So, as it turns out, they weren’t who we thought they were.
Week two was a story of more than a few teams turning 180 degrees. Some teams righted the ship, while others sunk it.
Everyone wants to hear good news first, so I start with the good guys in this column.
The Green Bay Packers headline the comeback teams after their impressive 23-10 Thursday night win against Chicago. After getting pushed around by San Francisco in week one, Green Bay rebounded with seven sacks and four interceptions in week two. The Packers are now back atop the NFC North, and look like the championship team we all expected.
The Carolina Panthers come next, rebounding from a week one loss to Tampa Bay to stun Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints 35-27 in week two. Cam Newton boasted a very efficient QBR of 88.3, and added a career-high 71 yards rushing as well. It was Newton who punched in the game-sealing touchdown in the fourth quarter to put the Panthers up by 15.
Other teams that rebounded to win on week two after a week one loss: Buffalo, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Indianapolis, Miami, New York Giants, St. Louis, and Seattle.
With every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Just as the above teams trended upward, there were just as many teams that took a wrong turn.
We’ll start with New England. The Super Bowl machine that is Tom Brady, Bill Belichick, and the New England Patriots was a two-touchdown favorite over the visiting Arizona Cardinals. After all, the Patriots hadn’t lost a home opener in Foxboro since Paul Revere’s last ride, and they have Tom Brady to Arizona’s Kevin Kolb. But the Cardinals did their best Lee Corso, telling Belichick “Not so fast!” and beating New England 20-18. Maybe the Cardinals have a good team this year, but I’m not sold. It’s time for the Patriots to get back to the drawing board.
Oh, Tony Romo. The saga that revolves around the Cowboy’s quarterback got lengthier in week two. After leading his team to a great road win against the Giants a week ago, Romo and the ‘Boys performed miserably against Seattle, losing the game 27-7. One week removed from an outstanding performance against the Giants, DeMarco Murray was handed the ball only 12 times. The Cowboys must establish the run in order to win this season.
I’m not sure the finger can be pointed solely at quarterback Peyton Manning, but he didn’t look like the same player in week two that he was in week one. After an impressive win versus Pittsburgh, Manning threw three first-quarter interceptions in this week’s 27-21 loss in Atlanta, showing everyone that he isn’t fully back. Atlanta is a good team, so I’m not writing Denver off, but Manning has to be able to win on the road if he wants another ring.
Speaking of Atlanta, Falcons running back Michael Turner was arrested just hours after beating Manning and the Broncos. Drunk and going 97 mph, Turner was jailed for DUI at 5 a.m. Tuesday morning. He has since released an apology, and expects to play this week at San Diego, but C’MON MAN!
It’s still too early to tell where teams will finish come week 17, but there is no shortage of surprises thus far. The Cardinals are 2-0 after beating New England, the Saints are 0-2 after losing to Carolina, and Cris Collinsworth is still calling games somehow.
What I did expect to see was Mark Sanchez come down to his subpar self, the 49ers look like the best team in the league, and Eli Manning throw for 250 yards in the fourth quarter. Ok, maybe I didn’t see that last one coming, but he has certainly established himself as one of the best late-game QBs of this generation.
Looking ahead to this week’s games, all the ones to watch are later on Sunday. At 4:05 on Fox, the Eagles travel to Arizona in a battle of unbeaten teams. Then on Sunday Night Football on NBC, New England will look to bounce back against a Baltimore team coming off a tough one-point loss to Philly.
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