The first week of NFL Football is officially behind us.
Everything we have thought we have known, everything that we have predicted, and everything we have thought was gospel for the previous several months during the offseason is WRONG.
Well, maybe not really, but we see this year after year during week one where there are so many jarring surprises because of how early things are- no one ever knows what is real and what is fake. It’s essentially an extended preseason! Very few teams start their first-teamers in the actual preseason, and the offseason schedule has so much variance now.
Last year, the Jaguars started week 1 with a win over a Colts team that would make the playoffs. They went on to be 1-15 by losing 15 straight. In the following “Overreaction Monday,” we wondered whether or not Gardner Minshew could lead them to be a solid team.
Every storyline and team’s performance should be taken with a grain of salt during week 1, but there were so many stories from our first weekend of action that would make the rest of the year so deliciously entertaining should they turn out to be long-lasting throughout the season.
Here are the stories that make the “Please, be real” wishlist.
The NFC West Being An Absolute Blood Bath
The consensus was that this was going to be the best division in football coming into the year, but no one expected all four of them to look this good.
The 49ers might have been the most underperforming team within the division, and at one point, they were up by 28 points midway through the fourth quarter on the Lions. Their defense was excellent, getting a pick-6 and making Jared Goff look far away from that comforting blanket known as Sean McVay’s offense, and the offense used BOTH Jimmy Garoppolo and a little bit of Trey Lance to find every which way to score. They overcame injuries and still managed to put up points with a plethora of different offensive weapons. Still, stupid mistakes and an onside kick recovery down the stretch allowed Detroit to almost come back at the end, and they only won by 8. Regardless, they looked as ready as we thought.
Meanwhile, Matthew Stafford looked like he had been rescued from Shawshank in Los Angeles, tossing 3 TD’s and going 20 for 26 in a 34-14 win.
The Seahawks defense dismantled the Colts, and Russell Wilson was completely efficient with his new offensive coordinator, who looks as if he finally has a balance with the run game.
BUT, Arizona was the catalyst for this conversation this weekend. While the other three teams were all equally considered to be playoff teams, Arizona was considered the weak link. Kliff Kingsbury was rumored to have one of the hottest seats in football because of his inability to be creative with Kyler, and the defense was lifeless. The Cardinals absolutely man-handled the Titans in their house. Kyler put up 5 touchdowns that looked like Madden 99 overall create-a-player plays, and Chandler Jones murdered the Titans’ offensive line with 5 sacks in a 38-13 massacre.
Kyler looked like an MVP taking the next step. If they end up being as competitive as the rest of the teams in the west, we’re in for some of the most entertaining shootouts of this generation of football. We’ve been blessed.
Jalen Hurts and the Eagles are a Rocky Movie
One of the most “Philadelphia” icons within the city is the statue of Rocky Balboa at the top of the steps, representing their grinder, underdog nature, and overcoming so many counting them out.
Jalen Hurts in college was benched at halftime during his National Championship game. Despite being a Heisman candidate, the entirety of the media has seen him as a stop-gap quarterback this year until they find their guy through the draft as there were questions about his performances last season, and the Eagles were looking like they could be one of the worst teams in the league.
New head coach Nick Sirianni and Jalen TORCHED Atlanta in game 1 on the road, 32-6, with Hurts going 27/35 with 3 touchdowns. Granted, the majority of his passes were baby screens with no air yards, and a win over the Falcons could potentially amount to nothing the way they looked.
Still, the NFC East becomes a lot more interesting if they end up being an entertaining watch and a worthy opponent of Dallas, Washington, and (probably not) the Giants.
The Chargers Not Making Dumb Mistakes
The Chargers iced a close game down the stretch on the road in Washington against a defense that many considered to be the best in the league for the new coaching regime’s first victory, 20-16.
That was a game that the Chargers of old would have lost.
We saw Philip Rivers, no matter how good he was, in countless games with the California sun coming down with minutes left, have an opportunity to win a game only for a stupid mistake to occur. Even last year with Justin Herbert, Anthony Lynn abused the team with his play-calling as they went on to blow away meaningless games. They have been the cursed franchise.
Brandon Staley looked incredibly competent and efficient, the offensive line and special teams looked fixed after their offseason moves, and now, we just hope that the curse has been lifted.
The “Ehh?” Quarterbacks Looking Like the Best Versions of Themselves
There were several quarterbacks in up-in-the-air situations coming into the year that we couldn’t quite get a read on. Sam Darnold left the Adam Gase hellscape in New York in a trade to the Panthers, Joe Burrow basically had his leg eaten by an actual Bengal, Teddy Bridgewater was seen as merely a “game-manager” on a Denver team with a defense ready to win now, and Jameis is taking over in New Orleans after having a 30 touchdown, 30 interception season in Tampa.
All of them got victories and looked fairly solid! The NFL is ultimately a quarterback league, and the more quarterbacks we have performing at a high level, the better. Carolina, Cincinnati, Denver, and New Orleans, all being winning teams, creates more characters.
Having at Least One Trash Division
There’s usually one glorious, beautiful disaster of a division where someone, unfortunately, has to make the playoffs despite potentially being under .500. Last season, the Washington Football Team won the NFC East with a 7-9 record and even gave the Bucs a scare in the first round. In 2011, the Seattle Seahawks won the NFC West with a 7-9 record and advanced to the next round with the infamous “Beast Quake Game” in the playoffs over an 11-5 Saints team.
Is football bad during the regular season? Absolutely. Is it unfair to better teams that might get snubbed from the playoffs? Maybe. But the ugly chaos makes for entertainment throughout the year within the divisions.
In week 1, the NFC North went 0-4. The Bears and milquetoast Andy Dalton were manhandled by the Rams. The Vikings took an overtime loss in Cincinnati, but that team might have the worst vibes in the league; Mike Zimmer criticized Kirk Cousins midgame and might want to murder him for his stance on the vaccine. The Lions fought valiantly in garbage time but could still be the worst team in the league by the end of the year based on their lows, and the GREEN BAY PACKERS looked the most atrocious of them all in their 38-3 bludgeoning by the Saints following the Rodgers fallout this offseason; the Packers were expected to be a Super Bowl contending team, and could easily bounce back from a weird week 1, but if there’s more dysfunction there they could end up battling against the rest of this garbage.
Another division to monitor is the AFC South because the only team that got a win was the Houston Texans, who we thought didn’t deserve to be a professional sports team based on the way things were going on and off the field for them. Jacksonville looks like Urban Meyer could take the Ferrari known as Trevor Lawrence and drive it off a cliff in his first year, the Colts took a loss to Seattle after the most injury/COVID-impacted offseason, and the Titans, who we all assumed were the favorites, were steamrolled by the Cardinals at home 38-13 with an invisible defense, offensive line, and Derrick Henry.
Maybe they’ll show up in week 2, but every team is looking bleak thus far. SOMEONE will end up playing in the Saturday Wild Card Weekend afternoon TV spot that no one watches.
Featured Image: Henry McKenna/USA Today