It’s the most wonderful time of the year. No, I’m not talking about Christmas. I’m talking about something even better.
NFL FOOTBALL IS BACK.
The first week of the 2017 NFL season was eventful, to say the least. From divine hurricane intervention to an upset in Boston to a surprising offensive showing in Los Angeles, there was a lot to talk about as we kick off another crazy season of NFL football.
Let’s take a look at the winners and losers in Week 1 of the 2017 NFL season:
Kansas City Chiefs
Not only did the Kansas City Chiefs deliver the first significant upset of the 2017 NFL season with a 42-27 stomping of the New England Patriots, but two of their key players on offense shined bright under the lights. Rookie running back Kareem Hunt, who lost a fumble on his very first carry of his very first NFL game, rebounded spectacularly rushing for 148 yards on 17 carries, as well as caught five passes for 98 yards, and had a total of three touchdowns. Hunt’s 246 yards from scrimmage was the most in NFL history since the 1970 merger. Then there’s quarterback Alex Smith, who’s often been labeled a “game manager,” proved those doubters wrong flinging two long touchdown passes and completing 28 of 35 passes for 368 yards and four touchdowns.
Rookie Running Backs
Talk about electric debuts! It was all about the rookie running backs in the first week of the NFL season, and two players in particular — Kansas City Chiefs’ Kareem Hunt and Chicago Bears’ Tarik Cohen. Both proved in their debuts that they’re legit threats in this league. Hunt was a huge part of the Chiefs’ 42-27 win over the defending Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots, amassing 246 all-purpose yards and three touchdowns. Cohen was electric in his debut and was, honestly, the main reason the Bears had a chance to knock off the defending NFC Champion Atlanta Falcons. Cohen had 158 all-purpose yards and a score, but most importantly let the league know: Get ready for me.
Los Angeles Rams
Last season, the most points the Los Angeles Rams scored was 37 in Week 3. Even with rookie quarterback Jared Goff making his midseason debut, the Rams offense was stuck in quicksand never really getting anything done as the season progressed. My, oh my, the difference an offseason makes. The Rams offense was dominant in a 46-9 rout of the Indianapolis Colts where Goff looked much improved from his rookie season completing 21 of 29 passes for 306 yards and a touchdown. The Rams offense also stepped up with two interception returns for touchdowns as the Colts watched their season opener go up in flames without Andrew Luck at the helm. Let’s see if the Rams can keep it up as their competition gets better.
Jacksonville Jaguars Defense
When I say defense, you say: Jacksonville Jaguars? The Jaguars faced the nearly-impossible as they headed into a season opener on the road in Houston as the entire city was overcome with emotion following Hurricane Harvey. You’d have thought the Texans would’ve had this game won already — just based on pure emotion alone. But the Jags came to play, specifically the Jags’ defense. Jacksonville dominated the Texans amassing 10 sacks — that’s right, 10 — and forcing and recovering three fumbles while holding the Texans to seven points. You might want to put a claim in for the Jags’ defense on your fantasy team.
After throwing a pick-6 to start the Detroit Lions’ season opener, the highest player in NFL history rebounded with four touchdowns and a victory for his Lions. Quarterback Matthew Stafford wasted no time in showing why the Lions shelled out $135 million to keep their franchise quarterback in Detroit for the next five years. Stafford completed 29 of 41 passes for 292 yards, four touchdowns en route to a 35-23 victory over the Arizona Cardinals. Stafford proved that while he might not be Tom Brady, he’s the Lions’ hope and future.
While football has long been enjoyed by both men and women, there’s definitely no denying that this culture has been heavily dominated by men, when it comes to the media. Usually, female reporters are forced into roles as sideline reporters where they relay news instead of giving their opinion, like one would find in a booth calling an NFL game. But that all changed when Beth Mowins became the first woman to call an NFL game in 30 years. Mowins joined announcer Rex Ryan for the Monday Night Football contest between the Denver Broncos and Los Angeles Chargers, where she showed us that this is what the NFL culture — sports culture — should look like in the present. Where a woman calling play-by-play is just…normal. Let’s hope it doesn’t take another 30 years for the next woman to call an NFL game.
Miami Dolphins & Tampa Bay Buccaneers
You know who wasn’t ready for some football opening weekend? Mother Nature. Hurricane Irma’s descent upon South Florida forced the cancellation of this Week 1 contest between the Miami Dolphins and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Now, the Dolphins and Buccaneers will have to play this game during their shared Bye Week on Nov. 19. That means 16 straight weeks of games for these teams. With no break. And no one wants a Bye Week in Week 1.
It’s never easy when you have a rookie quarterback breathing down your neck. Especially when you put on the offensive showing — or lack thereof — that Houston Texans (former?) starting quarterback Tom Savage put on display against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Savage, who earned the starting job over rookie Deshaun Watson, completed 7 of 13 passes for 62 yards and two lost fumbles before being benched at halftime in favor of the rookie. Savage’s only reprieve may be Watson possibly nursing an ankle injury with a short week as the Texans prepare for Thursday’s game against the Cincinnati Bengals. But let’s be honest, it’s Deshaun Watson time in Houston.
Andy Dalton & the Bengals
Perhaps the biggest surprise in Week 1 was the lackluster display by the Cincinnati Bengals. Even more so, the dismal performance by quarterback Andy Dalton. Dalton completed 16 of 31 passes for 170 yards, a lost fumble and four interceptions. That’s right, FOUR interceptions. The Bengals were shutout in the season opener, the only NFL team not to score a single point this week. In a league that contains the San Francisco 49ers and New York Jets — who at least put up some field goals — that’s unacceptable.
New York Giants Offense
Typically, the New York Giants show up when it comes to playing the Dallas Cowboys. But the Giants offense must have never even gotten on the plane as their dismal outing against the reigning NFC East Champion Cowboys resulted in a 19-3 loss. Eli Manning and the Giants never got into a rhythm, which had a lot to do with poor pass protection and failure to ever get the running game going. The Giants lack of a running game was a preseason concern, and it’s now one that has poured over into the regular season. They had a net rushing total of 35 yards for the game. The Giants offense needs to do some soul searching if they hope to compete with the likes of the Cowboys and the NFC East.
The Chicago Bears’ much-maligned No. 7 overall draft pick from 2015, receiver Kevin White has battled injuries in his three years with Chicago. After suffering two broken legs in the past two years, White suffered another setback as it appears that he broke his collarbone and will miss, yet another, season. As if the injuries weren’t enough, White has failed to shine in a Bears receiving corp. That is severely lacking and needed him to step up after losing leading receiver Cameron Meredith to a torn ACL. But prior to his injury on Sunday, White never really rose to the challenge. It might be time to officially rule Kevin White as a bust.
It’s not a good time to be the Indianapolis Colts. Not only was starting quarterback Andrew Luck out as he continues to rehab his throwing shoulder, but the Colts offense struggled mightily with Scott Tolzien under center. They mustered only 9 points against the Los Angeles Rams — and even the Colts defense didn’t show up to play. Not only were the Colts pummeled by the Rams, but it still doesn’t appear as if Andrew Luck’s return is happening anytime soon.