Week 2 still has the Monday night affair between the Colts and Eagles but 15 of the 16 contests have been completed. Ironically, seven teams remain unbeaten while seven teams remain winless. The 12 playoff teams from a season ago are a combined 12-10 (6-5 in each conference). The biggest stat that seemed to be most prevalent heading into the week pertained to teams that were in danger of falling to 0-2 on the short season. History has shown that teams that are victorious in their season openers are more than twice as likely to reach the playoffs than losers of an opening game. But that doesn’t mean an 0-1 start is impossible to overcome as nearly 25 percent of teams that lost the opener went to the playoffs.
Since 1978 when the NFL went to the 16-game schedule (and excluding the abbreviated season of 1982): Of the 523 teams which won opener, 274 went to the playoffs and 164 won division titles. Of the 524 teams which lost the opener, 124 went to the playoffs with 70 winning the division.
At the end of Week 2, no more than 13 teams will be able to claim a perfect 2-0 record, leaving at least 19 clubs at 1-1 or 0-2. Since realignment in 2002, 86 of the 144 playoff teams (59.7 percent) began the year at either 1-1 or 0-2, including five of the eight division champions in 2013 – Carolina (NFC South), Cincinnati (AFC North), Green Bay (NFC North), Indianapolis (AFC South) and Philadelphia (NFC East). A look at how playoff clubs in 2012 and 2013 began their seasons:
Here are some key stats from today’s AFC winners:
Bills (2-0) 29 Dolphins (1-1) 10:
The Dolphins offense had no answer for the Bills defense in the first half. The unit had three sacks and didn't allow the Dolphins to cross the 50-yard line. Miami QB Ryan Tannehill was sacked four times and tossed one INT. Bills starter, EJ Manuel, who missed both games against Miami last injury due to injury was an efficient 16 for 26 for 202 yards and one touchdown.
Last week Bills RB Fred Jackson made the big play with a 38-yard run in overtime to set up the winner, today it was CJ Spiller. Following a Caleb Sturgis field goal which cut the Bills lead to six points, Spiller returned the ensuing kickoff 102 yards for a touchdown. It was the longest of his career. His only other kickoff return touchdown came in Week 3 of his rookie season in 2010 against the New England Patriots.
Patriots (1-1) 30 Vikings (1-1) 7
The Vikings started strong without their deactivated star running back Adrian Peterson but the Patriots, who had been outscored 30-0 over the last two and a half quarters going back to last week woke up and scored 30 unanswered points to salvage a 1-1 start to the 2014 season. QB Tom Brady was average at best but his defense was outstanding. The Pats registered six sacks, four interceptions of Matt Cassel and a blocked field goal for a touchdown. The win was the 200th for HC Bill Belichick.
RB Matt Asiata had only 36 yards on 13 carries in place of Peterson, who was deactivated after being charged with child abuse Friday in Texas. The Patriots let Miami rush for 191 yards last week in a season-opening loss, but they held the Vikings to 54 yards on 19 attempts without Peterson.
The pass-run ratio last week for the Patriots was 60-20 in a shaky loss at Miami, but they established a much better balance here. Stevan Ridley carried 25 times for 101 yards, and Vikings cornerback Xavier Rhodes wasn't able to keep up with Julian Edelman, who finished six catches for 81 yards and a touchdown.
The Patriots revamped secondary held the speed of the Vikings receivers in check. Matt Cassel was 0-for-8 with three interceptions on throws deeper than 10 yards downfield. Cassel only attempted three throws deeper than 10 yards downfield (1-3, 18 yards) in Week 1. Cassel is the first quarterback in ESPN Stats & Info's data set (since 2006) to start Week 1 and 2 without completing multiple attempts deeper than 10 yards downfield.
Browns (1-1) 26 Saints (0-2) 24:
The Browns (1-2) broke an eight-game losing streak in home openers, while the Saints (0-2) lost their first two game for the first time since the 2012 "bounty" season in which coach Sean Payton was suspended.
Drew Brees must not like playing against the Browns. The Browns upset the Saints 30-17 the last time the two teams met in Week 7 of 2010. In that game, Brees threw 4 interceptions, 2 of which were returned for TD. While he wasn’t that bad today, he wasn’t good enough to outduel Cleveland QB Brian Hoyer, who was very good today, especially at crunch time. The numbers won’t dazzle but he was marvelous in the clutch, moving the Browns from their own 4 to the New Orleans 11, allowing Billy Cundiff to hit the 29-yard game winner with .03 seconds to play. Hoyer completed several big passes on the final drive, including one on fourth down to tight end Gary Barnidge and a 28-yarder to Andrew Hawkins with 13 seconds to go. In all, he was 8 of 11 for 78 yards on the last drive and finished 24 of 40 for 204 yards and a TD. He came out for a few plays as Manziel, the hyped rookie, handed the ball off twice and had one incompletion.
With starting tight end Jordan Cameron and running back Ben Tate both inactive, Cleveland's backups at tight end and running back stepped up on Sunday. Terrence West had 90 yards from scrimmage Sunday, the first running back with at least 90 yards from scrimmage in his first two games since Chris Johnson and Matt Forte in 2008. Hoyer consistently got production from his backs and tight ends in the passing game as well.
Drew Brees finished 10-of-13 for 118 yards, two touchdowns and an interception targeting Jimmy Graham. Five other Saints had three catches in the game, but no one had more than that. Drew Brees' interception was returned 62 yards by Tashaun Gipson for a touchdown. It was his first pick-six since Week 2 of last season against the Buccaneers. Brees has had 10 interceptions returned for TDs in the last five seasons, three of which came in two games against the Browns.
Bengals (2-0) 24 Falcons (1-1) 10:
The Cincinnati Bengals took care of business at home on Sunday, with a dominating presence on both sides of the ball. Cincinnati's 24-10 win over Atlanta marks the third-time (2005, 2006) that the Bengals have started the season 2-0 during the Marvin Lewis era.
A week after shredding the Saints, Matt Ryan, and the Falcons passing game was shut down by the Bengals secondary. Ryan finished 4-of-9 for 79 yards and two interceptions on throws at least 15 yards downfield, his first game with multiple interceptions on deep throws since Week 8 of last season. Ryan was 5-of-12 for 45 yards and an interception against at least five pass rushers Sunday (3.8 yards per attempt). Ryan averaged 7.2 yards per attempt last week against the Saints (7-of-12, 86 yds. TD).
A.J. Green left in the 1st quarter with a toe injury. Sunday marks the 1st time Green's been active and didn't record a catch. However, the Cincy rushing attack picked up the slack. Led by Giovani Bernard, who ran 27 times for 90 yards, including a 4-yard touchdown. He also caught a team-high five passes for a career-high 79 yards, including a 46-yard catch-and-run when Dalton flipped the ball to him as he was getting hit. The Bengals wound up with 472 yards and averaged 6.8 yards per play. Rookie Jeremy Hill ran for 74 yards and a touchdown, and the Bengals rushed for 170 overall. The inability to stop Cincy's running game should be particularly concerning for Atlanta, as its beefed up defensive line looked like the feeble group from 2013.
The Falcons were very excited about beating New Orleans last week at home. The Saints are now 0-2 while Atlanta has to have concerns about its defense. The Falcons have given up 450+ yards of total offense in back-to-back games for the first time since Weeks 6-7 of the 2010 season.
Chargers (1-1) 30 Seahawks (1-1) 21:
Check the calendar, the San Diego Chargers played perhaps their best game today under coach Mike McCoy, who was visibly excited following his teams nine point victory over the defending Super Bowl champs. Normally a performance the Chargers give with their season on the line in December, they were the better team for 60 minutes on Sunday—in September.
Not many offenses have been able to come up with an answer for the Seahawks tough hard hitting secondary known as the Legion of Boom but Chargers QB Philip River and Future Hall of tight end Antonio Gates sure did. The 34-year-old Gates scored TD’s on catches of eight—eight and 21 yards. Rivers, who passed for 284 yards and no INT’s, is the first QB with 3 TD passes against the Seahawks since Week 8 in 2012, when Matthew Stafford did it. Those are the only two players to throw 3 TD passes against Seattle with Richard Sherman on the field. The three touchdown receptions tied Gates' career high.
Seattle’s vaunted defense allowed 377 total yards to the Chargers but it was SD’s defense that played better on the day. They held the Russell Wilson and Seahawks to less than 300 total yards, including just 36 rushing yards to Marshawn Lynch. The six carries today tied for Lynch’s fewest since joining Seattle.
The Chargers (1-1) dominated time of possession and wore out the Seahawks' vaunted defense on a hot day in southern California. San Diego had the ball for 42:15 compared to 17:45 for Seattle, and gained 26 first downs to 14 for the Seahawks. The Seahawks loss was their first by more than 7 points since Week 9 of 2011 against the Cowboys
Texans (2-0) 30 Raiders (0-2) 14
The Texans have now starred 2-0 for five straight seasons. However, they are hoping that starting 2-0 this season yields much different results than when they did so last year. After starting unbeaten through two games in 2013, the Texans dropped 14 straight games to finish the season with the No.1 overall pick in May’s NFL Draft. Houston is the first team to start 2-0 in five straight seasons since 1994-1999 Dolphins.
The Texans didn't have to range too far outside to beat the Raiders Sunday… – The Texans rushed 36 times for 151 yards and a touchdown in between the tackles Sunday. Arian Foster gained 123 of his 136 yards on those rushes. – Ryan Fitzpatrick was 11-of-13 for 111 yards and a touchdown when passing between the painted field numbers. He attempted only 6 passes outside the numbers. The march up the middle allowed the Texans to cruise to a 30-14 victory. The Texans last pass attempt came at 4:02 of the third quarter, and was followed by 17 rushes…
The 2012 NFL Defensive Player of the year, JJ Watt, didn’t have his usual day on defense, registering just a lone QB hit but he added to his athletic resume regardless. On second-and-goal at the one, the Texans first scoring drive of the game, Watt lined up at tight end and was wide open in the end zone when two Oakland defenders covered RB Arian Foster. Watt caught his first pass since his days as a tight end at Central Michigan in 2007 to give the Texans a 7-0 lead.
Rookie Derek Carr continued to play like a rookie. Playing against the team that drafted his big brother David first overall in 2002, Derek Carr went 27 for 42 for 263 yards with a late TD pass to James Jones and two interceptions. The Raiders committed four turnovers, all in scoring territory.
Broncos (2-0) 24 Chiefs (0-2) 17:
The Broncos did just enough to eke out a win over division rival Kansas City on Sunday. KC outgained the high octane offense of the Broncos and if you looked at the stats alone, may have figured the Chiefs won the game. The Chiefs (0-2), without All-Pro running back Jamaal Charles for much of the game due to an ankle injury, converted 11 of 16 third-down opportunities overall. They just couldn't capitalize in the biggest moments as the Broncos mustered two goal-line stands for the second straight week.
The Broncos (2-0) didn't think it would come down to another goal-line stand. But Aqib Talib's pick-6 earlier in the drive was negated by Quanterus Smith's offside penalty. Then, Nate Irving's fumble recovery following DeMarcus Ware's sack and strip was changed to an incomplete pass after a review. The Chiefs ninth life was expunged when Terrance Knighton deflected Alex Smith's fourth-and-goal pass from the two- to Dwayne Bowe with 15 seconds left. He was engaged with center Rodney Hudson when he reached up and felt the football smack into his right arm.
Manning was 21 of 26 for 242 yards and three TDs with no interceptions, but spent most of the game on the sideline. The Broncos had the ball for less than 10 minutes in the second half. Manning was also 6-of-6 for 122 yards and a touchdown on throws deeper than 10 yards downfield. Manning has a league-high 19 touchdowns on throws deeper than 10 yards downfield since the start of last season, but passed even his own standard in Sunday's win. – Manning is the only quarterback to open 2014 with three touchdowns and no interceptions in back-to-back weeks. This is the 47th game of Manning's career with at least three touchdowns and no interceptions. All three touchdowns came against standard pressure.
Emmanuel Sanders led the Broncos with eight catches for 108 yards, the first 100-yard game of his career. Demaryius Thomas had an 80-yard TD catch negated when right tackle Chris Clark was whistled for being downfield. Denver will head to Seattle next week in a rematch of Super Bowl XLXIII. The result may not be much different, as Seattle will be looking to get back on track after losing to the AFC West Chargers today.