Five observations on the second weekend of the 2017 NFL season:
1. The New England Patriots are still the New England Patriots. As expected, the loss in the opener to the Kansas City Chiefs was just a blip on their radar screen. They bounced back by thrashing the New Orleans Saints, 36-20.
The opening-game loss prompted the Boston Herald to question whether the end is near for the Patriots. Granted, Tom Brady can’t play forever, but the end doesn’t appear to be near.
The Patriots appear a lock to win the AFC East (again) and make the playoffs (again). And the Patriots showed they’re still the Patriots when they benched Super Bowl hero Malcolm Butler.
Butler still played 75 percent of the snaps, but they seemed to be sending him a message that what he did in the past doesn’t count for anything in 2017. “It’s all about this year,’’ said defensive coordinator Matt Patricia.
2. Maybe the NFL should have awarded USC a franchise.
The Trojans drew more fans at the Los Angeles Coliseum for the Texas game (84,714) than the combined attendance for the Los Angeles Rams and Los Angeles Chargers. And half the fans at each NFL game appeared to be rooting for the visiting teams, the Washington Redskins and Miami Dolphins.
Even the Los Angeles mayor, Eric Garcetti, chimed in and said the city would have been happy to get just the Rams — a not-so-subtle dig at the Spanos family’s decision to uproot the Chargers from San Diego.
Obviously, moving two teams to Los Angeles was one too many. Not that the NFL cares. The other owners will pocket the hefty relocation fees. Oh, and both the Chargers and Rams lost.
3. When rookie running back Kareem Hunt fumbled on the first play of the Chiefs’ game against the Patriots, he feared he was going to be benched.
But Chiefs coach Andy Reid stuck with him, and Hunt now has five touchdowns in the first two games. And the Chiefs are 2-0.
The last rookie to have more in his first two games was Dutch Sternaman, who had six for the Decatur Staleys (they became the Chicago Bears) in 1920. Now the question is whether Hunt can keep up this pace.
4. It’s no secret that Philadelphia Eagles coach Doug Pederson likes to feature the passing game. But when he dialed up 56 passes and only 13 designated runs in a 27-20 loss to the Chiefs, two fans were upset enough to bring a banner to the team’s headquarters with a simple message: Run the ball.
This could probably happen only in Philadelphia, where the fans remain passionate even though the team hasn’t won a title since 1960.
5. Cam Newton is having injury issues, and the Carolina Panthers haven’t gotten their offense rolling, but they’re 2-0 thanks to their defense.
The Panthers have given up just a field goal in their first two games, making them the first team to do that since 1981. They beat the San Francisco 49ers 23-3 and the Buffalo Bills 9-3 on three field goals.
But they’re likely going to need to start scoring more points with the New Orleans Saints, Patriots and Detroit Lions their next three foes.