32 thoughts on “2019-2020 NFL: Week 2

  1. Thu
    Buccaneers-Panthers

    Sun
    Cardinals-Ravens
    Chargers-Lions
    Colts-Titans
    49ers-Bengals
    Jaguars-Texans
    Vikings-Packers
    Cowboys-Redskins
    Seahawks-Steelers
    Bills-Giants
    Patriots-Dolphins
    Chiefs-Raiders
    Saints-Rams
    Bears-Broncos
    Eagles-Falcons

    Mon
    Browns-Jets

    Power Rankings

    1st Tier
    Patriots, Cowboys
    Vikings
    Chiefs

    Off the top of my head, and based heavily on the way they played in week 1, I would put these four teams clearly ahead of the pack. I’m not entirely sure how good the Vikings defense will be. If they are more than very good, and they can run the ball well, they would be on the same plane as the Patriots and Cowboys. The top three teams seemed balanced, can run the ball, and play defense.

    I can’t say that about the Chiefs, so they are below the other three, and they could be a lot weaker on defense. At the same time, their offense looks unstoppable—so I think they belong in the first tier.

    2nd tier
    Saints, Chargers
    Rams, Packers,
    Ravens, Eagles

    Really, I could put all these teams on the same level. Saints and Chargers seem really balanced, but not necessarily great in any one area. They both seem to be a little more vulnerable than the first tier teams.

    With the Packers, I’m unsure how good their run game will be, and I tend to think it will have to be really good to help their passing game (which I’m skeptical about). With the Rams, right now, I’m not real confident about their defense. If they’re better than I think, I’d bump them up. Eagles didn’t look all that great in week 1, and I need to see the Ravens play better competition before I move them up.

    3rd tier
    Steelers, Bears, Browns, Texans
    Titans

    Probably not worth mentioning these teams. Well, I guess they’re worth mentioning because they could definitely move up into the 2nd or even 1st tier. With almost all of them, I’d say really good running and defense would move them up.

    (Negative) Power Rankings

    Who are the worst teams in the league so far?

    Dolphins
    Cardinals

    Broncos
    Bengals
    Redskins

    1. Random impressions after week 1:

      Smith-Schuster may not be a true #1. If that is true the Steelers may not be great.
      True to the past, the Steeler run defense looked pretty stout as the Patriots struggled to run the ball early. The Pats just countered by throwing the ball wherever they wanted and moving the ball at will.
      Mayfield looked a little less confident against the Titans than what I remembered last year. He didn’t have happy feet in the pocket, yet there were a few passes he tried to just rocket it to the underneath guy. It came across a little panicky. The Browns’ o-line may not be great.
      Dallas’ defense wasn’t great. But some of their best players, D-law, Byron Jones (who hardly played), and Tyrone Crawford didn’t play in the preseason at all. So I’m hopeful.
      Conversely, the Giant’s offense looks slightly better this year. They might have been decent with Odell, because they really could use someone to stretch the field.
      The Rams looked more like the Rams that played the second half of the season than the team that played the first half of the season last year.
      Deshaun Watson can throw the long ball. That’s not a new revelation, but man does he have some weapons for that talent. Houston’s line looked okay (that’s what Reid was saying).
      Burfict looked good. He’s still young so that shouldn’t be surprising I guess, but I was surprised.
      The Raiders looked good, as I stated before, and Jacobs seem like the real deal.

    2. Smith-Schuster may not be a true #1. If that is true the Steelers may not be great.
      True to the past, the Steeler run defense looked pretty stout as the Patriots struggled to run the ball early. The Pats just countered by throwing the ball wherever they wanted and moving the ball at will.

      This comes close to the Steelers-Patriots script to me. The Steelers (out of the LeBeau school) have struggled to adjust to spread offenses–adapting the 3-4 blitzburg style to the popular 4-3, bend but don’t break approach. Consequently, the Patriots seem to consistently dice them up.

      Additionally, the Steelers have used a more one-dimensional spread offense approach. I think it’s extremely difficult to beat Belichick that way.

      Maybe I’m wrong, but it seems like Tomlin has never adjusted, and keeps doing the same thing over and over again, expecting different results.

      Speaking of which, a part of me hopes the Seahawks use more spread passing, instead of trying to overpower the Steelers run defense. (I tend to think Schotty is going to stick with the run game more than he should.)

      Additionally, I would take the Steelers performance against the Patriots with a grain of salt. The Pats are a bat matchup.

      Mayfield looked a little less confident against the Titans than what I remembered last year. He didn’t have happy feet in the pocket, yet there were a few passes he tried to just rocket it to the underneath guy. It came across a little panicky. The Browns’ o-line may not be great.

      I didn’t get the sense he was panicky, but who knows. And yeah, I worry about their OL, but it didn’t seem as bad as some say. (But I’m comparing this to Seahawks last week.)

      Dallas’ defense wasn’t great. But some of their best players, D-law, Byron Jones (who hardly played), and Tyrone Crawford didn’t play in the preseason at all. So I’m hopeful.
      Conversely, the Giant’s offense looks slightly better this year. They might have been decent with Odell, because they really could use someone to stretch the field.

      I thought the Giants offense started strong, making the Cowboy defense not look so good, but then the Giants offense gradually fizzled as the game progressed.

      The Rams looked more like the Rams that played the second half of the season than the team that played the first half of the season last year.

      I know what you mean, but I don’t really agree. Goff looked off, even when he wasn’t really pressured. In the second half last year, he’d either face more pressure or the Rams offense wasn’t functioning as well overall. If Goff made these throws, I think they would have looked as good. (Also they got two punts blocked.)

      Deshaun Watson can throw the long ball. That’s not a new revelation, but man does he have some weapons for that talent. Houston’s line looked okay (that’s what Reid was saying).

      I agree about Watson’s longball and the weapons. Just think if they had a really good run game. They’d be contenders in my view.

      As for the OL, they’re not the worst, but they’re kinda shaky too.

      The Raiders looked good, as I stated before, and Jacobs seem like the real deal.

      I don’t know, he looked solid, but not special. The way I remember him, he’s similar to the way Jones and Barber ran for the Bucs.

  2. Buccaneers-Panthers

    Based on two games, I would say the Bucs are a run-first team, almost ground and pound. They use a lot of run-heavy formations like 12 personnel. By the end of the 3rd, they looked like they were wearing down the Panthers D. They don’t use play action that much, though, which I think they should.

    Cam doesn’t look right. He’s not a factor in the run game at all, and he’s not good enough of a passer to make up for this. I know Cam hasn’t been the most accurate QB, but the accuracy seems worse. Again, I suspect he’s not right.

    Also, I was curious to see the Panthers defense this season, particularly if they could be a dominant defense, especially on the DL. Based on two games so far, the answer is no. They’re not a bad defense, but they’re far from great, too.

    1. I pooh poohed Mitchell’s Buc’s pick. But at least in this one (and I didn’t see a lot of it), the Bucs are getting coached up. I was a Bowles fan before, but this defense looked decent. Yes Cam wasn’t great and yes he doesn’t seem right, but with a four man rush, the Bucs were getting to him. Bowles also mixed in the blitz to keep them off balance. Just as reference I’m pretty sure the Bucs were in the bottom three in defense last year.

      I also agree at least in this one, the Bucs seem like a running team. I think they didn’t run as much in the first week, but I think they were behind for most of the game.

      1. Arians seems to really like Peyton Barber, even though Barber got only a few touches in week 1. I don’t think I like Winston as a game manager, and if he’s overly cautious I don’t think the Buccaneers can do much more than win a weak division. However, he needed to right the ship, and hopefully this week gets him back on track. He’s thrown more INTs in his career than anyone else during that span.

      2. Barber looked solid, as did Jones. They may not be great RBs, but with good blocking I could see both being solid backs. They run in a fairly physical style. (Let’s see if they can do this as defenses key on stopping the run.)

        I tend to think Arians isn’t trying to turn Winston into a game-manager so much as getting him to reduce his turnovers. Winning will be very difficult if he continues to turn the ball over in the way he has over his career (and it’s not just INTs). Arians isn’t really a conservative coach, too, so I’d be surprised if they play this way for the entire season.

    2. … but with a four man rush, the Bucs were getting to him.

      I think that says more about the Panthers OL in my opinion. They may not be terrible, but they seem kinda shaky to me. (I’m also basing this on last week’s game against the Rams.)

      In terms of the Bucs D, overall, it’s hard to say. They don’t seem great, but they don’t seem terrible. (I like Bowles, too, for what it’s worth.)

      They could be decent team if Winston protects the football, and they can run the ball effectively–like 9-7, maybe 10-6.

      1. No the Panthers’ o-line, at least in this one, isn’t just shaky, but they looked pretty bad. That added to Cam’s deficiencies for sure.

    1. Yeah, putting the Redskins on the list might be premature, but I think there’s a decent chance they’re going to be in the bottom tier by the end of the season.

      As for the Raiders and Seahawks, right now, I feel like they’re neither among the best or the worst.

      1. Yeah, I’m not really doing power rankings that way. And for what it’s worth, I’m not just thinking about where the team will end up, but how good a team really is.

        The Raiders looked good, but is that substantive? To what degree did they look good because the Broncos played poorly? I’m factoring those things into this.

        With the Seahawks, if I just went by the last game, yes, they might be in or close to the bottom tier.

  3. Seahawks-Steelers

    Loved: Quick passing game of the Seahawks.
    Did not love: The turnovers (Carson!), and the defense against a backup QB. (Also, OL still needs to get things cleaned up.)

    Vikings-Packers

    Cousins was a big reason the Vikings lost this–two bad INTs. To be fair, the Vikings OL looked overwhelmed at times, especially in pass pro. Interestingly, the run-blocking was pretty solid, especially in the 4th, where it seemed like the Vikings run game was wearing out the Packer defense.

    The Packers dominated the game early on, on both sides of the ball. I think the Vikings defense did a great job in the second half to give them a chance to win this.

    The Packers defense looked good. Right now, they seem like one of the best defenses.

    Both offenses were fairly balanced. Good game.

    Cowboys-Redskins

    Redskins hung in there, but Cowboys pulled away.
    My impression of the Cowboys: They seem to want to make the offense revolve around Dak, not Elliot. It seems like their core play is from the shotgun, not under center. The OL doesn’t look as good in run-blocking, as they were in the past. If the OL has diminished in that area, then maybe the switch is good, but I would be more shaky moving away from the run game, and putting more of the burden on Prescott.

    The defense looks good, maybe very good, but not great. (I haven’t really seen any great defenses in the league so far.)

    Saints-Rams

    Saints get robbed on a call again. Brees goes down (dang). I stopped watching somewhere in the 3rd.

    Chargers-Lions

    This was kind of a sloppy game. Two missed FGs by the Chargers, INTs by both QBs. I kinda like the Lions offense. Their defense seemed to get a little tired in the second half. If their defense or run game were a little better they could be a dangerous team.

    Cardinals-Ravens

    Cardinals hung in this one, almost to the end. Man, they can move the ball up the field quickly. I think part of the problem is that the Ravens ball control in the second half wasn’t as good as I would have expected. Part of this is the running game wasn’t as effective, and Jackson wasn’t converting 1st downs.

    Cardinals defense actually played fairly well, especially since their offense plays so fast. Cardinals OL kinda sucks, too. Murray made some good passes, considering the minimal pass protection.

    Bills-Giants

    I stopped watching this fairly early, but my impression is that the Giants might have one of the worst defenses in the league.

    Eagles-Falcons

    Both QBs were sloppy with ball security. If the Falcons lost, I would have blamed Ryan.

    The Eagles aren’t a top tier team in my opinion. Maybe it’s just rust, but Wentz didn’t look good (and not just his INTs). Eagles run game really isn’t much of a threat, either.

    1. Reid said

      The Packers defense looked good. Right now, they seem like one of the best defenses.

      Yep, and they play Denver in Green Bay next week, so I don’t expect that to change soon.

      Saints-Rams: I also stopped watching sometime midway through. Mostly because I wanted a nap. But I liked the play of both QBs. The zip on Brees’s passes is a little surprising — I expected to see signs of aging this year. I know our concept of aging QBs is changing, but I still think Brady’s the fluke, while even great players like Brees should show signs of losing it. I still kind of expect it, but this was not the week for it.

      I also think Goff looks a lot more poised back there, especially on passing plays that don’t unfold as expected. I really don’t like the Rams as an organization, but I have to admit they’re winning me over lately.

      In fairness, Wentz’s receivers let some easy catches get away. I thought Ryan looked pretty good, and man that Julio Jones long TD was a pretty play. I’m surprised (but also grateful, fantasy-wise) that the Falcons don’t go to their tight end more. They have decent talent there and Ryan is usually so good on short throws.

    2. I didn’t really see any games this weekend except the Cowboy game. Dallas, at least to me, looked more dominate in this game than the Giants game. Dallas played better on both sides of the ball overall. Yes, the Giants gave up some big plays, which led to easy scores, but Dallas was able to consistently move the ball better against the Redskins with the exception of the first quarter. However, Dallas’ defense could have put the nail in the coffin after Dallas’ score in the third quarter but gave up a TD.

      In terms of running the ball, I agree that Dallas isn’t gashing guys like in Zeke’s first year. I would probably say they weren’t gashing guys last year either though. For one, Zeke consistently starts slow, and I’m going to guess more so this year since he wasn’t in camp. And two, under Linehan, Dallas loved to play 12 personnel (two TEs), which is Dallas’ bread and butter running formation. They struggled with 12 last year because they didn’t have Witten (guessing). This year they almost exclusively run 11 personnel. But I thought Zeke ran pretty well in this game. I wouldn’t say he was dominating, but the Redskins is supposed to have a great front, and Zeke was gaining 4-5 yards pretty consistently. He also had his second longest run of the day called back because of a holding penalty. To me the offense looked better with the exception of the underneath passing game, which wasn’t there all game long it seem.

      Was wondering if the Rams offense still looked good this week?

      I saw bits and pieces of the Philly, Atlanta game. Wentz did look bad at points in the first half (but my guess is he probably looked bad against the Redskins too in the first half). But he lost Jeffreys and Jackson very early in the game.

    3. Mitchell,

      I thought I saw clear signs of deterioration of Brees’s arm strength several years ago. Same with Brady. But it’s like they’ve bounced back a bit. Also, I’ve noticed that Brees’s arm strength seems to go down a bit by the end of the season. I’ve also noticed a big difference if he’s playing inside or out.

      With Goff, this is one of the first times when he’s made solid throws under heavy pressure. I’m not sure if this is trend, but it’s something that stood out. In the past, the chances of the pass malfunctioning when he’s under heavy pressure was incredibly high. (I would say 90% or more.)

      With Wentz, I didn’t realize D-Jax wasn’t playing, and I forgot that Jeffery wasn’t playing, too. I think Peters went down at one point, and I’m not sure if they had other injuries on the OL. Finally, their run game isn’t really a threat. All these things can explain Wentz’s struggles (not necessarily the INTs, though).
      I think I said this before, but I think it’s worth repeating—some of the elite QBs made some awful decisions/throws in week 2. I’m thinking of Cousins, Ryan, Stafford, Rivers, Wentz (I might be missing some others). Hopefully, it’s just kinks they failed to work out in pre-season.

    4. Don,
      The Cowboys run game wasn’t great last year—they were shaky at pass-pro, too—but I attributed that to injuries. With Frederick back, I thought they might return to form. Are there other injuries on the OL?

      As for Elliot’s running, I wouldn’t say it was bad, but it was dominant—to the point where I’d say they have the best run game in the league. Also, the sense I get is that the run game has taken a more complementary role, not a central one. Based on these two games, their offense seems more like the Colts, Eagles, and maybe even the Chargers—all offenses built around the QB. I think they would have a better chance of winning the Super Bowl if Zeke and the run game was central.

      Re: Eagles
      Their offense didn’t look good. The defense didn’t look all that great, too, but as you guys mentioned, they’re banged up.
      Speaking of which, there are too many dang injuries in the league. Now, Big Ben is out for the season; Brees is missing at least 6 weeks. There are other recent injuries that I’m forgetting about. I really don’t like it. The ‘Hawks play the Saints next, so they benefit, but if I could wave a magic wand that would reduce all injuries (especially season-ending ones), I’d do that, even if Brees could play.

      On a side note, I saw that Lamar Jackson’s QB rating is really high (not sure which rating it was). I’ve heard people mention him as an MVP candidate. I would pump the breaks on this. The Ravens played the Dolphins in week 1. (By the way, I didn’t realize the Pats blanked the Dolphins. I watched the first quarter, and the Dolphins didn’t look so bad. In any event, after seeing the scoring this thought came to mind: The Dolphins should refund the season ticket holders. Maybe just forfeit all the games. If it’s going to be this bad, why go through the motions. Something is wrong if this continues.)

      Against the Cardinals, he had a lot of errant throws in my view. He made some nice throws, especially a crucial third down one, but this masks these other errant passes. In a way, he kind of reminds me of Cam Newton, in terms of accuracy, and Jackson might be worse. Also, with Cam, in the past, he would make handful of throws, gunning the ball in a tight window for example, that very few QBs could make—not just now, but maybe ever. We’re talking throws in the Favre, Marino, Elway vein. This kind of thing could make up for his missing targets on much easier throws. From what I’ve seen Jackson doesn’t have that arm. For me, the question mark is still significant for Jackson.

      1. Are there other injuries on the OL?

        Last year or this year? This year, Martin is the only guy playing hurt right now. I think La’el had the highest PFF lineman grade in the NFL in week one, and the rest were all up there as well.

        I think they would have a better chance of winning the Super Bowl if Zeke and the run game was central.

        I would tend to agree, but I wouldn’t want to go back to Linehan. But they should run more 12 personnel on 1st down, and then mix it up with some play action based on what I’ve seen this year so far. That being said, I’m surprised that in 11 personnel, Zeke isn’t being as effective. The field should be more spread, which you would think would create more holes.

        How did the Rams offense look this week, and what about the Raiders?

      2. Last year or this year? This year, Martin is the only guy playing hurt right now. I think La’el had the highest PFF lineman grade in the NFL in week one, and the rest were all up there as well.

        Sorry, I meant this year. Do you think the run blocking looks as good as it has when the OL was at its best? It doesn’t look that way to me, but maybe it’s partly because they don’t seem to emphasize running as much. ?

        That being said, I’m surprised that in 11 personnel, Zeke isn’t being as effective. The field should be more spread, which you would think would create more holes.

        You mean, 11 personnel shotgun, under center, or both? In shotgun, I think they really have to emphasize read-option for Zeke to run well in this. (This is what Seattle does.) Under center, if they played like the Rams (and Bengals and Packers), I think he should be able to. The play calling might be the problem, too. (Same with Packers). The plays have to be called to help the RB get into a rhythm. In the first two games, the running game didn’t seem to be in a great rhythm in my opinion.

        How did the Rams offense look this week, and what about the Raiders?

        The Rams offense looked pretty good. I think they’re still a little rusty, and if that’s the case, I think they could be even better. I also mentioned Goff making a few throws under pressure, which is something I haven’t really seen before. Finally, there are certain points in middle or later parts where the Rams went to a lot of toss sweeps with Gurley. It was a nice change of pace. McVay, Taylor, LeFleur (and maybe Jon Gruden)–their offenses look like something from the mid to late 90s. I like it. (I think I like Kubiak’s and Shanahan’s better, though.)

        The Raiders started off well. Watching Mahomes make those four bombs was really disheartening, though, and I stopped watching soon after. Overall, I think offensively they look solid, especially when Tyrell Williams is their best receiver. (OL looks solid so far. Hopefully, they’ll be even better when Gabe Jackson gets back.)

  4. Browns-Jets

    The Browns defense have a good roster, and the Jets offense is making them look like the ’85 Bears. I’m at the half right now, and I will say this: The Browns just have to protect the football, and they should win. That should be the number one priority.

    The Jets defense looks solid, or the Browns OL is shaky. Mayfield’s throws were off at times. Pressure could have been getting to him.

    (Didn’t watch the whole game.)

  5. That’s good for the Miami’s future, but if their play on the field continues throughout this season, something is not right. There’s an impression that the players (maybe coaches, too) don’t care or are not trying. There’s something wrong about that. Even when the Browns were at their worst, I didn’t get the sense they weren’t trying.

    1. Fitzpatrick (Minkah that is, although Miami probably wants to get rid of the other one too) wanted a trade. If I’m Miami I could ship out anyone who wants out if I can get a decent price for them. It’s super hard to tank and be successful in the NFL. Only a QB is worth tanking for, and QBs are hard to evaluate.

      Why is the Steelers giving up draft picks for guys? I would think they should be tanking this year. Who knows what this year will be like without Ben, and who knows if Ben will ever return.

    2. If I’m Miami I could ship out anyone who wants out if I can get a decent price for them. It’s super hard to tank and be successful in the NFL. Only a QB is worth tanking for, and QBs are hard to evaluate.

      I’ve been thinking about the idea of just trading players, especially good ones, both in terms of talent and character. I think you need to keep as many of these players as possible. And if these players want to leave, that probably speaks badly of the coach/organization. Let’s say Miami builds a warchest of picks, I’m not sure this would be successful approach without a core group of players with experience to build upon. Miami might get a lot of young talented players, but I think they’ll need experienced players to show them the ropes.

      (How are the second and third sentences connected to the first?)

      Why is the Steelers giving up draft picks for guys? I would think they should be tanking this year. Who knows what this year will be like without Ben, and who knows if Ben will ever return.

      I’ve heard other people mention this–specifically that without Roethlisberger, the Steelers have a good chance of getting a top ten pick, if not top five. Why trade their first, when they may need a QB? Are the Steelers that high on Rudolph?

      By the way, this is probably a broken record, but I think the Steelers should go back to their old style–physical defense and run game–with Rudolph at the helm.

      1. (How are the second and third sentences connected to the first?)

        Yeah, sorry. What I meant to write is that although I would let any Miami player that wanted to leave, go, I don’t think tanking works in the NFL. Well not the way Miami is doing it (if they truly are trying to do it) and how the Browns seemingly did it a few years ago. I think with the rookie salary scale and salary cap in general, the best teams will either be well coached (obviously) or consistently draft well (pretty obvious as well). But as obvious as it sounds, it doesn’t always hold true in the NBA, where a Lebron can overcome any of those obstacles. I’ll also add in the NFL, you have to hit on a few third and fourth round guys, just because they come in so cheap, when I said draft well.

    3. Yeah, sorry. What I meant to write is that although I would let any Miami player that wanted to leave, go, I don’t think tanking works in the NFL. Well not the way Miami is doing it (if they truly are trying to do it) and how the Browns seemingly did it a few years ago.

      My sense is that you have to try to play well. You can’t made big trades to improve the team, but you can’t give up on seriously developing players and the team (in the tanking year).

      However, if a few years of not having a good team can and should lead to a great team–especially if you have a good QB. I think this what happened to the 49ers when Harbaugh came to the team. The team was stacked, especially in the front seven and OL. But to be intentionally bad doesn’t seem like a good way to get to this point.

  6. I’m surprised the Rams are number one. I also didn’t realize SF was up there. I watched the Rams second game in the TV copy, and I didn’t notice that they were playing that fast.

    1. What’s interesting is that the lowest passing rates (i.e., higher run rates) doesn’t really correlate with the slowest paced offenses.

      Also, interesting is that IND runs a lot. Maybe my eyes have deceived me–maybe they’re more of a run-based team than I think.

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