You know what’s even better than Week 1 overreactions? That’s right! Week 2 overreactions!
Because think about it: We all know we’re overreacting in Week 1, so we wait impatiently for Week 2 to find out whether we were right. Surely, one more week is all we need to solidify our beliefs that the Cardinals are dead in the water, the Ravens are a dominant team, the Jets can’t beat anybody and the Giants’ 1-0 start was a fluke.
We knew after Week 1, but needed Week 2 to bolster our case that the Colts will be fine, the Cowboys are toast, the Bengals will get it figured out and this is finally the year the Chargers have what it takes to knock off the Chiefs.
So thank goodness for Week 2, for bringing some clarity to everything we were sure was (or wasn’t) an overreaction in Week 1. At this point, we all should be able to proceed with total confidence into the meat of the NFL season, certain we know who’s good, who’s not and who’s going to be in the playoffs come January.
But just in case some of what I wrote in those first few paragraphs isn’t correct…
Tom Brady shows his frustration and throws a tablet on the sideline.
The Buccaneers’ defense is going to have to carry Tom Brady this year
Tampa Bay is 2-0, including a gutty comeback victory against nemesis New Orleans on Sunday. But the Bucs have scored just two offensive touchdowns in their two games — a five-yard Brady touchdown pass to Mike Evans in Week 1 against Dallas and a 28-yarder to Breshad Perriman on Sunday. Brady is 36-for-61 (59 percent) for 402 yards over two games, and Tampa Bay’s defense has been by far the more dominant unit so far in this still-young season. At age 45, every sign of weakness is going to be seen by some as evidence that time has finally caught up with Brady, and through two weeks he’s offered some grist for that theory.
Come on. It’s two games, first of all. Micah Parsons was unstoppable in the first one and the Saints’ defense has had Brady’s number for three years. Plus, look at who was (and wasn’t!) on the field with Brady on Sunday. Wide receivers Chris Godwin and Julio Jones are hurt. Mike Evans played hurt and then got thrown out of the game. Rob Gronkowski is on a beach somewhere. Left tackle Donovan Smith missed the game due to injury. On and on and on.
Brady is obviously “dealing with a lot of stuff” off the field, and it’s absolutely possible this is the year age finally catches up with him. But it’s way too early to make that conclusion based on the health circumstances in which the Bucs have found themselves to start the season. Tampa should be thrilled to be 2-0 with an offense as banged-up as theirs, and they’re only going to get healthier. Brady’s arm still looks plenty live, and he won’t be the reason this team fails to get where it wants to go.
The Dolphins are a legitimate AFC contender
You can sit there and argue for days about whose comeback win Sunday was the most ridiculous. You want to argue Jets? Cardinals? Go right ahead. But somebody in your fantasy league won this week because of what the Dolphins did, erasing a 21-point fourth-quarter deficit against a very well-regarded Ravens defense with Tua Tagovailoa just straight-up airing it out to Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle. Each of those dudes had 11 catches, two touchdowns and over 170 yards.
Tua finished with 469 yards and six touchdown passes on 72% passing. The Dolphins’ defense, which was being strafed by Lamar Jackson for three quarters, got their stops. And Miami is 2-0 and in solo first place in the AFC East (pending the result of Monday Night’s Bills game). Tua wanted to prove the doubters wrong, and his doubters are going to have to be pretty quiet this week.
Tyreek Hill tracks down the dime from Tua Tagovailoa to tie the score at 35-35 late in the fourth quarter.
The verdict: NOT AN OVERREACTION
Yes, the AFC is stacked with contenders, but… the Ravens are supposed to be one of them! To come back like this, throwing the ball with a maligned quarterback to the high-speed receivers you were trying to build this offense around, is a straight-up statement to the rest of the league that Miami is going to be hard to play this year. The Bengals look wobbly. The Broncos look lost. The Colts look awful… it’s possible there aren’t as many monster contenders in the AFC as we thought there were in the preseason. Should we be talking about the Dolphins along with the Bills, Chiefs and Chargers right now? They probably haven’t quite earned that just yet. But Sunday tells us they absolutely could, before long.
To watch the Patriots-Steelers game Sunday was an exercise in self-torture. For large swaths of time, you would have sworn there were no end zones, and that the two teams were just playing on the world’s most boring Mobius strip, destined forever to just wander aimlessly along an endless path that led to no touchdowns whatsoever. Eventually, Nelson Agholor decided he’d had enough and snatched a surefire Mac Jones interception away from his defender and ran into the end zone for the game’s first touchdown.
Nelson Agholor leaps over the cornerback for an amazing catch and runs it in for a Patriots TD.
The teams swapped short touchdowns late, but Pittsburgh ended this game with 243 yards of total offense one week after rolling up 267 on the Bengals. Trubisky has completed 59 percent of his passes for 362 yards in two games and honestly doesn’t look like the supposed upgrade over 2021 Ben Roethlisberger that we’d been led to believe he might be after his year of career rehab in Buffalo. He looks like the old Chicago Trubisky. And that, whatever Mike Tomlin might tell you, is not a good Trubisky.
The verdict: NOT AN OVERREACTION
What do they have to lose? Are they going to drop from 255 yards per game to 245? And if they do, so what? Pickett surely didn’t look in the preseason as if the game was too big or too fast for him. His college résumé is extensive, and he enters the league with as much experience as any rookie in recent memory. If he offers anything resembling upside over what Trubisky has shown, why not? Everyone in the division lost Sunday, so there’s still opportunity for Pittsburgh to make something of this season. And if nothing else, sheesh, at least maybe they wouldn’t be so hard to watch!
The Cowboys will still be in contention when Dak Prescott returns
It’d be easy to say Cowboys-Bengals was one of those games it looked as if nobody wanted to win. Except, Noah Brown sure did. And so did Tony Pollard. And my gosh, so did Micah Parsons, who may well be the scariest player in the league at the moment. The Cowboys gave up a 17-3 halftime lead to Joe Burrow and the slow-starting Bengals, but they got themselves in position to kick a game-winning 50-yard field goal and improve to 1-1. Cooper Rush, filling in at quarterback for the injured Prescott, was… just fine. He was 19 for 31, 235 yards, one touchdown, no interceptions. The Cowboys turned it over only once, sacked Burrow six times and basically played sound enough to win, even if it wasn’t dazzling.
Cowboys QB Cooper Rush slings it to Noah Brown in the end zone for a touchdown.
Verdict: NOT AN OVERREACTION
Look, their next two games are against the Giants and the Commanders. Kudos to Brian Daboll and the Giants for a tough-looking 2-0 start, but they’re not (just yet) some juggernaut offense Rush & Co. will struggle to outscore. Washington is… who knows what, after two games, but Carson Wentz is always going to be a time bomb. After that, the Cowboys go to L.A. to play the Rams (tough one, obviously) and then to Philly to play the Eagles. Yes, the Eagles look like a division favorite, but Dallas did beat them twice last year, by the combined score of 92-47. It’s possible, even likely, that the Eagles haven’t closed that gap enough that they should assume victory.
NFC East games can be crapshoots. The Cowboys still have enough good players (we didn’t even mention CeeDee Lamb’s strong showing Sunday yet) to hang in there if Rush doesn’t make mistakes. After the Eagles, they get Detroit and Chicago at home before their bye, and the most important part of all of this is that Dak might be back after only two or three more games. The Cowboys ain’t dead yet.