So far, the 2013 NFL season has been a topsy-turvy affair, with teams defying expectations for better and for worse. Here’s a brief review of Week 2’s action:
SUPER BOWL FAVORITE(S) OF THE WEEK: The Seattle Seahawks and Denver Broncos were discussed all offseason as potential championship contenders, and they have not disappointed thusfar. Seattle looked unbeatable against the 49ers on Sunday night, beating San Francisco 29-3 in a game marked by strange crowd noise, deafening crowd noise, and an hour-long lightning delay. The Seahawks erased any doubt that their unimpressive Week 1 win over Carolina may have instilled in fans by relying on their stout defense, which has allowed only 10 points through their first two games. With a game against the Jaguars, one of the league’s worst teams, this coming Sunday, that number may not change much.
On the other end of the spectrum are the Denver Broncos and their offense. Led by Peyton Manning and his league-leading nine touchdown passes, Denver has scored 90 points in two games against the two most recent Super Bowl champions. Against the Giants on Sunday, the Broncos forced four turnovers and got both their rushing attack and special teams going. With an almost painfully easy schedule over the coming weeks, look for the Broncos to continue their league-best 13 game regular season winning streak. It’s tough to pick against Seattle or Denver at this point.
MOST PLEASANT SURPRISE: It’s not often that a team can match their win total for the previous year in the first two weeks of the regular season, but the new-look Kansas City Chiefs have done just that. Their 17-16 victory over the Dallas Cowboys put them at 2-0 for the year, tied atop the AFC West with the Broncos. Some prognosticators picked the Chiefs as a potentially surprising team, and while they still have a lot to prove, it’s hard to not be impressed by what they’ve been able to do so far. Alex Smith has continued to be a consistent, if not superstar, quarterback in Andy Reid’s system, and the defense has improved by leaps and bounds over last year’s unit. Outside of their two divisional matchups against the Broncos, their schedule the rest of the way is manageable. They don’t stand a chance in the divisional race, but a Wild Card berth isn’t out of the question.
LEAST PLEASANT SURPRISE: Well, at least Giants fans won’t have to deal with the great start, poor finish pattern of these last few seasons: they’ve gotten off to their worst start in years. New York is 0-2 for the first time since 2007, their defense can’t keep anybody off the scoreboard, and the offense can’t keep themselves from turning the ball over. The running back situation is in flux with David Wilson finding himself once again in Tom Coughlin’s doghouse, and Eli Manning, while passing for a lot of yards, has thrown 7 interceptions. Fortunately for them, the rest of the NFC East has looked just as bad, with the Cowboys and Eagles both being brought down to earth and Washington getting shut down and blown out once more. That 0-2 start in 2007 ended in a Super Bowl victory, but if the Giants don’t turn things around soon, they won’t even get a sniff of the playoffs.
BEST GAME OF THE WEEK: Buffalo Bills 24, Carolina Panthers 23 – All due respect to some of the great finishes in Week 2, but the Bills’ last-second victory at home was doubly sweet in light of their heartbreaking Week 1 loss to the Patriots. E.J. Manuel didn’t have his best game against Carolina, but he was great when it counted, engineering an 80-yard drive within the final two minutes to give Buffalo their first win of the year on a touchdown pass to Stevie Johnson. Manuel has had the growing pains that many would expect from a rookie, but he’s only going to get better and make his team better as a result.