Although the NFL season is only two weeks old, we are beginning to see some answers to questions that lingered throughout the off-season. How will the Eagles manage their quarterback situation? Will the Browns flirt with playoff contention after just one win in the past two years? What about the Raiders, with Jon Gruden back on the sideline? Let’s check in with the 32 teams around the league to look for answers to these questions and much more.
The defending champion Philadelphia Eagles (1-1) squeaked out an ugly win over the Falcons in the first NFL game of the season, but then fell victim to the “Fitzmagic” brewing in Tampa Bay. It will be interesting to see how long it takes for Carson Wentz to catch up to speed once he returns in Week 3 against the Colts. Elsewhere, the Giants (0-2) have dropped their first two games and still have to prove they can give Eli Manning enough time in the pocket. The Cowboys (1-1) still have to find a way to replace the production of Dez Bryant and Jason Witten, while the Redskins (1-1) opened the season with a victory over the lowly Cardinals but then fell to the Colts in Week 2. This is looking like Philadelphia’s division to lose.
The Bears (1-1), boosted by the acquisition of Khalil Mack, looked sure to beat their divisional rival Packers (1-0-1) before Aaron Rodgers led a masterful comeback (after suffering an injury) to remind the league just how dominant he can be. The Packers then faced off against another divisional foe, the Vikings (1-0-1), in a highly-anticipated Week 2 tilt that ended in a tie. While the Kirk Cousins era is off to a good start in Minnesota, the Lions (0-2) were embarrassed on Monday Night Football by the Jets before falling to the 49ers in Week 2. If Rodgers can stay healthy, the Packers and Vikings will be primed to compete for the divisional title.
The big story here is the play of Ryan Fitzpatrick, the 35-year-old veteran who has lit up the league while filling in for suspended quarterback Jameis Winston. With the Buccaneers (2-0) off to a great start, it will be hard to pull Fitzpatrick if he continues to produce like this. The Saints, one of Fitzpatrick’s victims, rebounded to edge the Browns in Week 2. Atlanta (1-1) looked sloppy in a loss to Philadelphia in Week 1, but improved in the red zone against the Panthers (1-1) to get back to .500. Carolina opened the season with a win over Dallas before that loss to the Falcons. At this point, the NFC South is wide open and could be the most competitive division in the league this year.
The Rams (2-0) are reaping the benefits of their investments on the defensive side of the ball this past offseason, boasting a league-best +54 point differential through two weeks. Las Vegas has them as the current favorites to win the Super Bowl, and they should boost their win total by beating up on the weakest division in football. The only other win in the division so far came from the 49ers (1-1), who edged the lowly Lions by a field goal. The Seahawks (0-2) are not the same team that won the Super Bowl in 2014, and the Cardinals (0-2) will likely give rookie quarterback Josh Rosen a chance at some point this season as Sam Bradford has disappointed through two weeks. LA should not have many issues here.
Tom Brady and the Patriots (1-1) suffered their first regular season loss at Jacksonville in franchise history, and will be happy to add Josh Gordon and Julian Edelman (after his four-game suspension ends) to the passing attack in the coming weeks. The Dolphins (2-0) are unbeaten but have squared off against two of the NFL’s weaker teams in the Titans and the Jets. The Bills (0-2), a year removed from their first playoff appearance since 1999, look lost and even had a player retire at halftime against the Chargers in Week 2. The Jets (1-1) put on a show in Week 1, but then faltered against the Dolphins, although rookie quarterback Sam Darnold looks promising. Once again, this should be New England’s division.
The Steelers (0-1-1), the preseason consensus favorite for this division, have found themselves mired in controversy with the continued absence of holdout running back Le’Veon Bell and sideline disputes involving wideout Antonio Brown. The Browns (0-1-1) have shown that they can compete, but need to improve in finishing games. Perhaps No. 1 pick Baker Mayfield will get a chance to take over the offense if head coach Hue Jackson deems stand-in quarterback Tyrod Taylor isn’t producing enough. The Ravens (1-1) beat up on the Bills but then fell to the Bengals (2-0), who have taken advantage of an opportunistic defense and a rejuvenated Andy Dalton to remain undefeated through two weeks. This division may be more competitive than many anticipated.
Coming off an AFC Championship Game appearance last year, the Jaguars (2-0) again look like a Super Bowl contender behind a fierce defense that limited the Patriots to 20 points and 302 yards in Week 2. The Titans (1-1) fell to divisional foe Houston (1-1) with quarterback Marcus Mariota sidelined due to a sore elbow, and he is uncertain their Week 3 clash in Jacksonville. The Colts (1-1) picked up their first win of the season over the Redskins, as Andrew Luck earned his first victory since 2016 with a game-sealing drive in the 4th quarter. The Texans have dropped their first two games as quarterback Deshaun Watson, back after an ACL tear last season, failed to manage the clock well in a potential game-winning drive against the Titans in Week 2. The Jags are the team to beat here.
With Alex Smith now in Washington, second-year quarterback Patrick Mahomes II has seized his chance as QB1. He has thrown for 10 touchdowns already as the Chiefs (2-0) have staked their claim as the best offense in football. However, the defense will have to tighten up after allowing an average of 32.5 PPG over the first two weeks. A game-winning field goal in the final seconds propelled the Case Keenum-led Broncos (2-0) over the struggling Raiders (0-2) last week. The Chargers (1-1) rebounded from a Week 1 loss to the Chiefs with a win over the Bills, but will need a healthy Joey Bosa on the defensive line going forward. Oakland surely misses Khalil Mack as the Jon Gruden reunion tour has gotten off to a rocky start. The Chiefs have shown that they can run with anyone, and as long as they shore up the defensive side of the ball, figure to be a real threat to reach the Super Bowl out of the AFC.