NFL Week 2: Buy, Hold or Sell?
For some teams, week 1 was an aberration. A blip on an otherwise clear radar. For others, initial concerns may yet prove to be deep seated issues after a second week of NFL action.
At the close of trade, here’s our take on the NFL stock market. Who are we buying, who are we selling and which teams are we holding until more information becomes available.
Atlanta – Despite a late wobble against the Broncos on Monday Night Football, the Falcons are absolutely cruising at 2-0. Matt Ryan and co. have already shown why Atlanta was tipped by many to be a bolter this year and this hot start is all the more important in a tough NFC South. Roddy White and Julio Jones are threats any time they step on to the field and the defence is not to be overlooked, collecting three interceptions of Peyton Manning in the first quarter alone. We’re riding with the birds.
Arizona – Not fancied by many in week 1 and fancied by absolutely nobody in week 2, the Cardinals have somehow managed to start 2-0. Arizona’s defence was the difference in New England, stifling Tom Brady and grinding out a gutsy win. Sure, there aren’t many household names on the roster and QB Kevin Kolb was booed by his own fans, but how can you dispute an underdog that is undefeated heading into week 3?
Baltimore – After an utterly dominant victory over the Bengals in week 1, the Ravens were brought back to earth by the Eagles in week 2. It doesn’t get any easier for Baltimore next week when they face the Patriots off their first ever loss in a home opener at Gillette Stadium. Despite the 1-1 start with a danger game on deck, we’ll continue to invest in Baltimore. They have a fantastic young quarterback, one of the league’s premier running backs and arguably the most fearsome defence in the NFL. They’ll be fine.
Green Bay – A week is a long time in sport. Although Packer fans weren’t exactly panicking after a week 1 jolt at the hands of San Francisco, there was more than some trepidation ahead of Chicago’s visit. These fears were ill-founded however with Green Bay stomping all over their rivals in a dominant display, led by Clay Matthews who was credited with half of the seven sacks on Jay Cutler. This is the Pack we know and love. Ride.
Houston – Two games, two healthy wins for a Houston team that is quietly going about its business. Although Miami and Jacksonville aren’t much to write home about, this professional unit is doing what it has to. The schedule gets exponentially harder from here, but the AFC South should be a cakewalk for the Texans amongst the Colts, Titans and Jaguars.
New England – While the Pats didn’t deserve a chance to beat the Cardinals on Sunday, they should have. A last second chip shot sailed wide to produce the first big upset of the season. Despite this, we don’t see any reason for the Patriots to panic. Tom Brady is still among the elite NFL quarterbacks despite an off day, but it would be nice to see Wes Welker emerge at some point. Playing in a division with the Jets, Dolphins and Bills gives this team every chance to once again top the AFC East. We’ll buy into them for this reason.
Philadelphia – After notching one of the ugliest wins in history against a stagnant Brows in week 1, Philly then found a way to prevail over the Ravens in a gritty, physical encounter. If we rated teams based on style of play so far, the Eagles wouldn’t even be on the list. NINE turnovers in just two weeks, but hey… a 2-0 record makes this problem less significant. If Philadelphia can find a way to protect the ball, they’re going to be a very scary team to match up against. We’re on board.
San Diego – It’s always risky buying into a team with Philip Rivers, but how can you ignore the 2-0 Chargers heading the AFC West? Wins over Oakland and Tennessee aren’t exactly a firm litmus test, but you can only beat who you’re scheduled to play. We’ll see what San Diego is made of when they face Atlanta, New Orleans and Denver (along with Kansas City) prior to their bye week. It’s a particularly weak division and we’ll buy the Chargers based on their start and schedule.
San Francisco – Perhaps the most complete team in football right now and if this list was not compiled alphabetically, you could well expect to see them heading the list. The 49ers went into Green Bay and shocked the Packers before overwhelming the Lions in their home opener on Sunday night. Stifling defence, a balanced mix of youth and experience plus a disciplined and steadily improving quarterback? Sign us up.
Tampa Bay – The Buccs should be 2-0. And they would be, if not for a freakish second half display by Eli Manning that included 295 yards – more than 23 quarterbacks managed to throw for the entire game in week 2. The Josh Freeman/Doug Martin duo is reaping dividends and while perhaps not quite in the same league as the Falcons just yet, we feel Tampa can exceed expectations this year if the opening fortnight is any indication.
Washington – Are you investing in the Redskins, or RGIII? Many would argue RGIII IS the Redskins and it’s hard to disagree after two stellar games to start his NFL career. Despite the road loss in St Louis, the Skins are a team we will be watching intently in a fiercely competitive division.
Buffalo – Talk about hot and cold! Tipped by many to upset the Jets in week 1, the Bills were absolutely awful on both sides of the ball. They lost top running back Fred Jackson for a month but then utterly destroyed Kansas City. C.J. Spiller has been running wild as the new first choice back and if Ryan Fitzpatrick can sort himself out, this team could yet make some waves in the AFC East. One to keep an eye on.
Carolina – Desperately disappointing in week 1, the Panthers put on a clinic to overcome New Orleans just seven days later. Cam Newton was back to his old tricks in a victory that was vital if the Panthers hope to keep pace in the division (particularly if the Saints eventually wake up).
Cincinnati – Don’t let the scoreline deceive you. The Bengals dominated the Browns from go to woe in week 2. Four points was the closest margin all day, despite a breakout performance from Cleveland’s Trent Richardson with 109 rushing yards and a touchdown. With a light to medium schedule on the horizon, we’ll be holding our Bengals stock for the time being.
Denver – As aforementioned, a week is a long time in football. Peyton looked like the Manning of old in week one, but three (yes, three) opening quarter picks at Atlanta has to raise some concerns with Bronco fans. Despite leading his team back to within seven, the damage was done as Denver fell to 1-1. With such a broad gap between each performance, we’ll need a few more looks before determining whether the Broncos can make a run.
Indianapolis – The Colts have enjoyed a very bright start to the Andrew Luck era. While sitting at 1-1, Indianapolis fans have to be confident about the future with this Stanford star under center. Let’s be clear. They are not going to challenge for the playoffs, but we didn’t buy into them expecting that outcome. What we want from the Colts is a confident season of progression with a few wins along the way and it looks good initially.
Miami – If this column was posted in week 1, Miami would have been on the scrapheap. Beating Oakland is no huge feat, but it was the dominant manner of the Dolphins’ week 2 win that caught our eye. Ryan Tannehill produced a solid second career game while Reggie Bush finally showed some of the talent that made him a superstar prospect at USC in what seems a lifetime ago. We’ll give them a few weeks to see where this goes.
NY Giants – We’re not sure what to make of the Superbowl champs at this point. They looked horrendous in six of the eight quarters played so far, until Eli Manning came to the rescue with a superhuman effort in week 2. Despite this, the Giants have glaring issues in the secondary (they have conceded the third-most points in the NFC) and the injury toll is already mounting. How long can Eli keep them hanging in there? Hold.
NY Jets – A stunning victory against the Bills in the season-opener was followed by a stinker on the road in Pittsburgh. Sure, the Jets were without their elite safety Darrelle Revis, but the Steelers also played without James Harrison and Troy Polamalu. The Jets are a ‘hold’ for us due to their week 1 fireworks, but will slip rapidly if they can’t show it again imminently.
Pittsburgh – A home win over the Jets propelled the Steelers to the long list of teams at 1-1. Playing without a host of injured stars on both sides of the ball, it’s probably par for them at this point. If Pittsburgh can find a way to beat Oakland on the road, they’ll hit the bye at 2-1 with an extra week to get the likes of Harrison, Polamalu and Rashard Mendenhall back into action. One to watch.
Seattle – After letting week 1 get away, the Seahawks torched the Cowboys to get on the board. We’ll hold on to Seattle stock until we see what they do against the Packers in week 3, but a very difficult schedule lies ahead for Pete Carroll’s men with New England, San Francisco, Detroit all featuring in the coming weeks.
St Louis – Although they failed to make RGIII look human, the Rams bested the Redskins where it mattered. A 31-28 victory gets St Louis up and running, although they SHOULD be 2-0 after succumbing late to Detroit last week. Maybe this is finally the year Sam Bradford breaks out? Maybe Steven Jackson can perform consistently? A big test at Soldier Field in week 3 will teach us more about this exciting young team.
Chicago – Where did all the Bears hype come from? One win over the Colts at home who had a quarterback on debut? Please. We saw the real Chicago Bears in week 2. The Chicago Bears who were hustled, hurried and ultimately folded under the relentless pressure of Green Bay. Sure, the Bears will collect their fair share of wins against mediocre teams, but it won’t be enough to contend.
Cleveland – The city of Cleveland and professional sports go together like David Cloke and contract negotiations (thanks to Scotty Barby for the wonderful analogy). Brandon Weeden completed a miraculous turnaround from his stinker of a debut to be among the best-performing quarterbacks in week 2, but the Browns still went down by seven. They did absolutely everything in week 1 to beat the Eagles, except find a way to actually lead after the final whistle. If you bought stock in the Browns (and goodness knows why), dump it now.
Dallas – The Cowboys have the most annoying and fickle fans in the NFL (yes, even more so than Jets fans). In week 1 we had to deal with the Dallas hype machine when they beat the defending champs on their own turf. Now we have to listen to their ‘woe is me’ bleating after meekly succumbing to the Seahawks. This team has proven for many years that it’s consistently inconsistent. The Cowboys have a couple of friendly home fixtures coming up, but they can’t afford to be dropping games like this if they hope to compete in the NFC East. We’re not believers.
Detroit – Many would argue to hold on to Lions stock, but fact of the matter is that this team is two-dimensional. If you can limit the impact of Calvin Johnson, you should win. The Rams snatched defeat from the jaws of victory in week 1 and the 49ers showed the NFL how to shut down their potent attack in week 2. Sure, the Lions are a formidable opponent, but we don’t think they have the weapons to be a regular force. Sell.
Jacksonville – We’re trying really hard to find something to like about this franchise. Really hard. Two losses in two weeks and just a couple of other teams have scored fewer points than the Jags. If the holdout of Jones-Drew wasn’t warning signs enough in the pre-season, this tepid start to the regular season should be all you need to dump them.
Kansas City – No team has allowed more points than Kansas City in the opening two weeks. The problem for the Chiefs is that Matt Cassell’s offense doesn’t appear it has the firepower to compensate for their defensive frailty. A goal line fumble by Peyton Hillis sums up Kansas’ awful start who will need to avoid losses to one of New Orleans, San Diego, Baltimore or Tampa Bay to avoid being 0-6 at the bye week.
Minnesota – While it’s fantastic to see Adrian Peterson back in action, one man cannot maketh a team. The Vikings have held their own so far at 1-1, but the problem for Minny is that these games have come against fellow cellar-dwellers in the Jaguars and Colts. Once the competition steps up, the Vikings are likely to prop up the NFC North.
New Orleans – Sell, sell sell! Something is not right in the deep south. Not only is the defence leaking points like a sieve, but Drew Brees clearly has some issues to work out, already throwing four interceptions compared to the 14 he threw all of last season. The Saints have also forced just one turnover thus far, making them a difficult proposition to like moving forward.
Oakland – Two listless performances straight off the bat puts this franchise in a deep hole. Not only have the Raiders lost, but they’ve been pummelled to a -30 points differential. With Pittsburgh, Denver and Atlanta waiting on deck, things appear to be getting much worse before they get better for Oakland.
Tennessee – The Titans can lay claim to having the best backup quarterback in the NFL and that’s about it. Two uninspiring performances from Jake Locker may start the calls for veteran Matt Hasselbeck to assume the starting role, but Tennessee’s problems run much deeper. Chris Johnson is showing that his abysmal 2011 might not have been a mere blip on his career record and the team’s -49 point differential is the worst in the NFL. Detroit and Houston await. Ouch.