NFL Week 1 Recap: The day of the Underdog

Well, you didn’t think this season was going to be predictable, did you? Surely you know by now that the NFL never goes the way you plan? Let’s recap a fascinating Week 1 of the 2020 NFL season, that was full of the unexpected, including a comeback that may not be bettered at all this season.

Jacksonville and Washington inflict early damage on their division opponents

NFL Week 1 recap
Sep 13, 2020; Jacksonville, Florida, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Gardner Minshew (15) celebrates a touchdown pass during the second quarter against the Indianapolis Colts at TIAA Bank Field. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

The Jacksonville Jaguars and Washington Football Team are supposed to win less than 10 games between them this season. You could not have convinced me that either would win in Week 1, let alone BOTH. 

Minshew Mania really is running wild again. The mustached magician produced a sparkling performance (19/20, 173yds, 3TD) to ruin Phillip Rivers Colts’ debut. Marlon Mack’s injury was a blow for Indy, but should give Jonathan Taylor an earlier-than-expected chance to win control of that backfield, despite Nyheim Hines creeping out of the shadows of fantasy football anonymity to win many people their matchups yesterday. 

It’s not panic stations yet for the Colts, but it’s a rude awakening for the many pundits who tipped them to dethrone the Titans in the AFC South. For the Jaguars, on the other hand, it’s another sign that Minshew COULD be the guy they hope he is.

Washington, on the other hand, pulled the “be so abject in the first half they stop thinking they need to score” on the Eagles.

Riverboat Ron (get well soon coach) appears to have had an instant impact on that franchise. However, I wouldn’t expect things to carry on in this vein, as Washington play Arizona, Cleveland, the Rams, Dallas & Baltimore in five of their next six. Nonetheless, it was an impressive start to Rivera’s rebuilding job in the Nation’s capital. 

The Eagles however, were very banged up, but still… this was a humiliation. 17-0 ahead with 40 seconds to half time? To score nothing in the second half is borderline unforgivable. Carson Wentz has to do more, but it would help if he had Miles Sanders in the backfield with him. 

Is Dwayne Haskins going to find himself as a franchise QB? I’m not convinced by any means, but maybe this is the start of the incredibly necessary entire culture rebuild of the Washington Football Team.

The Super Bowl hangover strikes the San Francisco 49ers

The one upset I DID see coming was the Arizona Cardinals beating San Francisco. Kyler Murray and DeAndre Hopkins… it just had to be a match made in heaven. Kyler’s 91 rushing yards helped keep the 49ers defense reeling, but the Cardinals ability to fight back from being down 10 early and knock off last year’s Super Bowl finalists says a lot about the program Kliff Kingsbury is building.

Of course it’s early – BUT the early signs are that these are not the 2019 Cleveland Browns who, after so much off season hype, failed to ever look like a playoff contender. Hopkins makes this offense legit. Kenyan Drake was relatively quiet but still scored the game winning touchdown, and the aforementioned Murray played with the poise of someone far beyond their Sophomore season. 

The Niners were in line for some regression – I’m still yet to be convinced by Jimmy G in any department besides how handsome he is – but this one will sting. They are the lone 0-1 team in the toughest division in football; the NFC West.

Rams turn back the clock to dent Dallas' optimism

That’s because the nightcap was perhaps another surprise. The Rams, trying to re-find their Super Bowl form from a couple seasons back, knocked off the Dallas Cowboys, who many people (myself included) see as contenders for the NFC this year. 

Robert Woods continues to be incredibly reliable for Jared Goff, who was highly efficient and unlucky to have an interception on his record – it should have been nullified by penalty. A big shoutout to Malcolm Brown! All the off season hype was between Cam Akers and Darrell Henderson Jr., and yet it seems Malcolm Brown might be the Rams go to RB. 

On the Dallas side of things, I have no idea how they managed to lose that game. They were dominated in time of possession, but we’re moving the ball at will until they repeatedly tried to target Jalen Ramsey. You can argue McCarthy needed to kick the field goal to tie the game at 20, but I would retort it would have been okay if not for an incredibly soft penalty called on Gallup when tussling with Ramsey on the following drive. T

he Cowboys – judging by the state of the rest of the NFC East – will still be a playoff team come January, but they’ll have nightmares about letting this one slip. The losses of Jarwin and Vander Esch might be very problematic. Surely Jerry is opening his chequebook for Earl Thomas and Delanie Walker this week…

MNF and The Quick Hits

This is risky because I might look like an idiot by the time you read this, but I’ve just decided I’m gonna do Monday Night Football Picks each week so here goes:

Steelers & Titans. Zero doubt in my mind.

Lastly, my Quick Hits:

  • Surely you didn’t think the Saints were going to let TB12 waltz in and take their division without a fight, did you? Nope.
  • SuperCam MIGHT be all the way back. Yikes. 
  • Josh Allen’s arm IS too powerful for his own body. 
  • Le’Veon Bell’s hold out from the Steelers might prove to be the single worst career decision in NFL history. He looks done.
  • Aaron Rodgers heard that you left him out of the top 15 in the NFL Top 100… and he is coming for revenge.
  • Baker and the Browns MUST WIN against Cincy on Thursday.

I can’t wait for Week 2 to prove everything I’ve said in this article is wrong. Isn’t it just great to have the NFL back?

Callum Squires

NFL Analyst