Just like that, two weeks have come and gone in the NFL. It still feels a bit surreal with no real lead-up hype heading into the season. The uniqueness of this season (limited to no fans, no preseason, etc) has made grading NFL teams over their first two games all the more complicated.
Additionally, it makes forecasting more complicated as well. Nonetheless, each week we learn more about these teams. By week four we should have a bit more predictability and identity with teams across the league. After all, four games was the norm in the preseason. Here is what we learned from the week 2 action.
Cam Newton Is Healthy And For Real
Starting off with the final game of the Sunday slate, the New England Patriots lost to the Seattle Seahawks in a thrilling 35-30 contest. There is no doubt that Russell Wilson is a player who’s in form right now, and will be surging into the MVP conversation. On the flip side, there were a lot of question marks about Cam Newton heading into the season. New team, new coach and a new culture, all in addition to coming off two major injuries. He looked good in a grind-it-out home game verses the Dolphins in week 1, but how would he fare against one of the NFL elite teams on the road in prime time?
Three touchdowns on 397 passing yards and 45 rushing yards later, Cam Newton answered a lot of questions. His Patriots were trailing 35-23 with just over 4 minutes left in the game. With just two seconds left, Cam had his team on the Seahawks 1 yard line with a chance to win the game. Ironically, like the last time these two teams met in the Super Bowl, the game came down to a final play at the goaline. But this time it was Seattle that came up with the big stop.
Seattle may have won the game, but Cam has won over his teammates, and fan base. He made big throws down the stretch with zip and accuracy in addition to looking very poised in the pocket. He’s made replacing Tom Brady look pretty easy so far. If Cam stays healthy this year (that’s the big IF), he and the Patriots are for real.
The San Francisco 49ers Are In Trouble
Trouble after two weeks? Yes. The 49ers may have beaten the New York Jets this weekend, but their issues came in the injury department. Beating the Jets is no real accomplishment, they look like the worst team in football. Entering Sunday already without George Kittle, Richard Sherman and Deebo Samuel, the Niners watched as defensive end Nick Bosa, quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, running backs Raheem Mostert and Tevin Coleman and defensive tackle Solomon Thomas all suffered game-leaving lower body injuries.
Bosa is feared to be out for the season, as is Thomas. Mostert has an MCL sprain, which usually means a few weeks, and Jimmy G has a high ankle sprain, which is a very tricky injury. Tallying things, the 49ers are down three of their best defensive players and four of their best offensive players and it’s not even October. Coming off a Super Bowl loss seems to be the worst omen in football, and that bad luck has already begun for the 49ers. Coach Shanahan and the staff will keep them competitive. However, in a division that looks even stronger this year, 49er injuries could move them from last year’s first to this year’s worst.
Aaron Rodgers Is On A Revenge Tour
In two games, the Green Bay Packers have put up 85 points in route to a 2-0 start. After falling behind early, Green Bay demolished the Detroit Lions 42-21 on Sunday at Lambeau Field. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers looks like his old, unstoppable self again. After last season, despite making it to the NFC Championship game, people were writing him off. Then the Packers went and drafted his future replacement, Jordan Love, in the 1st round. No problem, for Aaron, he is there to silence critics. With six touchdowns and no interceptions through the first two games, Rodgers and the Pack look ready to finish what they couldn’t last year in the NFC.
The NFC East Still Stinks
Last season we covered how far this division has fallen, and after two weeks this year, things aren’t looking any brighter for what was once the premier division in football. Carson Wentz and the Eagles look horrible, falling to 0-2 after losing their home opener to the Rams by two scores. The Eagles were beaten last week by the Washington Football Team, who were crushed this weekend by Kyler Murray and the Arizona Cardinals.
The New York Giants are 0-2 (no surprise) despite having a late opportunity to steal the game against the Chicago Bears. They lost star running back Saquon Barkley for the season with a tragic ACL injury.
The Dallas Cowboys may have pulled the comeback of the season with a late touchdown, onside kick recovery and game winning field goal, all after trailing the Atlanta Falcons by 20 points in this game. They move to 1-1 on the season, but other than the remarkable comeback, they have looked underwhelming in their first two games. This division is still bad until further notice, with the Cowboys being the best of the worst.
October 25th 2020, Circle The Date
The Pittsburgh Steelers are officially back even with a little limp to the finish line on Sunday against the Denver Broncos. They moved to 2-0 on the season with the win. The Steelers boast one of the best defenses in the NFL, and with Big Ben back, their offense is slowly rounding into Super Bowl contention form. Last year the Baltimore Ravens ran away with the normally competitive AFC North division title. This year, their rivalry with the Steelers is renewed. Though the Ravens have not missed a beat from last season, the Steelers have the kind of team that can compete with them. October 25th is when they meet for the first of two games this season. It’s a can’t miss game.
Last week in the NFL there were no positive tests for COVID-19. How about that?! Thought to be an issue that could derail the season, with there being no bubble and even fans in the stands in certain markets, the NFL got through COVID clean week two. That is great news for the league early on in the season.