Sports

The best, worst and biggest questions: How Bills, Chiefs and Giants bounced back

Welcome to Week 2 of the NFL regular season. Another week, another painstaking process in trying to figure out which teams are among the elite this season.

The Bills’ offense came alive against the Raiders, while Chris Jones was the difference-maker in the Chiefs’ win over the Jaguars. Colts rookie quarterback Anthony Richardson left Sunday’s game against the Texans in the first half with a concussion, and the Seahawks and Titans both pulled off overtime victories.

Our NFL Nation reporters are reacting to all the action, answering lingering questions coming out of each game and picking out who — or what — is rising and falling for every team. Let’s get to it.

Jump to a matchup:
MIN-PHI | KC-JAX | SEA-DET | LV-BUF
BAL-CIN | LAC-TEN | GB-ATL | IND-HOU
CHI-TB

Buccaneers

Can the Bucs continue to win with Baker Mayfield? After hearing all offseason how badly they were expected to do without Tom Brady, the Bucs are now 2-0. Between Mayfield’s quarterback scramble plays, the deep-ball connections to Mike Evans, and the sacks and takeaways by the defense, this group has established itself as a team full of winners. Tampa Bay will be tested the next two weeks, though, with two top-five defenses from last season on deck: the Eagles on “Monday Night Football” and the Saints in Week 4.

Stock up after the win: Pass rush. After sacking Kirk Cousins twice last week, the Bucs sacked Justin Fields six times, with two sacks each from Vita Vea and Joe Tryon-Shoyinka (who also recovered a fumble last week), and Shaquil Barrett sealing the victory with a pick-six.

Stock down after the win: Red zone offense. While the Tampa Bay offense moved the ball much better this week and showed a substantial improvement on third down — a point of emphasis for OC Dave Canales – it was 1-for-4 on trips to the red zone, so the Bucs missed a lot of scoring opportunities. — Jenna Laine

Next game: vs. Eagles (Sunday, 7:15 p.m. ET)


Bears

Will Bears solve Justin Fields‘ inconsistent play? Fields was in command on the first drive, marching the Bears 75 yards before rushing in a touchdown. The next six drives were a disaster, however, with five sacks — several caused by holding on to the ball too long — and trouble throwing downfield. The quarterback put together a 90-yard TD drive in the fourth quarter and went 2-of-3 on throws of 10-plus air yards, including a 20-yard TD to Chase Claypool, but on the final drive, he threw a pick-six at his own 6-yard line. He’ll have to improve on the road versus the Chiefs in Week 3.

Stock up after the loss: WR Chase Claypool. A week after he was called out for his lack of effort, which put his Week 2 availability into question, Claypool caught his first touchdown pass as a Bear and turned eight targets into three receptions for 36 yards.

Stock down after the loss: Third-down defense. Chicago failed to get off the field against Green Bay (9-of-16 on third downs) and continued that troubling trend in Tampa, where the Bucs went 7-of-11 on third downs, including two touchdowns. — Courtney Cronin

Next game: at Chiefs (Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET)

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Shaquil Barrett secures Bucs’ win with a pick-six

Shaquil Barrett picks off Justin Fields at the four-yard line and fights to the end zone to secure a Buccaneers win.

Falcons

What can Desmond Ridder do to improve? Sunday was a mixed bag. Ridder led some long drives and had a strong touchdown throw on the run to hit Drake London in the end zone. But there were at least three passes — one that was intercepted and two that easily could have been — in which Ridder showed some of his inexperience. He handled the read-option game well, finishing with nine carries for 40 yards, including a touchdown. He has enjoyed a level of comfort late in games; if he can do the same in first halves and improve his accuracy on intermediate and deep passes, he can make some big gains.

Stock up after the win: RB Bijan Robinson. Robinson followed up his strong debut with his first 100-yard rushing game (124 yards on 19 carries), which included two highlight-reel runs: one in which he made three jukes, and another in which he jumped over a Packers defender lying on the ground. He also added four catches for 48 yards, showing off his versatility.

Stock down after the win: WR/RB Cordarrelle Patterson. The team’s do-it-all player was inactive Sunday with a thigh injury despite practicing in full all week and not being listed as questionable on the injury report. — Michael Rothstein

Next game: at Lions (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET)


Packers

Does losing this game mean anything in the big picture? The Packers took a double-digit lead into the fourth quarter without wideout Christian Watson, running back Aaron Jones and left tackle David Bakhtiari, plus they lost left guard Elgton Jenkins to a first-half knee injury. The problem was, Bijan Robinson wore down the Packers’ defense and Jordan Love — despite three touchdowns for the second straight week — failed to get a first down on their final three drives to mark their first loss with a double-digit fourth-quarter lead since the 2014 NFC Championship Game.

Stock up after the loss: The receivers. Second-round pick Jayden Reed and fifth-rounder Dontayvion Wicks combined for three TD catches. Reed caught two — including a 9-yarder in the second quarter on a jet-sweep motion shovel pass in which he hit 20.54 miles per hour, according to NFL Next Gen Stats.

Stock down after the loss: Forcing turnovers. The Packers dropped two gimme interceptions — one by Jaire Alexander and another by Quay Walker. What looked like a pick-six right into Alexander’s hands turned into a field goal on the next drive. — Rob Demovsky

Next game: vs. Saints (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET)

Seahawks

Who are the real Seahawks? This Seattle team on Sunday couldn’t have looked any more different from the team that played in Week 1. After getting blown out at home to the Rams, the Seahawks delivered an upset win amid tough circumstances. They were without both starting offensive tackles and facing a good Lions pass rush at a raucous Ford Field. They also lost No. 1 CB Riq Woolen to a chest injury. His replacement, Tre Brown, best symbolized the one-week turnaround. Picked on in the opener, Brown came off the bench and had a pick-six in the fourth quarter as well as a sack and two passes defensed vs. Detroit.

Stock up after the win: QB Geno Smith. Smith was excellent under duress. He handled the noise and absence of his starting tackles, made plays and avoided costly mistakes — until the 17-yard sack he took to set up the Lions’ game-tying field goal at the end of regulation. Smith (32-of-41, 328 yards, 2 TDs, 0 INTs) atoned by leading the game-winning OT drive.

Stock down after the win: K Jason Myers. Myers has alternated good seasons and bad ones since rejoining the Seahawks in 2019, and 2023 is off to a shaky start. After going 2-of-3 in the opener, he went 1-of-3 vs. Detroit, missing from 45 and 56 yards in the first half. — Brady Henderson

Next game: vs. Panthers (Sunday, 4:05 p.m. ET)


Lions

Did Seattle expose the Lions’ defensive weaknesses? Coming off a season-opening victory against the Chiefs, the Lions laid an egg in their home opener with an overtime loss to Seattle in which they gave up three touchdowns in the fourth quarter and overtime. The defense struggled as a whole, allowing two rushing touchdowns to RB Kenneth Walker III, two receiving touchdowns to Tyler Lockett and 328 receiving yards.

Stock up after the loss: QB Jared Goff. His streak without an INT ended after 383 consecutive attempts, but the veteran now has multiple touchdown passes in six straight home games going back to Week 9 in 2022 — the longest active streak in the NFL.

Stock down after the loss: Turnovers. Goff threw his first pick since November. WR Amon-Ra St. Brown and running back David Montgomery were both stripped for lost fumbles. — Eric Woodyard

Next game: vs. Falcons (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET)

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Tyler Lockett gives Seahawks win in OT

Tyler Lockett stretches into the end zone for a walk-off touchdown against the Lions.

Chiefs

Was Chris Jones worth the wait? Though the Chiefs could have used him in the opener against the Lions, he made up for it against the Jaguars. Jones, in limited playing time, had five pressures, 1.5 sacks and a batted pass. He had only one game with more than four pressures last season. The Chiefs had four sacks from a pass rush that was energized from the previous week.

Stock up after the win: RB Isiah Pacheco. He perked up a dormant running game. His 31-yard run jump-started a touchdown drive to start the third quarter. He rushed for 16 yards on a field goal drive in the fourth quarter, including converting on a fourth-and-1 play with the Chiefs struggling in such situations.

Stock down after the win: Wide receivers. They didn’t have a big problem with dropped passes, as they did in the season opener, but they combined to fumble three times, losing two. Dropped passes and turnovers are two things that can kill even the Chiefs’ offense. — Adam Teicher

Next game: vs. Bears (Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET)


Jaguars

Is OC Press Taylor’s playcalling hurting the offense? The offensive line has been an issue, but there were chances to make plays, and the Jaguars just missed them. QB Trevor Lawrence overthrew an open Zay Jones in the end zone, Lawrence missed Calvin Ridley in the back of the end zone, Christian Kirk dropped a third-down pass, and Jamal Agnew fumbled a lateral. The unit didn’t play cleanly (just 4.2 yards per play), but it was related more to OL issues and execution than playcalling.

Stock up after the loss: DC Mike Caldwell. His defense forced two turnovers out of the Chiefs (the Jaguars also got one on a muffed punt) and held Patrick Mahomes out of the end zone in the first half until less than a minute remained. That kept the Jaguars in the game while the offense stumbled around for three quarters.

Stock down after the loss: The offensive line. It had trouble keeping the Chiefs off Lawrence: He was pressured on 25% of his dropbacks and also was sacked three times into the early part of the fourth quarter. Rookie RT Anton Harrison had trouble with Chris Jones (five pressures and 1.5 sacks). — Mike DiRocco

Next game: vs. Texans (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET)

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0:22

Travis Kelce punts ball into stands after first TD of the season

Travis Kelce hauls in the touchdown from Patrick Mahomes, then punts the ball into the stands.

Colts

How will QB Anthony Richardson‘s concussion impact preparations over the next week? With the rookie quarterback leaving the game with a concussion in the second quarter, the Colts’ preparations for next week’s game against the Baltimore Ravens becomes complicated, at best. Even if he clears the concussion protocol by the end of the week, Richardson’s practice reps will be significantly reduced and his preparation will be negatively impacted. And balancing the need to prepare backup Gardner Minshew will be delicate, too, as Minshew plays the position much differently and therefore would require a different game plan. Coach Shane Steichen will have his work cut out for him.

Stock up after the win: RB Zack Moss. Moss rushed for 88 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries in his first action of the season, providing a needed boost to a running game that struggled mightily in Week 1. The Colts’ running backs averaged 1.6 yards per attempt last week behind lead back Deon Jackson, who did not touch the ball Sunday.

Stock down after the win: CB Darrell Baker Jr. He gave up several key first-down completions — including a 32-yard connection from C.J. Stroud to Nico Collins — and a 23-yard touchdown to Tank Dell. — Stephen Holder

Next game: at Ravens (Thursday, 1 p.m. ET)


Texans

Can the Texans’ offense hold up with its line injuries? The Texans were without four starters on the offensive line as left tackle Laremy Tunsil, center Juice Scruggs, right tackle Tytus Howard and left guard Kenyon Green were out. As a result, the Texans’ offense couldn’t effectively run the ball, totaling 52 rushing yards on 26 carries. Quarterback C.J. Stroud also was sacked six times.

Stock up after the loss: Stroud. Despite the offensive line struggles, Stroud went 30-of-47 for 384 yards with two touchdowns, and he has yet to throw an interception through two games.

Stock down after the loss: RB Dameon Pierce. After a promising rookie year, Pierce is off to a slow start with 31 yards on 15 carries in Week 2 and 38 yards on 11 carries in Week 1. — DJ Bien-Aime

Next game: at Jaguars (Monday, 1 p.m. ET)

Bills

Is the multidimensional offense the Bills showed for real? It sure can be. After a turnover-heavy performance in Week 1, the Bills showed how the offense can take over a game. QB Josh Allen put together touchdown drives of 11 and 15 plays, and spread the ball around to nine pass-catchers. The Bills avoided turnovers and Allen decreased his average air yards per play from 7.4 in Week 1 to 3.9 vs. the Raiders, and the offense benefited as a result. The run game came up big, too. After rushing for 97 total yards last week, the Bills racked up 183 Sunday.

Stock up after the win: The Bills’ linebackers. Matt Milano has an interception in three straight regular-season games, and second-year middle linebacker Terrel Bernard had some good moments against the Raiders, including an interception, along with a team-high six tackles.

Stock down after the win: Third-down production. There’s not an easy candidate here as almost everything trended in a more positive direction for the Bills, but the offense went 7-of-13 on third down, leading to four fourth-down attempts, and will be an area to clean up. — Alaina Getzenberg

Next game: at Commanders (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET)


Raiders

What is going on with former Pro Bowl receiver Hunter Renfrow? A week after not getting a single target for the first time in his career, Renfrow was again an invisible man. The 2021 Pro Bowler, who caught 103 passes that season, was not targeted by new quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo until there were less than four minutes to play. There were at least a few other occasions on which Renfrow was running free but Garoppolo did not see him. If Garoppolo, who has more interceptions (three) than throws to Renfrow (one), does not want to become too predictable, he needs to get the receiver more involved.

Stock up after the loss: WR Davante Adams. Adams is one of the best — if not the best — receiver in the game today, so the All-Pro is going to get his. And he did, catching six passes for 84 yards, including a 16-yard catch-and-run score to start the day. Adams was being evaluated for a concussion after the game.

Stock down after the loss: RB Josh Jacobs. The All-Pro ran for a career-low minus-2 yards on nine carries. — Paul Gutierrez

Next game: vs. Steelers (Sunday, 8:20 p.m. ET)

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0:35

Bills take the lead on Dawson Knox TD

Josh Allen finds Dawson Knox in the back of the end zone for a Bills touchdown.

Titans

Can the secondary find a way to stop opposing quarterbacks? The Titans’ secondary gave up yet another 300-plus yards of passing despite the win. Justin Herbert threw for 305 yards and two touchdowns. Tennessee was without starting right cornerback Kristian Fulton and Herbert picked on his replacement Tre Avery. The Chargers drove 60 yards, mostly passing the ball before a Harold Landry sack saved the day and forced a 33-yard field goal to send the game to overtime. The pass defense, after ranking dead last in the NFL last season, isn’t off to a much better start.

Stock up after the win: Red zone offense. The Titans bounced back and scored touchdowns three of their four times inside the 20-yard line after failing to do so on any of their visits last week.

Stock down after the win: The offensive line. Tennessee allowed five sacks, with two coming on bad miscommunication. Ryan Tannehill was consistently under pressure. — Turron Davenport

Next game: at Browns (Monday, 1 p.m. ET)


Chargers

Which version of the Chargers’ pass rush will show up moving forward? In last week’s loss to the Dolphins, the Chargers struggled to get much pressure on quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, who threw for 466 yards and wasn’t sacked. Chargers coach Brandon Staley dismissed the lack of pressure, pointing to how quickly Tagovailoa threw the ball. With All-Pro edge rusher Joey Bosa nursing a hamstring injury, the pass rush was in question heading into this game. But that unit looked like a different group this week, as it sacked Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill five times.

Stock up after the loss: LB Tuli Tuipulotu. The Chargers’ second-round pick started at edge rusher in place of Bosa, who was limited with a hamstring injury. Tuipulotu finished with a sack and beat offensive lineman for pressure regularly.

Stock down after the loss: Pass defense. The Chargers struggled again to stop deep throws. Sunday was the first time since 2013 that Tannehill completed two passes of at least 45 air yards in a game, the most notable being a 70-yard strike to receiver Treylon Burks. — Kris Rhim

Next game: at Vikings (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET)

Ravens

How are the Ravens overcoming injuries? Baltimore was without six injured starters, but it had a healthy Lamar Jackson. It was Jackson’s clutch play that led Baltimore to beat the Bengals on the road. In the second half, Jackson threw two touchdown passes on third down and then helped seal the victory with a 12-yard scramble on third down. The odds were certainly against the Ravens, who were without running back J.K. Dobbins, offensive tackle Ronnie Stanley, center Tyler Linderbaum, cornerback Marlon Humphrey and safety Marcus Williams. Then, Baltimore ruled out wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. with an ankle injury. But Jackson was the difference-maker.

Stock up after the win: TE Mark Andrews. In his first game back after missing the opener with a quad injury, Andrews caught his first touchdown pass from Lamar Jackson since Week 6 of last season — a span of 12 games.

Stock down after the win: Punt coverage. The Ravens’ only touchdown allowed in the first half came on an 81-yard punt return, which was the first one given up by Baltimore since 2016. — Jamison Hensley

Next game: vs. Colts (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET)


Bengals

What’s most concerning about the Bengals’ 0-2 start? At this point, it’s the run defense. It had some rough moments in Week 1 against the Browns on a day when Cleveland racked up 206 rushing yards. In Week 2, the Ravens had similar success (178 yards) no matter who was running it: Gus Edwards, Lamar Jackson or Justice Hill. That played a role in Cincinnati’s inability to stop Baltimore on a couple of key first downs. The offense should figure things out as Joe Burrow gets more reps. But Cincinnati needs to be better at stopping the run.

Stock up after the loss: WR Tee Higgins. After posting no catches in Week 1, Higgins bounced back against Baltimore with eight catches for 89 yards and two touchdowns.

Stock down after the loss: Rush defense. Cincinnati struggled against the run as Baltimore gained 178 yards. Gus Edwards averaged 6.2 yards per carry. — Ben Baby

Next game: vs. Rams (Sunday, 8:15 p.m. ET)

Thursday

Eagles

What’s behind the passing game struggles? Center Jason Kelce said the Eagles’ offense has been seeing some “crazy things” from opposing coordinators over the first two weeks in an attempt to create confusion and slow the passing attack. Kelce believes it will stay that way, predicting “chaos” the rest of the way. One point of emphasis for opposing defenses has been to limit the explosive plays. It falls to the coaching staff and quarterback Jalen Hurts to decode the myriad looks they are getting and find a way to get the passing game back on track.

Stock up after the win: RB D’Andre Swift. The Philadelphia native made the most of his homecoming, rushing for a career-high 175 yards and a touchdown in Philly’s home opener.

Stock down after the win: WR A.J. Brown. He had four catches for 29 yards. Frustration led to a heated conversation on the sideline with Hurts. Hurts called him a “great player, great teammate, great friend” and said he isn’t worried about Brown, but it wasn’t the best look on what proved to be a winning night for the Eagles. — Tim McManus

Next game: at Bucs (Monday, 7:15 p.m. ET)


Vikings

Have the Vikings already given away their season? They committed four turnovers Thursday night and have a total of seven through the first two games, which have been decided by nine points combined. Who knows how their losses to the Eagles and Buccaneers would have been different without a minus-6 turnover margin? But whether it has been by fluke or it is deserved, the Vikings have fallen into an 0-2 hole that, historically, many teams have struggled to get out of.

Stock up after the loss: QB Kirk Cousins to WR Justin Jefferson. Despite the two losses, Cousins and Jefferson are clicking like never before, with Jefferson becoming the first NFL player in 12 years to put up consecutive 150-yard receiving games to open a season and Cousins throwing for a franchise-record 708 yards over that stretch.

Stock down after the loss: RB Alexander Mattison. The Vikings rushed for 28 yards on nine attempts. Eight were by Mattison, who averaged 3.5 yards per carry. — Kevin Seifert

Next game: vs. Chargers (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET)

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