Week 1 Takeaways for Every Matchup
It was a pretty crazy opening week in the NFL. There were plenty of upsets, blowouts, surprises, and letdowns. I'll be going over every game and discussing some of the standout moments as well as the future outlook for each team.
Houston Texans - 20, Kansas City Chiefs - 34
Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs offense hasn't missed a beat since last season's Super Bowl run, and rookie running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire is the real deal. There are still so many weapons on that Chiefs offense, and Andy Reid didn't really need to open the playbook up too much to be able to handle the Texans in week 1. As long as Kansas City's defense can play decent this year, there aren't going to be many teams that will be able to compete with them. On the other hand, Houston looked like they were missing DeAndre Hopkins badly. Will Fuller wasn't able to produce without Hopkins on the other side attracting two defenders, and while David Johnson provided some support out of the backfield, the offense was relatively stagnant for most of the game. While the defense should play better the rest of the way against lesser offensive opponents, it might be a long season of mediocrity for the Texans.
Indianapolis Colts - 20, Jacksonville Jaguars - 27
This game was a shock to most people, including me. Everyone thought the Jaguars were tanking this season, and if they were, no one told Gardner Minshew. He shredded the Colts defense, throwing for three touchdowns with only one incompletion. He may will the Jaguars to a few wins this season, but I think the outcome of this game was more of a fluke than anything. Indianapolis didn't punt the ball a single time, yet Philip Rivers threw two picks that set up scores for Jacksonville, including one in the fourth quarter on a potential game-winning drive. The sure-handed T.Y. Hilton also had a couple drops in crunch time that could have altered the outcome of the game. To make matters worse for the Colts, Marlon Mack went down with a torn achilles and will be out for the season. The season is still young, but it was definitely not the start Colts fans were looking for.
Seattle Seahawks - 38, Atlanta Falcons - 25
Russell Wilson was magical in this one. Pete Carroll opened up the offense, throwing early and often. As a result, Wilson amassed 322 yards and 4 touchdowns against the shaky Falcons defense. Seattle definitely looks primed to make another playoff run, with a high-powered offense that could score with just about anyone in the league. Amazingly, Matt Ryan threw for 450 yards in a game that was never really close. The Falcons offense actually looked pretty balanced with newly-acquired Todd Gurley in the backfield. Calvin Ridley torched the Seahawks secondary and will be an excellent complement to Julio Jones. If Atlanta can figure it out on the defensive side of the ball, they could be competitive in the NFC South.
New York Jets - 17, Buffalo Bills - 27
The Bills looked good in the first half, jumping out to a 21-3 lead at halftime behind three total touchdowns from Josh Allen, who led the team in both passing and rushing. He did have two lost fumbles however, which, in conjunction with 2 missed field goals, allowed this game to be relatively close. If Allen can limit his turnovers and the kicking situation is ironed out, Buffalo is set up to possibly win the division for the first time in years and reach the playoffs for the second straight year. The Jets just looked bad again. They couldn't run the ball on the Bills defense, and it likely won't get any better in the next few weeks after losing Le'Veon Bell to injury. It's going to be another long year for Jets fans.
Chicago Bears - 27, Detroit Lions - 23
The Bears ended up with the victory, but Detroit rookie D'Andre Swift, in typical Lions fashion, let a pass go right through his hands in the end zone in the closing seconds of the game. Mitchell Trubisky came alive for Chicago in the fourth quarter, leading them to 21 straight points to finish the game. He wasn't good at all in the first three quarters, however, so the Bears may not know what they'll be getting out of Trubisky from week to week. Ultimately, Chicago will go as their quarterback goes, whether that remains Mitchell Trubisky or changes to Nick Foles. As for the Lions, they just can't seem to win a close game. Matt Patricia is on the hot seat, but maybe Matthew Stafford will be able to find ways to win as the season progresses. It should help when their number one receiver, Kenny Golladay, returns, who missed week 1 due to a hamstring injury.
Green Bay Packers - 43, Minnesota Vikings - 34
Boy, did Aaron Rodgers come out with something to prove this season. He was simply spectacular, connecting with Davante Adams seemingly any time he wanted. It felt like the game was over by halftime, though the Packer offense was still far from finished. It certainly seems like Rodgers wants to show he still has it at 36 years old, and he did just that against a defense that is fairly formidable. On the other side, Kirk Cousins did not look very good, as the Viking offense struggled to get anything going until the fourth quarter, when the Packers dropped to prevent defenses. It's possible it was just a bad game, but we should see more of the long-term strength of Minnesota next week against another team who had a letdown week 1 performance in the Colts.
Miami Dolphins - 11, New England Patriots - 21
You just can't ever count out the Patriots. Everyone thought they would be done without Tom Brady, but they looked just as good, if not better, behind Cam Newton on Sunday. Bill Belichick has to be thrilled with the run schemes they are able to use now with a mobile quarterback, something that was never possible with Brady. The biggest question is whether Cam will be able to throw when he needs to in games against better offenses, which could come next week against the Seahawks. The Dolphins didn't look much better from last season despite several new additions on offense and defense. Ryan Fitzpatrick struggled, but I still don't think we'll be seeing Tua for at least a few more weeks. If Fitzpatrick's play doesn't improve soon, however, it might be time for the fifth overall pick to take over.
Philadelphia Eagles - 17, Washington Football Team - 27
This was probably the most surprising game of the week, just ahead of the Colts-Jaguars result. Who would've thought that the Washington Football Team would be leading their division after the first week of the season? Especially after scoring 27 straight to close out the Eagles. Chase Young made an immediate impact on a defense that totaled 8 sacks on Carson Wentz. Maybe Ron Rivera is going to turn the program around faster than we all thought. There is drama in Philly, as injuries have mounted and players are feuding. The offensive line is already ravaged, as three starters are down. Starting running back Miles Sanders and defensive end Derek Barnett suffered hamstring injuries as well. And on top of that, it was reported that Zach Ertz and General Manager Howie Roseman got into a heated discussion after a practice last week, thought to be related to the star tight end's empty contract negotiations. There are rumors he could be traded, which would take away another weapon for Carson Wentz to use. The Eagles might just be cursed ever since their Super Bowl victory a few years ago.
Oakland Raiders - 34, Carolina Panthers - 30
There isn't too much to takeaway from this game, as it's hard to gather anything from either of these teams. The Panthers will obviously rely on Christian McCaffrey if they can, but Teddy Bridgewater was able to produce in the passing game more than Carolina was able to a season ago. Derek Carr was efficient for the Raiders with some new weapons on offense and Josh Jacobs continued to move the ball effectively on the ground. Ultimately, both teams could sneak into the wildcard picture for their respective conferences as the season progresses.
Cleveland Browns - 6, Baltimore Ravens - 38
Either the Ravens are incredibly good, or the Browns are incredibly bad. I'm inclined to believe this game was a result of a combination of the two. Lamar Jackson looked as impressive as ever, and Baltimore's entire team looks like it hasn't missed a beat. Cleveland has a lot to improve upon, in basically every aspect. Baker Mayfield was atrocious, the offense couldn't move the ball, and the defense couldn't stop anyone. Other than that, they weren't too bad. We'll get a better idea of the Browns this Thursday against the Bengals in primetime, but things aren't looking good in Cleveland.
Los Angeles Chargers - 16, Cincinnati Bengals - 13
This game was hard to watch for most of it, but seeing Joe Burrow lead the Bengals down the field on a potential game-winning drive was exciting. He actually threw a touchdown pass that would have won it in his NFL debut, but it was called back due to a questionable offensive pass interference on A.J. Green. Still, we should've gotten to see overtime in this one but for Randy Bullock allegedly cramping on his 31-yard missed field goal attempt to tie, which went wide right. Still, I think Burrow played well overall in his first game in Cincinnati. The Chargers got away with a win after a rather poor offensive performance, but probably won't be able to do that again next week against Kansas City.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers - 23, New Orleans Saints - 34
It was not the start that Tom Brady and Buccaneers fans were hoping for, as Brady didn't seem like he was in sync with his receivers for much of the day. The pick six he threw early in the third quarter put his team in a hole that they couldn't manage to climb out of. The most surprising part of this game was the lack of usage in Rob Gronkowski and Leonard Fournette, who combined for a mere 30 yards on eight touches on the day. However, I think Tampa Bay will figure it out on offense going forward, as Brady gels with his pass-catchers and Mike Evans fully heals from his hamstring injury. The defense played relatively well stopping the Brees-led Saints who offense, who said after the game that he felt he played terribly. If that's the case, I'm excited to see how New Orleans looks when Brees plays well. I still like these two teams to be in a tight race for the division crown.
Arizona Cardinals - 24, San Francisco 49ers - 20
It was confirmed that Kyler Murray is the real deal after he led his team to a week 1 victory in San Francisco. The procurement of DeAndre Hopkins to Arizona seems to be the move of the offseason, as he totaled 151 yards on 14 catches, 10 more than the next leading Cardinal receiver. The Arizona offense looks like it will be a force to be reckoned with, and the defense may not be far behind as it held the defending NFC conference champions to 20 points on only 123 total rush yards. If the 49er run game took a step back this offseason, Jimmy Garoppolo will have to win games with his arm, which he didn't really have to do last season. Fortunately, George Kittle's injury that forced him out of the game is not considered serious and he likely won't miss more than a game or two. The NFC West should be very competitive and fun to watch this season.
Dallas Cowboys - 17, Los Angeles Rams - 20
Speaking of the NFC West, how about the Rams? The Cowboys had a lot of hype coming into this season, but Sean McVay was able to scheme his team to a win. (I won't mention the offensive pass interference call on Michael Gallup). The Rams didn't seem to miss Todd Gurley at all, as new starter Malcolm Brown rushed for 79 yards and two touchdowns. Jared Goff played well enough to get the win this week, but they'll likely need more out of him in future matchups against better opponents. Dallas's stars played well on offense, with Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott, and Amari Cooper all contributing a lot on offense. Some interesting coaching decisions coupled with a few questionable calls were the primary causes of the Cowboys' demise. I wouldn't be too worried if I was a Cowboys fan, other than the fact that Leighton Vander Esch exited the game early with a collarbone injury and will be out 6-8 weeks.
Pittsburgh Steelers - 26, New York Giants - 16
Watching Ben Roethlisberger move around in the pocket last night was like watching an elderly flag football team's quarterback in slow motion. Nonetheless, he threw some classic Big Ben passes and connected with Juju Smith-Schuster twice in the end zone. James Conner got knocked out of the game in the second quarter, but Benny Snell rushed for over 100 yards in his spot. The Steeler defense forced several turnovers and held Saquon Barkley to just six rushing yards for the whole game, showing promise that Pittsburgh will be able to compete with Baltimore this year under Roethlisberger. The Giants offense had a tough time getting anything going, and their defense didn't do too much better. It'll be a tough task for new head coach Jason Garrett as they strive to not finish last in the NFC East.
Tennessee Titans - 16, Denver Broncos - 14
This was a rather boring game, and it was tough to stay awake for its entirety here on the east coast. A defensive struggle throughout, neither team could break a big play downfield. Derrick Henry was reliable for the Titans, and the combination of A.J. Brown, Corey Davis, and Jonnu Smith may be a matchup nightmare for opposing defenses assuming Ryan Tannehill continues his success from a year ago. If the Colts and Texans aren't able to turn things around, it might be an easy division for the Titans to win. As for the Broncos, Drew Lock looked solid and the backfield tandem of Melvin Gordon and Phillip Lindsay could be explosive if they both remain healthy. The return of Courtland Sutton and K.J. Hamler from injuries will give more options to Lock and open up the field for some deep shots to Jerry Jeudy. I would give this young team two or three more years before they can make a serious run and challenge division leader Kansas City.
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Expert Nick Swatson discusses all the news, predictions, and outcomes surrounding the NFL.