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Sports Illustrated
Sports Illustrated
Dan Gartland

SI:AM | The Bills and Eagles Made Big Statements on ‘MNF’

Good morning, I’m Dan Gartland. It pains me to say this as a Giants fan, but I think the Eagles are the real deal.

In today’s SI:AM:

😨 Which 0–2 teams are already toast?

🏥 The latest on a scary injury

Why the Yankees are still World Series contenders

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One expected contender, one surprise

Just two weeks into the NFL season, it’s still too early to talk with any degree of certainty about which teams are serious Super Bowl contenders, but two teams showed last night they deserve to be considered among the league’s best.

The Bills entered the season with lofty expectations and have more than lived up to the hype thus far. After blowing out the defending champion Rams on the road in Week 1, Buffalo pasted last year’s top AFC playoff seed in its home opener. The 41–7 final score against the Titans might even undersell just how dominant Buffalo was.

The Bills scored all of those points before the end of the third quarter. Josh Allen threw for 317 yards and four touchdowns—three of them to Stefon Diggs, who had 148 yards on 12 catches. The Buffalo defense picked off Ryan Tannehill twice while allowing him to complete just 11 of 20 passes for 117 yards. It held Derrick Henry to just 25 yards on 13 carries, his lowest output since Week 6 of the 2018 season.

Buffalo has picked up right where it left off last season. The Bills had the best defense in the league last year by both points allowed and yards allowed per play, while the offense scored the third most points in the league. The two convincing wins over quality opponents show they haven’t missed a step. It’s no surprise they come in at No. 1 in Conor Orr’s power rankings. Here’s what he had to say about them:

It’s scary how routine the Bills are absolutely disposing of excellent NFL teams and really good opposing coordinators. The win over the Titans was another exclamation point. The challenge now is to evolve, for when someone finally figures out how to stop you.

On the flip side, it might be time to worry about Tennessee. After making the playoffs three years in a row, the Titans have now lost its first two games of the season in worrisome fashion. They collapsed at home in Week 1 against a Giants team that probably isn’t as good as its 2–0 record would indicate before getting totally embarrassed last night.

If the Bills are the favorite in the AFC, the top team in the NFC might be the Eagles. They looked like the real deal in last night’s 24–7 win over the Vikings. Most importantly, Jalen Hurts seems to have taken the next step toward becoming a true franchise quarterback. His stat line from last night is seriously impressive: 26-of-31 passing for 333 yards, one touchdown, one interception and 11 carries for 57 yards and two touchdowns. He’s the only player in NFL history to throw for more than 300 yards while completing 80% of his passes and also rushing for two scores.

As impressive as Hurts was, the Philadelphia defense was equally worthy of praise. Sure, picking off Kirk Cousins isn’t exactly the toughest task in the world, but cornerback Darius Slay made life hell for Cousins all night long. He had two interceptions and five passes defended while locking down on Minnesota’s top receiver, Justin Jefferson. When guarded by Slay, Jefferson was targeted six times and made just one catch. Both of Slay’s picks came on passes intended for Jefferson.

Hurts and the offense will be the key for the Eagles, though. They’ve moved the ball with ease in their first two games, averaging 470.5 yards of total offense, by far the most in the league. That’s part of why Orr is also high on the Eagles, putting them ninth in his power rankings:

The thought was always that if Jalen Hurts didn’t peak a year ago, the sky would be the limit for this roster. Well, Monday night’s stomping of the Vikings leads us to believe the Eagles might be in for some late January football this year.

The best of Sports Illustrated

Tim Heitman/USA TODAY Sports

In today’s Daily Cover, Conor Orr examines all the 0–2 teams in the NFL and whether they should be panicking. Here’s what he had to say about the aforementioned Titans:

[Mike] Vrabel will have to answer difficult questions about Ryan Tannehill and about an offense that could be phasing its way out of usefulness. The Titans came into Monday’s game as the second-worst rushing team in the NFL after Week 1, according to the statistic EPA (expected points added) per attempt. Against the Bills, Derrick Henry ran for 1.9 yards per carry.

Three unlikely quarterback heroes—Tua Tagovailoa, Joe Flacco and Cooper Rush—spoke with Albert Breer about their big victories Sunday. … The USMNT is dealing with a rash of injuries before the World Cup, which is unfortunately not out of the ordinary, Avi Creditor writes. … Tom Verducci explains why the Yankees, despite their recent struggles, are still built to win in October.

Around the sports world

Bills defensive back Dane Jackson has movement in his extremities after being taken off the field in an ambulance. … Oklahoma’s football rivalry with Oklahoma State won’t continue when the Sooners join the SEC. … Former top basketball recruit Emoni Bates, now playing at Eastern Michigan, was arrested on gun charges. … Mike Evans earned a one-game suspension for his role in the Saints-Buccaneers brawl. … The Bucs are signing Cole Beasley to help fill the hole left by Evans’s suspension. … The COO of Beyond Meat was arrested for biting a man’s nose after an Arkansas football game.

The top five...

… things I saw last night:

5. Sidney Crosby helping a Penguins fan ask his date to the homecoming dance.

4. Jalen Hurts’s 53-yard touchdown pass to Quez Watkins.

3. Travis Kelce chilling at the Eagles game with a beer while wearing his brother Jason’s jersey (and sunglasses, for some reason).

2. Stefon Diggs’s three-touchdown night.

1. Max Scherzer’s six perfect innings in his return from the injured list.


Willie Mays announced on this day in 1973 that he would retire at the end of the season. Even at age 42, he mostly played center field. What was the only other position he played during his final season?

  • Left field
  • Right field
  • First base
  • Third base

Yesterday’s SIQ: Which of the following players is not tied for 12th on the MLB single-season home run list with 58?

  • Hank Greenberg
  • Ryan Howard
  • Jimmie Foxx
  • Hack Wilson

Answer: Hack Wilson. Aaron Judge’s season puts him in some seriously rare company. He entered Sunday tied with Luis Gonzalez (2001) and Alex Rodriguez (’02) in a tie for the 15th-most homers in a season with 57. When he hit No. 59 in the seventh inning off Luis Perdomo, he moved past Foxx (1932) Greenberg (’38), Mark McGwire (’97) and Howard (2006). Wilson, who stood just 5' 6", exploded for 56 homers in 1930 when he drove in a single-season-record 191 runs.

The list of players with more homers than Judge in a season is a short one: Barry Bonds, McGwire, Sammy Sosa, Roger Maris and Babe Ruth. And he’s still got two weeks left in the season.

From the Vault: Sept. 20, 1999

Mary Schilpp/Sports Illustrated

As the 1999 U.S. Open got underway, it was clear that the Williams sisters were about to take over the world of tennis. Their marches to the semifinals made that even more obvious. But still, when the tournament ended with a Williams lifting the trophy, it was considered a surprise—because 17-year-old Serena, not the more polished 19-year-old Venus, had won.

“Richard [Williams] always claimed that Serena would be the superior player, but when Venus made her spectacular run to the 1997 U.S. Open final, most observers dismissed such talk as another Richard hype job,” S.L. Price wrote in his cover story. “It turns out that Father knew best.”

Price’s story makes multiple mentions of how difficult it was for Venus to fall in the semifinals to Martina Hingis and watch her sister become the first to achieve what they had both worked toward for so long.

“Maybe this is a wake-up call for Venus,” Oracene Price, her mother, said. “To be tougher. This will be an example. Venus has ability that no one has seen yet; it would be impossible to even describe it. It’s that side of her—what Serena has—that Venus needs. So hopefully she can gain something from this.”

Venus’s time was coming. She earned her first major victory at Wimbledon in 2000, followed it up by winning the U.S. Open later that year and, in ’01, went back-to-back in both tournaments, including beating Serena in a classic U.S. Open final.

Check out more of SI’s archives and historic images at

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