close it out.

Best defensive player in Week 2: MLB Kyzir White

Like Pace for the Vikings, White did a little bit of everything in this one for Arizona. He registered a sack, five tackles and allowed just 19 yards on seven targets in his coverage. The Cardinals are in the midst of a defensive revamp and White is off to a good start.

Team stat to know: The Cardinals were outgained by the Giants 215 yards to 32 yards in the fourth quarter on Sunday.

Weeks 12 & 18 – New Orleans Saints (2-0)

Last three games:

- Week 1: Won vs Tennessee (16-15)

- Week 2: Won at Carolina (20-17)

Tweet-length summary of Saints in Week 2:

The Saints haven’t lost a game yet, but they’ve lost a couple of running backs. Defense has powered the way for New Orleans so far, but Carolina didn’t offer much of a test in a game that was way more lopsided than the final score. Grumble. Grumble.

Best offensive player in Week 2: WR Chris Olave

This was a weird game with little offensive fireworks, but Olave continues to look like the Saints’ top option in every conceivable way. He caught six passes for 86 yards on Monday, and Olave currently ranks seventh in the NFL with 198 receiving yards.

Best defensive player in Week 2: DE Carl Granderson

Granderson played a large role in stymying the Panthers’ offense. He was excellent at setting the edge throughout the evening and proved far too much for a single blocker to handle. Granderson pressured Bryce Young throughout the night and finished with a sack for his troubles.

Team stat to know: New Orleans is fourth in defensive DVOA.

Week 13 – New York Jets (1-1)

Last three games:

- Week 1: Won vs Buffalo (22-16)

- Week 2: Loss at Dallas (30-10)

Tweet-length summary of Jets in Week 2:

Best offensive player in Week 2: WR Garrett Wilson

Arguably the single-biggest loser of Week 1, Wilson began his post-Aaron Rodgers season with one big play and not much else. His 68-yard touchdown catch showed off how electric he can be with the ball in his hands, but he only had one other reception and finished Sunday’s game with two catches for 83 yards and a touchdown.

Best defensive player in Week 2: LB C.J. Mosley

The Cowboys did a really good job getting the ball out fast against the Jets’ vaunted defensive line, so it was an active day for Mosley. He led the team with nine tackles but helped orchestrate the unit and was effective as both a pass rusher and in coverage.

Team stat to know: The New York Jets once had Aaron Rodgers as their starting quarterback.

Week 15 – Carolina Panthers (0-2)

Last three games:

- Week 1: Loss at Atlanta (24-10)

- Week 2: Loss vs New Orleans (20-17)

Tweet-length summary of Panthers in Week 2:

Is Cat Scratch Fever contagious??

Best offensive player in Week 2: WR Adam Thielen

It’s very clear that Thielen is well past his prime, but the veteran receiver was effective for Carolina on Monday night. He led the team with seven catches for 54 yards and a touchdown. More importantly, Thielen was a bit of a comfort blanket for Young.

Best defensive player in Week 2: LB Frankie Luvu

Safety Xavier Woods also played an outstanding game against the Saints, but Luvu’s impact plays were hard to miss. He was relentless as a bull rusher and showed off his agility with one long loop that ended in one of his two sacks on the night.

Team stat to know: Carolina has the fewest passing yards per game through Week 2.

Week 16 – Indianapolis Colts (1-1)

Last three games:

- Week 1: Loss vs Jacksonville (31-21)

- Week 2: Won at Houston (31-20)

Tweet-length summary of Colts in Week 2:

If Anthony Richardson keeps progressing this quickly – and stays healthy – the Colts will once again have a talented young quarterback to build around. He looks like he has all of the tools, and he’s putting it together quicker than many expected.

Best offensive player in Week 2: C Ryan Kelly

The veteran lineman has been off to a terrific start in 2023, and the presence of Kelly cannot be overstated in its importance for Richardson. He has been really effective as a pass blocker but looked dominant in the run game on Sunday.

Best defensive player in Week 2: LB Shaq Leonard

One of the best linebackers in the NFL, Leonard has faded a bit out of the spotlight along with the Colts. He played incredibly sound football on Sunday, however. The stat sheet won’t necessarily reflect his activity, but he played his role well.

Team stat to know: The Colts have allowed 2.57 rushing yards per play, which is the best mark in the NFL.

Week 17 – Chicago Bears (0-2)

Last three games:

- Week 1: Loss vs Green Bay (38-20)

- Week 2: Loss at Tampa Bay (27-17)

Tweet-length summary of Bears in Week 2:

Best offensive player in Week 2: RB Khalil Herbert

Another player whose stats won’t stand out in Week 2 – heck, I wish I hadn’t started him on my fantasy team – but watching him play was a treat. He maximized his touches and gave the Bears a much-needed spark when he did have the ball, which wasn’t enough. Herbert had 58 yards on eight touches in this game. This remains a bad offense.

Best defensive player in Week 2: LB T.J. Edwards

Either Edwards or Tremaine Edmunds could have earned this spot, and it’s clear the Bears’ linebackers are going to be very active this season. For his part, Edwards didn’t really have a weak point to his game and finished second with 12 tackles to Edmunds’ 15.

Team stat to know: Chicago’s defense has allowed 32.5 points per game, which is the second-highest average through two weeks.