Although the New York Jets and Buffalo Bills still have to play their Monday Night Football affair, the majority of the NFL's week 1 has been completed. We had shootouts and defensive showdowns, rookies playing their first games and veterans reclaiming their spot at the top of the sports world. Let's take a look at the "5 things to love" from the first week of NFL action.
1. A ludicrous game in Los Angeles
After a dicey season in 2022, Tua Tagovailoa and the Miami Dolphins waltzed into SoFi Stadium to meet the high powered LA Chargers offense. Tagovailoa and Tyreek Hill matched up against Justin Herbert and Austin Ekeler in what is an early candidate to be game of the year.
The game had 5 lead changes, 2 ties, and 969 total yards of offense. Tyreek Hill cemented his claim to be a 99 overall in Madden, and I think his 11 reception, 215 yards and 2 touchdown performance is worthy of consideration for "best in the league" if you ask me.
Both teams will be in the mix for the playoff hunt in the AFC, and there is a very good chance that this victory for the Dolphins could break a tie come January. For Tagovailoa, this game was a statement that he is healthy, and he and the Miami offense need to be feared and respected.
2. 49ers show out in Pittsburgh
There were plenty of questions surrounding the quarterback position for the San Francisco 49ers coming into the season. With the trade of Trey Lance and the supposed battle between Brock Purdy and Sam Darnold, San Fran fans should be thrilled with the 49ers' Week 1 performance.
Christian McCaffrey showed San Francisco why they were willing to trade whatever the Carolina Panthers wanted for his services. In a 30-7 victory by the 49ers, McCaffrey accounted for 169 yards from scrimmage and a touchdown. The absolute best way to support a younger quarterback is to have an established running game, and behind a solid offensive line, McCaffrey did just that.
Not to be ignored is the receiving show put on by 4th year wideout Brandon Aiyuk. With Purdy calmly leading the Kyle Shanahan offense, Aiyuk produced 129 yards and two touchdowns on eight receptions. With a balanced offensive attacks, and plenty of weapons on both sides of the ball, the 49ers have shown they are the force to be reckoned with in the NFC.
3. Cowboys cause chaos in the Meadowlands
Are the Cowboys really that good, or are the Giants really that bad? The Dallas Cowboys are the first team in the last 24 years to open the NFL season with a 40 point shutout on the road. Not only that, but since Mike McCarthy started as head coach of the Cowboys, this is their 12th game scoring 40 or more points.
The Cowboys scored on the ground, on defense and on special teams. While the passing game wa not quite there on Sunday night, it didn't need to be. Good teams find ways to win, and really good team find ways to win convincingly on national television.
4. Love is in the air in Green Bay
Jordan Love heard the noise, and he responded. The 4th year quarterback looked calm, cool, and collected in his first start as QB1 of the Green Bay Packers. Love marched into Chicago and absolutely demoralized the Chicago Bears. Fans were booing Justin Fields and the offense 3 minutes into the 3rd quarter, and they were leaving with 12 minutes left in the 4th quarter.
Love was supported by an incredible pass rush, a solid performance from his offensive line and a dazzling day from veteran Aaron Jones. With the aid of the young team around him, Love posted a 123.2 quarterback rating, a 73.4 QBR and made minimal mistakes in their 38-20 win.
Make no mistake, the Bears were the worst team in the NFL last season, so the Packers should beat them. However, this win was important enough to give confidence to Love and the youngest roster in the NFL.
5. Rookie QB's make their mark on their 1st day
Three rookie quarterbacks made their NFL debuts on Sunday, and all three lost.
But! That doesn't mean there weren't positives for the 1st, 2nd and 4th picks in the 2023 NFL Draft. Anthony Richardson showed athletic flashes that prove he can make it in the NFL. Bryce Young walked into a hostile environment in Atlanta and got his first NFL passing touchdown. CJ Stroud hasn't gotten his first NFL touchdown yet, but he showed the ability to handle a lot of volume in an NFL pocket.
Being a quarterback in the NFL is not easy, and not many make it for more than a couple years. While it's doubtful that all 3 of these QBs will end up being stars, all of them showed flashes of the special traits they have. After all, they were all top five picks in the NFL Draft.
Week 2 Game of the Week:
Baltimore Ravens vs. Cincinnati Bengals, Sunday September 17th at 1PM ET
The AFC North is going to be an absolute bloodbath this season. The Ravens and Bengals are the favorites for the division, led by Lamar Jackson and Joe Burrow. Baltimore has made upgrades on offense and defense, while the Bengals roll out a very similar squad to their highly successful teams of the last two years. Early on in the season, Baltimore has the edge until Burrow and company get rolling.
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