Although still early in the 2019 NFL season, Week 2 taught us a lot of things. Not everything you have seen so far will be etched in stone in terms of how the season will play out, but some will. Is Patrick Mahomes going to keep up his MVP level play? Absolutely. What about Dak Prescott or Lamar Jackson? Ehhhh… let’s wait and see if these guys can continue this against better competition. Nevertheless, here are my weekly five takeaways that I firmly believe aren’t aberrations.
1. DOUBLE WHAMMIES FOR TWO VETERAN QUARTERBACKS
Not only did the Steelers and Saints both lose this week to Seattle and the L.A. Rams respectively, but they both also lost their future Hall of Fame quarterbacks for the near future.
Big Ben had to be removed from the game in the #2nd quarter of yesterday’s contest after a no-contact elbow injury, and it was revealed Monday that he will need surgery and be out for the entire 2019 season. It’s a massive blow to the organization and for a team that had playoff aspirations heading into the year. It may not be a completely lost season, as sophomore quarterback Mason Rudolph played well in relief of Roethlisberger and will still be receiving tutelage from Ben on the sidelines. Still, not an ideal start in any way imaginable for Pittsburgh.
As for NOLA, losing Drew Brees with a torn ligament in his thumb for about 6 weeks is even more brutal. The Saints have elite players littered on their offense to compensate some, so they shouldn’t be awful in Brees’ absence, but Teddy Bridgewater yesterday showed what an (obvious) step-down from the NFL’s all-time leader in passing yards he was. If you drafted Alvin Kamara in fantasy, enjoy the ride because he might be catching 10 check-downs a game.
Injuries are the worst part about sports, but let’s just hope these two legends can get on the field back as soon as possible and prove Father Time wrong (even though that guy in New England seems to be doing that also.)
2. THE GREEN BAY PACKERS… DEFENSIVE-MINDED TEAM?
If there is one team that I am 100% in on this season besides the obvious favorites (NE, Kansas City, etc.), it is Green Bay. After a defensive masterpiece against Chicago last week, the cheeseheads were able to earn another hard-fought victory against Minnesota 21-16. What makes this team so fascinating to me is the fact that, for probably the first time since I began watching this sport, Aaron Rodgers doesn’t need to go bananas for them to have a chance to win. Their defense has allowed the #2nd least amount of points so far this season, and Green Bay has FINALLY allowed stud running back Aaron Jones to be their workhorse.
Green Bay has what should be another dub on the schedule when the faltering Broncos come into town next week, and if they look as impressive again, we very well may need to add the Pack to the Super Bowl contender list.
3. CLARK KENT CAM DOESN’T QUITE HAVE THE SAME RING TO IT
Thursday Night Football gave us a divisional matchup between the Bucs and the Panthers, and Tampa Bay stonewalled the home team for only 14 points in a nice win on the road. Todd Bowles has this defense looking sharp, and more consistent play from Jameis Winston (audibly laughing) can give the Buccaneers a shot in what many feel is now a wide-open NFC South with the Brees injury.
The much larger takeaway from this game, in my opinion, is Cam Newton looking like a broken man. He hasn’t thrown a TD pass in his last 4 games, he doesn’t have the same zip on his ball as he used too, he overthrew Christian McCaffrey about three times in that game, and he doesn’t run anymore. Like at all.
It’s easy to give him the benefit of the doubt when you realize he’s coming off double offseason shoulder surgery, but Cam knows he has to be better. Going to the desert against the Cardinals next week seems like a good bounce-back spot, so let’s see what he can show us.
4. 49ERS LOOK LIKE GOLD AGAINST THE BENGALS
After a shaky win against Tampa Bay in the first week, Kyle Shanahan put his foot on the gas pedal and the Niners demolished Cincinnati 41-17.
Putting up nearly 600 yards, the San Fran offense was humming like a bird. Jimmy G had easily one of his best games as a pro throwing for three touchdowns, but what about the running game? After losing Tevin Coleman last week, the two-headed monster of Matt Brieda and Raheem Mostert combined for 283 TOTAL YARDS. Thrown in rookie Deebo Samuel having a career day and the defense sacking Andy Dalton four times, performances like this show that Shanahan is one of the most underrated coaches in this league.
Tied for first place in the NFC West with the Rams and Seahawks, the 49ers need to continue to pile up wins. Getting another one at home against a Roethlisberger-less Steelers team next Sunday will certainly put them on the map.
5. CHARGERS GONNA CHARGE
To all the 27 L.A. Chargers fans out there, I feel for you. After not having to deal with any kicking conundrums last year when you went 12-4, it seems the virus has returned.
In their defense, their primary kicker Michael Badgley was ruled out for this game with a groin injury, which led to their punter Ty Long having to take over his duties. He unfortunately missed two field goals, which ultimately was the difference in a rough 13-10 loss to Detroit. Let’s just hope for the Chargers’ sake that even if Badgley isn’t ready for next week’s offensive shootout against Houston, they can at least pick up someone off the streets.
TNF PICK: TENNESSEE TITANS (-2.0) vs. JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS
You know the NFL season is back in full swing when these two teams face-off on a Thursday!
Both teams are coming off very close losses, each of them to division rivals (ouch). The AFC South is wide-open, and Jacksonville still has time to bounce back after a tough 0-2 start. However, the Titans were very much in that game against Indianapolis and have won the last four contests against Jacksonville, including Derrick Henry’s stampede performance in Week 14 last year. I’m still a big fan of Jacksonville’s defensive unit, but with Gardner Minshew as their starting QB, this offense isn’t going to score in bunches. Derrick Henry should be licking his chops once more.
THE PICK: Titans (-2.0)