Week 1 of the NFL was filled with so much excitement. Let’s recap this incredible week of football with the biggest winners and losers from Week 1.
Winner: New York Jets
With a rookie quarterback starting his first game in Sam Darnold, no one would’ve blamed the Jets or Darnold if they struggled on the road in Detroit. Instead, the Jets scored 31 unanswered after being tied 17-17 in the second half and won 48-17. Darnold started off the game in the worst way possible by throwing a pick-six on his first ever pass. After that, however, he was able to shrug it off and ended up putting together an impressive performance. He completed 16 of his 21 passes, threw for 198 yards, and also threw for two touchdowns. He showed true poise in the pocket and looks like a star in the making. On top of that, the Jets got 100+ rushing yards from their free agency signing Isiah Crowell and receiver Quincy Enuwa returned with 63 receiving yards and a touchdown after missing the entire 2017 season with an injury. On defense, the Jets young defenders showed promise and the defense had five interceptions. Leading the way was linebacker Darron Lee, who could be heading towards a breakout season after a two-interception performance. Overall, the future looks incredibly bright for the Jets, while the present doesn’t look too bad after all.
Loser: New Orleans Saints
Most people coming into the season deemed the Saints as Super Bowl contenders. That idea needs to be revised immediately. Against a backup quarterback in Ryan Fitzpatrick, the Saints allowed over 500 yards of offense in a 48-40 loss. On offense, Drew Brees, Alvin Kamara, and Michael Thomas all had solid games, but two fumbles cost them. A Mike Gillisee fumble and scoop and score for the Bucs changed the momentum of the game while a Thomas fumble later in the game was the dagger. On defense, they had no pass rush yet so ever and their young secondary get absolutely exposed. Some regression was expected from the young defense, but the Saints have to be worried after seeing reigning defensive rookie of the year cornerback Marshon Lattimore get absolutely destroyed by receiver Mike Evans. With a brutal schedule coming, the Saints better fix the mistakes in a hurry, or this will just be another year of wasting Drew Brees’ greatness.
Winner: Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs gave up 28 points and allowed Chargers quarterback Phillip Rivers to throw for 424 yards, yet the game couldn’t have gone any better for Kansas City. Quarterback Patrick Mahomes sure looks like the future of the Chiefs, as he had 256 passing yards and four touchdowns. Meanwhile, Tyreek Hill had seven receptions for 169 yards and 2 touchdowns and also had a 91-yard punt return. Ideally, you’d wish the defense, Kareem Hunt (16 rushes 49 yards), and Travis Kelce (1 reception 6 yards) would’ve done more, but this game was a test for Mahomes against one of the best defenses in the NFL, and he delivered. He and Hill look a deadly superstar duo for years to come.
Loser: Tennesee Titans
The Titans came into Week 1 with what looked like an easy win in Miami against a lackluster Dolphins team. Instead, they lost 27-20 and did not look like a playoff caliber team at all. Practically everything went wrong. Marcus Mariota threw two interceptions and looked like the mediocre quarterback he was last season. Running back Derrick Henry averaged 2.6 yards a carry and certainly didn’t look like a franchise running back. On defense, the seemingly physical Titans defense allowed Frank Gore to average 6.8 yards a carry and allowed receiver Kenny Stills to get over 100 receiving yards and two touchdowns despite having just four receptions. Tennesee simply gave up too many big plays while not having any creativity on offense, which is a recipe for disaster. The biggest blow, however, was the injuries. Mariota had the leave with a hand injury, and even though he seems to be fine, may be limited going forward. The critical injury though was tight end, Delanie Walker, dislocating his ankle, as he will miss the rest of the season. The Titans lost to arguably the worst team in football and lost one of their most important players, making them a big loser in Week 1.
Winner: Baltimore Ravens
Instead of putting the Bills as a loser, which would be almost too obvious, let’s give some credit to the Ravens. Baltimore was practically flawless in all aspects in their 47-3 beatdown of Buffalo and looks much improved from a season ago. Quarterback Joe Flacco was extremely efficient, completing 73%of his passes while throwing for 236 yards and 3 touchdowns with no interceptions. Baltimore also had 117 rushing yards and each of their three of their acquisitions at wide receiver (Michael Crabtree, Willie Snead, John Brown) had a touchdown. The defense held the Bills to 98 passing yards, forced two interceptions, held LeSean McCoy to 22 rushing yards, and had 6 sacks. They have a big test in a divisional matchup in Cincinnati on Thursday Night Football and it will be interesting to see if this performance was a fluke or a sign of things to come.
Loser: Arizona Cardinals
No one expected the Arizona Cardinals to contend in 2018. However, they were expected to take care of business under a new regime and defeat the Redskins, a team of a similar fate, at home. Instead, they got absolutely embarrassed, losing 24-6. Their offense was absolutely horrendous. Sam Bradford threw for just 153 yards, no touchdowns, and had an interception. Running back David Johnson only had nine rushing attempts, a definite concern considering they have a new offensive coordinator, so it’s not surprising he was limited to 37 rushing yards. On defense, Arizona was totally defeated in the trenches, allowing a 33-year-old Adrian Peterson to rush for 96 yards and a touchdown while giving up 182 total rushing yards. The secondary also allowed Alex Smith to throw for 255 yards and two touchdowns. Nothing went well for the Cardinals, and with a tough schedule (including the Rams next week), they could be in contention for the number one overall pick.