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By Joe Kazmar
For the Record 

Kaz's Korner

Many trends obvious in NFL after only two weeks

 

Last updated 9/21/2021 at 7:21pm



It’s almost impossible to project how the 32 National Football League teams will fare for the 2021 season after only two games, but it’s much easier seeing where many of the franchises are headed after two weeks.

Everybody and their brother know where the Houston Texans will be after the season ends in early January—in front of their televisions watching the good teams compete for the Super Bowl during the playoffs. They lost their first game of the season 31-21 at Cleveland Sunday.

The same can’t be said for the Dallas Cowboys, who went down to the final play in each game to determine their fate—they lost to defending world champion Tampa Bay 31-29 in the season’s opener and then came back to turn the trick at Los Angeles Sunday with a 56-yard field goal by Greg Zuerlein to beat the Chargers 20-17 as time ran out.

But the strangest phenomenon—especially for the Texans—is that both Houston and Dallas are tied for first place in their respective divisions with 1-1 records.

Dallas has a good chance of staying on top, but it’s inevitable the Texans will soon falter, especially after starting quarterback Tyrod Taylor left Sunday’s game with a hamstring problem.

Both teams are doing better than expected, with Cowboy quarterback Dak Prescott returning after missing most of last season with a serious broken ankle and Houston with a new head coach (David Culley) and a brand-new quarterback due to Deshaun Watson’s off-season escapades that led to 22 lawsuits and a state of limbo for him.

But let’s take a look at some of the other NFL teams and the direction they could very well be headed.

The biggest disappointments have to be the Green Bay Packers, the Atlanta Falcons, Minnesota Vikings, Indianapolis Colts and Jacksonville Jaguars, while the surprising teams appear to be the Denver Broncos, Carolina Panthers and the Las Vegas Raiders.

Green Bay was held to a single field goal by New Orleans in Week One with quarterback Aaron Rodgers being denied a touchdown pass for the first time in quite a while.

But I can understand the Packers having a hard time giving their all when their quarterback wanted to be traded and didn’t want to be a Packer any more. He finally gave in just before training camp, but that didn’t make his teammates feel any better about him.

The Vikings have a decent team but have problems on defense, which has allowed 61 points in two games. However, Minnesota’s offense has put up 57 points but still stands at 0-2 going into Week 3 against the Seattle Seahawks, who have given up 49 points in their two games.

Atlanta is in the same situation as the Houston Texans—rebuilding with a new head coach—but it shows worse than in Houston.

And the Falcons still have Matt Ryan at quarterback which is a better situation than with the Texans, but defense—or lack of it—seems to be their bugaboo, surrendering 80 points and scoring only 31 in their two losses. The 80 points are the most scored on them through two games in franchise history.

Indianapolis and Jacksonville—both members of the AFC South Division with our Houston Texans—are surrendering too many points and not scoring enough. Their 0-2 starts could help the Texans in the long run.

The Colts should be fine, losing to two playoff-bound teams--Seattle 28-16 and the LA Rams 27-24. And Jacksonville, with rookie head coach Urban Meyer and fresh-out-of-college quarterback Trevor Lawrence have a long way to go, losing to underdog Houston 37-21 and rebuilding Denver 23-13.

The Carolina Panthers are the biggest surprise to me, beating the hapless New York Jets 19-14 and then surprising New Orleans 26-7. And they’re very likely to be 3-0 after their game tomorrow night at Houston.

This is the first time the Las Vegas/Oakland Raiders have started two consecutive seasons 2-0 since 1982-84. They have a great coach in Jon Gruden and quarterback in Derek Carr. The Raiders upset the mighty Pittsburgh Steelers 26-17 Sunday.

I don’t believe a team that surrenders 65 points in two games can be Super Bowl material—but that’s how many the Kansas City Chiefs have given up in their first two games, nipping Cleveland 33-29 and losing to the Baltimore Ravens 36-35 Sunday on two fourth period touchdown runs by Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson.

The Chiefs were trying to set up a clinching field goal leading 35-30 late in the game when tailback Clyde Edwards-Helaire lost a fumble and Jackson took over the game and scored with 3:14 left.

Three other starting quarterbacks besides Houston’s Taylor left their games with injuries and didn’t return—Miami’s Tua Tagovailoa, Chicago’s Andy Dalton and Indianapolis Colts’ Carson Wentz.

This could persuade the Houston Texans to trade Deshaun Watson if any of these three teams makes the right offer.

Or Houston may activate Watson and force him to play again for the Texans!!!

KWICKIES…The Texas Longhorns, who went from No. 15 in the AP College Football Poll to unranked after losing 40-21 to Arkansas came roaring back Saturday to dismantle Rice 58-0 answering Head Coach Steve Sarkisian’s challenge to get ready for the Big 12, which begins this week against Texas Tech.

The red-hot St. Louis Cardinals went into this week on an eight-game winning streak after using a five-run first inning to nip San Diego 8-7 Sunday. The victory opened a three-game lead over Cincinnati for the second NL wild card. The Cards have not won eight in a row since Aug. 7-15, 2018.

The world champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers are off to a fast start with victories over the Dallas Cowboys and the Atlanta Falcons. Michael Irvin on ESPN’s First Take Monday morning said he thought the San Francisco 49ers could slow down the Bucs, but the show’s host Stephen A. Smith pointed out that the 49ers don’t even play Tampa Bay this season and that the Los Angeles Rams are hosting the Bucs Sunday and are a 1½-point favorite to beat the Bucs.

And speaking of Tampa Bay, 44-year-old Tom Brady became the first Buccaneer quarterback to have multiple games of five passing touchdowns, and he claims he’s still not satisfied because he believes he and the team can do better. Let’s see what he can do Sunday against the Rams’ defense that has given up only 38 points in their two victories.

JUST BETWEEN US…The Houston Astros are on their final road trip of the season, again to the Left Coast where they began a four-game series with the LA Angels Monday night, holding a six-game lead over the second-place Oakland A’s in the American League West Division. Houston will then move on to Oakland before returning back to Minute Maid Park. Angels slugger/pitcher Shohei Ohtani is only one of four players in American League history with at least 44 home runs and 23 stolen bases in a season, joining Jose Canseco (1991, 1998), Ken Griffey, Jr. (1999) and Alex Rodriguez (2007).

 

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