10 Things I Learned in Week Two

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1- The Cardinals are not as good as I thought they were going to be. 

A week after getting waxed by Detroit, Arizona went to Indianapolis and barely escaped with a 16-13 overtime win. Carson Palmer was sacked four times in another uneven performance and Arizona averaged 3.3 yards-per-carry in it’s first game without David Johnson. The Colts were the NFL’s worst team in week-one and still ooze 3-13, but somehow managed to take the Cardinals to the brink of 0-2 on Sunday. Maybe the Cardinals just aren’t that good?

2- The Bucs didn’t suffer from rust after not playing last week. 

Tampa Bay’s season debut was worth waiting for. Sure, the Bears are a punching-bag opponent and they were bound to beat Chicago. But Sunday’s win came with some style points. Jameis Winston targeted Mike Evans (7 for 93 and 1) and DeSean Jackson (3 for 39) 16 times while throwing for 204-yards on a day when the Bucs operated a run-first offense. Tampa Bay scored on an interception return and added a pair of fumble recovers in the dominating 22-point blowout.

3- Kareem Hunt is the truth. 

It’s one thing to shred a bad Patriots defense when they don’t know what’s coming. It’s another to thrive against a revamped Philadelphia front that spends a week preparing for what you’ve already put on film. Hunt got better as the game wore on, racking up 81 yards and two-touchdowns in the Chiefs’ 27-20 win over the Eagles. Alex Smith continued to look like the perfect operator of Andy Reid’s offense, protecting the football in a 251-yard showing. Kansas City is a good-looking 2-0.

4- The Saints defense is the worst in football.

Tom Brady was running a 7-on-7 drill in New Orleans on Sunday. Six days after Sam Bradford made the Saints look like a directional-Michigan collegiate program, Brady sliced-and-diced his way to 447 yards and three touchdowns. The Patriots also ran the ball 31 times for 119 yards, mostly while salting the game away, responding from an uncharacteristically disappointing week-one showing. Rob Gronkowski caught a 53-yard touchdown that helped New England stockpile 555-yards.

5- The Jaguars are who we thought they were.

A week ago Jacksonville sacked the Texans 10 times and rode a suffocating defensive showing to mid-week headlines crowning them as a possible surprise playoff contender. Settle down. This team is not as good as it looked in week-one. Leonard Fournette averaged under three yards-per-carry and Blake Bortles was intercepted twice in a stinker of an offensive showing against the Tennessee Titans. The Jacksonville defense everybody was praising had just one sack and yielded 390 yards in a 37-16 loss.

6- Sam Bradford has the worst luck. 

Six days ago he lit up the Saints in one of the best individual performances of the season-opening weekend. Sunday he wasn’t able to play because of a knee injury that kept him from taking the field against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Bradford’s career has largely been disappointing, considering that he was selected with the first overall pick and he’s never had a signature season or posted elite numbers. He finally looked like he was putting it all together last weekend and then he was nowhere to be found as the Steelers routed the Vikings 26-9.

7- Russell Wilson and the Seahawks offense aren’t what they used to be.

Perhaps it’s the offensive line? Maybe it’s the sub-par running game? Maybe it’s just that Wilson isn’t making as many plays as he used to? Whatever the cause, Seattle’s offense is anemic. The 312 yards, one touchdown, 12-9 win was every bit as ugly as it reads in the box score. Seattle is now averaging 11 points through two games. The Seahawks are lucky to be 1-1.

8- The Broncos look like a playoff team in the stacked AFC West

We knew Denver was going to play good defense. But what about if they supplement that defense with strong quarterback play from Trevor Siemian and an efficient running game led by CJ Anderson. Siemian threw four touchdown passes and Anderson rushed for 118 yards in a 42-17 beatdown of the Cowboys. More impressive, Denver held Ezekiel Elliott to eight-yards on nine-carries and intercepted Dak Prescott twice. Dallas looked like a shell of itself.

9- The Raiders are picking up where they left off.

The Raiders were on their way to a division title and a bye in the playoffs before Derek Carr got hurt last December. He’s back and so are their winning ways. Carr threw 3 touchdowns in a turnover-free performance against an out-classed Jets team. The 45-20 game wasn’t all that revealing because we already knew the Jets weren’t good and the Raiders were, but the fact that Carr and Oakland’s offense has goten right back to where it was before his injury last season is scary for the rest of the AFC.

10- The Falcons are not ready to take a step back.

So much for a Super Bowl hangover. Atlanta survived a scare from Chicago last week, then played an inspired first half to jump all-over the Packers in the first game in it’s new stadium in week-two. Aaron Rodgers and the Packers bounced back to make the game moderately competitive but the Falcons dominated the competitive portion of the contest. Green Bay was 1-0 and is a common pick to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl so that’s a quality win for 2-0 Atlanta.

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Grant Paulsen

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