The 32 things we learned from Week 2 of the 2018 NFL season:
1. Annual PSA: Since the playoff field expanded to 12 in 1990, teams starting 0-2 have a 12.1% chance of reaching postseason. If you’re a fan of the Bills, Texans, Raiders, Cardinals or Lions, you’re forgiven if you start planning a January getaway.
2. Way-too-early-MVP-front-runner: Patrick Mahomes. He follows in the way-too-early-MVP-footsteps of Alex Smith in 2017 … but just wow! Mahomes, the Chiefs’ burgeoning second-year star, became the first player in the 99-year history of the league to throw 10 TD passes in his team’s first two games after scorching the Steelers for six Sunday. How loud will Kansas City’s raucous Arrowhead Stadium be next Sunday when Mahomes makes the first regular-season home start of his career?
3. (And, Chiefs fans, you better ratchet up the decibels in support of your defense … which has been torched for more than 1,000 yards in the first two weeks.)
4. Way-too-early-MVP-runner-up-(uh)-front-runner: Ryan Fitzpatrick. With four more TD connections himself Sunday, he joined Mahomes and Drew Bledsoe (1997) as the only passers to start a season with at least four TD strikes in both of his team’s first two games. For now at least, Fitzpatrick has reclaimed the mantle as the league’s top backup quarterback from the man he vanquished Sunday, Nick Foles.
5. And with Tampa Bay (2-0) stunningly atop the NFC South after upsets of the Saints and Eagles, the tombstone is now in production: “R.I.P. Jameis Winston’s tenure as Bucs starting QB (2015-2017).”
6. Conor McGregor Ryan Fitzpatrick > Civil War general Ryan Fitzpatrick.
7. With a 75-yard TD catch from Fitzpatrick on the first play of scrimmage, Bucs WR DeSean Jackson notched his 23rd career score of at least 60 yards, tying Jerry Rice for most ever.
8. Way-too-early-comeback-player-of-the-year candidate: Ryan Tannehill. The Dolphins quarterback had actually gone longer between starts than Andrew Luck before returning this season. After an efficient two-TD day against the Jets, Tannehill has Miami out to a surprising 2-0 start and sole possession of first place in the AFC East.
9. Too-early-to-be-wearing-GOAT-masks: J-E-T-S fans who were sporting their Sam Darnold jerseys.
10. Perhaps-still-too-early-to-give-Hall-of-Fame-jacket to … Frank Gore? Or Maybe not. He passed Curtis Martin on Sunday to become the fourth-leading rusher in NFL history (14,112 yards) and is now 1,158 away from overtaking Barry Sanders for third place. Gore has no rings, no rushing title and no all-pro nods, but his case is strengthening with each carry.
11. Just-about-time-to-give-Hall-of-Fame-jacket to … Adam Vinatieri. He became the second player in league history to reach 2,500 points and needs just 44 more to surpass Morten Andersen as the all-time scorer
12. The NFL Foundation contributed $1 million to Hurricane Florence relief efforts in the Carolinas. The league is the preferred punching bag of many skeptics — reasonably so in some areas — but should get due credit for these kinds of contributions.
13. Congrats to Frank Reich and Mike Vrabel for notching the maiden wins in 2018 for first-year coaches (who are still 2-10 collectively at this point).
14. Titans all-pro S Kevin Byard, who threw a 66-yard TD pass to Dane Cruikshank off a fake punt, became the first left-hander to throw a touchdown … since Dez Bryant in 2016. Byard’s scoring toss is also the longest by a defender in the Super Bowl era.
15. RB Derrick Henry also completed an 8-yard pass for the Titans, who were without starting QB Marcus Mariota. Cruikshank — he’s a defensive back BTW — was Tennessee’s leading receiver Sunday.
16. Mental meltdown of the week: Deshaun Watson. With his Texans on their own 48 trailing the Titans 20-17 with 17 seconds left, Watson only needed a moderate completion on second-and-10 to get Houston in range for a game-tying field-goal attempt. Instead, he danced and scrambled around the pocket looking for a receiver and used up the entire clock while completing a 31-yard pass to DeAndre Hopkins. Oops.
17. In terms of average annual production over six-plus seasons, Josh Gordon provided fewer than 30 catches and a touch over 500 yards for Cleveland — most of those numbers clustered into his 2013 all-pro campaign. Kudos to the Browns for sticking with Gordon as long as they did while trying to shepherd him through his personal battles.
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18. Another metric supporting the dominance of the Southeastern Conference? The schools with the most alums on NFL rosters at the start of the season were Alabama (44), LSU (40) and Florida (37).
19. Look who’s alone in first place in the AFC North — the Bengals, who’ve won both of their games 34-23. It hurts to lose RB Joe Mixon for the next few weeks (knee surgery), but Cincinnati looks like the most balanced club in the division.
20. Hope you’ve got Saints WR Michael Thomas in PPR fantasy leagues. His 28 receptions through two games are an NFL record … and put him on pace to catch 224 balls.
21. At least the Hard Knocks cameras have left. Zane Gonzalez’s final two kicks Sunday were wide left on a PAT and wide right on 52-yard field-goal try with three seconds to go that would’ve given the Browns their first win since 2016. In between those wayward boots, Wil Lutz drilled a 44-yarder to give New Orleans a 21-18 win. But maybe Gonzalez’s day wasn’t quite as bad as that of Vikings rookie Daniel Carlson, who’s having an Aguayo-esque start to his career after being a fifth-round draft pick this spring. Carlson missed all three of his field-goal attempts Sunday, including 49- and 35-yard attempts in overtime of Minnesota’s 29-29 tie at Green Bay.
22. Memo to the Browns, Vikings and the rest of the NFL: DAN BAILEY IS STILL A FREE AGENT. (Bailey’s 88.2% conversion rate on field goals is second best in league history after Justin Tucker (90.3%)).
23. Not really fun fact: This season is the first since 1973 when the NFL has had two ties after two weeks. Overtime was added in 1974.
24. Even though the Packers didn’t win and Aaron Rodgers didn’t have a particularly memorable game, fighting to a draw with Minnesota could wind up being worth the risk Green Bay incurred by starting its injured star once the tiebreakers shake out in December.
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25. Weird stat of the week: Raise your hand if you predicted Matt Ryan would run for two TDs and Cam Newton would have none in the Carolina-Atlanta game?
26. An Indianapolis defense lacking an identity may have found a star in LB Darius Leonard. He’s got the inside track on rookie of the week honors after racking up 18 tackles, a sack and forced fumble in the Colts’ upset of Washington.
27. New Orleans’ Taysom Hill remains the most versatile backup quarterback in the league. Known for his willingness to play special teams (he made four tackles last season), Hill returned a kickoff 47 yards Sunday. His number was called to run a gadget play on offense, too — Drew Brees was split wide — but the Browns shut it down with a late timeout.
28. Enigmatic CB Vontae Davis retired at halftime of Buffalo’s loss to the Chargers. Given the way the Bills’ season is shaping up, we can’t blame Davis … much. Buffalo needed 93 minutes and 54 seconds to score its first touchdown of the season.
29. Props to Minnesota’s Laquon Treadwell, the Bolts’ Mike Williams, Atlanta’s Calvin Ridley and Carolina’s DJ Moore. All are first-round receivers who scored their first career TDs on Sunday.
30. That shrill sound emanating from the desert Southwest is the Josh Rosen alarm. Time to confirm he actually might be the most pro-ready passer of his exalted draft class. (FWIW, Arizona had five first downs in a 34-0 loss to the Rams.)
31. Hey, @BortlesFacts, Blake Bortles is the only quarterback to outduel Tom Brady in the 2018 season. The only one. He’s also the first Jags quarterback to oust Brady (previously 8-0 vs. Jacksonville).
32. Hey, @BortlesFacts, Blake Bortles threw four TD passes to four different receivers Sunday, the first time he’s done that in five NFL seasons. But definitely not the last.
Follow Nate Davis on Twitter @ByNateDavis
Source : https://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/nfl/2018/09/16/nfl-week-2-32-things-we-learned/1328305002/