Taking a look back at the NFL’s Week 2

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.

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NFL teams off to 0-2 starts shouldn’t kid themselves

When an NFL team loses its first two games of the season, it always downplays the slow start and notes, among other things, that it’s a long season.

So it was not surprising that when New Orleans was one of nine teams to start off 0-2 this season, the Saints played the “long season” card.

“It’s a long season, but 0-2 doesn’t make you who you are,’’ said wide receiver Ted Ginn.

Well, in many ways it does — and the Saints know it.

They’re 1-11 in September the last four years, and this is the fourth year in a row they have started out 0-2. New Orleans finished 7-9 and missed the playoffs the previous three years.

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Elliott’s on-field situation now looks like a quagmire, too

The Denver Broncos defense did a much a much better job of stopping Ezekiel Elliott on the field Sunday than the NFL’s lawyers are doing to force him to serve a league-imposed suspension.

Elliott scored another court victory Monday when a federal judge not only refused to lift the injunction stopping the NFL from suspending the Dallas Cowboys running back, but took a slap at the NFL’s legal logic.

U.S. District Court judge Amos L. Mazzant noted the NFL is complaining that the court essentially issued a premature order by failing to wait for the arbitrator to issue his ruling, and therefore lacked “subject matter jurisdiction.’’

“Oddly, the NFL is now seeking expedited relief from the Fifth Circuit without first waiting for the Court to rule on the identical issue,’’ the judge wrote in his opinion. “The irony is not lost on the court.’’

The NFL is now appealing to the Fifth Circuit to force Elliott to serve his suspension while the legal process continues.

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Five Things to Watch: NFL Week 2

Five things I’ll be looking at in the second week of the 2017 NFL season:

1. How will the Patriots respond?

You don’t want to overreact when the New England Patriots and Tom Brady have a bad game. In 2014, they lost at Kansas City 41-14 and coach Bill Belichick said it was on to Cincinnati. They routed the Bengals 43-17 and went on to win the Super Bowl. And the last three times they lost their opener, they won the Super Bowl.

Now they’ll try to bounce back against the Saints and Drew Brees.

The Patriots figure to win their division even if they lose this game, but it will raise some eyebrows if Brady plays the way he did against Kansas City and loses a shootout to Brees. The Patriots are favored by a touchdown.

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Quitting the dysfunctional Bills might work out for Marrone, Mularkey

Quitting an NFL head coaching job isn’t usually a good career move.

Yet of the seven coaches who have departed the Buffalo Bills since Wade Phillips was fired after the 2000 season, only two now have head coaching jobs. And both quit the Bills after just two seasons  – Mike Mularkey after the 2005 season and Doug Marrone after the 2014 season.

The two men will face each other as head coaches for the first time Sunday since they both quit Buffalo when the Jacksonville Jaguars host the Tennessee Titans.

Another interesting twist to this saga is that Mularkey, the Titans coach, was fired by the Jaguars after one season in 2012.

And even though it’s only the second game of the season, it’s an important game for both teams — the winner could be in good position to win the AFC South.

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