Each week, theScore brings you a look at the teams, players, and units trending upward and those taking a step back.
? Stefon Diggs
Quick: Who leads the league in receiving yards? Judging by the photo accompanying this post, you know the answer is Stefon Diggs.
In his second season, the Minnesota Vikings’ diminutive receiver is making a name for himself and carving out a niche in the team’s offense. Sunday night, with a new quarterback and no other Viking able to corral more than 41 yards, Diggs led the team with nine catches, 182 yards, and a touchdown. The Vikings are lacking for weapons, but Diggs is making up the difference.
? Jacksonville Jaguars
A vogue preseason pick to be a contender this season, the Jaguars have sputtered out of the gate. After an opening-week loss, the Jags trailed the San Diego Chargers 35-0 in Week 2 before managing garbage-time points that made the final score more respectable. Not only did Jacksonville commit three turnovers, but it added 14 penalties for 93 yards in the game, making the Jags the second-most penalized team in the league.
The Jaguars are already two games back in what was thought to be a winnable division. By no means are they out of it, but the excitement they created in the offseason is dissipating quickly.
? Doug Pederson
Two games as an NFL head coach, two wins for Doug Pederson. The Philadelphia Eagles surprised many by choosing the former offensive coordinator as the cleanse for the Chip Kelly era, but critics can’t argue with the results.
The first-year head coach has done everything possible to ensure first-year quarterback Carson Wentz is successful. By utilizing short drops, creative calls, and every offensive weapon at the Eagles’ disposal, Wentz has completed 60 percent of his passes and has yet to commit a turnover. On the other side of the ball, the defense has allowed the second-fewest points in the league. Philadelphia’s faced two poor teams in the Browns and Bears, but it’s a positive start.
? Productive RBs
Need further evidence that the NFL is a passing league? Just five running backs broke the century mark in rushing yards this week. That’s out of 16 games. Two backs ran for exactly 100 yards, and one other rushed for 102.
The list of Week 2 rushing leaders was populated by journeymen like Isaiah Crowell and LeGarrette Blount while elite rushers Adrian Peterson, Arian Foster, and Danny Woodhead all left their games with injuries.
? New York Giants
The Giants were 1-7 in games decided by five points or less last season. Those eight games played a significant role in the team’s disappointing 6-10 year, which ended with coach Tom Coughlin’s dismissal.
After just two games this year, the Giants are surprise leaders of the NFC East thanks to squeaking out a one-point win and a three-point victory. The defense has held against powerful offensive attacks, the pricey offseason additions have made instrumental early contributions, Victor Cruz appears fully recovered from what could have been a career-ending injury, and rookie receiver Sterling Shepard has been sterling in his debut. Things are looking up for the G-Men.
? Thomas Rawls
The Seahawks’ lead rusher carried the ball seven times for minus-7 yards Sunday. He added three catches for 15 yards, but was of no help to Russell Wilson, who was nursing a high ankle sprain. Though Rawls was facing a celebrated Rams front, that same defensive line allowed Carlos Hyde and Shaun Draughn to score three touchdowns a week prior.