NFL Week 2 Winners & Losers
By Lee Wakefield & Peter Mann
Welcome in, week 2 is over, and just like that we are 10% through the 2023 NFL season.
This week we have switched things around with Peter taking the winners and Lee the losers.
Winners - Peter Mann
New York Giants
Losers last week, to winners this week – What on earth is going on for Brian Daboll’s New York Giants?
Mind you, it could easily have been back-to-back defeats to start the 2023 season for them but for a stunning, late rally, which sees them take a pot on this week’s winners list.
Having shipped forty points last time out, the Giants were actually on course for another drubbing when they found themselves both 20-0. And later 28-7 down, at the Arizona Cardinals, the latter as the game crashed towards the end of the third quarter – then came the comeback, yes, that comeback!
Graham Gano’s boot certainly helped matters, he was successful with four conversions, and a match-winning 34-yard FG, with 19 seconds left on the clock as touchdowns from Daniel Jones, two from Saquon Barkley, and Isiah Hodges had hearts beating, and pulses racing at the University of Phoenix Stadium.
Alongside Gano’s boot, Giants QB, Jones, also impressed with his dual-threat ability when completing 26 of 37 passes for 321 yards in what was, eventually, an impressive outing for the Giants.
It was also the biggest comeback in the Giants’ Super Bowl-era history.
Let’s talk about the Washington Commanders and Sam Howell; the Giants may have impressed in their comeback success, but Howell’s Commanders have now gone back-to-back in that scenario, this time seeing off the Denver Broncos.
Howell would collect 27 of 39 passes for 299 yards himself as the Commanders rallied from 21-3 down in Denver to collect the W.
A pair of field goals from Joey Slye kept the Commanders in the game at the half and Terry McLaurin was on the end of Howell’s 30-yard TD pass to tie the game at 21s.
Both sides made an epic battle of it in the fourth though!
Brain Robinson crossed twice for the Commanders to put them in front, Brandon Johnson received a 50-yard pass from the thorn that was Russell Wilson at the death, but a failed 2-point attempt gave the Commanders a stunning 33-35 road win.
It was a contest that could have gone either way, but for the Commanders, it put them 2-0.
San Francisco 49ers
The San Francisco 49ers currently have the best of their divisional rivals, Los Angeles Rams following a ninth straight success at the weekend.
Quarterback Brock Purdy is unbeaten in seven starts for the Niners franchise, whilst Christian McCaffrey and Deebo Samuel also impressed as a 30-23 success was achieved.
McCaffrey specifically tallied up 20 carries, 116 yards, and 1 TD, that being his second rushing score of the season, and 40 of his career to date.
However, the focus was turned firmly on the Niners’ defense for two huge, late turnovers as they allowed just six points in the second period. Cornerback Isaiah Oliver stuck six tackles and an interception on Matthew Stafford, his first in a Niners uniform.
If Oliver’s stats impressed against Stafford, then fellow defensive back Deommodore Lenoir blew it apart when he added nine tackles and an interception on the Rams QB. Fred Warner went better with 11 tackles and a 1 sack, his first sack of the season – Stafford would certainly be glad to see the back of the Niners’ defense.
As luck has it, the 49ers and the Giants clash in San Fran in the coming days, now that should be fun…
Losers - Lee Wakefield
Brandon Staley and the Chargers' Defense
Paper thin ice. This is how I described Staley’s current standing on Monday.
The Chargers are 0-2 after losses to the Dolphins and the Titans. Not only is it a slow start to the season but these two losses are potentially killer losses if the AFC playoff race comes down to conference record.
Then again, the team would have to be in the running for the playoffs at some point for that to be an issue. And that doesn’t look likely at this point.
The offense doesn’t appear to be the issue; Kellen Moore’s group is in the top 10 for both pass and run success rate.
Yet the Bolts have a 0-2 record, having conceded 63 points. Only the Bears (65) and the Giants (68) have given up more.
Staley’s unit needs to step up if Los Angeles has postseason aspirations.
The Bengals are another surprise 0-2 team, suffering two divisional losses to the Browns and this week to the Ravens.
Burrow is clearly bothered by his injured calf and it has limited his play through two weeks.
The worst news is, that Burrow re-aggravated the injury on Sunday.
A good amount of our writers had the Bengals down for a really strong season in our preseason predictions. With some, including yours truly, backing them to win the Super Bowl.
Burrow has now become the butt of jokes on the Twitterverse, which isn’t to be unexpected considering the pressure on him has naturally ramped up given he’s the highest-paid player in the league now.
Cincinnati has the talent to right themselves but the question is, how deep of a hole will they be in once their QB is back up full health? A larger question remains about how this injury may linger.
To round off today’s column, we have a third 0-2 team.
The Vikings were fortunate to win 13 games last year, and not many expected a repeat performance this season.
However, Kevin O’Connell probably didn’t expect to open up the season in this way either.
Their entry into the loser’s column here is less to do with the loss to the Eagles – Philly is one of the best teams in the league. It’s more regarding the overall state of play.
Kirk played well on Thursday night and his connection with Justin Jefferson is something to savour, but outside of that…? Eh. There wasn’t much going on against the Eagles.
Adam didn’t think the Vikings were in trouble last week, but the matchup with the Chargers at U.S. Bank Stadium feels pivotal to both franchises, and it’s only week 3.
Feature Image Credit: The Comeback
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Lee Wakefield IS A defensive line enthusiast, Chargers Sufferer, and LONG-TIME writer and podcaster with a number of publications. Find his Chargers content over at Bolt Beat. @Wakefield90 on twitter