The Schein Nine  

 

Patrick Mahomes thrills, Eddy Pineiro delivers, Kirk Cousins fails

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The Cowboys kept their eyes on the prize and didn't overlook Washington. Love that.

Sean McDermott's Bills are 2-0, with Josh Allen saying Buffalo is New York's team. How could you not like that?

The Giants are flat-out inept, void of talent, poorly coached and playing the wrong quarterback. Loathsome.

Yep, it's another delicious spread of LOVE/LIKE/LOATHE! Here's the main course, Schein Nine style:

LOVE

1) The Patrick Mahomes Show

Just hand him the MVP award. Again. Mahomes is the single most exciting and dominant player in sports right now. He's must-see TV, a show that's worth twice the price of admission.

No Tyreek Hill? No problem. Mahomes threw for 443 yards and four touchdowns (against zero picks) in the Chiefs' 28-10 win at Oakland, marking his sixth regular-season game with at least 300 yards and four scores through the air. News flash: The 23-year-old has started 19 regular-season games.

Chiefs-Raiders is an intense rivalry, and the Black Hole was rocking and rolling early. Yet Mahomes -- who racked up 278 of his passing yards and all four touchdowns in an awe-inspiring second-quarter explosion -- looked like he was playing pitch and catch in the backyard. Throwing majestic bombs with ease against the Raiders, Mahomes connected with seven different receivers, making Demarcus Robinson (six catches for 172 yards and two TDs) look like a first-team All-Pro.

This is a next-level talent doing next-level things.

2) Lamar Jackson's encore

I spent much of the offseason predicting Jackson would follow up a strong -- albeit limited -- rookie campaign with a major step forward in Year 2. Some thought his perfect opener against Miami was a product of the Dolphins' staggering ineptitude. Not me. And on Sunday, the former Louisville Cardinal lit up the Arizona Cardinals in every phase, passing for 272 yards and two touchdowns while running for a career-high 120 yards in Baltimore's 23-17 win.

His fourth-quarter "drop it in the bucket" throw to Hollywood Brown -- a gutsy heave into tight coverage on third-and-11 -- was picture perfect, putting the game on ice. Cue up that tape anytime some foolish talking head questions Jackson's throwing ability. And I love the way Lamar has used tight end Mark Andrews in the passing attack, with the second-year man logging his second consecutive 100-yard game.

That playoff debacle against the Chargers feels like a lifetime ago. And that's not a surprise to me.

3) Cooper Kupp's rejuvenation

He's back. And not a moment too soon. Jared Goff's Linus blanket is healthy and terrorizing opponents after the catch. His 66-yard catch-and-run effort was absolutely incredible -- and effectively put the nail in the Saints' coffin Sunday.

Yes, Drew Brees got hurt. Yes, another crucial call went against the Saints early in unfathomable fashion. But don't let any of that minimize the fact that the Rams won this game, and the Goff-Kupp connection was truly on point for the first time since the wide receiver ripped up his knee last November. Kupp finished with five catches for 120 yards. Get used to it. Again.

And speaking of thrilling connections ...

4) Matt Ryan to Julio Jones

Explosive. Pulsating. And par for the course.

With Atlanta trailing Philadelphia, 20-17, and 2:20 remaining in the fourth quarter, the Falcons lined up for a fourth-and-3 at their own 46-yard line. After seeing the defense he liked, Ryan got the snap off just before the play clock ran out, hit Jones on a screen to the left side and the all-world receiver took it 54 yards to the house, sending Mercedes-Benz Stadium into a frenzy. The breathtaking, clutch TD connection gave the Falcons a 24-20 lead and the improved -- and healthy -- Atlanta defense made it hold. One week after an embarrassing showing against the Vikings, Dan Quinn's crew bounced back with an inspiring, prime-time win over the Eagles. And Sunday night marked Jones' sixth straight game with a touchdown catch, dating back to Week 14 of last season -- the longest active streak in the NFL.

I initially had the Falcons making the playoffs via the wild card. But with Drew Brees now on the shelf for 6-8 weeks, Atlanta should absolutely win the shaky NFC South. And it all starts with the Falcons' unstoppable pitch-and-catch connection.

LIKE

5) Indianapolis Colts' tenacity

The Colts beating the Titans in Nashville won't dominate talk radio or register clicks. But don't lose sight of the significance. Indianapolis grinded a division win out on the road on a day where the legendary Adam Vinatieri couldn't make a kick (again).

The Colts needed this after the overtime loss in Week 1 to the Chargers, after the stunning retirement of Andrew Luck. And seeing how the Titans were fresh off a 30-point drubbing of the Browns, Indy's 19-17 triumph was no easy task.

The AFC South is going to be congested. This gets the train on the tracks for the talented Jacoby Brissett, who had three touchdown passes (against one pick), and the Colts.

6) Chicago Bears' nerve-racking, kicker-assisted (!) win

I said it last week on my SiriusXM Radio show: All that mattered in Chicago's Week 2 game was for the Bears to get a win. Forget style points. On the heels of the season-opening debacle vs. rival Green Bay, negativity was flying through the Windy City. The coach and the quarterback were (understandably) taking heat. And it felt like the Bears had to get a win over old friend Vic Fangio and the Broncos -- or risk a potential downward spiral. But late in the fourth quarter, it appeared Chicago was in line for a beyond-painful defeat, following Joe Flacco's late heroics and a head-spinning sequence of penalties that eventually allowed Denver to convert a two-point conversion to take a one-point lead with 31 seconds remaining.

With the game on the line, though, Mitch Trubisky evaded pressure and made a gigantic fourth-down throw. And Eddy Pineiro -- the winner of Chicago's highly publicized, roundly mocked offseason kicker competition -- bombed a 53-yard game-winner.

Those are facts.

You can debate the Bradley Chubb "roughing the passer" call. (I didn't like it.) You can question if there was really one second remaining when the Bears called timeout to set up Pineiro's kick. (It was close.) But the much-maligned quarterback got it done. And Chicago's highly scrutinized kicker came through. 0-2 would've been a disaster. The Bears got the win and, ugliness aside, they don't have to give it back.

7) San Francisco 49ers' domination

San Francisco blasted Cincinnati, 41-17, and the 49ers really needed that kind of effort. Yes, the Niners beat Tampa Bay in the season opener, but it felt more like that result was about the Bucs losing and Jameis Winston's inept play. On Sunday, that was Kyle Shanahan's vision. That was his offense. That was his quarterback. Jimmy Garoppolo was excellent. So was Matt Breida. In fact, so was every running back, as San Francisco racked up a whopping 259 rushing yards.

This was Cincy's home opener, and the Bengals had surprised everyone in Week 1 by nearly knocking off the Seahawks in Seattle. But San Francisco jumped all over the Bengals in this one. I really liked what I saw from the Niners.

LOATHE

8) Kirk Cousins' anti-clutchness

That late pick was an absolute back-breaker. In a game that featured two strong defenses -- I told you that Packers defense was going to be legit! -- Cousins needed to step up in a big spot. But his decision on the Kevin King interception was awful. And the throw was worse.

It was only Week 2, but Sunday felt like a big game. And given Cousins' track record in such contests, his game-losing play came as no surprise.

9) Los Angeles Chargers' vintage blues

The overtime win over Indianapolis in Week 1 was astonishing. Not because the Chargers blew everyone away with stellar play; but rather, that's the kind of game the Bolts typically blow in crushing fashion. That win had you thinking, Maybe the Chargers won't Charger this year.

Well, that sentiment lasted all of six days.

Penalties. Injuries. Missed kicks (from 39 and 41 yards). And a brutal Philip Rivers pick on a rare wretched decision from the 37-year-old. All that added up to a 13-10 loss to an underwhelming Lions team. Ugh. Some would call this classic Chargers.

I still believe in this Bolts group, especially with the great Anthony Lynn in charge. But man, what a horrible -- and horribly familiar -- setback for this franchise.

Follow Adam Schein on Twitter @AdamSchein.

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