Disclaimer: So we’re clear, the following has nothing to do with President Barack Obama or Kim Kardashian. The only feelings caught here will be by fans whose teams still have goose eggs in the win column following Week 1. Capisce? Good, let’s do this.
The marquee NFC matchup in the NFL’s opening week pitted arguably the two favorites to represent the conference in the Super Bowl – the 49ers and Packers. One thing’s for sure, despite Green Bay’s 22 points, Patrick Willis and company picked up right where they left off. Frustrating Aaron Rodgers basically all evening, points against the Boys From The Bay were and should be a task to come by all season. On the offensive side of the rock, Alex Smith appeared comfortable hitting a variety of targets from Vernon Davis (who had the crossbar do a Mutumbo-finger wave following at his touchdown celebration), Michael Crabtree and even Randy Moss. Can we start overreacting now saying San Fran looks like a force to be reckoned with? Because through one week, San Fran looks like a motherf*ckin’ force to be reckoned with.
Green Bay, on the other hand, can find solace in the fact they probably won’t face a defense as intense as San Francisco’s all year and Aaron Rodgers still managed to toss the pill for 300 yards. His lone interception proved to be a deal breaker as it set up a Frank Gore touchdown putting the Niners up by two possessions; a margin Green Bay would trim, but never overcome. It’s definitely not time to hit any sort of panic button, but the question for the Pack is this.
We know the offense is loaded and boasts the capability to post 35+ points every week. Yet, at some point, will Charles Woodson, Clay Matthews and their band of merry men be able to bring it all together and put the hammer down consistently? With defense being the reason they missed out on returning to the Super Bowl last year, it is a legitimate question and concern.
The Steelers/Broncos nightcap had storylines bursting out the seams. Pittsburgh returned to where their season ended last year in the opening round of the playoffs. Only this time, a slightly better quarterback stood to meet them there. Now, in all fairness, this slightly better quarterback had question marks of his own. Peyton Manning hadn’t played in a meaningful game in over 600 days. And now he had to test that newly renovated neck of his against last year’s #1 defense. Big Ben and the Steelers made Peyton all but useless with a clock management clinic during the second quarter and half of the third. At one point, the Steelers even kept Denver’s offense off the field for 57 consecutive (real-time) minutes.
What happened when Denver got the ball back? They scored in 36 seconds.
To be perfectly honest, the NFL is a much better place with Peyton around being one of the top two quarterbacks while moonlighting as his team’s offensive coordinator and head coach. The entire second half saw Peyton perform open heart surgery on a defense which has historically been one of the league’s best. Peyton switched plays at the line, hit receivers on the numbers, notched his 401st touchdown pass, ran a flawless no-huddle scheme and did everything which has earned him four MVP trophies. If you listen real close, it was almost if Manning could be heard doing his finest Alonzo Harris impersonation proclaiming, “You know I’m surgical with this bitch, Jim (Irsay)!”
The NFL’s a quarterback-driven league, so Peyton’s going to receive a large share of the praise in the 31-19 victory, which is fine. However, what’s going to go under the radar is the fact Denver’s defense harassed Ben all night. After a solid and at times impressive 2011, imagine how much this unit – including star-in-the-making Von Miller – will benefit from knowing who they have under center. And their defensive back duo of Champ Bailey and Tracy Porter (yes, that Tracy Porter) should give opposing quarterbacks nightmares all season.
— In a sign that the Mayans may indeed be right about this December 2012 thing, the New York Jets posted 48 points and will probably have the #1 scoring offense in football through the first week. And Mark Sanchez led the charge with his three touchdown tosses, too! There were some fisticuffs thrown in the 300 section though, if that’s your thing. Buddy in the David Nelson jersey got the Hand of God laid upon him. It’ll make for riveting television to see how Skip Bayless spins this Jets victory and places all the praise on you know who’s lap.
— Maybe Washington caught New Orleans at the perfect time, but whatever the case may be, the Robert Griffin III era is officially underway in Chocolate City. RG3’s intro to the NFL was an all-time great debut, second only to Cam Newton’s last year, throwing for 320 yards with two touchdowns on 19-26 passing. The Saints, however, looked all sorts of un-Saint-like with offside calls, pivotal penalties and dropped passes. David D. has already begun his Sean Payton for “Coach Of The Year” campaign.
— Michael Vick tossed the ball 56 times, threw four interceptions and the Eagles’ offensive line appeared less reliable than a suspect on First 48 once they’re placed in the investigation room. Yet, somehow, Philly won the game because Brandon Weeden played like Tim Couch 2.0 with four picks of his own. Serious question though, why the hell is Philly hellbent on airing it out so much when one of the best backs in the league, Lesean McCoy, sits at their disposal? Granted, he had 110 yards on 20 carries, but still. Fifty-six attempts and 17 points? A win is a win though. Moving right along…
— Carolina posted a whopping 10 yards on the ground against division rival Tampa Bay in a 16-10 loss.
— The Texans made light work of the Dolphins coasting to a 30-10 win. Both squads are moving in opposite directions with Houston having Super Bowl aspirations and Miami thinking about when the Heat tip off. Hopefully Andre Johnson stays healthy this year (he had 119 yards and a TD on Sunday). It’ll be fun watching he and Calvin Johnson compete for the imaginary title of “league’s best receiver.”
— Speaking of Megatron, his Lions escaped with a Sallie Mae-ugly 27-23 victory against the Rams.
— Gotty’s Titans gave it an honest effort, but unless Tom Brady and the Patriots play Eli Manning, they’re pretty much a well-oiled machine at all times. New England coasted to a 34-13 victory, but the defense is what to really take away. Jerod Mayo and Dont’a Hightower could be a terror at the linebacking core if everything goes according to Bill Belichick’s evil plan. Chandler Jones isn’t a slouch either. And just my luck, Steven Ridley sat on my bench (21 carries for 125 yards and one TD) while Chris Johnson started (11 carries for four yards). Needless to say, Dez Bryant’s Counselor has not had an ideal start to the fantasy football season.
— Adrian Peterson somehow suited up for Week 1 after his leg damn near fell off last year. His 84 yards and two touchdowns were huge in Minny’s OT victory against the Jaguars.
— The Falcons dropped 40 points on the Chiefs; that’s 38 more than what they managed to muster the last time we saw Atlanta.
— Braylon Edwards has officially entered Roy Williams territory for yours truly. And that’s not a good thing. The game winning touchdown went right through his hands ruining what would have capped off a solid debut for Russell Wilson. Keep in mind, this was all after the refs inadvertently gave Seattle a fourth timeout during crunch time. Aside from that, Kevin Kolb may be the may tossing Larry Fitzgerald the rock for the foreseeable future following John Skelton’s serious-looking leg injury.
— After a rocky first quarter, Jay Cutler and the Bears coasted to a 41-21 victory over Indianapolis. That three headed monster of Cutler/Forte/Marshall we told you about? Oh, Jay only threw for 333 yards and two touchdowns, Forte had 120 all-purpose yards and a touchdown while Brandon Marshall brought in nine passes for 119 yards and a touchdown. Andrew Luck logged 300+ yards, but threw three passes to the Bears in his league debut.
— The Cowboys are still on pace to go 19-0.*
* – An angry mob will totally disregard the fact that was a joke and respond with “you’re an idiot,” “Romo sucks” and “F*ck you, J. Tinsley.” Relax people, it’s a joke. Unless, of course, in the .0000000000000000000000001% chance Dallas does go 19-0 and in which case I was totally serious.