Week 1 was full of fireworks and unpredictable outcomes. Before we look ahead to week two, let's look back at the first week of the season.
5 things we learned
1. The NFL is definitely a passing league. There were only 3 players who rushed for 100 yards in week 1, one was a quarterback. The read option is certainly changing the way the running game is used (for better or worse). There were 63 touchdown passes thrown in week 1, an NFL record. 8 quarterbacks threw for over 300 yards, 3 of them (P. Manning, E. Manning, Kaepernick) threw for 400 (which was unheard of not long ago).
2. Peyton Manning is still good. Yes, he beat the defending champs on opening night. Yes he threw for a week 1 high of 462 yards. And yes he threw for SEVEN touchdowns. But what may be the most impressive is he became the first quarterback in NFL history to have a 6 or more touchdowns in 3 separate games. He also extended his record for most 300 yard passing games (73) and games with at least 3 touchdown passes (74). Manning showed why many (including me) consider the Broncos the favorite to win it all this year.
3. The AFC North will be tough to predict. And maybe not for the best reasons. All four teams went winless during week 1. The Bengals and Ravens look like they’ll both be able to win games with their talent. The Steelers and Browns looked flat as can be. Week 2 features 2 AFC North showdowns so we may begin to see which teams are going to pull through. It’s still early but 8-8 may be good enough to win this division.
4. The Eagles are fast. For those that watched Monday Night Football, they saw a lot of speed both during and in-between plays. Analysts and fans both wondered if Chip Kelly’s offense would translate into the pros. So far so good. The Eagles went on the road and beat last year’s NFC East champs. Time will tell if the league will be able to adjust to this offense but in the meantime it will be tough for defenses to catch up to Michael Vick, Desean Jackson, and LeSean McCoy in this system (especially with the rules that limit defenses these days). I wonder how many injuries the Giants will try to fake when they play the Eagles (sorry, couldn't resist).
5. Week 1 is so hard to predict. It’s easy to get discouraged when you’re picking games and predicting outcomes going into a season. Who would have guessed that the Patriots would struggle against E.J. Manuel and the Bills? Who would have guessed that the Cowboys would find a way to win in the 4th quarter against the Giants (roles reversed)?
With that, I give you my (meaningless) NFL Power Rankings.
1. Denver Broncos
2. San Francisco 49ers
3. Houston Texans
4. Seattle Seahawks
5. New England Patriots
6. Indianapolis Colts
7. Chicago Bears
8. New Orleans Saints
9. Philadelphia Eagles
10. Dallas Cowboys
Now let’s look ahead...
5 games to watch for Week 2
Last week’s record (3-2) Season Record (3-2)
Thursday, September 12th: NY Jets (1-0) at New England Patriots (1-0)
When we heard that the Patriots would start out the season facing two rookies (E.J. Manuel and Geno Smith), it seemed like that New England would have another easy early road to the AFC East crown. However, the Patriots struggled to beat the Bills mainly because of the Patriots offense missing so many weapons. The Jets will want to make a statement in the AFC East after their week 1 victory. Rex Ryan has been known to give Brady problems with his defensive schemes but I think it will be too much for rookie Geno Smith against the Patriots in their home opener in primetime.
My Pick: New England
Sunday, September 15th: Miami Dolphins (1-0) at Indianapolis Colts (1-0)
The Colts open their home portion of the schedule against the Dolphins, both teams coming off victories in Week 1. The Colts will look to keep pace with the Houston Texans who won Monday night. The Dolphins will try to keep pace with the Patriots who didn’t look great in their victory in week 1. Question marks arose last week when Dolphins receiver Mike Wallace left the locker room visibly frustrated with his role, even after a victory. It will be interesting to see if the Dolphins try to please their receiver by putting him in the game plan more. I think the Colts with Andrew Luck are the superior team and will do enough to win at home.
My Pick: Indianapolis
Sunday, September 15th: Denver Broncos (1-0) at NY Giants (0-1)
Manning vs. Manning. Because the Manning brothers are in different conferences, these matchups are rare. Peyton has won the previous two matchups but this will be his first matchup against Eli in a Broncos uniform. The Broncos last week looked an early favorite to win it all as Peyton Manning set numerous passing records. The Giants on the other hand looked sloppy against the Cowboys, turning the ball over 6 times. While it’s unlikely the Giants will turn the ball over as much against the Broncos, it will be a tall order to beat Denver. The third time will not be the charm for Eli against Peyton.
My pick: Denver
Sunday, September 15th: San Francisco 49ers (1-0) at Seattle Seahawks (1-0)
The race between the 49ers and the Seahawks was one of the most entertaining to watch last season. Both teams ended up making the postseason last year with the 49ers winning the division. These matchups between these two teams will not only be important for determining playoff spots, but also homefield advantage in the postseason. CenturyLink Field has been known to be one of the toughest places to play in the NFL and would be a huge advantage in January. But the addition of Anquan Boldin to the already dangerous offense of the 49ers may be too much for Richard Sherman and the Seahawks defense. Yes, I picked the Seahawks to go to the Super Bowl but the 49ers just look better right now.
My pick: San Francisco
Monday, September 16h: Pittsburgh Steelers (0-1) at Cincinnati Bengals (0-1)
James Harrison has had this date circled on his calendar ever since he signed with the Bengals. It will be the first time he faces his old team. These AFC North matchups between the Bengals and Steelers have been fun to watch ever since Marvin Lewis was hired to coach Cincinnati. The Steelers looked absolutely flat last week against Tennessee and will look to rebound Monday night in Cinci. I think the offensive line problems the Steelers are having will be too much against the Bengals pass rush for Ben Roethlisberger to have a good game. The loss of Pro-Bowl center Maurkice Pouncey for the year doesn’t help. It may be a long year for the Steelers if they don’t win Monday night.
My pick: Cincinnati
12 years ago today, the United States fell under attack. Football is fun to watch and debate but let’s not forget it’s just a game. Never forget that freedom is not free and to cherish the moments you have with each other.
Ok, now let’s watch football.