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Welcome to the Week 2 grades!

The second week of the season is always a big one in the NFL, especially for 0-1 teams. If there's one thing you don't want to do, it's start the season with an 0-2 record. Since the playoffs expanded to 14 teams in 2020, only 4.3% of teams (1 of 23) have bounced back from an 0-2 start to make the postseason. 

That's not great news for the Bengals, Patriots and Chargers, three teams that are now 0-2 after losing on Sunday. Of course, the Bengals just happened to be the one team that recovered from an 0-2 start to make the playoffs, so they're going to have to work that magic once again. 

Speaking of magic, the Giants and Commanders both seemed to have some in Week 2. The Giants tied the largest comeback in franchise history when they overcame a 28-7 deficit to beat the Cardinals 31-28. As for the Commanders, they beat the Broncos 35-33 after trailing 21-3. 

The Giants win kept them out of the 0-2 club. However, several other teams weren't so lucky. Along with the Patriots, Chargers and Bengals, the Panthers, Texans, Cardinals, Broncos and Bears are also off to an 0-2 start after losing on Sunday and the Vikings are now 0-2 after losing on Thursday. It might sound like it's too early to write off the 0-2 teams, but history says it's not. 

Alright, that's enough 0-2 talk, we have grades to hand out, so let's get to them.

New Orleans 20-17 Carolina (Monday)

Through two weeks, it's starting to look like the Saints might have one of the best defenses in the NFL. The Saints defensive front absolutely manhandled the Panthers offensive line on a night where Carolina was held to under 250 yards of offense. The defense has only given up one touchdown all year, which is making things much easier for the Saints' offense. Although that side of the ball is still a work in progress, Derek Carr does seem to have figured out how to throw the long ball. Although Carr struggled at times, he came up with several clutch throws in the fourth quarter to help put the game away. The Saints have a playoff caliber defense and if you combine that with the fact that Carr seems to be getting more comfortable in the offense each week, the Saints are looking like the early favorite in a suddenly loaded NFC South race that currently features THREE undefeated teams.     
When you have a rookie quarterback, you know there are going to growing pains and there were plenty of those for Bryce Young in this game. The No. 1 overall pick struggled with his accuracy, he rarely threw the ball down field and he was indecisive on quite a few plays, which caused the offense to sputter for the better part of three quarters. The Panthers defense did its best to keep Carolina in the game, but it seemed to wear down on a night where New Orleans ran 74 plays (To put that in perspective, the Panthers only ran 56 plays). The Panthers will likely improve as the season goes on, but right now, they're definitely the weak link in the NFC South.     

Saints-Panthers grades by John Breech (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)

Pittsburgh 26-22 over Cleveland (Monday)

When the Browns signed Deshaun Watson, they thought they had solved all of their problems at quarterback, but right now, that doesn't appear to be the case. Watson almost single-handedly gave this game away by giving the Steelers two touchdowns (a pick-six on the first play of the game and a fumble that was returned for a TD in the fourth quarter). The Browns rushing attack was the only part of the offense that was working. Even after Nick Chubb was lost to a possible season-ending injury, Jerome Ford stepped in and ran for 106 yards. Defensively, the Browns continue to be on a warpath. One week after shutting down Cincinnati, the Browns held the Steelers to just 255 yards of offense. The Browns got a strong performance from everyone but Watson, and if he can't figure out things soon, it could be another lost season for Cleveland. 
For the second straight week, the Steelers offense didn't really show up, but that turned out not to be a big deal because the defense took care of business. The Steelers only scored three touchdowns in this game and TWO of them were scored by the defense. Alex Highsmith was the star: Not only did he get a pick-six on the first play, but he also forced a Deshaun Watson fumble in the fourth quarter that T.J. Watt would return for a TD. The defense beat up on Watson, who got sacked six times. The Steelers offense did come up with one big play — a 71-yard TD catch by George Pickens — but other than that, it was rough night for Kenny Pickett and company. The Steelers offense was supposed to take a big step forward this offseason, but through two weeks that simply hasn't happened. The good news for Pittsburgh is the defense might be good enough to carry this team all season.

Browns-Steelers grades by John Breech (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)

Buffalo 38-10 over Las Vegas

For the first five minutes of this game, the Raiders looked like the better team, but then the Bills spent the next 55 minutes exposing every hole on the Raiders' roster. Josh Jacobs, who missed all of training camp, still looks rusty and Jimmy Garoppolo isn't good enough right now to carry the offense on his own. The defense was rarely able to pressure Josh Allen, who diced up the Vegas secondary for three touchdowns. If the Raiders learned anything today, it's how far they still have to go if they want to be in the upper-echelon of NFL teams.  
Forget everything you saw in Week 1. The Bills team that was being hyped up all offseason finally showed up for a game and that team absolutely destroyed the Raiders. A big reason the blowout win happened is because Josh Allen played smart football. After turning the ball over four times last week, Allen rebounded by completing his FIRST 13 passes of the game on a day where he threw for 274 yards and three touchdowns. Allen also got a lot of help from a Bills rushing attack that totaled 183 yards on the ground. Overall, the Bills barely broke a sweat in this dominating win and they look like a Super Bowl contender again following their ugly Week 1 loss to the Jets

Raiders-Bills grades by John Breech (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)

Seattle 37-31 over Detroit in OT

If we were handing out individual grades, Geno Smith would definitely be getting an "A+" for the way he played in Detroit. Not only were the Seahawks missing both of their starting tackles, but DK Metcalf had to leave the game at one point, which should have been a recipe for disaster, but not for Smith. The Seahawks QB responded by carrying the team on his back with a wildly impressive performance where he threw for 328 yards and two touchdowns, including a game-winning 6-yard TD pass to Tyler Lockett in overtime. Although the Seahawks defense struggled for most of the day, the unit did come up with one HUGE play with Tre Brown's pick six of Jared Goff. The most impressive thing for the Seahawks is that they won this game even though their kicker and defense both struggled. Once they put it all together, this team is going to be difficult to beat. 
It's good to be aggressive, but Dan Campbell might have been too aggressive in this game. The Lions coach had his team go for it on three different fourth downs and they failed twice, including a fourth-and-2 from their own 45-yard line late in the third quarter at a point where Detroit had the lead in the game. The Lions were also hurt by turnovers, including two lost fumbles and a pick six thrown by Jared Goff, which was his first interception in 383 attempts. The Seahawks scored 14 points off those three turnovers and that ended up being the difference in the game. The Lions are good, but not good enough to overcome mistakes like that. 

Seahawks-Lions grades by John Breech (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)

Tennessee 27-24 over L.A. Chargers in OT

This game was probably frustrating to watch for Chargers fans. For one, the Chargers couldn't seem to convert a third down. Although Justin Herbert put up impressive numbers (305 yards, two touchdowns), this team couldn't convert on third down (2 of 14) and they couldn't score in the red zone (They got just two touchdowns on five trips). The Chargers also were plagued by questionable decision-making with the most baffling decision coming when Brandon Staley decided to punt on a fourth-and-1 at TENNESSEE'S 44-yard line. Staley once had a reputation for being aggressive, but now, it seems like he's having an identity crisis. The Chargers seem to figure out a new way to lose every week and this week, it was an overtime loss in a game where they blew a double-digit lead. 
After melting down with three interceptions in Week 1, Ryan Tannehill bounced back with an impressive performance in this win (20 of 24 for 246 yards along with a passing TD and a rushing TD). When Tannehill is playing well, the Titans are almost impossible to beat. Their defense will suffocate you and if they get the lead late, they'll let Derrick Henry take over. If Tannehill can play like this all season, the Titans could turn into a dark-horse contender to win the AFC South.  

Chargers-Titans grades by John Breech (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)

Tampa Bay 27-17 over Chicago

The Bears were hoping that Justin Fields might be able to take a leap this year, but if he's taken any leap, it's been a giant leap backward. The Bears offensive line couldn't protect Fields -- he got sacked six times -- and even when he did have time to throw, he struggled to find any open receivers. The Bears might be the worst team in football. 
Apparently, the Buccaneers decision not to give Mike Evans an extension has lit a fire under the receiver, because he has been unstoppable this season. After going for 66 yards in Week 1, Evans almost tripled his total with 171 yards and a touchdown against the Bears. Baker Mayfield, who definitely woke up feeling dangerous on Sunday, continues to look more and more comfortable in Tampa Bay's offense. He threw for 317 yards in the win on a day where he basically made zero mistakes. The Bucs defense was also impressive with six sacks and a pick six. The Buccaneers are easily the most surprising 2-0 team in the NFL this year and based on the way they're playing, there's no reason this team can't win the NFC South. 

Bears-Buccaneers grades by John Breech (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)

Indianapolis 31-20 over Houston

Due to an injury to Anthony Richardson, the Colts were forced to use two quarterbacks, but that didn't seem to have any impact on their offense. The Colts were able to move the ball at will, scoring on five of their first seven possessions. Their first two scores came on rushing touchdowns from Richardson, who showed off his athleticism with two impressive runs. After Richardson went out, Minshew came in and was nearly perfect, going 19 of 23. The defense also had a strong showing with six sacks. It's hard to tell, because the Colts were playing the Texans, but this team might be better than advertised. 
At one point in this game, the Texans were down 31-10 and they could have mailed it in from there, but instead they almost engineered a wild comeback. The Texans actually had a chance to cut the lead to one score in the fourth quarter, but Ka'imi Fairbairn missed a 46-yard field goal. It's clear that this team believes in DeMeco Ryans, which bodes well for things going forward. The Texans should also be optimistic after watching C.J. Stroud throw for 384 yards and two touchdowns even though he spent a good chunk of the game under pressure. 

Colts-Texans grades by John Breech (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)

Baltimore 27-24 over Cincinnati

The Ravens set the tone on the game's opening drive when they took nearly eight minutes off the clock. From there, John Harbaugh's team played complementary football while taking advantage of the Bengals' miscues. On offense, the Ravens employed a well-balanced attack that put Lamar Jackson in mostly manageable third-down situations. On defense, Baltimore largely kept Cincinnati's offense off schedule while often putting Joe Burrow in less than desirable situations.
Cincinnati's offense is still finding its way after Joe Burrow missed a month of training camp with his calf injury. The Bengals' early-season issues on offense were somewhat expected, but what has been a surprise has been Ja'Marr Chase's lack of involvement. Chase, who caught just five passes for 31 yards, was unable to come down with a potential touchdown catch in the first half that led to the Bengals settling for a short field goal. The Bengals defense has been OK this season, especially when you consider the poor spots their offense has put them in. But the unit has struggled against the run and the rebuilt secondary has given up too many big plays.

Ravens-Bengals grades by Bryan DeArdo (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)

Kansas City 17-9 over Jacksonville

This was an ugly win for the Chiefs, but a win nonetheless. Kansas City turned the ball over three times in the first half, and was penalized 12 times for 94 yards. Right tackle Jawaan Taylor accounted for five of those penalties, and was briefly benched after two holding penalties in three plays. Kansas City's defense was solid all day, and held Jacksonville to 0-for-3 in the red zone. Travis Kelce and Chris Jones both made impacts in their season debuts, as Kelce caught a touchdown and Jones recorded 1.5 sacks.
The Jaguars had their chances in this game, but just couldn't capitalize when it mattered most. A failed fourth down right before halftime gave Mahomes and Co. a short field and set up the first touchdown of the game. Calvin Ridley wasn't a large part of the game plan, as he caught 2 of 8 targets for just 32 yards, while the Jags recorded just 74 total rushing yards. The offense has to be better moving forward if the Jags want to win the division.

Chiefs-Jaguars grades by Jordan Dajani (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)

Atlanta 25-24 over Green Bay

Green Bay did everything but finish this game. Jordan Love had another great day with three touchdown passes and no interceptions, as the Packers seemingly put the game away with back-to-back touchdowns to open the second half. They did finish with 10 plays for 11 yards, which allowed the Falcons to score 13 unanswered points to pull off the comeback. Green Bay had no answer for Bijan Robinson or when Desmond Ridder took off out of the pocket, giving up 211 rushing yards. The Packers were down four offensive starters, yet that wasn't an issue when they went up 24-12. This was a game the Packers let get away, but this is a promising group.
Credit to Arthur Smith for featuring Bijan Robinson this week, as he finished with 172 yards from scrimmage and had three key plays on third/fourth down in the game that led to 13 points by the Falcons. Not only did Smith feature Robinson, he relied on him to extend drives after early struggles from Desmond Ridder. Smith threw the ball early to open up the offense and set up Robinson, showcasing he's willing to be aggressive (as evidenced with his trick plays). The Falcons defense is significantly better than last year, holding Green Bay to two three-and-outs and a turnover on downs in the fourth quarter. They are not pretty, but Atlanta is 2-0.

Packers-Falcons grades by Jeff Kerr (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)

N.Y. Giants 31-28 over Arizona

It's almost impossible to grade the Giants for this game. During the first half, they looked like the worst team in the NFL, but then they came out on fire in the second half. The comeback started with a defense that held the Cardinals to under 50 yards of total offense on their final four possessions of the game combined. Daniel Jones made those defensive stops count by coming alive during a second half where he totaled 317 yards (259 pass, 58 rush) while also totaling three touchdowns. The Jones that the Giants saw in the second half is the one the Giants will be hoping they see all season. If that Jones shows up, then this team might be able to get back to the playoffs for the second straight year. This was a miracle win for a team that desperately needed it. 
The Cardinals will probably be kicking themselves all season for this loss. The Cards seemed to have this game in hand after going up 28-7 in the third quarter, but then the wheels fell off the wagon and the wagon caught on fire. This was a meltdown in every possible way with both the offense and defense imploding simultaneously. The silver lining here is that the Cardinals have played two competitive games through two weeks -- they even led both games in the fourth quarter -- but unfortunately for Arizona, moral victories don't count in the standings. 

Giants-Cardinals grades by John Breech (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)

Washington 35-33 over Denver

After looking absolutely lost for the first quarter and a half of football, the Commanders finally settled down, which allowed them to pull off a stunning comeback from a 21-3 deficit to win the game. The Commanders offense seemed to click in the second half and a big reason for that was Brian Robinson, who totaled 95 yards and two touchdowns over the game's final two quarters. The return of Chase Young seemed to spark a Commanders defense that sacked Russell Wilson seven times, with 1.5 of those coming from Young. At 2-0, this is a Commanders team that seems to be getting more dangerous every week. 
For the second straight week, the Broncos blew a second-half lead, but this one might have been more painful. The Sean Payton era is off to an ugly start. The Broncos defense was supposed to be a strength for the team this year, but it wasn't in this game. The unit got gashed up for nearly 400 yards by a Commanders offense that didn't even put up 250 yards in its opener. Offensively, the Broncos did look impressive at times, but there were just too many mistakes, including two turnovers from Russell Wilson. The Broncos did almost win this game with a Hail Mary, but they missed a controversial two-pointer on the final play. Two weeks into the season, the Broncos now have a worse record (0-2) than they did last year with Nathaniel Hackett (1-1).

Commanders-Broncos grades by John Breech (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)

San Francisco 30-23 over L.A. Rams

A big reason why the 49ers are considered one of the best teams in the NFL is because they can beat you in so many ways and the Rams found that out the hard way on Sunday. The 49ers can beat you with the run (Christian McCaffrey finished with 116 yards on 20 carries), they can beat you with the pass (Five different receivers finished with at least three catches) and if that's not enough, their defense will punch you in the mouth, which is what it did in the second half of this game. After two weeks, the 49ers certainly look like the best team in the NFC, if not the entire NFL. 
For the first two quarters of this game, the Rams went toe to toe with the 49ers, but then the offense fell apart in the second half. The 49ers cranked up the pressure on Matthew Stafford over the final two quarters and things got ugly for the Rams with Stafford throwing two picks. That being said, Puka Nacua continues to look like a rising star who's going to play a key role in this offense all season. Defensively, the Rams got gashed up by a 49ers rushing attack that averaged nearly 6 yards per carry. If the Rams learned one thing from this game, it's that they're not quite on San Francisco's level yet. 

49ers-Rams grades by John Breech (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)

Dallas 30-10 over N.Y. Jets

The Jets defense did a great job of bending but breaking, forcing four field goals on the Cowboys' six red zone trips. However, their inability to generate a takeaway and the offense's turnover-filled day (three interceptions and one fumble lost) ruined what could have been a much more competitive showing. Zach Wilson had some nice throws, but he offset most of them by crumbling under the Micah Parsons-led pressure, heaving up a couple prayers that became easy Cowboys interceptions. The Jets have potential, but they need to play a much cleaner game offensively in order to avoid hanging their defense out to dry going forward.
Winning the turnover battle 4-0 and the game overall by 20 points, puts the Cowboys in line for an "A" grade. Micah Parsons played just about a perfect game with two sacks, six quarterback pressures, four quarterback hits, one forced fumble and one fumble recovered. Dallas shut out Zach Wilson and the Jets in the second half for another defensive masterpiece. The one nitpick is the need to kick four field goals on six red zone trips. To truly put better teams away, Dak Prescott and the Cowboys offense will need to come away with touchdowns instead of field goals. However, the Dallas offense did enough to not weigh down this grade too much.

Jets-Cowboys grades by Garrett Podell (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)

Miami 24-17 over New England

The Dolphins' high-flying offense usually beats teams through the air, but on Sunday night, they decided to throw a curveball at the Patriots by beating them on the ground. The Dolphins' rushing attack gashed up New England's defense thanks in large part to Raheem Mostert who rushed for 121 yards and two touchdowns on just 18 carries. The Dolphins were far from perfect -- they missed two field goals and threw an interception -- but they still managed to win. The scary thing about the Dolphins is that their defense was just as good as their offense this week. If that trend continues, don't be surprised at all if the Dolphins end up running away with the AFC East.  
The Patriots had Miami on the ropes on this game, but they just couldn't deliver the knockout blow. Instead, they accidentally punched their own face a of couple times. The two biggest self-inflicted wounds came in the form of two turnovers that both happened after New England had driven into Dolphins territory. Defensively, rookie corner Christian Gonzalez held Tyreek Hill to just 40 yards, which was one of the most impressive performances from any player on the field. The Patriots played well enough to win, they just couldn't come up with key offensive plays when they needed them most. If someone eventually steps up, this team could be dangerous going forward.  

Dolphins-Patriots grades by John Breech (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)

Philadelphia 34-28 over Minnesota (Thursday)

This team has to figure out how to hold on to the football. After turning the ball over three times against the Buccaneers in Week 1, the Vikings were actually WORSE this week with four turnovers against Philly. The biggest turnover came right before halftime when Justin Jefferson fumbled the ball out of the end zone at the 1-yard line. At the time, the Vikings were trailing 10-7 and there's a good chance they would have taken a 14-10 lead into the half if the fumble didn't happen. Kirk Cousins also had a brutal fumble in the third quarter that set up a short TD drive for the Eagles. Defensively, the Vikings had no answers for the Eagles run game. Minnesota surrendered 259 yards on the ground, which is the second-highest total the team has given up over the past 15 years. At this point, the Vikings have too many problems to count and things aren't going to get any easier next week with a desperate Chargers team on the schedule.
The Eagles offense usually revolves around Jalen Hurts, but in this game it revolved around D'Andre Swift. After only getting one carry last week, the Eagles finally remembered that he was on the roster and he might have locked up the starting spot for good after rushing for 175 yards and a TD on 28 carries. Swift's rushing total was the highest for any Eagles player since 2013. Hurts came up with the occasional big play -- like a 63-yard TD to DeVonta Smith -- but it was Swift who carried the offense. On the other side of the ball, the Eagles defense got gashed up by Kirk Cousins (364 yards) and Justin Jefferson (159 yards), but they forced four turnovers while also shutting down Minnesota's run game. 

Vikings-Eagles grades by John Breech (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)