Tablet Magazine’s three NFL teams went undefeated in Week 1 and, yesterday, winless in Week 2. Yet not all wins are created equal, and yesterday’s defeats of the New England Patriots, the New York Giants, and the Washington Redskins actually told us three different things about each squad. (Oh, and a quick plug: Watch tonight to see rookie Jewish safety Taylor Mays and his San Francisco 49ers take on the defending champion New Orleans Saints.)
Bob Kraft’s Pats told us, in a 28-14 loss to the New York Jets at the New Meadowlands, that, despite a few exemplary plays—Randy Moss’s truly awesome one-handed touchdown catch comes to mind—a combination of old veterans and young up-and-comers does not equal some happy medium, but rather kind of a mess. The offense basically shut down after the first half; quarterback Tom Brady threw two interceptions, which might be de rigeur for non-2009 Brett Favre, but is a lot for him. Much more importantly, though, the Pats’ hodgepodge defense was unable to stop what should be a pretty mediocre Jets offense from scoring four touchdowns, three from Mark Sanchez—which is two to three more touchdown passes any decent defense should allow Sanchez to have. Many people thought the AFC East would be a stacked division; more likely, the Pats, the Jets, and (also significant Jewish squad) the Miami Dolphins will all be hovered around 10-6 at season’s close, and may not even be able to find a wild card berth, as they typically do.
In a heartbreaking 30-27 overtime loss to the Houston Texans, at home, the Redskins told us they are very likely a playoff team, and almost certainly not a championship contender. The team’s offense has looked better than it has in two years, or maybe in 19: QB Donovan McNabb threw for 426 yards (the third-highest in his illustrious career) and no interceptions. Don’t let running back Clinton Portis’s two goal-line touchdowns fool you, though: They still cannot run the ball effectively, which proved fatal when with a 17-point-lead in the second half, they failed to truly ice the game by running the ball and burning the clock.
And yet, when you factor in the blocked 29-yard field goal in the fourth quarter, and the made 52-yard field goal in overtime that was called back due to a savvy Houston timeout (and then subsequently missed), this was a game the Skins still sort of gave away.
And yet, the team they gave it away to is quickly emerging as one of the NFL’s best: After defeating the world-crushing Indianapolis Colts last week on the strength of monster running back Arian Foster, the Texans—whose QB, Matt Schaub, led the League in passing yards last season—proved they can put up 30 even without a running game. It helps when you have Andre Johnson, who is so far and away the league’s best wide receiver that it’s laughable. The Texans are a team to be reckoned with; if the Skins were going to give away a single game in this fashion, best to do it to the Texans, whom no one else in the NFC East is going to be able to beat, either.
Speaking of which! The New York Giants were destroyed—but destroyed—in Indianapolis last night. The Colts were one of the worst rushing offenses in the League last year, yet as the first half progressed, and it was clear the Giants were committed to taking away the pass, they seemed to rush with abandon. There was one second quarter drive where the Colts were marching, from their own 2, with the run. Finally, with several first downs to go before the end zone, Peyton Manning faked to running back Joseph Addai; the deep safety bit like nothing else; and Manning found tight end Dallas Clark deep. Touchdown. Game may as well be over.
Meanwhile, Manning’s little brother Eli did not have a great outing, throwing one interception and coughing up the ball a couple times during sacks. In the fourth quarter, with the game out of reach and QB1 getting banged up, one might’ve hoped Coach Tom Coughlin would’ve subbed in Jewish back-up Sage Rosenfels. But it was not to be. The Giants told us that their defense is simply not elite enough to stop the big passing teams if said teams can muster any kind of ground attack. Which may or may not be a problem when it is time to face the Redskins or the Dallas Cowboys, but will most assuredly be a problem against the truly elite teams.
Our record: 3-3.
Earlier: Week One: Check The Scoreboard!
Marc Tracy is a staff writer at The New Republic, and was previously a staff writer at Tablet. He tweets @marcatracy.