Breaking Down Week 1 of the NFL Season
Week one of the 2017 NFL season is now in the books. There were many surprises and now is the perfect time to delve into each game and see what we can take away from each team's’ first game.
Kansas City Chiefs 42 - New England Patriots 27
This was the most surprising outcome of week one, the Chiefs were masterful in week one and took down the reigning champions. Alex Smith threw four touchdowns in a game for the first time in four years. The most impressive thing about Smith’s performance was that he threw the two of the touchdowns were on deep balls, which Smith has always been reluctant to throw. The Chiefs also had a standout performance from rookie running back Kareem Hunt, who scored three touchdowns and had 250 yards of total offense.
The Patriots came into this game as heavy favorites to not only win this game, but every game this season. The team had a solid running game, with Mark Gillislee scoring three touchdowns, but the passing game was lacking. This was especially alarming because Tom Brady completed less than 50% of his passes, and threw for 267 yards without any touchdowns. The team was without Malcolm Mitchell and Julian Edelman, and eventually Danny Amendola left the game and ended up in concussion protocol. I think the Patriots will end up being fine, as they always are, but this was certainly an alarming game for them. The biggest red flag I saw how old Rob Gronkowski looked throughout the game, he seemed to lack his signature explosiveness, and coming off of surgery it is something that I would keep an eye on.
There were also key injuries to both teams during the contest. Eric Berry ruptured his ACL, Danny Amendola is in concussion protocol, and Dont’a Hightower sprained his MCL.
Carolina Panthers 23 - San Francisco 49ers 3
This game went as expected. The 49ers were just overmatched versus the Panthers. There were a couple bright spots for the 49ers though, as Pierre Garcon hauled in 6 catches for 81 yards, and Brian Hoyer’s play did not put us out of the game. Hoyer threw a perfect ball to Marquise Goodwin that would have been a touchdown if it had not gone through Goodwin’s hands. The team was dealt a pretty big blow when rookie linebacker Reuben Foster suffered a high ankle sprain, which is a shame because when he was playing, it was clear he was the best player for the 49ers.
The Panthers’ defense did its job excellently, holding the 49ers to just 3 points, and also forced Brian Hoyer to throw his first interception in the last 220 pass attempts. The offense started off slow, with Cam Newton looking a little rusty to start the game, which was initially cause for concern because he didn't have many preseason reps, but he eventually settled in to throw for 171 yards and two touchdowns. Jonathan Stewart was responsible for the majority of carries out of the backfield for the Panthers, but Christian McCaffrey was exciting when he did touch the ball.
New York Jets 12 - Buffalo Bills 21
The New York Jets started their campaign to snag the no. 1 overall pick by losing to the Buffalo Bills. Tyrod Taylor had a solid game, throwing for 224 yards and two touchdowns. LeSean McCoy was spectacular, rushing the ball 22 times for 110 yards, and caught 5 passes for 49 yards. The defense also was able to snag two interceptions. The Jets were simply atrocious, as they are expected to be throughout this whole season, and I have a feeling that Sam Darnold is sitting at home dreading the fact that he is going to have to play for the Jets next season.
Atlanta Falcons 23 - Chicago Bears 17
The Falcons had an uneven performance this week versus the Bears. Matt Ryan had a solid day, throwing for 321 yards and a touchdown. The touchdown was something to behold, an 88 yard pass to tight end Austin Hooper. Outside of that one touchdown though, the offense was rather mediocre, especially Julio Jones, who only hauled in 4 catches for 66 yards. The defense was pretty good at defending the pass, but the Bears running back Tarik Cohen wrecked havoc. He was able to get 66 yards on ONLY 5 carries. Cohen also caught 8 balls for 47 yards and a touchdown. I felt that the Falcons could have certainly played better, and I think they will as the season progresses, but hey, a win’s a win.
Baltimore Ravens 20 - Cincinnati Bengals 0
I think that Andy Dalton was so bad that his team doesn’t deserve to be analyzed in this article, but I will point out that Dalton threw 4 INTs and lost a fumble, so his team was bound to lose.
On the other side of the field, the Baltimore Ravens looked great. Joe Flacco, who was clearly not 100%, managed to throw for 121 yards and a TD. The lone touchdown came on a slant route to Jeremy Maclin, who was able to just burn by the defense and take it to the house. The good news is that Flacco did not have to be great, because of how well his defense played. They were able to force 4 INTs and a fumble from Andy Dalton. The running backs held their own and combined for 150 yards and a touchdown. I do not think that the excellent defensive play will be sustainable across a whole season though, but we'll cross that bridge when we come to it. The Ravens defense secured the first shutout of the 2017 season.
Pittsburgh Steelers 21 - Cleveland Browns 18
The Cleveland Browns deserve a lot of credit, they actually looked half-decent on Sunday. Rookie QB DeShone Kizer threw for 222 yards and one TD, as well as scoring another touchdown with his legs. The defense did a good job of minimizing Le'Veon Bell, who had 10 carries for 32 yards, and I think it is important to point out that I predicted that he would not be very productive for the first few weeks of the season. They did allow Antonio Brown to catch 11 balls for 182 yards, but he will do that against anybody. Overall, I would say that the Browns would appear to be heading in the right direction for once.
There were three standout performances for the Steelers on Sunday. They came from Antonio Brown, Jesse James, and T.J. Watt. Brown had 182 yards, and James hauled in two TDs. T.J. Watt looked like his older brother, accumulating two sacks and an INT in his NFL debut. Other than those three though, the team looked rather mediocre. Bell had 10 carries for 32 yards, and Martavis Bryant had two catches for 14 yards. I think that the Steelers will end up fine-tuning the offense as Le’Veon Bell heats up later, but for now they need to worry about penalties, as they racked up 13 flags on their way to losing 144 yards.
Arizona Cardinals 23 - Detroit Lions 35
The Cardinals were dealt an unfortunate blow on Sunday. They lost their star running back, David Johnson for a long time with a dislocated wrist that will likely require surgery. The problem with the Cardinals is that they are old, Carson Palmer has not been all that good in two years, and their best receiver, Larry Fitzgerald, is 34 Years old. Carson Palmer threw three interceptions, including one pick-six, and I think that the Cardinals are in for a long season.
The Lions somehow managed to put up 35 points on the Cardinals even though they committed 10 penalties for 100 yards. Stafford threw for 292 yards and 4 touchdowns, but also threw a pick-six. Golden Tate accounted for a hundred of those yards and Stafford threw two of those touchdowns to Kenny Golladay. I think that the 35 points is pretty deceiving because the team could definitely have played better. I think that Stafford will go on to have an MVP-Caliber season.
Jacksonville Jaguars 29 - Houston Texans 7
The defense of the Jaguars carried them to the win. The team had ten sacks to go along with forcing four turnovers. The defense was key because they have to overcompensate for the terrible performance of Blake Bortles. I fully expect for Bortles to be benched within the coming weeks, his tenure as a starter has just gone on too long.
The Texans started their season with Tom Savage at the helm, but eventually ended up benching him for Deshaun Watson, who threw a touchdown on his first drive to DeAndre Hopkins. There are concerns going forward regarding Watson’s ankle, but it looks like he will start next week. I think that having Watson at the helm will be better than having Savage start. I do think the Texans will turn it around, as long as they can fix their turnover problem.
Oakland Raiders 26 - Tennessee Titans 16
I am going to be honest, I am surprised that the Raiders did as well as they did. I thought that they had far too many holes in their defense to be able to stop the Titans, who I think will go on to win the AFC South, but they were able to hold them to just 16 points. My biggest takeaway from this game was that Marshawn Lynch has not missed a beat. He looks like he did in the prime of his career when he was on Seattle. I think that he was the biggest wild card in the offense, and having him look like he will be effective is going to pay massive dividends for the team.
I think that the Titans actually played pretty well considering how many new pieces they have on the team. I think that the team will bounce back and win the AFC South, especially when Adoree Jackson adjusts to playing against NFL talent. The offense looked pretty good, Mariota threw for 256 yards, and he also had a rushing touchdown. Demarco Murray and Henry had a combined 69 yards rushing, but I think that as their roles become more defined, their numbers will improve.
Philadelphia Eagles 30 - Washington Redskins 17
Carson Wentz had a standout performance this week. He threw for 307 yards and two touchdowns. He looked good, and was able to avoid defenders and had several throws in which he arm strength to spare. The running game was pretty bad for the Eagles, but the defense made up for it, especially Jalen Mills, who had an interception. The Redskins defense was fine, but it was not enough to overcome a rather poor offensive showing from Kirk Cousins and Terrelle Pryor. I think that the major issues with the Redskins were because the team lost many players and had to replace the receiving core. I do not think the Redskins will make the playoffs, but I think their offensive woes will get worked out.
Indianapolis Colts 9 - Los Angeles Rams 46
The Colts are absolutely terrible without Andrew Luck. I would take Jared Goff’s performance with a grain of salt, because the Colts were so incredibly bad, he could have won the game if he didn’t have arms. Goff did throw for 300 yards and a touchdown, but the real story was the defense. The defense had two touchdowns and a safety.
The Colts were so terrible that they do not deserve to be written about. They were worse than the New York Jets.
Seattle Seahawks 9 - Green Bay Packers 17
This game was one that was fueled by controversial penalties, which could have swung the game either way. The Seahawks did their best to not allow Aaron Rodgers to make big plays against them, but he was able to beat them with shorter routes. Seattle’s offensive line is absolutely terrible, and they need to look for a way to improve it immediately. I think that both teams will still make the playoffs, and the Seahawks will win that game. Their defense is just too good, and the offense will find a rhythm.
New York Giants 3 - Dallas Cowboys 19
I do not think that Odell should play a game until he has a new contract. It became so abundantly clear that he is the driving force of the Giants during this game. Eli Manning threw for 220 yards and an interception. The team needs Odell to draw double coverage in order to get Sterling Shepard and Brandon Marshall open, without him, the receiving core has no chance. The team also needs a running back, their leading rusher had SIXTEEN YARDS. I would recommend contacting New Orleans as soon as possible about Adrian Peterson, seeing that they do not want to commit to him.
The Cowboys should be fierce this year now that they presumably have Ezekiel Elliott for the whole year. I left them off my preseason predictions because of the uncertainty of life without Zeke, but as long as they have him, Dak Prescott will be able to thrive thanks to the constant threat of the running game. He threw for 268 yards and a touchdown, and Elliott ran for 104 yards on 24 carries. I expect them to win the NFC East this year if the Giants continue to perform the way they did this Sunday.
New Orleans Saints 19 - Minnesota Vikings 29
The Minnesota Vikings rode an excellent performance from Sam Bradford, who threw for 346 yards and three touchdowns. His primary target was Stefon Diggs, who hauled in 7 catches for 93 yards and two touchdowns. I thought that even though the Vikings offense looked incredible, the defense was also able to shut down the run game, and limit Drew Brees to only one touchdown.
The thing I found most strange about the game was the Saints’ lack of willingness to use Adrian Peterson. I thought that “running back by committee” idea doesn’t really work, and AP is going to become frustrated quickly in this system. If I were the Saints, I would look to send him to a contender desperate for any sort of running game (@ New York Giants).