To quote Minnesota Vikings beat writer Luke Braun, “It’s your god-given right to be too high on your favorite football team week one, don’t let anyone take that away from you.” Well, Braun was absolutely right about that, and his Vikings fell to the Bengals in overtime. Football is back, and NFL fans everywhere couldn’t be happier (unless they’re Cowboys, Falcons, Bills, Vikings, Lions, Titans, Colts, Football Team, Jets, Browns, Patriots, Packers, Giants, Bears or Ravens fans). After an offseason that seemed way too long, the NFL and all of its characters are back. Tom Brady is defying the very laws of nature down in Tampa Bay, and Lamar Jackson is still leading his team in rushing yards.
The Cowboys came to Tampa Bay and lost to the Bucs 29-31 in the first game of the week. Both Tom Brady and Dak Prescott threw for around 400 yards, but Brady threw four touchdowns and Prescott threw three. Neither team was able to get the ground game going; not a single back in the game had more than 34 rushing yards. This was an exciting game, but it showed us that Brady has truly bested Father Time.
The Miami Dolphins picked up a 17-16 win against the New England Patriots in Foxboro on Sunday. Mac Jones’ first game in the NFL wasn’t a win, but he did put up a solid performance and even tossed his first NFL touchdown. Tua Tagovailoa didn’t have his greatest game, going for 202 yards with a touchdown and a pick. This mediocre performance allowed Jones and his 281-yard performance to win the day. Seeing Jones as the starter was interesting, especially after all of the drama surrounding him and Cam Newton, but he seems to be the right guy for the job.
The Jacksonville Jaguars lost badly to a lackluster Houston Texans squad. In a 21-37 defeat, #1 pick Trevor Lawrence lost his first regular season game since 2017. Lawrence threw for over 300 yards, with three touchdowns and three interceptions, but the Jaguars lost the turnover game to a Texans squad that was without Deshaun Watson.
We also saw Matt Stafford with his new-look Los Angeles Rams on Sunday. Stafford looked rejuvenated in his 34-14 blowout of the Chicago Bears and attained a nearly perfect passer rating of 156.1 for the day. The Bears weren’t so lucky, but David Montgomery did go for over 100 yards with a touchdown. It’s an inevitability that Andy Dalton cedes the starting job to Justin Fields, and after Dalton’s performance on Sunday, Fields’ arrival may be closer than previously thought.
The New York Giants took on the Denver Broncos and lost 13-27 this week. Teddy Bridgewater was rock steady with 264 yards and 2 touchdowns. In other news, Daniel Jones hit 40 career turnovers and Saquon Barkley’s longest carry of the night went for 5 yards. The Giants lost badly, and look to be on course for their fifth sub-.500 season in a row.
The New Orleans Saints wiped the floor with the Green Bay Packers this week en route to a 38-3 victory. Aaron Rodgers had a terrible game and wound up with a passer rating of 36.8. For context, if a QB threw the ball into the ground on every play, their passer rating would be 39.6. Jameis Winston also threw for five touchdowns and only 148 yards. That’s the fewest yards in a five-touchdown game since at least 1950, according to Pro Football Reference. The Packers lost, but this seems like a small hiccup rather than the new norm for last season’s NFC North champions.
The Kansas City Chiefs clashed with the Cleveland Browns this week, and the team from Missouri came out on top 33-29. Despite an 83-yard, two-touchdown day from Nick Chubb, the Browns just couldn’t pull out a win. Patrick Mahomes was once again dominant with over 300 yards and three touchdowns, but the Chiefs didn’t get much going on the ground. Mahomes now has the records for most passing yards (14,489) and touchdowns (117) through his first 50 starts. The catch is, he’s only played 47 games so far. The man may put ketchup on his steak, but that sin can be forgiven if he keeps playing like this.
Beating the New York Jets 19-14, the Carolina Panthers’ Sam Darnold got the revenge game he was waiting for, and he got the job done. He had nearly 300 yards and a touchdown, with Christian McCaffery as his leading receiver. Zach Wilson also had a solid outing, with more than 250 yards, a touchdown and an interception. This was Wilson’s first NFL game, and the bright lights didn’t seem to get to him. The Panthers’ defense did though, as he was sacked six times throughout the game. Both young quarterbacks seem to have potential, and this outing was more positive than negative for both of them.
The Arizona Cardinals traveled to Tennessee to take on the Tennessee Titans today and won in a 38-13 romp. Kyler Murray had an outstanding performance, throwing for nearly 300 yards with four touchdowns through the air and one on the ground. The Titans couldn’t get much going anywhere, as Ryan Tannehill barely eked out 200 yards, and the duo of Julio Jones and Derrick Henry combined for 106 yards from scrimmage. The Titans are a good team, and this game seems more like an outlier than an indicator of a bad season to come.
Jones’ old team, the Atlanta Falcons, sorely missed him in their 6-32 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles. Jalen Hurts tossed three touchdowns and had an impressive 126.4 passer rating in this blowout game. Kyle Pitts had a slow first day, catching only half of his eight targets for 31 yards. It remains to be seen if the 2021 Falcons will be in the cellar of their division like they were last year, but this game is certainly not encouraging.
The San Francisco 49ers faced off with the Detroit Lions, and the 49ers won 41-33 in this high-scoring contest. For the Niners, both Deebo Samuel and Elijah Mitchell eclipsed the century mark in yardage. For the Lions, nobody eclipsed the mark, but TJ Hockenson came close with new quarterback Jared Goff slinging it around. Goff had 338 yards and three touchdowns in his first game in the silver and blue and hopes to bring the Lions to the playoffs for the first time since 1991 this season.
The Minnesota Vikings-Cincinnati Bengals game went to overtime, and the Bengals emerged victorious 27-24 in one of two overtime games this week. Dalvin Cook just couldn’t heat up this week, and only managed 61 yards on the ground this week. Adam Thielen kept the Vikings in the game, though, going for nearly 100 yards while catching two touchdowns. Ja’Marr Chase finally shook off the drop problem that plagued him all preseason and went for more than 100 yards and caught a touchdown in his first NFL game. His connection with fellow LSU alum Joe Burrow seems to be strong, as the pair connected on a 50-yard bomb for the receiver’s first score in the league.
The Seattle Seahawks headed over to Indianapolis and beat the Colts in their own stadium, 28-16. This game wasn’t particularly close, but both quarterbacks performed well and threw for around 250 yards. Russell Wilson is always an MVP candidate in the early parts of the season, and this game was no exception as he tossed four touchdowns. Tyler Lockett also had a great game, hauling in two of Wilson’s four scores. Carson Wentz’s first game in Indy was spoiled by Wilson’s great performance, but he showed nice chemistry with both of the Colts’ running backs.
Justin Herbert’s Los Angeles Chargers trumped the Washington Football Team (sic) 20-16. Washington lost their QB early on in the contest, as Ryan Fitzpatrick went down after having thrown only six passes. On the other sideline though, Herbert and Keenan Allen haven’t missed a beat. Their chemistry from last season is still strong, and Herbert targeted Allen 13 times this game. The Washington Football Team is without an identity both on and off the field, and both issues need immediate attention from the front office.
The Buffalo Bills had high hopes coming into the season, and those are now tempered after their 16-23 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Bills couldn’t get much of anything going on offense and only had one offensive touchdown. If the punt-block touchdown never happened, this defeat would look much worse for the Bills. Najee Harris also got every single running back carry for the Steelers, and his role in more competitive games will be interesting to watch.
Finally, on Monday night, the Las Vegas Raiders beat the Baltimore Ravens 33-27, getting the last word in this week’s second overtime game. This game got interesting late, with each team committing a turnover in overtime before the Raiders scored a touchdown to end the game. Darren Waller was the Raiders’ top performer, and he was targeted by Derek Carr nearly 20 times throughout the night. Lamar Jackson played fine as a passer but led his team in rushing as has become the norm for him. The Ravens had been plagued by running back injuries, losing their starting running back and his backup shortly before the start of the season. Jackson may have to run even more than normal to make up for those losses in the backfield.
That wraps up the first week of the NFL season. Next week, we’ll see Giants vs. Football Team, Broncos vs. Jaguars, Bills vs. Dolphins, 49ers vs. Eagles, Rams vs. Colts, Raiders vs. Steelers, Bengals vs. Bears, Texans vs. Browns, Saints vs. Panthers, Vikings vs. Cardinals, Falcons vs. Buccaneers, Titans vs. Seahawks, Cowboys vs. Chargers, Chiefs vs. Ravens, Lions vs. Packers and Jets vs. Patriots.