NFL Week 2 in review

With the first two weeks of the NFL season in the books, seven teams are off to a 2-0 start, including three NFC West teams – Arizona, Rams and 49ers.

Of the other four, the surprise is that Carolina and the Raiders are two of them and that Kansas City, going for its third consecutive Super Bowl appearance, isn’t one of them after losing Sunday night to Baltimore.

The other two are defending champion Tampa Bay and Denver, which is now off to a 2-0 start seventh time in last nine years.

On the other hand, seven teams are 0-2 including the two worst teams from last year, Jacksonville and the Jets, who are both starting rookie quarterbacks selected with the first two picks.

Three of the 0-2 teams, Atlanta, Indianapolis and Minnesota – had higher expectations but now the odds are against them making the playoffs.

Since 1980, only 11.6 percent of the teams that started off 0-2 made the playoffs.

So after two weeks, there are 18 0-1 teams along with seven at 2-0 and seven at 0-2.

—The Buffalo Bills showed they have a defense as they blanked the Dolphins, 35-0, who lost Tuo Tagovailoa early to a rib injury. Jacoby Brissett took over but wasn’t effective. If Josh Allen overcomes his slow start, the Bills still seem to be the team to beat in the AFC East.

—Patrick Mahomes had never thrown an interception in September and was 3-0 against the Ravens before the Ravens posted a 36-35 victory Sunday night even though Lamar Jackson threw a pick-six early and the Ravens were down 11 points in the third. The Chiefs were in position for a game-winning field goal before a fumble killed their comeback. With both the Raiders and Broncos at 2-0 and the Chargers a threat, they may not have an easy road to another division title.

—Only one quarterback, Ryan Fitzpatrick, was injured the first week, but four of them went down Sunday. Besides Tagovailoa, the other three were Andy Dalton, Carson Wentz and Tyrod Taylor. Dalton’s injury probably opens the door for a fourth rookie, Justin Fields, to start.

—The three starting rookie quarterbacks, Mac Jones, Trevor Lawrence and Zach Wilson, are now 1-5 after Jones got the win over Wilson. New England’s win over the Jets was no surprise because Bill Belichick is 22-6 against rookie QBs.

—Derek Carr has now passed for 817 yards in two games as the Raiders knocked off Steelers after beating the Ravens in their opener.

—Dallas showed it can win on defense and running the ball instead of counting on Dak Prescott to carry the load. They rushed for 195 yards to beat the Chargers on a 56-yard field goal by Greg Zuerlein. Dallas coach Mike McCarthy got a lot of flak for not trying to get closer on third down instead of letting the clock run down. His excuse was the scoreboard clock went out.

—Tom Brady still refuses to show his age as he threw five touchdown passes in Tampa’s 48-25 win over the Falcons. No 28-3 this time against the Falcons.

—Matthew Stafford is developing a rapport with Cooper Kupp. He caught nine passes for 163 yards and two touchdowns in the Rams’ 27-24 victory over the Colts after catching seven passes for 108 yards and a touchdown in the opener against Chicago.

—Sam Darnold shows what he can do with a better team around him. He is 2-0 in Carolina now that he is backed up by what is currently the league’s best defense. The Panthers routed the Saints 26-7. Getting away from Jets and Adam Gase may be the best thing that happened to Darnold.

—Are the Bengals putting enough emphasis on protecting Joe Burrow? He was hit nine times, sacked four times and threw three picks, including a pick-six, in their 20-17 loss to the Bears.-l

The Cardinals escaped with a 34-33 victory over the Vikings when Greg Joseph shanked a 34-yard field goal attempt.

—The Titans do what they do best against Seattle. They ran Derrick Henry 35 times and he gained 182 yards and three touchdowns for a 33-30 overtime victory.

Previewing NFL Week 2

The big question for the second week of the season is how many teams will come out of the week 2-0 and how many will be 0-2.

The games featuring 1-0 teams in which the winner will come out 2-0 are Steelers-Raiders, Panthers-Saints and San Francisco-Philadelphia.

The New York Giants became the first team to start off 0-2 after their mistakes cost them the game against Washington Thursday night.

A Daniel Jones touchdown was wiped out by a holding call and the Giants gave Dustin Hopkins a second shot at a game-winning field goal when Dexter Lawrence was offsides as Hopkins missed a 48-yarder. Given a second chance from the 43, he nailed it.

The other two games featuring two 0-1 teams with the losers dropping to 0-2 are New England-Jets and Green Bay-Detroit. All the other 1-0 teams are playing 0-1 teams and have a shot at 2-0.

A look at this weekend:

—There are three interesting attractions this weekend – Steelers-Raiders and Dolphins-Bills at 1 p.m. Sunday and the Chiefs-Ravens as the Sunday night prime time game. The MNF game pitting Green Bay against Detroit isn’t much of an attraction.

—Steelers-Raiders was once one of the best rivalries in the NFL when they played in the playoffs five years in a row in the 1970s and the winner won the Super Bowl three consecutive years. But the rivalry has waned in recent years although both teams won their openers. But it will be the featured 1 p.m. game shown in much of the country.

—The Bills, touted as a Super Bowl contender, can’t afford a second loss to drop to 0-2. But the game won’t get much coverage since it is being shown only in southern Florida and the northeast.

—The Chiefs are going for a 2-0 start against the Ravens, who are desperate to rebound after losing the MNF game to the Raiders in a game that had a wild finish. The game features Patrick Mahomes vs. Lamar Jackson, but Chiefs have beaten the Ravens the last three years so they appear to have the edge. Andy Reid is 4-0 vs. Ravens with Chiefs and 6-1 overall.

—Fifteen quarterbacks started the season with new teams and one of them, Ryan Fitzpatrick, was sidelined with an injury so Taylor Heinicke became the 32nd quarterback to start this season. The other 31 return for a second game.

—Three rookie quarterbacks will start their second game and two of them — Mac Jones and Zach Wilson — will meet as the Patriots play at the Jets. Considering Bill Belichick’s record against rookie quarterbacks as he tries to confuse Wilson, Jones figures to get his first win. The third starting quarterback rookie, Trevor Lawrence, faces a tough task against Denver after throwing three picks in the loss to Houston last week although the heat in Jacksonville may be a problem for the Broncos.

—The homefield advantage isn’t what it used to be. Road teams won half the 16 games. Last year road teams have had a 128-127-1 edge. No obvious explanation for road teams doing well although it could be the officials aren’t letting home crowd affect them.

—Defending champion Tampa Bay figures to get off to a 2-0 start against Atlanta. With Brady facing the Falcons, it will bring back memories of 28-3.

NFL Week 1 in review

The Kansas City Chiefs are back, the Buffalo Bills and the Green Bay Packers may not be who they thought they were, the Pittsburgh Steelers can still play defense and the Matthew Stafford showed what he can do with a better team around him.

Those were some of the highlights and lowlight of the first weekend of the new season.

More on that:

—Kansas City now has to be considered to have a good shot at a third straight Super Bowl appearance. Patrick Mahomes, who was running for his life in the Super Bowl last February, had the protection to pull off another fourth quarter comeback and beat Browns, 33-29. Browns were up 22-10 at halftime and 29-20 early in fourth quarter before Mahomet did his thing. The Browns, though, showed they are contenders but have to eliminate mistakes. A fumbled snap and a punt was a dagger and then Baker Mayfield threw a late pick trying for a comeback.

—The Bills were supposed to be ready to make a Super Bowl run after winning two playoff games last year before losing to the Chiefs in the AFC title game. They were favored against a Pittsburgh team that had a meltdown at end of last year. But the Steelers still have a defense that harassed Josh Allen and kept him off balance the whole game while posting a 23-16 victory. T.J. Watt’s strip sack at the end of first half and a blocked punt for a score were keys to the victory. The Bills now have to rebound.

—Green Bay spent the off season wondering whether Aaron Rodgers was going to play. And they were playing a New Orleans team that had to switch their opener to Jacksonville because of the damage done by Hurricane Ida. It turned out Rodgers had the worst day of his career in a 38-3 loss. Meanwhile, Jameis Winston may have resurrected his career with five touchdown passes against the Packers.

–All four NFC West teams won and it is likely at least one wild card will come from that division. Three incumbent quarterbacks, Seattle ‘s Russell Wilson, San Francisco’s Jimmy Garopollo with a cameo role by Trey Lance and Arizona’s Kyler Murray posted victories while Matthew Stafford won his debut for the Rams. Indianapolis, Detroit, Tennessee and the Bears were the four losing teams.

—All three rookie quarterbacks who started – Mac Jones of New England, Zach Wilson of the Jets and Trevor Lawrence of Jaguars – all lost. But Jones and Wilson kept it close against the Dolphins and Carolina (quarterbacked by former Jet Sam Darnold) while losing by one and five points) while Lawrence was blown out by the surprising Texans.

—Only one starting quarterback, Ryan Fitzpatrick of Washington, was sidelined with an injury. He went on IR with a hip injury and will be out at least three weeks if not longer.

—Four second-year quarterbacks – Justin Herbert of the Chargers, Joe Burrow of Cincinnati, Jalen Hurts of Philadelphia, and Tua Tagovailoa — posted victories over Washington, Minnesota, Atlanta and New England, respectively.

—After one week, Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski are 1-0 in Tampa and Bill Belichick is 0-1 in New England.

—Dallas lost its opener in Tampa Bay, but looked so good that they have a good shot at winning the division.

—Teddy Bridgewater may be resurrecting his career in Denver as he led the Broncos to the win over the Giants. But playing in the same division with the Chiefs and Chargers means he will have some tough ahead games although he goes to Jacksonville this Sunday.

Previewing NFL Week 1

A look at the first weekend of the NFL’s first 17-game season:

—This is the first test of the NFL’s new vax policy. It says 93 percent of the players are vaxxed. Will any key unvaxxed players – notably Kirk Cousins – test positive the day of game?

—The season opens Thursday night with the defending champion Bucs hosting the Cowboys. The fact the Cowboys got this marquee assignment shows the league still considers them ratings gold. But will they make a game of it with Dak Prescott seeing his first action in almost a year? It also pits Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn vs. Tom Brady. Quinn, of course, was the Atlanta coach in Falcons’ 28-3 meltdown vs. Brady and the Patriots. Bucs are 7.5 favorites.

—In the other two primetime games, the Rams are seven-point favorites over the Bears on Sunday night and the Ravens are four-point choices at the Las Vegas Raiders on Monday night. None of the three primetime underdogs had a winning record last year, although Chicago made the playoffs at 8-8. You would have thought the league would have had better primetime matches for first weekend of the season.

—In the late games Sunday afternoon, CBS has Jim Nantz and Tony Romo doing the Browns at Kansas City and Fox has Joe Buck and Troy Aikman doing the Saints-Packers at Jacksonville. The game was moved because of damage done by Hurricane Ida in New Orleans.

—Three rookie quarterbacks drafted on the first round will make their first starts. Trevor Lawrence of the Jaguars is a three-point choice at Houston and Mac Jones of the Patriots is a 2.5-point pick at home against Miami. Zach Wilson of the Jets is a 5.5-point underdog at Carolina, where he will face former Jets quarterback Sam Darnold. The Jets traded Darnold after drafting Wilson.

—Jones will start against Miami’s Tuo Tagovailoa. They were teammates on the 2018 Alabama team along with Jalen Hurts, who will start for Philadelphia. Alabama lost the national title game that year to Clemson and Lawrence by a 44-16 margin. The Patriots-Dolphins matchup is critical because they are both likely to be chasing Buffalo in the AFC East.

—Kansas City will unveil its new offensive line when the Chiefs host Baker Mayfield and the Browns. The Chiefs’ inability to protect Patrick Mahomes was a major factor in their Super Bowl loss to the Bucs, and they have revamped it. Now they have to show if they can protect Mahomes.

—Besides the Rams-Bears, Chiefs-Browns and Saints-Packers games, the other game featuring two playoff teams from last year is the Seahawks-Colts matchup.

—Buffalo, touted as possibly to top AFC threat to foil Kansas City’s bid to make the Super Bowl three years in a row, opens against a Pittsburgh team that had a meltdown at the end of last year. Ben Roethlisberger will try to show he has something left in the tank.

—The Giants and Washington have a short week upcoming because they play the Thursday night game to start the second week. Both open at home, so the Giants will have a short road trip.

Lots of familiar NFL QB faces in new places this year

The NFL is a quarterback league and now that preseason is over, one of the major questions about the upcoming season is whether a fresh start can make a difference for six veteran quarterbacks.

Let’s look at six of them in new roles this year:

— Matthew Stafford and Jared Goff. They were virtually traded for each other. Stafford never won a playoff game in Detroit and had a 74-90-1 career mark while making one Pro Bowl. The Rams are hoping he will make them a Super Bowl contender. Goff played on a better team with the Rams and made the Super Bowl but seemed overmatched in loss to the Patriots. He did get a second contract, but after making only one playoff appearance the last two years and losing it, the Rams decided they needed to upgrade the position. Detroit hopes Goff he can make them a contender, but those hopes may be unrealistic.

—Jameis Winston flamed out two years ago in his fifth year in Tampa Bay with 30 picks to go with 30 touchdown passes. He moved on to New Orleans backing up Drew Brees last year and won the job this year after Brees retired. He has big shoes to fill and Saints face a lot of challenges since they won’t be back in New Orleans for a month while city recovers from Hurricane Ida.

—Teddy Bridgewater got off to a solid start in his first two years in Minnesota but then suffered a devastating ACL that limited him to one series in two years and he moved on after the team did not pick up his option. He went to the Jets but was traded to the Saints before he played for them. After two years with the Saints and one with Carolina, he moved on to Denver where he beat out Drew Lock for the starting job. He has to play well to keep Lock on the bench.

—Andy Dalton is one of five quarterbacks to lead his team to the playoffs in his first five seasons, but he failed to win a playoff game in the four games he played in for the Bengals. Then after going four years without a winning record, including an 0-8 start that led to his benching in 2019, he was released in 2020 after the Bengals drafted Joe Burrow. He signed last year with Dallas as Dak Prescott’s backup. He went 4-5 as a starter after Prescott was hurt and moved onto Chicago where he beat out rookie Justin Fields for the starting job. He will have to play well to keep Fields on the bench.

—Tyrod Taylor has bounced around and landed this year in Houston, his fifth team, where he got the starting job because Deshaun Watson’s career is in limbo. The problem is that he doesn’t have a good team around him. They went 4-12 last year even with Watson. Two of the wins were against 1-15 Jacksonville. Taylor faces a tough task as he tries to turn his career around.

It will be interesting to watch how these six veterans fare this year. Can any of them become a long-term answer? We will see.