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Schultz: Is E.J. the much-needed QB answer in Buffalo?

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Chris Schultz
9/17/2013 10:13:44 AM
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Some thoughts on Week 2.

Let's start in Buffalo - How about E.J. Manuel?

Maybe - just maybe - the Bills have found a quarterback for the next 10 years. But with a very close loss against New England and a dramatic win over Carolina you can't help but be optimistic about the possibility.

Manuel went 27-of-39 for 296 yards, yet the most impressive aspect was moving the Bills 80 yards for the winning touchdown - not a field goal but a touchdown! And when you've done it once, it's a bit easier to do it again when the challenge presents itself.

You can't help but like E.J. Manuel. Living where I do, I get a lot of Buffalo Bills coverage. And Manuel comes across as a guy who is happy to be there. No arrogance, no sense of entitlement. Just trying to figure it out in the well-paid, high pressure of NFL football.

There was a great moment where, after beating Carolina, he found his father in the stands and made him a part of his first NFL win. At the risk of sounding over-sensitive - that was great. You add that quarterback play with Mario Williams being more productive in one game than any other and Buffalo is better than expected.

In Chicago, the Bears are 2-0. That's very significant because coach Marc Trestman inherited a 10-6 team and the excuse window for not winning is very small. Both of his games against were last moment wins, but they do play a decimated Steelers team - so win No. 3 just might happen. The jury's still out if Jay Cutler has improved under Trestman, but a 2-0 start means the pressure is off for at least another week.

Now I'm not sure how to read the Eagles after two games either. The obvious statement is yes - Chip Kelly has an explosive and entertaining offence. But Philip Rivers ran an offence for 538 yards and looked great too. Many NFL offences have looked good, but the Chargers just looked great. San Diego also had a 40-minute time of possession, which relates to Kelly's offence almost scoring too fast and giving an opponent extra opportunities.

Against Washington, the Eagles ran 77 plays. And they ran just 53 against the Chargers. On Thursday against the Chiefs, it will be interesting to see if they end with a high number like they did in Week 1 or a low number like in Week 2.

Now the Washington Redskins have problems. There's a lot of talk about RGIII not being RGIII. But on defense, the Redskins have already allowed 1,000 yards in two games. Against the Eagles, Griffin had to overcome a major deficit. It was the same case against the Packers. When you're down by two or three touchdowns, you're playing major catch-up football and you lose play-calling balance. And the best player on the Redskins roster right now is Alfred Morris. But with such a major points deficit to overcome, he's eliminated from the offence and play action passes are not respected. The Redskins' best games may be after November.

Kansa City is 2-0 with an easy win over Jacksonville and a tough win over Dallas. There's nothing flashy about Alex Smith, but he had another turnover-free game. The Chiefs will be the type of team that waits for you to self-destruct and take advantage of that moment - the complete opposite of Seattle.

The Seahawks force you into a mistake and take advantage. Russell Wilson is excellent and that's a given. But the Seahawks are a Super Bowl contender because they have the best combination of pass coverage and pass rush. When Ken Irvin and Chris Clemons get back, it will only get better. When Anquan Boldin catches 13 passes one week against Green Bay and only 1-for-7 the next week against Seattle, you're really good at your job.

Finally, the Cincinnati Bengals. Yes, 20-10 over Pittsburgh was solid, but it should have been 42-3. Pittsburgh came into that game limping in every way possible and the Bengals couldn't dominate. I will say this, though - Giovannie Bernard is going to be a major player. And if they get Andrew Hawkins back, the combination of the two with that explosive speed could put Cincinnati over the top.

The time is right for someone to take the AFC North and with Baltimore looking average, Pittsburgh rebuilding (yeah, I said it) and Cleveland (always) rebuilding, it's a giant opportunity for Cincy to step up. Playing Green Bay at home this week will say a lot.




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