What we learned (and didn't learn) in Week 2 of NFL

Two weeks down now in the NFL season, which means we have more information than we did a week ago. Twice as much, actually, if you want to get all first-grade-math about it.

But while I know nobody wants to hear it, it's still early. Too early, quite frankly, to know which teams are good and which ones can start scouting the top of the 2018 draft. You might think you know, but you don't know. All we can do is make guesses based on what we know, which isn't much, but again, is twice as much as we did this time last week.

So this week's "What we learned" column is a bunch of "slightly more educated than a week ago" guesses. We're examining a few of the early-season storylines for legitimacy and/or sustainability -- of what's happening so far this season in the NFL, what's real and what might just be a mirage.

The Cowboys are in trouble

Best guess through Week 2: Mirage

Dallas should still be a good team -- especially if Ezekiel Elliott is going to hold off a suspension all season. But Sunday's ugly loss in Denver reminds you (if you were paying attention!) of what I was telling you about the Cowboys and the NFC East before the season started: The schedules are going to make it difficult for the top teams in this division to get to 11, 12 or 13 wins this season.

Yeah, Denver is a tough place to win, but so is Arizona, where the Cowboys play next Monday night. And so are Atlanta and Oakland, where they play later this season. The Giants have to go to Tampa, Denver, Oakland and Arizona. The Eagles have road games in Carolina and Seattle and two in faraway Los Angeles. Washington has to go to Kansas City, Seattle and back to L.A.

The Cowboys looked as bad Sunday as they have at any point in the still-nascent Elliott/Dak Prescott era. They won't look that bad every week. Their underlying offensive fundamentals are as strong as they were in 2016. But they played only three games against top-10 defenses last season -- two against the Giants and one against the Vikings -- and they went 1-2 in those games. Sunday showed the sledding will be tougher in 2017.

The AFC West is still the best division in the league

Best guess through Week 2: Reality

This division had two 12-win playoff teams and a 9-7 Broncos team that missed the playoffs last season. It also had the league's best last-place team -- a hard-luck, 5-11 Chargers team that kept finding creative ways to lose games in the fourth quarter.

So far this season? Yeah, the Raiders, Chiefs and Broncos are all 2-0, and the Chargers have lost two heartbreaking games in the fourth quarter. I think we expected the Raiders and Chiefs to be good again and had some questions about the Broncos, but Denver's defense looks dominant and the Broncos are stinging from last year, when they followed up their Super Bowl 50 title by missing the playoffs.

"Guys are hungry, man. Guys are willing to put in the work," Broncos cornerback Aqib Talib told me last week. "We feel like we won the Super Bowl and then we didn't put in the work we needed to put in to get back. My mom told me, 'Everything that's a saying is a saying for a reason.' And I guess that saying 'Super Bowl hangover' is a saying for a reason. For whatever reason, guys took their foot off the gas and we missed the playoffs. We know we don't want to feel that way again."

The Giants' season is already over at 0-2

Best guess through Week 2: Mirage

Hey, I know it looks bad. But I covered the 2013 Giants, who started 0-2 and then went and got shut out in Carolina in Week 3 en route to an 0-6 start. This is not that team. This is not that sad, weak, hollowed-out roster. There's too much talent on this team for it to play this poorly for four months. No one wants to be 0-2, but if the Giants had started 8-2 and played two games exactly like this in late November, it wouldn't look as bad as it does right now. No team wants to be 0-2, I get it. But as I pointed out earlier, no one's running away with the NFC East, and there's time to fix this.

That said, the Giants do need to fix some things. Yes, it will get better once Odell Beckham Jr. is fully operational, but the pass protection problems have to be addressed. If you watched the Monday night game, you heard Jon Gruden begging the Giants to help out overmatched left tackle Ereck Flowers, and coach Ben McAdoo would do well to listen. The Giants might have overdrafted Flowers at No. 9 overall in 2015, but they don't have a time machine, so they can't go back and undo that. What they can do is refrain from compounding the mistake by just sticking Flowers out there solo against the Ziggy Ansahs of the world.

McAdoo is a smart, young coach who went 11-5 in his first season, and when you do that, it's easy to convince yourself that your way is the way to do things. But the best coaches adjust to the problems they don't expect. And McAdoo's offense has a problem he didn't expect -- namely, that it's being undone by the inability of the big guys up front to win their matchups. There are ways to fix this, but the necessary compensation will require McAdoo to make changes to the way he calls plays and sets priorities on offense. He needs to use his tight ends and backs to help his tackles. He needs to find ways to move Eli Manning around a little bit (I know, I know, but anyone can move a little bit) to keep the pass-rushers honest. I don't have the answers, but McAdoo and his staff have to find them. Because this is an offense that should be scoring points and it averaged fewer than 20 points per game last season and has scored only 13 total this season.

It's not over for the Giants. Every team has a major problem to solve. Most teams have more of them than the Giants do. The season comes down to which teams solve them and which teams don't. The Giants know their problem. Now they have to find a way to fix it. Stay tuned.

Kareem Hunt will be the best of the rookie running backs

Best guess through Week 2: Mirage (I think)

Hunt is awesome. I wish I'd drafted him in every fantasy league. But it's too soon to know, especially with how great this class of rookie runners looks. My pick here is still Dalvin Cook, though Sam Bradford's injury makes me wonder how well the Vikings' offense will function overall. And I think Christian McCaffrey still gets heard from on this front once the Carolina offense gets its legs under it.

I talked to a couple of scouts about Hunt and they agree that he's an excellent runner. But they want to see whether the Chiefs trust him in pass protection in games in which they fall behind and have to throw to catch up. Hunt could turn out to be the best of this rookie running back crop, but it's a whale of a crop, and his brilliant start doesn't mean he can't be caught by one of his draft mates.

The Saints can't play defense

Best guess through Week 2: Reality

Look, the Saints have been setting records for defensive futility for a while now, but you have to admire them for always trying to find ways to take it to a new level. It's pretty special to allow 1,025 yards in two games. And when it's your first two games, you're basically announcing to the world: "NO! No, world, we have not solved our perennial biggest problem, and it doesn't look as if we ever will." The Saints have finished 7-9 three seasons in a row. They play in a division that includes the past two NFC champs and an up-and-coming Buccaneers team. They have the feeling of a team that's going to get left out of the party. Which is about the worst thing that can happen to you in New Orleans.

The Seahawks can't play offense

Best guess through Week 2: Reality

Last week, we used a stat showing the Seahawks have failed to score a touchdown in four of their past 10 road games. Then they played a home game this week against a totally undermanned 49ers team and didn't score one until the fourth quarter. Something is amiss in Seattle, where refusal to fix the offensive line has become a maddening offseason tradition, and unless it can get the group up front to jell in a hurry, this could get ugly.

We already know the defense isn't in love with the offense and all the love Russell Wilson gets. We also know it's going to be tough for the team to keep the Legion of Boom together after this season because of their contracts. The window isn't as wide-open in Seattle as it used to be. Wilson & Co. need to get on a late-2015-style roll to ward off bigger trouble.

There's something wrong with the Steelers' offense, too

Best guess through Week 2: Mirage

I'm not buying Le'Veon Bell's slow start as anything other than rust after he stayed away all offseason. You saw Sunday what Martavis Bryant can do when a defense locks in on Antonio Brown. This is one of the six or so teams in the league that actually likes its offensive line. Get Bell going and this is a dangerous offense capable of outscoring anyone. And, like Carolina (another rusty-looking offense whose best player didn't do much in training camp), the Steelers are 2-0 without having played their best.

The Ravens can win with defense only

Best guess through Week 2: Reality

Before the season started, I didn't think Baltimore's offense was going to have an easy time scoring. Given what we've seen so far, and adding in the Marshal Yanda injury, I don't see any reason to move off of that prediction. But yowza, this defense: Tough veterans in the secondary and up front; enough pass rush to make those guys on the back end even nastier; and a schedule that features, yeah, a couple of strong offenses in Green Bay, Oakland and, of course, Pittsburgh, but also includes a bunch of Jaguars, Bears, Vikings, Texans, Colts, Dolphins and, of course, Browns.

The Ravens might be able to pull off what the 2016 Giants did: average fewer than 20 points per game and still win 11 games and get to the playoffs.