Analyzing Week 2 In The NFLBREAKING NEWS, Eagles, News Tuesday, September 18th, 2012
Stock Rising: Philadelphia Eagles
I’ve been looking for a legitimate reason to be optimistic about the Eagles’ chances to make the playoffs, and a hard-fought win over a legitimate Super Bowl contender makes their playoff odds increase in my eyes. Two weeks in a row they’ve needed last minute scores from the offense, and a couple of big stops from the defense, and both units have come through when it has mattered most. This team is beginning to prove that they’ve made strides from the disastrous 2011 season, but now they need to take the next step and begin to eliminate their mistakes. Nine turnovers in two games is an alarming statistic.
Stock Falling: Dallas Cowboys
Dallas had a week and a half to prepare for Seattle, but they came out completely flat and were blown away by rookie Russell Wilson. This loss indicates that the Cowboys could still be as woefully inconsistent and unreliable as they were a year ago, and that could prevent them from making the playoffs again.
Rising: Green Bay Packers
After a bad loss at home to the 49ers, the Packers bounced back with a great performance against the Chicago Bears. Green Bay won the game by playing well in all phases of the game, with their defense and running game shining brightly. Running back Cedric Benson was given a much more prominent role in the offense, and he responded with a solid 81-yard rushing performance. The Packer defense was brilliant, and completely shut down Jay Cutler and the passing game. Clay Matthews led the charge with 3.5 sacks.
Falling: Detroit Lions, Chicago Bears
The Lions are off to a tough start, going into Week 3 at 1-1. For the second straight game, the explosive Detroit offense was limited in what they could do by an elite defense, as they managed just 19 points against the 49ers. Until they can establish a reliable running game, teams are going to work to frustrate Matt Stafford and do what they can to take away his passing threats.
The Bears had an opportunity to show the Packers that they were ready to challenge for the division, but fell flat on their faces. The key to this team’s success will be to keep Jay Cutler’s head screwed on right, but the veteran had a meltdown last Thursday, throwing four interceptions while spending the game under siege from the Green Bay pass rush. Then, being the great leader that he is, Cutler decided to start a physical altercation with one of his offensive lineman. The Bears need a quick turnaround, or this situation could blow up in their faces really quick.
Rising: Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers
Atlanta is off to a great start, and is on top of the division at 2-0 after picking up an impressive win over the Broncos on Monday night. The Falcons defense picked off Peyton Manning three times, and Matt Ryan looks razor sharp.
The Panthers shook off their Week 1 clunker against Tampa Bay to pull off an impressive home victory over the Saints. Carolina learned from their previous mistakes, and ran a much more balanced offense that helped them put up 35 points on the struggling New Orleans team. It was a big win for Cam Newton and his teammates.
Falling: New Orleans Saints
Its been awhile since the Saints have started off a season 0-2. There aren’t many things that are going right for this team right now. Drew Brees and the offense are still putting up points, but the quarterback has also turned the ball over four times in the first two games. Defensively they’ve just been brutal, allowing 75 points to their first two opponents. They’ll face a must-win situation against the Chiefs next week.
Rising: San Francisco 49ers, Arizona Cardinals, St. Louis Rams
For two games, the 49ers have contained two of the most powerful offenses from 2011, earning wins over the Packers and Lions to start the season. San Francisco has come out of the gates on fire, and right now they look like the class of the NFC.
How about the Arizona Cardinals? No one expected them to go on the road and upset the New England Patriots, but the Cardinals defense came ready to play and held Tom Brady’s powerful offense to just 18 points. If you read my NFC West projections article before the season, I had respect for the Arizona defense, but I wouldn’t have guessed they’d be capable of shutting down one of the elite offenses in the league. The Cardinals are a team to watch out for now. The 49ers are a prime example of how far an elite defense can carry a team, and if Kevin Kolb or John Skelton can be for the Cardinals what Alex Smith is for the 49ers, maybe this team can get into the playoff mix after all.
For the second straight week, I was impressed by what the Rams were able to accomplish. While most of the attention leading up to their Week 2 game surrounded Robert Griffin III, few people gave the Rams a chance, getting caught up in what the Redskins did in Week 1 while ignoring how well the Rams played against the Lions. Fisher has done a great job with this team so far, and the Rams are no longer a pushover.
Rising: Buffalo Bills
The Bills needed to bounce back from their ugly loss to the Jets in Week 1, and they did just that by blowing out the Chiefs. Running back C.J. Spiller has been very impressive so far, and is beginning to look like the player Buffalo drafted in the first-round several years ago.
Falling: New York Jets
The Jets came back down to Earth in Week 2, falling to the Steelers 27-10. Mark Sanchez played like the quarterback everyone expected him to be before the season, throwing for just 138 yards and one touchdown.
No one is this division really stood out to me for better or worse. The Ravens dropped a winnable game to the Eagles, the Steelers and Bengals weren’t overly impressive in their victories, and the Browns just aren’t impressive at all.
Rising: Indianapolis Colts
Andrew Luck and the Colts earned their first win of the season, edging the Minnesota Vikings by three points. Luck threw two touchdown passes and no interceptions in the win.
Falling: Tennessee Titans, Jacksonville Jaguars
The Titans look absolutely awful. Jake Locker isn’t doing much to impress so far, and Chris Johnson has been of no help to anyone, managing just 21 yards on the ground through two games.
The Jaguars took a step back in Week 2, failing to provide even a small challenge to the superior Houston Texans.
Rising: San Diego Chargers
Sure their wins have come against a pair of weak opponents, but the Chargers are 2-0 to start the season. This has traditionally been a team that has come out of the gates slow under Norv Turner, but they’ve managed to take care of business so far. Steeper challenges await them, but for the time being they’re on top of the West.
Falling: Oakland Raiders
It could be a long year in Oakland. The team has been going downhill since the Carson Palmer trade a year ago. An embarrassing loss to the Miami Dolphins sends a message that this team will struggle to be competitive in this division, and could find themselves at the bottom of the league standings.
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