Minnesota Vikings: Relax
The reigning NFC North champs are off to an 0-2 start in 2023 but there is no need to panic for the purple and gold. Quarterback Kirk Cousins and star wide receiver Justin Jefferson are playing out of their minds two weeks in to the season, establishing themselves as one of the more elite quarterback-wide receiver tandems in the game. In addition to having one of the games best wide receivers, rookie Jordan Addison has been a great deep threat early on in the season. Through two games, Addison has seven catches for 133 yards and two touchdowns. With Jefferson attracting so much attention from opposing secondaries, Addison will only emerge and thrive in Kevin O’Connell’s offense as the wide receiver two.
One of the main reasons why the Vikings are in this 0-2 hole is the turnovers. Minnesota has put the ball on the turf six times this season, all of which have been lost to the opposing team. While three lost fumbles per game is a concerning stat early on, it is simply not sustainable with the amount of offensive star power this Vikings team has.
Overall, the Vikings are 0-2 but the turnovers will be significantly cut down, Cousins will keep leading this productive offense and O’Connell is one of the great young coaches in the game. Relax Minnesota fans.
Los Angeles Chargers: Panic
Just two games into the season, it is already time to press the panic button on one of the most loaded rosters in the game. In the most recent attempt of Brandon Staley and the Chargers trying to close out a fourth quarter with a lead, Staley added a few more coaching gaffes to his resume as the Chargers blew their second straight game with a fourth-quarter-lead in as many weeks in Sundays 27-24 loss to Tennessee. The third year head coach continues to stick to his overly-conservative decion making, as he opted for punts on several fourth and shorts (two or less yards to go) while at midfield or in opposing territory, including a fourth and inches at the Tennesee 44. The theme of Staley’s fourth quarter cluelessness and “playing not to lose mindset” persists and is a key contributor to his team losing games as it did again this past Sunday against the Titans.
While the new-look Kellen Moore play calling scheme seems to have energized the offense to perform with great efficiency, the defensive side of the ball has been an absolute mess. Through two games, opposing quarterbacks Tua Tagovailoa and Ryan Tannehill have thrown for 710 yards on 48 of 69 attempts and four touchdowns. With a schedule that headlines matchups against Cousins, Dak Prescott, Patrick Mahomes (twice), Lamar Jackson, Josh Allen and Russell Wilson (twice), there is no hiding from elite quarterback play.
An 0-2 start could certainly cost a Los Angeles team with a head coach who’s seat is amongst the hottest in the league and a defense that is searching for significant answers in the secondary.
Denver Broncos: Panic
Just when you think that Denver can’t disappoint their fanbase anymore then it did last season, they go out and lose two straight at home to the Las Vegas Raiders and Washington Commanders to open 2023. Hiring former Super Bowl-winning head coach Sean Payton has not made any impact on the field so far, as this team continues to struggle with leads and find new ways to lose games. This past Sunday, Denver blew an 18-point lead at home to a rebuilding Washington Commanders team, one week after blowing a six-point fourth quarter lead to the Las Vegas Raiders.
Last season while the offense struggled to get going, the defense was one of the more solid groups in 2022, keeping Denver within striking distance for a majority of games last year. This season, that narrative has been turned upside down as Denver’s defensive-adjusted value over average (DVOA) is 21% worse than the league average, good for third worst in the NFL through two games.
We saw how ugly this Denver team looked last season and two games in, things look the exact same, if not worse. I don’t see Denver reversing the script of their season enough to meet their postseason expectations, and an underwhelming 7-year/$296 million contract for Wilson will only make a rebuild harder.
Cincinnati Bengals: Panic
The Cincinnati Bengals are off to an 0-2 start in one of the most loaded divisions in the league, but there is a bigger concern at hand that could potentially sway Cincinnati off the path to their third straight postseason appearance. Joe Burrow is simply not healthy right now. Burrow has played through a recovering calf-strain through two weeks this season and you can tell by the numbers it is heavily impacting his abilities. Through two weeks, Burrow has thrown for just 304 yards and two touchdowns while completing just 56% of his passes. In this past Sunday’s 27-24 loss to the Baltimore Ravens, Burrow re-aggrivated that calf injury and his availibility going forward is in serious question. Losing Burrow for any significant amount of time would be a massive blow to a Bengals team that is trying to make it to their third straight AFC title game and bring home their franchises first ever Lombardi Trophy. Should Burrow miss any significant time this season, former Washington QB Jake Browning is next in line on the depth chart.