There are surprises in every NFL season, with reactions and overreactions from fans and media. But when trends start to develop and gain steam, such as after two weeks of a season, you start to take notice.
The anointed AFC South torchbearer, the Indianapolis Colts, are 0-2. But it is not an ordinary 0-2, it is an awful 0-2. The Colts have scored only 21 points in two games in losses to the Bills, and a particularly lackluster and embarrassing defeat at home to the Jets on Monday night. Andrew Luck has not taken that next step into the elite class, and Frank Gore does look finished. They have had injuries at the receiver position, turnovers have been on a record pace, the defense has struggled, the coaching staff seems aimless, and even Adam Vinatieri is missing kicks. Not a good start for the AFC favorites for many back in August.
So the Colts (no longer the ‘Big Bad’ Colts) limp into Nissan Stadium to take on the Tennessee Titans, tied for first in the division despite a 28-14 setback Sunday in Cleveland. The Titans were the talk of pro football after that dazzling opener in Tampa. Many have gone with the narrative of reality having set in on Sunday. I say we do not yet know what reality is for this team. While it is true they were not as sharp in game two as in game one, game two was not that bad.
Marcus Mariota spent some time in the classroom and showed progression on the NFL’s learning curve. His passer rating of 129.9 is still #1 in the NFL. The defense put up another solid performance, really only beaten by a pair of ridiculous plays from Johnny Manziel—something he has always done on a regular basis. Then there was that awful punt return right before halftime. Overall, considering it was a far better opponent, I thought the Titans did more good things consistently in week two than in week one.
Elsewhere in the division, the Jacksonville Jaguars are off to a 1-1 start, also, after an exciting 23-20 win over Miami. Blake Bortles seems much surer of himself than last season for sure. The Houston Texans join the Colts in the basement at 0-2 following a 24-17 loss to Carolina and the super Cam Newton. The Texans have nothing sure at quarterback, starting Ryan Mallett in the game in Charlotte, throwing the ball 58 times and completing less than half of them.
Besides the clash at Nissan Stadium within the division, the Texans play now 1-1 Tampa Bay at home after the Buccaneers upset win in New Orleans last week. Jacksonville travels to New England for a tall task against the 2-0 Patriots. A win over Indy would keep Tennessee atop the division and in essence give them a three-game lead over the Colts counting the tiebreaker. Indianapolis is still the team the Titans will have to beat to win the South.
Other surprises after two games on the positive side would have to include the Jets and the Falcons both 2-0. The negative surprises would include Seattle, Baltimore and Philadelphia at 0-2. The comical of the first two weeks would include the Giants and Bears: the Giants with two blown double-digit fourth quarter leads, and the Bears as the worst team in the NFL so far. Questions linger in Dallas as the Cowboys have lost Dez Bryant and Tony Romo for eight weeks or more to injury despite their 2-0 beginning.