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.