Mahomes on ‘cloud ten’ and Manning’s demise: Four things we learned from NFL Week 2

The Kansas City Chiefs’ quarterback Patrick Mahomes has made a dream start to the season. (AFP)
Updated 19 September 2018

Mahomes on ‘cloud ten’ and Manning’s demise: Four things we learned from NFL Week 2

Arab News examines the talking points of the second week of NFL action and looks at what we learned.

Patrick Mahomes is in wonderland
The Kansas City Chiefs’ quarterback Patrick Mahomes has made a dream start to the season, following up a four-touchdown opening game last week with a six-touchdown performance at Pittsburgh’s Heinz Field this weekend. It is the first time in the NFL’s 99-year history that 10 TDs have been thrown in the first two weeks by one QB, beating the previous record held by Peyton Manning (2013), Drew Brees (2009) and Charley Johnson (1965). Mahome’s spreading of the ball was sublime and his laser-like precision to his wide receivers was a joy to behold. We always knew this kid had talent after his first career appearance at the back end of last season, but this start has shown that he has the ability to shine in this league.

Eli Manning is past it
Once tipped to be even better than his older brother Peyton, Eli Manning’s stellar career seems to be declining with each week that passes. While not as technically gifted as Peyton, his prowess in the clutch and remarkable postseason performances in the past meant he dragged the New York Giants to two Super Bowl victories, claiming two Most Valuable Player awards in both of the big games and has Giants franchise records coming out of his ears. But in recent seasons, he has failed to maintain those heights. And so far this year, Manning looks a shadow of his former self, struggling for a second week in a row against divisional rivals Dallas Cowboys.
Some of the blame can be laid at the door of the Giants’ offensive line, which allowed six sacks in this week’s defeat to Dallas. But Manning was overthrowing or making bad decisions on plays. For all the attacking talent the Giants have, it is useless if Manning cannot put the ball in the right areas. It will be sad to witness if this truly is the beginning of the end for such a talented player.

Oakland Raiders underachieving again
The team in the NFL with the most infamous fans, the Raiders faithful revel in their plucky underdog status; their “rogues of the West” image. But they now desperately want that first Super Bowl victory since 1983. Pre-season signs were good that they might have a shot, especially with Jon Gruden, Oakland’s $100 million man, at the helm. But they have gone 0-2 for the first two games and the omens do not look good. In both games — defeats to the LA Rams and this weekend to Denver Broncos — the Raiders managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. With a lack of total team execution on show in six quarters of the eight so far this season, Gruden will need gutsier plays at the end of games if they are to turn the corner.

Matthew Stafford cannot win games on his own
For too many seasons now, Matthew Stafford has had to carry this Detroit Lions team’s hopes on his shoulders. Long gone are the horrific days of 2008, when the franchise went 0-16 for the entire season. And that is thanks to the arrival in 2009 of quarterback Matthew Stafford. Their form improved as they had a winning season in 2011 (10-6), and Stafford’s heroics have seen the Lions make intermittent Playoff appearances in recent years. But his poor start to the season cannot be blamed for the Lions’ subsequent bad opening. When he has a bad game, he needs his teammates to pick up the slack, something they have not done so far this year.

Spain considers playing Super Cup in Saudi Arabia

Updated 12 min 15 sec ago

Spain considers playing Super Cup in Saudi Arabia

  • Proposal will be made at the federation’s general assembly next week

MADRID: The Spanish soccer federation is looking into the possibility of playing the Spanish Super Cup in Saudi Arabia beginning next year.

Federation President Luis Rubiales said Wednesday playing in the Middle East is one of the options being considered for the tournament, as well as a “final four” format with the top finishers in the Spanish league and the Copa del Rey.

The competition has been played in a one-game final between the champions at the beginning of the season. The idea is to play the new Super Cup in January.

The proposal will be made during the federation’s general assembly next week.

Rubiales did not confirm reports the deal will be worth €30 million ($33 million) a year for six seasons, saying “it will be difficult” to reach that value.

The federation president, one of the main critics of the Spanish league’s idea to play a regular-season match in the US, said the decision would take into consideration the players’ health, noting that playing in Saudi Arabia would not affect them as much as if the game was played in the US or Asia, where travel time and time differences were greater. Last year’s final, won by Barcelona against Sevilla, was played in Tangier, Morocco.

This year’s Italian Super Cup was played in Saudi Arabia as part of a multi-year deal worth more than €20 million ($22 million).  The Spanish players’ association, which complained about the Spanish league’s attempt to play in the US, did not oppose the idea of playing in Saudi Arabia.

“We weren’t against playing in the United States, what we wanted at the time was to be consulted about the idea and to give our opinion,” association president David Aganzo said Wednesday at an event organized by Europa Press. “If the proposal for the Super Cup is good for the players, we won’t have a problem with it.”

The Spanish league had to scrap the game in Florida after Barcelona, which would have faced Girona, backed down because of the lack of consensus among the parties involved. The league said it will try playing abroad again next season.

There is also a plan by the federation to reduce the number of games in the Copa del Rey to help clear up the calendar and keep teams from playing too many matches. The competition would include single elimination matches in some rounds, instead of a two-leg series. The proposal is also expected to be presented in next week’s general assembly.

“The clubs and the players want less official matches in the calendar,” Rubiales said.