Ladies and gentlemen, NFL football is officially back, and boy did we get our fair share of surprises on Sunday. There were blowouts, there were down to the wire battles, and there were some games that were just downright hard to watch.
After the Thursday night shocker that saw the Kansas City Chiefs easily handle the defending Super Bowl champs, Sunday offered us twelve battles on the gridiron to welcome back this beautiful game. The early games offered up some great divisional matchups, as 5 of the 8 one o’clock games pitted divisional foes against one another.
Following a decent rookie campaign, Carson Wentz was set to begin his second season at the helm for the Philadelphia Eagles, as they opened up their season in the nation’s capital facing the Washington Redskins. Wentz wasted no time showing he was ready to breakout, as he dodged pressure and connected with Nelson Agholor on this beautiful pass on just the Eagles’ 3rd play from scrimmage.
The rest of the first half was sloppy from both teams, as they combined for three turnovers, one of them being a Wentz pick six by Ryan Kerrigan. The Eagles defense clamped down in the second half, holding the ‘Skins to just 3 points. They sealed the victory when Brandon Graham forced a fumble off Kirk Cousins, and Fletcher Cox returned it for a TD to give Philly a 30-17 victory.
The Jets and Bills met in Buffalo in what was a dismal performance by both teams. LeSean McCoy was his usual self, but the rest of the Bills offense was unimpressive. It’s pretty obvious to see that these two teams are going to have a rough season, but on the bright side, the Buffalo Bills sit atop the AFC East after week 1. Way to go Buffalo.
Andy Dalton and the newly revamped Bengals offense hosted the Baltimore Ravens, and well, the Red Rifle just wasn’t himself. Dalton threw 4 bad interceptions, and the Bengals were shut out by the Ravens defense. Dalton took all of the blame for his team’s performance, but I feel the former Horned Frog can only improve from this pitiful outing.
Reigning MVP Matt Ryan led the Falcons into Chicago to take on the Bears, as the defending NFC Champions try to forget their Super Bowl 51 collapse. Ryan and the Falcons offense looked impressive all day, and Ryan’s lone touchdown pass came when he hooked up with tight end Austin Hooper for this 88 yard score.
The Bears battled back, and had a golden opportunity to win the game in the final minute. Chicago had the ball at the Atlanta 5-yard line, but were unable to score on four consecutive plays. The Bears suffered yet another loss following the game, as it was reported that 2015 first round wideout Kevin White could miss the season for a third straight year following a shoulder injury.
The 135 million dollar man Matt Stafford showed he was worth the money the Lions gave him, as he had the best quarterback performance on Sunday, as he threw 4 touchdown passes, leading the Lions to a 35-23 victory over the Arizona Cardinals. On the other side of the ball, there were not a lot of positive takeaways for the Cardinals. Quarterback Carson Palmer threw 3 interceptions, and star running back David Johnson exited the game with a wrist injury. His x-rays came back negative, but he is still expected to miss a significant amount of time.
The city of Houston finally had a distraction from the devastating Hurricane Harvey, as their Texans opened up the season against the always savvy Jacksonville Jaguars. The atmosphere at NRG Stadium was there at the beginning of the game, but was quickly shut down as the Jags moved the ball well, jumping out to a 19-0 halftime lead. Houston was given a sign life however, when head coach Bill O’Brien decided to bench starter Tom Savage at the start of the second half in favor of first round pick DeShaun Watson. Watson played well, leading a scoring drive on his first drive, but couldn’t do enough to keep the Texans in the ballgame. The Jags defense swarmed him and Savage all day, finishing the game with 10 sacks. The Jags did receive bad news however, as number one wideout Allen Robinson is expected to miss the season with a significant knee injury.
In Cleveland, the Browns tried to finally dig out of this awful era they have been stuck in for almost two decades. The divisional rival Steelers came to town and actually had a rough time in the Dawg Pound. Rookie quarterback DeShone Kizer played exceptionally well, but could not complete a comeback against the gritty Steelers defense. Antonio Brown caught every pass thrown his way, but was somehow kept out of the endzone. Both Big Ben touchdowns were caught by tight end Jesse James, who looks poised for a breakout season. An insane stat also came out of this game. With this victory, Ben Roethlisberger now has more wins in Cleveland than any of the 27 quarterbacks the Browns have started since drafting Tim Couch number one overall in 1999. Chin up Cleveland, at least you still have LeBron…
The Raiders and Titans met in Tennessee as two star quarterbacks returned from significant leg injuries that ended their 2016 seasons. Derek Carr and Marcus Mariota both looked completely healthy, and both showed they were still the number one guys on their respected teams. Carr and the Raiders got the last laugh however, as Oakland grabbed the 26-16 victory. And of course we can’t forget about the return of Beast Mode, as Lynch broke off this solid 14-yard run on his first carry of the season.
The late games offered a lot less excitement than the early games, and it all started with the Rams’ 46-9 shellacking of the questioning Indianapolis Colts. Backup quarterback Scott Tolzien did throw 2 touchdowns, but both went to the Rams defense, as he threw his first pass of 2017 for a pick six, and followed that with another one towards the end of the first half. The Colts replaced Tolzien with newly acquired Jacoby Brissett, but this offense just cannot do anything without Andrew Luck. It looked like Luck was going to be ready to start the season following off-season shoulder surgery, but it is now reported that he could be out the entire month of September. A lot of questions need to be answered in the Indianapolis locker room.
The 49ers began the post-Colin Kaepernick era with a disappointing performance at home against Cam Newton and the Panthers. They put just 3 points on the board the entire game, and despite Newton not looking his usual self, the Panthers offense was able to jump out to a 23-0 lead before the Niners were finally able to grab a field goal at the end of the third quarter. It’s obvious that Newton hasn’t thrown much in the off-season following shoulder surgery, but hopefully he can get back to his 2015 MVP form, because he is very fun to watch when he’s on his game.
Sunday ended with the two most anticipated games of the day, as the daunting Seahawk defense went to Green Bay to take on Aaron Rodgers and the Packers, while the Odell-less Giants traveled to Jerry’s World to take on the rejuvenated Dallas Cowboys. Both matchups sadly did not live up to the hype, as there were just 3 combined touchdowns scored by the 4 teams. The lone highlight from either game came when Aaron Rodgers connected with his number one target Jordy Nelson for his first touchdown pass of the season.
The Cowboys handled the Giants easily, holding them to just 3 points. The Giants are seriously missing Odell Beckham Jr, and Eli Manning looked like he forgot how to throw a football without his star receiver out there. Cris Collinsworth offered an interesting take during the dying minutes of Sunday night’s matchup. The former NFL wideout said that even if he’s still not 100%, the Giants should think about throwing Beckham out there for a few plays just as a decoy for the defense. Definitely something the G-Men should think about as they get set to take on the Lions next Monday night.
Week 1 Awards:
MVP: Alex Smith – 28/35, 368 yards, 4 touchdowns
Offensive Player of the Week: Kareem Hunt – 17 carries, 148 yards, 5 catches, 98 yards, 3 touchdowns
Defensive Player of the Week: Calais Campbell – 4 sacks, 5 QB hits
Week 1 Scores:
KC 42 – NE 27
PHI 30 – WSH 17
BUF 21 – NYJ 12
ATL 23 – CHI 17
BAL 20 – CIN 0
PIT 21 – CLE 18
DET 35 – ARZ 23
JAX 29 – HOU 7
OAK 26 – TEN 16
LAR 46 – IND 9
CAR 23 – SF 3
GB 17 – SEA 9
DAL 19 – NYG 3
Monday Night Predictions:
MIN 24 – NO 17
LAC 23 – DEN 14
Thank you everyone for reading, I’m going to try and release an MMQB every Monday. I am stoked that football is back, and I hope you are too. Stay tuned, and God Bless.