NFL Week 1 Impressions and Takeaways
The best week of the year has come and gone, as Week 1 of the NFL season is in the books. While there is certainly plenty of football left to be played, some major stories have already begun to develop after the opening week of games.
Packers Look Lost in Defeat
One shocking development from opening weekend was the performance of the Green Bay Packers. The Packers were coming off a successful 2020 campaign, which saw them reach the NFC Championship game. However, they were embarrassed by the New Orleans Saints on Sunday, falling 38-3.
The main topic of discussion stemming from this game was the abysmal play of MVP quarterback Aaron Rodgers. After a turbulent offseason that saw Rodgers at odds with the team’s front office, some have already speculated that these issues lead to Rodgers’ poor performance.
Green Bay also saw their new-look offensive line struggle to gel. Injuries to key players, coupled with the inexperience of two rookie starters, spelled disaster for the unit.
Luckily for Green Bay fans, the rest of the NFC North also tasted defeat in Week One, meaning there is still plenty of time for the Packers to get back on track. Green Bay hosts the division rival Detroit Lions this upcoming week on Monday Night Football.
The Champs Look Better Than Ever
On a more positive note, the defending champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers began their 2021 season with a narrow 31-29 victory over the Dallas Cowboys last Thursday.
Tampa was expected to once again contend for the Lombardi Trophy, but what was unexpected was just how lethal their offense looked against Dallas.
Legendary quarterback Tom Brady already flourished in head coach Bruce Arians’ offense last season, but if his weapons remain as productive as they were on Thursday, he could find increased success in 2021.
Brady maintained his chemistry with receivers Chris Godwin and Mike Evans, but it was his old Patriot teammates, Rob Gronkowski and Antonio Brown, who really stood out.
After a rocky two years, Brown looked rejuvenated in the opener, hauling in five receptions for 121 yards and a touchdown.
Gronkowski also impressed, catching eight passes, two of which went for touchdowns. The tight end looked healthier and more agile than he had in quite some time.
If Brown and Gronk continue to excel, the Buccaneers could have an even easier road to the Super Bowl than we thought. They were truly flawless in the opener.
The NFC West is a Bloodbath
The success of the NFC West over the weekend wasn’t surprising, but it is certainly worth noting.
The division race between the Rams, Seahawks, 49ers and Cardinals was projected to be extremely competitive, and none of those teams let their fans down. All four secured victories on Sunday.
Seattle took down the Indianapolis Colts by a score of 28-16. Quarterback Russell Wilson tore Indy apart, throwing for 254 yards and four touchdowns in a dominant showing.
Elsewhere, the 49ers looked set to blow out the Detroit Lions, holding a 38-17 lead coming into the fourth quarter. While they did take their foot off the gas pedal late, San Fran still held on for the 41-33 victory.
The Arizona Cardinals made perhaps the biggest statement, cruising past the Tennessee Titans, 38-13. Quarterback Kyler Murray and pass rusher Chandler Jones both were electric. Murray accumulated five total touchdowns, while Jones posted a career-high five sacks in his first game back from a torn bicep.
The Rams also looked great, defeating the Chicago Bears 34-14 on Sunday Night Football. Matthew Stafford impressed in his LA debut, throwing for 323 yards and three touchdowns. His 67-yard bomb to speedster Van Jefferson was particularly dazzling.
With the NFL’s implementation of a seventh playoff team last season, there is now the potential for an entire division to make the playoffs. Could it be this year’s NFC West?
Joe Tuman is a first-year majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.