The NFL returned to our lives this past weekend and served up the usual drama proving that, no matter much we talk and speculate in the offseason, few of us really know what is going to happen when the games are played for real. There were quite a few eye-raising performances and results and that has meant there is considerable fluctuation in the Power Rankings this week.
The 49ers could not have looked more dominant in their 30-7 road win in Pittsburgh. I came away from watching that demolition very impressed with Brock Purdy at quarterback. But, it was also notable that San Francisco didn’t need much out of George Kittle on offense nor Nick Bosa on D and still won easily.
The Eagles were given all they could handle by the Patriots in New England, but they still survived to get the opening day win. That’s creditable, but there are areas in need of improvement. I would expect Philly to gain more than 97 yards on the ground and record more than two sacks more often than not.
Patrick Mahomes saw five of his passes dropped, including one that turned into a pick six defensive touchdown for the Detroit Lions. That has to be tidied up this week in Jacksonville. I also thought the Chiefs got too cute with some of their offensive play-calling. The result was a disappointing Week 1 defeat.
The Dolphins are prolific and close to unstoppable when they are healthy and firing on all offensive cylinders. Tua Tagovailoa threw for 466 yards and three touchdowns in beating the Chargers and Tyreek Hill went for more than 200 yards. The defense needs to find a way to be more consistent, though..
The Cowboys will have the usual Super Bowl expectations placed on them by team owner Jerry Jones, even though 27 seasons have passed since America’s Team last lifted the Vince Lombardi Trophy. And that puts head coach Mike McCarthy and quarterback Dak Prescott firmly on the hot seat. That pair has to deliver in 2023 and at least put the Cowboys in that Super Bowl conversation once again.
The Jaguars got their season off to a winning start in Indianapolis and Trevor Lawrence and his offensive skill position mates enjoyed some serious highs in that game. But it was not offense all the way. Edge rusher Josh Allen, who is in a vital contract year, helped his future bank account by recording three sacks.
Jets head coach Robert Saleh should be credited with keeping his team focused after Aaron Rodgers was lost to a season-ending torn achilles four plays into the new campaign. The Jets played to their strengths with five sacks and three interceptions in a thrilling overtime win over the Buffalo Bills.
I know quite a bit has gone wrong for this franchise in recent years and that Detroit has not won a playoff game since the 1991 season, but it might be time to start believing. The Lions have now won nine of their last 11 games dating back to last year and their defense no longer looks anything like the worst in the NFL.
Bills quarterback Josh Allen spoke with me during training camp and suggested that he has to do a better job of taking care of the football. Interceptions and forced mistakes crept back into his game in 2022 and they were there on Monday Night as he tossed up three picks in a disappointing loss to the Jets.
The Ravens suffered injuries to running back J.K. Dobbins and offensive lineman Ronnie Stanley but there were also quite a few positives to come out of their 25-9 win over Houston. Rookie WR Zay Flowers is the real deal, OBJ made a couple of nice grabs and the defense came up with five sacks in a dominant display.
The Bengals were one of the most disappointing teams in the entire league in Week 1 as they fell to 24-3 defeat against Cleveland. A couple of startling numbers… Joe Burrow threw for just 82 yards, while the Bengals allowed the Browns to rush for 206 yards and a touchdown. The only way is up for the Bengals.
Is there a team in the league that finds more ways to lose than the Chargers? They produced 433 offensive yards and 34 points in Week 1 but still ended up losing. They simply had no answer for Tyreek Hill and Tua Tagovailoa. This talented teams has to find a way to step up in big moments and with games on the line.
The Browns could be a sneaky-good team worth monitoring the AFC, especially when you consider how well they played against Cincinnati in Week 1. Cleveland were so dominant on the ground that they needed little from quarterback Deshaun Watson. The season-ending loss of tackle Jack Conklin is a real worry.
Bijan Robinson and Tyler Allgeier should be fun to watch in 2023. Robinson pulled off a ridiculous move to score on an 11-yard catch, while Allgeier found the end zone twice; including one tackle-breaking effort. Both were key in the opening day win over Carolina and should team well together in the coming weeks.
All eyes were on Jordan Love as his era of quarterback play began for the Green Bay Packers. And he was rock solid, throwing for 245 yards and three touchdowns in a win over the Bears. But he had plenty of help from the offensive backfield, his receivers and some key playmakers on defense. It was a real team effort.
The Vikings will feel like they let one slip away as they lost to Tampa Bay by three points in Week 1. The team that went 11-0 in one-score games last regular season couldn’t get the job done. Kirk Cousins (344 passing yards and 2 TD) must keep targeting Justin Jefferson, who had nine grabs for 150 yards.
Derek Carr had a decent first outing for the Saints as he threw for 305 yards and a touchdown, and Chris Olave got off to a very good start at receiver. But Sunday’s win over Tennessee was driven by what should be a very good defense as New Orleans recorded three interceptions and three sacks.
Hands up if you predicted that the Rams would march into Seattle and record a 30-13 road win against the Seahawks? Thought not. Matthew Stafford went into this game without Cooper Kupp, but a couple of young receivers Puka Nacua (10 for 119 yards) and Tutu Atwell (6 for 119 yards) took up the slack.
The Seahawks were sloppy and ill-disciplined in their loss to the Rams, racking up just 180 total yards and committing seven penalties. Head coach Pete Carroll labelled it “a day of frustration” and he was not wrong. The Seahawks avoided a Giants and Steelers-like embarrassment in Week 1, but only just.
T.J. Watt. That’s the only positive I can give Steelers fans coming out of Week 1. He was sensational against San Francisco as he registered three sacks, five quarterback hits, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery. As for the rest of the team? There is universe-sized room for improvement across the board.
Strong defensive play kept the Patriots within five points of the Philadelphia Eagles in the dying moments of their Week 1 game; but Mac Jones was unable to deliver the sort of come-from-behind win that became the trademark of a certain Mr. Brady who was honoured at the stadium earlier on that day.
Could the Baker Mayfield experience prove successful in Tampa Bay? We should let that particular theory stand the test of time because Baker has enjoyed promising debuts in the past and failed to follow up. Mayfield’s 173 passing yards and two touchdowns were not dramatic, but they were enough for the win.
There is talent and reason for optimism in Washington with Josh Harris taking over as the new owner. The Commanders fielded the league’s third-best defense in 2022 and the passing game targets of Terry McLaurin, Jahan Dotson and Curtis Samuel are juicy. But is Sam Howell going to be the answer at quarterback? To believe that right now is a stretch, to say the least. Only time will tell at that key position.
I feel like the Titans are always going to put forth a good effort on the defensive side of the ball. They have very good talent on defense and Mike Vrabel can coach them up. But we have to expect more from the offense. Ryan Tannehill had a terrible day against the Saints, throwing three interceptions.
The Raiders won just six games last season and are in danger of becoming irrelevant in terms of NFL headlines. That is shocking to write given how well-supported this team has been during stops in Los Angeles, Oakland and now Las Vegas. But one of the most notable things to come out of Sin City this summer was Jimmy Garoppolo’s suggestion that weird stuff happens with quarterbacks in San Francisco.
Russell Wilson threw two touchdown passes and no interceptions in his first start of the 2023 season and in his first start since his new head coach, Sean Payton, said that his quarterback needs to “stop kissing babies.” Wilson lost and was not helped by his leading receiver being Adam Trautman (5 for 34 yards).
The Colts should be finding a way to make peace with running back Jonathan Taylor because they need all the offensive weapons they can lay their hands on to play around rookie quarterback Anthony Richardson. In his NFL debut, Richardson showed that he can finally offer stability to the Colts at that key position.
Bryce Young had a few nice moments in his NFL debut but also made some shocking mistakes. But it’s to be expected and his progress is going to be steady at beast because the Panthers just don’t have a take-the-top-off talent who can change games in an instant. Patience will be required as Young plays out 2023.
There was literally no protection offered up for Daniel Jones in Sunday’s home embarrassment as he was sacked seven times by the Cowboys. It’s hard to make a play when you’re lying flat on your back and yet there is a part of me that expected more of a quarterback who is making more than $40 million per year.
I also expected more of the Bears in Week 1 and yet they hardly put up a fight against the Packers. When glancing at his numbers (216 passing yards and one touchdown; and 59 rushing yards), Justin Fields had a decent game. That’s misleading and he was poor. He was under pressure for sure, but didn’t react well.
Houston are devoid of offensive playmakers so much of this season is going to be spent gauging the progress of quarterback C.J. Stroud. The rookie took 10 hits and five sacks against Baltimore but he never shied away and earned the respect of his teammates and his opponents on a difficult day at the office.
As bad as their offseason has been, the Cardinals could and probably should be 1-0 right now. They let Washington off the hook after sacking Sam Howell six times. But how much can we expect from a paltry offense that is being led by Josh Dobbs at quarterback? It is still shaping up to be a long season in Arizona.