Week 2 Recaps and Team Scopes
(Rating / Weekly Performance / Position)
Ravens 23 @ Bengals 34
Game Notes: Ravens came out extremely flat and in a general malaise. Clearly bothered by the short week. Cincinnati embraced the stage of a prime time, divisional home game. Two very evenly matched teams, this fast start was the difference. Baltimore had their chances but couldn’t execute.
Baltimore: (B-/C/2) Once again, the offense struggled to create an identity. Lamar Jackson sub package seems to be bothering Flacco. Extremely thin in the secondary outside of Humphrey.
Cincinnati: (B-/B+/3) Making the plays needed to win. I tend to think they are on the good side of variance right now, because such a drastic change is hard to take at face value seeing as the head coach and general cast of characters has remained in-tact. Insane depth at defensive end proved useful as the pass rushers began to tire midway thru the second half.
Panthers 24 @ Falcons 31
Game Notes: Self-inflicted errors lead to poor game script in general for Carolina. Once their defense began to tire, they had no answer for Atlanta’s multiple offensive threats.
Atlanta: (B-/B/3) Offense is tough to handle if they can stay on script, but struggling mightily to get the ball down field. Defensively they lack physicality and are extremely thin.
Carolina: (B-/C+/3) Struggle defensively when it comes to matching up with skilled receivers. When they play zone, they get shredded but are formidable against the run. They are a team who needs to play from ahead so they can put offenses in more predictable run/pass predicaments. Cam looks really good. Sloppy mental errors / penalties may limit their ceiling, reflection of the head coach.
Chargers 31 @ Bills 20
Game Notes: Chargers optimal start. Bills got it to 28-13 and driving deep in Chargers territory but threw a bad pick. This game was 28-3, but was 100% still in doubt at various points in the second half. Chargers hung on more than anything.
Chargers: (B-/C+/2) Can be effective in positive game flows due to an extremely lethal play action game. Struggling up front without Bosa. Lack of intensity for 60 minutes. Did their best to allow a bad Buffalo team back into the game. Talent carried them.
Buffalo: (D/C-/3) obviously extremely limited offensively. Impressed by their effort on both sides of the ball, seem to have some good leadership. They’ll steal a home game or two once they can expand the offense a little bit. Probably going to be a slow process as he’s super raw, but I think the kid may be ok.
Vikings 20 @ Packers 20
Game Notes: Midway thru 3rd, GB in total control with the ball up 10. Vikings have seemed disinterested to this point. Hold took away Jimmy Graham TD to go up 24-7. Vikings then hit some chunk plays in the pass game, and bent but didn’t break. GB offense nuk between the 20s, but could struggle in the red-zone when teams can play 2-high and bracket the slots.
Vikings: (B-/C+/2) Strength of their team is transitioning to their offense. Nice play design. Defensively their pass rush is explosive, but inconsistent. They don’t tackle well on the perimeter. They have too many guys with specific skill sets defensively, not versatile enough. In general I think they are poorly managed. They will still be a force at home, but ineffective on the road especially against top-tier offenses.
Packers: (B/B-/3) Trouble executing in the red zone offensively. Average up front offensive line. Enough good players on defensive side of the ball to play well against average offenses, but will struggle to defend the top tier due to lack of conventional pass rush, and no lockdown corner.
Browns 18 @ Saints 21
Game Notes: Cleveland consistently won 1st down defensively (controlled the LOS). Put the saints in a lot of 2nd and long high variance spots, and their execution faltered compared to week 1, and turnovers once again reared their ugly head. At 12-3 with 11 mins to go, saints got a gift illegal contact to extend a drive that ended on a TD. Without this play, and 4 missed kicks from Cleveland, they lose this game. Extremely fortunate.
Browns: (C-/C/2) Not everyone is giving equal effort. Played 1,000x better up front this week on the defensive side of the ball. No identity on the offensive side of the ball, I think it will become
Baker’s team sooner than later. As a team they do not handle adversity well, and play poor complimentary football.
Saints: (B+/C/3) Major focus issues, WR fumbles are killing them. Unable to run the ball against any less-than-favorable run looks. Defense stood up in some big spots just to allow them the chance of stealing it. This is a game they lose vs anyone but Cleveland.
Dolphins 20 @ Jets 12
Game Notes: Miami won some key battles early to take over field position. They were extremely opportunistic on Jets turnovers, and the jets failed to convert on Miami turnovers. Miami played winning football for 29 minutes in the 1st half. A distinct drop-off in intensity let the Jets back into the game, but they did not make enough plays. Dolphins put the game away with impressive drive to run out the clock.
Dolphins: (B/B+/5) Very stout defensive effort on all 3 levels. Very opportunistic, converting both 1st half turnovers to touchdown. Great job of staying ahead of the chains. Elite complimentary football. Well coached, aren’t going to beat themselves long-term. They made enough mistakes in the second half that there will be some good coaching points going forward, a little alarmed about a drop off in intensity in the 2nd half. I’m sure it will get preached to finish.
Jets: (C+/C+/3) Stood tall defensively on some big 3rd downs early on to keep it at 1 score. Timely pass rush. Youthful errors offensively and sporadic in pass-protection. Drops are a major issue. They are a gritty group and fought their asses off to get back into the game. Seems like they will be a Jekyll and Hyde team with a relatively high ceiling and low floor.
Chiefs 42 @ Steelers 37
Game Notes: Pitt got behind the chains on their first drive, allowed a flukey punt return into their red zone, and KC converted. Up-hill battle from this point on, crowd totally out of it. Major momentum edge to KC. Repeat of the first sequence, little resistance from Pitt’s secondary. 14-0 KC. Fortunate defensive holding call away from it being 28-0 on strip-sack scoop & score. Pitt able to punch it in, get a lucky sack for a 3 and out, and punch it in yet again. 21-14. Looks like whoever can string together a stop or two will win.
Chiefs: (B/B/1) Lack of a pass rush is hanging the secondary out to dry. They are forced to hold as plays are getting extended obscenely long. Certainly dynamic in the passing game, but haven’t shown the ability to run the football against less than favorable looks. Looks like press-man with a spy may be the way to best slow down KC, force them to run the ball and emphasize maintaining lanes in pass rush to contain Mahomes.
Steelers: (B+/C-/4) Neither covering nor tackling a soul in the secondary. Experimented with some desperate zone blitz packages to open the second half with no success. Getting a decent enough pass rush, just unable to look-up the routes in zone coverage. They finally switch to press-man and do a better job in coverage, but they bust consecutively in contain. Teams with elite passing games will be their kryptonite, but should hold up ok against running teams. Offensively, AB’s body language and attitude is creating evident tension. Must get that corrected or they’ll be better off without him. Poor special teams
Eagles 21 @ Bucs 27
Game Notes: Major coverage bust on 1st play of the game lead to 75yd TD D-Jax on 1st play from scrimmage. Questionable illegal block called de-railed promising eagles attempted game-tying drive. Eagles grinded through a bunch of slop to finally get the game tied with 5 mins left in the 2nd, and the next play from scrimmage missed tackles lead to OJ Howard’s 80yd TD. Eagles looked like they may get some points on the board before the half, but missed 42yd fg. At this point, it seems like a game the Eagles are not winning. Too many unforced errors to overcome on the road. Brutal spot on 4th down play to start the second half, Bucs turn it into 6, and now it really appears the Eagles are drawing dead. Eagles show some life on offense and score late 3rd to get it back within 2 scores. They then fail to get off the field on a critical 3rd down to open the 4th, and anything from this point on is going to be too little too late.
Eagles: (A-/D+/4) total control of the defensive line of scrimmage, struggling to hold up on the back end due to nonchalant technique. Seem to have a lack of intensity in general on the defensive side of the ball. Offensively they are getting killed by penalties and drops. Offensive line playing extremely poorly.
Bucs: (C+/B/2) Fitz playing with lots of confidence. They have enough weapons to make you pay if you are not focused. Playing winning football, but they are maxing out their potential for sure. Nothing special defensively, getting thin in the secondary.
Texans 17 @ Titans 20
Game Notes: Houston defense off to a nice start on opening drive, but 70 yd fake punt touchdown completely changed the feeling of the game. At 14-0, Houston scored off a broken play just before half. With 13:00 to go in the 4th, they hit a big one to Fuller to take a 17-14 lead. At this point Houston HAS to win this game considering the lack of explosion Tennessee has shown on offense. Titans game tying drive sparked by taunting penalty on Houston’s bench. Houston had a very poor sequence on the outskirts of field goal range, followed by a poor punt. Tennessee able to nickel and dime their way into FG range to win it. Tennessee played winning football and Houston did not. Neither team has much of a celling, but I like the effort from the Titans.
Texans: (C/D/2) Noticeable that Watson is looking at the pass rush rather than trusting the protection and looking downfield. Can still deliver the ball on time and with accuracy as long as it’s his 1st read. Majority of Houston’s chunk plays are coming off broken scrambles. They have the ability to run the football, but lack crispness in the passing game. Defensively, they greatly miss Clowney’s athleticism.
Titans: (C/A-/4) Impressed with Vrabel’s feel of the game, aggression, and creativity. Seems to have a good grasp on who they are. Vulnerable defensively between the 20s. Offensively they desperately need Mariota back and healthy. Poor man’s dolphins.
Colts 21 @ Redskins 9
Game Notes: Text book, methodical opening TD drive from the Colts. Colts were able to get 2 stops on 3rd and manageable around mid-field which were key to not letting the Redskins offense get going. They then converted a huge 3rd and 12 from their own 1-yard line as Redskins crowd was really rocking. This final play of the 1st quarter seems to be a major indicator that upset alert is in full swing. Batted ball ended up in a pick in the green zone, or the colts likely would have gone up 2 scores. Skins had to climb up hill the entire game, and this is a position they are not comfortable with. Colts defense was just too good.
Colts: (B/A/5) Luck is scary good. They are playing really well on both lines. Good situational defense. If they can continue to win 3rd down defensively, this team can win a lot of football games. When you lose the turnover battle and still win comfortably on the road in the NFL, it’s a great sign of your room for growth. This team is real.
Redskins: (C+/C/3) Struggling mightily on 3rd down offensively. Tough to get any momentum against such an efficient opponent. They need to consistently win more individual battles offensively. This type of game script will be extremely problematic for them all year. Must play from ahead or at least within a score.
Cardinals 0 @ Rams 34
Game Notes: Scoreless 1st quarter. Rams controlling field position, a theme that carried through the entire game due to Arizona’s inability to move the chains, and LA’s chunk plays. Rams have a few nice splash plays and convert on some short fields to build a 3 score lead. By the middle of the 3rd, Arizona’s D is gassed and the game is basically over.
Cardinals: (D+/D+/3) Stout run defense and overall solid D-line play. Evident that they lack perimeter weapons. They are seeing Seals-Jones as their best option vs man coverage. Offense lacks explosiveness in all phases, pass protection hasn’t been great. Penalties are killing them, any time they get off script offensively, it’s over.
Rams: (A-/B/3) Moving the ball well despite the inability to control the line of scrimmage. Extremely multiple and creative offensively. Defense not overly flashy, still building an identity, but fundamentality sound.
Lions 27 @ 49ers 30
Game Notes: 13-10 SF at half. Lions are controlling both lines of scrimmage. 49ers rode some early energy to their touchdown drive, game seems completely in the balance. SF started second half with huge kickoff return to wake everyone up, subsequently punched it in to go up 2 scores. At this point in the game, SF D needs to smell blood in the water and get a stop to backup that TD. They fail to do so… getting abused at the point of attack, penalties derail the drive and Detroit settles for 3. A couple inaccurate throws and inopportune drops stalled Detroit’s attempted game-tying drive and SF made a big play in the running game to go up 3 scores. A very soft 3-score lead, SF hasn’t dominated, just made a handful of big plays. Detroit had a game-winning pick 6 taken away by a questionable defensive hold.
Lions: (B-/B-/4) A much more professional effort. Still not firing on all cylinders offensively, but the potential is there. Quietly one of the best receiving corps in football. Defensively, they need to be more sound in the run game and force people to go the length of the field.
49ers: (C+/C-/2) Very disappointing effort. If they can’t run the ball at a high level, the entire offense will suffer. They are average in pass-pro and lack serious offensive weapons on the perimeter. Defense took a major step backwards as well.
Raiders 19 @ Broncos 20
Game Notes: 12-0 Raiders at the half. Oakland has been efficient on offense and not allowed Denver to pin their ears back in 3rd and long more than once or twice. Denver struggling to find offensive rhythm, but doing a decent enough job up front. Denver opened the second half with a nice drive. It stalled in the red-zone, however, but raiders bailed them out with an unsportsmanlike. Denver cashed in for 6, the game has an entirely different feel already. In spite of the change in momentum, Oakland answers with a TD drive of their own. After Denver came back with 3, the play of the game takes place on and OAK 4th and 1 from the Denver 33, 13 mins to go 19-10. They go play action and the FB drops the ball in the flat. Oakland needed a first down on a 2nd & 4 situation to put the game on ice, they get an incredibly costly false start to change circumstances and put them behind the chains. The rest is history.
Raiders: (C/C+/3) Discipline is a major issue. Dink and dunk & ball control is a nice formula on the road, but at some point they need to find a way to stretch the field vertically. Giving their defense every opportunity to succeed by really dominating time of possession. Poor effort from the D to let Denver waltz down the field to open the second half.
Broncos: (B/B/4) Appear well coached, energetic, and it’s obvious how much the game means to them. Lacking some continuity offensively at times, but regrouped nicely. Line play is their strength on both sides of the ball, and they started to impose their will in this area in the second half. Struggling defensively with quick game. They only need to hunker down a handful of times on early downs to force opponents into 3rd and long so their pass rush can go to work.
Patriots 20 @ Jaguars 31
Game Notes: New England extremely flat, most notably on defense. 4:00pm start a little strange and not dealing well with Florida heat (they historically do not). This game clearly meant more to the Jags. 21-3 Jags at the half, getting ball to start 3rd. Never felt like New England was totally in gear.
Patriots: (A-/D+/3) Good opportunity to teach the importance of energy and focus. If you don’t come out ready to play, you’ll get your doors blown off. Searching a little bit on offense. Still left some plays on the table that may have changed the result. Secondary unable to hold up with an underrated group of wide-outs due to 0 pass rush.
Jaguars: (B+/A/2) Bortles displayed high level pocket presence. Controlling the line of scrimmage on the both sides of the ball. Didn’t learn as much from this game as some people did.
Giants 13 @ Cowboys 20
Game Notes: Dallas hit a big play to Austin to open up the scoring, and essentially went into shell mode because they had 0 respect for the Giants offense. 10-0 at half, not much happening. Key sequence was a 1st and goal from the 4 for NYG after they held up defensively on a nice Dallas drive. They rushed for a loss of 6 and parlayed it with a holding call. This kept the game at 2-scores and allowed Dallas to continue playing keep away ground and pound. Cowboys exchanged yardage for time on the other side of the ball and held on without being seriously threatened.
Giants: (C+/D+/3) Massive issues offensively. Lack confidence stemming from hideous offensive line play. Defense is good enough to win some games, but not to completely carry a team.
Cowboys: (B-/B-/3) Didn’t learn much about Dallas in this spot. They have an offensive style that works well with this game flow, and while they do have a very strong defense, at some point this year they are going to have to score.
Seattle 17 @ Chicago 24
Game Notes: Seattle hung on by a thread for the majority of the 1st half to not let this one get out of hand. Furious rally late snuffed out by a classic pick-6. Russ did his best but he went to the well one too many times. Not sure Schottenheimer is a strong fit for Russ’ skill set and for this offense in general. If the Bears didn’t hang on in this one, it would have been as brutal an 0-2 start as I’ve ever seen.
Seattle: (C/C/2) Defense still has enough playmakers to get stops, but not a complete enough package to carry the offense. Poor offensive line play continues to plague them, and they miss Baldwin desperately in the passing game.
Chicago: (C+/B/3) Chicago playing on energy and emotion defensively. Once their pass rushers get into game shape, they should have a pretty dominant unit. Offensively they are trying their best to form an identity, but I’m not sure they really believe in Trubisky. I know I don’t.