We are two weeks through the NFL season and there are already some major takeaways from the games that have been played. Some teams are blowing away expectations, while others are falling woefully short.
It is still very early in the process, as some teams haven’t even played a home game yet this season. But, Week 2 is the time for overreactions and as we head into Week 3, we can see if those leveled back out or if there is cause for concern when it comes to certain things.
Week 3 will kick off with a Thursday night matchup between bitter AFC North rivals as the Pittsburgh Steelers travel to take on the Cleveland Browns. The week will conclude with another rivalry matchup as the New York Giants host the Dallas Cowboys on Monday Night Football.
In between, there are some great matchups as well. What can we expect to see from the games this week? Here are five of the biggest storylines heading into Week 3 action in the NFL.
5. Culture Change For New York
Coming into the 2022 season there wasn’t much noise expected from the New York teams that play in New Jersey at MetLife Stadium. The optimism surrounding the New York Jets was sapped when Zach Wilson injured his knee. The New York Giants, under a new regime with Buffalo Bill transplants Joe Schoen and Brian Daboll, had a ton of work cleaning up the mess they inherited from Dave Gettleman.
But, after two weeks, it is evident the changes that each team’s brass is trying to instill are working. The Jets pulled off one of the best comebacks in NFL history against the Cleveland Browns in Week 2, winning the game despite trailing by 13 with less than two minutes remaining. They are the first team since 2001 to accomplish that feat when the Chicago Bears did it.
What made the game even more impressive was how bad they looked in Week 1 against the Baltimore Ravens. They put that behind them, battled with the Browns and pulled a victory out of the jaws of defeat.
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While things haven’t been pretty for the Giants, they are entering Week 3 as one of only six undefeated teams. New York picked up an improbable victory over the Tennessee Titans on the road in Week 1 before defeating the Carolina Panthers in Week 2.
The defense has come up huge as Wink Martindale is working his magic despite not having his two best pass rushers, Azeez Ojulari and rookie Keyvon Thibodeaux, in the lineup. Leonard Williams also exited the game this weekend, but the defense still stepped up.
After some ugly years in MetLife, both the Jets and Giants look like they will be competitive, respectable teams this season.
4. Do-Or-Die For AFC Contenders
Coming into the season there were some high expectations for the Cincinnati Bengals, Las Vegas Raiders and Tennessee Titans. Cincinnati is coming off a trip to the Super Bowl, Las Vegas made a trip to the playoffs despite all of the circumstances surrounding them and Tennessee was the No. 1 seed last season.
Thus far this season, nothing has gone to plan. All three teams are 0-2, losing at least one game they had no business dropping. The odds are certainly stacked against them, as 0-2 teams rarely make the postseason.
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Since the merger in 1970, there have been 400 teams that started 0-2 and only 38 of them have made the playoffs. Finishing with a winning record is nearly as difficult, as only 56 teams have accomplished that.
The Raiders and Titans face off this week and the loser of that game can essentially kiss their season goodbye. The Bengals travel to take on the Jets and have some major offensive line issues to figure out.
3. Pickett Time In Pittsburgh?
The Pittsburgh Steelers are heading into their Week 3 matchup against the Cleveland Browns with a 1-1 record, but are very lucky to not be 0-2. A Minkah Fitzpatrick blocked extra point and poor special teams execution opened the door for them to win Week 1 on the road against the Cincinnati Bengals. In Week 2, they weren’t so lucky, losing to the New England Patriots.
The biggest issue for the Steelers right now is their offense. Mitchell Trubisky is not taking shots down the field despite an impressive group of skill position players. Najee Harris is struggling on the ground again, not trusting the plays in front of him.
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A lot of these issues can be traced to offensive coordinator, Matt Canada. There are already fans calling for his job and they want to see rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett under center as well.
While head coach Mike Tomlin is preaching patience, both are under the microscope and have a short leash. With the upcoming schedule, the offense better figure things out or this season could get away from them quickly. A big performance would be ideal against the Browns, otherwise, changes could be made given the extra preparation time they will be afforded.
2. The Colts Have Major Issues
Arguably the most surprising thing of 2022 thus far is the performance of the Indianapolis Colts. They came into the season with Super Bowl aspirations but have looked like bottom feeders through two games.
In Week 1 the Colts tied the Houston Texans and were lucky to even accomplish that. They needed 17 points in the fourth quarter to come from behind and force overtime. In Week 2, they were shut out by the Jacksonville Jaguars.
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Going 0-1-1 against two divisional opponents expected to be among the worst teams in the NFL this season, is certainly not the start they were hoping for. The ineptitude of that division should keep the Colts’ playoff hopes alive as they are still ahead of the Titans and no one expects Jacksonville to run away with it.
Figuring out the offensive line is a necessity to get things on track. They have been abysmal at opening up holes for Jonathan Taylor or blocking for Matt Ryan. If they don’t get that figured out, it will be a long season in Indianapolis.
1. Bills Are Legitimate Super Bowl Favorites
Coming into the season, the Buffalo Bills were the odds-on favorites to win the Super Bowl. Through two weeks, that designation was certainly justified. The Bills have looked far and away like the best team in the league.
While there are five other undefeated teams, none of them have put together performances such as Buffalo on both sides of the ball. In Week 1, they traveled to face the Los Angeles Rams in the season opener. They trounced the Rams 31-10.
In Week 2, in their home opener on Monday Night Football, they embarrassed the Tennessee Titans 41-7. Buffalo punted once in two games and they got the ball right back anyway as it was muffed and recovered by the Bills.
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They are clicking on all cylinders and will only get better when Tre’Davious White returns to their secondary once he finishes rehab from a torn ACL. Despite not having him the team has generated nine sacks, 15 tackles for loss, five interceptions, 14 passes defended and two fumble recoveries.
Josh Allen looks like the favorite for the MVP in the early going as the offense has been unstoppable as well. Their matchup in Week 3 against the Miami Dolphins is the most anticipated matchup between the AFC East rivals likely since Dan Marino and Jim Kelly were at the helm of the offenses.