Grades for every NFL team: Week 2
September 19, 2019
After the teaser that was Week 1, Week 2 gave another glimpse into whether all 32 teams were for real or if their season opener was just a fluke. For some teams, they proved that they are a force to be reckoned with in the 2019-2020 NFL season while others showed that they might not be the team we all thought they were. Here are the grades for how each team performed in their second game of the NFL season.
New England Patriots: Grade A+
It’s only Week 2 of the NFL season, but the New England Patriots look like they are in midseason form.
The Pats had to face the 53-man dumpster fire in South Beach known as the Miami Dolphins at Hard Rock Stadium, but that has been a test for Tom Brady and his crew in recent memory. But if this game was a test, the Patriots aced the test and filled out all of the extra credit questions.
TB12 was excellent as usual and had no problem spreading the love to all his favorite targets, including his new high-powered, high-maintenance wideout Antonio Brown. Seven Pats receivers caught at least two passes, with Brown catching his first touchdown in a Patriots uniform.
The defense feasted on a weak Miami offensive group and picked them apart. Ryan Fitzpatrick and Josh Allen had absolutely no chance to prove that they were not the worst quarterbacks in football. They capitalized on four picks and brought two to the house, recorded seven sacks, and kept the Dolphins under 200 yards of total offense.
The Pats combined score throughout the first two weeks of the season is a mind-blowing 76-3. If I were a betting man, I would put my money on these Pats to be as good, if not better, than the 16-0 squad from 2007.
San Francisco 49ers: Grade A
A complete team effort from the Niners had them looking like the team that had so much success earlier this decade. Jimmy Garoppolo looked every bit the part of the quarterback that San Francisco’s front office, as he hurled three TDs on the day. The ground game feasted on the Bengals weak defense and collected a whopping 259 yards, and the front seven held Cincy’s ground game to a measly 25 rushing yards on 19 attempts.
The 49ers have faced a couple easier opponents these past two weeks, but wins like these build confidence for tougher divisional opponents that will come the Niners way quickly.
Dallas Cowboys: Grade A
America’s Team might have benefitted from playing against two of the worst offensive units in the NFC, but the Boys have put up contention-worthy numbers over two weeks.
Dak Prescott looks more than qualified to receive that gargantuan contract extension with the way he’s balled out and had just a couple errors in DC, and Ezekiel Elliott has proved Jerry Jones and the Cowboys front office that he was worth the financial investment a couple weeks ago by running all over Washington’s defense.
This team is going to be a fun one to watch going forward, and (this is where Stephen A. should stop reading) the Cowboys have assembled all of the necessary pieces to become Super Bowl champions.
Kansas City Chiefs: Grade A-
Kansas City rolled to another comfortable win in their second week of action, this time against the Oakland Raiders in their last ever bout at the Oakland Coliseum with a 28-10 victory
Patrick Mahomes put on an MVP-caliber passing clinic throughout the contest, but in the second quarter, he looked as close to perfect as you can get. Mahomes accounted for all four of KC’s touchdowns on the afternoon along with a historic 278 passing yards in that quarter alone, the most by any quarterback since Drew Brees’ 294 yards eleven years ago.
The Chiefs defense, after giving up 10 points in the opening quarter, clamped down and did not allow any points the rest of the game and capitalized on two errant throws from Raiders quarterback Derek Carr and turned them into interceptions.
Next Sunday, the Chiefs will face their first big test of the season as they host the red hot Baltimore Ravens. Then we will see if Mahomes can once again be the most dominant player in the National Football League.
Baltimore Ravens: Grade A-
Lamar Jackson’s second strong showing in as many games and looked like an MVP caliber quarterback in the Ravens 23-17 victory over the Cardinals. The Louisville product was the first quarterback since Russell Wilson to throw for 250-plus yards, run for 100-plus yards, and commit zero turnovers. He has the potential to have a very special season this year if he can continue his performance against contending teams. His first major test will come next week at Arrowhead Stadium against the Chiefs.
Atlanta Falcons: Grade B+
Sunday was not one of the greatest efforts from veteran QB Matt Ryan, but he had the luxury of having two of the best wide outs the game has to offer in Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley, who each collected 100+ receiving yards and at least one score in their victory over Philadelphia at home.
Matty Ice tossed three TDs but conversely threw three interceptions in the game, but the biggest play that mattered was a gutsy screen call on 4th down that Jones took 54 yards to the end zone to put the Falcons up for good right before the two-minute warning.
The defense caused Carson Wentz and the rest of the Eagles offense problems throughout and put a beating on the former number two overall pick. Desmond Trufant picked off Wentz twice and the defense forced a Corey Clement fumble.
It wasn’t the prettiest win you’ll ever see, but it was enough to get the Falcons in the win column, and that’s all that matters at the end of the day.
Seattle Seahawks: Grade B+
Pete Carroll achieved his 100th win as head coach for the Seattle Seahawks in a close victory over the Steelers at Heinz Field, and a lot of the credit should go to the man under center, Russell Wilson.
Man, did he look good. Wilson completed 29 of his 35 pass attempts and was brilliant in getting outside of the pocket and using his legs to seal the game in the Seahawks favor.
The Seahawks are no longer the flashy unit that brought a Lombardi Trophy to the Pacific Northwest, but they should not be slept on by other contenders in the NFC. And if Russell Wilson can be as efficient and accurate as he’s been these past two weeks, he could be an outside contender for the MVP in January.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Grade B+
Under the leadership of defensive coordinator Todd Bowles, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense looked like a force to be reckoned with in their Thursday night matchup against the Carolina Panthers.
The Bucs defense prevented Cam Newton & Co. from reaching the end zone, even though the Panthers entered their territory several times. Edge rusher Shaquille Barrett to set up shop in the Panthers backfield throughout the game, with the Colorado State product tallying three sacks and four QB hits on the night.
Vernon Hargreaves also continued his bounce back campaign after missing most of the 2018 season. Hargreaves finished up with Thursday with a career-high 12 tackles, including two clutch stops tackles on DJ Moore and Christian McCaffrey to force a turnover on downs close to the goal line.
I don’t expect the Bucs to make much noise in the divisional race this season, but picking up a divisional win against a talented team like Carolina is always a plus.
Detroit Lions: Grade B+
The “bend, don’t break” defense propelled the Lions to a low-scoring Week 2 victory over a contending Chargers squad. They bailed out their unimpressive offense by causing turnovers at the right time, including a forced fumble when Austin Ekeler dove into a pile of linemen at the goal line and a last-minute pick by Pro Bowl defensive back Darius Slay.
After squandering a late lead to Kyler Murray in Glendale last weekend, holding on for a close win on Sunday to a playoff ready team gives Matt Patricia’s unit a boatload of confidence heading into a major matchup at Philadelphia next weekend.
Buffalo Bills: Grade B
Buffalo took yet another trip down to the Meadowlands to face their second interstate rival in as many weeks, this time the Giants, and headed upstate with the same result.
There was not much that the Bills did wrong in the Meadowlands as they kept their undefeated record intact. They didn’t commit any turnovers and played a solid team football game by mixing Josh Allen’s arm with the running back pair of the veteran Frank Gore and rookie Devin Singletary. All three of those players ran the ball in for a score once and Allen tacked on another touchdown through the air.
The Bills continued to prove that they are one of the most slept on defensive units in football with a strong showing for a second straight week. Buffalo only gave up 14 points against an underproductive Eli Manning and nabbed two interceptions in the process.
Despite being a Jets fan, I think that this Bills squad is a sneaky good team that could slip into a wild card spot behind the Patriots.
Green Bay Packers: Grade B
After a blazing hot start from Aaron Rodgers and the Packers offense, the defense was a major reason as to why the Packers advanced to 2-0 on the season over their divisional rivals from Minnesota. They seized on Vikings mistakes four times, including a Kevin King interception on one of Minnesota’s few red zone possessions mid way through the fourth.
Taking advantage of divisional opponents is what strengthens the legitimacy of playoff teams, and the Packers now have two of those victories in as many games, setting them on a solid course to take the NFC North crown.
Los Angeles Rams: Grade B
It wasn’t the strongest victory you’ll see from this high-powered Rams team, but the Rams advanced to 2-0 and that’s all that matters.
The offense did fine, I guess. Jared Goff tossed for just one TD and Todd Gurley turned in a passable performance, but if Drew Brees didn’t get injured and hypothetically played like he usually does, the Rams would’ve had a much tougher test.
I give all the credit in the world to the Rams defense, however, for keeping the Saints offense in check on Sunday afternoon. Even though Teddy Bridgewater was called upon to take over for the injured Brees as a backup, he is still a quality NFL quarterback that can make plays. Both the passing game and running game were silenced and the team was forced to settle for three field goals.
Like I said, the Rams can do a lot more than they showcased last Sunday. I still anticipate that Los Angeles will maintain their status as the team to beat in the NFC, but they must do better when it comes time to face playoff teams that are at full strength.
Indianapolis Colts: Grade B
Sunday’s game between the Titans and the Colts was such a by the numbers NFL game.
Jacoby Brissett had an efficient game by throwing three touchdown passes despite not cracking 150 yards through the air. Marlon Mack came back down to Earth with only 63 yards from scrimmage. The defense was typically strong and Darius Leonard played like he did during his Rookie of the Year season.
I really don’t have much else to add about the Colts victory because it was a very unmemorable game with not much flash or flair. But alas, the Colts evened their record to 1-1 and that’s all that matters.
Cleveland Browns: Grade B-
Cleveland picked up a win on Monday night. There is nothing that I say that can take that away from them. But they were the benefactors of playing a Jets team that was stripped of many of its star players due to injury and it should have been much more lopsided.
Odell Beckham Jr. stepped up in a major way by making a gorgeous one- handed catch on the first drive of the game and he racked up 161 yards, 89 of which came on a catch and run TD.
But aside from him, and Myles Garrett, who camped out in the backfield all night long and secured a career-high three sacks, the Browns generally underperformed at Metlife Stadium.
If you take away the impressive touchdown to OBJ, Baker Mayfield’s game was unimpressive. He couldn’t take advantage of a weakened Jets defense and hovered around a 50% completion percentage.
I wouldn’t be surprised if the Browns lose most of their next matchups, especially against an overpowered Rams team in another primetime contest next Sunday night.
Houston Texans: Grade B-
The only facet of the game that the Texans improved upon from their heartbreaking loss in New Orleans was their ability to close out a game, which they accomplished by stuffing the Jags on a two-point conversion that would’ve given Gardner Minshew his first NFL victory. Other than that, the Texans didn’t do much to impress fans and show that they could easily run away with the AFC South.
Deshaun Watson had difficulty solving the Jaguars defense and was ineffective throughout. The only Texans touchdown came from a 2-yard scramble from Watson.
This should have been a week where the Texans solidified their contender status and shown that Monday night was a fluke at the Superdome, but they came a yard away from coming up short against a less talented Jaguars team.
Philadelphia Eagles: Grade B-
With the amount of injuries that occured in Sunday night’s loss in Atlanta, it’s a miracle that the Eagles stuck in the game for as long as they did.
Philly lost two of their best receivers, Alshon Jeffrey and Desean Jackson, early and Nelson Agholor stepped and provided a welcome target for Carson Wentz, who himself was battered throughout the game.
The Eagles came back from a 17-6 deficit to take a lead with a little more than three minutes remaining in the game, but their comeback effort was snuffed out when Julio Jones took a screen to the house just before the two minute warning.
Wentz had some impressive moments, but he also threw a couple costly interceptions in the loss. His game was commendable nonetheless, especially considering the amount of punishment he took from the Falcons front seven. He had to be removed for a handful of plays to go through the concussion protocol late in the first half.
If the Eagles were healthier on Sunday, the game might have gone their way, but they were on the bad side of injury luck in Atlanta.
Pittsburgh Steelers: Grade C+
It’s a shame to see a franchise quarterback like Ben Roethlisberger end his season before it even really got started. Big Ben’s 2019-2020 season ended on Sunday in a close loss against the Seahawks with an elbow injury in the first half and will never get an opportunity to make up for the abysmal loss against the Patriots.
His backup, former Oklahoma State standout Mason Rudolph, played as well as any backup could and showed flashes that might indicate that the Steelers season is not a loss, but he could not keep up with Russell Wilson as the Steelers drop to 0-2 for just the second time in Mike Tomlin’s 13-year tenure as the head honcho in Steel City.
Chicago Bears: Grade C+
The Bears did bounce back to defeat the Broncos but they honestly shouldn’t have. Denver marched down the field with Joe Flacco at the helm, it looked like the game was over.
However, Mitch Trubisky proved some haters wrong and performed well under pressure to get da Bears in field goal range. Eddie Pineiro(upgraded Parkey) didn’t hit the upright but instead put the ball through the goal posts and the Bear were victorious.
Bradley Chubb being called for roughing the passer after tackling Trubisky on that last drive helped Chicago’s cause.
Jacksonville Jaguars: Grade C+
On Gardner Minshew’s first start, the Jacksonville Jaguars nearly pulled off a win against what is supposed to be a very formidable Texans team, but questionable play call to go for a two-point conversion allowed for Houston to take the win away from the Jags.
The defense did an admirable job in locking up the gifted wide receiving duo of DeAndre Hopkins and Will Fuller and getting through the atrocious Texans line to Deshaun Watson, but the offense did not have the firepower necessary to overcome the Texans at NRG Stadium.
While Minshew has turned into a quasi cult hero since taking over for an injured Nick Foles, he doesn’t look like the answer to solve the situation in Jacksonville, yet.
Washington Redskins: Grade C
Sunday’s loss to the Cowboys at FedEx Field was just the result of Dallas being a better and more talented offensive unit than the Redskins. Washington didn’t turn the ball over or commit a lot of penalties. They just could hang with boys like Dak and Zeke, who gained over 200 yards more than the Redskins.
When it comes to playing most NFC opponents, summoning the underwhelming Case Keenum and the remains of Adrian Peterson are not going to cut it against many teams.
Los Angeles Chargers: Grade C
The Los Angeles Chargers did not live up to the billing of a playoff bound team on Sunday afternoon in Detroit.
Phillip Rivers threw for nearly 300 yards, but not one of his passes was for a touchdown, and after an auspicious showing in Week 1, Austin Ekeler didn’t repeat his show stopping performance. Even though Ekeler and Justin Jackson combined for more than 100 yards on the ground, they still could’ve used Melvin Gordon’s consistency.
The Bolts also cost themselves the game by coughing up two turnovers with a fumble deep into Lions territory and a game-sealing interception on the Chargers push to take the lead late.
Minnesota Vikings: Grade C
This whole game and the grade mostly rests on the shoulder of the $84 million man, Kirk Cousins. Despite an otherwise stellar effort from the ground game and the defense after the first quarter, Cousins completed less than 50% of his passes and had many questionable throw decisions throughout the Vikes loss at Lambeau. Kirk has to get his act together if the Vikings hope to outlast the Bears and Packers in the quest to top the NFC North.
Oakland Raiders: Grade C-
Week 2 started out well enough for the Oakland Raiders as they jumped out to a 10-point lead by the end of the first quarter against the AFC runners-up Kansas City Chiefs. However, that would be all that The Silver and Black could muster.
Derek Carr showed signs that he could repeat his high benchmark that he set on Monday night against the Broncos by moving about the pocket with relative ease and getting the ball out of his hands as quickly as possible. But Carr ultimately sullied his performance by throwing a pair of interceptions, one of which didn’t have a receiver within the vicinity of the interceptor.
Josh Jacobs continued his solid rookie campaign by rushing for a tad under 100 yards and the Raiders defense smothered an over the hill Lesean McCoy and the rest of the Chiefs ground game.
But when you play a Patrick Mahomes, doing that isn’t enough, and the former MVP torched the Raiders secondary and essentially put the game to rest by halftime.
Maybe Kirk Cousins will drop a letdown performance into the defense’s hands next week.
Arizona Cardinals: Grade C-
The Arizona Cardinals had many chances to do damage on offense but could only find the end zone once on four trips to the red zone in their one score loss to the Ravens. Even though the Cardinals didn’t turn the ball over in the red zone, they ended their possessions with three disappointing chip shots by Zane Gonzalez. Kyler Murray did his all to try to get the Cardinals into position to score with his 349 passing yards, but when no passes reach the end zone, all of those yards seem pointless.
The Cardinals had the chance to take a huge win away from the Ravens on the road, but missed opportunities haunted their chance to stay undefeated after two weeks.
Denver Broncos: Grade C-
Let’s go Joe Flacco leading the Broncos down the field and taking down that elite Bears defense and giving his team the lead. Broncos win!!
Oh wait. Trubisky not playing poorly ok whatever. Chubb roughing the passer, bad call move on, they are not near field goal range. Wait what the heck how did Allen Robinson find himself so open? Well at least they will miss the kick because it’s the Bears, right?
Wrong. Eddie P baby. This one is going to hurt for awhile Broncos fans.
New Orleans Saints: Grade C-
A thumb injury to Drew Brees on the Saints second drive of the game was a gut punch to the New Orleans Saints, who were seeking vengeance on the Los Angeles Rams after the controversial end to their last meeting the 2019 NFC Championship Game.
The offense didn’t look the same without their franchise quarterback taking the snaps. Teddy Bridgewater had a serviceable outing, but his effort wasn’t enough to push the Saints offense out of stagnance.
Fans down in the Big Easy might still be up in arms about the strip-sack by Cam Jordan that was blown dead before the Saints had the opportunity to return it for a touchdown, but even that play wouldn’t have changed the course of this let down matchup.
New York Giants: Grade D+
Finally, after trying to convince Giants fans that Eli Manning was still the quarterback he was a decade ago, G-Men management have decided that their 28-14 loss to the Buffalo Bills was the straw that broke the camel’s back.
Manning has looked like a shell of the Pro Bowl quarterback that brought two titles to the Big Apple on Sunday in the Meadowlands. The 38-year old QB threw two picks, one of which was an ugly heave that sailed about seven yards over the head of his intended target.
Saquon Barkley continued to show that he is one of the most electric backs in the league with yet another 100 yard rushing effort and he desrves better than to be saddled with the quarterbacking struggles of the youngest Manning brother.
Daniel Jones might be the quarterback savant that New York football fans have been praying for over the last couple of years if he can replicate his stellar preseason. But honestly, I doubt that he can turn around this hot mess of a franchise alone.
Carolina Panthers: Grade D+
Cam Newton turned in a dud for a second straight week, this time against a Buccaneers defense that played unspectacularly against the 49ers in Week 1, as he (like Kirk Cousins) completed less than 50% of his passes. Christian McCaffrey could not replicate his ungodly 209 yards from scrimmage in the season opener and was mostly a non-factor. He totaled just 53 yards on 18 total touches and was bottled up all night by an unusually stout Tampa Bay defense. It’s only two weeks into the season and there are 14 more contests to be played, but since 2007, only about 12 percent of teams that start 0-2 make the playoffs.
New York Jets: Grade D-
Luck was not on the side of the New York Football Jets this past week, so it was no surprise that Monday night’s matchup against the Browns did not go the way of Gang Green.
Just about every notable player not named Le’Veon Bell or Jamal Adams was not available for their prime time matchup due to injury.
C.J. Mosely, their shiny new middle linebacker: out with a groin injury. Quinnen Williams, the third overall pick in the 2019 draft: out with an ankle injury. Sam Darnold, the third overall pick in the 2018 draft who was supposed to take the next step toward becoming the Jets quarterback savior: out with, wait for it, MONONUCLEOSIS.
The injury luck didn’t continue during the game, as the recently acquired Demaryius Thomas exited the game early with a hamstring injury, and the man tasked with replacing Mr. Mono, Trevor Siemian, left in the first half after a scary looking ankle injury.
I know it’s a whole lot of injury talk instead of talking about the actual action, but the Jets were not sending a full strength roster out on Monday night, and the 23-3 score line is evident of how strong their replacement roster is.
Luke Falk stepped up in a pinch to fill in for the injured Siemian and performed not half bad for a third string quarterback. He didn’t completely right the ship but he could at least put together something that vaguely resembles a drive and didn’t turn the ball over.
Outside of that, Monday’s performance made the coming weeks of facing three playoff caliber teams seem bleak. The defense sorely missed Mosely and Williams’ presence on defense and watching the offense give it their all to convert 3rd and 15’s all night long was depressing to watch on my phone.
I want to be optimistic for every sports team I support, but outside of Le’Veon Bell possibly looking like the beast he was a couple years ago and Luke Falk hypothetically pulling a deja vu and end up looking like Tom Brady, there isn’t a whole lot to be confident in for Gang Green Nation.
A win for this team over the next month would consist of not losing any more players to the injury bug and hopefully getting the currently injured players back on track so that when Darnold exits his mono quarantine, the Jets might be able to salvage their season.
Miami Dolphins: Grade F (NC)
I hate to do this for a second consecutive week, but when 102 points are allowed in a two-game stretch, the Dolphins deserve yet another F.
The Dolphins were once again a doormat for a team that pretty much already have their ticket to the playoffs booked. This week, the defending Super Bowl champion Patriots got to collect their free win at Hard Rock Stadium.
I don’t think that there are many good things I can say about this Miami Dolphins team. They totaled less than 200 yards on offense and their offensive line gave Patriots defenders a fast pass to their quarterbacks Ryan Fitzpatrick and Josh Allen, who are the polar opposite of a “dynamic duo”. That tandem was picked off a combined four times throughout Sunday’s action, and two of them were taken the other way for a touchdown.
Kenyan Drake, the one offensive player who has any notoriety on the horror show in South Beach, carried the ball only half a dozen times for 19 yards, and no other Dolphins back could start much either.
The defense wasn’t nearly as porous as they were against Lamar Jackson last week, but Tom Brady still handled pressure with ease and had his way with the Dolphins secondary all afternoon long.
All that Dolphins can hope for after this miserable start is that they continue this over the next 14 games and receive the sweet release of getting number one overall pick in the draft. But somehow, I think the Dolphins might even mess up the concept of tanking.