At the end of week two, this NFL season has already proven to be one to keep an eye on. The headliner of the off-season was the bounty-gate scandal involving the New Orleans Saints, and after two weeks, the Saints are 0-2. The season started on a bizarre note right before the opening Sunday, where the suspended players were allowed to play after the suspensions were overturned by an appeal by Jonathan Vilma, Scott Fujita, and Will Smith, the suspended players. In new developments according to unnamed sources on ESPN.com, Commissioner Roger Goodell held a meeting with Vilma, and presented him with a sworn oath by former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams that theirs was a bounty system that was held in the Saints locker room. So this means, if true, that the NFL has a sworn statement from the ringleader of the bounty scandal that claims there was in fact a bounty system during the coach’s time in New Orleans.
While the world was following the details of the overturned suspensions, rookie Robert Griffin III led his Washington Redskins and took the NFL by storm by beating the Saints 40-32. This past weekend, the Saints fell again to another young and hopeful quarterback, Cam Newton. The Carolina Panthers won a close one 35-27, to drop the Saints to 0-2.
The Saints are without their head coach Sean Payton, which could be a contributing factor to why the Saints can’t close out a game. One could argue that it is karma for the bounty charges, but realistically, it is a failure to execute on plays to move the Saints forward during a game, both on offense and defense. One thing is for sure, the Saints are on the hot seat. The NFC South is stacked with teams that have potential, such as the Atlanta Falcons and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The New England Patriots dominated in their first game against the Tennessee Titans. However, they could not say the same against the Arizona Cardinals. The Cardinals are not a great team, but showed this past Sunday that they have the most underrated defenses in the entire league by beating the highly favored Patriots 20-18. The Patriots had a chance to win, but missed a never-touched-the-net field goal by kicker Stephen Gostkowski. Fans will remember the botched kick, but the game was really won by the amazing defense led by defensive lineman Calais Campbell. Tom Brady only had one passing touchdown at the end of the final quarter, but the Patriots offense was never close to having a shot to take a huge lead. Lethal target, tight-end Aaron Hernandez, went out in the first quarter with an ankle injury, but even when he was on the field the Patriots had a tough time.
The Patriots are still going to be a playoff team, but the Cardinals game was a wake-up call for them. As for the Cardinals, this shows that behind their defense they can try to compete with the best teams if they come in with a solid game-plan on offense.
The season is still too young to start to separate teams into groups of good and bad, but plenty of teams are showing promise as contenders.
The San Francisco 49ers defeated the Detroit Lions 27-19, improving their record to 2-0. Some other 2-0 teams are the Philadelphia Eagles, Houston Texans, San Diego Chargers, and as mentioned, the Arizona Cardinals.
Next week has some interesting match-ups to watch for, such as the Patriots against the Baltimore Ravens, who both are coming off of close losses. Two 0-2 teams face-off, as the Kansas City Chiefs take on the Saints. One of the most intriguing games of the week is between two undefeated teams who have shown promise early as surprise teams, the Eagles and Cardinals.