Another week of NFL football is in the books. For all of my qualms with the NFL, Week 2 arrived a bit too quickly for my satisfaction. Scott Hanson’s first announcement of “seven hours of commercial free football,” and his second one felt like they were only a few days apart as opposed to an entire week.
Since the turn of the decade, the Kansas City Chiefs and Buffalo Bills have been regarded as two of the top teams capable of winning a Super Bowl Championship. The Chiefs have hosted the last five AFC Championship games, and the Bills have supplanted the New England Patriots at the top of the AFC East the last three seasons.
Both teams were humbled Week 1 of the 2023 season. On opening night, the Chiefs saluted their most recent Super Bowl Championship, and ended that Thursday humbled by the Detroit Lions. The Bills were tasked with visiting northern New Jersey to take on Aaron Rodgers and the Jets. Rodgers suffered a season-ending series during the Jets’ first series. After the helium squealed out of the Jets’ balloon, they still won the game on a punt-return touchdown in overtime.
A rough Week 1 did not deter those two Super Bowl contenders, nor another team that was beaten from head to toe in their season opener. The New York Giants were down 60-0 nothing on the season at halftime against the Arizona Cardinals when their pride rallied them to victory.
Big Blue gets their season under control
The Giants got swirlied by the Dallas Cowboys in Week 1. Those rubber pellets on Daniel Jones’ face in the first quarter was evidence of a person who was bullied. Jones was hit behind the line of scrimmage 12 times during the Giants’ 40-0 home loss to their division rival.
At halftime in Glendale, Ariz., in Week 2. the Giants were down 20-0 to a team starting Joshua Dobbs at quarterback. Dobbs went 12-for-16 for 146 yards in the first half and also rushed for 41 yards and a TD.
Pride must have descended on the Giants like a spell at halftime, because on the first drive of the second half it took them three plays to score. Much of Jones’ success the last two seasons has come from bootleg plays, but he made some big throws from inside the pocket against the Cardinals to help claw his team to victory. He threw for 62 yards in the first half and contributed one yard to the running game. At the end of the game he tallied 321 yards in the air, 59 on the ground, and three total TDs.
When the Cardinals scored a touchdown with nine and a half minutes remaining in the third quarter they went up, 28-7. The Giants scored on all five of their second-half possessions — including four TDs — and won the game 31-28.
Chiefs remind the Jags who is the better team
Unlike the AFC Championship Game, on Sunday, Patrick Mahomes was not dealing with a high-ankle sprain during the Chiefs’ rematch against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Travis Kelce and Chris Jones returned to the lineup, and there was reason to believe that with their best players on the field the Chiefs would unload the disappointment from their season-opening loss on the Jaguars.
Mahomes, of course, was stellar. Kelce caught a massive TD pass at the beginning of the second half, and Jones was in the Jaguars’ backfield all game. However, while the Chiefs lead for most of the game, their 17-9 win was no thriller or even capable of commanding a significant percentage of screen time on RedZone. In the second quarter, the Chiefs and Jaguars combined to commit turnovers on three consecutive possessions. The Jags did not score a TD the entire game.
This contest may not be remembered at the end of this season, but it showed that the Chiefs hosting a sixth-consecutive AFC Championship game should come as no surprise. Kadarius Toney hauled in five of seven passes after dropping four in Week 1. The Chiefs committed two more turnovers, and eight more penalties than the Jaguars, and still held their opponent to nine points at home.
Josh Allen held onto the ball for the entire game
Defeating the Las Vegas Raiders has to be taken with a grain of salt. Their starting quarterback is Jimmy Garoppolo.
That being said, dominating at home was a healing tonic for the Bills after blowing a potential 2-0 start with a loss to the Jets sans Aaron Rodgers. As disheartening as that blow was to Gang Green, the Raiders were given hope by Josh Allen continuing to turn the ball over. He threw three INTs and lost one of his two fumbles.
At home against the Raiders, Allen looked more like the MVP candidate version of himself than the player who committed the most turnovers in the NFL last season — 19. He did not commit a single turnover on Sunday — the first time since Week 14 of the 2022 season.
Allen threw only six incomplete passes the entire day on the way to 271 yards and three touchdowns as the Bills defeated the Raiders, 38-10. He was great, but he still had some reckless moments. He tried to hurdle a Raider defender well short of the goal line in the second quarter. Fortunately for him, and the Bills, that defender was a former college teammate of Allen’s who took it easy on his old buddy while making the stop.
The only flaw in Allen’s game is self control. A flaw that is very capable of keeping the Bills from winning their first Super Bowl while he is behind center. But for one Sunday, Allen was almost entirely under control.