1. Philadelphia Eagles (1-1): The Eagles let one slip away on Sunday night, but there were many positive aspects to consider despite the loss. The Eagles, for a second straight week, displayed a dynamic offense that produced big plays from several sources. Jeremy Maclin was a ghost in Week 1, but was the most dominant receiver in the NFL in Week 2. Additionally, running back LeSean McCoy is emerging as a top-five running back before our eyes. Prior to Vick’s early exit with a concussion, it appeared the Eagles were poised to hang 40 points on the Falcons in the Georgia Dome on Sunday night. Clearly, the Eagles have some defensive concerns–those have been discussed here ad nauseum–but through two weeks, this team appears to be the class of the NFC East.
2. Washington Redskins (2-0) The Redskins followed up their dominant performance against the Giants in Week 1 with a sloppy, mistake-filled 22-21 win over Arizona at home last Sunday. It wasn’t pretty, but for a Redskins team that has struggled to win games over the last decade, the fact they were able to prevail in a tight contest is certainly a step in the right direction for this underachieving franchise. Are the Redskins on the precipice of making a legitimate run at the NFC East? Stranger things have happened, but probably not. Still, their defense has shown an ability to make big plays, and they are doing just enough on offense to win games against mediocre opponents early in the season. Let’s see what happens when they hit the road this week in what could a season-defining Monday night matchup in Dallas.
3. Dallas Cowboys (1-1): I thought Dallas showed a little moxie in their 27-24 overtime win in San Francisco last Sunday. The Cowboys fell behind early, while Tony Romo consistently misfired passes all over the field. It should be concerning to Cowboys fans that a horrendous San Francisco offense was able to convert key third downs against the Dallas defense, particularly in the first half. But, unlike their Week 1 debacle against the Jets, Dallas was able to keep its composure and rally from behind. I’m as critical of Tony Romo as anyone for making key mistakes at critical times, but to come back from a cracked rib and punctured lung to finish out that game shows something. Ultimately, Dallas must establish a run game if they want to get serious about contending this season, but Sunday’s win likely saved their season–at least temporarily.
4. New York Giants (1-1): I have a hard time giving credit to the Giants. St. Louis was simply brutal in their 28-16 loss in New York on Monday night. Defensively, the Giants allowed the Steven Jackson-less Rams to rush for only 59 yards on 19 carries, which is outstanding. Sam Bradford threw for 331 yards, but completed less than 50 percent of his passes in the process. He also threw the game-changing, ill-advised backwards pass that was scooped up by Michael Boley and returned for a touchdown. The Giants, despite a rash of injuries, are still a formidable defense and cannot be overlooked.
On the otherhand, offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride’s unit has been anything but impressive through two weeks.
Despite finishing the evening 18 for 29 with 200 yards and two touchdowns, Eli Manning did not play a particularly good football game. His first quarter pass to what appeared to be a wide-open Mario Manningham was grossly underthrown and easily intercepted by safety Quentin Mikell. Manning has looked uncomfortable, unconfident, and ineffective through two weeks. It will be interesting to see how Manning responds to an Eagles’ pass rush that has produced nine sacks through two games despite a drastic decline in blitz percentage. He’s a won a Super Bowl (somehow) and he can as dangerous as any quarterback in the league when he gets on a roll (which is becoming more infrequent), but he’s going to have to play better if the Giants want to get serious about making a run this season.
On the ground, the Giants ran the ball with some success–New York finished the night with 131 yards on the ground (if you take away the 12 yards lost by Manning). Still, Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw both averaged less than four-yards per carry. They need to get their ground game going or this offense is going to continue to struggle.