The NFL still has Monday Night Football featuring the Indianapolis Colts and Philadelphia Eagles, but before we get to that later tonight, I figured I would take a look at the rest of the NFL action from Sunday.
The San Francisco 49ers dropped an ugly 28-20 decision, but it was a Sunday in which everything seemed upside down at times. The league retains much of its parity, and although it is only two weeks into the season, it seems safe to say that we are in for a fairly wild 2014.
So, uh, how about those Arizona Cardinals?
After two games, the Arizona Cardinals are in sole possession of first place, with a 2-0 record. They went into Met Life Stadium and beat the New York Giants 25-14. The Cardinals jumped on top 10-0 in the first quarter, and then saw the Giants storm back and take a 14-10 lead into the fourth quarter. However, the Cardinals put together a 15-point fourth quarter and emerged victorious. Oh, and they did it with backup QB Drew Stanton making his first start in who knows how long.
The Giants are not a good football team, but it is a win for a Cardinals team that I really thought would struggle coming out of the gate. They lost numerous players on defense, but they've settled down. They still have some question marks, and probably had no business beating the San Diego Chargers in Week 1, but they have their two wins. And now the 49ers get their first crack at them later this week.
And the rest of the NFC West?
Suddenly there is a 3-way tie for second place in the West. The Seattle Seahawks struggled mightily against the Chargers. The final score saw the Chargers win 30-21, but that included a Percy Harvin touchdown that probably should have been called back when Harvin went out of bounds. The final score was not indicative of how the Chargers handled this game. The Seahawks are a very good team, but they are a question mark on the road. They covered in 6 of their 8 road games last season, but the Chargers are a much better team than many they faced on the road last year, and we saw it.
The St. Louis Rams somehow escaped with a win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. That was a back-and-forth affair all day long. Aside from The Rams putting up ten points on a pair of drives in the first half, the teams alternated scores throughout the game. And it was the Rams who drew last blood, with a Greg Zuerlein field goal to win it, 19-17.
Stunner by the lake
How many people saw the Cleveland Browns upsetting the New Orleans Saints? I had the Browns covering, but I figured the Saints would hold on for a reasonably close win. Instead, the Browns controlled the first half, hung around in the third quarter, and pulled off the sizable upset in the fourth quarter.
Coming into this season, I felt like the Saints were dangerous enough that if they secured home field in the playoffs, they would be the team to beat in January. Of course, you actually have to win some games to secure that home field. The Saints opened the season with back-to-back road games, and blew opportunities in both of them. The Saints of the recent past have struggled on the road, and this year's Saints do not appear to be any different. The Saints might still get back and win the division, but dropping to 0-2 puts them in a hole early.
What do we make of the Panthers?
The Carolina Panthers join the Arizona Cardinals as the only 2-0 teams in the NFC, at least until Philadelphia faces Indianapolis on Monday Night Football. But what do we make of the Panthers? They are 2-0 with wins over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Detroit Lions. For now, I'll say those are not particularly good teams. One or both could change that viewpoint before the end of the season, but for now, they are kinda meh.
However, two wins, including a divisional road win to start the season are always a big deal. The Panthers host the PIttsburgh Steelers, travel to face the Baltimore Ravens, and then host the Chicago Bears in the next three weeks. Those are all potentially very winnable games. Of course, at that point, we might find out if the Panthers are legit, or who maybe some of us think they are. I have no real idea what to make of them for now.
On to Week 3!
For now, 10 of 16 teams in the NFC are 1-1, with the Eagles game still pending. Week 3 features some pretty big games. Below is a list of pertinent matchups that include potential 49ers opponents, or just NFC teams. The biggest game on the schedule (well, aside from 49ers-Cardinals!) is the Denver Broncos traveling to face the Seattle Seahawks. In Week 1, the Packers completely avoided Richard Sherman's side of the field. Given the Chargers success attacking the entire field, should we expect to see Peyton Manning try and replicate that?