LOS ANGELES--Denver is unstoppable.
Baltimore is toast.
San Diego chokes. So do Washington and the New York Giants.
Detroit and Kansas City have finally turned the corner.
It's so tempting to look at what happened in Week 1 of the NFL season and extrapolate the way the rest of the fall will unfold. We do it every year, forever forgetting that the snapshot we get in the first couple of weeks of the regular season is almost always deceiving.
Let's look back at some of what we gathered from the first two weeks of the 2012 season, and how our initial impressions weren't always on target:
Watch out, single-season sack record. Green Bay's Clay Matthews had a combined six sacks in the first two games. (He would have just one more multi-sack game, collecting two against Chicago in Week 9. He finished with 13.)
In a Week 2 loss to Atlanta, three Peyton Manning passes were picked off in the first quarter. The Denver Broncos overpaid for him, and his decline was going to be sad to watch. (Manning finished the season with 37 touchdowns, 11 interceptions, an AFC-best passer rating of 105.8, and was edged out for most valuable player by Adrian Peterson.)
Peterson, coming off reconstructive knee surgery, had a decent start to 2012. He had 84 yards against Jacksonville and 60 against Indianapolis. He would have a respectable season. (He ended up nine yards short of breaking the single-season rushing mark, finishing with 2,097.)
The New York Jets were on fire, setting a franchise record for points in an opener in a 48-28 thumping of Buffalo. Mark Sanchez threw for three touchdowns, and his team also rolled out the "Tebowcat," with Tim Tebow lining up variously at quarterback and receiver, and even recovering an onside kick. (Sanchez finished the season with 13 touchdowns and 18 interceptions. Tebow, a non-factor, was shown the door.)
Chicago opened the season with a 41-21 victory over Indianapolis, intercepting three passes by No. 1 pick Andrew Luck. "The Bears offense is something to be seriously reckoned with," trumpeted one popular web site. (Chicago finished 28th in total yards. Indianapolis finished 10th, made the playoffs, and Luck was a finalist for offensive rookie of the year.)
Arizona beat Seattle in the opener -- quarterback Kevin Kolb outplayed Seahawks rookie Russell Wilson -- and the Cardinals were off to a great start. They would win their first four games ... and lose 11 of their next 12.
So, after throwing seven touchdown passes in the opener, is Manning off to a record-setting season?
Are the Chargers once again going to be unable to slam the door on teams, despite the regime change in San Diego?
Can Dallas -- which beat the Giants in last season's opener, then did so again last Sunday -- finally make good on the promise it showed?
We simply don't know, and if we use Week 1 as a road map, we just may wind up in the middle of nowhere.
Five things that have yet to happen:
1. Jay Cutler hasn't been sacked. Cincinnati couldn't get to Chicago's quarterback last Sunday. In his last two full seasons (15 games each), Cutler was sacked 90 times.
2. Jacksonville hasn't scored a touchdown. In their 28-2 home loss to Kansas City in an opener, the Jaguars didn't move the football past the 50 until the fourth quarter.
3. No blackouts. A sufficient number of tickets were sold that there wasn't a blacked-out game in Week 1, and there won't be any this week. But some teams have taken advantage of a new rule that reduces, to 85 percent from 100 percent, the required percentage of general-admission seats to be sold. Teams can also buy remaining seats at 34 cents on the dollar. Places such as Jacksonville's EverBank Field looked half-empty.
4. No long runs. Four teams have yet to break a run of at least 10 yards. Denver's longest run is nine yards, which is still better than Pittsburgh (eight), Green Bay (seven), or Miami (five).
5. No wins for Eli. Peyton Manning is 2-0 in games against his little brother, Eli. When the two play Sunday, it will mark the first game in NFL history featuring opposing quarterbacks who each threw for at least 400 yards the previous week.
Much has been made of the NFL putting local police officers in the jerseys of the visiting team in order to quell harassment at games. But this isn't new. The league did the same thing two years ago when San Francisco played host to the New York Giants in the NFC championship games, and law enforcement officers wore Eli Manning jerseys at Candlestick Park.
A Week 1-record six quarterbacks threw for at least 350 yards in their openers -- Peyton Manning (482 yards), Eli Manning (450), Colin Kaepernick (412), Joe Flacco (362), Drew Brees (357), and Matthew Stafford (357).
Opening-week records were also set for combined passing yards, 8,143, and touchdown passes, 63.
Twelve of the 16 games in Week 1 were decided by a touchdown or less, tied for the most of any weekend -- not just kickoff weekend -- in NFL history.
In those 12 games, eight teams overcame fourth-quarter deficits to win.
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