Upsets, injuries, breakout performances and more. Just one week into the NFL’s 2017- 2018 season, and there is already to a lot to talk about around the watercooler.
As far as upsets go, perhaps the most notable came in the first game of the entire season, in the Kansas City Chiefs’ 42-27 rout of the New England Patriots. Star quarterback Tom Brady had a disappointing performance, passing for just 267 yards and no touchdowns. The Chiefs’ offense was highlighted by quarterback Alex Smith, rookie running back Kareem Hunt and wide receiver Tyreek Hill, all of whom had outstanding performances. The Chiefs were expected to have a strong offense going into the season, but this may indicate that the Cheifs will be even more of a force than expected.
The Arizona Cardinals’ season got off to an unfortunate start, to say the least. On top of a disappointing loss to the Detroit Lions, Cards’ starting running back David Johnson was placed on the Injured Reserve. Johnson took a hard shot to the wrist from a Lions defensive back, and was forced to leave the game. The injury has not been given an official diagnosis yet, however the prognosis is that his wrist was dislocated. This will likely mean a recovery period of over two months. This is a tough loss for the Cardinals’ offense, as David Johnson is widely regarded as one of the top five running backs in the NFL. Arizona resigned free agent Chris Johnson in hopes that he can help fill the void. He will certainly help, but at 31 years old, Chris Johnson is not the same player as he was in his prime. Quarterback Carson Palmer will need to seriously step up if the Cardinals are going to be a winning team.
In other news, Ezekiel Elliot’s six-game suspension was blocked, which allowed him to play in the Dallas Cowboys’ week-one game against the New York Giants. He had a dominant performance, rushing for over 100 yards in the contest. Though the NFL is working to appeal the court’s initial decision, this leaves Cowboys fans hopeful that they will have Elliot to highlight their offense this season. If Elliot is not around for the next few weeks, however, it will be intriguing to see how the Dallas offense adjusts, since their backups are not particularly impressive. Darren McFadden is a bit past his prime, and Alfred Morris, simply put, is not very good.
The Cincinnati Bengals made a piece of lamentable history in their week one matchup against the Baltimore Ravens. In a 20-0 loss, the Bengals became the first team since 2006 to not score a single point in their home opener. During the contest, the Ravens looked similar to the days when Ray Lewis and Ed Reed patrolled the gridiron. The defense was electric, with five sacks and five takeaways (one fumble recovery and four interceptions). The offense was not spectacular, but that is to be expexted with inconsistent quarterback Joe Flacco and a running game that leaves much to be desired.
The Falcons got off to a strong start this week, returning from a crushing Super Bowl loss at the hands of the New England Patriots. The high-powered Atlanta offense, led by quarterback Matt Ryan, grinded their way to a 23-17 win over the Chicago Bears. The game was far closer than it needed to be, but the Dirty Birds showed a lot of promise, as Ryan passed for 321 yards and a touchdown. Running back Devonta Freeman did not rush for nearly as many yards as expected, but his touchdown was crucial for the Falcons to pull out the win. In the coming weeks, it will be interesting to see whether the Falcons give Freeman the ball more often. He is a strong asset, and the twelve touches he got this week do not allow the team to take full advantage of his skill set.
As is the case in every season, the landscape of the league has shifted significantly from what was expected of week one. Looking to week two and beyond, it looks like another exciting season of NFL football is underway.