Only two weeks have gone by in the 2019 NFL regular season and the landscape already looks completely different. The league is always unpredictable, but it seems to me this year things have changed way too much from what we expected to see out of many teams. Injuries will reshape how division standings look once it's all said and done. Allow me to be specific:
- One of the strongest Super Bowl contenders this season are the New Orleans Saints. On week 2, QB Drew Brees sustained a thumb injury that will knock him out for six weeks of action. I don't believe the Saints chances of making the playoffs are gone, though. The Saints' division rivals haven't looked strong and Teddy Bridgewater might be one of the best backups in the NFL. Winning a handful of games will keep them in the race. Even still, the Brees injury is a heavy blow for Sean Payton's team.
- As a football fan, this one hurts quite a bit. Ben Roethlisberger suffered another injury and this one looks pretty real. It was a non-contact elbow injury that will require surgery. The Steelers will be led by Mason Rudolph, who didn't look bad last week when taking over. However, the Pittsburgh Steelers could've been considered contenders if Big Ben was in the lineup. With Rudolph, I don't see it happening. Not to mention, it would be devastating if this how Roethlisberger's career ends. I hope he comes back. The two-time Super Bowl champion is one of the best we've seen in this “era.” Right now, the AFC North might be between the Cleveland Browns and the Baltimore Ravens.
- The Jacksonville Jaguars talented defense will likely go to waste after Nick Foles broke his clavicle. Foles was one of the players that intrigued me the most going into the season. Is he a good quarterback that got off to a slow start? Or did he just ball out in a single postseason and isn't really that good? I frankly don't know, and we could've found out had he had the chance to play a full season. Now, it'd be a surprise if the Jaguars manage to be competitive in the AFC South.
- Speaking of the AFC South, this one isn't as “new,” but let's not forget who was supposed to start at quarterback for the Indianapolis Colts. After having a monster season in 2018, Andrew Luck was supposed to lead his team to the postseason again. His unexpected retirement has led to Jacoby Brissett starting and although he's not bad, he's no Andrew Luck. Yet another team that we expected to be a contender that has taken a heavy blow.
Injuries will always suck. Football is a great sport, but you hate to see these players and teams miss out on opportunities due to an injury. At the same time, great players' careers have started because of injuries to other players. It is what it is. And even if it sounds like a cliché, next man up is the philosophy of the sport.
Three-And-Out: 3 Quick Thoughts
- How early is it too early to say Cam Newton is done? The Carolina Panthers quarterback was at his worst last Thursday when his team fell to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Newton has lost eight straight games as a starter. Per PFF's Steve Palazzolo, 34.2% of Newton's passes were uncatchable (most in the league). He is simply hasn't been the same since his MVP season in 2015. If the Panthers were to release him after this season, they'd only have $2M in dead money. I'd certainly think about moving on.
- The Chicago Bears should be 0-2. They got a last-second win against the Denver Broncos on Sunday but they didn't look like a winning team. With one of the league's top defenses, they were seen as one of the main contenders in the NFC this season. After two weeks, they might be the most disappointing team in the entire NFL. Mitchell Trubisky's offense is just not good. And it won't be easy to fix it. Right now, the Green Bay Packers and the Minnesota Vikings are the best teams in the NFC North. Let's see if they can turn things around.
- The New York Giants are handing Daniel Jones the starting job. That's the correct call. Although Eli Manning has a lot of history there, he isn't playing good football. Giving a chance to your sixth overall pick is the right thing to do for your team. It almost would've been disrespectful to the players not to start him.
Player of the Week: WR Cooper Kupp, L.A. Rams
Kupp finished week 2 with five receptions, 120 yards and one touchdown. But with a simply amazing play that put the game away as the Rams emerged victorious over the Saints, he's earned my player of the week. In case you missed his 66-yard reception, here it is. Outstanding effort.
Underdog of the Week: Detroit Lions
The Los Angeles Chargers were the favorites over the Detroit Lions despite dealing with plenty of important injuries. In an ugly game, the Lions took advantage of that. It was a low-scoring matchup that was defined in a couple of plays. After starting off with two interceptions, Matthew Stafford threw a 31-yard TD to Kenny Golladay in the fourth quarter. After that, CB Darius Slay secured the win when it all could've gone wrong for the Lions with 1:10 left on the clock. The Lions are kind of undefeated. They're 1-0-1. in the season.
College Football Corner: LSU Finally Has an Offense
The LSU Tigers always have a strong defense. This time around, they've seemed to nail the offensive side of things too. It's almost a yearly narrative that the Tigers will finally have an offense that works before we find out that's not the case. But in 2019, it's real. QB Joe Burrow has looked unbelievable on the team's new spread offense. He has completed 83% of his passes for 1,122 yards, 11 touchdowns and only two interceptions. He's officially a Heisman candidate. They've already beaten the Texas Longhorns and are set to face stronger opponents in October. I can't wait to see them play Alabama in November.