Despite controversy, the season marches on.
Certain teams and players are beginning to emerge, while others are showing alarming signs.
Here are the key happenings from this weekend’s slate of games.
Due to the impact of Hurricane Irma, Miami’s season started one week late. The team opened up with a win against the L.A. Chargers and looked like they would be able to manage without starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill, who was injured in the pre-season. Since the 1-0, Miami has been downright dreadful offensively. Tannehill’s replacement Jay Cutler oversaw a near-shutout at the hands of the lowly New York Jets; the Dolphins scored a touchdown with no time left to avoid the humiliating goose egg. The team wasn’t as lucky this week, losing 20-0 against the New Orleans Saints in London. Head coach Adam Gase is known for being an offensive wiz, so he’ll be expected to turn this mess around quickly.
Minnesota was again without oft-injured starting quarterback Sam Bradford, and the news just got worse. Prized rookie runningback Dalvin Cook suffered a knee injury and could be lost for the season. To add insult to injury, the Vikings lost to the division rival Detroit Lions at home 14-7. Without Bradford and Cook, Minnesota will struggle to score, which hampers budding star wide receiver Stefon Diggs and the team’s stout defense.
NEW ENGLAND INVADED
Bill Belichick has built a career on being a defensive mastermind, but the Patriots’ defense is anything but masterful this season. The team has been in an offensive shootout in three of four games, losing two, including this week’s home game 33-30 against the sputtering Carolina Panthers. If the defense doesn’t get corrected, New England probably won’t be able to get past the more complete teams in the conference, even with Tom Brady and the offense putting up points.
TALE OF ONE CITY
Attendance in Los Angeles has been shaky, but that hasn’t affected the Rams. The team is sitting at 3-1 after winning an impressive road game against the Dallas Cowboys, the team that had the best record in the NFC last year. The Rams flirted with disaster by settling for seven field goals, one shy of the NFL record. Despite the abundance of stalled drives, the Rams held on for a 35-30 victory and sit atop the NFC West. With the improved play of sophomore quarterback Jared Goff complementing Todd Gurley’s rushing attack, the Rams are a darkhorse to win the division.
On the other hand, the Chargers are not fairing as well. The team is 0-4 and just lost 26-24 to the Philadelphia Eagles, their 12th consecutive loss in one-possession games. This is the worst start possible for rookie head coach Anthony Lynn. The Chargers already had an uphill battle to win fans in a new city, and the inauspicious start to the season isn’t exactly changing hearts and minds.
HOUSTON LIFTS OFF
The Houston Texans didn’t just beat the Tennessee Titans, an upstart AFC South rival, they demolished them. On route to a 57-14 win, the Texans scored the most points in franchise history, and the most points by an NFL team in four years. Rookie quarterback Deshaun Watson looks like a seasoned veteran who’s finally ignited the team’s offense, which has sputtered for years. The Texans already have one of the league’s best defenses. If Watson continues to play at this level, Houston is a legitimate playoff contender.