Week two is in the books, and while it wasn’t as wild as week one, some teams with playoff hopes are sitting at 0-2 and staring a dubious fact in the face: since 1990, only 31 of the 270 teams that have started 0-2 have made the playoffs. Last season, Cincinnati became the first team to start 0-2 and make it to the postseason since 2018. How concerned should these teams be? Let’s dive in to my NFL week two thoughts!
The Bengals, Chargers, and Vikings all made the playoffs last season, while the Broncos, and Bears were hoping to crash the party this year. They all stand at the dreaded 0-2 mark, with 0-3 a real possibility. I’ll touch on each of these teams later on here, but this is definitely not the start these teams were hoping for. Philly, San Fran, and Dallas are the cream of the crop in the NFC, to no ones surprise, but kudos to you if you thought Atlanta, Tampa Bay, and Washington would all be 2-0.
Cincinnati might be in trouble. The defense has not been good, struggling against the run, but the offense is one of the worst in the league through two games. Raise your hand if you hand that on your bingo card. Burrow missed time during the preseason due to a calf injury, and now there are reports that Burrow may have tweaked his calf. Depending on the severity of Burrow’s condition, the Bengals might opt to take the safe route with their superstar QB and sit him until he is 100%. What happened to Ja’Marr Chase?
As much as I liked the hire at the time, it is only a matter of time until the Chargers move on from Brandon Staley. He continues to make questionable decisions in-game, and the team keeps losing in weird/heartbreaking ways. The Chargers are the only team since 1966 to start the season 0-2 despite having zero turnovers and scoring over 50 points through two games – not the kind of stat you want to be associated with. Herbert has looked good so far, and yet the team struggled on third down and in the red zone in this one. Staley might be out sooner than later.
I need to get off the Denver Broncos bandwagon. I thought they were a quarterback away from being a contender; they got Russell Wilson, and the team somehow was worse. Then I was all-in on replacing the head coach, and in came Sean Payton. Yet here we are, and I’m questioning myself again. That’s back to back losses in games where Denver led at halftime. Wilson got sacked seven times behind a rebuilt offensive line that should be better after adding talent this off-season, and what should be a good defense let the Sam Howell led Commanders offense drop 32 points in the final three quarters. Yuck.
Minnesota has some real serious issues on both sides of the ball. They can’t stop the run, they can’t run the ball on offense, and they lead the league in turnovers. Gross. The Vikings averaging less than 35 yards per game on the ground is less than Sam Houston State averages…but they’re a college team, and rank 133rd in the nation…You’re not winning games if you can’t stop the run or run the ball efficiently. Giving up 259 yards on the ground, and committing four turnovers is unacceptable, and they play a Chargers team also on the brink at 0-2. Neither team wants to be the one who’s all but out of the playoff race after three weeks.
Through two games, Justin Fields looks worse than he did last season. The offensive line has given up 10 sacks (tied for second most in the league), the offensive play calling is awful, and Fields has not shown any progress as a passer. Oh, and the team has taken away the one thing Fields does better than almost any QB in the league: his rushing ability. They have to get DJ Moore more involved on offense – Moore getting nine targets through two games is absurd considering the price the Bears paid to acquire him. Chicago’s defense has been awful as well, ranking 29th in total defense and having only one sack as a team.
Dallas has been absolutely dominant thus far. They’re averaging over 35 points per game on offense, and have allowed only 10 points through two games. Running the ball (8th in the league in rushing offense) and leading the league in turnovers have been the recipe to their success, but I want to see more out of Dak Prescott. Dak has played mistake free football, which is what we needed to see this year, but the offense needs to score touchdowns instead of field goals. Also, Micah Parsons is arguably the best defensive player in the league.
There was a lot of talk about how much value the running back position has today, and what is considered “fair pay” for the position. So far, the argument for paying running backs has lost some footing. Several upper echelon ‘backs have already gone down with injuries, and other rushers expected to play big roles on their respective teams have struggled out the gate. Take a look at this list:
Jonathan Taylor, Colts – Missing the first four games due to injury; no idea when he will actually play this season (and for which team).
Austin Ekeler, Chargers – Suffered an ankle injury that forced him to miss week two; Staley said on Monday that there was “no timeline” on Ekeler’s return.
Nick Chubb, Browns – Exited Monday night’s game with a season ending knee injury to the same knee Chubb tore his MCL/PCL/LCL in college in 2015.
Saquan Barkley, Giants – Right ankle sprain sustained at the end of their week two game at Arizona; likely to miss a few games, although is currently a “game time decision” for Thursday night.
Aaron Jones, Packers – Didn’t play week two due to hamstring injury sustained in week one. Questionable to play in week three, but hamstring injuries tend to linger/get worse if not healed properly the first time the injury happens.
Jamaal Williams, Saints and David Montgomery, Lions – Not the biggest names, but both are key pieces on their respective teams. Both will likely be out for a few weeks with their injuries.
Slow starting stars: Derrick Henry, Tony Pollard, Josh Jacobs
Guys who were expected to be their team’s RB1, but are not performing like starters: Najee Harris, Travis Etienne, Joe Mixon, Kenneth Walker, Dameon Pierce, Rhamondre Stevenson, Rachaad White, Miles Sanders, Alexander Mattison, Dalvin Cook
Now, while I expect most of that list to get it together and produce at least close to expected, you know teams will keep an eye on how the position fares league wide throughout the season. Big names like Taylor, Ekeler, Jacobs, and Barkley will all want big contracts in free agency, but will there be teams lining up for their services if they have to pay these guys $12-15 million per year?
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