Aaron Rodgers is still a top five quarterback
For the first time in over decade, Aaron Rodgers’ status as a bonafide top-five quarterback came under scrutiny during this offseason. However in week one, Rodgers delivered a defiant performance in the Green Bay Packers win over the Minnesota Vikings.
Both defenses struggled, but nevertheless Rodgers had a day out against a divisional rival, passing for 364 yards with four touchdown passes and no interceptions, registering a rating of 127.5 in the 43-34 win.
Although star receiver Davante Adams delivered a standout performance (14 receptions for 156 yards with two touchdowns), the use of the Packers’ lesser receivers was impressive. Allen Lazard made four receptions for 63 yards including a touchdown, while Marquez Valdes-Scantling also made four receptions, securing 96 yards including a touchdown.
If the Packers’ strategy in drafting Jordan Love was to fire up Rodgers, propelling him back towards his best, on the basis of week one, it may just have worked…
Josh Allen delivers, but there is still plenty of room for improvement
Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen passed for 312 yards, including two touchdowns, as well as adding a rushing score in the Bills 27-17 victory over the New York Jets. It was a performance that neatly encapsulated both the strengths and weaknesses of a QB who divides opinion.
Allen’s ability to run the ball is well known, it is his passing game that needs refining. In week one, Allen completed 33 passes from 46 attempts with a rating of 104.6. It was certainly a promising showing, but the Bills quarterback also missed a number of easy passes, including an absolute ‘gimme’ in the end zone. Allen managed to miss the open receiver by a remarkable amount.
Despite a few errors, it was a good start to the season for the Bills and Allen.
Jacksonville and Washington deliver shock wins
Many suspected the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Washington Football team would be amongst the worst sides in the league this season. This may well still end up being the case, however both delivered stunning results in week one.
Jacksonville defeated the much-fancied Indianapolis Colts and Washington beat the Philadelphia Eagles, another playoff contender. Both sides trailed in the fourth quarter before mounting a comeback to secure victory. In fact, the Eagles had a 17-0 lead, only to concede 27 unanswered points to Washington.
For the Jaguars, quarterback Gardner Minshew provided a standout performance, completing 19 of 20 pass attempts for 173 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions. For Washington, under the tutelage of new coach Ron Rivera, the defense dominated, registering eight sacks and two interceptions.
It is only one game, but the first look at the Jags and Washington suggests they may just need reevaluating.
Cam Newton gets off to a winning start with New England
The Patriots quarterback led his new side to a 21-11 win over the Miami Dolphins. Newton used his feet well, rushing for 75 yards and two touchdowns.
It was a promising performance, the Patriots adapting nicely to the mobility Newton provides compared to his predecessor Tom Brady.
From the pre-match outfit to the touchdown celebrations, it was great to see Newton back on the field and playing with confidence.
Tom Brady needs time to settle in Tampa
Brady’s first appearance for his new side did not go to plan, Tampa losing 34-23 to the New Orleans Saints. There were glimpses from the 43-year-old quarterback, on the first drive in particular. Brady threw for two touchdowns but also conceded two interceptions, including a pick six where it seemed he was not on the same wavelength as the receiver.
It is no great surprise that Brady will need time to settle with the Bucs given the lack of full training camp and pre-season, but week one reaffirmed it will not all be plain sailing in Tampa.
The New Orleans Saints look formidable once again
While Brady’s counterpart – and fellow quarterback in his forties – Drew Brees did not deliver his most commanding showing, the Saints as a whole looked extremely strong.
In offense, the addition of Emmanuel Sanders to Alvin Kamara, Michael Thomas, Latavius Murray, Taysom Hill and Jared Cook leaves New Orleans stacked with options.
On the other side of the ball, the Saints pass rush caused problems for Brady and the Bucs with Trey Hendrickson coming to the fore while Janoris Jenkins and Marcus Williams both came up with interceptions.
Ominous signs for the rest of the NFC South.
The NFC West: the most competitive division in football
The NFC West is a division packed with talent. Ahead of the new campaign, the Super Bowl runner-up San Francisco 49ers and the veteran playoff Seattle Seahawks were expected to emerge at the end of the regular season. However, both the Arizona Cardinals and the Los Angeles Rams were tipped for a resurgence.
This proved to be the case with the Cardinals defeating the 49ers in week one after trailing in the fourth quarter, while the Rams beat the Dallas Cowboys in a prime time showdown. The Seahawks also got off to a winning start, comfortably beating the Atlanta Falcons.
Arizona’s win was a big upset, after all they defeated the reigning NFC champs. DeAndre Hopkins seems to have settled in seamlessly, securing 14 receptions for 151 yards on his Cardinals debut. Kyler Murray looked sharp, scoring a remarkable scrambling touchdown in a solid showing.
The Rams looked back to the side that took the league by storm two seasons ago on their first drive before faltering later on in the game.
Nevertheless, a win for the Rams and the Cardinals – and a loss for the 49ers – has set-up the most competitive and intriguing division in all of football. All four teams are in genuine contention for the division title.
Joe Burrow starts strong in Cincinnati
The number one overall pick in the 2020 draft led his side to the brink of overtime against the Los Angeles Chargers, only for a late field goal miss to consign his debut to defeat.
Burrow executed some difficult passes under pressure, ran in for a touchdown and provided a commanding presence for a franchise that desperately needs some leadership.
While there was plenty to work on, the Bengals organisation will be delighted with Burrow’s start to his NFL career.
Clyde Edwards-Helaire dominates from day one
<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Rookie Clyde Edwards-Helaire demonstrated exactly why he was drafted in the first round, adding a dynamic and powerful running element to the Kansas City Chiefs offense in their opening night win over the Houston Texans.” data-reactid=”116″>Rookie Clyde Edwards-Helaire demonstrated exactly why he was drafted in the first round, adding a dynamic and powerful running element to the Kansas City Chiefs offense in their opening night win over the Houston Texans.
Edwards-Helaire became the first running back to achieve over 100 rushing yards and a touchdown on his debut since Saquon Barkley, placing him in elite company.
The Chiefs already possessed the best offense in the NFL, and, somehow, it just got better.
The Cleveland Browns are… still the Cleveland Browns
It may seem a little harsh to critique the Browns too much, given they faced the outstanding Baltimore Ravens in week one. However, losing 38-6 on the opening weekend to a divisional rival in a supposed grudge match is just not good enough.
Cleveland has no shortage of talent on their roster, but that does not seem to matter. An emblematic moment came in the first quarter when the Browns attempted to execute a fake punt on their own 30-yard line. A missed block allowed Scottish punter Jamie Gillan to be tackled with ease, fumbling the ball and handing possession to the Ravens in excellent field position. The game did not improve much from that moment on.
Quarterback Baker Mayfield delivered a rusty performance, including an interception. He needs to find his first year form – and fast – if the Browns are to get their season moving in the right direction.