It’s time for the Broncos to leave the Mile High City and show what they’ve got in a road show.
In what could be a bounce-back season, Denver swept its first two home games, including a romp past Dallas that, at times, made the Cowboys look disinterested. On to Buffalo, not the toughest place to play, especially in September, but an away game nonetheless.
The challenge for the Broncos is to keep things going; their division is the best in the NFL, with Kansas City and Oakland also 2-0.
“We’re not letting up anything,” defensive end Adam Gotsis says. “We’re not going to let up depending on who we play or depending on the schedule we have.
“Whether it’s a three-day turnaround, four-day turnaround or whatever, at work, our effort doesn’t drop. That’s something coach (Vance Joseph) preaches: effort, effort, effort every day — championship habits. If you let that skip for a day or two, that’s a day or two you never get back.”
The Bills (1-1) have not been back to the playoffs this century, the longest such drought in the NFL. After beating up on the Jets, they played staunch defense but forgot to bring their offense to Carolina.
On Sunday, Buffalo faces an even tougher D.
“They do a good job of swarming to the football and they’re stout up front, obviously, with (Von Miller) and what he does and what he brings to the table,” Bills coach Sean McDermott says. “He can wreck a game plan. We’ve got to be aware of where he is and make sure we control the line of scrimmage.
“They’re very good; it’s a 2-0 team coming in here. First place in their division and … we’re going to have our hands full. It’s a big challenge.”
Week 3 began with the Los Angeles Rams putting up another big offensive performance as Jared Goff threw for 292 yards and three touchdowns and Todd Gurley ran for two TDs and caught another in a 41-39 victory over the San Francisco 49ers on Thursday night.
Pittsburgh (2-0) at Chicago (0-2)
That dynamite offense has yet to get going for the Steelers, and this could be the week. Running back Le’Veon Bell soon should recapture the burst and elusiveness that have been tempered by his preseason holdout. Ben Roethlisberger’s passing touch hasn’t been precise. All-Pro wideout Antonio Brown hasn’t gotten to break out all those new celebratory dances the league is allowing after scores.
“We will still be a team in development like all teams are and we just simply acknowledge it,” coach Mike Tomlin says. “We better find ways to win along the way.”
The Bears had better find some ways to win or coach John Fox and GM Ryan Pace could be looking for work come the cold days.
Seattle (1-1) at Tennessee (1-1)
A high-interest matchup for September.
The Titans are considered a rising team, yet they flopped at home against the Raiders before manhandling the Jaguars in Jacksonville. Tennessee probably could win the AFC South without beating any good teams, but that’s not really progress, so a victory in this one might be telling.
Then again, are the Seahawks a good team right now? Certainly not on offense, particularly up front.
Kansas City (2-0) at Los Angeles Chargers (0-2)
With the Chargers’ rookie kicker, Younghoe Koo , missing two late field goals, they have yet to win while representing their new home. And they couldn’t sell out the StubHub Center, which seats under 30,000, for the loss to Miami.
In come the Chiefs, who merely have been the NFL’s most impressive team so far. They can run, they can pass, they can kick, and they can play fierce defense.
Coach Andy Reid doesn’t want to hear about how good his team has been.
“So the ebb and flow of the season, that’s how this thing works; you’ve got to have earmuffs on as you go,” Reid says. “People tell you how good you are, you have to counter that with the reality of it and that’s playing the game.”
Baltimore (2-0) vs. Jacksonville (1-1) at London
The NFL still gets excited about its London matches, and this one at Wembley is the first trip across the pond for the Ravens. That makes 26 of the 32 franchises to have played regular-season contests in England.
Baltimore brings a defense Chelsea or Tottenham would be proud of, having allowed all of 10 points. Jacksonville brings a schizophrenic bunch that was dominant in its opener at Houston, then submissive vs. the Titans last week.
Oakland (2-0) at Washington (1-1)
The Raiders used to flop in trips to the Eastern time zone. That’s a thing of the past: Jack Del Rio’s group won all three of its games in that region a year ago and is a solid betting choice Sunday night.
Most critical could be whether Washington’s lackluster defense can slow down Derek Carr, Michael Crabtree, Amari Cooper and Marshawn Lynch.
Oakland’s D looks to be upgraded, but this is the best offense it will have faced early in the schedule.
Dallas (1-1) at Arizona (1-1), Monday night
Distractions always seem to follow the Cowboys; it goes with the territory when you anoint yourself America’s Team. Those distractions, along with a fearsome Denver defense, appeared to take a toll on Dallas last weekend. There wasn’t a whole lot of denying that coming out of Big D, either.
In the Cowboys’ favor is a trip to the Valley of the Sun, which is filled with almost as many Cowboys fans as it is with cactus. Plus, the Cardinals are banged up.
New Orleans (0-2) at Carolina (2-0)
Same old woes in Nawlins, where the Saints have gone 7-9 for three successive seasons because their defense is weak. Sure, they can move the ball and score behind Drew Brees and a dynamic offense. They just can’t do that enough to make up for other shortcomings.
Carolina has not played a game without star tight end Greg Olsen since acquiring him in 2011. But he’s sidelined with a broken foot. Look for first-round pick running back Christian McCaffrey to get more targets now, and receiver Kelvin Benjamin needs to step up.
Cincinnati (0-2) at Green Bay (1-1)
Both teams could serve as poster boys for offensive line struggles, but for different reasons.
Green Bay’s line was banged up in the loss at Atlanta, missing both starting tackles. Aaron Rodgers is as creative as they come, but what he was asked to do against the Falcons was unfair, especially when top receiver Jordy Nelson had to leave.
The Bengals’ blocking unit suffers not so much from injuries but, thus far, from ineptitude.
Tampa Bay (1-0) at Minnesota (1-1)
Having Case Keenum behind center rather than Sam Bradford was a huge negative for the Vikings at Pittsburgh. Bradford’s knees always are a concern given his history of major injuries.
Tampa didn’t miss a beat despite not having its regulars play for almost a month. One week after the postponement of the Buccaneers’ opener at Miami, they tore up Chicago. Most encouraging: the defense was formidable in the opener and could complement a potent offense.
Atlanta (2-0) at Detroit (2-0)
The only matchup of 2-0 teams, one somewhat expected, the other a surprise.
Atlanta ripped apart Green Bay early last Sunday night in officially opening Mercedes Benz Stadium for football; futbol already had been played there. The Falcons even held on to a big lead this time — sorry for the cheap shot, Atlanta fans.
The Lions really could state their case as a team to watch should they handle the defending NFC champs. Detroit found a running game against the Giants, as well as a pass rush.
Houston (1-1) at New England (1-1)
A house of horrors for the Texans: Houston is 1-8 overall against the Patriots, going 0-5 in Foxborough.
Now they journey into Gillette Stadium with a rookie quarterback, Deshaun Watson, and a bunch of injuries. Their defense is formidable, though, and will get after Tom Brady.
Still, after flopping at home in the season opener with a second-half collapse against Kansas City, the Patriots will be seeking to make amends.
Miami (1-0) at New York Jets (0-2)
Neither team has played a home game, the Dolphins because of Hurricane Irma forcing postponement against the Buccaneers, the Jets because their fans don’t want them to come back to New Jersey.
Give the Dolphins tremendous credit for their gutsy win at the Chargers. That kind of victory can provide a hefty boost for a while.
So can taking on the J-E-T-S, who probably will win a game this season. Won’t they?
New York Giants (0-2) at Philadelphia (1-1)
Another team making its home debut and coming off two solid showings. The Eagles need to find a running game to support the rapidly developing Carson Wentz, and they also are banged up on defense.
They don’t have nearly as many star players as does New York. Yet the Giants have ranged from woeful to unwatchable on offense — yes, it might improve once Odell Beckham Jr.’s ankle is 100 percent — and that puts a ridiculous burden on a talented but overworked defense.
Cleveland (0-2) at Indianapolis (0-2)
A telling sign of how lowly regarded the Luckless Colts are: Cleveland is a road favorite in this one. Yep, the Browns.
Jacoby Brissett gets his second start for Indy. Having not spent training camp with the Colts, expecting a lot from him is too much.
His one edge over his counterpart is that DeShone Kizer is a rookie who had a checkered career at Notre Dame.