NFC Notes, Insights, Commentary about the NFL
Through the first two weeks of the 2011 season, seven teams remain undefeated with 2-0 records. Of those seven clubs, four – Buffalo, Detroit, Houston and Washington – did not make the playoffs last year.
Unpredictability is nothing new in the NFL. In each of the past 15 seasons, at least five clubs made the playoffs that were not in the postseason the previous year.
In the NFC, three teams maintain a perfect record – the Detroit Lions, Green Bay Packers and Washington Redskins. The Packers are the defending Super Bowl champions. The Lions and Redskins are both coming off 6-10 seasons and are aiming to extend the NFL’s record streak of eight consecutive seasons with at least one team going from “worst to first” – finishing in first place in its division the season after being in last.
A look at the NFC’s three 2-0 teams:
DETROIT Lions: The Lions have outscored opponents by 52 points (75 scored, 23 allowed), the best mark in the NFL. In Week 2, Detroit recorded a 48-3 victory over Kansas City, tied for the largest margin of victory in franchise history (1957 NFL Championship, 59-14, December 29, 1957).
Quarterback MATTHEW STAFFORD has a 112.0 passer rating and ties for the NFL lead with seven touchdown passes. He has thrown at least four touchdowns three times in 15 career games and joined Pro Football Hall of Famer FRAN TARKENTON as the only players in NFL history with at least four touchdown passes in three of his first 15 career games. Second-year running back JAHVID BEST is one of only three players in the NFL this season with at least 100 yards rushing (129) and 100 yards receiving (108). And wide receiver CALVIN JOHNSON, a Pro Bowl selection last year, ties for the NFL lead with four touchdown receptions.
The Lions rank second in the NFC in total defense (291.0 yards per game). Defensive tackle NDAMUKONG SUH, who was selected to the Pro Bowl last year as a rookie, has 11 sacks in his first 18 games. Detroit has forced eight turnovers this season, tied for the most in the NFL.
GREEN BAY Packers: The defending Super Bowl champions have picked up right where they left off. Green Bay has scored 72 points in the team’s first two games and the Packers have now won eight in a row, including the playoffs.
Quarterback AARON RODGERS leads the NFC with a 126.4 passer rating and has thrown for 620 yards and five touchdowns with no interceptions. Rodgers has spread those five TDs out to three different receivers – GREG JENNINGS (two), JORDY NELSON (two) and rookie RANDALL COBB (one).
Defensively, the Packers have forced five turnovers, tied for the second-most in the NFC. Veteran CHARLES WOODSON leads the team with two interceptions and has also added a fumble recovery. Linebacker CLAY MATTHEWS and defensive tackle B.J. RAJI are among the six Packers who have recorded a sack this season.
WASHINGTON Redskins: The Redskins sit atop the NFC East with a 2-0 record and head coach MIKE SHANAHAN has now recorded 162 career victories, passing BILL COWHER to move into 15th place in NFL history.
Quarterback REX GROSSMAN has been effective, especially in the fourth quarter where he ranks third in the NFC with a 116.1 passer rating. FRED DAVIS leads the team with 191 receiving yards, the second-most by a tight end. Davis and SANTANA MOSS share the club lead with 11 receptions each. Running back TIM HIGHTOWER has 168 rushing yards.
Washington’s two interceptions have both come from linebackers – rookie RYAN KERRIGAN, who returned his for a touchdown, and LONDON FLETCHER. Six Redskins have recorded at least one sack, including two from rookie defensive tackle CHRIS NEILD and one each from Kerrigan and linebacker BRIAN ORAKPO.