NFL Week 2 Analysis: 7 Key Takeaways Including Dolphins, Packers, Broncos, More
Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images. Pictured: Miami Dolphins.
Week 2 was a wild one in the NFL, with crazy comebacks by the Jets, Cardinals, and Dolphins. The Phins and Giants are 2-0, the Bengals and Raiders are 0-2 and the Colts got shut out by the lowly Jaguars.
It can be impossible to track all the action on Sunday and sort through all the data to find the real takeaways that matter going forward, and it’s hard to know how many of these early season trends are real or meaningful.
Here are seven takeaways you need to know from Sunday’s games …
1. Miami’s weapons are FAST and might be a problem.
When Lamar Jackson scampered for a 79-yard touchdown with 26 seconds left in the third quarter, it felt like the Ravens had iced the game up 35-14 and that Jackson was an early MVP favorite.
Then Miami had the fourth quarter of a lifetime.
The Dolphins scored 28 points in the final stanza to come all the way back and stun Baltimore. In that fourth quarter alone, Miami piled up 266 yards on 12.7 yards per play, including big chunks of 33, 48 and 60 yards. Both Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle recorded 11 catches, two scores, and over 170 yards while Tua Tagovailoa finished with 469 yards and six touchdowns.
In both games, Mike McDaniel has unlocked the big play for Miami’s offense, using his team speed to stretch the field both horizontally and vertically to exhaust the opposition.
Per Next Gen Stats, Ravens defensive backs traveled 6,131 yards on pass plays in this game, more than any DB group all last season. Baltimore’s depleted defensive backfield was absolutely fried by the end of the contest. The Ravens just had no shot of keeping up with Hill and Waddle, and don’t forget about Raheem Mostert and Chase Edmonds’ speed on the ground, too.
This Dolphins speed attack might be real. They are wearing down opponents, and up next are the mighty Bills, still without star corner Tre’Davious White.
Buffalo is favored by 4.5 next week in Miami. Meanwhile, McDaniel is the new Coach of the Year favorite.
that's the gravity world class speed creates pic.twitter.com/8p3pgOLxuI
— Nate Tice (@Nate_Tice) September 19, 2022
2. Lions overs look like a thing.
Are the Lions … fun? They might be, even past “Hard Knocks,” but more important is that they might be fun to bet on now as well.
Detroit overs look like a real trend.
This offense is the real deal. The Lions have scored 16 more points than any other team, including 35 in both games. Amon-Ra St. Brown is the third player in NFL history to have at least eight receptions in eight straight games, while the offensive line is healthy and dominant.
All that said, the defense still has a long way to go.
The Lions got buried early by the Eagles last week and looked like they were on the verge of allowing a huge comeback to Washington on Sunday. The game finished with seven passing TDs and over 800 yards of offense. I ranked the Lions last on defense coming into the season and only the Cardinals have allowed more points so far.
The Lions-Vikings lookahead total was 50.5. It reopened on Sunday night at 51.5 and is at 53 and rising as of Monday afternoon.
3. Matt Ryan and the Colts might be done.
You could not have scripted a worse opening two weeks for Indianapolis. The Colts were gifted the Texans and Jaguars out of the gates — one of the easiest starts on paper — and they failed to win either game.
Matt Ryan has been terrible. He’s thrown only one touchdown and, even worse, he’s been intercepted four times. The whole point of bringing in Ryan was to establish a safer floor — instead, it’s Ryan who’s been the one on the floor after five sacks Sunday.
The favored Colts lost their eighth consecutive road game against Jacksonville. The Colts had the ball under 22 minutes, turned it over three times, went 2-of-12 on late downs and 0-for-2 in the red zone and recorded a measly 218 yards. Against the Jaguars!
It doesn’t get any easier. The Colts are 0-1-1 and play the Chiefs, Titans, and Broncos next before a rematch with Jacksonville in Week 6.
This was the softest spot on the Colts schedule. I only have Indianapolis as more than a field-goal favorite twice the rest of the season.
Maybe New England’s 17-14 win over Pittsburgh looked like a cagey showdown between two excellent coaches, but I’m starting to wonder if these are just mediocre teams.
The Steelers recorded only 243 yards of offense after just 267 last week, and they haven’t exactly played great defenses. Pittsburgh averaged 4.2 yards per play on Sunday, and now the Steelers play again already on Thursday against the Browns. If the offense stays this tepid, that extended break after Thursday Night Football could be a runway for rookie Kenny Pickett at QB.
As for the Patriots, it’s pretty underwhelming to beat an offense that anemic by only a field goal.
New England scored one touchdown on a Mac Jones bomb to Nelson Agholor who Mossed a defender — not exactly replicable — and got the other on a super short field. This one play after Jones threw a gift-wrapped interception that was dropped by the defender.
Bill Belichick and Mike Tomlin are great, but their teams might not be. Replace the jerseys with Browns and Jets uniforms and would you really notice the difference?
5. The Bucs offense does not look right.
Tampa Bay is one of just four 2-0 teams as of Monday afternoon. It’s hard to argue with the results, but this offense looks nothing like the unit that won the Super Bowl two years ago and led the league in passing yards and TDs last fall.
The final Sunday scoreline of Bucs 20, Saints 10 looks straightforward enough, but doesn’t tell the story of the game at all. This game was 3-3 into the fourth quarter, and the Bucs were shut out in the first half. When Tom Brady threw the go-ahead TD, it was Tampa’s first touchdown in 118 minutes against the Saints — nearly two entire games.
The easy narrative is that Brady finally beat the Saints, but the Saints beat themselves. New Orleans had five turnovers, and a pick-six from Jameis Winston was the clincher.
Brady barely played a role. He has 402 yards all season and just two scores, and on Sunday the Bucs averaged just 4.0 yards per play and tallied only 260 yards of offense, just 20 yards per drive. Brady had a negative EPA per play for the game with 12.9 completion percentage under expectation.
Tampa’s defense has been brilliant, but the offense is a mess. The line is in shambles and was down to its third-string LT on Sunday. Mike Evans is suspended next week while Chris Godwin (hamstring) and Julio Jones (knee) are banged up.
You’ll have to decide whether this is creating a buy-low opportunity for Tampa or if you should sell any remaining stock while you can.
6. The Packers showed who they want to be on Sunday night.
Tampa’s next opponent is Green Bay, and after a Week 1 dud, we saw the exact blueprint for the Packers on Sunday Night Football. Green Bay moved on from Davante Adams and couldn’t find its footing against the Vikings, but this was the exact script many expected from this new-look team.
The Packers won with defense and a dominant ball control running attack Sunday night. They gashed the Bears‘ defense, running the ball 38 times for 203 yards with Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon. The Packers had 14 more minutes of possession, ran 25 more plays and had 15 more first downs and 186 more yards.
Chicago somehow ran only 41 plays all game. The Bears faced only seven third downs and converted once. It’s hard to score points when you’re never on the field.
The Packers are still a distant second favorite in the NFC to the Bucs, and Green Bay is +1400 to win the Super Bowl versus +700 for Tampa. Those numbers could flip if the Packers head to Florida and win.
7. It doesn’t look like Nathaniel Hackett can hack it.
The Broncos embarrassed themselves in the Monday Night Football opener against the Seahawks. Denver made repeated slow and questionable (at best) decisions, culminating with a bizarre sequence in which the Broncos ran down the clock to attempt a 64-yard field goal — which missed, of course.
You’d think a team would come out focused and play mistake-free after a humiliating finish like that, but you’d be wrong. Nathaniel Hackett and his young, wet-behind-the-ears staff look over their heads.
The Broncos were again very slow getting calls in and making decisions Week 2 against the Texans. Denver looks indecisive and unsure of what the team is trying to be. The Broncos lead the league in both delay of game and false start penalties, with four and six respectively.
With the Broncos trailing by three with under 20 minutes to go, Hackett got cute and called for a tight end option on third and inches that failed miserably.
Then he compounded the error by taking too much time debating whether to go for it on fourth down. He sent out Brandon McManus too late and took a delay of game that knocked the Broncos out of field goal range and forced a punt.
Please watch this entire sequence. Nate Hackett has officially lost it. Denver went from 3rd and inches, a TE rush attempt, a long FG attempt, and then a punt. Lord pic.twitter.com/3Eugrn7sHG
— Billy M (@BillyM_91) September 18, 2022
Those mistakes are unacceptable at this level, and both Hackett and Russell Wilson share a huge portion of the blame. At one point, the home fans were counting down the expiring play clock, trying to passive (?) aggressively urge Denver to get the play off. Downright embarrassing.
The Broncos are 0-for-6 in the red zone. They’re barely 1-1 after opening against the Seahawks and Texans, who ultimately might vie for the No. 1 pick. The division is tough and the schedule gets brutal — up next is another national TV game on Sunday night against a terrific 49ers defense.
Hackett and Wilson are favored in that one — for now.
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