Another weekend, another tied game. You would think it’s a regular result in the NFL these days. That game excluded, there were eight other clashes separated by less than a touchdown, and half of those by less than a field goal, demonstrating that the NFL really has created a level of parity.
There are, of course, exceptions and this was a week where the Bills were so bad Vontae Davis, pictured below, announced his retirement at half-time by getting in his “street clothes” and leaving the stadium.
Meanwhile, the Browns, still searching for their first win in over 600 days, managed to throw away a fourth-quarter lead, missing two field goals and two extra points, and with the Jets to come on Thursday, it is a short week to fix the problems.
At the other end of the spectrum, Patrick Mahomes led the Kansas City Chiefs into Pittsburgh and upstaged future Hall of Famer Ben Roethlisberger with six passing touchdowns, setting a new record of ten TDs in the first two games of the season. The LA Rams look like the hype could be deserved as they dismantled the Arizona Cardinals 34-0, with the Phoenix-based team only getting the ball over the halfway line in the final minute of the game.
So, after two weeks, the NFL has only seven of the 32 teams with unbeaten records and just six without a win or, in other words, parity.
For the teams who currently hold two wins the signs are good, with nearly 60 per cent of teams starting 2-0 making the play-offs in the last ten years. For those at 0-2 the signs are grim. Since 2007, 91 teams have started with two losses, and only ten have made the play-offs.
In the NFC East, the Dallas Cowboys hosted the New York Giants in a must-win game. Must win because since the miracle run in 2007 no team from the East has made the play-offs starting 0-2 and this is a Giants team that bet the house on winning now.
The New York team were lousy last year, winning just three games, and Giants fans will shout “we didn’t have Odell [Beckham]”, but the problems run deeper. The G-Men needed to at least address Eli Manning’s slow decline in the offseason and with a raft of eligible and experienced QB’s hitting free agency they elected to pass, pardon the pun.
Of course, they had the second pick of a draft which was loaded with QB talent so they could pick up a future general and sit him while Eli played out his final year or so? Nope. They took Saquon Barkley, a running back, who is undoubtedly set to do great things but, once again, they ignored the real need.
Manning has been in decline since 2014 with a reduction in TDs thrown, QB rating and an increase in interception rate. Last year Ben McAdoo, the then Giants head coach, went as far as benching Eli in week 13, the Giants still lost, and McAdoo was relieved of his duties the day after.
So why haven’t the Giants replaced their iconic QB? Well, maybe that’s the reason. The man who led them to two Super Bowls is held in such high regard by the management that they refuse to acknowledge it’s time to move on. They have had multiple chances to at least start the foundations of a new team, but elected to go for the win one more time with Eli, despite all indications being they were never that close to a winning team.
Adding to the gloom, while Giants suffer there seems to be a wave of enthusiasm in the other half of MetLife Stadium, a rare occurrence in the bleak world of Jets fans, as their draftee (one pick after the Giants) Sam Darnold, seems ready to develop into a solid NFL QB.
But it’s not all disaster for the Giants as they still aren’t the worst team in the Empire State. No, that position is firmly in the grasp of northern neighbours the Buffalo Bills, who were, as previously mentioned, so bad that a ten-year veteran decided to retire a game and a half into his Bills career.