Is the AFC West a lot better than expected, or is the NFC East a lot worse than we thought? Or is it both? The AFC West went 3-0 in interconference games against the NFC East and two of those three were on the road. Then NFC East also lost a showdown of 2012 division winners to complete an 0-4 skunk, while the AFC West won the “battle” of two perceived cellar-dwellers to complete the four-game sweep of Week 2.
Denver 41 NY Giants 23: For the second straight week, Denver played a ho-hum first half that was fairly even and then buried a respected opponent in the second half. The Broncos scored 31 points in the second half, Peyton Manning was 30/43 for 307 yards, and Knowshon Moreno gave Denver a ground threat with 93 yards on 13 carries.
Eli Manning, by contrast, was awful. He threw four interceptions, the second straight week the Giants have lost with turnovers being their key story. For now, let’s still assume that this is something they can get cleaned up, but I don’t agree with sabermetric types who think that all turnovers are flukes. This has to be on the radar as a problem—particularly given the fact that though a shaky Denver pass rush only sacked Eli once, they got consistent pressure and that’s something you can’t say about the New York front four right now.
San Diego 33 Philadelphia 30: Is Philip Rivers back? The Charger quarterback was brilliant, throwing 419 yards with no interceptions on 36/47 passing, working the ball to Antonio Gates and Malcolm Floyd with efficiency. The flip side is that the oohing and aahing over Chip Kelly’s high-speed Philadelphia offense has now given way to questions about his defense. After the first half against a rusty RG3 in Week 1, the Eagles have been shredded for six straight quarters.
Kansas City 17 Dallas 16: The Chiefs won this game because they kept the Dallas passing game underneath—Tony Romo’s 30/42 only netted 298 yards, which is just too inefficient. With the game turned into more of a yardstick-to-yardstick affair, Kansas City had the edge. They rushed for 114 yards—although Alex Smith got 57 of those on eight carries, a somewhat weird development. The longest was 17, just in case you’re wondering if he got most of the yards on one carry. Dallas, as usual, did not run the ball, and as usual, lost a winnable game.
Green Bay 38 Washington 20: I thought RG3 looked better physically in this game. The limps weren’t noticeable like they were in Week 1, the plants on his throws looked much firmer, the zip on his passes was better, and he took off out of the pocket a couple times. That speaks well for the long-term prognosis, as does the fact that Alfred Morris ran the ball effectively, getting 107 yards on 13 carries.
The short-term problem is this—the Redskin defense is a joke, and Aaron Rodgers was the one doing the laughing, en route to a 480-yard day on 34/42 passing. My only question is this—given how bad the Washington secondary is, how did Rodgers actually have eight incomplete throws? James Jones and Randall Cobb rang up huge numbers, as did James Starks on the ground. If you graded all the NFC contenders strictly on how they’ve played the first two weeks, I’d rank the Packers #1.
Oakland 19 Jacksonville 9: Who were these guys in the silver-and-black and what have they done with the real Oakland Raiders? The team that showed up on Sunday controlled the trenches on both sides of the ball, setting up Darren McFadden for a 100-plus yard day, and shutting down Maurice Jones-Drew. And they played clean football, with only five penalties. Yes, the quality—or lack thereof—in the opponent is to be noted. But if you combine this result with the near-miss at Indianapolis in Week 1, and we have yet to see any evidence that Oakland is going to be terrible.