NFL’s 2-0 teams: Who’s le­git, who’s not?

USA TODAY US Edition - - SPORTS - Mike Jones

A to­tal of 11 NFL teams have jumped out to 2-0 starts, ty­ing the league record for the most in a sin­gle year. While it’s still early, a hot start nor­mally bodes well for post­sea­son im­pli­ca­tions. Since 1990, of the 244 teams that have opened the year with 2-0 records, 151 of them (61.9%) have made the play­offs. On av­er­age, those 2-0 teams have gone on to post 10-6 records, and 19 of them went on to win the Su­per Bowl.

Some of this year’s un­beaten teams cer­tainly ap­pear to boast Su­per Bowl po­ten­tial. But there’s some fool’s gold in this bunch.

Here’s a look at which teams to be­lieve in, and which squads to pump the brakes on.

Be­lieve in: The Kansas City Chiefs. There’s no com­pla­cency in this bunch af­ter win­ning their first Su­per Bowl in 50 years. Pa­trick Ma­homes again looks like an MVP can­di­date, and a po­tent of­fense just might be even more well

rounded thanks to rookie run­ning back Clyde Ed­wards-He­laire.

Pump the brakes on: The Las Ve­gas Raiders. Has the move to Las Ve­gas in­vig­o­rated an of­fense that strug­gled to score last sea­son? The Raiders are av­er­ag­ing 34 points a game, fourth most in the NFL. But is that sus­tain­able? In­ex­pe­ri­ence, par­tic­u­larly at re­ceiver, even­tu­ally will hurt this team. And the de­fense is yield­ing 6.7 yards a play and a 58.3% suc­cess rate on third downs, both worst in the league.

Be­lieve in: The Green Bay Pack­ers. Year 2 un­der Matt LaFleur ap­pears to have yielded greater com­fort for Aaron Rodgers, who cur­rently di­rects the best of­fense in the league (505 yards and 42.5 points a game). Rodgers has six touch­down passes and no in­ter­cep­tions. Green Bay looks like one of the best in the NFC.

Pump the brakes on: The Chicago Bears. Mitchell Tru­bisky is off to the best start of his ca­reer. But the Bears also have played two strug­gling squads in the Lions and Giants and nar­rowly es­caped each, need­ing a 21-point, fourth-quar­ter come­back and a last­sec­ond stop to seal the wins.The road gets tougher from here, and Chicago’s old strug­gles seem likely to re­turn.

Be­lieve in: The Bal­ti­more Ravens and La­mar Jack­son, who look like they picked up right where they left off last reg­u­lar sea­son. Ev­ery­one wanted to see Jack­son take that next step as a passer. Through two weeks, he has com­pleted 77.6% of his throws while rock­ing a 134.6 passer rat­ing for a team that av­er­ages 35.5 points a game. Mean­while, on de­fense, the Ravens are holding teams to just a league-low 11 points a con­test. This week’s op­po­nent, the Chiefs, cer­tainly will test that unit, though.

Pump the brakes on: The Buf­falo Bills. Josh Allen is off to an im­pres­sive start with the first 300- and 400-yard games of his ca­reer. Ste­fon Diggs ap­pears to have set­tled in nicely with Buf­falo. But let’s not for­get those two Allen per­for­mances came against the Jets, who look like the worst team in football, and the Dol­phins. The Bills cer­tainly hope their 2018 first-round pick has put it all to­gether, but un­til he can per­form at a pro­lific rate against for­mi­da­ble foes, ques­tions will re­main.

Be­lieve in: The Seat­tle Sea­hawks. They needed a goal-line stand to hold off Cam New­ton and the Pa­tri­ots and im­prove to 2-0, but this Sea­hawks team is im­pres­sive. It all starts with their quar­ter­back. Rus­sell Wil­son has com­pleted an as­tound­ing 82.5% of his passes with nine touch­down throws, just one in­ter­cep­tion and a passer rat­ing of 140. The Ja­mal Adams trade has given Seat­tle a dif­fer­ence-maker on the back end, and it’s rea­son­able to be­lieve this team has a real chance to win the NFC West and make a deep post­sea­son run.

Pump the brakes on: The Ari­zona Car­di­nals. Kyler Mur­ray def­i­nitely has had an im­pres­sive start to the sea­son: 516 pass­ing yards, two touch­downs and three rush­ing touch­downs. DeAn­dre Hop­kins is a great ad­di­tion. This de­fense looks promis­ing, and beat­ing the 49ers in Week 1 on the road was big. But Mur­ray still needs to show he can per­form at this level con­sis­tently. For­tu­nately for the Car­di­nals, they have a fa­vor­able early sched­ule with the Lions, Pan­thers and Jets on tap. Along the way, they’ll brace for Dal­las, a visit to the Pa­tri­ots and an­other meet­ing with the 49ers, as well as two meet­ings with the Rams and Sea­hawks. It feels as if things will even out for the young Car­di­nals.

Be­lieve in: The Los Angeles Rams. Af­ter a Su­per Bowl hang­over cam­paign that fea­tured a 9-7 record and nar­row miss of the play­offs, the Rams have re­tooled on both sides of the ball and ap­pear to have got­ten their groove back. The bal­ance and cre­ativ­ity that their of­fense was known for in Years 1 and 2 un­der Sean McVay has re­turned. Aaron Don­ald has a more ath­letic, ex­plo­sive sup­port­ing cast on de­fense.

Pump the brakes on: The Pitts­burgh Steel­ers. They boast a de­fen­sive unit full of young, ath­letic ball hawks. And Ben Roeth­lis­berger has shown flashes of his old self, com­plet­ing 68.5% of his passes while record­ing five touch­down passes, one in­ter­cep­tion and a 107.1 passer rat­ing.

But health is a real con­cern for this team. Roeth­lis­berger, who missed all but two games last sea­son with an el­bow in­jury, has strug­gled to stay on the field through­out his ca­reer. James Con­ner has an an­kle in­jury and also has strug­gled with dura­bil­ity is­sues in pre­vi­ous sea­sons.

Be­lieve in The Ten­nessee Ti­tans. The Bron­cos and Jaguars made them sweat, but the Ti­tans man­aged to over­come both hur­dles and work out their kick­ing is­sues to im­prove to 2-0. Ten­nessee has a proven for­mula and should ben­e­fit from con­ti­nu­ity in a year of such un­cer­tainty.

Top to bot­tom, they own the best ros­ter in the AFC South and seem likely to re­turn to the post­sea­son, where they fell short in the AFC cham­pi­onship af­ter up­set wins over New Eng­land and Bal­ti­more.

JASEN VINLOVE/USA TODAY SPORTS

Buf­falo QB Josh Allen has been im­pres­sive but tougher com­pe­ti­tion awaits.

NI­CHOL­SON/USA TODAY SPORTS JOE

So far, Seat­tle quar­ter­back Rus­sell Wil­son has been sim­ply the best.

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