Football is back! Following the most unprecedented and tumultuous offseason in recent memory, the NFL returned to action this past week and all 16 matchups did not disappoint.
The Kansas City Chiefs continued to dominate, several teams pulled off impressive upsets, and fans finally got a chance to see Tom Brady playing for a team not named the New England Patriots. The Detroit Lions also blew yet another fourth quarter lead against Mitchell Trubisky of all people.
Naturally, everyone will overreact after one game based on how great or poorly their team played. It is important to remember that there are still 15 more games to play, which is plenty of time for teams to improve or decline.
Regardless, there is a lot to learn from one game, especially in an unconventional 2020 season that featured limited training camp coverage and no preseason games. Here are the scores for each one week matchup and a few bold takeaways after the first week of action.
Scores from Week 1
Kansas City Chiefs 34 – Houston Texans 20
Chicago Bears 27 – Detroit Lions 23
New England Patriots 21 – Miami Dolphins 11
Seattle Seahawks 38 – Atlanta Falcons 25
Buffalo Bills 27 – New York Jets 17
Green Bay Packers 43 – Minnesota Vikings 34
Washington Football Team 27 – Philadelphia Eagles 17
Las Vegas Raiders 34 – Carolina Panthers 30
Jacksonville Jaguars 27 – Indianapolis Colts 20
Baltimore Ravens 38 – Cleveland Browns 6
Los Angeles Chargers 16 – Cincinnati Bengals 13
New Orleans Saints 34 – Tampa Bay Buccaneers 23
Arizona Cardinals 24 – San Francisco 49ers 20
Los Angeles Rams 20 – Dallas Cowboys 17
Pittsburgh Steelers 26 – New York Giants 16
Tennessee Titans 16 – Denver Broncos 14
It’s just one week, but…
The Mitchell Trubisky revenge tour is on!
Perhaps the most scrutinized player in the NFL, Chicago Bears’ quarterback Mitchell Trubisky lived up to the hype in the first three quarters against the Detroit Lions by looking just as bad as he did in 2019. Fans were already calling for him to be benched in favor of Nick Foles by halftime. Then, the fourth quarter happened. Not only did Trubisky lead the Bears to a comeback victory by scoring 21-unanswered points in the fourth, but he also threw three touchdowns in the frame and finished with 242 yards passing.
Yes, Trubisky had some help from receivers Anthony Miller (4 receptions for 76 yards and 1 touchdown) and Allen Robinson (5 receptions for 74 yards) as each made incredible catches down the stretch. However, Trubisky made clutch throws under pressure, including a beautiful dime to Miller on the game-winning score. He also remained effective running the ball.
In the offseason, Trubisky said he was more motivated than ever to prove the haters wrong. Many scoffed when he made this remark, but maybe this comeback against Detroit is the start of something special for the quarterback. He looked confident in the pocket, made electric plays through the air and on the ground, and most importantly led the Bears to victory. Chicago already had an elite defense and solid offense around Trubisky. If he can carry this performance across the rest of the season, Chicago could win the NFC North and contend for a Super Bowl. Buckle up, the Mitchell Trubisky Revenge Tour has officially begun.
Aaron Rodgers & Cam Newton are back as MVP candidates
Remember when everyone thought Aaron Rodgers was washed up after the Green Bay Packers drafted quarterback Jordan Love in the first round of the NFL Draft? How about when Cam Newton was cut by the Carolina Panthers, could not attract any contract offers, and then ultimately settled for a minimum contract with the New England Patriots in a potential back-up role behind Jarrett Stidham? Well, it is safe to say after one week that many experts and front offices were very, very wrong.
In his 13th year, Rodgers once again looked like an MVP, throwing for 364 yards and 4 touchdowns in Green Bay’s victory over Minnesota. He was mobile, effective throwing off-balance, and showcased his incredible arm strength. Despite many experts thinking he had zero options to throw to outside of Davante Adams, Rodgers’ performance allowed little-known receivers Marquez Valdes-Scantling (4 receptions for 96 yards and 1 touchdown) and Allen Lazard (4 receptions for 63 yards and 1 touchdown) to look like Pro Bowlers. Oh, and the Rodgers-Adams connection was as lethal as ever as Adams finished with 14 receptions for 156 yards and 2 touchdowns. Following an offseason that had many questioning his abilities, Rodgers made it known he is ready to prove he is still one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL.
Newton was not as impressive throwing the ball (15/19 for 155 yards), but again displayed his dynamic rushing ability that earned him the MVP in 2015 as he ran for 75 yards and 2 touchdowns. The scariest part is that Newton is only going to get better considering he is still getting accustomed to the Patriot offense. If he looked this good in game one, the sky’s the limit for Cam and the Pats, especially if Newton can be more effective through the air. Similar to Rodgers, he had to listen to how he was washed up all season long and is now more motivated than ever to make all the teams that elected to not sign him sorely regret it.
Both Patrick Mahomes (211 passing yards, 3 touchdowns) and Lamar Jackson (275 passing yards, 3 touchdowns, 45 rushing yards) proved they are still the best players in the league with strong week one performances, but Rodgers and Newton will have the stats as well as the narrative to be considered MVP candidates.
Washington & Jacksonville are playoff contenders
Who said these teams were tanking for Trevor Lawrence? Although every NFL expert said that Washington and Jacksonville were the two worst teams in the league and the most likely to earn the number one overall pick in next year’s draft, both pulled off incredible upsets against playoff-caliber teams.
Despite facing the injury-riddled Eagles, the Washington Football Team still found themselves down 17-0 in the second quarter. While many immediately counted them out, Washington steadily chipped away at the lead before tying it early in the fourth. A gutsy call to go for it on fourth-and-one by coach Ron Rivera worked and Peyton Barber scored the game-winning score shortly thereafter to help the team win 27-17.
Dwayne Haskins was not spectacular (17/31 for 178 yards and 1 touchdown), but took advantage of some key opportunities. The second-year quarterback also proved he is a leader for this team, giving a halftime speech in the locker room when Rivera, who recently announced his battle with skin cancer, needed an IV. Washington’s defense was the real story, looking like perhaps one of the best units in the league. Led by Ryan Kerrigan, rookie Chase Young, and Jon Bostic, they forced 8 sacks, 3 turnovers, 13 tackles-for-loss, and held the Eagles scoreless after the midway point of the second quarter. Although Philadelphia was banged up, Washington’s defense looked like they could dominate any team.
The Jaguars were not as convincing in their 27-20 victory over the Colts, but still looked way better than anyone could have imagined. Gardner Minshew showed why he, not Lawrence, is the quarterback of the future for the Jaguars. Minshew was near perfect, going 19/20 for 173 yards and 3 touchdowns. James Robinson (62 rushing yards) and Keelan Cole Sr. (5 receptions for 47 yards and 1 touchdown) were also impressive offensively, while rookie C.J. Henderson, Josh Jones, and Myles Jack led the defense.
The concern for Jacksonville moving forward is that Indianapolis was the better team in this game. They were better than the Jags in every major statistical category aside from rushing yards (88-91) and the scoreboard. Penalties, turnovers, and poor red zone production led to the Colts ultimately blowing this game. Although they did luck into a win, the Jaguars deserve credit for taking advantage of opportunities and finding a way to emerge victorious.
If Minshew and the offense can keep playing well and the defense continues to make plays when it matters most, the Jaguars can shock the world and sneak into the postseason. Perhaps more realistically, Washington looks like they can be a force in a NFC East that is truly anyone’s for the taking. New York is unproven, Dallas is underperforming, and Washington already showed they can beat Philadelphia. Strong defenses have proven to propel teams to the playoffs in years past, and Washington looks that they could have an historic unit.
Washington in the playoffs? Stranger things have happened, especially in a year like 2020.
Is it time to panic for the Colts, Texans, 49ers, Eagles, & Browns?
Five teams with playoff aspirations severely disappointed in week one. The Colts and Eagles lost to teams they should have beat, the Texans and Browns were demolished by the two AFC powerhouses, and the defending NFC champion 49ers lost to the up-and-coming Cardinals. So, which fan base should already begin looking to next year’s draft?
Indianapolis fans should have little to worry about. As disappointing as any loss to a team like Jacksonville is, the Colts outplayed them for most of the game. The defense looked good and the offense just needs to clean up a few mistakes to close out games.
Phillip Rivers (36/46 for 363 yards with 1 touchdown and 2 interceptions) was also decent in his debut and should only get better as he gets more accustomed to his new team.
The Eagles’ playoff hopes were already in question before they again lost several key players due to injury. Despite the injuries, Philadelphia quickly went up 17-0 on Washington, but then could not muster up any offense for two and a half quarters. The defense folded as well and the Eagles left Washington with an improbable loss.
Carson Wentz played well enough (24/42 for 270 yards and 2 touchdowns), but turned the ball over three times and took eight sacks. With Lane Johnson, Brandon Brooks, and Miles Sanders already injured, Wentz has little help on the horizon and could join the injured list if the offensive line does not improve in a hurry. It is going to be a long season for Philadelphia.
The Texans and Browns had similar week ones. The Texans lost 34-20 to the Super Bowl champion Chiefs, while the Browns fell 38-6 to perhaps the best roster in the NFL in the Ravens. Their supposedly strong defenses struggled and their even stronger offenses were non-existent.
The offensive issues were largely due to poor play by their star quarterbacks as Deshaun Watson (253 passing yards, 1 touchdown, 1 interception) and Baker Mayfield (189 passing yards, 1 touchdown, 1 interception) each disappointed. At least David Johnson and Will Fuller V showed glimpses of hope for Houston.
Baker got very little help from stars Odell Beckham Jr., Nick Chubb, and the rest of the offense. Due to their poor play coming against two great teams, it is hard to gauge how good these teams actually are. Still, it would have been nice to see a little more fight from two teams that were already on the playoff bubble.
And then there were the 49ers. There should be no concerns about their defense. Yes, they struggled as the game went on and squandered a lead late. However, Arizona is a solid offense with DeAndre Hopkins and Kyler Murray, and San Francisco limited them to just 24 points. The problem was their offense scored just 20 points against a weak Cardinal defense.
Jimmy Garoppolo was okay (259 passing yards and 2 touchdowns), but this is another team beginning to rack up injuries. Most notably, Deebo Samuel is out for the next couple of weeks and George Kittle did not look the same after injuring his leg in the first half.
The rushing attack was also not as impressive as it had been last season. Maybe it’s just a Super Bowl hangover, or maybe this is a team that falls way short of expectations in 2020 and misses the playoffs.
The Rams, Cardinals, & Seahawks are now favorites in the NFC
To much surprise, the Rams, Cardinals, and Seahawks emerged as true NFC contenders in week one.The Rams defense resembled the unit that helped them reach the Super Bowl two seasons ago. Jalen Ramsey, Aaron Donald, and Leonard Floyd helped Los Angeles dominate the talented Dallas offense in the trenches and in the secondary, limiting them to just 17 points.
Ramsey was in the opposition’s heads all game and drew a game-sealing pass interference call against Michael Gallup in the final minute. The Rams left a lot to be desired offensively, but Jared Goff (275 passing yards), Robert Woods (6 receptions for 105 yards), and Malcolm Brown (79 rushing yards and 2 touchdowns) showed potential for growth as the season wears on. Los Angeles is back as a Super Bowl contender.
Against a strong San Francisco defense, Kyler Murray and the Arizona offense was quiet early on. They then showcased their true potential in the fourth quarter, coming from behind to defeat the favored 49ers 24-20.
The game-winning score by Kenyan Drake near the midway point of the fourth was set up by a spectacular catch by DeAndre Hopkins. The former Texan was incredible in his Cardinal debut, finishing with a career-high 14 catches for 151 yards.
The young Arizona defense was also surprisingly respectable. If the Cardinals can beat the 49ers, they can beat any team in the NFC. The future is now for Kyler and Co.
Most experts pegged Seattle as a playoff team, but did anyone expect them to be Super Bowl contenders? It is definitely possible if their offense continues to play as well as they did in their 38-25 victory over Atlanta.
Despite being a run-heavy team in previous seasons, the Seahawks proved they can be even better when they air it out more often. Russell Wilson (31/35 for 322 passing yards and 4 touchdowns) looked like an MVP while DK Metcalf (4 receptions for 95 passing yards and 1 touchdown) and Tyler Lockett (8 receptions for 92 yards) gave Wilson plenty of receiving options.
Despite surrendering a few garbage time scores in the fourth, the defense looked as good as advertised behind Bobby Wagner, Shaquill Griffin, and Jamal Adams. After a strong week one performance, the Seahawks could be the Saints’ greatest adversary for the NFC crown.
It is still unclear who will win the NFC, but it will no doubt come down to any of these four teams.
Tom Brady is showing his age & the Buccaneers are overrated
After signing arguably the greatest player of all time in Tom Brady among other marquee acquisitions this offseason, the Buccaneers were predicted to be clear Super Bowl contenders in 2020. They backed up the hype in week one by driving 85 yards on their opening drive against the mighty Saints, capping it off with a two-yard touchdown rush by Brady.
Because the offense looked so good, Tampa Bay fans were already buying their tickets for Super Bowl LV. Unfortunately for them, it was all downhill from there.
After looking dominant on New Orleans’ first two drives, the Tampa Bay defense quickly allowed 17-unanswered points in the second quarter. Offensively, two punts, a blocked field goal, and an awful interception by Brady was all they could produce following their impressive first drive.
Brady opened the second half with a touchdown! The only problem was it was a pick-six by Janoris Jenkins to put New Orleans up 24-7.A strong drive by the offense that resulted in Brady’s first passing touchdown as a Buc as well as a field goal late in the third gave Tampa Bay hope entering the fourth. The defense then folded, allowing 10 quick points to the Saints that virtually put the game away. Brady helped his stats with a garbage time touchdown to Mike Evans, but did little to affect the Saints 34-23 victory.
Brady’s final statline was respectable (239 passing yards with 2 touchdowns), but he threw two awful interceptions, looked uncomfortable in the pocket, and never got on the same page with his receivers. Speaking of those receivers, Chris Godwin was solid (6 receptions for 79 yards) and Scotty Miller (5 receptions for 73 yards) surprised many with his impressive performance.
However, Brady did not have any other reliable options as the rest of the offense was nonexistent, especially Evans (1 reception for 2 yards and 1 touchdown) and Rob Gronkowski (2 receptions for 11 yards). The defense was able to contain the Saints offense for most of the game, but struggled with penalties and allowed several big plays.
Familiarity will help this team improve and facing the Saints in week one is a tough draw for any team. In a season with no preseason, however, Tampa Bay will have to work through their growing pains in regular season games, which could cost them wins and perhaps even a playoff spot.
Brady had no chemistry with his receivers, made several questionable decisions, and finally began to show his age. It is safe to say that Tampa fans should not make any Super Bowl plans just yet.
Same Old Cowboys
Following an offseason filled with Super Bowl aspirations, the Cowboys, as they have done the last few seasons, severely disappointed and fell to the Rams 20-17. Despite the loss of Leighton Vander Esch to a collarbone injury in the first quarter, the Dallas defense was surprisingly good for most of the game.
The real problem was the offense, which was supposed to be the Chiefs of the NFC and average 35 points per game.
Statistically speaking, Dallas’ big three was good. Dak Prescott threw for 266 passing yards and one touchdown, Ezekiel Elliott had 127 total yards and two touchdowns, and Amari Cooper caught 10 passes for 81 yards.
Still, the Cowboys struggled with penalties, went just 2-4 in the red zone, and scored three points in the entire second half. For an offense that was supposed to be electric, they looked pretty ordinary for much of the game.
The Cowboys were on the wrong end of a questionable pass interference call against Michael Gallup in the final seconds that would have set up a potential game-tying field goal. But, they could have tied the game early in the fourth when Mike McCarthy made a questionable call to go for it on fourth-and-three from the Los Angeles 11-yard line rather than kick for the tie. CeeDee Lamb was stuffed by Jordan Fuller short of the marker and it ultimately cost Dallas a shot at the victory.
There are no more excuses for Dallas. They have the offensive power to be a contender, but continue to make questionable decisions and lose games they should win. If week one is any indication, the Cowboys seem poised to have yet another disappointing season.