by Chris Molicki
The NFL is a league of overreactions. A team is playoff bound one week, and the sky is falling the next. This holds true especially in Week 1, when every outsider thinks they have teams figured out. Sorry experts, but it takes a little longer than that — a lot longer in some cases. Here are my Week 1 “underreactions,” in which I took a step back, put everything into perspective, and understand just how much (or how little) I feel differently about certain teams after one week.
Seahawks 36, Packers 16
Seattle came out just as expected — with the crowd amped up, they were ready to defend their title. Nothing they did or didn’t do shocked anyone. They’re still a good bet to repeat. As for Green Bay, don’t sweat too much. This will be their hardest game this year, Aaron Rodgers will play better, and if the defense can step it up against the run, they’re neck and neck with the Seahawks on a neutral field. I would be slightly worried about Eddie Lacy though, after getting his second concussion in as many years.
Falcons 37, Saints 34, OT
What a statement win for Atlanta. While the defense didn’t do very well, Matt Ryan and company showed they were back, and offense has always been their forte. I’m a little higher on the Falcons after this game. Staying healthy is a must with their depth, but they’re back to playoff contending status after a one-year hiatus. This was a classic Saints-Falcons game where a coin toss could have been used to decide the outcome. They’re almost always so close, so it’s not a big deal that New Orleans lost. The offense was on point, especially sluggish Mark Ingram and rookie Brandin Cooks, and while the defense was not, I’ll chalk it off as an off game for Rob Ryan and his crew.
Vikings 34, Rams 6
I did not see this outburst coming from Minnesota. Matt Cassel was solid, but give the offensive line credit for allowing only one sack for the vaunted Rams D. Cordarelle Patterson was used brilliantly by Norv Turner, but he wasn’t featured a ton in the passing game, so let’s slow down with the Josh Gordon comparisons until we see more. Part of the reason why the Vikings held the Rams to six points was because quarterback Shaun Hill got injured and gave way to Austin Davis. Minnesota can be a decent team, but probably no better than .500. As for the Rams, it’s time to panic. The defense will get better and keep them in games, but this was an abysmal performance. And with Hill hurt, the QB situation makes the offense arguably the worst in the league.
Steelers 30, Browns 27
It was a valiant effort for Cleveland, coming back from down 27-3, but they couldn’t seal the win. Expect more games like this from them this year. Brian Hoyer was solid enough to quite Johnny Manziel chants for now, but this team is not very good and has a defense that will at least keep them competitive. As for the Steelers, I would be worried about their defense. They likely took their foot off the gas and the offense looked explosive with Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell, but a suspect D that blows games like that could be the difference between playoffs and no playoffs.
Eagles 34, Jaguars 17
There is, however, a cause for concern with the Eagles. Sure, they kicked things into gear and scored 34 unanswered points, but Nick Foles looked bad, with multiple turnovers. The division is so bad that they won’t have a problem winning it, but I don’t see them getting any further with Foles at the helm, even in this crazy Chip Kelly attack. Hats off the the Jaguars, most notably Allen Hurns, who had a big day reeling in two scores. This team should be, as expected, better than last year’s disaster but still lacking. Maybe it was a good idea to sit Blake Bortles for now after all.
Jets 19, Raiders 14
It was ugly, but New York got the job done. The defense and running game played rather well, as did Geno Smith. The young QB looks like he could make a nice leap this year, and he’ll have to if the Jets want to get into the playoffs with that secondary. They won’t be playing Derek Carr every week. As for the rookie quarterback, he played about as well as you could expect. The Raiders will likely use this season the same way they used this game — to feel out whether or not Carr is their guy.
Bengals 23, Ravens 16
A big play by Steve Smith was followed up with a big play by A.J. Green to give Cincy the win. This was one of the more telling games in Week 1. Both Baltimore and Cincinnati will be in the race for the AFC North title. For the Bengals, they tend to struggle on the road and had to face a tough Ravens’ D, but they pulled it out in the end and won a very big game that makes them look the division favorites. As for Baltimore, their offense struggled mightily. They better get it going fast — they play the Steelers on Thursday — or they could be looking at an 0-2 hole when Ray Rice gets back and a somewhat bleak shot at the postseason.
Bills 23, Bears 20, OT
I can’t figure this one out for the life of me. It looked as if the Bills had lost all faith in QB E.J. Manuel, and with some key injuries and departures, they would be one of the worst teams in the league (I still think that). However, they went into Chicago and knocked off the Bears’ high-powered offense. Buffalo will still struggle this year, but if I’m a Bears fan, I’m a little worried. This could be just a hiccup, but if they miss the playoffs by one game, they’ll look back to Week 1.
Texans 17, Redskins 6
Jay Gruden had the worst coaching debut of any rookie head coach on Sunday, and he can thank his quarterback. Robert Griffin III wasn’t terrible, but played uninspiringly against the Texans. This team is very vanilla and with the way RGIII is playing, it’s going to be in for a long year. Pat the Texans on the back, however, for taking care of business at home. Ryan Fitzpatrick looked solid and this team is certainly in for a bounce-back year.
Titans 26, Chiefs 10
Not surprised with this result for the Chiefs. Missing Dwayne Bowe, all they had was Jamaal Charles, and the defense wasn’t very good like the end of last year. A big time regression is coming. This team will not be good. However, some people may have been wrong on the Titans. With Justin Hunter and Kendall Wright in the passing game, as long as Jake Locker can stay healthy (and Ken Whisenhunt can get the most out of him), Tennessee could be a real player in the weak AFC South.
Dolphins 33, Patriots 20
Bigger game for Miami than New England I’d say. This happens with the Patriots. They usually have a questionable lose in the beginning of the season but once they get rolling, they’re the class of the division. As long as Tom Brady and his weapons are healthy, this team will be fine. However, the Dolphins now look like real players. Maybe OC Bill Lazor really is going to get the most out of Ryan Tannehill, Mike Wallace, Knowshon Moreno, and Lamar Miller. This team looked solid, but they could be much better than anticipated and be a tough wild card out.
Panthers 20, Buccaneers 14
This doesn’t mean Carolina is fine just yet. Well it was nice for them to get a road win with their backup QB, a lot rides on the health of Cam Newton. Kelvin Benjamin and the defense looked superb, and this team, like I thought, will still be a playoff contender and not regress too much. As for Tampa Bay…yuck. The defense was supposed to be so good and couldn’t stop Derek Anderson. Remember the Josh McCown from last year? I think he’s still in Chicago with Marc Trestman. It looks like that will be a bad signing. Better days are ahead for the Bucs, but how much better is up for debate.
49ers 28, Cowboys 17
This game was an abomination for the Cowboys. What looked like a team that could contend in a weak division looks horrible. Sure, Tony Romo is rusty and has gotten out of slumps before, but the throws he made against San Fran, both interceptions and incompletions, were an absolute joke. This team is supposed to have a great offense, but now it looks like the defense isn’t the only concern. The 49ers seem to have delayed concerns for now. Their offense was in sync and Colin Kaepernick looks primed for a breakout. We saw this last year when they beat the Packers Week 1, but even though it was against the ugly Dallas D, things are looking good by the Bay.
Broncos 31, Colts 24