The NFL season is off and running following two entertaining weeks of action.
Here’s a quick look at two teams on the rise and two on their way down in our first 2021 installment of 'NFL Stock Rising and Falling'.
So the Cowboys didn't get off to the start they had hoped for, suffering a close loss at the hands of the defending champion Bucs in Tampa back in Week 1. Undeterred, they bounced back with a gutsy road win over the Chargers on Sunday. That was a truly impressive victory when you consider Dallas was playing a second straight road game to open the season, not to mention traveling across the country to do so. Now the Cowboys have a path to 4-1 ahead of them with three consecutive home games on deck and you have to figure they'll be favored in all three as they host the Eagles, Panthers and Giants. They do have consecutive road games (with a bye week in between) in New England and Minnesota coming up in Weeks 6-8 but the schedule doesn't really get all that tough until a trip to Kansas City in Week 11. I may be getting ahead of myself but I do like what I've seen from the Cowboys so far and while their defense will almost certainly trip them up at points, I believe the offense can more than make up for it. For now, Dallas is a team to watch.
Los Angeles Rams
The Rams 2-0 start isn't unexpected but there's no denying they've looked awfully strong on both sides of the football in wins over the Bears and Colts. Could QB Matt Stafford be the piece they were missing? It certainly looks that way as head coach Sean McVay finally has the engine needed to really get the offense humming. On the other side, Aaron Donald and Jalen Ramsey may be the two best defensive players in all of football right now. Donald has been a one-man wrecking crew through two games while Ramsey has played a role all over the field, and sealed Sunday's game with a key late fourth quarter interception that spoiled the Colts comeback chances. Now things get interesting as the Rams host Tom Brady and the red hot Buccaneers in Week 3 before opening division play with a home game against the Cardinals in Week 4.
The 2021 season could get away from the Falcons in a hurry if they can't pick up a win against the hapless Giants in New Jersey on Sunday. Off to an 0-2 start and looking like a mess on both sides of the football, it's been a disastrous start for Arthur Smith's tenure in Atlanta. While a trip to Tampa was never going to be easy, the Falcons simply weren't competitive in a 23-point rout. Without any semblance of a running game, teams are simply going to drop back in coverage and erase the likes of Calvin Ridley and Kyle Pitts. Ridley did catch a touchdown pass against the Bucs but has just 114 receiving yards through two games. Most alarming is the fact that through two games, Atlanta's longest pass completion has gone for just 24 yards. If the Falcons can't figure out a way to stretch the field on offense, they're just not going to have much success as their defense is not capable of winning games all on its own.
The Vikings desperately needed a strong bounce-back performance after a brutal overtime loss in Cincinnati in Week 1. While they did play better, they ultimately fell just short, missing a last-second field goal that would have given them their first win of the season in Arizona. With injuries piling up on the defensive side of the football, Minnesota might have to score 30+ every week to have a shot at winning, especially when you consider its upcoming schedule. The Vikes will host Seattle this week before the Browns come to town in Week 4. After a bye in Week 7 the schedule gets downright nightmarish with consecutive games against the Cowboys, Ravens, Chargers, Packers and 49ers, with three of those five contests on the road. Consider Sunday's showdown with the Seahawks a must-win game.