In an opening week filled with blowouts, no team dominated their opponents from whistle to whistle like the L.A. Rams. In their 46-9 annihilation of the Colts, the Rams’ D returned two Scott Tolzien INTS for touchdowns, recorded a safety in the fourth quarter and didn’t allow Indianapolis to convert a single third down. Time will tell whether Jared Goff’s stellar 306-yard, one TD-strike day is an aberration, but for one weekend at least, L.A.’s NFC squad looked like the baddest team in pro football. Which, of course, gives me a more than reasonable excuse to break this old chestnut out one more time …
What. The. Fuck. The Houston Texans were one of the best defensive teams last year, and with all of that Hurricane Harvey stuff going on – not to mention the Jags sucked out loud last season – it was pretty much a safe bet the Texans were going to manhandle ’em. Well, apparently the two teams switched souls shortly before kickoff, as the Jaguars’ defense absolutely shredded Houston alive, forcing four turnovers and recording TEN sacks on the day in the team’s 29-7 victory. And with Leonard Fournette putting up triple digits in his first NFL game, one has to wonder – is this merely a one-week oddity, or is Sacksonville actually poised to be a major offensive and defensive threat this season?
With all apologies to LL Cool J, perhaps we should call it a comeback for Cam Newton and company. In a rather facile 23-3 win over San Fran, the Panthers’ QB racked up 171 yards and two touchdowns on 14 completions, while Carolina’s defense held the Niners to a meager 51 yards rushing. And on top of that? Their defense all but shut down San Francisco when it mattered most, putting the kibosh on nine out of 11 SF third down conversions and four out of five of their fourth down attempts.
As evident by the fact the Ravens blanked Cincinnati 20-0 on opening day (not to mention the four interceptions lobbed by Andy Dalton) it looks like that patented doomsday D is back in Baltimore. But that would also discount some pretty good offensive numbers from the Ravens, including Terence West’s 80-yard and one-TD performance and Jeremy Maclin’s 56-yard receiving day – complete with a boss 48-yard touchdown. Still, Joe Flacco was rather flaccid in the contest; he finished the game nine for 17 for 121 yards and a 1:1 TD-to-INT ratio.
If the results of week one are any indication, it looks like the Cowboys will be just as big an offensive threat as they were last season. Dak Prescott went 24 for 39 for 268 yards and one aerial TD in Dallas’ 19-3 win over the Giants, while a suddenly not-all-that-suspended Ezekiel Elliot carried the rock 24 times for 104 yards. And don’t look now, but that Cowboys’ defense (especially against the run) is starting to look potent; they manged to hold the G-Men to only 35 yards on the ground last Sunday night.
Heading into the fourth quarter of Thursday night’s season opener, the Chiefs trailed New England 27-21. Kansas City would then go on to record 21 unanswered points and win the game 42-27. With four touchdowns and 368 aerial yards, Alex “No Depth” Smith led ALL NFL quarterbacks in passing yards, while rookie back Kareem Hunt rushed for 148 yards and a score and posted 98 receiving yards – complete with two trips to the Pats’ end zone. Outside of losing star safety Eric Berry for the rest of the season, pretty much everything went the Chiefs’ way; needless to say, it’s going to be a hoot watching this high-powered offense go toe-to-toe with the Raiders’ high-powered offense twice this season (maybe three times, if we’re real lucky.)
Once again, Carson Wentz begins an NFL season looking like the Eagles’ working class, Missouri Valley Conference-spawned savior. In Philadelphia’s 30-17 win over the Redskins, the ginger gunslinger posted 307 yards, two touchdowns and one INT on 26 completions, with top target Zach Ertz reeling in eight passes for 93 yards on the day. And the defense didn’t look too shabby, neither; not only did Philly’s D hold Washington to a meager 64 yards rushing, they also sacked Kirk Cousins for a total net loss of 40 yards.
With five minutes to go in the third, the Cardinals were up 17-9 over the Lions. Then, Matthew “The Million Dollar Man” Stafford suddenly realized how much the team was paying him, and he quickly lobbed three consecutive (and unanswered) touchdown passes to give the Lions a 28-17 lead, which would eventually grow to a 35-23 victory for the boys in blue. Going 28 for 41, Stafford finished the contest with 292 yards and four touchdown passes and one INT, with top receiver Golden Tate hauling in 10 catches for 107 yards.
|Forget sitting down during the National Anthem; if he keeps racking up yardage like that, I wouldn’t care if he wiped his ass with the Constitution.|
THE PLAYOFF HOPEFULS
The breakout star for the Raiders’ 26-12 win against the Titans on opening day wasn’t Marshawn Lynch (although his 76-yard, 18-carry day was a pretty good return to form.) No, that accolade belongs to kicker Giorgio Tavecchio, a five-year sideliner who finally got a chance to kick a football for real last Sunday. The result? He went four for four on field goals, including booting back-to-back 52 yarders. And as always, if you missed it over the weekend, you can relive the awe and wonder of the game in stream of consciousness form right here.
Is it a happy return to form for the Vikings? In the Vikes’ 29-19 win over the Saints, Sam Bradford went 27 for 32 for 346 yards and three touchdowns, with lead receiver Adam Thielen picking up 157 yards on nine catches. And then, there was the banner day for rookie running back Dalvin Cook, who accumulated 127 yards on 22 carries. Of course, this is the same team that started last season 4-0 and missing the playoffs, so perhaps we best curb our enthusiasm until mid-November.
Tyrod Taylor had a pretty good day against the Jets last Sunday. In the 21-12 win, T-Mobile lobbed the pigskin for 224 yards and two touchdowns, recording just one interception on 28 attempts. Oh, and LeSean McCoy is every bit the stud he was last year, apparently; his 110-yard rushing day actually eclipsed the Jets’ total rushing production nearly three-fold.
There’s not much to say about Green Bay’s 17-9 win over the Seahawks. Aaron Rodgers did what Aaron Rodgers does, going 28 for 42 for 311 yards and a one-to-one TD/INT split. Alas, while the Packers were able to hold Seattle to just 90 rushing yards, they didn’t really put up much of a run game themselves; at the final whistle, Green Bay accumulated only 84 yards on the ground.
It took a last second, fourth down stand, but the defending NFC Champions nonetheless walked out of Soldier Field with their first win in Chicago since 1983. In the 23-17 victory, Matt Ryan posted the usual Matt Ryan numbers (321 yards and one TD strike on 21 completions), although his top target, for a change, wasn’t Julio Jones. Rather, the most impressive performance of the day belonged to tight end Austin Hooper, he wrapped up the contest with 128 yards and a TD on just two receptions.
Believe it or not, the Steelers could only best the lowly Browns by a field goal on opening Sunday. Even weirder, Cleveland managed to hold Pittsburgh to an absurdly low 35 rushing yards. Still, Big Ben was his usual self (except for the raping part), going 24 for 36 for two TDs and one INT. And with the win, Roethlisberger officially becomes the winningest quarterback in Cleveland since the expansion Browns came back to town in 1999 … and yes, that includes quarterbacks who actually played for the Browns.
Some special teams heroics gift-bagged the Broncos a 24-21 victory against the Chargers on Monday night, with Denver’s D blocking what would’ve been a game-tying field goal for Los Angeles’ latest team. With Trevor Siemian and Philip Rivers putting up nearly identical numbers, the run game was clearly the game’s deciding factor; while L.A. could only put up 64 rushing yards, the Broncos finished the contest with 140 on the ground.
Well, this one is a bit hard to do, seeing as how the Bucs’ game against the Fins got cancelled and whatnot. As such, Tampa Bay’s first game of the season will be this Sunday at home against the surprisingly not-that-sucky Chicago Bears. Needless to say, expectations for the team this season are sky high; by 4:30 P.M. Sunday, we should have a pretty good idea whether all that Hard Knocks hagiography was legit or just more ocean-side hype.
|This was about as close as I could get to finding a Scott Tolzien “highlight” from last Sunday’s game.|
THE MIDDLE OF THE PACK
With Hurricane Irma cancelling their week one showdown against the Bucs (which has since been moved up to Nov. 19, effectively eliminating the bye week for both teams), the new-look Dolphins will have their first outing of the season against the Chargers this weekend. The Dolphins have been training in L.A. for about two weeks now, so there’s no excuse for their new “star” QB Jay Cutler to turn in a lackluster performance. Well – one more lackluster than usual, I suppose.
If nothing else, the Chargers’ defense at least looked spirited in the team’s 24-21 loss to Denver. After all, they did sack Trevor Siemian four times for a cumulative loss of 38 yards, in addition to hitting his ass nine times and deflecting five of his passes. Still, the Chargers’ run game is in dire need of a jump start, with top back Melvin Gordon only able to chalk up 54 rushing yards on the day.
In Cleveland’s way closer than anticipated 21-18 loss to the Browns, former Notre Dame quarterback DeShone Kizer played pretty well, going 20 for 30 for 222 yards and a one-to-one TD/INT ratio. Of course, he also got sacked seven times for a net loss of 42 yards, but still. And while the run defense managed to hold Le’Veon Bell to only 32 yards, their pass defense didn’t fare as well against Antonio Brown, who chalked up 182 yards on 11 carries against the Browns hapless secondary.
Mike Glennon fared MUCH better than just about anybody could’ve predicted in the Bears’ 23-17 loss to the Falcons. He completed 26 of 40 passes for 213 yards, one aerial score and no INTs, and only got sacked … well, his ass still got sacked four times, but still. Another moral victory for the Bears was their run game: their 125 yards of ground production was almost double what Atlanta could accumulate rushing.
Russell Wilson didn’t really do too much in Seattle’s 17-9 loss to Green Bay. He finished the game 14 for 27 for 158 yards and scrambled for 40 yards on two carries, but none of them converted into points on the board. In fact, the only person on the Seahawks who could put up any points was kicker Brian Walsh, who booted three field goals to give the team its only offensive output for the day.
In honor of the victims of 9/11, the Jets did their best WTC 7 impersonation and completely collapsed last Sunday against the Bills. In the 21-12 loss, Josh McCown went 26 for 39 for 187 yards, no scores and two interceptions, while the whole N.Y. running back corps could only post a borderline retarded 38 yards of offense. When the only person on the team who can make it into the endzone is your 38-year-old backup quarterback, you KNOW your rushing attack this season is destined to be pure shit.
Well, Adrian Peterson’s big debut for the Saints was a big fat turd sammich. Up against his former team, America’s favorite child abuser logged on just 18 yards on six carries and was a virtual non-factor in the Saints’ 29-19 loss to the Vikings. Still, Drew Brees put up some dandy fantasy numbers, though – 291 yards and one TD strike on 27 completions. But yeah, about that defense that gave up 346 yards in the air …
While Marcus Mariota put up some solid numbers (256 yards on 25 completions) in his team’s 26-16 home loss to the Raiders, you REALLY have to question their play-calling. Case in point? The decision to go for an onside kick to open the game … which, of course, was recovered by the Raiders and immediately led to Amari Cooper trucking over half the defense en route to a first possession score. Oh, and the less said about what Marshawn Lynch did to these motherfuckers, the better.
|Thankfully for Tom Savage, this only happened five more times over the course of the afternoon.|
ANXIOUSLY AWAITING THE DRAFT
Yeah, the Cardinals’ D pretty much pissed away last Sunday’s game against the Lions. Up a touchdown and some change against Detroit late in the third, they somehow managed to give up 28 points over a span of roughly 20 minutes en route to a 35-23 loss. And even worse, they lost top running back David Johnson early in the game to a wrist injury, which could keep him out of the backfield for the remainder of the season.
Kirk Cousins had a wishy-washy day in the Redskins’ 30-17 loss to the Eagles. He finished the contest with 240 passing yards and a one-to-one TD-to-INT ratio, but he only managed to complete 23 out of 40 pass attempts. And on top of that, he also got sacked four times by Eagles defenders, which technically, rolled his offensive output back 40 yards. Alas, with 30 yards on four carries, he was still the team’s leading rusher last Sunday; which, yeah, tells you just how shitty Washington’s run game is gonna’ be this year.
Yes, the reigning, defending Super Bowl champions lost by 15 points on opening night. What makes it really peculiar is that the Pats’ D absolutely imploded in the 4th, allowing the Chiefs to rack up three unanswered touchdowns over a span of barely ten minutes. All in all, the Patriots gave up 537 total yards of offense in the loss; so, the Patriots being the Patriots, they blamed the loss not on their suddenly porous defense, but the new turf at Gillette Stadium fucking ’em up.
Pretty much everything except Eli Manning spontaneously combusting on the sideline went wrong for the Giants last Sunday. In their demoralizing 19-3 loss to arch rivals Dallas, the sole remaining Manning in the NFL went 20 for 38 for 220 yards, with no scores and one interception. Oh, and he got sacked three times, for a net yardage loss of negative 22. The sole bright spot for N.Y.? The unsung defensive play of linebacker B.J. Goodson, who finished the game with 14 solo tackles, including one for a loss.
It’s not just the fact the Bengals got shut out 20-0 by the Ravens last Sunday. Nor is it just the fact the Bengals concluded the game with only 77 rushing yards on the day. If you REALLY want to understand just how bad Cincinnati played over the weekend, all you have to do is take a gander at Andy Dalton’s numbers: 16 for 31 for 170 yards, no touchdowns and four interceptions. All that combined to give him a damn near impossible QBR of 0.7 – the third lowest ever logged in a regular season NFL game.
Well, seeing as how the 49ers didn’t even get on the board until the last three minutes of the game in their 23-3 loss to the Panthers, you don’t really need me to tell you how much their offense sucks. But just for posterity’s sake, QB Brian Hoyer finished the game 24 for 35 for 195 yards, one INT and no TDs. But then again, you’d also have to scale back his productivity to 166 yards, if you factor in the four times he got sacked. Oh, and the time he rushed for negative five yards. Can’t leave that out, either.
The Texans played like Hurricane Harvey was personally waiting for them outside after the game, as Houston succumbed to the Jaguars 29-7 in a horrendous, horrendous loss. After Tom Savage got sacked six times, rookie Deshaun Watson failed to rise to the occasion, going 12 for 23 for 102 yards and eating behind-the-line-of-scrimmage dirt himself four times. And if that wasn’t bad enough, Jacksonville put ALL THREE of the team’s tight ends out of the game with concussions, while JJ Watt’s fucking skeleton apparently tried to escape from his body sometime around the second quarter.
The Colts were without Luck figuratively and literally Sunday, as they got absolutely demolished by the Rams 46-9. Backup QB Scott Tolzien went 9 for 18 for 128 yards, got sacked four times and threw two TD passes … unfortunately, both were to players wearing the wrong jersey. The Colts also had four fumbles, three of which they lost, resulting in a grand total of five turnovers on the day. We’ll see if Indy improves with Luck under center – that is, if he returns at all this year – but let’s be realistic here; it’s difficult to envision a team that played this holistically terrible getting THAT much better, no matter who’s slinging the rock for them.