Week one wasted no time bringing dramatic endings and craziness back into the sports world. Six games were decided by three points or less. We saw everything from a tie, to a buzzer beating game – winning field goal in overtime. Some players and teams made statements, while other seem already in trouble. The NFL delivered. Here are the biggest takeaways from opening weekend:
No Tyreek? No Problem
Any questions about how Pat Mahomes would fare without Tyreek Hill were answered very quickly against the Cardinals. Mahomes completed 30 of 39 passes for 360 yards and five touchdowns – finishing with a near perfect passer rating of 94.1. Nine players caught a ball in this game. As much hype as the AFC West receives, the division still goes through Kansas City if Mahomes plays at this level. Thursday’s matchup versus the Chargers will be must see TV as Mahomes will duel it out against another MVP contender – Justin Herbert.
Dallas is in Trouble
The Cowboys’ offense was stymied most of the game versus the Buccaneers and to make matters worse, Dak Prescott hit his thumb on Shaq Barrett’s helmet twice and will be sidelined 6-8 weeks. The defending NFC East champs have an uphill battle if they want to defend their crown. The Cowboy’s next six opponents include the Bengals, at the Giants, the Commanders, at the Rams, at the Eagles, and the Lions. Even with Dak that isn’t an easy slate, and without Dak I don’t know how the Cowboys can stay afloat unless they bring in another quarterback.
Contract Talks Didn’t Phase Lamar Jackson
Any questions about if contract talks would be a distraction for Lamar Jackson were answered in the Ravens’ opening game versus the New York Jets. Jackson threw three touchdown passes in the win, including a gorgeous over the shoulder dime that was placed perfectly to Devin Duvernay. He also connected on a 55-yard bomb to Rashod Bateman. Before Lamar’s ankle injury last year, the Ravens were atop the AFC with a roster that was banged up. If he and the Ravens stay healthy, Jackson will be a candidate for MVP this season, as he’s as motivated as ever after the Ravens offered him less guaranteed money than he hoped for.
Chaos in Cincy
In the game of the week, the Steelers were able to escape out of Cincinnati with a 23-20 win in overtime. The Steelers got on the board early with a Minkah Fitzpatrick pick-six of Joe Burrow. For Burrow, it would be the first of 4 interceptions on the day and five total turnovers for the Bengals. Despite the sloppiness, Cincinnati was in position to win the game when Burrow connected with Ja’Marr Chase for a touchdown as time expired. All the Bengals had to do was make the extra point and the game is over, however, the kick was blocked and the game went into overtime. Both teams traded missed field goals in the extra period. Pittsburgh had one last chance before the game would end in a tie. Mitchell Trubisky put the Steelers in position with a 26 yard completion to tight end Pat Freiermuth, and Chris Boswell nailed a 53-yard field goal as time expired. It’s not all good for the Steelers as TJ Watt injured his pectoral muscle and will miss significant time. That’s a huge loss for Pittsburgh.
- Shout to Giants’ head coach Brian Daboll for rolling the dice and going for 2. His decision took a lot of guts, but led to the Giants beating the Titans 21-20.
- Jameis Winston and the Saints offense struggled most of the game, but Jameis was on fire in the 4th quarter – going 13-16 for 216 yards and two touchdowns in the final period, leading the Saints back from a 16-point 4th quarter deficit for a 27-26 win over the Falcons. National media hasn’t discussed this much, but Winston in eight games as the Saints’ starter has 16 touchdowns and only three interceptions.
- Aaron Rodgers and the Packers offense looked bad for the second straight season opener. How long will it take for Rodgers and his receivers to get in sync? Rodgers didn’t take a snap in the preseason, but maybe it would’ve helped after losing his top two receivers.
- Baker Mayfield got off to a slow start in the Panthers’ 26-24 loss to the Browns. It would’ve helped if Christian McCaffery had more touches. McCaffery only ran the ball 10 times and had 4 receptions. Coming into the season the Panthers said they wanted to run the football, but only had 54 yards on 19 carries against the Browns.
- Much was made of Kylar Murray’s clause in his contract about mandatory studying. Well…it looked like Murray, Kliff Kingsbury and the entire Cardinals team needed to do more studying as the Chiefs stomped Arizona at home. Not a great start for the Cardinals
Week 2 Games to Watch
Los Angeles Chargers vs Kansas City Chiefs (-3.5): Mahomes verse Herbert. Enough said. The AFC West will be very competitive and both teams will look to get an early leg up in the division.
Tampa Bay (-3) vs New Orleans Saints: The Saints have had the Bucs’ number since Tom Brady arrived. Can it continue?
Arizona Cardinals vs Las Vegas Raiders (-5.5): The Cardinals and Raiders were playoff teams last season and will be trying to avoid an 0-2 start. Both will be desperate for a win.
Minnesota Vikings vs Philadelphia Eagles (-1.5): Justin Jefferson is always must-see TV. Vegas thinks this will be a very close game, as the Eagles are only 1.5-point betting favorites.