Week 2 of the 2013 NFL regular season is set to commence on Thursday, Sept. 12 at 8:25 p.m. ET, when the New York Jets travel to play the New England Patriots. This will be the first of a series of high-profile Week 2 games between teams that have already altered expectations.
The question is, how does the rest of the NFL look heading into Week 2?
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32. Jacksonville Jaguars
Week 1: 2-28 loss vs. Kansas City Chiefs
Week 2: at Oakland Raiders
The Jacksonville Jaguars managed to score two total points during their season-opening 28-2 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. Worst of all, the Jaguars' offensive woes weren't just exploited—they were displayed at home.
There's no way around this: After Week 1, the Jaguars look like the worst team in the NFL.
During its season opener, Jacksonville managed 12 first downs, went 5-of-19 on third-down conversions and had one possession in the red zone. To make matters worse, the Jaguars averaged more yards per rush, 3.1, than they did per pass attempt, 2.6.
Now, starting quarterback Blaine Gabbert is injured, and Jacksonville will have to wait even longer to see if he'll end up panning out.
The word "horrendous" is rarely appropriate, but it fits Jacksonville's Week 1 performance.
Jaguars HC Gus Bradley ruled out QB Blaine Gabbert from starting Sunday at Oakland. Chad Henne now gets start.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) September 9, 2013
Analysts, scouts, executives and everyone else from here to Jacksonville have spent years trying to figure out why the Jaguars are so consistently poor. With the Jaguars going through four coaches since 2011, it's time for upper management to relocate the blame.
There's a fundamental flaw with how the front office has drafted and signed players over the past 13 years, as the team owns just two postseason appearances in that time.
31. Cleveland Browns
Week 1: 10-23 loss vs. Miami Dolphins
Week 2: at Baltimore Ravens
The Cleveland Browns opened up the season in a significantly stronger fashion than a 23-10 loss to the Miami Dolphins would suggest. Brandon Weeden threw for 289 yards, tight end Jordan Cameron broke out in a major way, and the defense picked up four sacks and an interception.
Unfortunately, the Browns are still the same team we've grown accustomed to seeing.
Weeden threw three interceptions, and Trent Richardson picked up 47 yards on 13 carries. The defense was stellar against the run, holding Miami to 20 yards on 23 carries, but until Cleveland can put points on the board, this will be a continuing trend.
It seems like we've been saying that since the Browns returned to the NFL in 1999.
Weeden has displayed big-play ability with his arm, and Richardson is a stud in the backfield, but Cleveland still hasn't addressed the void at wide receiver. Its defense is strong enough to stay in any game, but an absence of offensive playmakers is crippling.
Facing the Baltimore Ravens on the road won't make life any easier for the Browns in Week 2.
30. San Diego Chargers
Week 1: 28-31 vs. Houston Texans
Week 2: at Philadelphia Eagles
The San Diego Chargers started the season with a bang, taking a 28-7 lead over the Houston Texans into the final 20 minutes of play. Philip Rivers had thrown four touchdowns, and San Diego's defense had played phenomenal football through two-and-a-half quarters. An upset was in the making.
Just like that, the Chargers failed to score another point as Houston went on a 24-0 run, handing San Diego a 31-28 home loss.
The defeat affirmed the fact that if anyone is to blame for San Diego's recent down seasons, it's not Rivers. He's still a very good quarterback who, despite playing without any reliable support on offense, can compete with the best of them.
Unfortunately, his supporting cast won't be getting any better in 2013.
Antonio Gates is aging, Ryan Mathews is a health risk, and the combination of Vincent Brown, Malcom Floyd and Eddie Royal will lead the receiving corps. The defense could be of a high quality if it avoids future collapses, but this team doesn't have enough talent to win.
Rivers misses you, LaDainian Tomlinson.
29. Oakland Raiders
Week 1: 17-21 loss at Indianapolis Colts
Week 2: vs. Jacksonville Jaguars
The Oakland Raiders have reason for confidence at quarterback for the first time since they were led by Rich Gannon in 2002 or Kerry Collins in 2005, but that depends on how loose your definition of confidence is. Fortunately, there's no way to navigate around the fact that Terrelle Pryor was impressive in Week 1.
Losing 21-17 hurts, but watching Pryor develop should be reason enough to remain encouraged throughout what should be a tough season.
He finished the game at 19-of-29 for 217 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. He also ran the ball 13 times for 112 yards, holding the league lead before LeSean McCoy rushed for 184 on Monday Night Football.
If Darren McFadden can remain healthy, the Raiders will be a fun team to watch offensively.
There's no question that Oakland has holes to fill, specifically at wide receiver, but it will be competitive. The Raiders have the potential to put up more than 100 rushing yards every time out with Pryor scrambling and McFadden remaining an elite talent when available.
The Raiders have a chance to put a win on the board with a home game against Jacksonville in Week 2 and continue taking steps in the right direction.
28. Arizona Cardinals
Week 1: 24-27 loss at St. Louis Rams
Week 2: vs. Detroit Lions
The Arizona Cardinals have made dramatic improvements, most notably at the quarterback position. After a far-too-lenient experiment with Kevin Kolb and John Skelton, the Cardinals acquired both Carson Palmer and quarterback guru Bruce Arians.
So far, so good.
Palmer is still one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL from a statistical perspective, and he showed why against a stout St. Louis Rams defense. Despite playing against the cornerback tandem of Cortland Finnegan and Janoris Jenkins, Palmer was 26-of-40 for 327 yards, two touchdowns and an interception.
Keep in mind, this is the same Palmer who tied Aaron Rodgers with 268 passing yards per game in 2012, despite throwing to a dreadful Raiders receiving corps and attempting just three passes in his final appearance.
This year, he has the likes of Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd and Andre Roberts as targets, and they are all reaping the benefits of his arrival. Fitzgerald had eight receptions for 80 yards and two scores, while Floyd and Roberts combined for 12 catches and 179 yards.
The Cardinals defense will need to get after the quarterback, and Rashard Mendenhall must establish the run, but if we learned anything about this team in Week 1, it's that the Arizona can overachieve in 2013.
27. Buffalo Bills
Week 1: 21-23 loss vs. New England Patriots
Week 2: vs. Carolina Panthers
The Buffalo Bills ended up being a last-second field goal away from upsetting the New England Patriots in Week 1. Rookie quarterback EJ Manuel was sensational, Fred Jackson reminded the world who the No. 1 running back in Buffalo has been for the past half-decade, and the Bills defense was huge.
Unfortunately, it wasn't to be, as New England ended up winning, 23-21.
Manuel finished the day at 18-of-27 for 150 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions while also running for 23 yards on three carries. Jackson, meanwhile, carried the ball 13 times for 67 yards and caught four passes for 41 yards.
His injury in 2013 allowed C.J. Spiller to step in and excel, but Jackson was the main man in Buffalo for a reason.
Defensively, the Bills' youth is finally coming into its own with the likes of Kiko Alonso, Marcell Dareus and Da'Norris Searcy shining. While this team may be a few years away from true contention, the Bills are a squad with heart and promise.
A Week 2 meeting with Carolina will determine just how ready they are to compete.
26. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Week 1: 17-18 loss at New York Jets
Week 2: vs. New Orleans Saints
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers had one of the worst meltdowns imaginable against the New York Jets. Despite having a relatively comfortable 17-15 lead in the closing moments of the fourth quarter, the Bucs' lack of discipline resulted in a loss.
One of 13 penalties committed resulted in the Jets moving into field-goal range. When Nick Folk converted from 48 yards out, Tampa Bay was downed.
It was more of the same from the Bucs, as Josh Freeman was 15-of-31 for 210 yards, one touchdown, an interception and a fumble resulting in a safety. To make matters worse, Tampa was 6-of-16 on third down, and Doug Martin ran for just 65 yards on 24 carries.
The true story wasn't production, however. It was penalties.
The Buccaneers committed 13 penalties for 102 yards, which is more yardage than they managed to account for by rushing the football. That proved to be the difference in the end and led the Bucs to an 0-1 start when 1-0 was mere seconds away.
Now, they are in danger of dropping to 0-2 with a home game against the New Orleans Saints on the horizon.
25. Carolina Panthers
Week 1: 7-12 loss vs. Seattle Seahawks
Week 2: at Buffalo Bills
The Carolina Panthers put on an outstanding defensive performance during a Week 1 12-7 loss to the Seattle Seahawks. Despite playing against one of the NFL's top running backs, Marshawn Lynch, and a fast-rising quarterback, Russell Wilson, the Panthers held Seattle to 12 points.
The Seahawks didn't even score a touchdown until the fourth quarter.
What's encouraging for Carolina is that its offense was impressive even though it failed to produce points. Cam Newton was 16-of-23, DeAngelo Williams ran the ball for 86 yards on 17 carries, and Steve Smith caught six passes for 51 yards and a score.
Matched up against the Buffalo Bills in Week 2, Carolina has a genuine opportunity to turn heads and move to 1-1 with a breakout performance.
Defensively, the Panthers' front seven proved that it is indeed elite, which is hardly surprising considering the personnel. Jon Beason, Luke Kuechly and Thomas Davis are monsters at linebacker, and both Greg Hardy and Charles Johnson are star pass-rushers.
If the defensive backfield is able to come along, Carolina could be a postseason team in 2013.
24. Pittsburgh Steelers
Week 1: 9-16 loss vs. Tennessee Titans
Week 2: at Cincinnati Bengals
The Pittsburgh Steelers have as many questions to answer as any team in the NFL. Pittsburgh managed just nine points during a 16-9 home loss against the Tennessee Titans, scoring its only touchdown with 1:23 remaining in the fourth quarter.
Don't expect things to get any easier when Pittsburgh travels to play the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 2.
The Steelers ran for 32 yards on 15 carries during Week 1, with starter Isaac Redman picking up nine yards and two fumbles on eight carries. Most concerning of all is the fact that the Steelers don't have any reason to believe those results will change.
Even when Le'Veon Bell returns from injury, he's a rookie who has never played a down of regular-season action.
Ben Roethlisberger is still an elite quarterback, Mike Tomlin is a top-tier head coach, and Pittsburgh's defense can shut anyone down. Unfortunately, age and a lack of playmakers have the Steelers in a dangerous position.
Should Pittsburgh lose to Cincy on Monday Night Football, it will fall to 0-2. That's not how people envisioned this season starting.
23. Tennessee Titans
Week 1: 16-9 win vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
Week 2: at Houston Texans
The Tennessee Titans defense made a statement by defeating the Steelers 16-9 on the road. It held the offense scoreless for 58:37, with Pittsburgh's only points coming from a safety up until that point.
Unfortunately, there isn't as much reason for excitement offensively.
Jake Locker was 11-of-20 for 125 yards in Week 1, and an absence of go-to receivers could force him to struggle throughout the season. Chris Johnson is still one of the best running backs in the league, and both Jackie Battle and Shonn Greene offer promise as backups, but Tennessee needs Locker to shine.
Even with an improved offensive line, the Titans will only be as effective as the passing game enables them to be.
Defensively, the Titans managed five sacks and two forced turnovers. With eight tackles for loss, six passes defended and six quarterback hits, Tennessee put pressure on Roethlisberger and Pittsburgh's run game all day long.
It'll need a performance of an equal caliber when Tennessee plays the Houston Texans in Week 2.
22. New York Jets
Week 1: 18-17 win vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Week 2: at New England Patriots
With Mark Sanchez out, rookie quarterback Geno Smith stepped in and showed New York Jets fans why he was drafted. He was 24-of-38 for 256 yards, a touchdown and an interception while also running the ball for 47 yards on six carries.
The only word to describe his performance is "refreshing."
After years of inconsistent quarterback play, the Jets seem to have a player they can rely on. Kellen Winslow seems to think so, as the tight end caught seven passes for 79 yards and a touchdown from Smith.
We'll be seeing a lot more of that pass-and-catch combination after news broke that Sanchez could miss the remainder of the season.
In order for Smith to continue shining in Sanchez's absence, New York will need to average better than the 3.1 yards per carry it posted against Tampa Bay. If the Jets are able to improve their run game, they could be a dark-horse postseason contender.
Mark Sanchez: may have season-ending shoulder surgery. He has an NFL-worst 36.1 Total QBR + 55.1 comp pct since his rookie 2009 season.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) September 12, 2013
Keep in mind that New York was 6-10 with significantly worse quarterback play and an injury-depleted squad in 2012. Adding a few more wins isn't entirely out of the question.
21. Minnesota Vikings
Week 1: 24-34 loss at Detroit Lions
Week 2: at Chicago Bears
In case you didn't know this already, Adrian Peterson is one of the best players to ever grace the NFL. He's a physical freak of nature, possessing a combination of power and speed that few, if any running backs, have ever possessed.
That just won't be enough if Minnesota doesn't start throwing the ball with some consistency.
Peterson ran the ball 18 times for 93 yards and two touchdowns and also caught four passes for 18 yards and a score during Minnesota's Week 1 34-24 loss to the Detroit Lions. Jerome Simpson added a monster stat line of seven receptions for 140 yards to help, but it was all about mistakes for Minnesota.
Even as Christian Ponder went 18-of-28 for 236 yards and a touchdown, his three interceptions and one fumble overshadowed the positive aspects of his work.
Minnesota's defense shut Calvin Johnson down, but Reggie Bush torched the Vikings for 191 yards of total offense, and Minnesota failed to register a single sack. Kevin Williams' return from injury should help, but there's no excuse for allowing 357 passing yards when "Megatron" only catches four passes for 37.
Minnesota better fix its issues, or Peterson's Hall of Fame-caliber play will go to waste.
20. Washington Redskins
Week 1: 27-33 loss vs. Philadelphia Eagles
Week 2: at Green Bay Packers
During the final 15:06 of their season opener, the Washington Redskins scored 20 consecutive points against the Philadelphia Eagles. Alfred Morris ran for a score, and Robert Griffin III connected with Leonard Hankerson for two touchdown passes.
Unfortunately, the Redskins lost 33-27 and are now 0-1 with a road game against the Green Bay Packers on the horizon.
Washington fell behind 33-7, failing to counter LeSean McCoy and Philadelphia's up-tempo offense. Its lone touchdown came on a controversial backward-pass fumble recovery by DeAngelo Hall, when he and a teammate were the only two who believed the play was still alive.
RG3 may have finished with 329 yards passing, but the rust was clear until it was too late.
Momentum could carry over, but the Redskins are about to face a motivated Packers team led by Aaron Rodgers. If the Redskins are unable to secure a road victory—for perspective, Green Bay was 7-1 at home in 2012—they'll fall to 0-2.
Just like that, the time for excitement has passed. Washington is feeling the heat.
19. New York Giants
Week 1: 31-35 loss at Dallas Cowboys
Week 2: vs. Denver Broncos
Prior to Sunday Night Football, I didn't believe it was possible to put up 478 yards of total offense and still look terrible. After watching the New York Giants lose 35-31 to the Dallas Cowboys, however, my perspective has changed.
New York looked horrendous.
Eli Manning finished with 450 yards and four touchdowns through the air, with three receivers topping 100 yards. Tight end Brandon Myers also got in on the action with seven catches for 66 yards, and backup running back Da'Rel Scott had 74 yards of total offense on 10 touches.
All of that is wasted information once you hear that New York committed six turnovers.
Manning threw three interceptions, which is something Giants fans have grown accustomed to seeing from the mercurial quarterback. David Wilson only carried the ball seven times but still managed to commit two fumbles.
A total offense of 478 yards is quite the number, but when a team commits six turnovers and loses, it played terribly.
18. St. Louis Rams
Week 1: 27-24 win vs. Arizona Cardinals
Week 2: at Atlanta Falcons
Going up against an Arizona Cardinals team that threw the ball as well anyone could've asked, the St. Louis Rams survived. Kicker Greg Zuerlein starred with four field goals, including the game-tying and game-winning kicks, and Sam Bradford ran for a critical two-point conversion in the fourth quarter.
All in all, the Rams emerged with a victory that was just as much about their heart as it was the statistics.
Bradford was 27-of-38 for 299 yards, two touchdowns and an interception, finding Jared Cook seven times for 141 yards and two scores. Daryl Richardson only ran for 63 yards on 20 carries, but he also caught five passes for 33 yards, displaying his versatility.
With multiple key fourth-quarter drives, Bradford showed just how good of a player he can be with protection from his offensive line.
As Robert Quinn registered three of St. Louis' four sacks and Trumaine Johnson picked up an interception on defense, the Rams offense was supremely efficient. Bradford did throw a pick, but Jake Long helped anchor an effort in which St. Louis didn't allow a single sack.
It wasn't perfect, but the Rams have an early win on their resume and could pull out a major upset at the Atlanta Falcons in Week 2.
17. Miami Dolphins
Week 1: 23-10 win at Cleveland Browns
Week 2: at Indianapolis Colts
The AFC East has long been dominated by the New England Patriots. Since Tom Brady took over the quarterback spot in 2001, the Patriots have won the division in all but two seasons, with one being the year he was injured.
A popular choice to compete with the injury-depleted Patriots has been the Miami Dolphins.
Miami opened the season up with a 23-10 win over the Cleveland Browns. Ryan Tannehill threw for 272 yards, Brian Hartline caught nine passes for 114 yards and a touchdown, and Brandon Gibson hauled in seven for 77 yards.
Miami did all of this while rushing for 20 yards as a team and receiving just one reception for 15 yards by Mike Wallace.
The Dolphins must address their running game, but defensively, there isn't much for them to worry about after Week 1. Cameron Wake had 2.5 sacks, Randy Starks managed 1.5, and both Derrick Shelby and rookie Dion Jordan had one apiece.
Throw in three interceptions and a stunning 16 quarterback hits, and you have a defense that could contend for the AFC East crown.
16. Kansas City Chiefs
Week 1: 28-2 win at Jacksonville Jaguars
Week 2: vs. Dallas Cowboys
Despite playing their season opener on the road with a revamped roster, the Kansas City Chiefs put on the best defensive performance of the week. Andy Reid's team debut resulted in a 28-2 win over the Jaguars in Jacksonville, and Kansas City moved to 1-0.
No matter who Kansas City was playing, a defensive performance like that speaks volumes to what this team can accomplish.
The Chiefs held Jacksonville to 178 total yards from scrimmage, forcing two turnovers and allowing just one red-zone possession. Despite running seven fewer plays than Jacksonville, Kansas City also gained 114 more yards.
Balance is something every team values, and Kansas City has a great deal of it.
Behind an improved offensive line is a cast including Alex Smith, a mistake-free quarterback; Jamaal Charles, a superstar running back; and Dwayne Bowe, a Pro Bowl wide receiver. Defensively, the Chiefs have added the likes of Sean Smith and Dunta Robinson to an already stout group.
Eric Berry, Brandon Flowers, Tamba Hali, Justin Houston and Derrick Johnson are just five of the stars who helped lead Kansas City to this win and will continue guiding the Chiefs in 2013.
15. Philadelphia Eagles
Week 1: 33-27 win at Washington Redskins
Week 2: vs. San Diego Chargers
The first half of the Philadelphia Eagles' 33-27 win over the Washington Redskins was one of the most impressive offensive displays in recent memory. The Eagles ran 53 plays from scrimmage during the first two quarters, scoring 26 points and taking a 33-7 lead 1:34 into the third quarter.
They didn't score again, but as Philadelphia's stamina improves under Kelly, so too will the offense. How scary is that to imagine?
Michael Vick finished 15-of-25 for 203 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions while also running nine times for 54 yards and a score. As great as Vick was, LeSean McCoy stole the show with 184 yards and a touchdown on 31 carries.
Throw in DeSean Jackson's eruption for 104 yards and a touchdown on seven catches, and you have some interesting developments to follow.
Many have said that Vick isn't the perfect quarterback for Kelly's offense due to his lack of accuracy, and that's true. With that being acknowledged, this is the perfect offense for Vick, and that's just as dangerous for an opposing defense to have to deal with.
Up next is a Chargers team that allowed 24 consecutive points during the second half of its season-opener. Get your popcorn ready.
14. Cincinnati Bengals
Week 1: 21-24 loss at Chicago Bears
Week 2: vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
The Cincinnati Bengals are a trendy pick to go to the Super Bowl but for all the wrong reasons. Fans and analysts have fallen in love with A.J. Green, but seem to ignore that Giovani Bernard and Tyler Eifert are rookies, Andy Dalton is still developing and the defense is the key to everything in Cincinnati.
They've also forgotten about how undisciplined this team can be.
Cincinnati committed three costly turnovers and eight penalties during its 24-21 loss to the Chicago Bears. Dalton and Green played well, as did Vontaze Burfict on defense, but the Bengals' inconsistencies were on full display.
Until this team develops mentally, the promising talent is meaningless.
Cincinnati has a chance to bounce back against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Monday Night Football. With every AFC North team losing in Week 1, that means the Bengals could potentially win and move into first place in the division.
It's early in the season, but every step counts for this team.
13. Detroit Lions
Week 1: 34-24 win vs. Minnesota Vikings
Week 2: at Arizona Cardinals
By now, the entire NFL community knows better than to believe the hype when it comes to the Detroit Lions. No matter how well the Lions play in one game, this team has proved time and again that its success rarely carries over into the next week.
Fortunately, this isn't the Lions team that you're used to seeing.
Reggie Bush is the best running back the Lions have had since Barry Sanders, and he flashed that star form with 191 yards from scrimmage and a receiving touchdown during Week 1. Joique Bell added 92 yards of total offense and two rushing touchdowns to display the drastic improvements made in Detroit.
Defensively, the Lions were dominant despite the virtual no-show by mercurial defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh.
Adrian Peterson finished with 93 yards on 18 carries but gained just 15 on his final 17 carries. The Lions forced four turnovers, picked up three sacks and saw Nick Fairley emerge as a leader on the defensive line.
With a road game against the Arizona Cardinals in Week 2, the defense will be tested again.
12. Baltimore Ravens
Week 1: 27-49 loss at Denver Broncos
Week 2: vs. Cleveland Browns
The Baltimore Ravens' quest to repeat as Super Bowl champions started out with a major bump in the road. Going up against a team they defeated en route to the title, the Denver Broncos, the Ravens lost 49-27.
Nothing about that game should leave you encouraged.
Admittedly, it's rare that the Ravens are going to play in a game in which a quarterback throws for seven touchdowns. The fact that Peyton Manning did it to Baltimore, however, does pose questions about just how ready this defense is to contend.
Holding Denver to 65 yards on 23 carries is nice, but the front seven turned three sacks into just about nothing meaningful.
Joe Flacco put up 362 yards and two touchdowns, but he completed 54.8 percent of his passes and threw two interceptions. The trio of Marlon Brown, Dallas Clark and Torrey Smith played well, but that's hardly a receiving corps that will strike fear into the heart of an opponent.
It's no secret that Baltimore lost a lot via free agency, but very few expected them to have this many questions to answer after just one week.
11. Chicago Bears
Week 1: 24-21 win vs. Cincinnati Bengals
Week 2: vs. Minnesota Vikings
The Chicago Bears have never been a team to earn sexy victories. Instead, they grind out games with a defensive mentality. Even with a new head coach, Marc Trestman, the Bears stayed true to that form in Week 1.
The result was a 24-21 win over the Bengals.
Jay Cutler was 21-of-33 for 242 yards, two touchdowns and an interception, with Brandon Marshall catching eight passes for 104 yards and a score. Alshon Jeffery had five catches for 42 yards, and Matt Forte amassed 91 yards from scrimmage and a rushing touchdown.
It was a quality start for a football team that hasn't had much trouble winning games during the first half of the regular season.
Defensively, the usual suspects stepped up for Chicago, as Tim Jennings and Charles Tillman combined for 15 tackles, two interceptions and a fumble recovery. Young players Shea McClellin (24) and Stephen Paea (25) split a sack while helping to overcome a tackle-less game from Julius Peppers.
Peppers and Henry Melton need to step up in Week 2 against Peterson and the Vikings, but a win is a win.
10. Dallas Cowboys
Week 1: 36-31 win vs. New York Giants
Week 2: at Kansas City Chiefs
With a game against a division rival that has come to Dallas and dominated its home turf, the Dallas Cowboys needed a win. The New York Giants had fared better at Jerry World than the Cowboys, and in order to start a push for the postseason, it was critical for Dallas to take down a wounded rival.
After forcing six turnovers, the Cowboys walked away with a 36-31 victory.
Tony Romo fought through an apparent rib injury to go 36-of-49 for 263 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. The cause for concern in those numbers is that the Cowboys had one of the worst running games in the NFL last season, mainly due to an imbalance in play-calling.
Despite the fact that Dallas never trailed, however, the Cowboys threw the ball 26 more times than they ran it.
Fortunately, DeMarco Murray was strong when he had the ball in his hands, and Dallas' defense was the best it's been in years. It held New York to 50 yards rushing, and with six turnovers, it leads all NFL teams in both interceptions and fumble recoveries.
Dallas is never a safe bet, but it looks good after Week 1.
9. Indianapolis Colts
Week 1: 21-17 win vs. Oakland Raiders
Week 2: vs. Miami Dolphins
The Indianapolis Colts aren't going to win many games in dominant fashion. They're an offensively young football squad with a grind-it-out mentality and a quarterback who lives for late-game situations.
Eli Manning now has company as the King of the Fourth Quarter.
This time around, Andrew Luck did it with both his arm and legs.
No QB since the 1970 merger had 8 game-winning drives in his first 17 starts until Andrew Luck accomplished the feat.— Chris Wesseling (@ChrisWesseling) September 9, 2013
Luck was 18-of-23 for 178 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions while also running the ball for 38 yards and the game-winning score. Reggie Wayne caught eight passes for 96 yards and a touchdown, while Vick Ballard, Ahmad Bradshaw and Luck combined for 127 rushing yards.
Throw in Robert Mathis' sack, LaRon Landry's 15 tackles and interceptions by Antoine Bethea and Greg Toler, and you have a performance that sets the standard for a strong season in Indianapolis. The Colts can confirm that notion by defending their home turf against Miami.
Two young quarterbacks, two promising teams and one game that you shouldn't miss.
8. Atlanta Falcons
Week 1: 17-23 loss at New Orleans Saints
Week 2: vs. St. Louis Rams
The Atlanta Falcons don't have many reasons to hang their heads after a 23-17 loss to the New Orleans Saints. The Falcons went on the road with two rookies starting at quarterback and managed to hold New Orleans to just 23 points at the Super Dome, nearly pulling out the upset win.
Jackson ran the ball 11 times for 77 yards and caught five passes for 45 yards, displaying just how valuable he will be to the Falcons. He did drop a potential touchdown pass, but for a debut with his new team, he offered nothing short of encouragement.
The true stars of this game were rookie cornerbacks Robert Alford, who had two passes defended and an interception, and Marcus Trufant, who had five tackles and a pass defended. Going up against Drew Brees and the high-powered Saints, both men held their own and helped to keep Atlanta in the game.
Throw in touchdown receptions from Tony Gonzalez and Julio Jones, and it's clear that Atlanta is a force to be reckoned with.
7. New Orleans Saints
Week 1: 23-17 win vs. Atlanta Falcons
Week 2: at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
In 2012, the New Orleans Saints were a 7-9 football team with a historically poor defense and a variety of people trying their hand at being head coach. In 2011, Sean Payton led the team to a record of 13-3 in continuation of New Orleans' rise to the top the NFC.
After a one-year hiatus, Payton is back and looking to restore the Saints' status as elite. New Orleans started things off with 23-17 win over the reigning NFC South champion Atlanta Falcons.
Drew Brees was methodical, going 26-of-35 for 357 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. Darren Sproles added 110 yards of total offense, Pierre Thomas reminded everyone who New Orleans' lead back is, and both Marques Colston and Jimmy Graham caught touchdown passes.
All is well again in New Orleans.
Defensively, the Saints were surprisingly good, holding one of the league's most potent passing attacks to 17 points. Roman Harper had an interception and fumble recovery, and three different Saints came up with a sack.
With a Week 2 win at Tampa Bay, the Saints would move to 2-0 and remind the league of who has ruled over the NFC over the past half-decade.
6. Green Bay Packers
Week 1: 24-28 loss at San Francisco 49ers
Week 2: vs. Washington Redskins
The Green Bay Packers may have lost to the San Francisco 49ers, but they certainly looked like Super Bowl contenders. They shut down the read-option, Aaron Rodgers was sensational, and both Jordy Nelson and Jermichael Finley returned to star status.
Throw in a rare rushing touchdown from a Packers running back, and Green Bay is looking pretty good for an 0-1 team.
Rodgers was 21-of-37 for 333 yards, three touchdowns and an interception against one of the NFL's most feared defenses. Nelson caught seven passes for 130 yards and a touchdown, Randall Cobb brought in seven for 108 and a score, and Finley caught five throws for 56 yards and a touchdown.
Rookie Eddie Lacy added 72 yards of total offense on 15 touches, running for a two-yard fourth-quarter touchdown.
Defensively, the Packers managed two sacks and shut down San Francisco's running game, holding it to 2.6 yards per rush. That's something few have been able to do, as the read-option has decimated defenses across the league.
Green Bay must improve against the pass, but as long as Rodgers is playing, it'll be a Super Bowl contender.
5. Seattle Seahawks
Week 1: 12-7 win at Carolina Panthers
Week 2: vs. San Francisco 49ers
It's rare that a quarterback throws for more than 300 yards and a team is still criticized for playing lackluster offensive football. That's the case for the Seattle Seahawks after they managed just 12 points in a one-possession win over the Carolina Panthers.
Now, a home game against the San Francisco 49ers looms, and Seattle's offense needs to wake up—or something like that, because I'm not sure what it's doing.
Russell Wilson was 25-of-33 for 320 yards and a touchdown, which would lead you to believe that Seattle was dominant offensively. With Marshawn Lynch running for 43 yards on 17 carries, however, the Seahawks failed to punch it in until the fourth quarter.
Doug Baldwin bouncing back from a sophomore slump with seven catches for 91 yards is certainly intriguing, though.
Defensively, the Seahawks managed to hold one of the NFL's most potent offenses to seven points on the road. This is especially impressive considering the Seahawks managed just one sack and Cam Newton was 16-of-23 with no interceptions, while DeAngelo Williams ran for 86 yards on 5.1 yards per carry.
What a statistically strange win for Seattle.
4. Houston Texans
Week 1: 31-28 at San Diego Chargers
Week 2: vs. Tennessee Titans
In 19:57, the Houston Texans turned what could've been a disastrous loss into one of the greatest comebacks we'll see all season. Down 28-7 with less than five minutes remaining in the third quarter, the Texans scored 24 consecutive points to win 31-28 over the Chargers.
Best of all, this all came on the road.
Say what you will about San Diego's football team, but a road win is a road win. Most importantly, a comeback win is impressive, especially when it took Matt Schaub erupting for 346 yards and three touchdowns and Brian Cushing returning an interception for a touchdown.
All of this set up Randy Bullock's game-winning 41-yard field goal as the clock expired.
The Texans offense came to life in the second half, eventually running for 120 yards behind strong outings from Arian Foster and Ben Tate. Andre Johnson caught 12 passes for 146 yards to lead the way, while Owen Daniels hauled in five passes for 67 yards and two scores.
The true storyline, however, was rookie DeAndre Hopkins catching five throws for 66 yards. It appears as if Houston finally has a No. 2 receiver, and Schaub is playing like a star because of it.
3. New England Patriots
Week 1: 23-21 win at Buffalo Bills
Week 2: vs. New York Jets
The New England Patriots have received quite a bit of criticism after narrowly escaping a scare against the Buffalo Bills. The truth that few are acknowledging is that Buffalo has played New England well during season openers in the Tom Brady era, outscoring New England 93-67 but losing three of four.
Despite its struggles against Buffalo, New England has still been the most consistently great team in the NFL—so why doubt it now?
Brady was 29-of-52 for 288 yards, two touchdowns and an interception, linking up with Danny Amendola 10 times for 104 yards. Julian Edelman caught seven passes for 79 yards and two touchdowns, while Shane Vereen managed 159 yards of total offense.
Unfortunately, Vereen is now injured.
As he goes down, however, we move one week closer to Rob Gronkowski returning.
There's no question that the Patriots have room for improvement, but this is still a team led by Brady and head coach Bill Belichick. Even without recording a single sack, New England forced two fumbles and held Buffalo to a strong-but-not-spectacular 21 points.
As long as Brady and Belichick are in New England, the Patriots are still one of the NFL's teams to beat.
2. San Francisco 49ers
Week 1: 34-28 win vs. Green Bay Packers
Week 2: at Seattle Seahawks
The San Francisco 49ers open up the 2013 NFL regular season with the most difficult two-week stretch of any team in the league. After defeating the Green Bay Packers 34-28 at home, the 49ers must now travel to play the Seattle Seahawks.
After watching Colin Kaepernick, Anquan Boldin and company win in Week 1, it's clear that anything is possible for San Francisco.
Kaepernick was out-of-this-world sensational, going 27-of-39 for 412 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. Boldin was on the receiving end of nearly half of those passes, catching 13 throws for 208 yards and a touchdown.
Defensively, Aldon Smith picked up where he left off, registering 1.5 sacks, and rookie Eric Reid had an interception. Allowing nearly 400 yards of total offense is concerning, but the Niners were facing the best quarterback in the league in Rodgers.
All in all, this was an impressive start to the season for San Francisco. It just won't get any easier from here.
1. Denver Broncos
Week 1: 49-27 win vs. Baltimore Ravens
Week 2: at New York Giants
There are only so many words that can be said about the Denver Broncos' dismantling of the Baltimore Ravens. With revenge on its mind, Denver was methodical with the pass and used its defensive intensity to shut down Baltimore's offense until it was too late for the statistics to count.
When it was all said and done, Denver effectively established its status as the No. 1 team in the NFL.
Peyton Manning was legendary, throwing for 462 yards and seven touchdowns on 27-of-42 passing. Both Demaryius Thomas and Julius Thomas caught passes for more than 100 yards and two touchdowns, while Wes Welker caught nine passes for 67 yards and two scores in his Denver debut.
The Broncos didn't run the ball very well, but Knowshon Moreno did pick up 65 yards of total offense on 12 touches.
The most encouraging sign for Denver isn't on offense, where Manning is expected to be elite, but on defense. Despite playing without both Champ Bailey and Von Miller, the Broncos managed four sacks and two interceptions.
Once Bailey and Miller return, it's scary to think how much better Denver will be.