By Josh Hatt
Injuries are a part of life in the NFL, but this week seemed particularly brutal, with many top players side-lined, some for a long time. San Francisco were hit particularly hard, as they lost star defender Nick Bosa for the remainder of the season with a torn ACL, QB Jimmy Garoppolo suffered an ankle injury, and RB Raheem Mostert suffered a knee injury. TE George Kittle was injured in week 1, and whilst the 49ers still managed to beat the hapless Jets, losing this many key pieces could be a severe blow to their chances of reaching the Superbowl again. The New York Giants lost RB Saquon Barkley for the year with a torn ACL, and WR Sterling Shepard also left their loss to Chicago with an injury. The Broncos injury woes also continued, as they lost QB Drew Lock for 2-6 weeks with a shoulder injury and WR Courtland Sutton tore his ACL. Denver had already lost star DE Von Miller for the year in preseason, and at 0-2 face a tough season ahead.
Herbert Impresses as Chargers go toe to toe with the Defending Champs
Justin Herbert wasn’t even supposed to start for the LA Chargers this week, but a pre-game injury to Tyrod Taylor forced the rookie into the line-up for his first NFL start, against the defending champion Chiefs no less. But the rookie impressed, running for a touchdown on his first drive and throwing for another. He even had the chance to win the game in overtime but was unable to drive the ball down the field, and the Chiefs promptly took advantage, winning the game with a field goal. Despite the loss, the Chargers can take heart in the fact that their defence contained the Chiefs potent offence for much of the game, and that they may have found their Franchise QB of the future. But it’s the Chiefs who are the team to beat in the present.
Big Comeback in Big D
The Dallas Cowboys lost their opening game to the LA Rams, and were staring down the barrel of an 0-2 start when they went behind big against the Atlanta Falcons. Trailing 20-0 after the first quarter, and down by 15 points with less than six minutes left, the Cowboys engineered a stunning comeback to win 40-39. Kicker Greg Zuerlein was the hero, producing an excellent onside kick that was recovered by his own team (something that rarely happens), and then nailing the game winning field goal to send 20,000 socially distanced Cowboys fans wild. To put into context how bad a loss this was for Atlanta, no team since 1933 has lost a game where they scored 39 points and didn’t turn the ball over. Until the Falcons did it on Sunday. But then again this isn’t the first time the Falcons have surrendered a massive lead (they blew a 28-3 lead in Superbowl LI).
NFC West = NFL Best?
The NFC West looks like the toughest division in the NFL right now, with all 4 teams off to strong starts. The Seattle Seahawks won a thriller on Sunday Night against the Patriots, stopping Cam Newton short of the goal line as time expired. Russell Wilson threw 5 touchdowns and once again demonstrated why he is one of the best QB’s in the league. And Jamal Adams adds a fearsome component to an already tough defence. The 49ers have had some terrible injury luck so far, but still managed to beat up on the lowly Jets, and will hope to get at least some of their key players back soon. The LA Rams are off to a great start, beating the Cowboys and the Philadelphia Eagles. Their offence seems to be much improved from last year, and the Rams will look to make it back to the Superbowl as they did two seasons ago. But the surprise package of the season may yet be the Arizona Cardinals, who beat the 49ers away from home in week 1, and dismantled Washington in week 2. DeAndre Hopkins is certainly making his presence felt in the desert, catching 22 passes for 219 yards and a touchdown through his first two games for the Cards. And Kyler Murray is establishing himself as a real threat at Quarterback, with both his arms and legs. Murray is second in the NFL in rushing TD’s with 3, including a couple in week 2.
Other talking points from week 2:
Tom Brady got his first win as a Tampa Bay Buccaneer, and Leonard Fournette ran for over 100 yards to help the Bucs beat Carolina.
The Green Bay Packers offence is off to a great start, scoring 95 points through two games against two division rivals. Aaron Jones ran for a whopping 168 yards against Detroit. It looks to be Green Bay’s division to lose, after Minnesota has made a disappointing 0-2 start.
Speaking of Detroit, head coach Matt Patricia may be the first coach to lose his job after the Lions started 0-2. Patricia was heralded as a defensive genius when he first arrived in the Motor City, but that simply hasn’t materialised, as the Lions were decimated by the Packers, and collapsed late against Chicago in week 1.
Another early coaching casualty may be New York Jets coach Adam Gase. The Jets have looked putrid in all departments so far, losing heavily to Buffalo and San Francisco. Gase was once touted as a “quarterback whisperer” for his work with Peyton Manning in Denver, but the fact that Ryan Tannehill has improved massively since leaving Gase’s previous team Miami, and the struggles of the Jets third year signal caller Sam Darnold suggest this reputation was undeserved.. This was a hire that was much maligned when it was made after Gase failed with the Dolphins, and the critics have been proven right. The sooner the Jets move on from Gase the better.
The Ravens are 2-0, and face a mouth-watering clash with Kansas City next week in what could be a preview of the AFC Championship Game.
Josh Allen threw for 417 yards and 4 touchdowns as the Bills bested Miami. Buffalo is 2-0 and atop the AFC East, and will look to keep the Patriots at bay and establish themselves as Superbowl contenders.
The Las Vegas Raiders christened their mew stadium with an impressive win over the New Orleans Saints, who committed 10 penalties for 129 yards.