The wait is over; NFL football is finally back. For some, the first week offered a promising look at the favorite teams, for others the look was lukewarm and for still others it was disturbing. Here is a roundup of the teams that stuck out in every category.
The Good: Green Bay Packers, Kansas City Chiefs and Dallas Cowboys
The Chiefs may have been the best looking team on the weekend, rocking the Patriots 42-27 and showing a surprising amount of creativity. Quarterback Alex Smith went off for 368 yards and four touchdowns, while speedster-wide receiver Tyreek Hill had 133 receiving yards and a score. Maybe the biggest surprise outside of the downfield attack that the Chiefs had, was rookie running back Kareem Hunt’s production. The young back took over the backfield responsibilities for injured starter Spencer Ware, and after an early fumble exploded for 148 rushing yards and 98 receiving yards with three total scores, setting a rookie record for yards from scrimmage in a debut. The offense was deadly and the defense was vicious, with three sacks and 6.5 tackles for loss.
The Packers relaxed after a scoreless first half, beating the Seattle Seahawks 17-9 in a defensive match. Aaron Rogers looked great in the second half, catching the Seahawks with too many men on the field to hit Jordy Nelson for a beautiful 32-yard touchdown pass. He finished with 311 yards, getting the Packers down the field for three total scoring drives and playing keep away on offense. On the other side, the Packers forced the Seahawks to settle for field goals instead of touchdowns, playing terrific in the red zone and forcing a fumble after the Rogers pick. The Seahawks forced the game into their physical style of play, and the Packers came out with a win. Very impressive performance.
The Cowboys did not roll out tons of points, but what they did do was look phenomenal on defense, beating the division rival New York Giants, 19-3. The Dak Prescott-Ezekiel Elliott duo had 396 yards from scrimmage and moved well down the field despite the blanketing of Dez Bryant from Giants corner Janoris Jenkins. While they struggled in the red zone, as they did last season against them, the big difference was great defense and no mistakes on offense. DeMarcus Lawrence had two sacks and three tackles for loss on the line, while linebacker Jaylen Brown finally made his first start since getting injured in his final college game, racking up seven tackles. The defense played great, which should be taken with a grain of salt since Odell Beckham Jr. was absent, but should still excite Dallas fans because the team looks even more complete.
The Unimpressive: New England Patriots and Pittsburgh Steelers
The Patriots got slapped on Thursday night by the Chiefs, losing 42-27 and showed a real weakness against the run on defense.
While Tom Brady’s performance will probably end up being a distant memory down the line, their struggles at linebacker when Dont’a Hightower went down will not. The other concern was Rob Gronkowski, who never broke away from coverage and looked slow, almost injured, for most of the game.
This may be the Cleveland Browns actually fielding a competent defense, but the Steelers looked sluggish on offense early on and only narrowly escaped the Dog Pound with a 21-18 win. Late in the game the, Antonio Brown torched the Cleveland secondary, but running back Le’Veon Bell never got going, finishing with 32 yards on the ground. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger also faced plenty of pressure and raised questions about the offensive line. This game felt like they left plenty of points on the field.
The Embarrassing: Cincinnati Bengals and Indianapolis Colts
The Bengals looked awful, with quarterback Andy Dalton finishing with five turnovers and leading the offense to zero points. The Baltimore Ravens offense was nothing special, out-gunning the Bengals only 268 to 221 in total offensive yardage. The difference was the Bengals giving the ball away and keeping themselves out of the game with an incredibly sloppy showing.
While the Colts did roll into L.A. with back-up quarterback Scott Tolzien, their defense was still rocked to the tune of 373 total yards by the Rams. They made Jared Goff look like a Pro Bowl quarterback in his 306 yard passing day and only mustered nine points to the Rams’ 46. They consistently let up the long ball, with five Rams receivers catching at least one pass of 20 yards or more. Even with starting quarterback Andrew Luck in, giving up yards will continually be a problem for the Colts.