The NFL is back, and man, did it feel good.
We saw plenty of close games as the season kicked off this week and getting to sit on the couch for nearly 12 hours doing nothing but watching football was something we have all been dreaming about since the schedule was released way back when.
There are several things that can be taken away from the first week of action. There may be some overreactions, but that’s part of the fun. Here are our winners and losers from Week 1 in the NFL.
Week 1 Winners
The year 2020 has been absolute trash. This year has sucked and there’s no other way to put it. After what has felt like an eternity, we have finally made it to football season, and football season is actually a real thing despite there being questions of whether or not it would actually happen. Thursday night gave us a little bit of a taste, but Sunday was the real thing. Take a deep breath and reflect for a quick second, because if you’re reading this, you made it to Week 1, and it was glorious.
In the last eight months Mahomes has both won the Super Bowl and signed a deal worth up to a half billion dollars. Those two things alone should make him a week one winner, right? However, those things aside, Mahomes was absolutely terrific in the season opener against the Texans. Repeating as Super Bowl champions is an absurdly difficult thing to do, but it’s going to be awfully tough to knock off this Kansas City team if they’re healthy when it counts.
To quote ESPN’s Stephen Anthony Smith, “He’s a BAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAD MAN!” Rodgers and the Packers were fantastic on Sunday. This was a vintage performance from Rodgers to the tune of 364 yards and four touchdowns. Dude continues to be one of the best in the world slinging the football. He hit Davante Adams for a pair of touchdown connections as the Packers took an early lead in the NFC North with a big win in Minnesota.
The last time the Ravens lost a regular season game was when the Browns visited town in Week 4 of last season. That streak was never in jeopardy on Sunday as they looked like the second-best team in the NFL (still giving KC its due). Lamar Jackson looked every bit like he’s planning on repeating as the NFL’s MVP and this Ravens squad showed the rest of the league that they’re going to be just as much – if not more – of a problem as they were last season.
Cam Newton/Bill Belichick
Beating the Miami Dolphins isn’t something that the Patriots should ever be bragging about, obviously. But in the debut game of the post-Tom Brady era, the Pats looked solid. Cam Newton staying healthy obviously is going to be a key to this experiment working in New England, but the early return was good. Newtown did break a single-game franchise record for rushing yards by a quarterback with 75 yards to go along with a pair of scores on the ground. It might be hard to root for the Patriots, but Newton definitely is a redemption story worth keeping an eye on.
Alright, it’s funny seeing Washington just referred to as “Football Team” on the internet and when scores pop up at various places and I’m not sure seeing “Eagles vs. Football Team” is ever going to not be funny. Now that that required quip is out of the way, credit is due to Ron Rivera. It was his first game at the helm in Washington and he got a win against a decent Philadelphia team. Oh, yeah, and he had to get an IV at halftime to make sure he was good enough to go for the second half while he battles cancer. Total warrior.
Not only did the Cardinals get a Week 1 win over the Niners, but Kyler Murray sure looked like a lot of fun during it. The 2019 No. 1 overall pick is already one of the most electric players in the NFL, and he’s going to continue to be a must-watch every week now that he has DeAndre Hopkins to throw the ball to. He’s just going to keep getting better.
Whoever told the Bucs and the Browns to go back to their old uniforms
The uniforms that Tampa Bay and Cleveland had been wearing for the last five-plus years were hideous. The numbers on the Tampa jerseys looked like they belonged on a digital clock, and the whole uniform for the Browns made them look like a bigger clown show than they have been. While neither team won Sunday, they both looked much better aesthetically than they have for a long time.
Week 1 Losers
Kansas City Fans
This was just trash. While players and coaches stood at midfield linking arms, audible boos could be heard from the Kansas City fans. Booing against unity and equality sends a really bad message for everybody that the small number of people actually in the stands at Arrowhead Stadium represents. Sorta proves it was never about the flag, huh?
Man, where to begin. The Browns haven’t won a season opener since 2004. Sunday was brutal for them in Baltimore. Lamar Jackson carved up a defense that looked like it was capable of being one of the worst in the NFL, Odell Beckham Jr. finished with 22 receiving yards on 10 targets, and nothing went well for Cleveland overall. In the defense of Baker Mayfield and the Browns, this was the first run of a brand-new offensive system at full speed against a great team. That’s not to say the Browns are going to be great, but they should at least get better soon. Thursday night at home against Cincinnati might be the earliest in a season we’ve ever had a “must-win” game, but it’s probably fair to call it that. On the bright side, their uniforms looked a million times better than the garbage they’ve been wearing for the last five seasons.
Yes, I said all those good things about Washington up in the winners part of this column and they remain to be true. With that said, Philly was up 17-0 midway through the second quarter before getting embarrassed the rest of the afternoon in Washington. Carson Wentz was sacked eight times on the day. If Wentz is going to get back to the MVP-level he was once at, blowing a 17-point lead to start the season wasn’t what he needed to do.
It was a rough NFL debut for the rookie second-round draft pick out of Georgia. He only got three carries for eight yards on the day and three catches for 15 yards. None of that is great, obviously, but he did have a moment that he won’t be forgetting anytime soon. As time was ticking down and Matt Stafford was trying to lead a game-winning drive, he found an open Swift near the front pylon for what should have been the go-ahead score with less than 10 seconds left. Stafford’s pass was on the money and the ball clanked off Swift’s hands, all but ensuring the Bears’ come-from-behind victory.
If you’re reading this, there’s a non-zero chance you’ve gotten to this point and you just thought to yourself, “who the hell is Randy Bullock?” and I wouldn’t blame you. It’s not always great that games are so often decided by kickers, but that’s exactly who this guy is for the Bengals. Joe Burrow led the Bengals down the field for what could have been a game-winning drive in his NFL debut. First, his go-ahead touchdown pass to A.J. Green was overturned thanks to an offensive pass interference on Green, then Bullock entered the fold. All that separated the Bengals and Chargers from heading to overtime was a 31-yard field goal off Bullock’s right foot. Not only did Bullock miss wide right, but he appeared as if he pulled a muscle in his leg in the process. Not a great day for him.
The first game of the Mike McCarthy-era in Dallas could have gone so much better for the Cowboys. Dallas had the chance to tie the game in the fourth quarter by kicking a field goal from Los Angeles’ 11-yard line. Instead, the Cowboys went for it. Dak Prescott completed a two-yard pass on fourth down, leaving the Cowboys short of the stick and turning the ball over on downs. Dallas wouldn’t be that close to the end zone again and lost by three. McCarthy also decided it was a good idea to keep his final timeout in his pocket on the final drive of the game, which eventually saw the Cowboys fail to convert a 4th and 20 on their last offensive snap of the game.
Whoever designed the Rams and Falcons uniforms
It’s always fair to judge what uniforms look like until they actually hit the field. Both Atlanta and the Rams took a lot of heat online when they unveiled their uniforms a few months ago. After both of them hitting the field on Sunday it’s finally fair to say that these rebrands were a huge miss by Nike. Ugly doesn’t begin to tell the story.