Week 1 of the NFL season is in the books. There were close games, surprises and flat out blowouts throughout the weekend.
Jets vs Panthers: Things looked very similar to last year’s Panthers early on. Carolina’s defense dominated the Jets early, but the offense couldn’t get in sync in the red zone. Matt Rhule made a questionable decision to punt instead of kick a 50 yard field goal, Sam Darnold fumbled a handoff on a 4th and 1, and then Darnold missed Terrace Marshall in the end zone on a throw that sailed high. The offense was able to show flashes of what it could be in the 2nd quarter as Darnold connected with Robby Anderson for a 57-yard TD bomb, then ran for a TD on the next drive. The Panthers offense sputtered in the 2nd half, as the team struggled to protect Darnold consistently and did just enough to hold on against the Jets. Carolina will have to protect the quarterback better and convert in the red zone if they are going to beat the Saints week 2.
Packers vs Saints: In what was probably the most surprising game of the week, the New Orleans Saints absolutely embarrassed the Green Bay Packers on Sunday. If this is Aaron Rodger’s “Last Dance” in Green Bay, it got off to a rocky start. Rodgers was 15/28 for only 133 yards and 2 interceptions with a QBR of 13.4. Jameis Winston showed command of Sean Peyton’s offense, throwing for 5 TDs and completing 70% of his passes. Jameis has always had the talent, but if he keeps his turnovers down he could easily win comeback player of the year.
Cowboys vs Buccaneers: This is a game that the Cowboys will look back on and feel like they let an opportunity slip away. Dallas went blow for blow with the defending champions, but Greg Zuerlein missed a field goal and an extra point that ended up being costly. If there were any questions about Dak Prescott coming off a shoulder injury he answered then with a strong performance. Dak threw 58 passes, completing 42 of them and threw for 3 touchdowns. Tom Brady did what Tom Brady does. Despite 4 turnovers he was able to drive his team down the field when they needed it the most for a game winning field goal. This felt like a matchup we could potentially see again down the road.
Chiefs vs Browns: In a heavyweight fight where both offenses were moving the ball well it was the Kansas City Chiefs’ defense that made a play to seal the game. Baker Mayfield was intercepted by Mike Hughes with a little over a minute left on the clock. The Browns jumped out to a 22-10 lead at halftime, but Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs offense answered the bell in the 2nd half as Mahomes found Travis Kelce twice for touchdowns then threw a 75 yard bomb to Tyreek Hill.
Quick takes: The NFC West is probably the best division in football as the Cardinals destroyed the Titans while the 49ers, Seahawks, and Rams handled business. The NFC North had a poor showing with the Bears and Packers getting blown out and the Vikings losing to the Bengals in overtime. The Bills offense struggled against the Steelers defense in week 1. Many people were ready to throw Josh Allen into the MVP race, but the Steelers defense was up for the challenge in week 1. Can the Steelers offense do enough to win the AFC North this year? How long will Urban Meyer coach the Jags? With reports of players and coaches fed up with him and the USC job open many are already speculating if Meyer will bolt Jacksonville for Southern California