One of the more widely used clichés floating around the National Football League is that anything can happen on any given Sunday. Well, in Week 2 of the 2015 regular season, that statement proved to be true. There were three massive upsets (the Oakland Raiders beating the Baltimore Ravens, the Jacksonville Jaguars beating the Miami Dolphins, and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers beating the New Orleans Saints), an All-Pro quarterback suffered an injury that will sideline him for at least two months, and the Denver Broncos scored two touchdowns in a matter of nine seconds. All said, this past weekend was yet another excellent example of why the NFL is far and away the most popular professional sports league in the United States.
With that, here is a look at the seven biggest takeaways from Week 2 of the 2015 NFL season.
1. The NFC East is a train wreck.
The Dallas Cowboys are sitting at 2-0, but will be without All-Pro quarterback Tony Romo and All-Pro wide receiver Dez Bryant for the next two months at the very least, the Philadelphia Eagles are 0-2 and their season is already at a crossroads, the New York Giants are also 0-2 and have lost both of their games in the final minute of play, and on a more positive note, the Washington Redskins are 1-1 and have looked like a team that will be able to compete in 2015. Going forward, there are a lot of unknowns in the NFC East. What we do know is that at this point, the division is completely up for grabs with Romo and Bryant out of the lineup in Dallas.
2. A power struggle may be brewing between Peyton Manning and Gary Kubiak.
One of the hot topics for discussion around the NFL this past offseason was how well Manning would fit into Kubiak’s zone-blocking offensive scheme. And after almost six quarters of action, the Denver offense had looked so bad that many notable personalities around the league firmly believed that we were witnessing the end of Manning’s career. Shortly before half time of their Thursday night game against the Kansas City Chiefs, it appeared as though the Broncos reverted back to the offense they had been running since Manning got to town in 2012, and we quickly learned that the 39-year-old quarterback still has some gas left in his tank. After witnessing this, it would be hard not to think that the Broncos’ best option for success in 2015 would be to let Manning play in an offensive scheme that he is comfortable with. At the same time, the scheme that the five-time NFL MVP is most comfortable in has yielded Denver with three largely disappointing seasons. Going forward, our guess is that the Broncos try to blend the two offensive approaches. Will Kubiak and Manning be able to push their egos aside and make it work? Only time will tell.
3. Preseason hype means nothing in the NFL.
The Baltimore Ravens, the Indianapolis Colts, and the Seattle Seahawks were all among the preseason favorites to win Super Bowl 50. After two weeks of regular season action, all three teams are 0-2. The Philadelphia Eagles, the New York Giants, the Detroit Lions, and the New Orleans Saints – all teams that were expected to contend for their respective division titles – join them in the winless NFL teams category. This parity is a big part of what makes the NFL so popular.
4. The heat is on in Philadelphia.
After an offseason full of head-scratching moves, the Philadelphia Eagles have gotten off to a terrible 0-2 start to the 2015 regular season. There is no way that their struggles would have gone unnoticed, given their less-than-forgiving fanbase, but things have been magnified due to head coach Chip Kelly’s unconventional approach to handling player personnel decisions and building a team. If the losses continue to mount for the Eagles, Kelly is undoubtedly going to get hotter by the day.
5. The New England Patriots and Green Bay Packers look like favorites to meet in Super Bowl 50.
Both teams are 2-0, and both teams have already proven that they can handily beat their top competition. The Patriots have knocked off the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Buffalo Bills, while the Packers took down the defending NFC champion Seattle Seahawks on Sunday night. On top of that, it looks like these teams have the top two quarterbacks in the league – Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers – as well. There is a lot of football left to be played, but as of now it looks like there is a strong chance that we will see a matchup between the Patriots and the Packers in Super Bowl 50.
6. It’s time to start taking the Atlanta Falcons seriously.
The Falcons are off to a 2-0 start and are playing with a renewed sense of urgency under new head coach Dan Quinn. It would be easy to write this team off as a franchise with a new coach having a case of beginner’s luck. However, when you really take the time look at the big picture, the Falcons have the pieces to make a deep playoff run in 2015. Quarterback Matt Ryan is playing some of his best football, and Julio Jones is arguably the best wide receiver in the league. More notably, the combination of Tevin Coleman and Devonta Freeman has given the Falcons a serviceable running game.
On the other side of the ball, their defense has clearly improved, but still remains a work in progress. With the NFC South again looking like one of the weaker divisions in the league, the Falcons could very well contend for a first round bye in the NFC playoffs. Not bad for a team that had the No. 8 pick in the 2015 NFL Draft.
7. The St. Louis Rams still aren’t contenders in the NFC.
We have been waiting for the Rams to turn the corner and emerge as a contender in the NFC. After their Week 1 win over the Seattle Seahawks, we thought the Rams had taken that next step. As it turns out, we were completely wrong. In Week 2, St. Louis looked like a vastly different team – in a bad way – during their 24-10 loss to the most dysfunctional organization in the league, the Washington Redskins. Before we even consider calling the Rams playoff contenders, losses like they suffered in Week 2 have to stop occurring.
All statistics courtesy of Pro-Football-Reference.