1. Rams (+1) (W 34-0 vs. ARI)
What we learned: Sean McVay has a legit shot at being one of the best coaches in the NFL for the next decade.
We didn’t learn much about the Rams as a team on Sunday but we did learn more about McVay, who continues to succeed with an average rookie quarterback behind center thanks to elite schemes and play calling. Don’t let his age make a fool of you. This guy knows football and in my eyes is already at the top of the game.
What we learned again: It is really hard imagining a future where the Rams don’t win the West.
Arizona is in a full rebuild, Seattle is hanging by a thread and while Shanahan and the 9ers have promise, it’s hard to see them meeting the Rams at eye level.
2. Vikings (-1) (T 29-29 @GB)
What we learned: The Vikings aren’t quite perfect yet.
On paper, there’s little reason why the Vikings shouldn’t have been able to handle Green Bay like a lesser. Green Bay is a weak roster, though improving and as great as Aaron Rodgers is, he’s still only one man. In Lambeau with a better team, the Vikings missed an opportunity to establish themselves as the kings of the North. On the other hand, they added Dan Bailey so they’re now closer to perfection.
What we learned again: The new roughing the passer rule is ridiculous.
The only reason the Vikings didn’t lose this game is because the referees called a phantom penalty on Clay Matthews, who made a routine, clean hit of Cousins. This rule needs changed as soon as possible. It’s hurting the game and turning fans off.
3. Jaguars (+2) (W 31-20 vs. NE)
What we learned: The Jaguars can win without Fournette.
After bashing Bortles last week, Bortles got onto my top-five this week, throwing for 376 yards and four touchdowns. Jacksonville can win without Fournette but what I said is still true: in most games, Jacksonville will struggle offensively without their workhorse.
What we learned again: Jacksonville’s defense is built to last for the long haul.
As dominant as Jacksonville is, it’s likely we’ll see this for at least the next three years. The roster is young and the front office is continuing to build upon it. A reminder Jacksonville took yet another defensive lineman in the first round this year.
4. Chiefs (+2) (W 42-37 @PIT)
What we learned: Patrick Mahomes looks really good.
It is not often you see a rookie quarterback throwing six touchdowns at the highest level. Mahomes earned my number one spot on my top-five this week. I’m not completely sold on him because of the sample size and because Andy Reid historically has managed to makes quarterbacks look a lot better than they really are but it’s very difficult to not be impressed with the young gun.
What we learned again: The Chiefs defense is hurting.
It’s not going to be talked about much because of how dominant Mahomes was, but the Chiefs defense looks like something that will come back to bite them in the future. When your rookie quarterback is playing as well as Mahomes is and you still only won by five, that’s got to be something in the back of your mind.
5. Patriots (-1) (L 31-20 @JAC)
What we learned: The Patriots might be in for a rough year.
Last week, I joked New England could start your neighbor at receiver and still win, poking at the lack of playmakers on this offense. I like Chris Hogan and I like James White. I’m sure Edelman’s return will be a big boost. Gronk is still gonna do Gronk things. That unit didn’t look exemplary in Florida.
What we learned again: The Patriots defense is still suffering.
Bortles played really good on Sunday. I’m not going to take that away from him. That said, you got blown up by Blake Bortles and a Jaguars offense without their best player.
6. Eagles (-3) (L 27-21 @TB)
What we learned: The Eagles secondary is prone to getting scorched.
Malcolm Jenkins is an underappreciated talking point on this defense. Philly has no elite corners and it showed on Sunday as Fitzmagic performed more deep ball theatrics.
What we learned again: Philly should be three rooms away from the panic button.
All teams are constantly adjusting, trying to make tweaks to improve from week to week, some more than others. If I’m a Philly fan, I’m very comfortable with how my team has performed and where it’s headed.
7. Falcons (-) (W 31-24 vs. CAR)
What we learned: Matt Ryan will do it all himself if need be.
Ryan ran it in twice last week and threw two more.
What we learned again: Tevin Coleman is probably the best RB2 in football.
There are other candidates (James White, Bilal Powell, Dion Lewis, Chris Thompson) but with Freeman out of the game, the Falcons don’t lose much of a beat without him. Coleman, a free agent in 2019, is all but an assured starter next year.
8. Packers (+1) (T 29-29)
What we learned: That defense is still a problem.
Green Bay gave up 22 points in the fourth at home. Yes, that penalty played a large role in the events following it, but if the defense doesn’t crumble earlier in the fourth, that play never happens.
What we learned again: The roughing the passer rule is ridiculous.
Said it earlier: Packers got hosed by that Matthews penalty. This should have been a win against a better team for Green Bay and I’m gonna treat it that way. I still think Minnesota is the best in the North but Green Bay came to play.
9. Buccaneers (+7) (W 27-21 vs. PHI)
What we learned: Ryan Fitzpatrick deserves one last shot at a starting role.
Fitzmagic is simply too good to be sitting on the bench. We’ve seen what Fitztragic can do but what Fitzpatrick is doing right now has earned him that shot.
What we learned: Jameis needs to go.
The Buccaneers look better than they’ve ever looked with Jameis and with Jameis due for an extension, moving on from him would be the right move. He’s also become too much of a problem off the field. Stick with Fitzmagic.
10. Bears (-) (W 24-17 vs. SEA)
What we learned: The NFC North looks like the strongest division in football.
I currently have Minnesota, Green Bay and Chicago in my top ten and Detroit is too strong of a roster to stay near the bottom for long. The NFC South and East are both strong as well, but the North is currently outpacing them.
What we learned again: Khalil Mack is by far the best move the Bears made this offseason.
Chicago added a lot of playmakers to aid Trubisky: Allen Robinson, Trey Burton, Taylor Gabriel, a new coach and drafted one of the best available centers in James Daniels from Iowa. None of it has made as big a difference in the Bears’ fortunes as Khalil Mack.
11. Chargers (+2) (W 31-20 @BUF)
What we learned: The Bills suck.
I’d love to put something about the Chargers in this spot but I really didn’t learn anything about the Bolts in this game.
What we learned again: Is Keenan Allen finally good to go?
A career decimated by injuries has placed a lot of red flags around his camp. If Keenan puts up similar numbers to last year and doesn’t suffer a major injury, it might be time to start removing some of those flags.
12. 49ers (-) (W 30-27 vs. DET)
What we learned: It appears Matt Breida has earned the starting nod.
Nothing has been reported to confirm this but Breida has done more in back-to-back games. He had 11 carries for 138 yards. Remove the long 66-yard scamper and he was still 10 for 72.
What we learned again: Jimmy G is not a god. He’s a game manager.
This is only another reason why I have a problem giving Jimmy G all the money. His stats thus far are that of an Alex Smith. Nothing overly flashy but protects the ball and doesn’t do anything obnoxiously stupid. His stats against Detroit were rather pedestrian: a smidge over 200 and two scores.
13. Giants (-5) (L 20-13 @DAL)
What we learned: All the playmakers in the world won’t help offensive line woes.
Odell did little against Dallas, as did Evan Engram and Sterling Shepard. For the majority of the evening, the Giants game plan read “Dish to Saquon.” He ended the day with 14 receptions. Running the ball wasn’t an option. The Dallas front seven was all over him.
What we learned again: Sometimes, you’re only as good as you’re offensive line.
Eli looked frazzled all night. Nate Solder is a big upgrade to this unit but is only one guy.
14. Texans (-3) (L 20-17 @TEN)
What we learned: Blaine Gabbert started for the Titans and you still lost.
That’s a red flag especially given the Texan personnel on defense.
What we learned again: Lamar Miller looks old.
Unsure where D’Onta Foreman is or the Texans run game that used to be an identity of this team. DeShaun Watson is really fun to watch but is still budding and a complimentary run game would be a nice comfort.
15. Bengals (+4) (W 34-23 vs. BAL)
What we learned: The Bengals have the Ravens number.
After Thursday, the Bengals are 8-3 in their last 11 against Baltimore.
What we learned again: Even when the Bungles win, they’re still Bungling.
After a strong win against a divisional opponent, it was reported starting back Joe Mixon had torn cartilage and would have to undergo arthroscopic surgery.
16. Broncos (-1) (W 20-19 vs. OAK)
What we learned: Phillip Lindsay is the first undrafted players to get 100 scrimmage yards in his first two games.
Looks like the starting back right now but will likely struggle against power defenses like Baltimore next week.
What we learned again: You can complete 29/32 and still lose.
Carr was 29/32 for 288 and a touchdown.
17. Panthers (-) (L 31-24 @ATL)
What we learned: Christian McCaffrey has a legit shot to be the first running back to have 100 catches in a season since Matt Forte had 102 in 2014.
Forte was fourth in receptions that year behind Antonio Brown, Demaryius Thomas and Julio Jones.
What we learned again: Christian McCaffrey is a beast.
He is a PPR dream and a playmaker who’s gonna have a long career in this league.
18. Jets (-4) (L 20-12 vs. MIA)
What we learned: Darnold is not a finished product.
Last week I said it appeared that starting Darnold was the right move. I still think it was, even though I’m against starting rookie quarterbacks week one. That said, Darnold isn’t a trailblazer. He’s not rookie Andrew Luck. He will have growing pains.
What we learned again: The Jets aren’t there yet.
I like the direction the program is headed but this isn’t a playoff team. Still would’ve liked to see them win a divisional game at home.
19. Ravens (-1) (L 34-23 @CIN)
What we learned: The Ravens are 23-27 since 2015.
I still think John Harbaugh is a good coach but he’s on the hot seat. It’s looking like a change might be on the way.
What we learned again: The Ravens don’t have a run game and that speaks bad news for the offense.
If you have Alex Collins in fantasy, you’re probably not concerned. He’s gonna get you touchdowns. The Ravens had 66 yards rushing against Cincy.
20. Cowboys (+5) (W 20-13 vs. NYG)
What we learned: Dallas’ front seven can show up at any moment.
The team is noticeably weaker when Sean Lee isn’t in the lineup but is strong when he is. Dallas was 8th in total defense last year and averaged 20.8 against.
What we learned again: The Cowboys literally can’t score.
If you watched the game on Sunday night, it felt like a game that could have blown off its hinges. It did not. The Giants defense is going to be above average this year but the amount of chances Dallas had, you would have liked to see them put some points on the board.
21. Browns (+3) (L 21-18 @NO)
What we learned: The Browns defense is for real.
I honestly expected a Saints win by 10. Instead, Drew Brees, an all-time great, was bottled by Cleveland. Stunning.
What we learned again: The Browns are still gonna Brown.
Kicker Zane Gonzalez earned the number one spot on my worst of the worst, missing two extra points and two field goals.
22. Dolphins (+4) (W 20-12 @NYJ)
What we learned: The Dolphins might not be in full tank mode after all.
It’s honestly hard to tell how good this team is given their schedule early (vs. TEN, @NYJ, vs. OAK) but 2-0 is 2-0. If you win the games you should win, you are at least putting yourself in a position to compete.
What we learned again: Ryan Tannehill is serviceable.
Tannehill is not the first-round talent he was drafted to be but he is serviceable at a financially responsible price tag. He is not going to win you games by himself and he may lose you some because of his mistakes, but generally, Tannehill isn’t flashy. Sometimes serviceable and boring is fine.
23. Saints (-2) (W 21-18 vs. CLE)
What we learned: We should absolutely be hitting the panic button in New Orleans.
You start the season by getting obliterated by Ryan Fitzmagic. You follow that up by playing a nail-biter at home against the Browns, who, if not for Lord Incompetence himself at kicker, would have beaten you. Given the talent on your roster, this is unacceptable.
What we learned again: Sean Payton is overrated.
I’ll be singing this song till the day I die. Cleveland is improved yes, but you have Brees, Kamara, Michael Thomas, Marshon Lattimore and Cameron Jordan on your team. Figure it out.
24. Steelers (-4) (L 42-37 vs. KC)
What we learned: The Steelers might not make the playoffs.
After tying with Cleveland in a game ripe with ineptitude, you give up 21 straight points to start your home opener. You fight back and tie it at half and I’ll give you credit for that. You then finish the day by giving up six touchdown passes to a rookie quarterback on your home turf. Monday night against Tampa Bay feels like a must-win.
What we learned again: The Steelers defense might be bottom-ten this year.
Pittsburgh brass made no significant upgrades on the defense, instead going almost exclusively offense at the draft. These are the fruits that come with that.
25. Seahawks (-4) (L 24-17 @CHI)
What we learned: Russ is gonna have a rough year.
Russ is an elite quarterback and will have elite games but that offensive line, which believe it or not has actually improved, is simply not good enough for sustained success.
What we learned again: Drafting a running back in the first round was really, really stupid.
Unless Rashaad Penny is a perennial Pro-Bowler, this makes no sense. Hard to see this guy doing much of anything behind that offensive line. Here are the things this team needed more than a running back: Offensive line, safety, defensive line, cornerback, receiver, tight end. You went with running back. Bravo.
26. Titans (+1) (W 20-17 vs. HOU)
What we learned: The Titans can win games with Blaine Gabbert at quarterback.
This is not an endorsement of Gabbert but of rookie head coach Mike Vrabel, who’s doing things in Tennessee. He got Clowney’s career back on track and likely should have been given the reins in Houston, a decision the Texans may regret by season’s end.
What we learned again: Tennessee doesn’t need Mariota extended.
Sunday was yet another reminder of what Tennessee can do without Mariota. They have a legit running back duo with Derrick Henry and Dion Lewis. Delanie Walker is a top tight end who is out for the year but will likely return next year. Corey Davis is a rookie receiver that’s growing and Tennessee will likely target pass catcher in the next collegiate selection ceremony. They improved the defense with two of college’s best linebackers. This team simply doesn’t need Marcus.
27. Redskins (-4) (L 21-9 vs. IND)
What we learned: Chris Thompson is a weapon for this offense.
Jordan Reed is an injury magnet. Jamison Crowder and Paul Richardson are better flex options than outside receivers. Thompson out of the backfield? Get ready for all the catches. Had 13 this week.
What we learned again: The Redskins still aren’t consistent.
A strong start against Arizona is offset by a missed opportunity against Indy at home. No excuse for this team not being 2-0 right now.
28. Colts (-) (W 21-9 @IND)
What we learned: Linebacker Darius Leonard, a second-rounder out of North Carolina State, might be a steal.
19 tackles, 15 solo, sack and a forced fumble. That’s a helluva stat line for a rookie.
What we learned again: Luck’s not really back yet.
Andrew Luck was a potential HOFer before Indy let him get smashed by mammoths for two years. It will take him time to recover his form. I’m hoping he gets back to his normal self, but there’s no guarantee he ever returns to being the force he once was.
29. Lions (+1) (L 30-27 @SF)
What we learned: The Lions aren’t this bad.
It’s hard to see them at 29 next week. I honestly am just more impressed with what I’ve seen with other teams thus far. It was too little too late but Detroit almost got a win out of this. They’ll probably be in low 20s next week, depending on how they play New England.
What we learned again: Stafford is the engine.
As has been the case since he was drafted, the Lions go where Stafford goes. He wasn’t good week one and Lions were smashed. Lot better this week and a lot more competitive.
30. Raiders (-1) (L 20-19 @DEN)
What we learned: “Great pass rushers are hard to find.”
Those are the words of Jon Gruden, a man grossly unaware of his own actions.
What we learned again: Trading Khalil Mack was stupid.
I’m honestly so dumbfounded by the Raiders stupidity that I might just put this here for the rest of the season. The Bears being a top-ten team right now is not a coincidence.
31. Cardinals (-) (L 34-0 @LAR)
What we learned: David Johnson might not be a star just yet.
He had a great rookie year but 2018 is not being kind to DJ, even in the new coach’s run-first offense.
What we learned again: Sam Bradford is terrible.
Getting paid $20 million to suck every year is great work if you can get it.
32. Bills (-) (L 31-20 vs. LAC)
What we learned: Allen has been welcomed to the depths of gridiron hell.
Rest in pieces, young pup.
What we learned again: Offensive lines are needed to football.
Buffalo lost three starters this offseason. Coincidentally, Buffalo is god awful and LeSean McCoy is helpless to stop the bleeding.
Biggest Climb: Buccaneers (+7)
Biggest Drop: Giants (-5)