NFL Review: Week 1

Well… in the unforgettable words of Usher on Gucci Mane’s Spotlight…

“It feels SO GOOD to be back.” 

And that’s the most obscure music reference you’ll read this week. We made it everyone!

The NFL is back. And what a great Sunday to kick things off. Storylines everywhere, great games, and a significant number of results that made you go “… huuuuh!?” Did you have the Texans being top of the AFC South at this point? Me neither. Did you think that the entire NFC North would lose? Nah, thought not. Jameis Winston vastly outperforming Aaron Rodgers? Man… I love the NFL. Week 1 delivered as we hoped it would. Let’s get into it. 

Action At Arrowhead

Credit: Jay Biggerstaff (USA Today Sports)

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce, Tyreek Hill & the Kansas City Chiefs… are inevitable. The Browns made TWO mistakes in the whole game. I’m giving Baker a pass on the game-dealing INT; that happens when you’re chasing a game… but they did EVERYTHING right to win this game, except the Nick Chubb fumble, and the unfortunate drop on the punt attempt by the unlucky Jamie Gillan.

Arrowhead was VERY loud, but the Browns took every single swing from Mahomes, and were barely counted out at the end of this fight. No OBJ didn’t help, but the speedy Anthony Schwartz made a couple of nice plays for Baker Mayfield, and Jarvis Landry is the ever reliable grind-it-out receiver. Chubb & Hunt as a backfield is still the best 1-2-punch in the league… AND YET… none of this was enough for Cleveland to avenge their defeat in last season’s Divisional round. I’m gutted for the Browns, but they made those aforementioned mistakes in crucial moments that allowed the unstoppable Chiefs offense to roar back.

What more can we say about the Mahomes x Kelce & Mahomes x Hill connections? They’re ridiculous. Tyreek’s TD grab was pure nonsense, with Mahomes scrambling right, throwing across his body, late, across the middle of the field… and winding up with a game-changing six points. It defies logic. And yet, if it happens repeatedly… does it therefore become logical that Mahomes does these things?! This is all a bit too existential for me.

Regardless, the Chiefs took a BIG hit from a SuperBowl contender, and lived to tell the tale with a win. Clyde Edwards-Helaire looked a bit more like the prodigious talent we saw at LSU, and if he really clicks into gear you then really have to say the Chiefs don’t have a weak spot offensively. That said, Chubb made a mockery of their run defense at times, and the Browns were able to move the ball effectively for most of the game. But – when you have Mahomes – you’re not afraid of a shootout. In news that will shock absolutely nobody… The Chiefs are back with a vengeance. Watch out.

Kyler For MVP

Credit: Getty Images

I’ve been banging the drum loud and proud all off season for the Arizona Cardinals… so allow me to do a quick lap of honour. Sure, it’s just one game, but this was a STATEMENT from the oft-maligned Cardinals. The disrespected Cardinals. The 5/1 to win the NFC West Cardinals…

The anti-Kingsbury agenda has been loud. I hope days like this will silence it. This wasn’t any old team the Cardinals beat. This was the Titans – who play rough and tough and want to bully you with Derrick Henry pounding the ball down your throat. Instead, Chandler Jones stomped the Tennessee offensive line, and gave Murray the ball in several favourable positions. JJ Watt adds such a punch to the defensive front, and Isaiah Simmons looks to have revamped and recharged over the summer. Rondale Moore was flying down the field, with DeAndre Hopkins continuing to be the best pure receiver in the league. Yep, I’m all in on that take. But – without Kyler – none of this would matter.

Murray is the perfect embodiment of why sometimes change is so necessary. The Cardinals picked Josh Rosen to be the Franchise’s new face in 2018, but just a year later jettisoned him, with Kliff Kingsbury taking Murray first overall in the 2019 draft. What a decision that has proven to be. Rosen has fallen off a cliff into a sea of anonymity, and Kyler is – potentially – a league MVP candidate this season. Change can do wonders for some organisations.

Now for Tennessee… It was weird. Nothing clicked. Taylor Lewan – one of the best in the business, and a highly enjoyable podcaster – was eaten alive by the ‘Zona pass rush. Julio Jones looked like a square peg in a round hole. Derrick Henry was afforded no space and looked kinda sluggish?! It even took AJ Brown a while to get going. It was just a strange afternoon for Ryan Tannehill and his boys.

The defense was poor, but far more talented groups than this are going to be made to look like fools by Kyler Murray this season. But they had no spark on either side of the ball, and even the normally formidable Henry was held in check on TWO carries from the 1yd line. That’s a rarity. Something wasn’t quite right. I’m certainly not pushing the panic button just yet – the Titans will still win the AFC South – but they need to get their act together with the Seahawks & Colts next up.

Jameis Is Back

Credit: CBS Sports

If I’d told you any of what was going to happen in Jacksonville on Sunday, you’d have called me a liar. About as surprising a game as I’ve seen in a while. To be honest, I was surprised that Green Bay wasn’t favoured by MORE than the -3.5pts most sportsbooks were giving by kickoff on Sunday. Aaron Rodgers was coming back to prove the MVP season was the real him. Davante Adams and Aaron Jones were auditioning for big contracts coming up soon. We’d been promised the defense was revamped and ready to step up. So imagine my surprise when Jordan Love is the Packers’ QB midway through the 4th quarter… because the Packers are getting absolutely blown out by the Saints. Unbelievable.

Absolutely nothing went right for Green Bay, leaving a ton of exasperated Fantasy Football owners of Rodgers, Adams and Jones scratching their heads. Similarly to the Titans – I’m not panicking for the Pack. They’re by far and away the most talented team in the NFC North, and will waltz to the division title when Rodgers’ refunds his mojo. 

However, it would be entirely unfair of me to downplay just how good the New Orleans Saints were. They’ve had to relocate to Jacksonville, dealing with the emotional and mental upheaval of another natural disaster hitting Louisiana, and yet they have completely annihilated a team that has made it to back-to-back NFC Title games. Remarkable. Oh, and did they have their future Hall of Fame Franchise QB of the last two decades? Nope. Drew Brees was sitting in an NBC Studio admiring his new hair (congrats on that Drew, big glow up), and it was JAMEIS WINSTON who threw FIVE touchdown passes and led the Saints to a statement victory.

Now let’s also be clear: The Saints were a playoff team last year and should be again this year. Even with Michael Thomas missing the start of the season, there is plenty of talent on this roster, and none more so than the outstanding Alvin Kamara. Is he the best running back in the league? It could well be argued. Mr. CMC will have something to say about that, but AK41 is right there with him. Sean Payton will be rubbing his hands with glee to have got this opening win and to try and have another run at knocking off Bruce Arians’ Buccaneers in the NFC South. But I have to give the final word to Jameis, who showed a level of poise we never saw during his time in Tampa Bay. I can’t say I like Jameis the person, for a number of reasons, but I was happy for Jameis the football player that he found a little redemption on Sunday. Consistency will now be the challenge.

Quick Hits

Credit: CBS Sports
  • Good for the Panthers. Good for Sam Darnold. Good for Robby Anderson. I love a revenge game narrative. 

  • CMC is absolutely ridiculous. Not breaking news, but needs to be re-stated regularly.

  • What if Tua never loses to the Patriots? He’s now 2-0 vs Evil Bill. 

  • I really hope the Patriots don’t put Damien Harris in the doghouse for that fumble. He was fantastic up until that point yesterday. AND – I’ll say it, begrudgingly – Mac Jones looked good too. I still think the Pats finish 3rd in the AFC East this year, but they’re going to be good again in the future with Jones.

  • The Chargers are for real. I absolutely loved them finding a way to win against Washington. Give me Chargers vs Cowboys next Sunday and give it to me NOW.

  • Really hope FitzMagic’s injury isn’t a big deal.

  • The Bears are really really bad and I do not think that simply inserting Justin Fields will lead to success this season. That said, if you are a Head Coach, watching Andy Dalton and Justin Fields in practice all week, and legitimately believe Dalton is the better player to give you a chance to win games in the NFL… you should be fired. Bye bye Nagy, Nagy goodbye.

  • It’s so nice to see Matthew Stafford HAPPY. He deserves this. A great debut under the lights in LA.

  • Jalen Hurts is the real deal. Don’t sleep on Philly.

  • Imagine thinking Ja’Marr Chase couldn’t catch an NFL football… honestly. Good for the Bengals. Great to see Joey B back with a win.

  • I’ll never take the Vikings seriously as a contender with Kirk Cousins as their QB. He never delivers in the big moments.

  • I love watching Russell Wilson cook defenses in September.

  • Who knew Tyrod Taylor could still win games in the NFL?

  • Who knew the Jaguars defense was THAT bad?

  • Are the Steelers going to be… good?! I’ve been bashing them all summer and then they stroll into Buffalo and absolutely shut down Josh Allen and the Bills. Weird. 

  • Bills fans – don’t panic. This is but a bump in the road to success this year.

  • Fraud Alert: San Francisco 49ers. You don’t let ANYONE come back from that big a deficit, let alone the LIONS. 49ers to finish bottom of the NFC West. Yeah, I said it. 

  • Confirmed Awful Team Alert: Atlanta Falcons. It’s not going to be pretty in ATL this season.

Monday Night Football Prediction

Credit: Mitchell Leff (Getty Images)

MNF is back, sadly with just a single-header this year… I’m personally in favour of more primetime games at all times. Give me 2 Monday night games every week and I’d be a happy football addict. Either way, let’s get back to predicting.

Tonight’s offering emanates from Las Vegas, with John Gruden’s Raiders hoping to stall Lamar Jackson & the Ravens. Despite a plethora of horrible injuries during camp (I drafted Gus Edwards on no less than 7 fantasy teams this season… Ugh. Get well soon Gus), I think Baltimore has waaaaaay too much for Vegas here. I see this being lopsided and Lamar reminding everyone why he’s a former MVP. Primetime? Ravens putting on a show.

Prediction: Ravens to win.

Cheeky Week 2 Preview

After such a good Week 1 slate, you could be forgiven for bemoaning a slight lack of true marquee matchups in Week 2. The early Sunday slate is a bit bland, with the Dolphins against the Bills probably the pick of the litter. That said, remain patient, because the rest of Sunday promises fireworks.

Cardinals vs Vikings has a lot of talented offensive weapons to keep an eye on, whilst the Titans need to bounce back against the Seahawks, plus Cowboys vs Chargers should be a game played at a ridiculous pace with those two offensive juggernauts. AND then… Chiefs at Ravens to finish it off on Sunday Night Football? Yessssss pleeeeeeeeeeeease. Sounds electric to me.

Alright, there you go. Thank you for taking the time to read my ramblings. I’m @CallumJDSquires on Twitter & Instagram; come tell me why I’m wrong about the things I’ve said. Best wishes to all.