NFL Week One Takeaways
Top five storylines from the first games of the year
How great was it to finally have football back. The absence of a preseason made the NFL’s return this season that much sweeter. After a full slate of matchups, some teams already look like Super Bowl contenders. There were dominant wins, and close contests. The first weekend even contained some upsets. There are plenty of storylines to dive into after week one. I however, am going to choose just five to tackle. Let’s begin.
Baltimore is as dangerous as ever
The Ravens were the best team during last year’s regular season. They finished with a 14–2 record before being upset in the playoffs. It sure looks like Baltimore is out for revenge. They started their 2020 season with a dominant 38–6 win over the Cleveland Browns. The Ravens’ defense was able to make Cleveland look foolish, allowing the fewest points of any team during week one. Baltimore’s defense also forced a league-high three turnovers. The Ravens offense is perhaps what should scare the rest of the NFL the most. They put up points at will, but it’s how they were able to that should cause worry. Baltimore didn’t run the ball like they did most of last year. They only had the 20th most rush yards during week one. It was their pass game that did a lot of the work. Reigning MVP Lamar Jackson was sensational. He completed 20 of his 25 pass attempts for 275 yards, three touchdowns, and zero interceptions. He also finished week one with a league-best 152.1 passer rating. Lamar and the Ravens appear to be even better than last season, which is a very dangerous sight.
DeAndre Hopkins is going to make life easy for Kyler Murray
There was a lot of confusion when DeAndre Hopkins was traded to the Arizona Cardinals for a second round pick during the offseason. That confusion was only reiterated after Hopkins’ monster game during week one. He finished with a league-high 14 catches for 151 yards (third-best in the NFL) during a 24–20 upset win over the 49ers. Hopkins gives young quarterback Kyler Murray a phenomenal target on the outside. The star wideout is going to help take Arizona’s offense to the next level. After week one, Deshaun Watson has to be left feeling some type of way seeing his former favorite target ball out. Kyler Murray isn’t going to be complaining any time soon however.
Aaron Rodgers definitely looks motivated
Perhaps the biggest shock of the NFL draft came when the Green Bay Packers traded up to select quarterback Jordan Love in the first round. Aaron Rodgers had just led the Packers to a 13–3 record, and an appearance in the NFC Championship game. That didn’t stop Green Bay from selecting Rodgers’ successor though. Well it sure looks like the move lit a fire under the current Green Bay quarterback. Rodgers was marvelous during a 43–34 week one win over the Minnesota Vikings. He completed 72.7% of his throws for 364 yards, a league-high four touchdowns, and zero interceptions. It was a vintage Rodgers performance, which suggests the Packers made a mistake trading up for Love. The good news for Green Bay is they still have Rodgers.
No need to panic in Tampa Bay
After a 34–23 loss to the New Orleans Saints, the sky appeared to be falling in Tampa Bay. Is Tom Brady finally too old to play quarterback? Was it a mistake going all in on a 43 year old QB? Let’s just relax a second. Yes Brady didn’t look particularly great during week one. He finished with 239 yards, three total touchdowns, and two interceptions. The loss however, isn’t all on Brady. The first of his two interceptions was a miscommunication that head coach Bruce Arians indicated was the fault of Mike Evans. Tampa Bay also muffed a kickoff, leading to New Orleans scoring. It’s going to take time for the Buccaneers to fully gel. With no preseason and no OTA’s, it’s not that shocking that Tampa lost to a talented Saints team. The Bucs will continue to grow and progress throughout the season. Come playoff time they should be in a rhythm, which is when Brady does his most damage.
Washington’s defense is legit
The upset of the week had to be Washington defeating the Philadelphia Eagles 27–17. Yes Philadelphia is dealing with multiple injuries, including three on the offensive line. The Eagles however, were still favored to defeat a Washington team that had the second-worst record in football last season. Early on it looked like Philadelphia would roll to an easy win. Washington had other plans. The Washington Football Team’s defense appears to be a real unit. They held the Eagles to the fourth-fewest total yards, and the third-fewest rushing yards in week one. They also forced a league-high three turnovers. The real strength of Washington’s team though is the defensive line, and boy did it show. Washington had a league-best eight sacks during the week one victory, which is four more than the second place team. Chase Young (1.5 sacks) and Ryan Kerrigan (2 sacks) wreaked havoc on the Eagles’ offensive line. Now I’m not sure how many games Washington is going to win due to a weak offense. Their defense however, has a chance to keep them in every game this season.