Welcome back, blog readers. For those of you who missed it last week, I'm doing my annual NFL football analysis column here on the Zak Blog instead of its former home on the Keyboard Magazine forum. With no further adieu, let's jump into our look at week 2, and some thoughts on the upcoming week of games.
I don't know what it is about the Eagles (2-0) that makes me feel like their record is better than they are as a team. I didn't expect them to beat the Ravens last weekend, and in week three they take on the Cardinals. I'd say Arizona should be an easy win, except for the shocking results of the Pats game on Sunday. Elsewhere in the NFC East, Dallas (1-1) lost to Seattle, which shouldn't be so shocking: the Seahawks are just tough at home. The Cowboys should have a slightly easier time again Tampa Bay this coming weekend... or will they? The Giants (1-1) found them tougher than expected last week; they head to Carolina for a Thursday game this week. Finally, the Redskins (1-1), who looked so great in their opener, lost unexpectedly to St. Louis, and are now banged up with two key defensive injuries when hosting the Bengals this week.
The Eagles look happy. Will they look as happy in week 12 as they do in week 2? Photo via AP.
Speaking of the Seahawks at home and their famous "12th Man", the Packers (1-1) head to Seattle this weekend. It's no foregone conclusion that this will be an easy win for Green Bay. Detroit (1-1) should have an easier time at Tennessee. Chicago (1-1) looked pretty dismal against Green Bay this week, will host St. Louis. Finally, I'd say that if Minnesota (1-1) couldn't beat Indianapolis last weekend, they won't have it any easier facing the Niners this week.
Atlanta! What is it about the Falcons (2-0) that make them seem really good early on, and then falter as the season progresses? Right now, they seem to be one of the toughest teams in the NFC. They put up a bunch of points in both games so far, and after beating the hapless Chiefs in week one, held off a determined Broncos in week two. This coming Sunday, they're at San Diego which should be a good litmus test as to how strong they really are. Tampa Bay (1-1), who put in a good effort despite a loss to the Giants, will be on the road against Dallas. Carolina (1-1) wasn't expected to do well against the Saints last weekend but won nevertheless. They host the Giants this weekend in what should be an interesting matchup. Speaking of the Saints (0-2), I can't help but think all that the bounty investigations and punishments hurt them more than they initially acknowledged; no one expected them to start this year at 0-2, and if they have any difficulty against KC on Sunday, you should write them off as contenders this year.
Here's a laugh for you: collectively, the NFC West is the best division in football at this moment, according to W-L statistics. How is that possible? Let's start with Arizona (2-0), who on paper has no reason to be undefeated, and their tough victory over the seemingly flawless Patriots. Perhaps that was a fluke; we'll know more this coming Sunday when they host the Eagles. San Francisco (2-0), who started the season by beating two tough teams (Green Bay and Detroit), should roll over the Vikings on Sunday. The Niners' running game -- both getting yards offensively and stopping them on defense -- looks very strong. Seattle (1-1) beat the Cowboys last weekend at home, and they host the Packers on Sunday... that will be interesting, and could go either way. Finally, even the Rams (1-1) eked out a tenacious victory against the Skins in week two. They'll likely have a rougher time on Sunday when they visit Chicago.
You're a first-ballot hall of famer, you have a supermodel wife, and your combined net worth is about $150 million. Don't be sad, Tom. Photo via Getty Images.
Meanwhile, in the AFC, the Jets (1-1) didn't look so hot against the Steeler in week two. If Sanchez isn't at the top of his game on Sunday against Miami, the Tebow calls will begin to reverberate from the aisles of MetLife Stadium. As to what happened with the Patriots (1-1) and their loss to Arizona, it was certainly much more than a rare bad kick from Gostkowski. I have to say that being a team that is expected to win with near-perfect execution week after week, year after year, has to create a massive amount of pressure. New England will try to show that this was just a fluke when they visit the Ravens on Sunday. Buffalo (1-1) started with a pretty bad loss to the Jets, and then came back with a win over the crappy Chiefs in week two. This week has them visiting Cleveland in what should be a pretty even matchup. Finally, Miami (1-1), who should mostly suck but has found its running game all of a sudden (remember that Reggie Bush guy?), gave the Raiders a bad beatdown in week two. We'll find out what that means in a division game against the Jets in week three.
I actually expected that Baltimore (1-1) and their renowned defense would take down the pass-happy Eagles last week, and it was a tight game. They will host the Pats on Sunday, and that should be a great game. The battle of Ohio last week ended expectedly with the Bengals (1-1) beating the Browns. They're at Washington this Sunday in what is a pretty important game for both teams. The Steelers (1-1) did rather poorly against the Broncos last week, but their visit to Oakland on Sunday should go better for them. Then again, there is an ancient rivalry between these teams (remember the Immaculate Reception, anyone?), and perhaps the Silver-and-Black can pump themselves up for a less-than-embarrassing performance. We'll see. This division also includes the Browns (0-2), who don't appear to contain any football-like substance this year.
There are two undefeated teams in the AFC at the moment. One is San Diego (see below), and the other is Houston (2-0). Are the Texans for real? Do bears defecate in deciduously forested areas? Houston is at Denver this week, and host the Titans in week four. Based on the performance of the Pats last week, the Texans might be the best in the AFC, and barring an injury fest like last season, they're the most likely team in the conference to be playoff bound. Congrats to Andrew Luck and the Colts (1-1) for getting a win in week two, their first victory in the post-Manning era. They have a shot at another win this week, hosting the Jags. Speaking of which, Jacksonville (0-2) and Tennessee (0-2) are going to have long, not-very-happy seasons.
Houston's defense is just scary for any other team in the league. Photo via Getty Images.
The Chargers (2-0) have the best defense against the run in the league, per the stats. However, I'm not hopping on the San Diego train just yet; their opponents have been the Raiders and Titans. The Falcons come into Qualcomm Stadium on Sunday, and my bet is that the Chargers fold with their first tough opponent. Meanwhile, the Broncos (1-1) won't have it much easier hosting the Texans. Peyton got picked three times last weekend, and hopefully (if you're a Denver fan, which I'm not in any way, shape, or form) this isn't a sign of his post-injury decline. meanwhile in the cellar, it's hard to say who is worse between the Chiefs (0-2) and the Raiders (0-2). The Raiders at least seem to have occasional flashes of talent; Carson Palmer has thrown for 670 yards in two games. I do, however, question the capabilities of new coach Dennis Allen. But even with suspect coaching, they also are already getting killed with injury problems. Sigh.
If you're a Denver fan, it has to be frightening each time Manning gets sacked. I really hope his neck holds up for awhile. He deserves a happy ending to a great career (as long as it doesn't involve any Denver championships). Photo via AP.
That's All, Folks!
I hope you're enjoying this column, which I will continue to publish every Tuesday throughout the season. As always, feel free to add your own comments below.