NFL Analysis: Closing Out Week 1
The biggest game of Week 1 was Green Bay-San Francisco, and that one was recapped here. Let’s close out our NFL analysis on the season’s opening week with a run through the 15 remaining games…
New Orleans 23 Atlanta 17: Both defenses played surprisingly well, given the quarterbacks they were facing. The Saints had to be pleased with the pass rush they got for new defensive coordinator Rob Ryan, generating three sacks and six QB hits, in the first game without injured pass-rusher Will Smith.
Dallas 36 NY Giants 31: The bar was set low in this game. The Giants didn’t run the ball, committed six turnovers and still had a chance to win on the road.
Philadelphia 33 Washington 27: Chip Kelly’s hurry-up offense gets a lot of attention for the 53 first-half plays. RG3’s return, where he looked rusty in the first half and sharper in the second, also gets the media ink. Overlooked is the fact the Redskin ground game was pathetic, while LeSean McCoy ran wild for the Eagles, piling up 184 yards.
Seattle 12 Carolina 7: The Panthers can feel as good as it’s possible to feel about a home loss. They shut down Marshawn Lynch on the ground and were driving at the end for the chance to beat the third NFC heavyweight, before a turnover did them in. Seattle has to like the fact Russell Wilson was productive in the air without any ground support.
St. Louis 27 Arizona 24: This was a big moment for St. Louis quarterback Sam Bradford. He rallied his team from 24-13 down in the fourth quarter to win it. We knew Jeff Fisher’s Rams would run the ball and play some defense, but to see Bradford rally against a good defense tells you something good about where St. Louis might be going this year. No shame for Arizona either, as this loss comes on the road.
Detroit 34 Minnesota 24: Christian Ponder threw three interceptions. The Vikings need a quarterback who can integrate smoothly into a run-first offensive concept. Last I heard, Tim Tebow is available.
TWO SHOCKERS COME UP SHORT
New England 23 Buffalo 21: If the Bills don’t commit ten penalties, they win this game. They kept Tom Brady underneath, got after him with some pressure, recovered a couple fumbles and their own rookie quarterback E.J. Manuel played mistake-free.
The problem is this—what separates teams like the Patriots from teams like the Bills, and the latter always has a reason they should have won. The other actually wins. Still, no point blaming new coach Doug Marrone for the sins of the past. Good start, now clean up the penalties.
Indianapolis 21 Oakland 17: Andrew Luck didn’t get the ball down the field very well, but he stayed away from the big mistake and got a chance to finish off a comeback, jaunting 19 yards for the winning score. This game still underscores, though, that the Colts are not as good as last year’s 11-5 record made them look.
In the end, Brady and Luck’s late drives saved a lot of loser pools, my own included, as their teams were the two biggest favorites on the board.
AFC NORTH WIPEOUT
Denver 49 Baltimore 27: Last year’s Super Bowl champs got off to a rocky start. Peyton Manning threw seven touchdown passes, Joe Flacco threw two picks, and just as problematic is that Flacco threw 62 passes against 21 rush attempts. Granted, some of that was in the come-from-behind effort, but this was still a game Baltimore led at halftime. Rough start for the post-Ray Lewis era.
Chicago 24 Cincinnati 21: Great job the long-maligned Chicago offensive line. Cincinnati’s defensive front is excellent, but they never got to Jay Cutler.
Tennessee 16 Pittsburgh 9: Of all the losses in the AFC North’s 0-4 showing in Week 1, this was the most alarming. The Steelers were at home, but they didn’t run the ball, they didn’t force turnovers and their only offensive points came on a touchdown with less than two minutes to play. Pittsburgh also lost center Maurkice Pouncey. Big problems for Coach Tomlin.
Miami 23 Cleveland 10: Is it at all shocking that this was a penalty-ridden affair (19 combined for both teams) with the ultimate deciding factor being that Brandon Weeden threw three interceptions for the Browns? No, I didn’t think it was.
THREE LOUSY GAMES
NY Jets 18 Tampa Bay 17: When I did my preseason predictions, I thought Tampa Bay would have a decent season, while the Jets would be a disaster. But for my Week 1 picks, I took a flyer and said this would be one of those games that just kind of upset the applecart and New York would first raise its fans hopes with a win, before dashing them. Whether Tampa Bay will actually be any good is a debatable point, but the Jets did nothing to suggest emerging excellence.
Kansas City 28 Jacksonville 2: Big day for the Kansas City defense, as Jamaal Houston’s three sacks led up a team that sacked Jacksonville quarterbacks (Blaine Gabbert and Chad Henne) six times. If you’re Jacksonville, the safety you got to start the game almost makes it look worse now. Sitting with a “2” on the board as your final total gets the attention of fans, whereas we’d have glossed over a shutout.
Houston 31 San Diego 28: They might have a new coach in Mike McCoy, but San Diego is still the same old Bolts. Up 28-7 in the third quarter at home and they lose in regulation. Philip Rivers throws a pick-six in his own red-zone. Some things never change.
Prognostication Tally: I picked all games against the moneyline, as will be the case here at TheSportsNotebook each week. I ended up (+82) on the week, thanks primarily to the Jets coming through as a (+167) underdog.