For better or for worse, the NFL’s Week 1 is officially in the books! Teams no longer possess that beacon of hope that is “0-0.” And unless you’re either the Cleveland Browns or the Pittsburgh Steelers, who played to a dramatic tie and hold steady in win-loss purgatory, your team either sits undefeated or winless. Week 1 in the NFL is the most unpredictable of circumstances that the sports Gods have to offer us. With our knowledge limited by what we’ve just witnessed or read about in the preseason (which is essentially nothing), combined with our naive ways of believing we know EVERYTHING, it’s the perfect storm of surprise and disappointment.
The games are played and the football stuff happens. Stuff we love, stuff that drives us mad and stuff we feel obligated to retweet. Whether or not you agree or disagree with the particular stuff that WE liked from Week 1, is precisely why you’re here. Just continue to scroll.
In what will be recurring segment at the conclusion of each NFL Week, here’s to offering some of the football happenings that myself and Andy found to be thrilling, fun, worthy of praise, worthy of ridicule, puzzling, controversial and downright embarrassing. This list garners no regrets or apologies, only words set in stone. Your feelings, rationalizations and opinions about this column are controlled directly by your taste in football teams. Love it or hate it, let’s begin…
Things We Loved
Mike: Khalil Mack’s first half + Aaron Rodgers’ second half.
Let’s start with the complete homer stuff. If you tuned into Bears-Packers on Sunday Night Football, you were treated to a tale of two extremely different, but thrilling halves of football. In the first half, Khalil Mack, the Bears newest (and expensive) toy on defense, absolutely annihilated the Green Bay Packers. We’re talking about wrecking ball levels of destruction. Sacks, forced fumbles, tackles for losses, tons of pressure and even a pick six! It was a sight to behold (yes, this coming from a Packers guy).
The only thing Mack didn’t accomplish in the first half, was injuring the left leg of Aaron Rodgers. That was taken care of by one of his heavier teammates. Rodgers went down, the crowd proceeded to soil themselves and he rode off on a cart. The scene had all the makings of a million “Aaron Rodgers out for the season” headlines being prepped for the next morning’s
newspapers Twitter feeds.
Then, pure magic. Rodgers returned to the game in the second half, down 20-0 and on ONE leg, delivered one of the gutsiest comebacks the league has seen in a long time (and the largest 4th quarter comeback in the Packers 100-year history). He proceeded to throw three touchdown passes, making the once-indestructible Bears defense (including Mack) look like the New Orleans Saints facing Ryan Fitzpatrick (more on that below). Then, if that weren’t enough, he feeds the football universe this post-game interview on a silver platter, happy and hopped up on some wild amount of painkillers. More magic.
Seriously, if you’re weren’t loving all the exciting pieces and layers to this football game, then consider yourself just a “casual” football fan from now on. I’m done with you. And no, going to bed because it was a “school night” doesn’t register.
Andy: The potential resurgence of Adrian Peterson.
Peterson led the Redskins in carries by a landslide and was not only impressive, but was a pivotal piece to Washington’s Week 1 road win at Arizona. He also caught two balls out of the backfield that resulted in 70 yards, which challenged the knock on AP for not being effective in the passing game. Alex Smith sure took full advantage.
Ageless veteran and unequaled beard-grower Ryan Fitzpatrick did this to the New Orleans Saints defense on Sunday: 21/28, 417 yards, 4 TDs and a 156.3 QB Rating (158.3 is considered a “perfect” rating, for those wondering). Fitzpatrick’s unexpected day spawned this gem from head coach Dirk Koetter:
— NFL (@NFL) September 12, 2018
Mike: Kansas City’s Mahomes and Hill Show.
The Kansas City Chiefs are doing it to me again. That thing where they make me look foolish. Forever a believer that the Chiefs will finish somewhere between 7-9 and 9-7, I watch them go out, on the road, against a sexy Super Bowl “contender,” with a second-year quarterback that had only thrown 35 passes in his professional career… and dominate the Chargers. If you want more insight into what Patrick Mahomes II can potentially do in this league, The Ringer hooked that up for you. As a neutral watcher of this team, this Mahomes and Tyreek Hill tandem, along with Kareem Hunt and Travis Kelce, are going to be loads of fun to watch. Hill in particular, because of his return abilities, is arguably the most electric player in the entire league.
And this isn’t just a savvy Andy Reid offense that we’re watching, it’s deep balls, cutbacks and HUGE plays down the field. The Chiefs instantly became must-watch television with their Week 1 performance. Oh, and probably a dark horse Super Bowl sleeper.
Things That Sucked
Mike: The Buffalo Bills.
What the f*ck was THAT?!? I get that you’re on the road, but 47-3? To the Ravens?! I mean, I’m hesitant to boast, but this was the exact type of 3-13 Buffalo Bills team I saw coming when I laid out my projections. Forget that this team miraculously made it into the playoffs last year, this team might be fortunate to win a single game.
“Did anyone with even half of their sanity intact, think that Nathan Peterman was going to walk into Baltimore and keep that game within one touchdown?”
The spread was a very generous 6.5 and although I’m not exactly a Ravens advocate, I probably would have bet the line at 16.5. With his 0.0 quarterback rating (5/18, 24 yards, 2 INTs, sacked 6 times), you have to just feel bad for the kid at this point.
The Bills as a team as whole, played equally as shitty, mostly because they only had the ball for 24 out of the possible 60 minutes. They had only 10 first downs. They 2/15 on third down. They had 10 penalties for 100 yards. They couldn’t run the ball to save their lives (Josh Allen came in to replace Peterman and ended up second on the team with 26 yards). The defense actually made Joe Flacco look “elite.” Shall I continue? Of course not. Now, already announced for Week 2 against the Chargers is that Josh Allen will get his first start. When you’re switching quarterbacks (not due to injury) after the first week, things are BAD. Does it get worse than 47-3? The Bills will give us every opportunity to find out.
Andy: The fact that Saquon Barkley looked like I thought he would.
The reason I was dead set against my Cleveland Browns taking him with the #1 overall pick is that I did not buy into him being a complete back. I view him as a “home run or nothing” type of running back with all the talent in the world, but he dances too much behind the line looking for those big home runs. He finished his first professional game with 18 carries for 106 yards (68 of which came on a “home run” play). If you remove that play, he was much more ordinary, with 17 carries for 38 yards, which 2.2 yards per carry is not good.
Mike: The Cardinals homefield “advantage.”
The Cardinals, particular their putrid offense, cost me some big-time dollars on Sunday. Their game with the visiting Redskins was basically a pick ’em. A mediocre team, at home in the season’s opening week, hosting another mediocre team, and with their star running back returning full time and half-decent defense behind them? Easy money, right? Not the case. In a contest where the Cards only held the ball for a limited 21 minutes and produced 213 total yards of offense, Sam Bradford was terrible, David Johnson carried the ball only 9 times (37 yards) and the team only converted ONE third down… disappointment was inevitable. If teams like the Redskins are going to come in and dominate like that, no team will be concerned with having to travel to warm and sunny Arizona to beat up on the Cardinals. It’ll feel more like a vacation than a football game.
Andy: The Oakland Raiders.
I hated pretty much everything I saw from the Oakland Raiders on Monday Night against the visiting Los Angeles Rams. Derek Carr having a 3-interception performance to start his “prove it” season was so alarming to the team, that they decided to bring back wide receiver Martavis Bryant only a couple of weeks after cutting him. John Gruden or not, that’s the kind of mess the Raiders are dealing with.
Mike: Survivor Pools.
Survivor, Suicide, Eliminator… whatever you want to label these kind of pools, were absolutely destroyed in the very first week. In particular, a trio of suspects caused most of the damage. The New Orleans Saints were the biggest letdown by a mile. Coming off an 11-5 season, at home, as 9.5 favorites over a Buccaneers team that is expected to be noncompetitive this season, the Saints gave up 48 points to Ryan Fitzmagic. Drew Brees, using his garbage time yards forte, almost brought the team back in the fourth quarter, but it was too little, too late. Being in four of these things, my damage wasn’t season ending, as I only had the Saints in two of the four. And according to the Washington Post (and everyone else), the Saints were the “smartest” pick in Week 1. I agreed, and I paid for it. The Lions and Steelers, by way of an annoying tie, were the other big instigators in people’s Week 1 picks misery. Ugh, at least my pick got their asses handed to them and I didn’t lose on a TIE! There’s always next week, unless there isn’t.