Max: The first week of the NFL season felt, at least to me, like a terrific example of the league as a whole. Everything great and terrifying about the league was on display in its opening weekend. We had a terrible concussion scare (it was hard to watch Cam Newton get nearly decapitated), a record number of close games (this was the first time in NFL history that 4 games in Week 1 were decided by exactly 1 point, per The Elias Sports Bureau), some unfortunate injuries (I’m worried about Russell Wilson and, man, do I feel bad for Keenan Allen) and yet another unbelievable Patriots win. Football back!
Kelly: From a personal, biased perspective opening weekend went about unfortunate as you could imagine. The Jets just. Well. “Let one slip away” is the understatement of the day but that’s what we’re going with. The Patriots won, without half their team….and my fantasy team lost – obviously important.
But! From the unbiased perspective – football is back and I’m really excited. As Max mentioned, the pure joy of watching games come down to the wire, like the Giants-Cowboys game or the excitement of an incredible performance from a star like Aaron Rodgers. Seriously – how did he get this pass off? That was incredible, and Week 1 isn’t over yet.
Week 1 Winners
The New England Patriots
Kelly: I hate myself for writing this. God I do. But, once again, even when everyone started to count them out, the Patriots prevailed. Their MVP, Super Bowl winning quarterback wasn’t even allowed near the sideline. Their top target, Rob Gronkowski, sat out injured in this game. Their starting quarterback had little to no experience under his belt and was facing one the top teams in the league – a Super Bowl pick by many – and still somehow they found a way to win. It’s just utterly unbelievable how time and time and time again Bill Belichick finds a way to lead his team to victory. But he does. And once again, the Patriots, who ended up going into the game as 9 point underdogs (!) found a way to win. That’s a winner right there.
Oakland Raiders/Jack Del Rio
Max: It took quite a pair of cojones to go for two in that situation. As someone who tries to focus on process over results, I don’t entirely agree with Del Rio’s decision, but that’s probably why I’m not an NFL coach. The Raiders storming back from a 14-point deficit and even getting to overtime would have been quite a feat, but getting the win was even more impressive.
The Raiders have been talked about as a team on the rise and clearly Del Rio believes in the hype too. His faith in his team paid off and he looks like a genius. He also ran away with the award for best tweet of the weekend as an added bonus:
Kelly: It was the first NFL weekend in about 20 years that didn’t have Peyton Manning or Tom Brady in it, but Aaron Rodgers proved once again why he’s arguably one of the best, if not the best, in the game right now. Rodgers showed that he can be valuable in quite a few ways. He had one rushing touchdown, two throwing touchdowns, including that spectacular play to Davante Adams. Rodgers continues to pose problems for defenses because he eludes pressure so well and is incredibly accurate while running for his life. He’s so much to watch and I’m excited to keep an eye on him this year.
Week 1 Losers
Max: Andrew Luck threw for 350+ yards and four touchdowns and the Colts STILL found a way to lose to the lowly Lions. This game was, predictably, quite the shootout and both quarterbacks led impressive drives in the fourth quarter to put their team in the lead. Only difference was Matt Stafford’s drive came last.
The Colts have to be very disappointed. Matt Prater’s missed extra point gave them a lucky break, they managed to take advantage of it, only to blow the game minutes later with terrible defense. Many of the issues surrounding this team- weak offensive line play, a shaky secondary- are even more glaring after Week 1.
New York Jets
Kelly: And on the opposite side of the spectrum, the Jets had one of the best starts to a game I’ve seen in forever. The defense came out, sacked Andy Dalton and made the Bengals go three and out. The offense came out and drove it right down Cincinnati’s throat and took a 7-0 lead. Then Marcus Williams picks off Dalton and sets the Jets up for a chance to go up at the bare, bare minimum 10-0, quite possibly 14-0, but no. The Jets somehow out-Jetted themselves, going 0-3 in the redzone on that drive and then getting a field goal blocked. Like come on. The air went out of the stadium – believe me I know, I was there. It was so hard to to comprehend how the team started so well and fell flat on their face. A big ole L.
San Diego Chargers
Max: I was as surprised as anyone when I looked at the halftime scoreboard and saw the Chargers ahead of the Chiefs by three scores. I did not think they were good. It’s likely still too early to tell if I was right or wrong, but the way the Chargers ended up losing that game is not a good omen for the rest of their season. Blowing that huge lead, against a less-than-stellar quarterback, is tough loss and it is only compounded by the fact that the Chargers lost their best receiver, Keenan Allen, to a torn ACL. Brutal way to open the season.