NFL Week 2 Takeaways: Two Expected AFC Contenders Look Terrible

Plus: Nathaniel Hackett has not gotten off to a great start in Denver


September 20

Despite an NFL Week 2 slate which featured two games with 20-point come backs, it’s still hard to overlook two other contests given just how disappointing a pair of expected AFC contenders have fared through two contests.

It’s hard to decide who has had a more embarrassing start between the Indianapolis Colts (0-1-1) and Cincinnati Bengals (0-2). The Colts now have yet to record a win against either the Houston Texans or the Jacksonville Jaguars while the Bengals lost to both the Dallas Cowboys and Pittsburgh Steelers — two teams who probably will be on the outside looking in when the NFL playoff picture is determined.

Indianapolis has allowed 18 quarterback hits and seven sacks on Matt Ryan through two games, and the Colts have dedicated more to their offensive line than anyone else in the league. Meanwhile, the defensive effort against Jacksonville was horrendous in the 24-0 beatdown. Trevor Lawrence carved up the Shaquille Leonard-less Colts to the tune of 121.5 rating. He had just five incompletions on 30 attempts while Christian Kirk caught all six balls thrown his way for 78 yards and two scores. Ryan, on the other hand, threw three interceptions including two in the last five minutes.

Joe Burrow can relate to being under duress himself. Because despite the reigning AFC champion Bengals seemingly bolstering their offensive line this offseason, Cincinnati allowed another six sacks against the Cowboys. The Bengals have allowed the most sacks through two games (11), with Defensive Player of the Year nominee Micah Parsons and Dorance Armstrong feasting in the pass rush for the Cooper Rush-led Cowboys. Cincinnati’s defense, meanwhile, allowed 14 first-quarter points on 8.3 yards per play during Dallas’ first two drives of the game. The Cowboys didn’t score one touchdown in Week 1, and that was with Dak Prescott behind center. The Bengals entered each of their first two games as a seven-point betting favorite and lost both straight up.

It’s been rather stunning to see how poorly the Colts and Bengals — again, two expected AFC contenders — have started their respective seasons.

Here are some more NFL takeaways after Week 2:

— As many suspected before the start of the campaign, the Miami Dolphins do, in fact, have an incredibly entertaining wide receiver combination with Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle. The Dolphins earned the most notable Week 2 victory behind 28 fourth-quarter points and a historic day for Tua Tagovailoa, Hill and Waddle — and it wasn’t bad for fantasy football owners, either. It still will be tough to represent the AFC East, but there’s growing momentum behind the Dolphins, as depicted by a shift in their betting prices to make the playoffs. Miami entered the season -175 to miss the postseason and now is -175 on DraftKings Sportsbook to make it.

— Broncos head coach Nathaniel Hackett has caused many Denver fans to mutter, “What the hell is he doing?!” while others have lent a more helping hand. Hackett, who was blasted after Week 1 for his decision to kick a 64-yard field goal rather than let Russell Wilson attempt a fourth-and-5, had his clock management and communication get so ugly in Week 2 that fans at Mile High Stadium were quite literally counting down the play clock.

Hackett twice failed to get the special teams unit ready for a play and the second time it cost the Broncos a chance at a 53-yard field goal. The delay of game on Denver then prompted a punt from midfield with the Broncos trailing 9-6. He decision-making has been terrible, as has Denver’s red-zone efficiency. The Broncos have had 15 plays from the 10-yard line or closer in two games, and it’s resulted in the offense going 0-for-6 in the red zone.

— No team has looked more dominant than the Bills through two weeks as Buffalo claimed a 41-7 victory over the Tennessee Titans on Monday night. Josh Allen (26-for-38, 317 yards, four touchdowns) and Stefon Diggs linked up for 148 yards and three touchdowns with Buffalo taking its starters out before the fourth quarter. The Bills offense certainly hasn’t shown any signs of missing former offensive coordinator Brian Daboll.

— Don’t look now, but quarterback Jalen Hurts seemingly has the 2-0 Philadelphia Eagles looking like a legit contender in the NFC. Hurts combine for 390 yards of offense and three touchdowns in a 24-7 win over the Minnesota Vikings on Monday night. Meanwhile, the Eagles defense made primetime Kirk Cousins struggle with three interceptions, all of which came with Minnesota threatening to score at the Philadelphia 19, 27 and 9 yard lines, respectively. It was a rather one-sided output in a game featuring two postseason contenders.

— Jimmy Garoppolo might have been the happiest player in the NFL on Sunday as he re-entered the fold for the 49ers following the season-ending injury to Trey Lance. Garoppolo, while offering his thoughts to Lance, admitted it came “full circle” after taking over in San Francisco’s 27-7 victory over the Seattle Seahawks. It’s fair to think that no single move this offseason came back to help an organization more than the 49ers’ reluctance to cut or trade Garoppolo, who was in trade talks throughout the summer.

— We all need to take a minute and appreciate just how insane of a fourth-down throw this was by an injured Justin Herbert:

— Can we all agree the Chicago Bears no longer deserve a primetime slot when they face the Green Bay Packers? Aaron Rodgers and company now are 12-1 in their last 13 matchups against the Bears and the majority of those games, much like Sunday night’s 27-10 beating, have not been close.

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