I’d been waiting for the game for several months but in the end it was kind of anti-climatic. Seattle put the wood to San Francisco Sunday night in a game I expected the Seahawks to win, but not quite that handily.
It’s the second consecutive time that Seattle has easily handled the 49ers at home. Despite the lopsided loss, I still think the 49ers and Seahawks are virtual equals in the NFC and also believe that the winner of the NFC West ultimately becomes the team to beat in the conference.
The folks at NinersNation.com aren’t panicking. They also recognize that Seattle is a pretty good team that put itself in the driver’s seat. The pressure is on the 49ers, they acknowledge, to get back on track this week and to win the later-season matchup in San Francisco.
But Seahawks writers, fans and observers also are rightfully excited about the showing on Sunday night. Everyone knew how good San Francisco was. I don’t know that people were giving Seattle the credit they deserved. But as this Bleacher Report story notes, the Seahawks put the NFC on notice.
Cowboys blow an opportunity
Dallas was bailed out by its division mates as the NFC East went 0-4 in week two. But the Cowboys had an opportunity to not only gain a game on its division foes, but also to show everyone that this season was going to be different from the last two when the team finished 8-8 and outside of the playoffs.
Instead, Dallas bumbled and stumbled its way to a 17-16 loss in Kansas City against the improved but very beatable Chiefs. The folks at The Landry Hat called it being on the roller coaster with the Cowboys. That certainly seems an apt description.
I didn’t see much of the game. It sounds like there may have been some questionable calls that went against the Cowboys. But at the end of the day, against a beatable team, a true contender would overcome some bad calls.
There was a deep pass to Bryant that went through his hands. DeMarco Murray is an afterthought in the run game. Tony Romo lost a fumble. And Alex Smith threw two touchdown passes. Dallas over Kansas City was the upset pick for both my brother and me in our pick segment this week. It should have come through for us, but this team has apparently not gained the consistency it needs.
Bengals do capitalize
One team that did capitalize on an opportunity to take its chances to the next level is Cincinnati. The Bengals have emerged as decent in recent years after being the NFL’s doormats for nearly two decades. But an aging and injured Pittsburgh team and a Ravens team still coming together over an offseason of high turnover gives the Bengals their best opportunity to make a deeper run in the playoffs in quite awhile.
Cincy on Monday night showed the Steelers that it’s a team to be reckoned with. The game was tied at halftime, but other than a couple moments in the second quarter, Pittsburgh was not really able to sustain drives.
Furthermore, against a unit that previously had been nearly impossible to run against, BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Giovani Bernard both consistently moved piles and burst past a Steelers team that doesn’t carry nearly the intimidation it has in recent years.
Another upside for Cincy: On a night in which A.J. Green had little impact (six catches, 41 yards on 14 targets), other players stepped up to chip in. Jermaine Gresham and Tyler Eifert combined for nine catches and 132 yards. Mohamed Sanu and Marvin Jones both made plays. And Andy Dalton was still able to close with 280 yards passing.
The Bengals are just 1-1. They’re not a finished product. They made too many mistakes in a week one loss at Chicago. But at this point they look to me like they have the upside to be the class of the AFC North.
Is Griffin really ready?
I loved watching Robert Griffin III last year when he was healthy. His combo passing and running skills were awesome to watch. But count me among those who think he’s come back just a bit too early from his knee injury.
The Redskins have started poorly twice in getting off to an 0-2 start. And Griffin just does not look anything like the guy who took Washington to its first NFC East title in forever.
I really hope Griffin can work his way back. And he’s played better in both second halves than he did in the first halves of each game so far. But after watching parts of the first two games, whether it’s nerves or whatever, he’s obviously not the same. Calling for Kirk Cousins? Maybe, maybe not. But Washington has to look at the long term with Griffin, not just the rest of 2013.
Are the Saints for real?
It was predictable that the return of Sean Payton would improve things in New Orleans. That has happened, as the Saints have won two division games right out of the gate.
What is surprising … no, perhaps stunning would be the right word … is the manner in which the Saints have won these games.
The offense has yet to explode, but the defense – the same defense that was one of the worst in league history last year – has held Atlanta to 17 points and Tampa Bay to 14.
The Bucs and the Carolina Panthers are dragging the overall performance of the NFC South down so far this season. And I’m not a huge believer in Atlanta being any better than they were in 2012. So the Saints have an opportunity to recapture the South.
So could this team challenge for another Super Bowl? A couple really stout defenses out west will have a say in that. But this team seems to be thriving under Rob Ryan’s attack. If they can keep it up, this team will be fun to watch.
Broncos rolling early on
Denver entered the season as one of the favorites in the AFC and the first two weeks have done nothing to dissuade that belief.
The Broncos have put up 90 points in defeating Baltimore and the New York Giants.
They received a blow today when it came out that Ryan Clady could miss six weeks, but it doesn’t seem to be harming Peyton Manning’s efforts to chase down the record books. According to Mile High Report, he’s the only QB in history to throw nine touchdowns with no picks in the first two games of a season.
He’s on pace to destroy Drew Brees’ 2011 passing yardage record and Tom Brady’s 2007 mark for touchdown passes. Will it keep up? Time will tell, but the elder Manning has great weaponry around him and he looks like he’s found the fountain of youth in his second year in Denver.