Every team has now played 2 games in this tumultuous season. This is hardly a large enough sample size to determine team success, but I will provide an analysis based on what I know.
“They are who we thought they were” (Teams playing like we thought they would)
NY Giants (0-2): On youtube, you can find a video of a frustrated Giants fan burning his Eli Manning jersey. Hard to believe this guy has more rings than his brother. Despite an improved performance this past Sunday, the defense allowed a backup QB who had not thrown a pass in a live game in 4 years to drive down the field multiple times. The classic line from eternal Giants optimists is “Don’t worry, we’ll finish 8-8, sneak in as a Wild Card and win the Super Bowl.” Umm…no.
Washington Redskins (1-1): I thought they would be better with Kirk Cousins, and I was right. RGIII is an injury waiting to happen every time he steps on the gridiron. Kirk is much less of a liability, although he may not have the big-play ability of a read-option quarterback like RGIII. After a dismal week one performance, the ‘Skins rebounded nicely in a game they were supposed to win.
Chicago Bears (1-1): This is a team that we know will be right in the thick of things at the end of the season. Every year this team can be pegged for 7-10 wins. Problem is, 7 wins makes you a spectator come playoff time.
Detroit Lions (1-1): After a promising start against the Giants, the Lions fell flat against the Panthers, a team that they need to be on par with if they want to make the playoffs.
Carolina Panthers (2-0): Picking up where they left off last year, the Panthers look like contenders on both sides of the ball, holding one of the best offensive teams in the league to just 7 points.
Cincinnati Bengals (2-0): The annual dark horse darlings, the Bengals are once again flying under the radar. Andy Dalton has said he’s more confident, and the team’s performance has reflected that.
Baltimore Ravens (1-1): A shell of the Super Bowl XLVII winning team, the Ravens can still compete on a weekly basis.
Jacksonville Jaguars (0-2): If they’re not planning on inserting Blake Bortles into the lineup soon, they might as well not at all this season.
Denver Broncos (2-0): I think the Broncos may actually have improved since last year. The Super Bowl rematch this weekend will be a close game.
San Diego Chargers (1-1): The classically inconsistent Chargers lost a game they were expected to win and won a game they were expected to lose. If this team could play the same game on a week to week basis they could be one of the best teams.
Oakland Raiders (0-2): With the number one pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, the Los Angeles Raiders select…
New York Jets (1-1): The Jets should be 1-1 at this point, based on pre-season projections. If the timeout fiasco had not happened, there’s a chance this team would be 2-0.
Green Bay Packers (1-1): Based on preseason projections, they should be 1-1. They really should be 0-2.
Miami Dolphins (1-1): After completely annihilating the Patriots in the second half of their week 1 matchup, the Dolphins laid an egg up in Buffalo, which isn’t cold this time of year.
Pittsburgh Steelers (1-1): I thought this would be a team that would show up big this year and return to Super Bowl form. Their week 2 shutdown of the Ravens could point to a renaissance.
Arizona Cardinals (2-0): This should not come as a surprise to anyone. This team is 9-2 in its last 11 games. None of the names on paper jump out at you (besides Larry Fitzgerald) but this team collectively can outplay most teams in the NFL.
“You Play to Win The Game” (Teams outperforming expectations at this point)
Philadelphia Eagles (2-0): Somehow they have pulled out two wins by showing up for a total of one game (the second half of both games).
Dallas Cowboys (1-1): The offense showed up against the Titans, putting themselves on pace for another 8-8 season, which would be a surprise this year.
Minnesota Vikings (1-1): This could be a team with the number 2 pick in the 2015 draft. They don’t have a quality QB option and have no running game now with Adrian Peterson’s off-field issues. But right now, they are a .500 team.
Atlanta Falcons (1-1): An offense devoid of Tony Gonzalez is going to be worse. However, Matty Ice showed up week 1 vs. the Saints, a game that I picked the Falcons to win, albeit unexpected. We’ll have to see if the Bengals game was a bump in the road or a fall back to reality.
St. Louis Rams (1-1): There’s a reason that the Seahawks were talking about this team coming into the season. Their defense can keep them in games, but their offense is lacking due to the loss of Sam Bradford.
Buffalo Bills (2-0): I’ve been told that if you ask Siri who the best team in the NFL is, she will name that team from Buffalo. It seems like every year we all think it will be the Bills’ year, but don’t be surprised by another classic 7-9 Bills season.
Cleveland Browns (1-1): The end of their game against the Saints looked like footage straight out of a Madden game. Two Cleveland area kids will be leading their sports teams into the fall, and maybe to the playoffs.
Houston Texans (2-0): This is the fifth consecutive year the Texans started 2-0. They’ve also had two somewhat easy games. This could be a repeat of some Bills-era “Fitzmagic” for Harvard Hurler Ryan Fitzpatrick.
Tennessee Titans (1-1): This is the year we find out if Jake Locker is the answer in Tennessee. He hasn’t played poorly the first two games, but he isn’t exactly setting the world on fire.
“Playoffs?!?!” (Teams underperforming)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-2): This team should have beaten a weak Rams offense, especially with new Head Coach Lovie Smith retooling this team.
New Orleans Saints (0-2): Not too many 0-2 teams make the playoffs, and the Saints were expected to contend with the Seahawks for the NFC crown.
Seattle Seahawks (1-1): The defending champs have not played the part to date. But of course, they can go 8-0 at home and win 4 on the road, making them division champs.
San Francisco (1-1): The team disappointed in the debut of Levi’s Stadium, and questions swirl around Jim Harbaugh, Colin Kaepernick, and the controversy of Ray McDonald.
Patriots (1-1): Any time the Patriots are not on top of the division and Tom Brady is still playing, it means something is wrong.
Indianapolis (0-2): It’s not time to hit the panic button yet, since the Colts are owners of the easiest schedule in the NFL. The collapse against the Eagles was a blow to the psyche of the team.
Kansas City Chiefs (0-2): Alex Smith seems to have regressed, coincidentally after signing a large contract, and the Chiefs are fading in a division that they can’t afford to fade in.
Week 3 picks:
Falcons 24, Buccaneers 10
Chargers 17, Bills 23
Cowboys 24, Rams 19
Redskins 27, Eagles 35
Texans 20, Giants 17
Vikings 10, Saints 27
Titans 13, Bengals 21
Ravens 14, Browns 17
Packers 20, Lions 21
Colts 30, Jaguars 6
Raiders 3, Patriots 27
49ers 20, Cardinals 23
Broncos 17, Seahawks 24
Chiefs 20, Dolphins 16
Steelers 17, Panthers 27
Bears 23, Jets 14