Tom Brady, QB (Patriots)

NE 26 at NO 20

Incredibly, Brady took home his 28th career AFC Offensive Player of the Week award following his first-rate performance during Week 2 after he threw for 447 yards and had 3 TDs, 0 Interceptions.  He also had 30 completions in 39 attempts, good for a 139.6 passing rate.  Granted, New Orleans has the worst ranked passing defense in the league.  Still, Sunday was an impressive outing for Brady and his Patriots to bounce back after a crushing defeat by the Chiefs 10 days earlier in Foxboro.  Going forward, New England’s offense will continue to face question marks sans WR Julien Edelman (and possibly TE Rob Gronkowski battling a groin injury) when they take on the Texans in Week 3 at Gillette Stadium.  The Patriots may be 5-0 overall against the Texans when playing at home and hold an 8-1 advantage against Houston since 2002, but the Texans defense had a particularly good outing against Brady in last season’s AFC divisional playoffs and they will bring in a healthier J.J. Watt this time around. It’ll be interesting to see if the Texans take a page from KC’s win during Week 1 and neutralize Brady as successfully as the they managed to do.

Carlos Hyde, RB (49ers)

SF 9 at SEA 12

Low expectations abound for San Francisco this season, as the team by the bay continues to spin around on the coaching carousel.  But there is modest hope that their rookie head coach Kyle Shanahan will help them find consistent success in the future this time.  Despite already recording 2 losses on the season and ranking last in the league in total offense & 31st in both passing yards and scoring, the 49ers managed to showcase the talents of Carlos Hyde on Sunday. The 27-year-old RB out of Ohio State in his 4th season ran for 124 yards on 15 attempts, averaging 8.3 yards per carry.  Hyde said on Wed that his performance is a barometer for the offense’s potential.  Specifically, he said that once they establish a running game and “get the passing game going, things will be good for us.” Further: “It’s been very frustrating going two games so far without a touchdown but I think Thursday’s [week 3 game vs the Rams] is going to be the day we flip that switch and we start putting points on the board. I also feel like that’s going to be the time that we click. What I mean by that is the offense. Passing game, running game, everything is clicking and really showcasing what we’re capable of.”  This 49ers fan sure hopes Hyde’s instincts are right.

J.J. Nelson, WR (Cardinals)

ARI 16 at IND 13

This third-year wideout won his 1st NFC Offensive Player of the Week award for his outstanding performance during Week 2 against the Colts when he had 5 receptions for 120 yards and 1 TD.  It became the 3rd time in the 25-year-old’s career that he caught for 100+ yards in a game. His efforts in the 4Q also helped Arizona come back from a 10-point deficit to win the game including a 45-yard catch for a TD and later, a 31-yard reception to set up the game-tying field goal. During his first 2 NFL seasons, Nelson’s main strengths have included incredible speed and ability to stretch the field. Those traits have led him to become a dangerous receiver and one of Arizona’s biggest playmakers.  Not bad for a player smaller in stature (5’10, 160 lbs) and from a small college who dropped their football program.

Ezekiel Ansah, DE (Lions)

DET 24 at NYG 10

This 6’5, 275-pound Ghanaian out of BYU became a wrecking ball against the Giants during week 2 when he had 3.0 sacks, 3 QB hits, 6 tackles, 1 forced fumble, and 18.0 sack yards.  This performance was instrumental in holding back Eli Manning, as the veteran Giants’ QB was dropped 5 times and hit an additional 8 times with only a 4-man rush, thanks largely to Ansah’s tremendous play.  It shows what this No. 5 overall pick in the 2013 NFL draft can do when healthy.  Unfortunately, for Ansah, he has not been able to keep off the injury list in his 4 previous NFL seasons.  In 2016, for example, he had just 2 sacks over the course of 13 games.  It must be comforting to Lions fans, then, knowing that Ansah still performed above-average during Week 2 with a potential knee injury.

Desmond Trufant, CB (Falcons)

GB 23 at ATL 34

Last season, because this 27-year-old elite CB had season-ending shoulder surgery after the first 9 games, he had to stand on the sidelines and watch as the Patriots took the Falcons’ 24-3 lead away along with the championship.  Trufant always wondered if the game’s outcome would be different if he, a 2015 Pro Bowler and one of best in the league, was there to fight for the right as the NFL’s best.  We can’t go back in time, having him back on Atlanta’s defense and hopefully healthy all year, gives this 2017 Falcons team a boost that it needs to remain competitive with the best in the biz.  His instinctive play during week 2, when he earned an NFC Defensive Player of the Week award for taking advantage of multiple mistakes by Packers QB Aaron Rodgers is indicative of how much the Falcons need him. In the 2Q right before the half, he scooped up a ball that was dislodged by teammate Vic Beasley and scored and in the 3Q, he picked off an overthrown pass intended for the wide receiver he was covering. This complete player helped his defense to fully complement the offense’s tremendous ability to score, and that is what a championship-caliber team needs if it wants to fight for redemption.

Pittsburgh Steelers – Penalties

After week 2, Pittsburgh has 23 total penalties for 215 yards.  If they keep on this same pace throughout the season, they will finish with 184 penalties, 21 more than the record of 163 set by the Oakland Raiders in 2011.  While Steelers Head Coach Mike Tomlin has never had a team ranked in the top 5 in penalties committed during his 10-year run, I lay the blame solely on him now for letting a team with this level of talent and promise be undermined by lack of discipline.  There are only 16 games of the season, and this Pittsburgh team barely made it through the first game vs the Browns with 13 penalties (4 for unnecessary roughness) and 144 yards given back.  And, then during week 2 had 10 penalties vs the Vikings with 72 penalty yards.  Tomlin needs to help this team reign in the mistakes asap, or he could be held responsible for ruining Pittsburgh’s chance to make a run for Super Bowl 52.



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