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NFL Week One Thoughts

Dan's thoughts on every NFL week one game!
Publish Date: 09/14/2023
Fact checked by: Mike Goodpaster

I never bet on NFL week one games because it always gets crazy. All the tomfoolery that went on in week one just solidified that line of thinking. The champs missed Kelce, a few playoff teams from last season looked pretty bad, and stars will be stars, but don’t forget: don’t overreact from week one shenanigans. Let’s dive in!

 

Detroit Lions 21 – 20 Kansas City Chiefs

Yes, the Chiefs were without their second and third best players in All-Pro’s Travis Kelce (injury) and Chris Jones (contract holdout). Yes, Kadarius Toney was an absolute disaster – five targets, one reception for one yard, and three drops, including a pick six off his hands. But don’t try and take anything away from the Lions in this one. A defense that was among the league’s worst last season held Patrick Mahomes to under 230 passing yards in Arrowhead. Aidan Hutchinson was a beast all night, applying pressure often from both the edge and inside. Detroit’s rookie class came through in this one: Branch had the pick six off Toney’s hands, LaPorta caught all five targets, Campbell had a key deflection in coverage and played well overall, and Gibbs showed he is capable of being a big piece of the offense.

 

Atlanta Falcons 24 – 10 Carolina Panthers

Atlanta took the game out of Desmond Ridder’s hands with short completions and play action off of a strong running game – probably a good idea at this point. Jessie Bates’ two interceptions and forced fumble were huge plays that kept swaying momentum in Atlanta’s favor; he was one of the best signings by any team this off-season. Bijan Robinson got less carries than Tyler Allgeier, but Robinson showed his chops in the passing game; Robinson led the Falcons in receptions and had a receiving touchdown. Bryce Young threw a couple of ugly picks, but looked poised/accurate and showed off some of his mobility. Brian Burns and Derrick Brown looked like one of the best, young inside-outside defensive line duos in the NFL.

 

Cleveland Browns 24 – 3 Cincinnati Bengals

Joe Burrow probably wasn’t 100% healthy in this one, but Cleveland took care of business. Burrow had a career-low 82 passing yards on 31 attempts, and the Bengals offense was held to 142 total yards. The offensive line struggled again…Cincinnati’s defense let Nick Chubb run for over 100 yards and average almost six yards per carry, but Dax Hill was a bright spot. Hill had a deflection and a pick, while also making plays behind the line of scrimmage; he will play a key role in the secondary this season. The weather was gross, but Deshaun Watson needs to be better if the Browns are going to make any noise this year.

 

Jacksonville Jaguars 31 – 21 Indianapolis Colts

Jacksonville didn’t look overly impressive in the early going, but Calvin Ridley shined from the get. Ridley settled in early and looked like he never missed almost two full years, finishing with 8 catches for 101 yards and a touchdown. While the Jaguars’ offensive line struggled, the defense had some big moments. Josh Allen was dominant, finishing with three sacks, while cornerback Tyson Campbell had an interception and a forced fumble. Anthony Richardson had some moments where he made some nice throws and displayed the physical attributes that had Indy pick him with the 4th pick, but also confirmed the need for a ton of development as an NFL quarterback.

 

Tampa Bay Buccaneers 20 – 17 Minnesota Vikings

Minnesota won 11 one score games last season, but dropped their second in a row dating back to the playoffs. Penalties (6) and turnovers (3) doomed the Vikings, but they were too pass heavy. Vikings runningbacks got only 14 carries all game – Tampa Bay ‘backs had almost twice that amount. Baker Mayfield wasn’t exciting, but he played well and threw two touchdowns in the win. Tampa came out of halftime with an 18 play drive that took up nine minutes, and the Vikings followed that up with a ridiculous 20 play drive that went into the 4th quarter; both drives ended in touchdowns. Minnesota was unable to get anything going after that, and kudos to the Bucs for putting this one away late in the 4th.

 

New Orleans Saints 16 – 15 Tennessee Titans

This was another sloppy, ugly game. Neither team played particularly well offensively, but both defenses showed up. Tennessee got to Carr early and often in the first half, but the Saints were able to rally enough in the second half to come out on top. The Titans probably would have come away with a win in this one if Tannehill was just average. Instead, Tannehill threw three interceptions and struggled to connect with DeAndre Hopkins. Derrick Henry will need to lead the league in carries (again) if this team is going to be relevant.

 

San Francisco 49ers 30 – 7 Pittsburgh Steelers

This was supposed to be one of the better games on the schedule this week, but only one team showed up. Pittsburgh was a darling coming into the year, after a great off-season and an excellent showing by Kenny Pickett in training camp/preseason. San Francisco came into the Steel City and handed Pittsburgh its worst loss at home since 2007. TJ Watt looked great, but that was it for the Steelers. They won’t be this bad every week, but the 49ers might just be that good. Purdy looked healthy coming off the elbow injury, McCaffrey averaged almost seven yards per carry on 22 totes, and Brandon Aiyuk looks poised for a major breakout this year. Throw in a dominant performance by the San Fran defense, and this might be the best team in the NFC.

 

Washington Commanders 20 – 16 Arizona Cardinals

Worst game of the week. Arizona’s defense forced three turnovers and got to the quarterback (six sacks), but this offense was as bad as many predicted it would be. Dobbs is very much limited, and he lost two fumbles that likely cost his team the game. Washington didn’t look good offensively, but their defensive line controlled the line of scrimmage. Payne was a wrecking ball on the inside, and Sweat showed out with 1.5 sacks and two forced fumbles. Sam Howell was inconsistent in this game; he scored two touchdowns (including a rushing touchdown in the 4th to take the lead), but also turned the ball over twice (one of which went for a defensive touchdown). Ugly game, but a win is a win.

 

Baltimore Ravens 25 – 9 Houston Texans

Baltimore came away with the double digit win, but it was a rough opener for them. Lamar Jackson completed 77% of his passes, but  had only 169 passing yards with zero touchdowns and turned the ball over twice. J.K. Dobbins going down with a torn Achilles is another brutal hit for a talented player; hopefully he comes back strong. Zay Flowers was a beast after the catch, and was the only bright spot offensively for the Ravens. Baltimore’s defense was good as usual: stuffing the run, getting to the quarterback (5 sacks), and holding Houston to 38% third down conversion. C.J. Stroud and the Texans offense struggled to move the ball, mustering only a couple of field goals at the end of the second quarter. The struggles continued in the second half, and this is going to be a long season in Houston. Baltimore can’t be committing 13 penalties and expect to win every week.

 

Green Bay Packers 38 – 20 Chicago Bears

The Jordan Love era is off to a good start. Love was solid in this one, and showed a good connection with his young weapons in the passing game. Christian Watson missing the game was a concern going in, but Luke Musgrave, Jayden Reed, and Romeo Doubs (two touchdowns) all contributed. Justin Fields had a Justin Fields game – good on the ground, questionable through the air. Wide receiver D.J. Moore – whom the Bears acquired as part of the trade down from 1st overall in the 2023 NFL Draft – finished with only two receptions on two targets, and didn’t see his first catch until the second quarter. That has got to change if Chicago is going to have any success through the air.

 

Las Vegas Raiders 17 – 16 Denver Broncos

Another ugly game. The Broncos looked better in this game offensively than they did at all last season, but they fell off in the second half. Kicker Will Lutz missing a field goal in the 3rd quarter and an extra point was the difference, and the offense couldn’t make up for it down the stretch. Jimmy G looked good, and he clicked with both Davante Adams and Jakobi Meyers. Once Josh Jacobs gets going, Vegas’ offense could be one of the better units in the league. Look for the Broncos to gain some consistency on offense as the season goes on and Wilson settles in – hopefully.

 

Philadelphia Eagles 25 – 20 New England Patriots

When Philly jumped out to a 16-0 lead in the first half, I thought this game was over. New England came to play, however, as their defense stepped up, and the offense did enough to make it interesting. The Patriots defense kept everything the Eagles like to do on offense in check: contain Jalen Hurts, stop the run, and don’t get beat deep. AJ Brown and Devonta Smith combined for only 126 receiving yards on 14 receptions, and Hurts only had 207 yards of total offense. New England’s offense was unusually pass heavy, and had its fair share of struggles throughout. Philly has all the pieces in place to go on another run this season.

 

Miami Dolphins 36 – 34 Los Angeles Chargers

A game that was hyped up as a possible shootout did not disappoint, as we had 969 (…nice) yards of combined total offensive yards. Much is expected out of Herbert and the Chargers this season, but it was Tua Tagovailoa that showed out. Tua’s 466 passing yards were the most allowed by a Chargers defense in franchise history. Tyreek Hill also had a historic performance, putting up 11 receptions for 215 yards and two touchdowns. When healthy, the Dolphins offense led by Tua is dangerous, but the Chargers wasted a good day by Austin Ekeler (164 total yards and a touchdown). L.A. should’ve given the rock more to Ekeler down the stretch of such a close game – he only had three total touches in the 4th quarter.

 

Los Angeles Rams 30 – 13 Seattle Seahawks

Count me as one of the people who did NOT see this coming – at all. The offensive line for the Rams played well, and Stafford looked healthy. Seattle had the lead at halftime, but looked lost in the second half. Maybe losing both starting offensive tackles contributed to the issues offensively, but the Seahawks couldn’t move the ball after halftime. 12 total yards in the second half is just laughably awful, and their defense wasn’t any better at all – allowing over 300 total yards in the 3rd and 4th quarters. Shout out to rookie wide out Puka Nacua, who followed through on all the preseason hype with 10 receptions for 119 yards.

 

Dallas Cowboys 40 – 0 New York Giants

Wow. What an embarrassing way to start the season for the G-Men. Dallas’ defense was absolutely dominant in this one, controlling the line of scrimmage and forcing three turnovers. New York’s offensive line was just awful; Glowinski and Neal HAVE to be better, while Schmitz had a harsh “Welcome to the NFL, rook” first start. Daniel Jones was terrible in this game, but the offensive line can’t be allowing seven sacks and constant pressure. Dallas’ offense didn’t put up crazy numbers in this one, but Dak played well and Pollard looked healthy. When the Cowboys play like this, they are a legit threat in the NFC.

 

New York Jets 22 – 16 Buffalo Bills

Poor Jets fans…What was supposed to be the start of a potential Super Bowl run was cut short just four plays into the Jets’ season when Aaron Rodgers went down with a season ending Achilles tear. If A-a-ron had been playing, this game could have been a blowout in the Jets’ favor. Josh Allen is one of the most talented quarterbacks in the league, but he HAS to stop turning the ball over. He threw three ugly picks to Jordan Whitehead, and is lucky Zach Wilson was at QB for Gang Green. Buffalo has to run the ball more efficiently and reel in Allen’s turnover happy ways if they’re going to be contenders. The Jets could make some noise still with a defense that looks like it could be elite, and a ground game led by Breece Hall – can Wilson step up?

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