NFL Game Recaps: Week 1, 2018







Eagles 18, Falcons 12
This game is oozing with storylines, so let's begin with the Super Bowl champions. Philadelphia was able to prevail in its first game since defending the title, but despite the victory, there are some alarming concerns with the offense.

Nick Foles did not play like the Super Bowl MVP, but rather than the quarterback who struggled prior to the playoffs. He barely eclipsed the century mark despite throwing 34 times. His lone interception wasn't his fault - Dallas Goedert bobbled the ball - but he was lucky to not have another pick, as the possible interception was dropped. He also had Mike Wallace open downfield for a deep touchdown, but underthrew him badly. Foles also dropped a shotgun snap and was lucky to have avoided a turnover on the play.

Foles finished 19-of-34 for only 117 yards and an interception. His big highlight was a replay of the "Philly Special," with Nelson Agholor throwing the ball to him this time, rather than current Bear Trey Burton, for a big 15-yard gain during a touchdown drive in the third quarter. This drew a huge roar from the Philadelphia crowd, but the fact remains that Foles needs to improve if the Eagles want to keep treading water until Carson Wentz is ready to return from his knee injury.

  • Meanwhile, the Falcons' history repeated itself. The team had a chance to win in Philadelphia during the playoffs in January, but couldn't convert in the red zone. The Falcons had four trips into the red zone in this game, including two to open the evening, yet could score just one touchdown.

    This was discouraging for Atlanta, but yet predictable. Steve Sarkisian is the worst offensive coordinator in the NFL, yet he was able to keep his job for some reason. It was no shock that the Falcons struggled in the red zone under Sarkisian. Weird plays were called, while Jones was removed from the field on too many occasions. Jones was playing toward the end, yet the only solution Sarkisian had was having Ryan forcing bad passes to Jones into double coverage. The Falcons reached the Super Bowl during the 2016 season because Kyle Shanahan's genius offensive mind was able to get the most out of Ryan. It seems as though Sarkisian is getting the least out of Ryan.

  • Ryan failed to complete half of his passes, going 21-of-43 for 251 yards and an interception. The pick was a forced pass to Jones in the red zone, though Jones may have run the wrong route. Ryan also had two other possible interceptions that were dropped. He managed to complete several long passes, mostly to Jones, but his red-zone issues were troublesome. It doesn't appear as though they'll be solved as long as Sarkisian is his offensive coordinator.

  • Jones, meanwhile, was a beast. He was the only Falcon with more than 26 receiving yards. He caught 10 balls for 169 yards. His night could've seen him eclipse the 200-yard barrier, but he was barely out of bounds after hauling in a 52-yard reception. The Falcons challenged the play, but failed to win it. There's really no stopping Jones. In fact, the only person who can contain him is Sarkisian, as Jones set the NFL record last year for fewest touchdowns scored (3) from a receiver to eclipse the 1,400-yard barrier. If this game is any indication, you'll be able to count Jones' touchdowns on one hand again.

  • Calvin Ridley had a very disappointing debut. He failed to secure either of his two targets, and he dropped a pass.

  • Devonta Freeman carried the ball just six times because he suffered an injury. He gained 36 yards. Tevin Coleman had to step in, and his nine attempts went for 19 yards and a touchdown. Coleman also caught a 26-yard pass on a well-designed screen.

  • In another prominent storyline, Freeman was one of several Falcons to get hurt. Star linebacker Deion Jones, edge rushers Vic Beasley and Takk McKinley, and cornerback Desmond Trufant all left the game at times. The worst injury seemed to be to star safety Keanu Neal, who hurt his knee in non-contact fashion. That's usually a bad sign, but hopefully the injury isn't too serious.

  • Going back to the Eagles, Zach Ertz led the team in receiving - five catches, 48 yards - but he had the worst game of his career. He dropped three passes, and he was responsible for an offensive pass interference to negate a first down. Meanwhile, Goedert, as mentioned, was responsible for Foles' interception. He caught one pass for four yards.

  • Besides Ertz, Nelson Agholor was the only Eagle with more than 22 receiving yards. He caught a whopping eight passes, but for only 33 yards. Agholor, who also threw the 15-yard Philly Special, should have some big PPR performances as long as Alshon Jeffery is out.

  • The Eagles seemed to split the carries between their three primary running backs too often, as Darren Sproles (five carries, 10 yards) saw too many opportunities in the opening half. Philadelphia improved its strategy after that, and Jay Ajayi was able to thrive in the second half. Ajayi gained 62 yards and two touchdowns on 15 attempts. Corey Clement, meanwhile, gained 26 yards on five tries, with most of his production coming on a 21-yard burst to set up Ajayi's game-winning touchdown with a couple of minutes remaining in regulation. The first-half rotation was confusing, and I have to wonder if Doug Pederson was just mindful to manage Ajayi's workload because of his injury during the preseason.

  • This was a very sloppy game that was also poorly officiated. There were 26 combined infractions, many of which were ticky-tack. Ironically, there were several non-calls that should've been flagged. I don't know why, but it seems as though officiating gets worse every year.




    Bengals 34, Colts 23
  • For a while, it looked like Andrew Luck was going to prove that he was not only healthy, but good enough to lead his team to victory when everyone was doubting him. With everyone picking the Bengals - 72 percent of the Vegas action was on the visitor - Indianapolis looked ready to shock everyone, as it led for most of the afternoon. Cincinnati, however, scored three times in the final 19 minutes to overcome a 23-10 deficit.

    The Colts' defense was the primary culprit, as it had no answer for Joe Mixon. The talented running back showed exactly why many perceived him to be a top-10 prospect prior to his off-the-field troubles. He ripped right through Indianapolis, gaining 95 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries, and he also caught five passes for 54 receiving yards (including a one-handed grab.) With the Bengals slightly improving their offensive line - more on that in a bit - Mixon seems like he's going to have a huge year.

  • Andy Dalton should improve as well, and this game was a good start for him. Dalton misfired on just seven occasions, going 21-of-28 for 243 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. The pick occurred when rookie center Billy Price was mauled into Dalton, causing the ball to pop into the air. Price should be an improvement at center, but this was not a good start for him.

    Dalton was otherwise terrific, and his numbers could've been better had A.J. Green not dropped a touchdown (though John Ross would score later on the drive.) One of Dalton's best plays helped spark the comeback, as he was able to escape the pocket on a third-and-8 and find the receiver for a crucial first down.

  • While Dalton and Mixon played well, the third member of Cincinnati's prominent trio had an afternoon to forget. Green caught six passes for 92 yards and a touchdown, but he fumbled twice - losing one - and he dropped a score. Meanwhile, Tyler Eifert hauled in three passes for 44 yards.

  • Moving on to the Colts, Luck didn't go downfield very often, but he played well, going 39-of-53 for 319 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. The pick occurred early, as he thrived to force a pass in the red zone, but he picked up his play after that. Luck also made a few bad throws; he overshot a target in the end zone in the opening half, and he had two dropped interceptions. However, he had two nice deep passes negated - a bogus offensive pass interference and a drop by T.Y. Hilton - and he had his team in position to potentially win the game. Luck, looking for the game-winning touchdown, moved the Colts into Cincinnati territory, but Jack Doyle lost a fumble after a nice gain. The Bengals scooped it up and returned it for a touchdown, which is why the margin is 11 points.

  • It's a shame that Doyle's afternoon ended so badly because he led the team in receiving with seven grabs for 60 yards. Ryan Grant was next with eight catches for 59 yards. Grant is not a good player, but he's Indianapolis' No. 2 receiver, which is relevant for fantasy purposes because of Luck.

    Meanwhile, both Eric Ebron (4-51) and Hilton (5-46) scored touchdowns. Hilton was flagged for a bogus offensive pass interference just prior to halftime. He dropped a nice pass of about 25 yards as well. Ebron also committed multiple penalties, which was hardly a surprise.

  • With Marlon Mack out, Jordan Wilkins started in INdianapolis' backfield. He gained 40 yards on 14 carries. His best run was a 12-yarder in which rookie guard Quenton Nelson destroyed Geno Atkins. Wilkins, however, was stuffed at the goal line in the opening half.

    Speaking of Nelson, it's worth noting that Luck's pass protection was much better than expected. He still saw pressure, but the line has definitely improved, and Nelson was a big part of that.




    Vikings 24, 49ers 16
  • The 49ers trailed by double digits throughout the second half of this game, but scores can sometimes be misleading, and that was certainly the case in this instance. San Francisco ended up with more first downs, about as many yards, and a higher yards-per-play average than the Vikings, but repeatedly shot themselves in foot in what turned out to be Jimmy Garoppolo's first loss in his professional career.

    The trouble started when the 49ers had the ball at Minnesota 1-yard line in the second quarter. Alfred Morris was given the carry, but he foolishly tried to extend the ball over the goal line despite being in a huge scrum, and the ball predictably popped out for a fumble. In the third quarter, George Kittle dropped a deep pass for what could've been an 80-yard touchdown, and on the next play, Garoppolo was pick-sixed by rookie cornerback Mike Hughes. That wasn't all, as Pierre Garcon later dropped a touchdown, then Garoppolo overthrew an open Kittle for a potential score. And, if all that wasn't enough, the 49ers jumped offside on a fourth-and-1 with a couple of minutes remaining in regulation when the Vikings clearly weren't going to snap the ball.

    The 49ers' stupidity in this game ended up costing them a victory, but Garoppolo needed to play better as well. He was intercepted thrice, though two really counted, as the last one was a desperation heave. He stared down his receiver, allowing Hughes to get a pick-six, then he sailed a pass too high toward Dante Pettis. As mentioned, he also had Kittle wide open in the end zone, but just overshot him. Garoppolo, as a result of all this, failed to complete half of his passes, going 15-of-33 for 261 yards, one touchdown and three picks. He should've thrown for more scores, but as pointed out earlier, Kittle and Garcon dropped crucial passes.

  • Speaking of Kittle, he saw nine targets go his way, and he caught five passes for 90 yards. He needs to be owned in all fantasy leagues, as Garoppolo loves throwing to him. Garcon, on the other hand, snatched just two of his six targets for 21 yards. He had a tough matchup in this game, so he should improve going forward. Garcon will have to step up if top receiver Marquise Goodwin misses action; Goodwin hurt his quad in the second quarter. That would explain why Pettis (2-61) saw five targets.

  • The 49ers predictably struggled to run the ball versus Minnesota's stout front. Morris, who ruined the 49ers' chances with the aforementioned fumble, managed just 38 yards on 12 carries, while Matt Breida (11-46) had better numbers, but wasn't more effective. The Vikings have a great defensive line, but the injuries the 49ers had on their front didn't help; they lost two guards on the afternoon, so rookie right tackle Mike McGlinchey had to slide inside.

  • Moving on to the Vikings, Kirk Cousins had a mixed debut for his new team. He began the game by rolling out of the pocket and hitting Stefon Diggs for 18 yards, then lofting a perfect fade pass to Diggs for a 22-yard touchdown. Cousins was hot in the opening half, but he was just 6-of-16 for 79 yards following intermission. As unlucky as the 49ers were, Cousins was very fortunate because he had what looked like a pick-six that was dropped by Jaquiski Tartt. Cousins also displayed some horrible clock management just prior to halftime.

    Cousins finished 20-of-36 for 244 yards and two touchdowns. It was a tale of two halves for him despite battling a 49er defense missing its best player in Reuben Foster, so Cousins will need to be more consistent in next week's matchup versus the Packers.

  • Cousins showed great rapport with Diggs in the preseason, but Diggs failed to catch a single pass in the second half. He finished with three grabs for 43 yards and a touchdown. Adam Thielen, conversely, hauled in six balls for 102 yards. Kyle Rudolph (1-11) caught the other touchdown.

  • Dalvin Cook didn't handle the entire workload, splitting time with Latavius Murray (11-42). Cook actually had fewer rushing yards (16-40) but was a big factor in the passing game, as he caught six passes for 55 yards. In the one stroke of bad luck for the Vikings in this game, Cook lost a fumble at the end of a great run in which he broke several tackles.


    Patriots 27, Texans 20
  • Deshaun Watson worked very hard this offseason, but the fruits of his labor were not apparent in this game. His afternoon began poorly when he fumbled on his first snap, and he failed to complete half of his passes in a disappointing loss against the defending AFC Champions.

    Bill Belichick's game plan was to erase DeAndre Hopkins. He double-teamed Hopkins on most plays, forcing Watson to look elsewhere. With Will Fuller out, Hopkins didn't really have great options, especially with his offensive line struggling to block the Patriots. Watson had a chance to go to Hopkins late in the game when Belichick finally eased off the double teams, yet a befuddled Watson played right into Belichick's hands, opting to run right into a stacked box, much to the dismay of CBS color analyst Tony Romo.

    Watson finished 17-of-35 for 176 yards, one touchdown and an interception, which was a horrible decision in which he launched the ball like a punt despite being across midfield. Watson could've had a second touchdown, as he had an open Ryan Griffin in the end zone, but fired way behind him. This was a stunningly bad performance from Watson, even when considering how bad his offensive line was. It's only one game, but if this continues, Bill O'Brien needs to be fired for failing to develop such a great, young talent. O'Brien made a key blunder in this game, as I'll discuss later.

  • Hopkins caught eight passes for 78 yards, but most of that came in the second half when the game was out of hand; Hopkins had just two grabs in the opening half. He dropped a pass, as he may have been frustrated with Belichick's game plan. Hopkins also took a brutal shot to the head on the final drive of the game, so hopefully he won't miss any time.

  • Lamar Miller just missed out on the century mark, gaining 98 yards on 20 carries. He was vultured in the end zone by Alfred Blue (5-36). Miller will take a seat when D'Onta Foreman returns from injury.

  • As for the Patriots, Tom Brady didn't begin this game very well, overthrowing a target in the end zone and heaving an interception thrown behind a receiver. Tyrann Mathieu snatched the ball, and it looked like the Texans' defense would suffocate Brady.

    But then, all became right with the world, and Brady had success versus the Texans. He hit Rob Gronkowski with a beautiful back-shoulder throw for a touchdown on a third-and-12. He had great success firing other dimes to Gronkowski down the seam, and three different players caught touchdowns. Brady became hotter as the afternoon progressed, and he misfired just thrice on 13 attempts following intermission. Brady finished 26-of-30 for 277 yards, three touchdowns and the early pick.

  • Gronkowski certainly looks like he's going to have a dominant season once again. He hauled in seven of his eight targets for 123 yards and a touchdown. His only blemish was a lost fumble. He made a ridiculous catch between multiple defenders right before halftime. It looked like the ball hit the ground, but the Patriots were able to rush to the line to prevent the replay review booth from looking at the play. The CBS announcers pleaded for O'Brien to call timeout so that the catch would be overturned, but O'Brien once again proved to be an incompetent game-day coach and failed to recognize the correct course of action.

  • Brady's other touchdowns went to Phillip Dorsett and James White. Dorsett should be added in fantasy leagues, as he caught seven balls for 66 yards and a score. Dorsett appears to be New England's top receiver, at least until Julian Edelman returns from suspension. Remember, Dorsett is a former first-round pick, so perhaps he's finally living up to expectations. Chris Hogan, conversely, caught just one ball for five yards.

  • Rex Burkhead drew the start with Sony Michel out. He had a middling outing, gaining 64 yards on 18 carries. He fumbled once, but a teammate of his recovered.




    Jaguars 20, Giants 15
  • This was a matchup between two teams whose quarterbacks are weighing them down. The Jaguars could be considered the best team in the NFL if it weren't for Blake Bortles, but they have to deal with his putrid quarterbacking. The Giants, meanwhile, have some spectacular weapons on offense, but Eli Manning is past his mediocre prime and is no longer capable of being carried deep into the playoffs with a strong supporting cast.

    Beginning with Bortles, he actually opened the game with a terrific fade pass to Keelan Cole for 31 yards. However, things quickly regressed to the mean, as Bortles heaved an interception on an underthrown pass, allowing Janoris Jenkins to snatch the ball. Bortles should've thrown a second pick a bit after that, but the Giants dropped the turnover. Hilariously, the tipped ball went into the hands of Jaguars tight end Niles Paul, who also dropped it. Much later, Bortles was very fortunate not to have an interception when running out the clock.

    Bortles finished 18-of-33 for only 176 yards, one touchdown and a pick. The Jaguars, once again, won in spite of Bortles, barely squeaking by a weak opponent. Bortles will be the downfall of the Jaguars at some point in 2018.

  • The Jaguars could be without the other starting member of their backfield, as Leonard Fournette left the game in the second quarter with an injured hamstring. Fournette looked like he was going to have a strong afternoon, as he gained 41 yards on nine carries. Replacement T.J. Yeldon tallied 51 yards on 14 carries, and he also caught a touchdown. Yeldon almost had a rushing score, but was ruled down at the 1-yard line.

  • Thanks to Bortles, Jacksonville's receiving numbers were suppressed. Only two players had more than 25 receiving yards: Keelan Cole (3-54) and Dede Westbrook (5-51). Donte Moncrief saw five targets, but Bortles couldn't connect with him; he caught just one pass for 14 yards. Westbrook led the Jaguars in targets with six.

  • As for the other struggling quarterback, Eli Manning was 23-of-37 for 224 yards and an interception - a deflected pass that went the other way for six. That wasn't all on him, but Manning missed a wide-open Odell Beckham Jr. for a touchdown on two occasions. Manning also checked down too often. The Giants are going to need to find a better quarterback to take advantage of all their weapons next offseason because Manning just doesn't have it anymore.

    Of course, Manning doesn't deserve all the blame. His receivers dropped six passes, while the offensive line struggled, particularly right tackle Ereck Flowers, who was flagged for holding on both of the Giants' first two plays. I'd love for Flowers to succeed because he's a reader of the site - or at least once was - but his struggles are just too much to overcome, especially against elite defenses like Jacksonville.

  • As for Manning's terrific weapons, Saquon Barkley had a great debut to his career. The second-overall pick gained 106 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries. Barkley had no running room for most of the afternoon, but he often made something out of nothing. For instance, he ripped off a 10-yard gain after breaking two tackles. He then appeared to be tackled in the backfield, but was able to shed the defender and pick up positive yardage. All of this was nothing compared to his 68-yard burst for a score where he reached the edge and out-ran all of the Jaguars. Barkley is going to be a special player, and it's remarkable that he was able to accumulate nearly 130 total yards versus the NFL's best defense.

  • Beckham, meanwhile, looked terrific in his return from injury. He caught 11 of his 15 targets for 111 yards. He didn't score, but he would have if Manning didn't miss him in the end zone. Not shown in the stats are two drawn pass interference flags, one of which was in the red zone.

    Elsewhere in the Giants' receiving corps, Sterling Shepard had a middling performance, catching five passes for 48 yards, while also dropping a crucial ball in the fourth quarter. Evan Engram (2-18) struggled versus the elite Jaguar linebackers, though he had a 34-yard reception negated by one of Flowers' holding penalties.


    Ravens 47, Bills 3
  • Joe Flacco admittedly worked very hard this offseason for the first time since winning the Super Bowl, as he was motivated by the front office selecting Lamar Jackson in the first round. It turns out that this extra effort has paid off, as Flacco was able to shred Buffalo's defense with ease.

    Flacco completed 25-of-34 passes for 236 yards and three touchdowns in less than three full quarters of action. He barely made any mistakes, and he was hurt by a Michael Crabtree drop. There was also a curious instance in which he threw way across his body to John Brown, but the pass was complete because Buffalo was too incompetent to do anything about it. One of Flacco's best throws was a tremendous touch pass to Crabtree for a score.

  • Flacco's effort this offseason is one of the primary reasons why he showed tremendous improvement in this game. Another is the bolstered receiving corps. Though Crabtree had a drop, he was able to catch three passes for 38 yards and a touchdown, impressively tapping both his feet in the end zone before falling out of play. Willie Snead (4-49) and John Brown (3-44) also caught scores. The receiving numbers may not be great, but remember that the Baltimore starters were removed from the game prior to the conclusion of the third quarter. Snead also could've posted better numbers, but Flacco overthrew him on one of his rare mistakes. Snead also drew a deep pass interference flag.

  • Alex Collins scored a touchdown, but had a disappointing statistical showing otherwise, as he mustered only 13 yards on seven carries. He also lost a fumble, which gave the Bills a field goal try (that they missed.) Collins was outgained by Kenneth Dixon (13-44), but only because Dixon played in garbage time.

  • Before we get to the Bills, first-round rookie quarterback Lamar Jackson threw three passes late in the game, completing one of them for 24 yards. He also scrambled seven times for 39 rushing yards. All of this occurred in garbage time, but Jackson was on the field for some trick plays in the early going. Jackson was under center in the red zone, but ran for no gain. Jackson also attempted one pass, which fell incomplete, and was the distraction on a fake sweep.

  • As for the Bills, I think it's clear that they are far and away the worst team in the NFL. Here are some hilarious stats:

    - Two minutes into the second quarter, the Ravens had 11 first downs, while the Bills had 10 total yards of offense.

    - Just prior to halftime, Flacco had 23 completions, while Nathan Peterman had 17 passing yards.

  • Speaking of Peterman, he was dreadful. He didn't throw five interceptions again, but he did toss two to the Ravens. He nearly had as many picks as completions, as he was 5-of-18 for 24 yards. Peterman didn't have any sort of chance behind his dreadful offensive line, but this was still an embarrassing performance. Josh Allen entered the game in garbage time and was 6-of-15 for 74 yards. Allen is the better option if the Bills want a chance to be competitive, but it might be best to sit him because of how horrible the blocking happens to be.

  • Thanks to a big deficit and poor blocking, LeSean McCoy didn't get a chance to do much. He mustered only 22 yards on seven attempts. He caught one pass.

  • Kelvin Benjamin is the only viable receiver on Buffalo's roster. He saw seven targets go his way, yet managed to catch only one for 10 yards. It's difficult to feel bad for him, however, because he dropped a touchdown. Zay Jones (3-26) led the team in receiving.




    Dolphins 27, Titans 20
  • This game took seven hours to complete, thanks to a pair of lengthy thunderstorm delays. That, however, is not the headliner in this result, as Marcus Mariota's health is the primary storyline. Mariota suffered an injury following the first delay, but re-entered the game. He was on the field following the second stoppage, but left permanently after that. His elbow was the injury in question, and it's unclear if he'll be able to play next week versus the Texans.

    Meanwhile, the Dolphins were able to prevail with an inconsistent performance from Ryan Tannehill. The Dolphin signal-caller made some good throws, including a 75-yard bomb to Kenny Stills, but he was also responsible for two horrible interceptions. The first was a pass into the end zone that was underthrown, allowing former Patriot Malcolm Butler to snatch the ball. The second was a poor throw that was up for grabs.

    Tannehill finished 20-of-28 for 230 yards, two touchdowns and the two interceptions. Tannehill is an obvious upgrade over Jay Cutler because he actually cares if his team wins, but his inconsistency must be maddening for Dolphin fans. Here's a look at the 2019 NFL Draft Quarterback Prospect Rankings.

  • Frank Gore outgained Kenyan Drake, 91-48, though Drake had more carries, 14-9. Drake, who also caught three passes for 18 yards, should continue to see two-thirds of the workload, though Gore showed surprising burst for his age.

  • Kenny Stills caught both of Tannehill's touchdowns, including the aforementioned 75-yard bomb. His four receptions went for 106 yards. No other Dolphin logged more than 38 receiving yards, including Danny Amendola (4-26) and Albert Wilson (3-31).

  • Going back to the Titans, their success going forward is obviously tied to Mariota's health. Mariota began the game on a hot streak, completing seven of his first eight passes. However, he struggled after leaving the first time. He ended up just 9-of-16 for 103 yards and two interceptions, as he clearly didn't look right. His first pick was an ugly overthrow, while the second was a tip on a screen pass.

    It's a shame, as Mariota played well prior to getting hurt, but this has been a common trend for him. Mariota has been injured every season in his career thus far. If the Titans have to start Blaine Gabbert for more than a couple of games, their playoff hopes are finished. Gabbert was just 11-of-22 for 117 yards and an interception, which was a miscommunication with Delanie Walker.

  • With Mariota playing about a half of this game healthy, the receivers didn't have a chance to do much. Corey Davis led the way with six grabs for 62 yards, while Walker secured four receptions for 52 yards. Walker, unfortunately, dislocated his ankle and could be done for the season.

  • No one should be surprised that Dion Lewis was more effective than the plodding Derrick Henry. Lewis gained 75 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries to go along with five catches for 35 receiving yards. He had a 26-yard gain to set up his own score in the second half. Henry, conversely, mustered only 26 yards on 10 carries.


    Buccaneers 48, Saints 40
    By Charlie Campbell - @draftcampbell

  • EDITOR'S NOTE: I've been covering the NFL for almost 19 years, and this is the most confusing result I've ever seen. I can't even begin to understand what happened.

  • There are some shocking results in Week 1 of every NFL season, and New Orleans losing at home while allowing Tampa Bay to tie a franchise record for points definitely is one of those surprises. With backup quarterback Ryan Fizpatrick at the helm, the Buccaneers absolutely shredded the Saints' defense. Drew Brees and Alvin Kamara were excellent for New Orleans, but they weren't enough to overcome Dennis Allen's defense getting ripped apart by Tampa Bay offensive coordinator Todd Monken for a total of 529 yards offensively. The Saints have started slow for years, and the Buccaneers made that trend continue in 2018.

  • On the second play from scrimmage, Brees hit Kamara in the flat, and Kamara bolted down the sideline for a 35-yard gain. A 14-yard completion to Michael Thomas soon set up Kamara to dart into the end zone from five yards out. Tampa Bay quickly answered when Fitzpatrick found DeSean Jackson wide open in busted coverage for a 58-yard touchdown. Using Kamara and Thomas, New Orleans moved the ball down the field again but had to settle for a field goal. The Buccaneers came right back with Peyton Barber ripping off 35 yards on two carries, Chris Godwin (3-41-1) making a beautiful 16-yard catch, Evans hauling in a 21-yard pass, and then Fitzpatrick running the ball in for a 4-yard touchdown.

    Brees answered by hitting Thomas on the run for a 35-yard gain and then lofting in a 28-yard touchdown pass to Ted Ginn (5-68-1). Fitzpatrick soon drilled O.J. Howard (2-54) for 35 yards, but the drive stalled, and Tampa Bay tied the game at 17 early in the second quarter. A defense finally got a stop when the Buccaneers forced a punt. That set up Fitzpatrick to take the lead with a methodical drive that included a back-shoulder throw to Godwin for a 9-yard touchdown. Tampa Bay quickly added to its lead when newly signed Saints running back Mike Gillislee fumbled the ball after a hit from Vernon Hargreaves, allowing safety Justin Evans to scoop up the loose fumble and run it back 34 yards to pay dirt. Just like that, the Buccaneers had a 31-17 lead.

    Controversy struck on a short completion from Brees to a diving Michael Thomas. He was whistled down, but none of the Buccaneers touched down him, so Thomas got up to race down the field for a touchdown. The officials, however, botched the call and only gave the Saints five yards. Brees shrugged off the blown call and used Kamara to move the ball inside Tampa Bay's 20-yard line. A short touchdown strike to Thomas narrowed the Buccaneers' lead to 31-24 at halftime.

    Tampa Bay put the game out of reach in the third quarter after Mike Evans hauled in a 31-yard reception to set up Chandler Catanzaro for a field goal and then Fitzpatrick lofted in a 50-yard touchdown pass to Evans, who had burned Marshon Lattimore on a go route. Up 41-24 to start the fourth quarter, a fumble by Michael Thomas on a hit from Kwon Alexander led to the Bucs' second take-away. DeSean Jackson caught his second touchdown on a post after burning Ken Crowley from 36 yards.

    Midway through the fourth quarter, Kamara had a short touchdown run and a two-point conversion. After Chandler Catanzaro missed a field goal, Brees quickly moved down the field and threw a dart to Kamara for a short touchdown, and a two-point conversion to Ted Ginn then made it 48-40. Fitzpatrick used his legs to covert a third-and-11 to let his team run out the clock.

  • Fitzpatrick completed 21-of-28 for 417 yards and four touchdowns with zero interceptions. Evans led Tampa Bay with seven receptions for 147 yards and a touchdown. Jackson had five receptions for 146 yards and two touchdowns. Barber ran for 69 yards on 12 carries.

  • Brees completed 37-of-45 passes for 439 yards with three touchdowns and zero interceptions. Kamara ran for 29 yards and two touchdowns on eight carries. He caught nine passes for 112 yards and a touchdown. Michael Thomas had a fumble, but he set a Saints record with 16 receptions. Thomas turned those catches into 180 yards and a touchdown.
    Steelers 21, Browns 21
    By Chet Gresham - @ChetGresham

  • EDITOR'S NOTE: Call me lucky for the Browns coming back, but the Saints shouldn't have had a 21-7 lead in the first place; they were gifted a touchdown because of a Myles Garrett roughing-the-passer penalty, yet there was nothing wrong with the hit. The official said Garrett had his full body weight on Roethlisberger, but he didn't. It was a nonsense call on a day full of nonsense calls.

  • When these two division rivals meet up, the Pittsburgh Steelers usually come out on top, but it's almost always a game you probably didn't want to watch if you like elite footballing. The thought of a clean game was thrown out the window early when the Cleveland forecast showed a 100 percent chance of rain and sustained 20-mph winds. A windy and wet day in the Dawg Pound isn't where anyone wants to be, especially when your All-World running back is holding out, as Le'Veon Bell is at the moment.

    The Browns remade their team through the draft and free agency, and they rightfully came into this game with a bit more optimism than usual. That optimism might have waned early on though, as Tyrod Taylor wasn't sharp and punting was the norm as the offense couldn't do much, but Myles Garrett and rookie Denzel Ward showed that the Browns' young defensive players are for real, as Garrett was nearly impossible to block and Ward picked off Ben Roethlisberger twice.

    Ward wasn't the only player to take the ball from Roethlisberger, as he threw three touchdowns and lost a critical fumble in overtime. Overall, the Browns left this game with a plus-five turnover differential, which almost always means your team wins.

  • Bell's replacement, James Conner, was much of the Steelers' offense in this game. He was used very much like Bell, as he saw a whopping 36 touches, 31 rushing attempts and five receptions on eight targets. Conner and the Steelers put points up on the board first, as he walked into the end zone untouched in the second quarter from four yards out, giving the Steelers a 7-0 lead. That lead held until the third quarter when Carlos Hyde ripped off three big gainers, setting up Tyrod Taylor for a beautiful 20-yard touchdown run to tie things up. After that, however, the Steelers took over and looked to be in control.

    After picking off Roethlisberger twice, rookie Denzel Ward lined up one-on-one with Antonio Brown at the Cleveland 22-yard line after two holding penalties drove the Pittsburgh offense back midway through the third quarter. Ward was outstanding in this game, but one-on-one with Brown is a fool's errand, and Roethlisberger pin-pointed a back-shoulder throw that only Brown could catch, which he did, despite tight coverage, for the touchdown and a 14-7 lead.

    Then, after the Browns couldn't move the ball, Browns punter Britton Colquitt shanked a 20-yard punt, setting the Steelers up in Cleveland territory, which they quickly took advantage of on a two-play drive ending with another James Conner touchdown, this one from 22 yards.

    Pittsburgh held onto that 14-point lead until the hero James Conner fumbled with 7:44 left in the game after, guess who, Myles Garrett forced the fumble and Jabril Peppers returned it to the 1-yard line, which the Browns quickly converted into a 1-yard Carlos Hyde touchdown to bring them within seven. And on the very next Pittsburgh drive, Garrett struck again, strip-sacking Roethlisberger. The Browns recovered, but then had to punt, but did set themselves up for a short field on their next drive, which ended with a fantastic touchdown from Taylor to Josh Gordon. How Gordon got his feet down will remain a mystery, but he did and showed us why the Browns had kept him around through all of his suspensions.

    Gordon's touchdown tied the game up with under a minute left, but after Cleveland held Pittsburgh to a quick three-and-out, the Browns were moving the ball into field goal range when Taylor severely underthrew Gordon and was picked off, leading to overtime.

    Overtime went a little something like this: Browns punt after gaining nine yards, Steelers punt after gaining 11 yards, Browns punt after gaining seven yards, Steelers missed field goal after gaining 31 yards, Browns punt after gaining zero yards, Steelers fumble after gaining 12 yards, and then a Browns blocked field goal to end the game in a tie. That was some painful football to watch right there, but it did break Cleveland's 17-game losing streak!

    This game was sloppy, but the weather seemed manageable for the most part. Roethlisberger's five turnovers were ugly and reminiscent of his five-interception game against the Jaguars last season, which afterward, he went on a tear to end the season. When these two teams meet, I expect games like this, and I don't think we should take too many hard truths about Roethlisberger's ability at this point.

  • A couple of takeaways that we probably can move ahead with are that Garrett is going to continue to dominate this league and that Conner is a competent replacement for Bell. Bell gave a troll tweet on Twitter after the game, but in reality, he had just watched a running back fill in for him and put up 192 yards and two touchdowns. Bell is hurting his bottom line by not reporting at this point.

    I believe Taylor can be much better than he was today, but we also saw what he could bring to a team even when he isn't sharp as a passer with his long touchdown run and 77 total yards on the ground. He'll get some better weather games to show if he deserves to keep the job.

    The Steelers' run defense remains terrible without Ryan Shazier, as they did nothing to try to replace him in the offseason. The Browns racked up 177 rushing yards at an excellent 4.7 yards per carry.

    Jarvis Landry isn't just a slot receiver who can average eight yards per reception, as he showed with seven receptions for 106 yards today. Once he and Gordon get going, the Cleveland offense is going to have many dimensions.

    The Steelers head back home to take on a Kansas City team that just put up 38 points on a strong Chargers defense, and the Browns head to New Orleans to take on a Saints team that was just beaten by Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Buccaneers at home.


    Panthers 16, Cowboys 8
    By Charlie Campbell - @draftcampbell

  • EDITOR'S NOTE: I wish players would stop returning early from injuries. Both Daryl Williams and Greg Olsen pushed it, and both got hurt in this game and will miss more time.

  • Carolina controlled this game from start to finish, and the Cowboys were lucky that this was only a one-score loss. It was a very costly victory for the Panthers, however, as they got hit with a rash of injuries. Tight end Greg Olsen (2-33) hurt his foot, Luke Kuechly left late with a leg injury, and right tackle Daryl Williams was carted off the field with a leg malady of his own.

    If those injuries aren't serious, Carolina should have a very formidable team this year due to having a suffocating defense and some play-makers on offense. The Panthers are well-coached and disciplined, and they have a winner at quarterback. Dallas, conversely, looks over-matched and under-equipped to compete this year. Dak Prescott played really well in this game, but he's bringing a knife to a gun fight with his supporting cast.

  • The Panthers moved the ball near the goal line on their first possession, but Christian McCaffrey fumbled after a hit by Cowboys defensive tackle Daniel Ross. In the second quarter, Carolina got on the board after Damiere Byrd returned a punt 30 yards to set up the Panthers at the Dallas 35. McCaffrey had a 13-yard run before Cam Newton ran the ball in from four yards out to put the Panthers on the board. Just before halftime, Newton led a 2-minute drive using Darius Wright (3-23), Torrey Smith (1-15) and McCaffrey to move the ball close to the end zone, but the Panthers settled for a field goal to take a 10-0 lead into the half.

    Prescott led a drive into Carolina territory during the third quarter, but new kicker Brett Maher missed a 47-yarder. Newton then got moving with some lasers to Devin Funchess (3-41) and a nifty old-school option play on the pitch to McCaffrey for about 15 yards. A run from C.J. Anderson moved the ball to the goal line, and fullback Alex Armah scored the touchdown. Dallas answered with Prescott using his arm and legs to move the ball down the field before finishing off the drive with an option toss to Elliott for a short touchdown run. Prescott scored a two-point conversion on a quarterback draw to cut the Panthers' lead to eight.

    Demarcus Lawrence came up with a clutch sack to get the Cowboys the ball with just under five minutes remaining. They had the drive get killed at midfield when Kawann Short beat Connor Williams for another sack, the second of the game. Dallas had one more chance to tie the game in the final two minutes, but Mario Addison strip-sacked Prescott and Captain Munnerlyn recovered the fumble to clinch the home win for Carolina.

  • Newton was 17-of-26 for 161 yards. He ran for 58 yards on 13 carries with a touchdown. McCaffrey had 10 carries for 50 yards with a very hurtful fumble and caught six passes for 45 yards.

  • Prescott completed 19-of-29 passes for 170 yards with zero touchdowns and zero interceptions. Elliott was limited to 69 yards on 15 carries with a touchdown. He caught three passes for 17 yards. Cole Beasley (7-73) led the Cowboys in receiving.


    Chiefs 38, Chargers 28
  • Alex Smith composed a terrific regular-season record with the Chiefs, but his limitations were always going to prevent Kansas City from making a deep run into the playoffs. Patrick Mahomes, on the other hand, can take the Chiefs the distance. He's an incredible raw talent, and he's being coached by one of the best quarterbacking minds in the NFL in Andy Reid. Thus, it should be no surprise that Mahomes performed so well in his initial start as the Chiefs' first-string quarterback.

    Mahomes went 15-of-27 for 256 yards and four touchdowns. Some of his passes were off the mark, but that's going to happen when a signal-caller constantly launches bombs deep downfield. Mahomes had a tremendous sequence in the second half where he converted a third-and-13 by rolling out of the pocket and finding Tyreek Hill, then lofting a perfect touch pass to fullback Anthony Sherman for a 34-yard touchdown. Mahomes was also potent on the ground, rushing for 21 yards on five scrambles.

    It's quite apparent that Reid is having lots of fun with Mahomes. The Chargers were completely befuddled by all of the Chiefs' options, and Mahomes' pure talent makes the offense so much more potent. What's scary is that Mahomes isn't even a finished product yet. Reid is still developing him, and Mahomes is both smart and industrious, so he's going to take to Reid's coaching. Mahomes has the potential to win the Super Bowl sometime within the next two or three years.

  • While Mahomes was spectacular, the star of this game was Hill, who set the tone with a punt return to start the afternoon. Hill then scored on a 58-yard touchdown when he caught a slant and outran the Chargers' defense. If that wasn't enough, Hill made an absurd deep reception on a pass thrown behind him. He later scored once again on a shovel pass.

    Hill reeled in seven catches for 169 yards and two touchdowns, doing this against one of the best secondaries in the NFL. This was no fluke. Hill is a supreme talent, and unlike Alex Smith, Mahomes has the arm to take advantage of Hill's skills. Hill can certainly lead the NFL in receiving yardage this year.

  • What's scary with Kansas City's offense is that Travis Kelce didn't even do much. Mahomes couldn't connect with him, as Kelce hauled in just one of his six targets for six yards. That won't continue to happen. Sammy Watkins, meanwhile, caught three passes for only 21 yards. He dropped a ball that would've been a 20-yard reception.

  • As for the running game, Kareem Hunt gained 49 yards on 16 carries. Had the Chiefs blown a lead, Reid would've been criticized for not pounding the ball enough, which has been a problem for him over the years.

  • The Chargers, meanwhile, continued to be the Murphy's Law of the NFL. Anything that can go wrong for them will go wrong, and that proved to be the case in this contest. They allowed a punt return to Hill, then muffed a punt that set up a short field for the Chiefs. They missed a field goal and had four drops, one of which would've been for a touchdown.

  • Despite the drops, Philip Rivers went 34-of-51 for 424 yards, three touchdowns and an interception. The pick was telegraphed in the red zone, but Rivers did very well otherwise, considering the circumstances. As mentioned, a potential touchdown of his was dropped, so he should've thrown four scores. Then again, he overthrew an open receiver for a possible score, though that was really his only major blemish.

  • It was no surprise that Keenan Allen led the Chargers in receiving, as he reeled in eight passes for 108 yards and a touchdown. Second-year Mike Williams did some damage in garbage time, logging five receptions for 81 yards.

  • Melvin Gordon is off to a great start to his 2018 campaign. He didn't get much of a chance on the ground because of the early deficit - 15 carries, 64 yards - but he caught nine passes for 102 receiving yards, which wasn't a surprise because the Chargers said they wanted to get him more involved in the passing game. Austin Ekeler was also heavily used in the aerial attack, as he registered five catches for 87 yards and a touchdown.

  • First-round rookie safety Derwin James made some terrific plays. He had a back-to-back sequence where he broke up a deep touchdown, then sacked Mahomes on a safety blitz.




    Broncos 27, Seahawks 24
  • The Broncos have endured miserable quarterbacking since Peyton Manning's retirement. Case Keenum was supposed to be the answer, and while he's certainly better than Trevor Siemian, Paxton Lynch and Brock Osweiler, he had a mildly disappointing Broncos debut.

    Keenum did some good things, throwing for 329 yards on 25-of-39 passing. He also tossed three touchdowns. However, he made a large number of mistakes. He was intercepted three times. The first pick was a telegraphed throw that Earl Thomas snatched to set up a Seattle touchdown. The second was a forced pass deep in Seattle territory, ruining the chance to score. The third was pretty much the same as the second. Keenum nearly threw another pick, but a Seattle defensive back dropped it. Keenum is supposed to be a solid game manager capable of leading a team deep into the playoffs, but his blunders against a poor defense are disconcerting.

  • On the bright side, a trio of Denver rookies performed well. Second-round receiver Courtland Sutton caught two passes for 45 yards, but undrafted rookie Phillip Lindsay created all the buzz. Lindsay split the rushing workload evenly with third-round rookie Royce Freeman, with both gaining 71 yards on 15 carries. Lindsay also played a role in the passing game with two catches for 31 receiving yards and a touchdown. Lindsay was one of my top fantasy sleepers this summer because he reminded me of Tarik Cohen. However, I didn't even expect this much of a workload this early. Lindsay is the real deal, and he needs to be owned in every fantasy league.

  • Keenum's favorite receiver in the preseason was Emmanuel Sanders, and that continued to be the case in real action. Sanders hauled in 10 of his 11 targets for 135 yards and a touchdown. Keenum loved throwing to the slot in Minnesota, so it's no surprise that Sanders is the preferred target. Demaryius Thomas (6-63) was also productive, as he found the end zone once as well.

  • Before moving on to the Seahawks, Von Miller must be discussed. Miller terrorized Seattle, registering three sacks, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery. He had one of the easiest matchups of his life, going against the incompetent Germain Ifedi.

  • The Seahawks, meanwhile, have some bad news, as Doug Baldwin was knocked out of the game with a knee injury. Baldwin admittedly wasn't going to be 100 percent this year, yet he couldn't even last an entire game. In his absence, Brandon Marshall (3-46) served as the No. 1 receiver. He caught a touchdown, but an offensive pass interference penalty of his negated another. Tyler Lockett also scored, but he's an inconsistent deep threat.

  • Russell Wilson did the best he could, but his poor offensive line and depleted receiving corps prevented him from pulling out the victory. Wilson went 19-of-33 for 298 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions. One pick wasn't legit - it occurred late in desperation mode - but the other was an underthrown pass toward Marshall. This is going to be par for the course for Wilson all year, as he has one of the worst supporting casts in the NFL. If the Seahawks replaced Wilson with a quarterback ranked in the 20-25 range at the position, they'd be 2-14 at best.

  • Both Chris Carson and overweight rookie Rashaad Penny both were given seven carries, and it was easy to see which player was better. Carson outgained Penny, 51-7. Carson lost a fumble when Miller ripped the ball out of his hands, but he was still the superior back.

  • Rookie tight end Will Dissly led the Seahawks with 105 receiving yards and a touchdown on three catches. Don't add him, as he's just a blocking tight end who caught a few fluky balls.


    Redskins 24, Cardinals 6
  • The Redskins were heavily criticized for "downgrading" their quarterback this offseason, allowing Kirk Cousins to leave and trading for Alex Smith. The early returns say that this was actually an upgrade, as Smith was able to mercilessly shred the Cardinals.

    Smith picked apart Arizona's Tyrann Mathieu-less defense. He threw precise short and intermediate passes for the most part in a great effort to grind out the clock. Two of Washington's first-half drives consumed 15 minutes. By the time the Cardinals would get the ball, Sam Bradford felt like he had to force the issue. This led to quick possessions for Arizona, allowing Smith to chew more time off the clock. The Redskins ended up winning the time-of-possession battle, 38:08-21:52, and even that was aided by some Arizona drives in the fourth quarter when the game was out of reach.

    Smith finished 21-of-30 for 255 yards and two touchdowns. He misfired on just three of his 20 first-half passes, as he simply wasn't going to allow the Cardinals much of a chance to touch the ball. He had an impeccable feel for the offense, especially when considering that he had no experience working with his new receivers.

  • The other new member of Washington's backfield, Adrian Peterson, had a terrific performance against his most-recent former team, proving that he was indeed injured last year, which adversely affected his outputs. He opened the game by avoiding two defenders in the backfield to burst for 13 yards. He even caught a 52-yard pass later on, though he fumbled at the end of the catch-and-run. Peterson finished with 96 yards and a touchdown on 26 carries to go along with two catches for 70 receiving yards.

    Peterson wasn't the only backfield member to post good numbers. Third-down back Chris Thompson, back from injury, registered 65 yards on five carries and was once again a big factor in the passing game. He snatched six balls for 63 receiving yards and a touchdown.

  • Aside from Peterson and Thompson, the Redskins' leader in receiving yards was Jordan Reed, who caught four passes for 48 yards. He also scored a touchdown on a great effort to reach the pylon after making a diving catch. Jamison Crowder (3-32) was next on the stat sheet.

  • The Cardinals, meanwhile, barely had any time to possess the ball, so it's difficult to make much of their offense. People will be calling for Josh Rosen to replace Sam Bradford, but the fact is that Bradford was able to throw just seven passes in the opening half because the Redskins completely controlled the time of possession. Bradford struggled late, but he was in an uncomfortable position of forcing the issue downfield in the second half.

    Bradford finished 20-of-34 for only 153 yards and an interception, which was a pass way behind Ricky Seals-Jones. Bradford's accuracy was poor, but there's no reason to think that will continue in closer games.

  • David Johnson was making his return from injury. The bad news was that he was able to carry the ball just nine times for 37 yards. The good news is that he scored a touchdown in garbage time. He also caught five passes for 30 receiving yards, as he'll be targeted often by the limited Bradford.

  • Larry Fitzgerald's production came exclusively in the second half, as six of his seven interceptions came following intermission. He ended up logging seven receptions for 76 yards. Seals-Jones (3-19) had a shot at a late touchdown, but Bradford missed him.




    Packers 24, Bears 23
  • When Aaron Rodgers is inducted into the Hall of Fame five years following his retirement, this game will be one of the moments that will be referenced in his tremendous career. When Rodgers was carted into the locker room with a knee injury in the second quarter, it appeared as though his season was over once again. It was incredibly sad to see him helplessly leave the field once again. No news was apparent during halftime, but there seemed to be a sense of dread surrounding him. I anticipated Al Michaels or Michele Tafoya to inform us that Rodgers would be lost for the year with a torn ACL, or something of that nature.

    And yet, Rodgers emerged right after intermission. He told Tafoya he would give it a go, and once the Bears punted the ball away, he put on his helmet. He was going to take the field again.

    There was a tremendous amount of energy from the fans when Rodgers was under center again, and it only grew when it was apparent that Rodgers would give the Packers a chance to come back from a 20-0 deficit. Green Bay utilized a quick, no-huddle approach, and Rodgers began mercilessly torching a very talented Chicago defense despite his left leg not being quite right.

    The Packers were able to draw to within 23-17, and the game nearly ended when a Rodgers pass was dropped by Bears cornerback Kyle Fuller. Rodgers, unfazed, hit Randall Cobb with an intermediate pass on a third-and-10, and Cobb did the rest, sprinting 75 yards into the end zone to give Green Bay the decisive touchdown.

    Rodgers finished 20-of-30 for 286 yards and three touchdowns. This was Willis Reed, except Rodgers literally put the Packers on his shoulders following DeShone Kizer's struggles, and he led a comeback Packer fans could only dream about.

  • All three of the Packers' primary receivers caught touchdowns, as Cobb (9-142), Davante Adams (5-88) and Geronimo Allison (5-69) all found the end zone. The trio posted great stats considering they had Rodgers for just three quarters. All three need to be owned in all fantasy leagues.

  • Jamaal Williams had a key blitz pick-up on a big play, but that won't help his fantasy owners. Williams was limited to just 47 yards on 15 carries. He was facing a tough Chicago front all while being in a big deficit for most of the game, so he just didn't have much of an opportunity.

  • As for the Bears, they're going to feel this one for a long time. With Khalil Mack dominating - he had a pick-six and a forced fumble - the Bears looked like they were going to make a huge statement by upsetting the Packers. They got off to a hot start, leading 10-0 when Rodgers was still in the game, but they stopped scoring when Kizer was under center. That hurt, as a 27-0 lead rather than a 20-0 advantage would've allowed them to hold on to the victory.

    That said, there are some positives for the Bears, including Mitchell Trubisky. The second-year quarterback threw some terrific passes, including a laser to Allen Robinson in the opening quarter. He also made a clutch conversion on a late third down after escaping the pocket and keeping his eyes downfield.

    Trubisky finished 23-of-35 for 171 yards to go along with 32 rushing yards and a touchdown on seven scrambles. He overshot Allen Robinson in the end zone and threw too many checkdowns for my liking late in the game, as Matt Nagy's creative formations seemed to disappear as the evening progressed, but this was a positive step in Trubisky's development.

  • Trubisky showed a nice rapport with Robinson, who caught four passes for 61 yards. Most of Robinson's production came early, as the Bears became way too conservative with their big lead. Trey Burton, meanwhile, caught just one pass for 15 yards, which was disappointing considering how banged up Green Bay's linebacking corps is.

  • Jordan Howard had a solid game. He rushed for 82 yards on 15 carries, and his improved receiving skills were showcased, as he caught all five of his targets for 25 receiving yards. Tarik Cohen was also a factor, as he rushed for 25 yards on five carries and caught three balls for 16 receiving yards.




    Jets 48, Lions 17
  • All eyes were on Sam Darnold in his first NFL appearance. Darnold was the first of the five opening-round quarterbacks to be given the start, which was remarkable because he happened to be the youngest signal-caller to do so in half of a century. Darnold looked like he was extremely overwhelmed on his first pass. He panicked under pressure, rolled right, and hurled a floater all the way across the field. It was promptly pick-sixed, and the Lions were up 7-0 after just a few seconds. This was going to be a disastrous performance for the USC product.

    Except, it wasn't. Backup quarterback Josh McCown told Darnold to stay aggressive, then recommended the coaching staff to continue with the game plan. The Jets did just that, and Darnold thrived. He immediately led a scoring drive, highlighted by a play in which he rolled out on a third-and-7 in the red zone and found Quincy Enunwa, who made a diving catch. He later hit Robby Anderson with a 41-yard bomb for a touchdown. Darnold was on point with most of his throws; in fact, he misfired just four times following his pick-six!

    Darnold was excellent in his debut, going 16-of-21 for 198 yards, two touchdowns and the interception. Aside from the pick-six, he only made a couple of mistakes. He took a poor 10-yard sack in Detroit territory, then was nearly intercepted in the red zone. Darnold was tremendous otherwise, as he went through his progressions and constantly kept his eyes downfield. He certainly did not look like the youngest quarterback to get a start in 50 years.

  • Anderson had the aforementioned 41-yard touchdown, but did nothing else. In fact, that was his only target. The reason for this may have been Darius Slay, as Darnold was wise to stay away from him. Besides, Darnold had much better matchups against the Lions' anemic linebacking corps and other corners. Darnold went to Quincy Enunwa 10 times, and Enunwa caught six balls for 63 yards and a touchdown.

  • The Jets ran the ball very well against Detroit's hapless front seven. Isaiah Crowell gained 102 yards and two touchdowns on 10 attempts. Bilal Powell actually carried the ball more (12 times), tallying 60 yards in the process. Powell had an excellent blitz pick-up that allowed Darnold to hit a big play.

  • There's plenty of optimism for the Jets going forward, but Detroit supporters have to feel miserable right now. The defense was expected to be putrid, but the offense struggled mightily as well. It was apparent early on that something was wrong when Theo Riddick yelled angrily at Matthew Stafford, then Stafford fired an interception because of a miscommunication. Throughout the evening, it seemed as though Stafford didn't know what the Jets were doing. Color analyst Brian Griese commented on it, citing that Stafford didn't recognize what scheme New York was running. Stafford looked completely unprepared for this game, almost as if he had just ended a holdout and hadn't practiced with his teammates whatsoever.

    Adding injury to insult, Stafford got hurt on multiple occasions in this game. The first instance saw him go down with a knee injury, though it seemed as though he just banged knees with someone else. The second was worse, as he was crunched by two Jets at the same time. Stafford was down for a while, and the look in his eyes made it seem like he didn't know where he was. Stafford, however, was able to re-enter the game for a bit before exiting because this contest was way out of hand.

    Stafford finished 27-of-46 for 286 yards, one touchdown and a whopping four interceptions. The first was a miscommunication. The second was a poor decision, though receiver Kenny Golladay got the ball back by crushing cornerback Trumaine Johnson with a devastating blind-side hit. The third was a pick-six where he didn't see the defender. The fourth was a forced throw, and linebacker Darron Lee read his eyes perfectly.

  • Golladay did more than recover Stafford's interception. He actually led the Lions in receiving, making seven grabs for 114 yards. Golden Tate tied Golladay with seven receptions, accumulating 79 yards and a touchdown. Marvin Jones (4-54) saw eight targets.

  • Detroit's new running game didn't work out very well. LeGarrette Blount lost three yards on four carries, while Kerryon Johnson managed 17 yards on five attempts. The Lions really need to give Johnson more touches - he also had three catches for 20 receiving yards - as he's way more dynamic than the other backs.

    Blount, by the way, left the game with a knee injury. He and Stafford were two of several Detroit players to get hurt. Ziggy Ansah also left the game in the second quarter with a shoulder.


    Rams 33, Raiders 13
  • The Raiders looked like they wanted to prove everyone wrong - that they could win without Khalil Mack. They came out with great passion, going right down the field against the Rams. Derek Carr hit some quick passes, then Marshawn Lynch carried half the Rams' roster into the end zone for a quick 7-0 lead. The Raiders were mostly prolific throughout the entire opening half, as they outgained the Rams, 254-98, and Carr was 20-of-24 for 199 yards and an interception, which was an underthrown ball toward Jared Cook in the end zone. It looked like the Rams had no answer for Cook, who was dominating Los Angeles' weak linebacking corps.

    Despite the Raiders crushing the Rams on the stat sheet, they led by just a field goal going into intermission. Because of the pick, a couple of dropped interceptions by the Raiders, and countless Oakland penalties, the Rams were able to hang around. Sean McVay and Wade Phillips used halftime to construct a great counter for the Raiders' game plan, changing how they covered Cook. Meanwhile, Oakland's exhausted defense couldn't produce any sort of pass rush to disrupt Goff, who was extremely hot in the second half. The Rams, as a result, ran away with this game, ultimately establishing a double-digit lead.

  • Goff finished 18-of-33 for 233 yards and two touchdowns. He struggled early, as he should've been picked off twice deep in Oakland territory, but the defenders dropped the ball. He was also strip-sacked by Bruce Irvin, but he was lucky to have a teammate recover. This all changed in the second half, however, as Goff mercilessly torched the Raiders. Not included in his stat line are two deep pass interference flags that he drew on hapless defensive backs who didn't know that turning around and looking for the ball was an option.

  • Goff was able to have so much success because the Raiders were so worried about Todd Gurley. They did a good job on Gurley early on - he had just 19 yards by intermission - but he grew stronger as the evening progressed. By the end, he was dragging tacklers. This sucked up defenders to the line of scrimmage, opening up some great opportunities for Goff. Gurley gained 108 yards on 20 carries and also caught three passes for 39 receiving yards and a touchdown.

  • Goff's other touchdown went to Cooper Kupp (5-52) who dropped a pass. Brandin Cooks led the team in receiving with five grabs for 87 yards. He would've had a better stat line had the Raiders not repeatedly interfered with him. Robert Woods had a meager stat line (3-37), but saw nine targets.

  • The Raiders, meanwhile, scored just six points following their quick touchdown to open the game. The Rams' stellar defensive line dominated the trenches, and once Phillips figured out to put Aqib Talib on Cook, Carr began struggling. Carr completed just nine passes following intermission, and he also happened to fire three interceptions. The first was an underthrown pass to Cook in the end zone, which was a killer because it wiped a scoring opportunity off the board. The second was an atrocious pass to a linebacker where Carr was either trying to throw the ball away or completely didn't see the linebacker. The third was a careless pick-six by Marcus Peters in garbage time.

    Carr finished 29-of-40 for 303 yards and three interceptions. If you take the picks away, the stat line looks pretty good, and Carr had some positive moments. However, he gave up on too many plays and seldom tried to go downfield. His first two picks were crushing for the Raiders' chances of winning this game, especially the first, which deflated the energy in the stadium. Carr put in a ton of work this offseason, but it hasn't paid off quite yet.
    One very confusing thing was that Jon Gruden opted to use Jalen Richard exclusively in the fourth quarter. Lynch had some good runs - he finished with 41 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries - but he was nowhere to be seen when the Raiders were trying to make a comeback. The plan backfired, as Richard dropped a pass and didn't look for a ball on another occasion. Richard caught nine balls for 55 yards, but all of that was in meaningless action.

  • The one positive for the Raiders was Cook, who was unstoppable for most of the game. He caught nine passes for 180 yards. One of his highlights was literally trampling Talib to convert a third-and-13. The Rams have a great defense, but their linebackers are a weak spot. Defending tight ends will be difficult for them all year.

  • As for the other pass-catchers, Amari Cooper caught only one ball for nine yards, while Jordy Nelson logged three receptions for 23 yards. Neither had much of a chance versus the elite Ram cornerbacks.


    For more thoughts, check out my updated NFL Power Rankings, which will be posted Tuesday morning.

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    2019: Live 2019 NFL Draft Blog - April 25
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    2018: Live 2018 NFL Draft Blog - April 30
    2018 NFL Week 1 Recap - Sept. 7
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    2018 NFL Week 17 Recap - Dec. 31
    2018 NFL Week 18 Recap - Jan. 6


    2017: Live 2017 NFL Draft Blog - April 30
    2017 NFL Week 1 Recap - Sept. 12
    2017 NFL Week 2 Recap - Sept. 19
    2017 NFL Week 3 Recap - Sept. 26
    2017 NFL Week 4 Recap - Oct. 2
    2017 NFL Week 5 Recap - Oct. 9
    2017 NFL Week 6 Recap - Oct. 16
    2017 NFL Week 7 Recap - Oct. 23
    2017 NFL Week 8 Recap - Oct. 30
    2017 NFL Week 9 Recap - Nov. 6
    2017 NFL Week 10 Recap - Nov. 13
    2017 NFL Week 11 Recap - Nov. 20
    2017 NFL Week 12 Recap - Nov. 27
    2017 NFL Week 13 Recap - Dec. 4
    2017 NFL Week 14 Recap - Dec. 11
    2017 NFL Week 15 Recap - Dec. 18
    2017 NFL Week 16 Recap - Dec. 25
    2017 NFL Week 17 Recap - Jan. 1
    2017 NFL Week 18 Recap - Jan. 8
    2017 NFL Week 19 Recap - Jan. 15
    2017 NFL Week 20 Recap - Jan. 22
    Super Bowl LII Recap - Feb. 5


    2017: Live 2017 NFL Draft Blog - April 30
    2017 NFL Week 1 Recap - Sept. 12
    2017 NFL Week 2 Recap - Sept. 19
    2017 NFL Week 3 Recap - Sept. 26
    2017 NFL Week 4 Recap - Oct. 2
    2017 NFL Week 5 Recap - Oct. 9
    2017 NFL Week 6 Recap - Oct. 16
    2017 NFL Week 7 Recap - Oct. 23
    2017 NFL Week 8 Recap - Oct. 30
    2017 NFL Week 9 Recap - Nov. 6
    2017 NFL Week 10 Recap - Nov. 13
    2017 NFL Week 11 Recap - Nov. 20
    2017 NFL Week 12 Recap - Nov. 27
    2017 NFL Week 13 Recap - Dec. 4
    2017 NFL Week 14 Recap - Dec. 11
    2017 NFL Week 15 Recap - Dec. 18
    2017 NFL Week 16 Recap - Dec. 25
    2017 NFL Week 17 Recap - Jan. 1
    2017 NFL Week 18 Recap - Jan. 8
    2017 NFL Week 19 Recap - Jan. 15
    2017 NFL Week 20 Recap - Jan. 22
    Super Bowl LII Recap - Feb. 5


    2016: Live 2016 NFL Draft Blog - April 30
    2016 NFL Week 1 Recap - Sept. 12
    2016 NFL Week 2 Recap - Sept. 19
    2016 NFL Week 3 Recap - Sept. 26
    2016 NFL Week 4 Recap - Oct. 3
    2016 NFL Week 5 Recap - Oct. 10
    2016 NFL Week 6 Recap - Oct. 17
    2016 NFL Week 7 Recap - Oct. 24
    2016 NFL Week 8 Recap - Oct. 31
    2016 NFL Week 9 Recap - Nov. 7
    2016 NFL Week 10 Recap - Nov. 14
    2016 NFL Week 11 Recap - Nov. 21
    2016 NFL Week 12 Recap - Nov. 28
    2016 NFL Week 13 Recap - Dec. 5
    2016 NFL Week 14 Recap - Dec. 12
    2016 NFL Week 15 Recap - Dec. 19
    2016 NFL Week 16 Recap - Dec. 26
    2016 NFL Week 17 Recap - Jan. 2
    2016 NFL Week 18 Recap - Jan. 9
    2016 NFL Week 19 Recap - Jan. 16
    2016 NFL Week 20 Recap - Jan. 23
    2016 NFL Week 21 Recap - Feb. 6


    2015: Live 2015 NFL Draft Blog - April 30
    2015 NFL Week 1 Recap - Sept. 12
    2015 NFL Week 2 Recap - Sept. 17
    2015 NFL Week 3 Recap - Sept. 24
    2015 NFL Week 4 Recap - Oct. 1
    2015 NFL Week 5 Recap - Oct. 8
    2015 NFL Week 6 Recap - Oct. 15
    2015 NFL Week 7 Recap - Oct. 22
    2015 NFL Week 8 Recap - Oct. 29
    2015 NFL Week 9 Recap - Nov. 5
    2015 NFL Week 10 Recap - Nov. 12
    2015 NFL Week 11 Recap - Nov. 19
    2015 NFL Week 12 Recap - Nov. 26
    2015 NFL Week 13 Recap - Dec. 4
    2015 NFL Week 14 Recap - Dec. 11
    2015 NFL Week 15 Recap - Dec. 18
    2015 NFL Week 16 Recap - Dec. 25
    2015 NFL Week 17 Recap - Jan. 4
    2015 NFL Week 18 Recap - Jan. 11
    2015 NFL Week 19 Recap - Jan. 18
    2015 NFL Week 20 Recap - Jan. 25
    Super Bowl 50 Recap - Feb. 8


    2014: Live 2014 NFL Draft Blog - May 8
    2014 NFL Week 1 Recap - Sept. 5
    2014 NFL Week 2 Recap - Sept. 12
    2014 NFL Week 3 Recap - Sept. 19
    2014 NFL Week 4 Recap - Sept. 26
    2014 NFL Week 5 Recap - Oct. 3
    2014 NFL Week 6 Recap - Oct. 10
    2014 NFL Week 7 Recap - Oct. 17
    2014 NFL Week 8 Recap - Oct. 24
    2014 NFL Week 9 Recap - Oct. 31
    2014 NFL Week 10 Recap - Nov. 6
    2014 NFL Week 11 Recap - Nov. 13
    2014 NFL Week 12 Recap - Nov. 20
    2014 NFL Week 13 Recap - Nov. 27
    2014 NFL Week 14 Recap - Dec. 5
    2014 NFL Week 15 Recap - Dec. 12
    2014 NFL Week 16 Recap - Dec. 19
    2014 NFL Week 17 Recap - Dec. 29
    2014 NFL Week 18 Recap - Jan. 4
    2014 NFL Week 19 Recap - Jan. 11
    2014 NFL Week 20 Recap - Jan. 18
    Super Bowl XLIX Live Blog - Feb. 1
    Super Bowl XLIX Recap - Feb. 2


    2013: Live 2013 NFL Draft Blog - April 26
    2013 NFL Week 1 Recap - Sept. 10
    2013 NFL Week 2 Recap - Sept. 17
    2013 NFL Week 3 Recap - Sept. 24
    2013 NFL Week 4 Recap - Oct. 1
    2013 NFL Week 5 Recap - Oct. 8
    2013 NFL Week 6 Recap - Oct. 15
    2013 NFL Week 7 Recap - Oct. 22
    2013 NFL Week 8 Recap - Oct. 29
    2013 NFL Week 9 Recap - Nov. 4
    2013 NFL Week 10 Recap - Nov. 11
    2013 NFL Week 11 Recap - Nov. 18
    2013 NFL Week 12 Recap - Nov. 25
    2013 NFL Week 13 Recap - Dec. 2
    2013 NFL Week 14 Recap - Dec. 9
    2013 NFL Week 15 Recap - Dec. 16
    2013 NFL Week 16 Recap - Dec. 23
    2013 NFL Week 17 Recap - Dec. 30
    2013 NFL Week 18 Recap - Jan. 6
    2013 NFL Week 19 Recap - Jan. 13
    2013 NFL Week 20 Recap - Jan. 20
    Super Bowl XLVIII Recap - Feb. 3
    Super Bowl XLVIII Live Blog - Feb. 2


    2012: Live 2012 NFL Draft Blog - April 26
    2012 NFL Week 1 Recap - Sept. 10
    2012 NFL Week 2 Recap - Sept. 17
    2012 NFL Week 3 Recap - Sept. 24
    2012 NFL Week 4 Recap - Oct. 1
    2012 NFL Week 5 Recap - Oct. 8
    2012 NFL Week 6 Recap - Oct. 15
    2012 NFL Week 7 Recap - Oct. 22
    2012 NFL Week 8 Recap - Oct. 29
    2012 NFL Week 9 Recap - Nov. 5
    2012 NFL Week 10 Recap - Nov. 12
    2012 NFL Week 11 Recap - Nov. 19
    2012 NFL Week 12 Recap - Nov. 26
    2012 NFL Week 13 Recap - Dec. 3
    2012 NFL Week 14 Recap - Dec. 10
    2012 NFL Week 15 Recap - Dec. 17
    2012 NFL Week 16 Recap - Dec. 24
    2012 NFL Week 17 Recap - Dec. 31
    2012 NFL Week 18 Recap - Jan. 7
    2012 NFL Week 19 Recap - Jan. 14
    2012 NFL Week 20 Recap - Jan. 21
    Super Bowl XLVII Recap - Feb. 4
    Super Bowl XLVII Live Blog - Feb. 4


    2011: Live 2011 NFL Draft Blog - April 28
    2011 NFL Week 1 Recap - Sept. 12
    2011 NFL Week 2 Recap - Sept. 19
    2011 NFL Week 3 Recap - Sept. 26
    2011 NFL Week 4 Recap - Oct. 3
    2011 NFL Week 5 Recap - Oct. 10
    2011 NFL Week 6 Recap - Oct. 17
    2011 NFL Week 7 Recap - Oct. 24
    2011 NFL Week 8 Recap - Oct. 31
    2011 NFL Week 9 Recap - Nov. 7
    2011 NFL Week 10 Recap - Nov. 14
    2011 NFL Week 11 Recap - Nov. 21
    2011 NFL Week 12 Recap - Nov. 28
    2011 NFL Week 13 Recap - Dec. 5
    2011 NFL Week 14 Recap - Dec. 12
    2011 NFL Week 15 Recap - Dec. 19
    2011 NFL Week 16 Recap - Dec. 26
    2011 NFL Week 17 Recap - Jan. 2
    2011 NFL Week 18 Recap - Jan. 9
    2011 NFL Week 19 Recap - Jan. 16
    2011 NFL Week 20 Recap - Jan. 23
    Super Bowl XLVI Live Blog - Feb. 6


    2010: Live 2010 NFL Draft Blog - April 22
    2010 Hall of Fame Game Live Blog - Aug. 8
    2010 NFL Kickoff Live Blog - Sept. 9
    2010 NFL Week 1 Review - Sept. 13
    2010 NFL Week 2 Review - Sept. 20
    2010 NFL Week 3 Review - Sept. 27
    2010 NFL Week 4 Review - Oct. 4
    2010 NFL Week 5 Review - Oct. 11
    2010 NFL Week 6 Review - Oct. 18
    2010 NFL Week 7 Review - Oct. 25
    2010 NFL Week 8 Review - Nov. 1
    2010 NFL Week 9 Review - Nov. 8
    2010 NFL Week 10 Review - Nov. 15
    2010 NFL Week 11 Review - Nov. 22
    2010 NFL Week 12 Review - Nov. 29
    2010 NFL Week 13 Review - Dec. 6
    2010 NFL Week 14 Review - Dec. 13
    2010 NFL Week 15 Review - Dec. 20
    2010 NFL Week 16 Review - Dec. 27
    2010 NFL Week 17 Review - Jan. 3
    2010 NFL Week 18 Review - Jan. 10
    2010 NFL Week 19 Review - Jan. 17
    2010 NFL Week 19 Review - Jan. 24
    Super Bowl XLV Live Blog - Feb. 6


    2009: Live 2009 NFL Draft Blog - April 25
    2009 Hall of Fame Game Live Blog - Aug. 10
    2009 NFL Kickoff Live Blog - Sept. 10
    2009 NFL Week 1 Review - Sept. 14
    2009 NFL Week 2 Review - Sept. 21
    2009 NFL Week 3 Review - Sept. 28
    2009 NFL Week 4 Review - Oct. 5
    2009 NFL Week 5 Review - Oct. 12
    2009 NFL Week 6 Review - Oct. 19
    2009 NFL Week 7 Review - Oct. 26
    2009 NFL Week 8 Review - Nov. 2
    2009 NFL Week 9 Review - Nov. 9
    2009 NFL Week 10 Review - Nov. 16
    2009 NFL Week 11 Review - Nov. 23
    2009 NFL Week 12 Review - Nov. 30
    2009 NFL Week 13 Review - Dec. 6
    2009 NFL Week 14 Review - Dec. 13
    2009 NFL Week 15 Review - Dec. 20
    2009 NFL Week 16 Review - Dec. 27
    2009 NFL Week 17 Review - Jan. 4
    2009 NFL Week 18 Review - Jan. 11
    2009 NFL Week 19 Review - Jan. 18
    2009 NFL Week 20 Review - Jan. 25
    Super Bowl XLIV Live Blog - Feb. 7


    2008: Live 2008 NFL Draft Blog - April 26
    2008 NFL Kickoff Blog - Sept. 4
    NFL Week 1 Review - Sept. 8
    NFL Week 2 Review - Sept. 15
    NFL Week 3 Review - Sept. 22
    NFL Week 4 Review - Sept. 29
    NFL Week 5 Review - Oct. 6
    NFL Week 6 Review - Oct. 13
    NFL Week 7 Review - Oct. 20
    NFL Week 8 Review - Oct. 27
    NFL Week 9 Review - Nov. 3
    NFL Week 10 Review - Nov. 10
    NFL Week 11 Review - Nov. 17
    NFL Week 12 Review - Nov. 24
    NFL Week 13 Review - Dec. 1
    NFL Week 14 Review - Dec. 8
    NFL Week 15 Review - Dec. 15
    NFL Week 16 Review - Dec. 22
    NFL Week 17 Review - Dec. 29
    NFL Wild Card Playoffs Review - Jan. 4
    NFL Divisional Playoffs Review - Jan. 11
    NFL Championship Sunday Review - Jan. 19
    Super Bowl XLIII Live Blog


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