Happy Tuesday, friends! As we turn the page on week two and prepare for a not-so-great on-the-paper matchup between two teams coming off frustrating losses, we have to take one last look at the week that was. Comebacks and collapses, individual greatness, and some seats becoming hotter quicker than expected (or not expected, in some respects), let’s look back like Thanos at the end of the Avengers and see what 8 things we liked from this last weekend, one from each division.
I really liked what I saw from the Miami Dolphins. We aren’t the biggest fans of Tua, but Mike
McDaniels is doing what he can to get his best players in space to do what they do
best: run and run fast. Jaylen Waddle and Mike Gisecki had big people catches to extend
drives or, in Waddle’s case, win the game, but all Tua really had to do was get the ball to
Waddle and Tyreek Hill and let them go. The run game looked better this week as well, but
speed kills in the NFL, and the Dolphins have it in spades.
The Eagles defense was able to lock up an explosive Vikings offense. Darius Slay held
all-world WR Justin Jefferson to 1 catch on 6 targets: in fact, Slay had more caught balls on
Jefferson targets than Jefferson did when they were matched up. They pestered Kirk Cousins all game and could have the division clinched by Halloween.
The Ravens are, very clearly, the best team in this division, but a monumental collapse has
them tied with Cleveland and Pittsburgh this morning. Those two teams play on Thursday and, barring a tie, we will get one game of separation. The Ravens get the Patriots on Sunday, which should be a win for Lamar and Co. before they get a heavyweight fight versus the Buffalo Bills and Josh Allen. This loss to Miami is going to sting, because they could’ve been 3-0, with a little bit of a cushion in case they lose to Buffalo. Instead, they now need a bounce-back win to keep pace.
The Lions are going to be a tough out. They run the ball, protect their QB, and have an emerging talent at WR. They, also, got 3 sacks and a world of pressure from their first-rounder Aidan Hutchinson, which should make Kirk Cousins very nervous come Sunday. The biggest thing you’re seeing from this team is that they show up, even when there is a talent gap, and if they can get the QB position right and have Jameson Williams returning? Look out.
I picked the Jaguars to win this division before the season started, and after Sunday’s drubbing of the Colts, I feel really good about that. Trevor Lawrence is a stud, Doug Pederson taking a year off was genius, and they may have the premier young edge duo in the league in Josh Allen and number one pick Travon Walker. The Colts aren’t as good as people think (sorry, Meg), but to be shut out like this is concerning. The Jags are going to continue getting better, and Trevor Lawrence has the potential to really elevate them come playoff time. A date with the Chargers on Sunday will tell us a lot about where this team is right now.
The Bucs are in trouble, in large part because Tom Brady looks like a man who is only on the
field because he doesn’t want to go home and work on his marriage. It’s Tom Brady, what do
you expect me to do? The Bucs’ offense averages 19 points a game, with none of the
vaunted big plays we are used to seeing from Brady and this crew. Mike Evans is
suspended because he doesn’t like Marshon Lattimore putting him in a car seat, and they’re
relying on Scotty Miller and Breshad Perriman to lead this passing attack. Throw in the OL
issues, and the Bucs have the making of a one-and-done team if the Saints don’t keep them out entirely.
Russell Wilson had one more completion than the Broncos had penalties, for those keeping
score at home. Through two games, the Nathaniel Hackett offense looks like it did when he was calling plays in Jacksonville: uneven and like it doesn’t know what it wants to be. They paid Wilson A LOT of money to make this offense move, and so far the results are not good. They’re already two games behind Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs with a Sunday night tilt against a very good 49ers team. This could get uglier than a Master P sneaker real quick.
The Niners were my pick to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl but that was before Trey Lance got hurt. I thought Lance’s mobility and big play potential would open up this offense in a way that Jimmy Garrapolo just doesn’t. With Lance out for the year, I just don’t think the Niners have enough at QB to compete with Stafford, Rodgers, and Brady. With that said, they can rush the passer, and that’s usually been their recipe for success under Kyle Shanahan since he’s only had limited QBs to work with. The run game is currently 4th in the league in yards, so I think they’ll lean on that even more with Jimmy, but you’re going to have to score points in bunches come playoff time. How they look going forward is going to be fascinating.