Image Courtesy of the Associated Press
By Jack Cherico
The 2020 National Football League (NFL) has entered its second week of the season, and has been nothing short of interesting. We have seen some great games so far this season, along with players that exceeded expectations.
Throughout the first two weeks, the Baltimore Ravens and Seattle Seahawks were firing on all cylinders with both teams having two wins to start the season. The Ravens, led by Lamar Jackson, put up 38 points against the Cleveland Browns and 33 against the Houston Texans. Baltimore seems to be keeping last season in mind and hopes to replicate their two great performances so far when they face the Kansas City Chiefs on Monday night next week. The Seahawks, on the other hand, put up 38 points against the Atlanta Falcons and 35 against the New England Patriots.
In the prime-time game against the Patriots, Seattle put on a passing clinic, with quarterback Russell Wilson having 288 yards and five touchdowns. This was a great game that couldn’t have been won without the play of the Super Bowl XLVIII winner. Wilson is playing out of his mind this season and is an early candidate for MVP.
Now with the two best teams in the league out of the way, we move to a team who has shocked everyone. The Jacksonville Jaguars have exceeded expectations over the past two weeks, when everyone thought they would be fighting for the first overall pick. The players responsible for this change are quarterback Gardner Minshew, whose 95% completion percentage and three touchdowns in week one along with his 339 yards and three more touchdowns in week two led to a win against the Colts and a very close loss to the Titans. Minshew has a type of energy that gets everyone on the team to fight for wins, something this Jacksonville team definitely needed.
The other catalyst for the Jags is first round pick out of Florida, cornerback CJ Henderson. Henderson picked up Defensive Rookie of the Week honors in week one with five tackles, three pass breakups, and an interception. On 10 targets, he allowed a 28.3 passer rating, which for the Jags, is a sight for sore eyes.The last corner to perform exceptionally well for them was Jalen Ramsey, who left for Hollywood and the LA Rams last season. Hopefully Henderson can repeat these performances and be one of the lockdown corners that the Jaguars will need to make a push for the division.
A massive storyline, especially in week two, is the enormous amount of players who suffered injuries. Injuries are an unfortunate part of the game that we wish didn’t happen, especially when it’s our favorite team’s star player, but it’s unavoidable. However, as the awful year that is 2020 rages on, players from all over the league suffered season ending injuries, some of which will keep players out for an extended period of time. The players that have been designated as out for the year are Giants halfback Saquon Barkley, 49ers edge rusher Nick Bosa, Seahawks linebacker Bruce Irvin, Broncos receiver Courtland Sutton, and Colts safety Malik Hooker, all who have either a torn ACL or a torn Achilles’ tendon. Panthers halfback Christian McCaffrey also exited the game with a high ankle sprain and Broncos QB Drew Lock sprained his AC joint.
The team that got hit the hardest by injuries is the defending NFC champions, the San Francisco 49ers. Already, the 49ers have lost Bosa, QB Jimmy Garoppolo, edge rusher Solomon Thomas, and halfbacks Raheem Mostert and Tevin Coleman. The 49ers were already missing cornerback Richard Sherman and wide receiver Deebo Samuel, and with the aforementioned Seahawks chugging along, it looks like this injury crisis will have a big impact on the team’s performance in the division. Although they were crippled, they still dominated the hapless New York Jets, proving that in the NFL, it’s always next man up.
The last big storyline of the first two weeks of the NFL season is the resurgence of Patriots Quarterback Cam Newton. In my predictions article, I mentioned how the Ravens vs the Patriots might be the game of the season, but the Patriots week two matchup is already a strong contender for that title. In the Sunday prime time game, the Patriots and Seahawks battled back and forth, with Wilson’s aforementioned throwing stats as well as Newton racking up 397 passing yards, one passing touchdown and two rushing touchdowns. Wide receiver Julian Edelman had a career high 179 receiving yards and the Patriots defense was solid; Wilson was just better that night. The read option and QB power plays have been a staple of the Patriots offense this year, which involves the quarterback running while watching for the defense’s next move, as if he was a running back. This play call is something Tom Brady didn’t have the speed or skill set to utilize, and it has worked very well this season. Newton has had four rushing TD’s and resembles his MVP winning performance in the 2015 season. If Newton and the Patriots can continue this promising play, the Buffalo Bills will have some serious competition in the AFC East.
Going Into week three and four, some major questions are can the Atlanta Falcons finally win a game after two tough losses, and between the Kansas City Chiefs and Baltimore Ravens, who has the more dominant quarterback. These questions, and plenty more will be answered by the time my week three and four article is out, on October 8th.