We can throw the sheets on the chandeliers as summer is winding down and so is the MVP of the NFL. After Monday night’s dominating performance, Buffalo’s Josh Allen is going to win the award by a landslide. He will make the 1984 Presidential election between Ronald Reagan and Walter Mondale look like a close race. Reagan carried 48 states and 525 electoral votes. Sportsbooks understand that a lot can happen over the next 15 games, but if the first two games are an indication (along with his last seven games of the 2021 season), Allen is the best player in the NFL and placing distance between himself and the competition.
The Bills have outscored their last two opponents 72-17, beating the Super Bowl champions 31-10 and last year’s No. 1 seed (the Tennessee Titans) 41-7. The scores indicating a dominating performance. The game tape offers much more, as the contests weren’t even as close as the scores. As one current NFL general manager texted me after Week 1, “the season is over, Buffalo is too good.” In one sense they are snap judgements, in another the tape shows a team hard to play, hard to beat and Allen hard to stop. Bills punter Sam Martin might have the best job in football, as getting the Bills offense to punt twice a game is a monumental achievement.
After the Bills got beat by the Patriots in the wind game last season, then mounted a remarkable second-half comeback in Tampa against the Bucs (eventually losing in overtime), their offense shifted, from conventional to a single wing concept with Allen being the focal point, run or pass. When they decided to include Allen in the run game and use his size and power -- to go along with his passing skills -- their offense became almost unstoppable. After two games, Allen is the second leading rusher by 1 yard, and is third in carries with 11. Devin Singletary has 14 carries. Why does this matter? Because on third down, Allen becomes another offensive weapon. He must be accounted for in the run game, and even when accounted for by scheme, the player assigned to him, must be able to get him on the ground -- which is proving harder and harder after each game, as most NFL linebackers are smaller than Allen.
Last night, Allen only carried the ball once (for a first down) and once this happened the Titans had to control their rush lanes, limit their man to man, resulting in the Bills amassing 23 first downs, gaining 414 yards and totally controlling the game from start to finish.
In two games, the Bills have scored 27 points in the first half and allowed 17, then in the second, they have scored 45 and not allowed a point. Their third quarter domination has been the key, outscoring their opponents, 31-0. Can this continue? Yes, for sure as they look significantly better than the competition their playing and the other teams they haven’t played. And no one has an answer for Allen, not in the run game or the passing game. His ability to prominently improve his accuracy has been one the greatest achievements I have seen over my career by a player. Accuracy with quarterbacks can slightly improve over time, yet Allen has made monumental improvement -- that has allowed him to go from being a solid player to the best in the game right now.
My advice today would be to grab an MVP ticket on Allen before the market shifts. He will win the award if he stays healthy. And from this day forward, the book will have a little invisible tax on every Bills game, as their power rating will be significantly ahead of most other teams -- and oddsmakers will build that into the number.
JIMMY G IS BACK
Aaron Sorkin could have never imagined this story. Jimmy Garoppolo is back as the starter in San Francisco, and the only fitting Tinseltown ending would be for him to hoist the Lombardi trophy next February. At 1 p.m. PT on Sunday, the 49ers were a great defensive team with an above-average run game and a one-dimensional quarterback. By 2 p.m. PT, they were a great defense with an above average run game, a two-dimensional quarterback and a more complete offense. It’s horrible what happened to Trey Lance breaking his ankle and tearing ligaments. He will miss his third consecutive year playing football and the Niners are no closer to finding out if he can play at an elite level than they were the day they made him the third choice overall. As for the 49ers today, they now have a better passing game, and need to hope Garoppolo stays healthy and plays solid football. If he does, they will be hard for any NFC team to beat.
EAGLES ARE HARD TO PREPARE FOR AND PLAY
Jalen Hurts was great on Monday night for the Birds. He only threw five incomplete passes and, much like Allen, is hard to tackle and defend in the run game. His accuracy and decision making were exceptional against the Vikings defense. The most impressive aspect of the game was he seemed more confident allowing the passing route to develop before taking off and running. The Eagles running the Oklahoma Sooners offense is tough to defend, because the defense must account for Hurts on each play. Hurts, like Allen, is big and strong, willing to take the hits and gets harder and harder to tackle as the game evolves.
The other impressive area of the game was Philadelphia’s willingness to play man to man against the Vikings offense and not allow Kirk Cousins any easy throws. When the Eagles are aggressive on the defensive end, they are tough to play -- and the clear favorite to win the NFC East and perhaps compete for the conference title. When Hurts is as accurate and quick-minded as he appeared last night, the Birds offense becomes two dimensional and challenging to slow down.
- I misevaluated the Colts badly. Their offensive line has declined and with Matt Ryan needing protection, their offense is a disaster. Who wins the bad AFC South? After two games, Jacksonville is the best all-around team -- and it’s not close.
- Tennessee looks like a shell of its former self. The Titans have no playmakers and when they can’t feature the run game around Derrick Henry, their passing game is horrific. Ryan Tannehill has reverted to the player he was in Miami, not the one who came to Tennessee and had his best season. I was on the Titans last night, figuring they could manage the game and keep it close. Boy, was I ever wrong.
- When Arizona took the delay of game penalty on the two-point play to extend the game into overtime, most thought it was a complete breakdown of the coaching staff. And it might have been. From my seat on the couch, I thought it was a great move because it allowed Kyler Murray more room to operate and move around. Those 5 yards opened the field ever so slightly, created more space for the defense to defend from a vertical and horizontal prospective. Murray is the ultimate point guard and needs an open floor -- when he can move, he is dangerous. Those 5 yards would have been important for a traditional offense 10 years ago, but not today. Spacing in the red zone is more important than yards.
My picks will be in the VSiN Picks at a Glance email every Sunday morning. My record last week was 3-1, which puts me at 6-2 on the season. Also, I am on Mad Dog radio every Friday at 5 p.m. ET, and we have a contest picking three games. Those three picks are often different from my Sunday picks because the line has moved. Last week I liked Patriots -2 and Jaguars + 4; by Sunday, those numbers were Patriots -3 and Jags + 3, so, I had to pivot and make four different selections. My record at Mad Dog is currently 5-1, while Mad Dog is 4-2.
Check back on VSiN.com on Friday for my Week 3 preview column.