Week 2 in the NFL is all but over and there were lessons to be learned all over the league. The teams that everyone presumed were going to be terrible (I’m looking at you Browns and Jets) are exactly what who we thought they were. While fans in Cleveland and New York may be in for a very long fall, there were plenty of other things to take note of after just two games. The biggest four storylines of this young season are as follows:
- The Kansas City Chiefs appear to be for real
After a shocking dismantling of the reigning champion Patriots last Thursday, the Chiefs had another strong performance in a victory over Philadelphia. Alex Smith has gone from the epitome of mediocrity to difference maker for head coach Andy Reid. Smith has no shortage of weapons, notably tight end Travis Kelce, do-it-all receiver Tyreek Hill, and emergent running back Kareem Hunt. While the Chiefs offense has surprised everyone, the defense remains a turnover creating machine including two pivotal ones in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s game. Kansas City was +16 in turnover differential last season, good for number one in the league and appear to have picked up exactly where they left off. Even without All-Pro safety Eric Berry, Kansas City’s opportunistic defense should keep them in most games. While it may not be time to lay your Chiefs to the Super Bowl bets, Kansas City appears to be a legitimate threat in the AFC.
- The Atlanta Falcons are still as potent an offense as any in football
Much was made of the Falcons losing offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan to the 49ers, and with good reason. Shannahan unlocked a side of Matt Ryan that no one had seen and took a solid offense and morphed it into one of the most potent in the history of football last season. While there may be a new play caller in Atlanta, they are still calling plays for Julio Jones who once again ate the Green Bay Packers lunch for four quarters. The Falcons had all of their dynamic playmakers on display Sunday night as they opened their new stadium, and looked much closer to the 2016 version of their offense than they did a week ago in Chicago.
- The Dallas Cowboys’ defense could be in trouble
After giving up just three points to a putrid Giants offense in primetime in Week 1, Dallas got dismantled at Mile High Stadium. Part of the issue stemmed from the fact that the vaunted Cowboys’ running game mustered a whopping 40 yards, including eight yards on nine carries for Ezekiel Elliott. With that being said, the Dallas secondary was picked apart all afternoon by Trevor Siemian. Denver receivers consistently separated from the Cowboys’ corners, allowing Siemian easy throws all afternoon. Couple that with getting chewed up on the ground to the tune of 178 yards and it was a bleak day for Big D’s defense. Being able to control the ball offensively should give them some relief, but the holes in a secondary that was replacing both corners were undoubtedly exposed. If Dallas wants to repeat as the number one seed in the NFC playoffs, they need to find a fix for those weaknesses.
- The Andy Dalton Era might be over in Cincinnati
After two weeks and zero touchdowns, things are not looking good for the red rifle. The offensive line in front of him is doing him no favors, but Dalton has looked horrendous in each of the first two weeks. He followed a cringe-worthy .7 QBR in Week 1 with a 29.1 QBR on Thursday night. The Cincinnati front office has invested heavily in weapons for him, including this past April when they drafted wide receiver John Ross ninth overall. Head coach Marvin Lewis has already exhausted one scapegoat option by firing the offensive coordinator, and benching Dalton could be the next move to try and save his job. Saying Lewis is on the hot seat would be the understatement of the year, and a man desperate to keep his job would be more than willing to try a change at quarterback if he felt it would kickstart the otherwise non-existent offense. Pro Football Talk reported that there were rumblings from the Bengals locker room about Colin Kaepernick. Dalton will need to show some signs of life this week against Green Bay if wants to hold onto his job for much longer.