The Check-down Check-up (2021): Week Two

NFC North

Green Bay Packers

What the hell.

Verdict: 4.5/10, Check Back Next Week

Chicago Bears

This Bears team isn’t going anywhere until Justin Fields gets his shot. Is Fields a sure thing? Absolutely not. But if you’re Chicago, you already know exactly what you’ve got with Andy Dalton, so just play the kid and see if you can save the coach and general manager’s jobs. I would personally love to see Fields and Burrow battle it out in week two, but it will more than likely be Dalton’s grand return to Cincinnati in a pretty meh game. Snooze.

Verdict: 4.5/10, Check Back Next Week

Detroit Lions

I want the Dan Campbell Lions to be good so badly. The big problem here is that Jared Goff is just bad. The other big problem here is that the Lions simply do not have the firepower or talent on the roster to compete with most of the NFL. Hockenson is a nice piece, but there’s no one throwing to him! Sewell is dominant at left tackle, but the quarterback he’s protecting doesn’t work without the safety blanket of Sean McVay. And against a newly-embarrassed Packers team in week two, I don’t think this team stands a chance.

Verdict: 3.75/10, Check Down

Minnesota Vikings

Eventually, you all will listen to me. I’ve been telling anyone who would listen for weeks that the Vikings were going to be a sneaky-terrible football team this year. Mike Zimmer looked downright out-coached in the first half of this game. Do you know how hard it easy to make Zac Taylor look like he has all the answers? Now they have to host a Cardinals team that really impressed in week one. I’ll take “Martin was right again” for 200, Alex. (Rest In Peace, as always).

Verdict: 2.25/10, Check Down

NFC East

Dallas Cowboys

The Cowboys took the reigning champs to the brink in the season opener, but I don’t think things will get any easier for their defense from here on out. Dallas needed to bring in major upgrades to fix this defense, and although Micah Parsons impressed against Tampa, I don’t think the defense is ready to hold opponents under 30 points. Dak Prescott is going to need to play like Superman again this year, and against these Chargers, I’m not ready to say he’ll get it done. Still, their performance on Thursday was an impressive one, and that counts for something.

Verdict: 5.25/10, Check Back Next Week

Philadelphia Eagles

Okay, Philly. You wanna be like that? Let’s rock.

I want to see you go 2-0 this year with Jalen Hurts at the helm. I am more than willing to be proven wrong by Hurts and the Eagles, and as a big Hurts believer, I hope they make me eat my words. With the 49ers coming to town, I highly doubt it happens, but there’s always a chance that the combination of Hurts and Nick Sirianni is magic from the get-go. Either that, or you just beat up on a bad Falcons team. It’s probably that one.

Verdict: 4.75/10, Check Back Next Week

Washington Football Team

Washington had this game buttoned up for quite some time, until Ryan Fitzpatrick suffered what might be a season-ending injury to his hip. I still like the Football Team to win the NFC East, but it’ll probably be a lot harder to do so with Taylor Heinecke at quarterback. Go beat up on a bad Giants team on Thursday night. I know you can do it, and I’m about to seriously disrespect the Giants in their column, so you better not let me down.

Verdict: 6.5/10, Check Back Next Week

New York Giants

Do I seriously have to write something about this team? If I say something bad about Daniel Jones, what’s he gonna do about it? Fumble the ball in my direction? You guys are so predictable. I’m just bored.

Verdict: 1.75/10, Check Down

NFC South

New Orleans Saints

Now the Saints are a team I can get behind! There’s something here, it has teeth, I’m excited to talk about this New Orleans team! Jameis Winston was efficient, mistake-free, and generally looked great in Sean Payton’s system. Will he be like that through the entire season? Almost certainly not, Winston is a high-volatility quarterback and you can’t just train that aspect of his personality out of him. I love this matchup for week two as well, with Winston going against Sam Darnold and the Panthers. The battle of two turnover-prone quarterbacks getting a shot in new, smart systems that should help them hang onto the football.

Verdict: 8.75/10, Check Up

Atlanta Falcons

Ohhhh boy. Wow, these Falcons might be even worse than I predicted, and I thought they could be a No. 1 pick contender. I am anxiously awaiting what Atlanta does from here, as they could have had Justin Fields as a quarterback of the future, but no, they had to go and take a tight end that’s not going to have anyone to throw to him once Matt Ryan retires. Speaking of which, Kyle Pitts had 31 yards in his first NFL game. Not exactly ideal.

Verdict: 1.25/10, Check Down

Carolina Panthers

The Sam Darnold reclamation project seems to be going well, if his first game as a Panther is anything to go by. The former USC quarterback looked ready to go, efficient, and smart with the football. This Carolina roster isn’t complete yet, but there’s a lot to like, especially if you’re a big Matt Rhule fan like yours truly. I’m not sure they’re ready to hang with the big boys of the division but they sure looked better than the Falcons. Let’s see what you’ve got cooking this week, Carolina.

Verdict: 4.5/10, Check Back Next Week

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The Buccaneers got more than they bargained for against the Cowboys, but I’m glad the game had some intrigue rather than Tampa just steamrolling the opposition. I thought Tampa Bay would pretty clearly be the best team in the NFC South, but if the Saints are for real, they could be in for a fight for the divisional title. However, they have the Falcons this week, so there shouldn’t be anything to worry about. I should have put my lock here, come to think of it.

Verdict: 9.25/10, Check Up

NFC West

Seattle Seahawks

The Seahawks better not be doing what they did last year. If Russell Wilson is going to have an all-time great season, he had better carry it all the way through. Under new offensive coordinator Shane Waldron, Seattle looked composed, balanced, and defensively unpredictable on offense, which is perfect for just about any football team. Going up against the Titans at home this week, I expect to see another rock-solid performance from the ‘Hawks.

Verdict: 9/10, Check Up

Los Angeles Rams

This team sure looks like a Super Bowl contender to me. The Rams ripped Chicago to shreds on Sunday Night Football, showing the world that the Matt Stafford trade, at least in the short term, was a great deal for McVay to finally get rid of Jared Goff. Stafford gets to light up a predictable Colts defense this week, and that smells like another Rams win to me. The NFC West is looking as cutthroat as ever.

Verdict: 9.5/10, Check Up

San Francisco 49ers

The 49ers took care of business in Detroit this week, even if the final score doesn’t showcase exactly how dominating their performance in week one was. Trey Lance looked accurate in (very) limited action, and the defense held up until they started playing prevent defense late in the game. Kyle Shanahan is still an offensive genius, and when you clearly outmatch a team, sometimes it’s nice to flex your muscles. This 49ers team looked great, and now they get to test themselves once again with a matchup against the Eagles.

Verdict: 8.5/10, Check Down

Arizona Cardinals

Depending on how you felt about the New Orleans Saints, the Cardinals were perhaps the most surprisingly dominant team in week one. The Titans looked like no match for Kyler Murray and the rest of Arizona’s offense, and the defense was no slouch either, racking up six sacks on Ryan Tannehill. The Cardinals wreaked havoc on Tennessee’s offense all day long, and although I still think Kliff Kingsbury is holding them back, I suppose I could be persuaded otherwise.

Verdict: 8.75/10, Check Up

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