There were plenty of surprises and statement wins made in the first week of the NFL season. Although there is still a lot of football left to play, let’s take a look at some of the most notable happenings from the opening weekend of the NFL.
Vikings make a statement in Kevin O’Connell’s first game
The last two seasons have been full of disappointment for the Vikings, especially considering they have plenty of talent on its roster with Justin Jefferson, Dalvin Cook, Kirk Cousins and Adam Thielen. After firing their head coach and general manager, the Vikings looked like a completely different team in the start of the Kevin O’Connell era. The Vikings’ offense was fueled by Jefferson, who put up 184 yards and caught two touchdowns. Aside from Jefferson, Cousins did a fantastic job of remaining poised in the pocket. Running backs Dalvin Cook and Alexander Mattison proved to be a deadly 1-2 punch in the backfield with both backs averaging 4.5 yards per carry.
The best news of the day, though, came on the defensive side of the football, which was the Vikings’ demise last season. The Vikings’ front seven proved to be the difference with Danielle Hunter and Za’Darius Smith getting constant pressure on Aaron Rodgers. If the defense can continue to play well, the Vikings should have a chance to push for a division title and playoff spot.
Bengals fail to execute
The Bengals did just about everything wrong on Sunday as Joe Burrow threw a stunning four interceptions in a 23-20 loss to the Steelers. Despite the interceptions, the Bengals were set up to lose the game on the leg of kicker Evan McPherson two times. After missing a PAT to secure the win, McPherson missed his second chance to win the game as well, shanking a 29 yard field goal in overtime. The fact that the Bengals were still in this game despite the turnovers is encouraging, but the lack of execution by the reigning AFC champs is concerning to say the least.
Bears show they are no slouch
I don’t think anyone gave the Bears much of a chance against the 49ers on Sunday, but the Bears made a statement, scoring 19 straight points to win 19-10. Justin Fields looked much improved for the Bears and, despite the rainy conditions, he threw for 121 yards and two touchdowns and ran for 28 yards. It’s hard to fathom the Bears finding much offensive success this season with the talent they have at receiver, but the Bears’ defense showed up on Sunday. They might have to win a lot of close, low-scoring games over the rest of the season if they want to make the playoffs.
Titans struggle mightily in loss to Giants
One of the most stunning score lines came from Nashville on Sunday, with the Titans losing to the Giants 21-20. Ryan Tannehill was definitely missing A.J. Brown as he struggled to get into a rhythm with his receiving corps. Derrick Henry finished the game with 82 yards, averaging just 3.9 yards per carry, and. just last season, he failed to change the game. In fact, Henry’s longest run on the day was just 18 yards. Like the Bengals, the Titans failed to execute late as well, giving up a Giants’ touchdown and two-point conversion with just over a minute remaining, as well as missing a game winning 47-yard field goal.
Texans surprise Colts
Many expected the Colts to have a really good team this year with Matt Ryan under center. Ryan was anything but perfect for the Colts on Sunday, though, as he finished 32 out of 50 for 352 yards with one touchdown and one interception. The good news for the Colts is that Jonathan Taylor looked fantastic, rushing for 161 yards and a touchdown. Michael Pittman Jr., who finished with 121 receiving yards and a touchdown, also looks primed for a breakout season. Despite these breakout performances, the Colts failed to make a field goal in overtime and they tied with a much less talented Texans team. The talent is there for the Colts, but a season-opening tie against the Texans is not ideal.
Buccaneers thrash Cowboys
The Bucs beat the Cowboys by 16, but it could have easily been by 30. The Cowboys struggled mightily to move the ball with any authority throughout the game. To make matters worse for Dallas, Dak Prescott is now expected to miss six to eight weeks to receive surgery on his thumb. The Cowboys will likely need to trade for a quarterback if they are going to save their season, as they have an important stretch of games against the Bengals, Giants, Commanders, Rams and Eagles in the next five weeks.
The Bucs, on the other hand, looked like a Super Bowl contender on Sunday night. Despite settling for four field goals, they managed to move the ball all night, and the defense looked fantastic. Tom Brady still looked like Tom Brady, and Julio Jones looks like a great offseason addition so far. After week one, the Bucs appear to be the favorite to win the NFC.
Bills dominate Rams
The Bills dominated the Rams handily on Thursday night, winning by a score of 31-20. Josh Allen looked sensational with 297 yards passing, 56 yards on the ground and four total touchdowns. Allen looks to have a lethal 1-2 punch in receivers Stefon Diggs and Gabe Davis, and this looks like a team that can finally win a Super Bowl. The defending champion Rams will look to shake off a disappointing week one loss against the Falcons in week two.
The Chiefs’ offense rolls without Tyreek Hill
The stunning departure of Tyreek Hill this offseason raised some questions about how the Chiefs’ offense would perform. And, they didn’t miss a beat on Sunday, putting up 44 points against the Cardinals for an easy victory. Patrick Mahomes was sensational, completing 30 out of 39 passes for 360 yards and five touchdowns. Even without Hill, Mahomes still has plenty of options to throw to. Travis Kelce is, of course, Mahomes’ top choice, but Juju Smith-Schuster and Marquez Valdes-Scantling should prove to be great options for Mahomes as well. After week one, it looks like the Chiefs and Bills might be set for a showdown in the AFC Championship.
Broncos make stunning decision late, fall to Seahawks
The Broncos had a fourth down and five from the Seahawks’ 46-yard line, and rather than putting the ball in Russell Wilson’s hands, they opted to kick a 64-yard field goal. Brandon McManus sent the field goal wide left, and the Seahawks held on to win. Considering Russell Wilson’s pedigree, it’s an interesting play call to say the least, and there will be plenty of questions raised among the Broncos’ coaching staff going forward. Nevertheless, it’s a great win for the Geno Smith-led Seahawks, who will look to prove the doubters wrong.