Another explosive NFL week is soon to be under wraps, with one game left to be played between the Cleveland Browns and the New York Jets on Monday Night Football. Explosive offenses have been the story of the NFL year. Most teams displayed a very efficient performance on this side of the ball, while others impressed by their ability to keep a balance on all aspects of the game on their way to a hard fought victory.
The two standout teams of the week were the two best teams of last year: the New England Patriots and the Kansas City Chiefs. Both dominated their opponents to a beating pulp. The Patriots produced a shutout with the help of both offense and defense in what was one of the most dominating victories in the Bill Belichick-Tom Brady era, beating the Dolphins 43–0. Their defense held their offense to less than 200 yards and snagged four interceptions along the game; two were returned for touchdowns. The Chiefs dominated the Raiders with a 28-point second quarter. These were their only points they scored on the game, but it was enough to secure the victory. Patrick Mahomes, the Chiefs’ starting quarterback, has continued with his outstanding performance going over from last year. He is an early MVP candidate once more, and there’s a strong chance he will remain so for the rest of the year.
It’s too early to say that both the Chiefs and the Patriots are on a collision course once more. They play each other late into the year, on December 8th, so there’s plenty of football left to be played and more stories to squeeze out of this developing rivalry. Pundits and personalities have already buzzed about the matchup, and I suppose that I join in their ranks by speaking so fondly of both teams, but the eyes don’t lie. Both teams are looking very poised and efficient. The Chiefs have the worst defense of the two, but their offense is a problem for any defense, including the Patriots’.
These are the only two teams with any legitimate traction in the AFC. Every other team in the conference doesn’t even come close to matching their product on the field. The Steelers have taken a step back with another loss to the Seahawks, and the injury to Roethlisberger might loom large on the team’s upcoming opponents. The Chargers have made too many mistakes over the course of these two games; it almost costed them the game last week and it cost them the game this week. The Colts rebounded from last week’s loss but their offense is not efficient enough to keep up with most teams and their defense, while formidable, don’t stand a chance to the Chiefs or Patriots’ offensive attack. The Texans look the same way they always look: good with a chance to be better but never do. The Ravens have impressed many with their performance the first two weeks of the season. They have a tough matchup ahead vs. the Chiefs next week. It’s possible that they may very well shock the NFL world with an upset against them, and they almost did last season. This may be their best chance to make a statement.
The NFC, as it has historically have throughout the years, is loaded with excellent teams. The Cowboys are the team that have impressed me the most. Both their victories were in convincing fashion. Prescott is my early MVP favorite. This is by far the best two-game stretch of his career. There are clear improvements in his accuracy and progressions. He seems more comfortable in the pocket. The 49ers, Rams, and Seahawks have all started 2–0. All three looked very impressive against their opponents. Jimmy Garoppolo showed signs of improvement in his performance. I’m unsure where the 49ers will end up in the season. Their divisional matchups will be important in determining their seasonal outcome. The Packers impress once more with their defense and their offense has continued to struggle.
The final matchup of the day was between the Atlanta Falcons and the Philadelphia Eagles. The Falcons impressed me with their comeback victory and ability to overcome mistakes. Both teams looked very impressive, and the game itself felt like a division rivalry over the intensity of the hits and moments. Matt Ryan looked sloppy at times as he thew three picks in the game, but he made the right decisions when it mattered most. The Eagles will rebound from this loss. They made a key mistake on defense late in the game that resulted in a 54 yard run by Julio Jones and suffered many injuries during the course of play. Some will be back soon, some might take a while. I don’t expect them to miss a beat. They will be in close games with many of their opponents. I don’t know what to expect from the Falcons going forward. Their opening performance was pedestrian and despite the victory this week they still feel very inconsistent. However, seeing how the Saints looked this week gives me a good feeling that they might have a shot at the division title, especially after it has been revealed that the injury to Drew Brees will sideline him for six weeks.
The season is still young. Teams that are hot can struggle in later games, and teams that are cold might catch fire. The ones in between always end up either out of the playoffs by week 10 or in competition for a wild-card spot. Out of all the teams that have started the season 0–2, the Steelers have the best shot at rebounding; the Panthers would be my wild pick to rebound, but I’m not too confident with the prognosis. To sum up: everyone but the Chiefs and Patriots are playing for second place. I don’t see that changing anytime soon.