Bengals, Chargers both off to 0-2 starts with much to worry about. Tennessee hits rocky bottom in The Swamp

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🏈 Football Five

  1. The Patriots are 0-2 for the first time since 2001 after the Dolphins won 24-17 in Foxborough. Raheem Mostert had 121 yards rushing and two touchdowns with Xavien Howard (interception) and DeShon Elliott (fumble recovery) contributing takeaways. Tua Tagovailoa is 5-0 against Bill Belichick and Miami is 2-0 on the season despite playing both games on the road.
  2. What a week for the NFC East! The Cowboys dominated the Aaron Rodgers-less Jets, 30-10, intercepting Zach Wilson three times. Jeff Kerr says the Jets need to find another option at quarterback. The Giants (down 21 points) and Commanders (18) pulled off huge comebacks with Washington surviving a Hail Mary thanks to a controversial two-point conversion stand. The Giants lost Saquon Barkley to an ankle injury, but it might not be as serious as it looked.
  3. The Chiefs got back two stars and got back in the win column. Making their season debuts, Travis Kelce caught a touchdown and Chris Jones contributed 1.5 sacks plus five pressures as the Chiefs slugged out a 17-9 win over the Jaguars. Another Super Bowl contender bouncing back, the Bills throttled the Raiders, 38-10.
  4. A rookie quarterback has career win No. 1, but he wasn’t there to finish it. Anthony Richardson rushed for two touchdowns but suffered a concussion, and Gardner Minshew finished things off in the Colts‘ 31-20 win over the Texans. Richardson has left both of his NFL games early due to injury. Here’s our Week 2 injury roundup.
  5. Rams wide receiver Puka Nacua had a rookie-record 15 catches in a 30-23 loss to the 49ers. Nacua’s monster start to his career puts him in elite company.

💪 Good morning to everyone but especially …


Two top offensive linemen missing? Sure. Two best defensive backs gone? No worries. Starting running back done for the year? Next man up. Star wide receiver leaves early? Find a way. The Ravens kept on chugging with an impressive 27-24 win over the Bengals to get to 2-0 on the young season.

  • Lamar Jackson threw for 237 yards and two touchdowns (including an absolute dime to Nelson Agholor in the fourth quarter), ran for 54 yards and wasn’t sacked. Agholor was in after Odell Beckham Jr. injured his ankle, though it’s not considered serious.
  • Gus Edwards (filling in for J.K. Dobbins) ran for 62 yards and a score, and Baltimore racked up 178 yards on the ground while allowing just 66.
  • Geno Stone (filling in for Marcus Williams) had a crucial interception off Joe Burrow.

The Ravens churn out rosters with terrific talent and depth year after year, and it shows in games like these. They earned an “A” from Bryan DeArdo in our weekly grades.

  • DeArdo: “The Ravens set the tone on the game’s opening drive when they took nearly eight minutes off the clock. From there, John Harbaugh‘s team played complementary football while taking advantage of the Bengals’ miscues. On offense, the Ravens employed a well-balanced attack that put Lamar Jackson in mostly manageable third-down situations. On defense, Baltimore largely kept Cincinnati’s offense off schedule while often putting Joe Burrow in less than desirable situations.”

👍 Honorable mentions

😓 And not such a good morning for …


Maybe it’s just a feature of these Bengals. Maybe it’s just another 0-2 start, same as last year. Maybe they’ll turn it on again, and this conversation will prove silly.

But maybe there’s something wrong that the Bengals need to turn around — fast.

  • Burrow aggravated the calf injury that caused him to miss almost all of training camp. Maybe it was never fully healed in the first place: He’s 0 of 12 on throws 15+ yards downfield this season.
  • The Bengals had 54 pass plays of 20+ yards last year, more than three per game. They have two in two games this year, tied for fewest of any team that’s played multiple games.
  • No team that has started consecutive seasons 0-2 and made the playoffs both times. So Cincinnati has dug itself in a hole in the rankings and historically.

Cincinnati was one of Cody Benjamin’s big losers this week, but at least we know they can respond from a slow start. We’re not so sure about the Chargers after they fell in overtime, 27-24, to the Titans. Los Angeles led 11-0 early and looked to be in full control against an offensively challenged Tennessee squad.

But remember when I said the Bengals can’t produce big plays? Well, the Chargers can’t stop them. They’ve allowed 12 plays of 20+ yards this season, tied for most in the NFL. Brandon Staley’s seat should be scorching hot, writes Will Brinson.

  • Brinson: “Brandon Staley is a defensive coach and the Chargers consistently fail to play good defense. … Since the Super Bowl era began, 34 teams have scored 50+ points with zero turnovers through their first two weeks. The Chargers are the only one of those teams to start the season 0-2. Staley is the leader in the clubhouse for first coach fired right now. That Week 5 bye is looming large.”

👎 Not so honorable mentions

🏈 College football recap: Colorado battles back, Tennessee gets Swamp’d again

It looked like this would be a relatively calm weekend of college football with no top 25 matchups and plenty of expected blowouts.

Looks can be deceiving.

A wild Saturday ended on an especially wild — and feisty — note with Colorado rallying for a 43-35 double-overtime win over Colorado State.

  • Down eight and starting at their own 2-yard line with just over 2 minutes left, the Buffaloes went off. Shedeur Sanders led a game-tying drive with a 45-yard touchdown to Jimmy Horn Jr. and a 2-point conversion to Michael Harrison.
  • After the Buffaloes and Rams exchanged touchdowns and extra points in the first overtime, Sanders found Harrison for a touchdown and Xavier Weaver for a 2-point conversion in the second period.
  • On the Rams’ drive, Trevor Woods picked off Brayden Fowler-Nicolosi to seal the win.

Oh, and because it’s Colorado, you know there were plenty of extracurriculars: Lil’ Wayne led the team onto the field and was one of several celebrities in attendance, Colorado State mocked Deion Sanders’ celebration, and Coach Prime spoke to “60 Minutes.”

The Buffs didn’t leave without a few bumps and bruises: Two-way star Travis Hunter will miss “a few weeks” after a vicious late hit, and they actually fell one spot to No. 19 in the latest AP Top 25. They’ll happily take a 3-0 record into a gigantic showdown with No. 10 Oregon on Saturday.

As for a team not moving to 3-0, Tennessee got thumped by Florida in The Swamp, 29-16, but that’s nothing new: The Volunteers have lost 10 straight in Gainesville. They and quarterback Joe Milton were among the week’s big losers, writes Shehan Jeyarajah.

  • Jeyarajah: “Any hope that Tennessee could replicate its magical 2022 season appears fully off the table after getting blasted by a lackluster Florida squad. … Milton’s stat line — 20 of 34 for 287 yards and two touchdowns — isn’t brutal but hides the inaccuracy and lack of cohesion that persisted throughout the night. … Playing FCS Austin Peay to a 30-13 score was an indication that there are massive structural issues for the Volunteers in 2023.”

That wasn’t the only top 25 upset: Missouri kicker Harrison Mevis nailed an SEC-record 61-yard field goal to beat Kansas State. Missouri was then fined $100,000 for fans rushing the field because the SEC hates fun.

There were nearly some even bigger shockers, too: Alabama‘s offense looked awful in a 17-3 win over USF, and Georgia had to rally from a double-digit deficit to beat South Carolina. Will Backus has a bold take on the Bulldogs.

As for everything else …

Now we look forward to a loaded Week 4. Here are schedules, odds and more.

⚾ MLB Power Rankings and weekend recap

I always say the MLB season is way too long. Well, technically, not any more. There are two weeks left and playoff spots are disappearing quickly. Just this weekend, the Dodgers clinched the NL West, while the Orioles and Rays both clinched playoff berths.

We now have two teams that have clinched their division, and, unsurprisingly, they’re No. 1 and 2 in Matt Snyder’s latest MLB Power Rankings.

  1. Braves (previous: 1)
  2. Dodgers (4)
  3. Orioles (2)
  4. Rays (3)
  5. Brewers (8)

Matt also explains the hilarious nature of the Wild Card races INSERT LINK TKTKTKTKTKTK, and the standings will make your head spin.

Also this weekend …

📺 What we’re watching Monday

Twins at Reds, 6:40 p.m. on FS1
🏈 Saints at Panthers, 7:15 p.m. on ESPN
🏈 Browns at Steelers, 8 p.m. on ABC

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