As the NFL rounds out Week 2 of the season, the only two remaining undefeated teams in the AFC are the Denver Broncos and the Las Vegas Raiders, How?
Yes, it has only been two weeks into the 2021-22 NFL season but if we’re being honest, no one expected that the only teams in the AFC without an ‘L’ on their record going into Week 3 would be the Denver Broncos and the Oakland Raiders. Well, those are the facts. Now, how did we get here?
The simple answer is that both teams did what they needed to do: win winnable games.
What did the Broncos do?
In Week 1, the Broncos had the short task of conquering the New York Giants. And they did so behind the arm of Teddy Bridgewater (264 yards and two touchdowns) and the legs of Melvin Gordon (101 rushing yards and a touchdown), alongside some really stout defense. Denver put up 420 yards on the Giants while only limiting them to 314 in the 27-13 Week 1 win.
This was a game that the Broncos were favored by 2.5 points and more than covered the spread, taking advantage of a shaky New York offense.
Bridgewater continued to put doubters to rest in Week 2 when he threw for 328 yards and two more scores to lead Denver over the Jaguars in a 23-13 win. The Broncos’ defense also came up big with two interceptions against the Jaguars’ rookie quarterback Trevor Lawrence.
In these first two weeks, Bridgewater is asserting himself as a quarterback that Denver can trust to lead the team and steer away from careless turnovers, having committed none in the first two weeks. The defense is also dominating lesser offenses, which is always a good sign of things to come.
What did the Raiders do?
Over two weeks, Derek Carr is leading the NFL with 817 passing yards. But the Raiders’ journey to 2-0 has been a little more eventful with upset wins over the Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers.
Against Baltimore, Carr looked great on his way to 435 yards and two touchdowns. The Raiders entered the fourth quarter down but forced overtime with some stellar play from their field general. During the OT. defensive lineman Carl Nassib set Las Vegas up for the win with a clutch strip-sack that led to Carr’s game-winning touchdown throw.
Their game against Pittsburgh had a little less drama but it saw Carr have a repeat performance with 382 yards and another two touchdowns. Second-year receiver Henry Ruggs III came up big with 113 reception yards and a score and the defense picked off the Steelers’ Ben Rothleisburger once as they forced him into a 29.5 QBR in the 26-17 win.
The Broncos have won against easy opponents and should be favored to pick up another easy one against the Jets in Week 3 while the Raiders may finally catch a breather when they see the Dolphins on Sunday. And then the teams will face off against one another on Oct. 17 in a Week 6 matchup. Could they still be undefeated?