Week 2 of the NFL season was definitely an exciting one across the league! From QB Taylor Heinicke’s game-winning drive on Thursday Night Football to QB Lamar Jackson and the Ravens narrowly beating out QB Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs on Sunday, it was a great weekend of football. Moving on to the NFC North, two of the teams in the division (the Packers and Lions) faced off against each other, while the Bears and Vikings both played in close games against the Bengals and Cardinals respectively.
Cincinnati Bengals vs. Chicago Bears
While the Bears did nearly give up a 17-point fourth-quarter lead to the Bengals, they also showed a lot of improvement in Sunday’s 20-17 win, especially on the defensive side of the ball. They picked off three consecutive Joe Burrow passes (one of them being a pick-six by LB Roquan Smith) in the fourth quarter and sacked him four times as well. QB Andy Dalton played decently well before getting injured in the second quarter, going 9/11 for 56 yards and one touchdown (which was on the opening drive). However, he didn’t make any really difficult plays and relied on a lot of screens and check-downs. QB Justin Fields came in and replaced the injured Dalton and, while his numbers (6/13 passing for 60 yards, no TDs, and one INT) do not look great (or even good for that matter), they don’t tell the full story. Here are the things that are missed in the stats: 1. Fields throwing a dime on what should have been a 50-yard touchdown that inexplicably went through WR Allen Robinson’s arms and 2. A number of good plays were called back because of penalties (two false starts called on Fields during a drive that ended with a 28-yard FG and TE Cole Kmet getting an offensive pass interference call when they were supposed to be at the Bengals’ 22-yard line). He also rushed 10 times for 31 yards, including a late third-down scramble for a first down that essentially ended the game. There is still a lot to be desired from this offense, and Fields will almost certainly go through some growing pains. With him officially being named the starter for Week 3, hopefully getting all of the reps with the first unit will help him establish more chemistry there.
Next Game: CHI @ CLE (09/26).
Minnesota Vikings @ Arizona Cardinals
And Minnesota’s annual kicking problems continue! There are a number of other things to point to as to why the Vikings lost 34-33 to the Cardinals on Sunday, such as allowing QB Kyler Murray to go off for 400 passing yards and four total touchdowns and also allowing the Cardinals to combine for 500 yards of total offense. That being said, K Greg Joseph missing a 37-yard field goal at the end of the game is simply a crushing blow for the Vikings. All 11 teams that started 0-2 last season failed to make the playoffs, meaning that Minnesota definitely has their work cut out for them. A few positives include the fact that both QB Kirk Cousins (22/32 for 244 yds, three TDs, zero INTs) and RB Dalvin Cook (22 carries for 131 yds and two receptions for 17 yds) played pretty well, they had no turnovers of their own, they forced Murray to throw two interceptions (one of them which was returned for a touchdown), and they have yet to play a home game this season. Road games are always tough, so maybe two close losses separated by only a maximum of three points (a 34-33 loss this week and a 27-24 OT loss to the Bengals last week) means that the Vikings are just a few good plays from 2-0. They’re still in this, and fans shouldn’t panic just yet.
Next Game: SEA @ MIN (9/26).
Detroit Lions @ Green Packers
This was the only game of the week that featured teams in the division playing each other, and the 35-17 Packers victory definitely taught us a few things: 1. Despite his horrendous Week 1 performance, QB Aaron Rodgers (22/27, 255 yds, four TDs, zero INTs) is still very very good. 2. RB Aaron Jones (17 carries for 67 yds, six receptions for 48 yds, four total TDs) is much more of a dual-threat back than we give him credit for, and this can take a bit of pressure off of WR Davante Adams on some nights. 3. Although QB Jared Goff and his Lions played well during the first half, ending it with a 17-14 lead, reality kicked in and reminded us that the Lions are a flawed team with a flawed quarterback. While the Packers played great offensively overall, they are going to need better production from the running game (31 carries for 96 yds this week and 15 rushes for 43 yards in last week’s loss to the New Orleans Saints) against the better teams in the league. They’ve only had 2.9 and 3.1 yards/carry, which will be quite problematic against good defenses. Another thing that is a little concerning is that the Packers were only able to sack Goff once in the win. Regardless, the Packers definitely got themselves back on track and looked more like the elite playoff team we expected them to be. However, let’s hope that this win is not just a “fool’s gold” performance, as it was still against Detroit. They’ll have to keep this momentum up if they really want to prove themselves further. As for the Lions… well, at least they have shown some fight (more so last week against the San Francisco 49ers in a 41-33 loss)!
Next Games: BAL @ DET (9/26), GB @ SF (9/26).
Edited By: Rupayan “Abs” Samanta.