While an NFL season isn't determined in two games, a couple of games is an appropriate sample to start picking up on some trends. Some are expected and others are a bit of a surprise, and it's the latter category that we're tackling below, as our NFL Nation writers are picking out which surprise trends have real staying power and which are a mirage, a blip on the 17-game NFL radar.
Some of the trends listed below have fans feeling pretty good, like the Detroit Lions racking up bushels of touchdowns, Jalen Hurts playing at a potential MVP clip for the Philadelphia Eagles and the Buffalo Bills being awesome at pretty much everything. Others elicit a bit more concern, from the Cincinnati Bengals' lack of first-half touchdowns and the Los Angeles Rams frustrating fantasy owners with their usage of running backs Cam Akers and Darrell Henderson Jr.
The early surprise: Only two touchdowns allowed in two games
The verdict: Real. OK, the Cowboys will allow more than 17 touchdowns this season, but the second-year jump of the defense under Dan Quinn is real and what they expected. They have slowed down offenses quarterbacked by Tom Brady and Joe Burrow in the first two games. While those teams have other issues, the accomplishment can't be taken lightly. For the Cowboys to succeed, even if Dak Prescott were healthy, the defense has to carry the day, and with three of the next four games against NFC East foes with varying levels of QB play, things are setting up decently for Dallas.
New York Giants
The early surprise: Richie James is the leading receiver
The verdict: Mirage. James leads the Giants with 10 catches and 110 yards. It's quite the revelation considering he seemed to be on the roster bubble throughout the summer. But James has quickly become a favorite of quarterback Daniel Jones. It's just hard to imagine this continuing throughout the season. Kadarius Toney played a bigger role in Week 2, and rookie Wan'Dale Robinson (knee) should be back within the next couple of weeks. Robinson's return should cut into James' opportunities, even if it won't completely cut him out of the rotation.
The early surprise: QB Jalen Hurts' standout play
The verdict: Real. The big question entering the season was whether Hurts could elevate his game and turn the Eagles into legitimate contenders. Through two games, he has been their best player. The oddsmakers agree. Hurts' MVP odds moved from 14-1 to 8-1 at Caesars Sportsbook during Monday night's rout of the Vikings. He is now the third favorite behind Josh Allen (+325) and Patrick Mahomes (+450). While he might not stay at that level all season, his improved passing has made him more of a complete package, and difficult to defend.
Washington Football Team
The early surprise: The significant impact of WR Curtis Samuel
The verdict: Real. After two games, Samuel and Terry McLaurin are tied for the team lead with 133 receiving yards. Samuel obviously was a productive player before coming to Washington last year, but thanks to soft tissue injuries last season he never looked like himself. But Samuel has looked sharp since the summer -- his quickness underneath is apparent with his 85 yards after the catch. Samuel's presence reduces the pressure on McLaurin and also helps free up rookie Jahan Dotson, who now has a team-high three touchdown catches.
The early surprise: The run defense is a concern
The verdict: Real. The Bears were a bottom-11 team defending the run last season. Through two games in 2022 with an overhauled defense, the Bears have allowed 379 yards on the ground. They caught a break once San Francisco running back Elijah Mitchell exited Week 1 because of an injury but were annihilated by the Aaron Jones-AJ Dillon tandem in Green Bay, allowing 5.3 yards per carry and 203 rushing yards in Week 2. Missed tackles are to blame for much of what went wrong in Week 2, but the fact that the Bears face a handful of decent (Dameon Pierce) to really good (Saquon Barkley, Dalvin Cook) running backs their next three games is concerning.
The early surprise: The Lions have scored at least 35 points in three straight games dating to last season
The verdict: Real. With offensive coordinator Ben Johnson calling plays, this Lions offense is explosive and creative. Quarterback Jared Goff has plenty of big-play options in running back D'Andre Swift, wide receivers Amon-Ra St. Brown and DJ Chark and tight end T.J. Hockenson. Detroit led 22-0 in the second quarter of its 36-27 win over Washington this past Sunday and put up 35 points in the season opener against Philadelphia. Along with last year's 37-point finale, the Lions have scored at least 35 points in three straight games for the first time since a four-game stretch in 1952 and '53. There's no reason the Lions can't keep scoring points if their top guys stay healthy.
Green Bay Packers
The early surprise: The special teams haven't been awful
The verdict: Real. So far, so good under new coordinator Rich Bisaccia. There haven't been any miscues -- no blocked kicks, no touchdown returns against them. New punter Pat O'Donnell ranks sixth in the NFL in net average, and although Amari Rodgers muffed one punt return, he recovered it and no damage was done. He also already has a 20-yard punt return -- 3 yards shy of the Packers' longest punt return last season.
The early surprise: WR Adam Thielen's targets have diminished
The verdict: Mirage. Through the first six quarters of the season, Thielen -- the Vikings' No. 2 receiver -- had a total of four targets. On the fifth, quarterback Kirk Cousins forced a pass that was intercepted. Thielen did get six more targets in the second half Monday as the Vikings tried to catch up to the Eagles, and it seems highly unlikely that they will proceed with him playing such a secondary role. As long as he stays healthy, the Vikings will find ways to get him the ball.