Week 2 of the NFL season featured another superb weekend of professional football. Not only were there some excellent games to watch, but just like in Week 1, there was some surprise winners as well. Here’s my take.
New Orleans at Cleveland
Like I said last week, I had New Orleans as my second best team in the NFC. Through two games, Sean Payton and the Saints have to be the most disappointing team in the NFL. Who would have thought a month ago that the Saints would get off to a 0-2 start?
New Orleans isn’t playing inspired football right now. They have four turnovers in two games and the defense can’t stop anyone. They gave up 568 yards to Atlanta last week and then surrendered another 324 to a young, undermanned Cleveland squad on Sunday.
Credit has to go to the Browns. While they are undermanned, they are well coached, play hard and don’t make mistakes. Brian Hoyer, who has to play well or he loses his job to Johnny Football, led the Browns on a 14-play, 85-yard drive to set up the winning field goal. During the drive, Hoyer completed 8 of 11 passes for 78 yards and was very poised.
What makes Cleveland’s play even more impressive is they are doing it with a bunch of no-names. The only receiver Sunday with top NFL production was Dallas castoff Miles Austin. Future opponents better take notice: Playing the Browns is no longer an easy W.
Detroit at Carolina
Maybe it’s because I worked for the Bears for so long, but I have never been a big Detroit Lions fan. While many in the media heap a lot of praise on quarterback Matthew Stafford, I feel he is overrated. I do believe that Stafford is extremely talented, but he never turns that talent into victories. Something is missing.
ICONStafford has few, if any, marquee wins on his resume.
Going back to when he was in college at Georgia, Stafford has never been able to win the big games. With great talent surrounding him, he never won an SEC Championship. Since Stafford has been the Lions quarterback, Detroit has gotten to the playoffs only one time.
While the Lions as a whole are very talented, this is also an undisciplined team that doesn’t know how to win. Many thought bringing in a new head coach would change things, but it hasn’t. While the Lions dominated a poor New York Giants team last week, they looked ordinary against Carolina on Sunday.
The Panthers, on the other hand, are one of the best-coached teams in the NFL. Since the beginning of the 2013 season, Ron Rivera has proven to be one of the top coaches in the league. The Panthers don’t have the best personnel in the league, but they may play the hardest. They have overcome severe salary cap problems that have left them a bit short handed this year, yet they are still 2-0 to commence the campaign. They won their opener on the road with a backup quarterback and then with Cam Newton back under center on Sunday dominated the Lions. The Panthers may well be on their way to their second straight NFC South title.
New York Jets at Green Bay
If you watched this matchup, you really saw two games. Five minutes into the second quarter the Jets held a 21-3 lead and were dominating. The problem for the Jets was that they were playing a team quarterbacked by Aaron Rodgers. Rodgers just may be the best quarterback in the NFL right now and anytime he plays, Green Bay has a chance.
In saying that, this Green Bay team has some problems. They have not run the ball well in the first two games and have trouble protecting Rodgers. Through two outings, Rodgers has been sacked seven times and pressured a number of other times.
The offensive line was down two starters on Sunday and though left tackle Bryan Bulaga won’t be out that long, his durability has become a big question mark.
The other thing that has become apparent is the Packers defense is not as solid as it used to be. They are giving up too many big plays and the pass rush is inconsistent.
As I said about Detroit, the Jets are an undisciplined team. They were in control of this game and let it get away. They had seven penalties in the game and only put up three points in the second half.
On a play that looked like the tying score, offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg inadvertently called timeout from the sideline. The ill-called timeout wiped out a Geno Smith touchdown pass that would have tied the game. Up next for the Jets is a home game against the Bears on Monday Night Football.
Chicago at San Francisco
With the way the Bears played against the Bills in Week 1, this game was supposed to be an easy win to celebrate the opening of the 49ers’ new stadium. The game started of like it would be an easy win. Chicago’s special teams had miscues on the opening kickoff and the punt that followed giving San Francisco an easy early score.
US PRESSWIREMarshall and the Bears rallied for a huge win on Sunday night.
The 49ers then jumped out to a 17-0 lead before the Bears came to life. Part of the turnaround should be credited to a Chicago team that forced four San Francisco turnovers while not turning the ball over themselves. Two of those turnovers came in the second quarter. A late second quarter 80-yard, 7-play scoring drive got the Bears back in the game trailing 17-7 at the half.
San Francisco opened the second half with a nine-minute drive, but only came away with three points from it. After that it was all Bears. The defense forced two more turnovers and Jay Cuter threw three second half touchdown passes to give Chicago a 28-20 win.
It was a costly win for the Bears, who went into the game short-handed because of injuries in the opener. Chicago lost starting corner Charles Tillman for the season with a triceps tear. In addition, starting safety Chris Conte left the game with a shoulder injury, but early reports indicate it’s just a sprain and he may be ready for the Jets in Week 3.
If the Bears had lost this game and started 0-2, it would have been difficult for Chicago to get back into the NFC North race. The win ties them with the other three teams in the division at 1-1. The team that performs the best in divisional play will end up winning the NFC North.
Follow Greg on Twitter: @greggabe