NFL Week 2 breakdown
Sunday, September 20, 2009 | Author: Mad Typist
Wow, what an exciting week of football. Let's get down to it.

The panicfest has been postponed till next week. There's a hilarious tendency for fans to freak out after Week 1 of the NFL regular season. I have several friends who were ready to give up on their team for the season based on one performance.
Let's start with the Bears fandom, who last week saw Jay Cutler throw 4 INTs and their star linebacker Brian Urlacher leave the game with a season-ending wrist injury. My Facebook feed was overwhelmed by friends posting things like, "Oh god, there goes the season" and "If we wanted 4 INTs, we would have kept Grossman."Well, those fans have to feel a lot better after watching Cutler perform fairly well (27 for 38, and no INTs this time) against the Steelers defense (still a tough group, even with the loss of superstar Troy Polamalu). Though I'm still not 100% sure that the Bears will do much this season - since this win was partially about Jeff Reed's failure to convert critical FGs versus any spectacular defensive play - it's got to feel good to pull off the victory, especially at home. Good teams know how to win when the chips are down, when they're playing a team that might be better than them. The Bears will need to win a lot of tough games this year if they want to make the playoffs. However, I am very concerned about the Bears seemingly abandoning Matt Forte, their best offensive weapon, in their rush to take advantage of Cutler's abilities.

Also bouncing back from horrific implosions last week were the Buffalo Bills, Cincinnati Bengals and the Oakland Raiders. Of those teams, I think Cincy has the most to be proud of. They played a pretty good game, and of the 3 teams, I think they're the most solid. Cedric Benson has run strong now for 2 straight games, and the passing game is slowly getting back in sync (you can tell Palmer is still struggling to find his rhythm after missing most of the pre-season with an ankle injury).

The Raiders lost a game they should have won last week against the Chargers, so I guess they felt compelled to win a game they should have lost this week. The Chiefs had 409 total yards of offense compared to the Raiders' 166 yards, but made more mistakes - 2 INTs and twice the number of penalties as the Raiders - that ended up costing them the win at home. I have a feeling this might be a long and unhappy season for KC again.

The Bills won a game that they should have. That's all I can really say about that - good for Trent Edwards for taking more shots down the field, I guess. I'm still not optimistic about their chances, because I don't believe they can win games that are close or where they're expected to lose.

Good for the Arizona Cardinals, who bounced back from a bad loss last week and got their offense back on track. More on Kurt Warner's record breaking performance later in this post. I'm also quite pleased, for selfish reasons related to fantasy football, that Larry Fitzgerald has now gone two weeks in a row avoiding the dreaded Madden curse.

Lastly, the Eagles fan who moaned and groaned about McNabb getting hurt again have to feel good about the way Kevin Kolb performed yesterday. Yes, the Eagles lost, but I have a feeling that Drew Brees is going to make a lot of otherwise solid defenses look foolish when he rolls into town. The last time Kolb played, he looked like a frightened bunny rabbit. This time, Kolb looked a lot more in control. Yes, he had turn overs, but that's going to happen when you throw over 50 times and are trying to keep up with the most potent offense in the NFL.

On second thought, go ahead and panic. The following teams actually should be panicking a little, since I see some bad tendencies that could blossom into big problems if they continue this season.

The Redskins could barely muster enough enthusiasm to beat the lowly St Louis Rams. I look at this offense, and I see a group of 11 guys playing uninspired football. The WRs aren't performing up to snuff, and there's legitimate concern over Jason Campbell's ability to truly put the team on his back. Also, Clinton Portis can't cheat age and wear on his body forever. You can't afford lackluster output like this when you play in the toughest division in football.

Attention Kansas City: when you can't even beat the Raiders AT HOME (where the Chiefs used to boast a huge advantage), you need to start panicking a little. I'm not sure head coach Todd Haley has the right temperament to deal with this team. If he thinks he's going to scream them into playing better, he's not going to have any voice left at the end of the season. They have to play the Eagles next week, which could be very ugly.

Lastly, the Jaguars are 0-2 and they can't get fans into the seats. This is a franchise that's in serious trouble. The fans (what few they have, based on attendance and general buzz) should be freaking out, because at this rate, can Jacksonville really hang onto their franchise much longer? Is it possible the Jags might move in the near future?

Studs of the week. I have a feeling that I'm going to get tired of writing "Drew Brees" here week after week. He's a robot (25/34, 311 yards, 3 TDs). He must make opposing defenses crazy - you KNOW he's going to pass, and yet you can't do anything about it. He has more TDs than quarters played this season (9 TD in 8 quarters).

Speaking of phenomenal QB performances, special props to one of my favorites Kurt Warner, for his record setting performance. I'll just quote SI.com's Peter King here: "His 24-of-26 passing day, 92.3 percent, is the best in the 90-year history of the league. He's getting older, but he might also be getting better." Also, I don't like Philip Rivers as a person, but I must give him mad props for his performance (25/45, 436 yards) in that heart-breaking loss. It's just a shame that the team didn't trust the ball to his capable hands on the last play of the drive.

And speaking of that play... oh my god. Did you see the tackle by Ray Lewis on 4th down with the game on the line? Simply one of the best defensive plays I've ever seen. Words can't do justice to the awesomeness displayed here (though Michael Silver comes close in this outstanding article you HAVE to read) - check out the video (the play in question starts around 4:55 or so). That is what we call "outstanding individual effort." Lewis also had 12 tackles and forced a fumble. Another player who elevated his team with his individual play on defense is the NY Jets' Darrelle Revis - learn that name, because he's a rising star.

Last, the Houston/Tennessee game was an orgy of amazing offensive performances. Chris Johnson ran wild (197 rushing yards, 2 TDs, 87 receiving yards, 1 receiving TD), but Matt Schaub went wilder (25/39, 357 yards, 4 TD), squeaking out the win after a poor performance the week before. What's amazing is that someone managed to top Chris Johnson's yardage, as Frank Gore had two HUGE runs of 79 and 80 yards, on his way to a 206 yard, 2 TD day.

Duds of the week. One of the main criticisms leveled at the Cowboys last year was that Tony Romo couldn't win when it counted. Judging from his performance (13/29, 127 yards, 1 TD, 3 INT) last night, he hasn't really fixed those issues in the off-season, even with Terrell Owens run out of town. His 3 INTs were simply terrible (2 returned for TDs). He looked awkward and nervous in the pocket all night, and he cost the Cowboys a critical divisional win. Meanwhile, the Brady Quinn era in Cleveland is off to an ugly start. And Willie Parker, where are you? What happened to the vaunted Pittsburgh run game? Did you know that instead of JaMarcus Russell, who is now 19/54 (35.2% completion rate) with 1 TD and 2 INT for the year, the Oakland Raiders could have drafted Adrian Peterson, which would have then allowed them to select a QB the following year when guys like Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco were floating around?

Teams I like this week. Don't look now, but the San Francisco 49ers are 2-0, with two division wins under their belt. I think the New Orleans Saints are the most terrifying team out there right now, especially if their defense steps up their game at all. The NY Jets might just be the real deal, especially with that defense. The Atlanta Falcons and the Baltimore Ravens are both 2-0 and helmed by QBs that are thus far avoiding a sophomore slump.

Teams I don't like this week. The Cleveland Browns really need to learn to tackle. I'm also thinking that maybe the New England Patriots' long streak of having an old defense and little-to-no consistency in the run game is finally starting to fail them. Tom Brady needs help once in awhile, guys, especially since the O line is looking particularly suspect this year. Though both the Washington Redskins and Oakland Raiders inexplicably won this week, I don't like what either team is bringing to the table.



**photo credits (all images borrowed from AP/ESPN, ohgoddon'tsueme)
Bears image by AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh
Redskins fumble image by AP Photo/Nick Wass
Chris Johnson image by AP Photo/Wade Payne
Giants interception image by AP Photo/LM Otero

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