After 32 games, 16 teams stand 1-1, while half of the remaining 16 are unbeaten (or oh-fer). Some sports prefer to call it "competitive balance." The NFL, in its expected in-your-face style, calls it like it is: parity.
A quick surf around newsrooms reveals fans were forewarned, and the message is being repeated for those who refuse to listen:
"And no, the balance of power hasn't necessarily been maintained, a shift of seismic proportions for a league that takes pride in its parity." -- Denver Post, Sept. 5.
"In an era of parity, the Bengals are showing it's still possible to be a bad team year after year." -- Florida Times-Union, Sept. 11.
"This disparity in a league that prides itself on parity was enough to bring tears to the eyes …" -- Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Sept. 16.
"It looks like there may not be as much parity this year." -- Boston Herald, Sept. 17.
As a matter of full disclosure, that last item is compliments of a Las Vegas odds-maker. What else would you have him say?
Fact is, this is the league of "any given Sunday," and it ain't over at 0-2. Since 1990, 14 teams have started the season at least 0-2 and made the playoffs, including defending Super Bowl champ New England. Worst record to start the season and still make the playoffs since '90? San Diego began 0-4 in '92 and advanced to the Divisional round.
Which leads us to this age-old cliché:
Bill Cowher, Pittsburgh: "We've got to get it fixed or it's going to be a long season."
Shane Matthews, Washington: "We've got to forget about it and move forward because it's a long season."
Mike Holmgren, Seattle: "I told the players that it's a long season. It gets hard, and we'll bounce back and we'll be alright."
Marshall Faulk, St. Louis: "We are going to come back next week and battle tough. It's a long season."
NY. Jets @ Miami -- 1 p.m. EDT Sunday
New York aims for its ninth win in a row vs. Miami, which would be the team's longest winning streak ever against the Dolphins. The Jets have outscored Miami 45-0 in the second half of the past three meetings. Their past five matchups have averaged 46 points and 612 yards per game.
Washington @ San Francisco -- 4:15 p.m. EDT Sunday
Redskins head coach Steve Spurrier was the 49ers' first-round draft choice in 1967 and played QB with San Francisco from 1967-75. Niners LB Derek Smith played in 64 games with 61 starts with Washington from 1997-00 and had four consecutive 100-tackle seasons for Redskins.
St. Louis @ Tampa Bay -- 9 p.m. EDT Monday
With 1,483 career attempts, Rams QB Kurt Warner is 17 away from qualifying as NFL's all-time highest rated passer (Steve Young, 96.8). And while you may not know it, Bucs QB Brad Johnson has rallied his team to victory 23 times when trailing or tied entering the fourth quarter.
Number of teams to begin the season with back-to-back overtime games. The Bills joined Tennessee (1997) and Indianapolis (1995) after playing OT at Minnesota last week.
Redskins' record for career 100-yard rushing games. Stephen Davis has 18 -- and five in his past six games -- and looks to tie Larry Brown and John Riggins for the all-time mark.
Yards needed by Kerry Collins on Sunday to become the third QB in history with six consecutive 300-yard passing games. He can tie the record held by Steve Young and Kurt Warner.
Emmitt Watch Emmitt Smith's run for the all-time rushing record has stumbled out of the blocks. Through two games, the Cowboys RB has 126 yards and is now 414 yards shy of breaking Walter Payton's mark of 16,726. Dallas plays at Philadelphia on Sunday; Smith has averaged 99.6 ypg vs. the Eagles.
Lightning in a Bottle
San Diego, which has not allowed a TD this season, is ranked first on defense in total yards per game, yards per play, passing net yards per game, passing net yards per play, sacks per pass play, first downs per game and, most importantly, points per game. You can look it up.
Working for a Living
49ers LB Jamie Winborn on the day at Vanderbilt he described his summer to classmates: "People said they had been to Brazil, Hawaii, Australia and Jamaica. When they got to me, I said, 'Man, I've been working at McDonald's forever.' They looked at me, like, McDonald's? And I said, 'Yeah. I work.'"
CNNSI.com's Richard Harris notes Jags QB Mark Brunell, after suffering through a horrendous preseason without Pro Bowl WR Jimmy Smith, has passed for 548 yards (seventh in the NFL) and four TDs in two games. Brunell is not only benefiting from Smith's presence and a healthy Fred Taylor at running back, but also the emergence of wideout Patrick Johnson, who has scored in each of his first two games as a starter. Check out this week's Tip Sheet.
Joey Harrington, QB, Detroit 2002 stats: 7 of 18, 52 yards, one INT.
Despite a league-worst 38.9 QB rating, he looks to unseat incumbent Mike McMahon for the permanent starter's job. The No. 3 overall pick in April's draft, the former Oregon star was an All-American first-team pick by Verizon, adding second-team honors from The Sporting News. Harrington, a finalist for the Heisman Trophy, Davey O'Brien and Johnny Unitas Golden Arm awards, was an All-Pac 10 Conference first-team selection and Offensive Player of the Year. As a senior, he started every game, completing 214 of 364 passes for 2,764 yards, 27 touchdowns and six interceptions. He also ran for seven TDs.
Users sounded off on whether Houston will challenge Carolina (7-9 in 1995) for the best all-time expansion team record:
They will challenge Carolina. Houston will have a better future than Carolina; the Texans are one of the most young, talented teams in the league. Ricky, Gainesville, Fla.
There's no way that they will win seven games this year. They don't have the players, and they're just giving [QB David] Carr experience at the most important position for a team. Matthew, Libertyville, Ill.
Houston has a great chance at giving Carolina a run. In the end, if Carr can keep improving and those dangerous corners keep shutting down teams, they have a serious chance at doing it. Alan, Omaha, Neb.
Not a chance. All this hype after beating a poor Dallas team? Get real. Adam, Johnstown, Pa.
Considering the weak division they're in, along with the free-agent market of today, I think it's safe to say they could be playoff bound. Daniel, Savannah, Ga.
Nope, not with that many tough road games. Five, maybe six wins at best. Just because they beat the Cowboys and Quincy Carter (who was never a good quarterback) in Houston doesn't make them a good expansion team. Matt, Camarillo, Calif.
Unfortunately for Houston fans, the Texans will not challenge Carolina's expansion record. Their defense, while amazing for an expansion team, is average at best in the NFL. Their offense, for now, is terrible. David Carr will go through his lumps this year and the Texans may be able to pull off 5-11. Nate, Milwaukee, Wis.
The emotions of a franchise opener, coupled with the intrastate rivalry (against a bad Dallas team) made them look good. Still, they are probably the best expansion team ever assembled, and after watching 3-13 teams rebound to competitor status in one year, nothing surprises me in the NFL anymore. Adam, Peoria, Ill.
Although it is too early to tell if the Texans will challange the 7-9 record, they might very well come out with a better record than the lowly Bengals, who play like an expansion team year in and out. Bartosz, Cincinnati
Houston might beat Dallas, but other than that, it can't beat a team made up by my nine aunts and two grandmothers. It would take a team like Dallas to lose to the Texans, since they must have thought it was still the preseason. I will take the women of my family over the Texans any day, even with their overrated pretty boy Carr! Zaid, Germantown, Md.
This week's topic: Which 0-2 team will rebound to win its divison?