Each week, the Rampant Discourse staff will offer their quick takes and rampant reactions to the NFL 2017 season.
Just Paul and Andrew reacting to Week 2 this time around. Read on for our thoughts on which teams are coming back down to Earth and which might be starting their ascent.
Week 2 of the NFL is always interesting because we get to double our data points when it comes to figuring out which teams are good and which aren’t. For example, are the Rams actually a good team, or are the Colts (minus Andrew Luck) just that bad? Is the Packers defense improved, or is the Seahawks offense in for another long year? Is it possible the Jaguars aren’t as bad as we thought? Can the Saints defense really be that bad? In a weird twist due to hurricane Irma, we also get our first look at two teams (Miami and Tampa Bay) this week. So, what stood out to me?
The Seahawks offense is in trouble. I suspected this after they struggled to move the ball against what I assumed would be a generous Green Bay defense this year. The Falcons proved that the Packer defense still has trouble getting off the field and the Seahawks struggled for the second consecutive week to get anything going against a mediocre defense. Much attention has been paid to the ineptness of the Bengal offense (and rightly so), but Seahawks fans should be concerned about theirs as well.
The Eagles are legit. This might be odd to say after a loss, but in some ways I was more impressed by the Eagles in this loss than after their win over the Redskins. On the road, in a hostile environment, and against a well-rested team that had just roughed up the defending Super Bowl champs, Philadelphia held their own. Their defense did a great job keeping the Chiefs in check for most of the afternoon and Carson Wentz is really starting to look like a solid NFL quarterback. They look to me like the most complete team in the NFC East right now.
Denver and Atlanta might be okay. One of my story-lines to watch was how teams with playoff aspirations dealt with coaching turnover. I was particularly worried about the Falcons and Broncos. Well, the teams are a combined 4-0 now after beating up some good teams over the weekend. Atlanta’s offense seems to be doing fine without Kyle Shanahan and the Denver defense looks like it hasn’t lost a step without Wade Phillips. Even more interesting, Trevor Siemian has played really well. With that defense, if the Broncos offense can be competent, then Denver could be a real interesting team this year. It’ll be compelling to see how they handle road games, since both of their wins have been at Mile High Stadium, which offers a unique home field advantage.
Mandatory Rams update. Of course, I should address the Rams considering how much I’ve been singing their praises. Losing to Washington slows the hype train a bit, especially because it seemed like such a winnable game, but I’m not dissuaded at all. Despite all of the things that went wrong (a defense that couldn’t stop the run game in the first half, crazy amounts of drive-killing penalties, amazing Chris Thompson plays, etc.), the Rams were in it right until the end. Yes, “the end” was Goff telegraphing his throw so much to make an interception inevitable, but I’m not overly concerned. It’s just one game, and the Rams are still tied for the division lead with the Seahawks and Cardinals, whose offenses are so anemic that even combined, they have scored fewer points than the Rams. Buy low.
I don’t have many take-aways this week. The games we saw didn’t really say much to me that indicated anything had changed. But there is always a constant re-evaluation going on. How much is the performance discrepancy due to players’ motivations? How much does weather or something else beyond any reasonable ken affect those same performances? But I’m put here to prognosticate, so away I shall.
Dallas is good, and so is Denver. That game might have looked like a blowout, but much of it was in behind the scenes stuff. The commentary from the analysts focused far too much on Elliott and his ongoing delayed suspension. I will say this: if he is going to miss time, it is probably better to miss it early than to miss it late. I don’t know how much of this is Dallas taking everything they can from him before he goes away, perhaps forever, how much is playing around injuries, and how much is an assumption that he’ll get away scot-free. It’s not a bet I’d be taking, though. Dallas needs one more receiver and someone to help Sean Lee. How good is this guy?
Jacksonville is not quite ready for Prime Time. And that might be a problem in London against the Ravens. Expect a battle of field goals. The local fans might actually get a game of footie for once.
The Eagles are not legit. They beat a terrible team that played terribly (and they could not even do that impressively), and then they lost to a good Kansas City team. They played better this week than last, sure. But so did the Redskins. The only way you can come away from this thinking that the Eagles are good is if you think the Patriots are amazing. The Patriots beat the stuffing out of a bad team, that’s something Belichick is very good at. I’m going to continue staking my reputation on the fact that Brady should have retired, though. The Patriots are decent and will win the division, but they are mostly just a scrappy team. Kansas City and the Denver Broncos are going to have a fun fight for the AFC West (not looking at you, Oakland) but Kansas City’s big win over the Patriots is just one game. So it all follows. The Patriots are an above average team. The Chiefs are a good team, who beat the Super Bowl Champs on the road. Then they had a letdown game against a mediocre team in the Eagles, but even though they let them hang around, perhaps emotionally drained or overlooking them, they took care of business and shut the door long before the clock read triple-zero.