By Stephen R Stone
Cold, Hard Football Facts Week 2 Statistical Leader (@SRStoneSports)
The days following week two of the NFL season are always interesting. While a win or loss in week one might be chalked up as a fluke, a 2-0 or 0-2 start deserves much more attention.
This week’s number one statistical storyline shows why some of the2-0 surprises are where they are.
1. Passer Rating Differential helping determine surprise teams.
The Kansas City Chiefs have already tied their wins total of 2012. The Miami Dolphins are a shocking 2-0 after four consecutive years missing the playoffs. The Buffalo Bills lost a heartbreaker to the Patriots in week one, but at 1-1 they appear to be much better than advertised.
All three teams are ranked in the top seven in Passer Rating Differential.
On the flip side, Minnesota and Washington, two playoff teams last year that find themselves in surprising 0-2 holes, are ranked 29th and 32nd in that stat, respectively.
Once again, Denver was Sunday’s top performer. The Broncos assisted Peyton Manning’s triumph over his little brother by intercepting Eli four times. The Broncos have two of the top four Passer Rating Differential performances in this young season, which is why they are the best team in the AFC.
Here are the top eight performances in the stat in week two:
8. Baltimore +16.51 (14-6 win vs. Cleveland)
7. Chicago +21.89 (31-30 win vs. Minnesota)
6. Miami +27.65 (24-20 win at Indianapolis)
5. Atlanta +29.94 (31-24 win vs. St. Louis)
4. Detroit +32.81 (25-21 loss at Arizona)
3. Green Bay +41.87 (38-20 win vs. Washington)
2. New England +43.43 (13-10 win vs. New York Jets)
1. Denver +52.20 (41-23 win at New York Giants)
Not only did seven of these teams win on Sunday, they are a combined 12-4 thus far in 2013.
Here are the rest of this week’s big statistical winners
2. Seattle’s defense made a statement
It was only a week ago when Colin Kaepernick and the 49ers were picking up where they left off as defending NFC champions, but they had not played anything as suffocating as the Seahawks dominant defensive unit.
The Seahawks flipped Kaepernick’s week one performance around in week two. Last Sunday, he completed 69 percent of his passes for 412 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. In week two, he completed 46 percent of his passes for 127 yards, zero touchdowns and three interceptions.
Seattle and San Francisco has been marketed to us as the best rivalry in the NFL and they really might be the best two teams in the league, but the Seahawks look vastly superior in every way Sunday night. Richard Sherman has proven he’s the best defensive back in the league and he may just lead his team to a title.
3. Advantage: Big brother
Sunday wasn’t the first time Peyton beat Eli on the field. The third Manning Bowl ended the same way as the first two, with big bro Peyton getting the upper hand. Eli might have two rings, but in head-to-head match-ups, Peyton Manning has the edge.
The Broncos quarterback continued his historic season by tying the record for most touchdown passes in the first two weeks of an NFL season. Meanwhile, little Eli now has seven interceptions on the year, only two shy of the record over the same time. It was yet another example of the struggles litter brothers experience against their older siblings. The Harbaughs - the NFL’s other brotherly feud, have coached against each other twice. Older John Harbaugh’s Ravens have bested younger Jim’s 49ers both times.
So, between the Harbaughs and Mannings, bigger brothers are 5-0. So much for the little bro getting revenge when they get older.
4. Baltimore’s defense got back to business
Ok, so Peyton Manning and Brandon Weeden aren’t exactly the same quarterback. However, keeping a team out of the end zone a week after receiving an embarrassing butt-whoopin’ is reason to feel good about your team’s resiliency.
The defending champs received little encouragement from the press this summer and that lack of support appeared justified after Baltimore’s defensive no-show last Thursday; but the unit came together and played with pride on Sunday. Baltimore’s defense had the best Bendability rating in the league on Sunday, a far cry from opening night.
5. James Starks provides the balanced attack Green Bay’s been looking for
The Packers entered the season determined to run the ball more and take some pressure off Aaron Rodgers. Drafting Alabama championship hero Eddie Lacy was Green Bay’s strategy, but he suffered a concussion and the Packers had to go to plan B.
Starks ran for 132 yards and a touchdown in Green Bay’s 38-20 win over the Redskins.
6. But Aaron Rodgers is the key to Green Bay’s success
Peyton Manning has put up cartoonish numbers thus far in 2013. On Sunday he threw for 307 yards. Aaron Rodgers surpassed that number IN THE FIRST HALF.
Green Bay’s franchise star dominated the Redskins to the tune of 480 yards and four scores, but his first half was truly uncanny. His 335 yards and four touchdown passes in the game’s 30 minutes put him on pace for a record breaking day.
It might take Jacksonville quarterbacks until October to reach those numbers.
7. Miami played flawless football
The Dolphins are 2-0 and they haven’t even played their home opener. To win on the road you can’t kill yourself with dumb mistakes. Miami did commit one turnover, but it committed zero penalties on Sunday afternoon.
How important is it to limit your penalties? Well, the Falcons led the league in fewest penalties in 2010, the Packers held the title in 2011 and Atlanta regained it last season.
8. Chargers receiver was football Royalty
Remember when Eddie Royal was that guy you thought you should have on your fantasy team, but he would never show up when you started and kick ass when he rode the pine? He fell into obscurity for a few years, but he’s ready to stress out fantasy owners yet again.
If Royal wasn’t picked up in your league after a two-score effort in week one, expect it to happen this week. He caught seven balls for 90 yards and three touchdowns. He filled the void after fellow receiver Malcom Floyd’s terrifying injury and played a crucial role in San Diego’s thrilling 33-30 comeback win over the Eagles.
The most impressive Eddie Royal stat? From 2009 through 2012, he caught five touchdowns. He tied that amount this season in six days.
Speaking of San Diego ...
9. The Chargers turned back the clocks
Over the course of the last two years, San Diego transformed from perennial underachiever to flat out bad football team. Philip Rivers and Antonio Gates are two of the key cogs from San Diego’s glory days (if you consider three playoff wins the glory days) who are still around, but their skills slowly deteriorated and San Diego’s window was shut. Even after a quick start last Monday night, the team folded in the fourth quarter and Chargers doubters were loud and proud Tuesday morning.
But Philip Rivers was not content with this designation. He brought back old-school Charger football on Sunday, throwing for 419 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. The Chargers aren’t ready to let the league pass them by this September.
10. That gust of wind you felt? Fantasy owners exhaling.
Last weekend wasn’t very kind for fantasy running backs. Only two players - Terrelle Pryor and Shane Vereen - surpassed the century mark on the first Sunday afternoon of the season. The former is a quarterback and the latter got hurt and is out for at least half of the season.
This week was a different story. Doug Martin, Darren McFadden, Alfred Morris, C.J. Spiller and Adrian Peterson ran for 100 yards on Sunday.