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Week 2 gives teams coming off losses shot to show real identity

Canvassing the Eagles' locker room following their 31-13 victory over the Rams, it was clear players didn't think the score was indicative of how well they actually played. Philadelphia played well enough to win, and made plays at the right time, but no one felt like it was a performance that could get the team through the season successfully.

When it came down to it, the Eagles made big plays but they weren't consistent or dominant. Defensive end Trent Cole said that it's going to take time before the Eagles become whole.

As the evolution continues, Philadelphia has to travel to Atlanta, where its strong start could come to a screeching halt. That is, if the Falcons can rebound from a humbling season-opening loss to Chicago.

As one general manager said, "16 teams won and 16 teams lost." The obvious notwithstanding, the point is few teams have staked their identity.

The Patriots, Packers and maybe the Chiefs did but are we really buying that the Bills and Bears will sustain their success and the Steelers will be as bad as they were in the opener for 15 more games? While it could happen, there's a good chance that things could move more to the center after Week 2.

The Falcons and Saints -- the leading contenders in the NFC South (the entire division lost in Week 1) -- have tough home games against the Eagles and Bears, respectively. Then again, their opponents, Philadelphia and Chicago, have tough road games, respectively.

If nothing else, how teams perform could start to identify some trends.

The Falcons, Giants and Chiefs didn't play well in the preseason -- not in terms of wins and losses but establishing consistency in certain elements on both sides of the ball. Some of the shortcomings in those meaningless games extended into Week 1 losses.

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If the Eagles pound Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan the way the Bears did (five sacks) then some of the issues being written off as opening-game blahs might be more problematic.

Even though Giants defensive end Justin Tuck (neck) and wide receiver Hakeem Nicks (knee) are expected to play Monday against battered St. Louis, quarterback Eli Manning is the one who needs to step up. He didn't play well in the preseason and failed to throw a touchdown in the loss to Washington.

A league source said the Giants' goal is to "manufacture" wins, which means they will ease the reliance on Manning by running the ball and try to generate turnovers with an injury-depleted defense. A win over the Rams could quiet some of the unrest that's surfaced.

If New Orleans' defense gets tagged for big points again - the unit's been hit for 41 and 42 points in the last two games that mattered -- then the offense could be on the hook to consistently post big numbers. Then again, Chicago allowed quarterback Jay Cutler to get sacked five times in the opener and we know Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams will scheme to get big shots on Cutler that he can't continue to routinely take.

We still won't know what a lot of teams will be after Week 2, but we could begin to get some ideas.

Follow Steve Wyche on Twitter @wyche89.

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