NFL risers and fallers Week 2

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Jacksonville Jaguars running back James Robinson (30) slips past Indianapolis Colts free safety Malik Hooker for a gain during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 13, 2020, in Jacksonville, Fla. Photo by Stephen B. Morton/AP Photo.

Week 2 of the NFL was horrible for one reason and one reason alone — everyone got hurt. The Colts lost Malik Hooker for the season. The Broncos lost Courtland Sutton for the season. The 49ers lost Nick Bosa for the season. The Giants lost Saquon Barkley for the season. And those are just some of the season-ending ones. 

Christian McCaffery is going to miss an extended period of time with an ankle injury. Drew Lock is going to miss some time with a shoulder injury after already losing Sutton, his WR1.  

Barkley wasn’t even the only piece the Giants lost, losing their WR1 in Sterling Shepard. Even with Shepard added into the mix, the Giants didn’t even have the worst week for injuries; that goes to the 49ers. Not only did they lose Bosa, but they also suffered injuries with Jimmy Garopollo, Raheem Mostert and Solomon Thomas. 

There were many more players to hit the injury report including Byron Jones, Davante Adams, Cam Akers, Tyrod Taylor (though Justin Herbert looked great), Anthony Barr and Connor McGovern. It was just a bad week for most teams, and a disastrous one for a handful. 

So for this week’s edition of risers and fallers, we’re going to base it solely on performance. Obviously the 49ers have a serious problem. Obviously the Giants have to remake their entire offense. Obviously the Panthers have to do the same. For these reasons, this ranking is going to be based on play alone. 

Los Angeles Chargers running back Austin Ekeler (30) runs for a first down against the Kansas City Chiefs in the first half of an NFL football game in Inglewood, Calif., Sunday, Sept. 20, 2020. Photo by Keith Birmingham/The Orange County Register via AP.

Riser: Los Angeles Chargers 

Yes, the Chargers lost 23-20 to the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday, but that’s just it — they only lost 23-20. Not only that, but the Chiefs needed overtime to put them away. Even though they lost, this was still an overwhelmingly positive game for the Bolts. After starting QB Tyrod Taylor was scratched minutes before the game, rookie Herbert had to step in against the undisputed best team in football, and he killed it. I’d argue he looked better than Joe Burrow has in either of his first two starts. Herbet completed 22 of his 33 pass attempts for 311 yards while throwing one touchdown and one interception, and that was simply a result of an attempt to do too much, which overtime fixed on its own. It was simply a rookie mistake. The Chargers have found their guy. Not only that, but their defense held Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs to just 23 points. Last season they scored 23 points just twice, and they scored fewer than that total on just one occasion. Who knows, if they stick with Herbert, maybe they can make some noise. 

Faller: Atlanta Falcons 

I think we all saw this one coming. At one point in the game, the Falcons were leading the Cowboys 20-0. At the half, they were up 29-10. By the time the game ended, they put up 39 points. The only problem was the Cowboys put up 40. Matt Ryan threw for 273 yards and four touchdowns without turning the ball over once. In fact, no one on the Falcons turned the ball over and they forced three of their own. Per Elias Sports Bureau, the Falcons were the only team in NFL history to ever lose a game where they scored 39 or more points with no turnovers. Up until now, those teams were 440-0. For some reason, Dan Quinn and the Falcons just refuse to close out the game when they have big leads. If you’re a Falcons fan, this one hurts. Probably not as much as another one that shall remain nameless, but it still hurts. Now, on that note, let’s talk about the Patriots. 

New England Patriots quarterback Cam Newton jogs off the field after an NFL football game against the Seattle Seahawks, Sunday, Sept. 20, 2020, in Seattle. The Seahawks won 35-30. Photo by John Froschauer/AP Photo.

Riser: Cam Newton 

Cam is back. Yes, the Patriots lost, but Cam Newton looked about as good as ever. He finished the game just three yards shy of a 400-yard passing game, threw one touchdown and one admittedly bad pick. He was also effective on the ground, rushing for 47 yards on 11 attempts and reaching the endzone twice. He battled against a should-be strong defense in the Seahawks all game long when it was evident they were rarely going to run the ball unless Cam took it himself. He and Julian Edelman picked apart Jamal Adams all game. He got Damiere Byrd and N’Keal Harry 72 yards apiece. One thing was clear from Sunday night’s loss — the Patriots are still the team to beat in the AFC East, and Cam is the one to thank. 

Faller: Kirk Cousins 

I’ll be honest, I’ve never thought Kirk Cousins was as bad as people made him out to be. Was he ever elite? Absolutely not, but overall he’s been a very solid to above-average quarterback. But man, the start of this season has been absolutely horrific for him. The Vikings are now 0-2, and while you could have chalked Week 1 up to an Aaron Rodgers revenge game, there is absolutely no excuse for his pitiful performance in Week 2. One week removed from letting Gardner Minshew go 19-20, the Colts defense held Cousins to 11-26 passing for 113 yards, no touchdowns and three interceptions. Oh, and they safetied him too. I thought the Vikings could make some noise this season, I really did, but not if Cousins keeps playing like this. 

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