2018 NFL Week 2 takeaways – What we learned from every team and what it means for next week


Concern grew for some teams with Super Bowl hopes in the second week of the 2018 NFL season. The Patriots, Eagles and Steelers all fell, the Vikings and Packers settled for a tie (yes, another one!) and the Saints just slipped by for a close win.

Here are all of the biggest takeaways from Week 2 (through Sunday’s afternoon games).

Jump to a matchup:

The Bengals are 2-0 for the first time since 2015 and have all the confidence in the world as they head into a two-game road stretch against the Panthers and Falcons. Andy Dalton and A.J. Green proved their connection is alive and well with three touchdowns together in the first half, which bodes well for the future of the team’s offense. — Katherine Terrell

Joe Flacco goes from the place where he struggles the most (Cincinnati) to his comfort zone, back home next week at M&T Bank Stadium to face the Broncos. When playing at home in September, Flacco is 16-2 with 31 touchdowns and eight interceptions. His passer rating is 99.5. — Jamison Hensley

The most frustrating aspect of Sunday’s tie relayed by Vikings players and coach Mike Zimmer was how many chances they had to put the Packers away. The Vikings settled for field goals, which rookie kicker Daniel Carlson missed. “Guys are supposed to do their jobs,” Zimmer said. “Maybe we should’ve thrown a ball into the end zone a couple of times at the end, but I believed that the guy was going to make the kick.” The Vikings have a good chance to improve to 2-0-1 when they host the winless Bills in Week 3. — Courtney Cronin

The most talked about subject after the Packers’ tie wasn’t how Aaron Rodgers valiantly played through an injured left knee. Rather, it was the questionable roughing-the-passer call on Clay Matthews that wiped out a late fourth-quarter interception that might have clinched the game. And you can bet it will be a point of discussion right up until next Sunday’s game at Washington, which became even more critical after the Packers failed to close out this win. — Rob Demovsky

Matt Ryan made plays with his arm and his feet, accounting for four TDs and igniting his teammates with some Cam Newton-like scrambles. With Ryan playing at a high level, rookie Calvin Ridley scoring a TD and the Falcons establishing a running game behind Tevin Coleman (16 rushes, 107 rushing yards) — not to mention creative play-calling and an admirable job by a banged-up offensive line — the Falcons go into next week’s showdown with the Saints feeling confident about their ability to put up points. — Vaughn McClure

The run defense, in the word of Panthers coach Ron Rivera, was “terrible” and the number of dropped passes was “disappointing.” Throw in a make-shift offensive line because of injuries, and it was almost a miracle Carolina had a chance to tie Atlanta on the last play. Nevertheless, it put more emphasis on the need to win the next two games at home against Cincinnati and the New York Giants. Win those to get to 3-1 with outside linebacker Thomas Davis returning from a four-game suspension, and the sting from Sunday’s loss won’t feel so bad. — David Newton

The Chiefs have reason to feel they can outscore the 49ers next Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium — and any of their other opponents down the line. They started strong offensively last year before hitting a midseason slump, but they also didn’t have Patrick Mahomes as their quarterback. His presence, plus an improved collection of skill players that includes Sammy Watkins, makes them more difficult to defend this season. — Adam Teicher

The Steelers’ offense still has its fastball and looks ready to win shootouts after Ben Roethlisberger‘s 452-yard performance, but why should it have to? The team has spent significant draft capital on a defense that looked confused and overmatched against the Chiefs. Players admitted communication breakdowns dug them a 21-0 deficit, and that shouldn’t happen on a team stocked with veterans. Monday Night Football will be a serious gut-check for a 0-1-1 team with Super Bowl hopes. — Jeremy Fowler

This “Fitz-Magic” thing is real. Ryan Fitzpatrick has thrown for eight touchdowns and has a rushing TD. The Bucs are now 2-0 for the first time since 2010. But credit also goes to the defense for getting a lot more pressure on Nick Foles than they did with Drew Brees last week. Rookie defensive backs Carlton Davis, M.J. Stewart and Jordan Whitehead didn’t look like they were in over their heads while stepping into big roles because of injuries. — Jenna Laine

The Eagles have some issues to deal with coming out of their loss to the Bucs. Key players (Jason Peters, Mike Wallace) got banged up, and there was a lack of discipline and execution on both sides of the ball. But the winds are about to shift. Carson Wentz is expected to make his return next week at home against the Colts, which will likely invigorate this team and keep the sting of this loss from lingering. — Tim McManus

Two weeks and two wake-up calls for the Saints, but at least they snuck away with a victory this time. The Saints offense flopped for most of the day while the defense actually kept them afloat (the exact opposite of Week 1’s 48-40 loss to Tampa Bay). Drew Brees said they might have left more “points out there” than he could ever remember. The good news: New Orleans goes into this week’s game at Atlanta with a “huge sense of urgency for our improvement,” according to Brees. –Mike Triplett

A quick turnaround for Thursday night’s game against the Jets awaits, so the Browns can’t wallow after another brutal loss. The team that can’t seem to get things right may face the Jets with a new placekicker after Zane Gonzalez missed two field goals and two extra points in a three-point loss to the Saints. –Pat McManamon

Andrew Luck‘s play might no longer dictate whether the Colts win or lose, if Sunday was any indication. Luck hurt the Colts with two interceptions on their side of the field, only to be bailed out by the defense. The D, which has finished 20th or worse in five of the past six seasons, held Washington to only nine points. Second-round pick Darius Leonard was the best player on the field this week with 18 tackles, a sack and an interception. Indy faces the defending champion Eagles in Week 3. –Mike Wells

The Redskins’ offense can’t just sling the ball around and win without a consistent run game. Against the Colts, they rushed for only 65 yards — 117 fewer than a week ago. The offensive line did not handle the Colts’ movement up front, so they can expect to see more of this style moving forward. Considering they play high-powered Green Bay next week, the Redskins can’t afford another poor day in the run game. –John Keim

In Mike Vrabel’s first win as an NFL coach, creativity and tempo were key in generating a spark without quarterback Marcus Mariota and top offensive tackles Taylor Lewan and Dennis Kelly. Safety Kevin Byard had a 66-yard touchdown pass on a fake punt, and Tennessee mixed in Derrick Henry in a wildcat look. Vrabel said Mariota will be further evaluated after not playing on Sunday, as the Titans will want their QB back for next week’s road trip to Jacksonville. –Turron Davenport

The Texans need better pass protection for Deshaun Watson, who was hit nine times and sacked four times Sunday. Watson constantly faced pressure and didn’t have time to throw, especially early in the game. Julie’n Davenport, who started at right tackle after Seantrel Henderson was put on IR last week, said the offensive line “has to be better” starting next week when the Texans host the Giants. –Sarah Barshop

The Dolphins are 2-0 for the first time since 2013, and coach Adam Gase said they plan to “keep surprising people.” An efficient Ryan Tannehill and attacking defense led the way for a team that is riding an early-season high and feels like they can be a surprise playoff contender. The field is open for them in a weak AFC. –Cameron Wolfe

Memo to those who believe Sam Darnold had arrived after his big debut: He’s a rookie. He will make mistakes. He threw two interceptions as the Jets dropped their home opener, and now he has only three days to prepare for the Browns’ blitz-heavy defense on Thursday night. This is the growing-pain phase. –Rich Cimini

The Chargers earned their first victory without the services of defensive end Joey Bosa. Melvin Ingram and Derwin James filled the void, helping the Chargers to five sacks against rookie Josh Allen. The Chargers face another tough task against the Rams — a Week 3 battle for Los Angeles at the Coliseum — which be a barometer on if the Bolts remain early favorites to reach the postseason for the first time since 2013. –Eric D. Williams

Allen’s NFL starting debut was overshadowed by another poor defensive performance, at least in the first half. After allowing 47 points to the Ravens in the opener, Buffalo trailed the Chargers, 28-6, at halftime. When it returned for the second half, cornerback Vontae Davis had abruptly retired and coach Sean McDermott had taken over play-calling duties from defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier. The Bills have four of their next five games on the road, including the next two at Minnesota and Green Bay. –Mike Rodak

It may be only Week 2, but the Jaguars’ victory over the Patriots should send a message to the rest of the NFL that their success in 2017 wasn’t a fluke. The franchise had been 0-8 against Tom Brady and had beaten the Patriots just once once 12 previous meetings. The Jags can’t dwell on this victory too much, though, because they play host division-rival Tennessee on Sunday. Tennessee swept the Jaguars last season, and a victory on Sunday would give them a 2.5-game lead in the AFC South. –Michael DiRocco

The Patriots’ defense was the biggest disappointment as Blake Bortles finished with 377 yards and four scores. The Pats didn’t follow through on one of their key game-plan points of keeping Bortles in the pocket. A trip to Detroit is on deck, where the Patriots would like to show former New England defensive coordinator Matt Patricia that they’re better than they played against the Jaguars. –Mike Reiss

The Rams’ defense has posted six consecutive scoreless quarters, and while Aaron Donald and Ndamukong Suh aren’t filling up the stat sheet, their presence certainly has been felt by opposing quarterbacks. The challenge next week against the Chargers and Phillip Rivers will be to force turnovers, which they were unable to do Sunday. –Lindsey Thiry

There is a lot of work to be done for the Cardinals, especially on offense. Arizona has scored only six points in eight quarters, struggling to run or pass the ball. In fact, the Cardinals are only 4-of-20 on third downs this season, so unless the offense can figure something out soon, the Cardinals’ season could be lost before it even really gets going. –Josh Weinfuss

The Niners couldn’t afford a loss to Detroit, especially with difficult road games against the Chiefs and Chargers up next. With a 66-yard jolt of lightning from running back Matt Breida and a fortunate defensive holding call on the Lions, the 49ers got the job done, though it might not have felt like it. “A win is a win but it felt like a loss,” cornerback Richard Sherman said after the game. They must be better in all phases if they’re going to slow down the Mahomes train next week in Kansas City. –Nick Wagoner

There are signs of life for the Lions, and that’s encouraging for a team that looked in real trouble after the first seven quarters of the season. Multiple players even admitted that Sunday was “progress” after 31-point loss to the Jets on Monday. Detroit gave itself a shot to win at the end, so, at least in theory, the Lions have something to build on heading into Week 3 against New England. –Michael Rothstein

Two games, two fourth-quarter comebacks and two wins for the Broncos. “We showed a lot of character and fight, and that’s good, but we can’t keep waiting like that,” cornerback Chris Harris Jr. said. With games coming up against the Ravens, Rams and Chiefs, Denver can’t keep racing the clock in the fourth quarter to try to clean up earlier mistakes. The Broncos had one first down in the first half Sunday and didn’t have an offensive touchdown drive until their first possession of the third quarter. –Jeff Legwold

Yes, 0-2 is ugly, but as down as the locker room was after the loss, there was also a strange sense of optimism because if the Raiders make one of at least 10 plays, they win the game. “We’re this close,” Derek Carr said. But offensive tackle Donald Penn pointed out, “That’s the difference between good teams and mediocre teams. Right now, we’re a mediocre team.” –Paul Gutierrez

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