Watching the 49ers struggle for a few quarters against the Rams served as a reminder that division rivals tend to play in close games regardless of who has the better roster.
In the early window of games, there were more reminders than learning lessons. Bills quarterback Josh Allen shook off a poor Week 1 performance by delivering a clean game in the victory against the Raiders. The Chiefs leaned on their stout defense during their 17–9 bounce-back win vs. the Jaguars.
As for a new storyline, the Colts might be a must-watch team because of rookie quarterback Anthony Richardson, who had a fast start against the Texans rushing for a pair of touchdowns before exiting to be evaluated for a concussion.
But let’s narrow down what we learned from Week 2 into five items, including the Cowboys’ dominant 30–10 win against Zach Wilson and the Jets.
Here’s what we know now about the Cowboys, Giants, Chiefs, Bills and Colts after Week 2.
1. Cowboys deliver complete performance vs. Jets
Last week, I thought maybe I overreacted by saying this is finally the Cowboys’ year after watching very little of Dak Prescott and his offense in Week 1, which wasn’t needed much in the blowout win against the Giants.
But I made the bold statement because Prescott has wide receiver CeeDee Lamb, running back Tony Pollard and a stout offensive line. That’s more than enough offensively to pair with a special defense led by Micah Parsons, who had two sacks, four quarterback hits, three tackles for loss and a recovered fumble.
After the Cowboys’ offense did its part against a talented Jets defense, I can now say with confidence I wasn’t overreacting about Dallas being favorites to win the Super Bowl. Lamb recorded 11 catches for 143 yards, and Pollard contributed 109 total yards, with 72 coming on the ground on 25 attempts.
As for Prescott, he had a standout performance, going 31-of-38 for 255 yards, two touchdowns and no turnovers. Some might be hesitant to fully back the Cowboys as Super Bowl favorites because it will boil down to Prescott stepping up in the postseason, but this might be his best team since he entered the league in 2016 and that team finished with a 13–3 record.
2. Giants survive against competitive Cardinals
Yes, I’m aware the Cardinals blew a 21-point lead in the 31–28 loss to the Giants, but not many were expecting them to be this competitive through two games. It might be time to apologize to coach Jonathan Gannon and the Cardinals for questioning whether they plan to compete this season. (Unless the two one-score losses to New York and Washington were part of the well executed tanking plan).
After the Cardinals traded for quarterback Joshua Dobbs and released Colt McCoy, that was an obvious sign that they were looking to get better this season. Yes, Dobbs isn’t a top quarterback in the NFL and it’s not ideal that Arizona forced him to learn another playbook after spending most of the summer with the Browns. But, he was an upgrade over McCoy, the 37-year-old veteran who sustained multiple injuries over the past year.
The Cardinals scored on five of their six possessions to jump to a 28–7 lead (they missed a field goal on the opening drive). On the defensive end, the Cardinals stifled Daniel Jones with consistent pressure for nearly three quarters before Jones pulled off the comeback victory.
Jones desperately needed that rally after the Giants got crushed 40–0 by the Cowboys in Week 1. A loss to the Cardinals might have created many columns about the Giants possibly having buyer’s remorse after signing Jones to a four-year, $160 million contract extension. The Giants are going to need more from Jones if Saquon Barkley misses time after exiting with an ankle injury.
3. Chiefs’ D shuts down Jags
With Chris Jones back on the field, the Chiefs’ defense had a dominant performance against Trevor Lawrence and his talented Jaguars’ offense in Jacksonville.
The next time the Chiefs and Jones get together at the negotiating table, Jones’s representatives should point to how much of a difference the All-Pro defensive tackle has made with and without his presence—the Chiefs lost to the Lions in Week 1 before he ended his contract holdout.
Jones recorded 1.5 sacks and two quarterback hits, but this was a complete defensive effort for the Chiefs, who proved again why they’re more than just quarterback Patrick Mahomes. The Chiefs held the Jaguars to 271 yards, which might not happen again this season for a team with Lawrence, running back Travis Etienne and wide receivers Calvin Ridley, Christian Kirk and Zay Jones.
The Chiefs bouncing back against one of the better teams in the AFC wasn’t a surprise. But not many expected the Chiefs to hold Lawrence to 5.3 yards per passing attempt.
4. Josh Allen delivers clean performance
The hot takes that materialized from Allen’s poor start to the season summarized the wild Week 1 overreactions.
Many were quick to write off Allen as a top-five quarterback because of his three interceptions against the Jets, but still expected the Bills to blow out the Raiders on Sunday. Only the best quarterbacks can inspire that much confidence among the football public.
Of course, the Bills crushed the Raiders, 38–10, at home, the easiest game to pick on the Week 2 schedule. Allen threw three touchdowns and had zero turnovers to regain his status as an elite quarterback, even though he never stopped being elite. Outcomes can change week to week, but quarterbacks can’t just suddenly become mediocre, especially not one as good as Allen, who delivered three consecutive seasons of stellar play after struggling with accuracy early in his career.
Yes, Allen can get reckless at times, but he’s not going to suddenly revert to his younger form. There was nothing surprising about Allen picking apart the Raiders’ defense, going 31-of-37 for 274 yards.
And if you’re looking for a surprise, Allen only contributed 22 of the Bills’ 183 total rushing yards Sunday. If Allen can limit the turnovers with an efficient rushing attack from the running backs, this might be the year the Bills can get over the hump in the postseason.
5. Anthony Richardson becoming must-watch TV
Richardson put on a show against the Texans before the rookie quarterback left in the second quarter to be evaluated for a concussion. He’s only played six quarters in the NFL, but he’s already one of the best dual-threat quarterbacks in the league, rushing for two touchdowns in the first quarter. The 6’4", 244-pound Richardson was expected to run for touchdowns, especially near the goal line, but his athleticism has made him a threat to score anywhere in the red zone—his first touchdown went for 18 yards and the second was a 15-yard score.
The down side, however, is the amount of hits Richardson could take as a frequent ball carrier. He missed the final few plays in Week 1 vs. the Jaguars because of a hit he took to the ankle. But Richardson and the Colts could make adjustments because the No. 4 pick in the 2023 draft has also flashed improvements as a passer. Richardson was 6-of-10 for 56 yards before exiting late in the first half of Sunday’s 31–20 win against Houston.