Action Sports 2 years ago

Is it panic stations for the NFL's slow starters?

  • Is it panic stations for the NFL's slow starters?
  • Is it panic stations for the NFL's slow starters?
  • Is it panic stations for the NFL's slow starters?
  • Is it panic stations for the NFL's slow starters?

Two weeks isn't a long time in a sporting season, but in the NFL is represents a decent chunk. With just 16 games in the regular season, teams who start slow must address their issues before a slide becomes a slump.

Nine teams are without a win and we run the rule over them and see whether they are simply in slump and will respond, or they are stuffed and the season outlook is bleak.

Baltimore Ravens

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The Ravens have been within a whisker of starting 2-0 but instead have lost two heart-breakers on the road. Joe Flacco has thrown just two touchdowns and been intercepted three times, while running back Justin Forsett is averaging less than four yards per rush. Conceding 448 total yards and 37 points to the lowly Oakland Raiders is a concern as the Cincinnati Bengals come to town in Week 3 firing on all cylinders. Baltimore must make a stand with a visit to Pittsburgh looming in Week 4.  It is only early but the Ravens seem in strife.

Verdict - stuffed

Indianapolis Colts

Making the AFC Championship game last season, the Colts added Andre Johnson and Frank Gore to an already powerful offense, With Andrew Luck seemingly the heir to the Rodgers/Brady quarterback throne, this was meant to be the Colts' year. Two weeks in, they look like a wildcard team at best.  They have played two elite defense in the Buffalo Bills and New York Jets and have struggled mightily as Luck has been intercepted five times in the first fortnight.  Gore has struggled, and with Johnson looking every bit his age and T.Y.Hilton under an early season injury cloud the clock is ticking. The Colts were expected to dominate a weak AFC South division and games against the Titans and Jaguars in the next week must be used to gather momentum.  This team is too good to drop away, but their championship hopes are already on life support

Verdict - slump

Houston Texans

The Texans could ill afford to lose any offensive key players, so the potential long-term injury to Arian Foster. Despite having one of the league's best defenses last season, the offense was a concern and is now heavily reliant on second-year wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins.  Make no mistake, Hopkins is a budding star but he has very little help.  Quarterback Ryan Mallet struggled mightily in Week 2 against the Carolina Panthers, completing just 27-of-58 passes but figures to find things a little easier against Tampa Bay this weekend.  Look for the Texans to respond at home but the offense must start to gel with encounters against the Atlanta Falcons and Indianapolis Colts in the following fortnight.  Based on exposed form and available personnel, the Texans are staring down a dark barrel.

Verdict - stuffed

New Orleans Saints

Last season New Orleans had one of the league's best offense, led by the evergreen Drew Brees. Running back Mark Ingram gave Brees another option where necessary, but the ability to throw to wide receivers Brandin Cooks, Marques Colston and Kenny Stills and the presence of the best running back in the league not named Gronkowski (Jimmy Graham) made this a lethal team. Fast forward one season and Stills and Graham have left, Ingram has started reasonably slowly and Brees is injured. A home loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 2 has left the Saints in turmoil ahead of a trip to take on the unbeaten Carolina Panthers. If Brees can play through injury, the Saints have a fighting chance but in a tough division and with a poor defense, the odds are against a revival.

Verdict - stuffed

Detroit Lions

The Lions have started the season with back to back road games against Minnesota and San Diego and there have been positive signs in losing both games.  Rookie running back Ameer Abdullah was sensational against the Chargers, but overall the offense has struggled as they rank 25th in total yards and an equally poor defense that has conceded the third most yards and fifth most points per game.  Its a small sample size, but quarterback Matthew Stafford is battling injury and star Calvin Johnson is carrying a huge load coming off a serious injury. With the Broncos, Seahawks and Cardinals to follow in the next three weeks, the season is on the line and the outlook is bleak.

Verdict - stuffed

Chicago Bears

The Bears lost wide receiver Brandon Marshall and have been smashed in back-to-back home dates with the Packers and Cardinals.  Those are two of the form teams in football, and it gets no easier in Week 3 as they travel to Seattle to take on a Seahawks team with problems of its own. Starting quarterback Jay Cutler is injured, wide receiver Alshon Jeffery is fighting a lingering calf injury and despite a stellar start to the season by running back Matt Forte there is simply not enough good news coming out of Chicago. Backup quarterback Jimmy Clausen has a career passing completion rate of just 53.2% and has thrown just five touchdowns as opposed to 11 intercepts.  After the top-ranked Seahawks defense, Chicago face the second and third-ranked defenses (Kansas City and Detroit) from 2014 in Weeks 4 and 6. Unless Forte can get some help, the Bears are destined for the lottery.

Verdict - stuffed

New York Giants

The Giants are 0-2 but there is no way it should be so.  They imploded in comical fashion in Week 1 in Dallas, losing a 13 point lead and backed it up by blowing a 10 point lead at home to Atlanta in Week 2.  Each time, they had control of the game but they have nothing to show for it.  Quarterback Eli Manning has had his moments in each game, but struggled in the fourth quarter and will look to improve in a huge Thursday night match-up with the Washington Redskins.  The Redskins have conceded the second-least receiving yards through two weeks, and will focus on stopping Manning linking up with phemon Odell Beckham Jr. Should they get on the board this weekend, matchups against the Bills, 49ers and Eagles in Weeks 4-6 allow them to keep the NFC East division leading Dallas Cowboys within reach, given their injury problems. The talent is there, but it must be accompanied by some fourth-quarter composure.

Verdict - slump

Philadelphia Eagles

The popular SuperBowl bolter, the Eagles acquired former #1 draft pick and budding quarterback Sam Bradford as well as All-Pro and the NFL's best running back DeMarco Murray to join Jordan Matthews, Ryan Matthews, Nelson Agholor and Darren Sproules in Chip Kelly's high-powered offense. Add a defense led by linebacker Kiki Alonso and many saw not only the league's most entertaining team but one destined to have a breakout season.  The reality is that they have played one decent half through two games and the offense has been historically bad against one good defense and one mediocre one.  Seen as the saviour, Bradford now faces the very real prospect of losing his starting job and Murray is not only coming off two games where he has rushed 11 yards in total from 21 attempts (this is NOT a misprint) but is now battling a hamstring injury.  With two of the best three defenses in the league coming up in the Jets and Redskins, to say the Eagles are at the crossroads already is an understatement and in arguably the NFL's toughest divison the mountain that needs climbing is steep.

Verdict - stuffed

Seattle Seahawks

Seattle's much vaunted defense has been horrid, with the 37 points conceded to St.Louis in Week 1 as many as the Legion of Boom have given up since 2010. Strong safety Kam Chancellor has been absent due to a contract holdout, but he is set to return in Week 3 as the Seahawks welcome the wounded Chicago Bears to town.  On offense, Seattle have been better than expected as Russell Wilson has started well but the main concern is how Jimmy Graham is being used offensively.  A legitimate star, Graham is playing the role of spectator more often than not and has voiced his anger at his new role.  Given running back Marshawn Lynch has room for improvement and Graham is surely going to become a focal point, Wilson's continual development in his passing game will complement their league-best rushing attack and ensure the defending NFC champions get back on track.  The defense is a given - there is too much talent for it not to start dominating games.

Verdict - slump

Agree? Disagree? Let me know either way!

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