Typically, when the first week of the NFL season concludes, people start jumping to conclusions. Especially when expectations aren’t met.
If a team that’s expected to be successful looks bad in the first game, it might as well be doomsday for that team’s fanbase.
On the flip side, if a supposedly-poor team comes out and gets a win week one, the hopes of many wins and playoff aspirations suddenly fill the minds of that team’s fanbase.
I somehow find myself guilty of this every NFL season. I tell myself that it’s just one game and that I should withhold judgment, but my mind still manages to drift there anyway.
This is just what sports fans naturally do. We make conclusions with whatever sample size we have, however small that sample size may be.
Sometimes these conclusions end up being accurate, but other times they end up being total overreactions.
However, with the COVID-19 pandemic looming over this season, fans may actually be entitled to jump to conclusions because we don’t know how the virus will affect players, teams and the league as a whole.
A star player may get the virus and have to miss multiple games, or, if an outbreak occurs, the NFL may shorten the season.
Because of these big unknowns, maybe jumping to conclusions this early in the season is justified in 2020.
In an NFL season, every game counts. But under unique circumstances, early games might count even more down the road.
Regardless, the only way we can truly find out if our assumptions are true is to wait and watch how the rest of the season unfolds.
With week two now in the books, we have a two-game sample size instead of one.
With that larger sample size comes more clarity. Our week one judgments begin to turn into reality or become silly overreactions.
Let’s consider some of the conclusions I rushed to after week one and see where they stand after week two.
Everyone watched Tom Brady suit up in a different jersey for the first time in 20 years as he took the field for his debut game with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Brady threw two interceptions and the Bucs struggled to consistently move the ball on offense against the Saints.
Week one me started to wonder if there was a possibility that the marriage between Tom Brady and the Buccaneers might not work and whether or not the 42-year-old was finally approaching that dreaded decline all older quarterbacks encounter.
That thinking now appears to be an overreaction following Tampa Bay’s victory over the Carolina Panthers this past Sunday.
It still wasn’t a pretty game from Brady individually, but the Buccaneers rushing attack and defense were exceptional. Tampa Bay’s newly-acquired running back Leonard Fournette exploded for 102 yards and two touchdowns and the defense held all-pro running back Chistian McCaffrey in check for most of the game.
Yes, I know, they played the Panthers, who are now winless through two games, but progress is progress.
After an offseason of loading up talent on the offensive side of the ball, it appears that Tampa Bay has a legitimate defense and a strong running game that can buy Brady the time he needs to develop in-game chemistry with his new offensive playmakers.
I may have made another overreaction when I watched the Kansas City Chiefs and the Baltimore Ravens play in week one.
These two came as the top two highest odds to win this year’s Super Bowl and they looked the part.
Both teams appeared to be nearly invincible in their opening games. Reigning MVP Lamar Jackson and reining Super Bowl MVP Patrick Mahomes both looked like their usual, dominant, electrifying selves.
I began thinking that these squads were going to plow through everyone they’d face, but they seemed more vulnerable than I initially thought. Both teams came away with a victory, but they didn’t make it look as easy as they did in week one.
Jackson was sacked four times and was under pressure for many of his drop-backs. If not for Jackson’s elite elusiveness, that sack number would’ve been much higher.
The Chiefs struggled to get things going on offense, punting on five of their first six possessions. Mahomes was able to get things rolling later on, but the team needed overtime to win.
I’m not saying these teams are no longer legitimate title contenders, because they absolutely are. I’m just saying that week two showed that the elite players on these teams are human after all.
Surprisingly, a handful of my premature week one conclusions appear to be accurate following week two.
The Eagles looked bad in their week one loss to Washington, and I thought they might be in trouble.
They are now 0-2 and Carson Wentz struggled for the second game in a row. Wentz already has four interceptions after throwing only seven last year. Things will have to improve quickly if the 2018 champs want to salvage their season.
The Arizona Cardinals looked great in their season opener against San Francisco and Kyler Murray looked like he might play his way into the MVP conversation this season. My week one self didn’t feel like that win was fluky.
They looked good once again this week as they handily defeated the Washington Football Team.
Arizona has their work cut out for them as a member of one of the toughest divisions in the NFL, but they certainly look vastly improved from last season.
Let’s be real though: things are so fluid in the NFL, it’s really pointless to make these conclusions so early in the season unless something unexpected comes from COVID-19.
Teams will be playing differently now than they will be closer to playoff time. Week two showed that injuries can come to anyone at any time as star players like Saquon Barkley and Nick Bosa suffered season-ending injuries along with many others.
So, I really shouldn’t be jumping to conclusions now when the NFL landscape changes so frequently week to week. But hey, I’m a sports fan. I just can’t help myself.