Plenty of games gave us surprises this week, as we found out a little more about each team. With a chance for the roster to gel and for the teams to face more competition to measure them against, a clear picture of the league has formulated. With that in mind, here are the top six takeaways from week two.
6: The Detroit Lions are the only pretender left. After playing two games, the Lions are the only team that have not shown us much of what kind of team they are yet. They beat the Arizona Cardinals soundly, but quarterback Carson Palmer more than willingly turned the ball over. They also won big against the New York Giants, who have a rickety, old fence of an offensive line with maybe the oldest looking quarterback in the league. The Lions have a solid front, and plenty of exciting young talent paired with a good quarterback. The Atlanta Falcons in week three are their first test of the 2017 season.
5: The AFC West will send three teams to the playoffs. The Denver Broncos, Kansas City Chiefs and Oakland Raiders will all be in the postseason. The Broncos defense, yet again, is good enough to ask the bare minimum from their quarterback Trevor Siemian. The Chiefs are playing the best version of their offense, more explosive than ever before and showing far more willingness to push the ball down the field. The Raiders have a shaky defense, but quarterback Derek Carr has looked great coming back from the broken leg and running back Marshawn Lynch is performing better than anticipated in an offense that is one of the NFL’s most lethal. These teams will all see postseason action.
4: Something is wrong with quarterback Cam Newton. Newton dominated the league in 2015 and won the MVP. Last season he took a step back, dealing with some nagging injuries along with injuries throughout his team. This year he has his full complement on offense plus some versatile new toys in running back Christian McCaffrey and wide receiver Curtis Samuel. But he has been off in two games, either with an undisclosed injury or if he is trying to change his game to a more pocket passing quarterback, either way he looks uncomfortable and the offense has been sluggish. Now tight end Greg Olson is out with a broken foot for at least 6-8 weeks, which may only compound the problems. Either way, the Carolina Panthers need 2015-Newton back.
3: The current Seattle Seahawks roster is set to struggle. Quarterback Russell Wilson has spent the vast majority of the first two games running for his life because of how bad the offensive line has been. They have no running game and against the San Francisco 49ers, they could barely move the ball. Despite how good the defense is, particularly the front seven, the offense needs linemen to help Wilson or the season may end up being a bust.
2: The Falcons are not on a Super Bowl hangover. The 2015 Seahawks had it, as did the 2016 Panthers. It is a very real thing, but the Falcons crushed the Green Bay Packers 34-16. The offense is humming, from the running backs, to the tight ends, to the wide receivers; even quarterback Matt Ryan has worked on his fundamentals to get better. The defense is still going to get stops and turnovers, and just a few of those paired with the Falcons offense is going to be more than enough, again.
1: The offensive line is the most important position in football and nobody seems to care. The Cincinnati Bengals, Washington Redskins, Seahawks, and Giants are most egregiously guilty of this, but it even plagues teams like the Panthers and Minnesota Vikings to a degree. Over the past few seasons, since the NFL’s CBA tightened up the rules on how much practice is allowed, the outcome has hurt the performance of the offensive line unit. Then the development of the line took a hit with so many colleges going pass heavy with not many run blocking schemes. The offensive line makes everything work and it is an art that has been attempted to be cheapened. The result is porous offense and it is spreading like a cancer.
For Minnesota Vikings fans, buckle up. As of yet, there is no news on quarterback Sam Bradford’s status for their game this weekend against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. With Bradford and an offense that is at full tilt, this is a solid matchup. Without him, it is a blow out for Tampa Bay. The defense looked good in week two for the Bucs, holding the Chicago Bears to a garbage time touchdown and forcing four turnovers. Even with a healthy Bradford, the Vikings could struggle to stick with this explosive offense that has found some balance in the running game to pair with an overwhelming deep passing attack. They need Bradford healthy, but he is still a question mark. Not looking great for the home squad.