Week one of the NFL is always an exciting time for fans, players, and coaches alike. “Undefeated” is a term thrown around when a team wins, week one. But it only applies to half the league.
Some teams played how they were expected, some disappointed, some surprised, and some were downright question marks going into their first game.
Let’s break down every game and how their performance translates into teams’ upcoming games.
Buffalo Bills vs. Los Angeles Rams
For the kickoff the 2022-23 season was interesting. While the Bills were favored to win, I doubt anyone expected the blowout that ensued.
The Bills beat the Rams at home 31-10. Bills quarterback Josh Allen had a dominant performance with 297 passing yards, 56 rushing yards and three touchdowns. Allen threw two interceptions as well, but the Bills’ defense made the turnovers a non-factor.
Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford had a rough start, he threw three interceptions, one touchdown and it seemed that receiver Cooper Kupp was the only target he threw too. With receiver Van Jefferson out and the loss of Odell Beckham Jr. and Robert Woods, their primary attack in the air was hindered.
The Rams defense did not resemble their Super Bowl performance from last year. Linebacker Von Miller switched sides taking down Stafford twice. Defensive back Jalen Ramsey was unable to contain the Bills receivers and the Rams defensive line could not stop the run.
This game was full of turnovers on both sides, but it only hurt the Rams. If L.A. can figure out how to run the ball and adjust their offensive approach they’ll bounce back.
But the biggest takeaway from this week one matchup is that Buffalo looks like they’re going to be a force to reckon with.
New Orleans Saints vs. Atlanta Falcons
The Falcons got off to a surprising start in this one. Going into the fourth quarter Atlanta was up 23-10. It looked like a done deal as the resurgence of Marcus Mariota as a starting quarterback, would the storyline heading into week two.
But New Orleans had a different plan. Saints quarterback Jameis Winston showed he’s capable of a comeback and threw two fourth quarter touchdowns to a healthy Michael Thomas. The comeback was completed with a 51-yard field goal with 19 seconds left in the game.
New Orleans won 27-26. This game was interesting as we saw former pro-bowl caliber players return to the gridiron and put on a show for the NFC South.
It’s still questionable how well these teams will perform the rest of the season. New Orleans has more of a well-rounded team, but Atlanta’s offense could be a surprise to some teams.
San Francisco 49ers vs. Chicago Bears
Rain, rain and more rain. The monsoon matchup was possibly the most interesting game of week one football. Solider Field has had many games affected by weather, but this was different.
The big question heading into their game was how the second-year quarterbacks would perform for both teams. Bears quarterback Justin Fields flashed talent last season, but not enough to garner the confidence of the fanbase. 49ers quarterback Trey Lance has huge upside, with a solid roster around him, but could he lead his squad to victory.
Both quarterbacks had underwhelming week one performances, but San Francisco’s run game looked solid. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough as Chicago took down the 49ers 19-10.
The biggest takeaway was that there shouldn’t be any takeaways from this game. The weather was too big of factor to evaluate the talent of either team.
Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Cincinnati Bengals
The upset of the week as Steelers’ defense led their team to a 23-20 victory. Pittsburgh safety Minkah Fitzpatrick racked up 14 total tackles and a 31-yard pick-six.
Cincinnati were the heavy favorites but, when their Super-Bowl quarterback Joe Burrow throws four interceptions it’s hard to win.
This game is a great indicator that the box does not show the whole story of a game. The Bengals totaled 338 passing/receiving yards and a 133 rushing. The Steelers totaled 192 passing/receiving yards and only 75 rushing.
As stated above defense was the key to victory here. Much like previous seasons Cincinnati’s offensive line was unable to conation the Steelers pass rush, allowing seven sacks and nine tackles-for-loss.
The quarterback pressure was too much for Burrow to handle, therefore forcing the ball into Pittsburgh’s hands. The loss of receiver Tee Higgins mid-game didn’t help, despite Ja’Marr Chase’s 10 receptions for 129 yards.
Look for Pittsburgh’s defense to continue to carry the load as quarterback Mitch Trubisky manages games. Cincinnati will have to improve quarterback protection, because if they don’t, teams will negate the offensive weapons they possess.
Philadelphia Eagles vs. Detroit Lions
For an in-depth reflection of the highest combined scoring matchup of the week, check out our Lions beat reporter Maddy Miller’s post game thoughts.
Also check out, “Morning Woodward Show,” “Big D Energy,” “Ermanni & Edwards” and “Woodward Heavyweights.”
All four shows shared their thoughts and opinions on the Lions 38-35 loss Sunday afternoon.
New England Patriots vs. Miami Dolphins
Most expected the Dolphins to win this one, they met those expectations with a 20-7 win.
Miami quarterback Tua Tagovailoa has a new shiny toy in receiver Tyreek Hill, and it was apparent in week one. Hill went for 94 yards on a game-high eight receptions.
Miami’s defense held down the fort allowing only one touchdown, granted New England’s offense poses a minimal threat. This matchup was another defensive battle, but Miami was able to capitalize on their scoring opportunities.
Second-year quarterback Mac Jones spread the ball out evenly, but his perception as a “game-manager” cemented further after week one.
This game was a standard one at best. The AFC East is extremely top-heavy with the Bill’s. The Dolphins could be a potential Wild-Card competitor, but unless New England can find a way to generate more offense, they’re going to struggle to win games.
Baltimore Ravens vs. New York Jets
Seven combined punts in the first half, needless to say, the game started off slow. Once Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson woke up, there wasn’t a chance for New York.
Baltimore, expectedly, got past the Jets 24-9. But what was unexpected was how often Jets quarterback Joe Flacco threw the ball. Flacco went 37 of 59 and racked up 307 passing yards with a touchdown and a pick.
The Jets were unable to convert a single third-down until the fourth quarter with nine-minute remaining. It seemed as though every time New York had a chance to score, they turned the ball over or were unable to capitalize on important drives.
By the time the Jets got their first touchdown with a minute remaining in the fourth, it was way too late for a comeback.
Despite his dropped touchdown reception, Jets second-year back Michael Carter had a great performance. Carter racked up 60 yards off 10 carries and 40 off seven receptions. He extended multiple play by sheer force and effort.
The Ravens were able to win this one off a couple long plays from Jackson, but without a consistent rushing attack, they may struggle early on.
While the hopes for a Jets playoff-run are low, they have some intriguing young talent that may shine once quarterback Zach Wilson is back at the helm.
Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Washington Commanders
Yet another one score game, the Commanders narrowly escaped this one 28-22. Jacksonville had ample opportunity to win, but a dropped touchdown reception on fourth down and a missed field goal cost them.
Both quarterbacks Trevor Lawrence (JAX) and Carson Wentz (WAS) looked solid. It was another matchup of questions at that position, but both QB’s showed they belong in that starter role.
The number one overall pick in this year’s draft Travon Walker (JAX) showed why he was selected as he finished with four tackles, a sack and an interception.
Washington receiver Curtis Samuel and running back Antonio Gibson made highlight, after highlight. Gibson finished with 58 rushing yards on 14 carries and 72 receiving on seven receptions. Samuel racked up 55 yard receiving on eight receptions, one being a touchdown and 17 rushing.
The Jaguars had one final attempt to tie or win the game but a flyball from Lawrence was picked off, effectively sealing the week one matchup.
Wentz final two touchdowns were long accurate passes, reminiscent of his runs in Philadelphia, but don’t get too comfortable. Both teams showed they have what it takes to win, but when they play better competition, their true colors will show.
Cleveland Browns vs. Carolina Panthers
Baker Mayfield against his former team. Outside of Browns’ fans, most wanted to see Mayfield show Cleveland they were wrong for trading him. He almost did but came up short as Cleveland won 26-24.
The first three quarters for the Panther were rough. It seemed Mayfield was face down on the turf either recovering a fumble(4) or on the ground from a sack(4) for majority of the game.
The Browns seemed to have finally found their kicker in rookie Cade York. York went 4-4 and knocked the game-winning 58-yard field goal. But the game was not competitive until the fourth quarter.
Cleveland running backs Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt were able to get to any spot they wanted and absolutely pummeled the Panthers run defense. Chubb finished with 141 rushing yards and Hunt finished with 70-yard rushing/receiving and two touchdowns.
As Mayfield becomes more comfortable with his new team, expect fewer week one mental mistakes. Once this happens more of the offense will get involved.
Cleveland was able to service quarterback Jacoby Brissett as a starter, he missed a few open targets, but he can win with the roster around him. He’ll need to improve because he’s the Browns’ starter for 10 more weeks, while Deshaun Watson serves his suspension.
Indianapolis Colts vs. Houston Texans
An AFC South matchup and the first tie of the NFL season. The colts had ample opportunity to win this one, but instead it finished at 20-20.
The Colts’ opening drive was productive, resulting in three points, but their second drive was left incomplete in the red-zone on a failed fourth-down attempt.
Every time Colts’ quarterback Matt Ryan got things rolling, a turnover would halt their progress. Ryan threw for 352 yards, one touchdown and one pick, running back Jonathan Taylor flamed the Texans with 161 rushing yards and a touchdown. Indianapolis outperformed Houston in almost every offensive category.
Mid-way through the third quarter Houston was up 20-3 and their offense was rolling. If it weren’t for their defense holding the Colt’s to turnovers and field goals in the red zone, this would be a much different game.
Indianapolis kicker Rodrigo Blankenship missed the game winning field goal in overtime. He was then cut by the team Tuesday evening after week one in the NFL.
The AFC South is wide-open and will remain that way until any team can find a way to win.
New York Giants vs. Tennessee Titans
Yet another game winning field goal, gone astray. The Giants won their first home open in six years over Tennessee 21-20.
The opening drive for the Titans seemed to set the tone of domination in all four quarters. But both teams struggled mightily on third downs. The Giants went 2-10 and the Titans went 3-11.
The rushing attack for the Titans was nearly all Derrick Henry as he rushed for 82 yards off 21 carries. But New York utilized more players in the run game and the resurgence of Saquon Barkley was a sight for sore eyes, he had 164 yards and one touchdown off 18 carries.
New York quarterback Daniel Jones played well enough for the win, but their offensive line needs work as they allowed five sacks.
Tennessee could’ve run away with this one, but they instead settled for field goals in the red zone. The Giants didn’t look great, but if Barkley can stay healthy this team has a much stronger offensive dynamic.
Green Bay Packers vs. Minnesota Vikings
Aaron Rodgers struggled in this one. He flipped from an ultra-conservative play style to trying unrealistic play throughout the whole game. It cost them as the Vikings dominated 23-7.
Green Bay’s defense left Vikings receiver Justin Jefferson open on many plays as. He torched them for 184 yards and two touchdowns off nine receptions. Minnesota’s offensive line protected quarterback Kirk Cousins well, allowing him ample time to find his targets.
Packers second year running back A.J. Dillion was the only bright spot for Green Bay offense. The talent they have at wide receiver is below average and it showed. The reason Rodgers was so inconstant in his decision making is most likely due to his lack of premium targets.
The NFC North, realistically, is a battle between these two teams. If Green Bay cannot recover as fast as they did last season, Minnesota will run the division.
It may be too early, but the addition of Kevin O’Connell at head coach, looks to be a positive for Minnesota.
Kansas City Chiefs vs. Arizona Cardinals
The loss of Tyreek Hill, so far, doesn’t look like a problem for Kansas City. True domination as the Chiefs took their first game 44-21.
The first three quarters saw Patrick Mahomes sling all five of his touchdown passes. The doubts about this team were shut down completely after this performance. Mahomes threw for 360 yards on 30-39 passes and zero interceptions.
Mahomes spread the ball out to nearly every able-bodied receiver/running back on their roster.
The Cardinals were unable to gain any momentum until the fourth quarter. Arizona quarterback Kyler Murray threw two touchdown passes for 193 yards and zero interceptions.
Arizona fans probably turned this game off after halftime. The offensive weapon in wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins is sorely missed for Murray and the offense.
Arizona should bounce back from week one, but their timeline for a playoff run shortens if they stay on this path.
Las Vegas Raiders vs Los Angeles Chargers
The rematch of last year’s playoff conundrum did not disappoint. Los Angeles won 24-19, but this rivalry continues to grow to a national level.
Charger quarterback Justin Herbert continued to look like a stud throwing for 279 yards, three touchdowns and zero interceptions. It seemed that the reunion of former Fresno State Bulldogs Derek Carr and Davante Adams worked well.
Adams was by-far Carr’s go-to receiver. He targeted him 17 times for 10 catches, 141 yards and a touchdown. Despite Carr’s three interceptions the Raiders were still in this game the entirety of the game.
In a stacked AFC West expect all these games to be “must-see” T.V. If it weren’t for Vegas’ turnovers this game could’ve had a different ending.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Dallas Cowboys
Both these squads had an electric matchup last year. This game was the polar opposite of that. Tampa Bay’s defense held Dallas to one field goal winning 19-3.
Unfortunately for the Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott went down again. This is a huge blow them. After Prescott missed half of last season with injury, it’s going to be a hard few weeks while he recovers.
As Tom Brady ages, most wonder how long he’ll be able to compete. But the way the Buccaneers running back Leonard Fournette ran the ball and the addition of receiver Julio Jones, the weapons are there for Brady.
Tampa’s defense looks incredibly solid. They held Dallas to 244 total yards, sacked both Prescott and Copper Rush two times each and held them to a lone field goal.
Dallas will be hard pressed to win games without their franchise QB. We’ll see if Brady can push through his issues at home and compete in his 22nd season.
Denver Broncos vs. Seattle Seahawks
The last game of the week, what a doozy it was. Nearly every football fan outside of Seattle, maybe even a few within, had Russell Wilson dominating his former shell of a team.
But that did not happen. Denver was dropping goal line passes left and right, they fumbled twice and allowed Wilson to get sacked twice. The Seahawks took this one at home 17-16.
Seahawks quarterback Geno Smith did not “write back” to his doubters as he managed to throw two touchdown passes and zero interceptions.
But the wildest occurrence is when Broncos new head coach Nathaniel Hackett decided to try and win the game off a 64-yard field goal. With Wilson at the helm everyone except the Broncos expected him to extend the drive for a closer attempt.
It was fourth down and they Hackett let the clock run down to 20-seconds. He then quickly got kicker Brandon McManus onto the field where he got a practice attempt on the 64-yard kick before the Seahawks blew a timeout.
While the decision was confusing before that happened, Hackett should not be blamed to let McManus try again. They obviously wouldn’t try this kick if the Broncos did not have faith in their kicker.
Noah Wulbrecht – Woodward Sports
Graphic: Noah Wulbrecht – Woodward Sports