The NFL season is through its first week, and so we thought we’d take a look back at five of the biggest talking points that have emerged from the opening weekend.
It kind of feels like that sweet spot between Christmas and New Year’s Day. We have got through the first big event of the calendar, and now we eagerly anticipate what is going to happen during the next one. And the best thing is we get this feeling 16 more times between now and the end of the regular season.
Week 1 was certainly one that lived up to the hype that has been building ever since the Los Angeles Rams hoisted the Vince Lombardi Trophy in the air back in February. We had a highly entertaining first game as the Buffalo Bills eased past the defending champs on their own turf, and that’s before we even got to the opening Sunday of the season.
We had our first tie (or draw depending on your lexicon) between the Houston Texans and the Indianapolis Colts, arguably the game of the season already between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Cincinnati Bengals in a game that both teams tried their best to lose, and it was all rounded off with a last-minute, missed field goal to see the Seattle Seahawks beat the Denver Broncos on Monday night.
But what did we learn from this week? What do we need to pay attention to as possible storylines going through the season?
In no particular order, here are the five biggest things that we have learned this week:
5 – Aaron Rodgers is still far from happy.
After years of being frustrated by the Packers as an organisation, it was time for the back-to-back reigning NFL MVP to share some of that animosity with members of his offense this time, as he cut a dejected figure on the sidelines as his new group of receivers failed to live up to the high bar that Davante Adams has set over the past few years as the Packers lost to the Vikings.
Rodgers had made his points clear to his receivers that they needed to get better earlier in the summer, but it seems as if the message hasn’t quite gotten through yet, especially to Christian Watson who dropped a surefire touchdown on what would have been his first catch in the NFL:
Video: Christian Watson drops touchdown throw:
Oh no, Christian Watson… 🤦♂️pic.twitter.com/jk4dWxUfVI— Action Network (@ActionNetworkHQ) September 11, 2022
Given the high standards that have been set in recent years in Green Bay, with the Packers going 13-3 for three straight years, those players need to get up to speed sharpish if they’re to make Rodgers happy and trust them in the future.
4 – Kickers, kickers, kickers
To paraphrase broadcaster Rich Eisen, kickers are people too. And they certainly had their share of the headlines over the course of the weekend. From Cade York winning the game for the Cleveland Browns in his first NFL game, to the sheer craziness that was the 4th quarter and overtime of the Steelers v Bengals game, and then the dying seconds of the Broncos v Seahawks game.
Video: Cade York kicks the game-winner for the Cleveland Browns:
As for the Indianapolis Colts’ Rodrigo Blankenship, he missed a 42-yard game-winner and had two of his kickoffs go out of bounds in one of the worst days games he’s likely to have.
Let those examples be proof that whilst a kicker might be 50th on your list of priorities when it comes to setting up your 53-man roster, they should perhaps be of much bigger importance moving forward, because they can often have just as much control on the outcome of a game than the skill players, so make sure you’ve got a good one.
3 – The Pittsburgh Steelers defence might just be an all-time team
Admittedly, this point was written down before the end of the game and before T.J. Watt suffered his injury, but you can’t doubt that as an overall unit, this Steelers defence has the potential to go down as one of the greats if they can keep playing as they did on Sunday.
7 sacks and 5 turnovers are enough to give anyone nightmares, but to do so against the reigning AFC Champions, on the road is a feat should send a warning out to everyone in the league.
Video: The Pittsburgh Steelers defence puts in a great display:
Having led the league in sacks for the past 5 seasons, add in the stunning play of Minkah Fitzpatrick, and this team has the potential to drag the team all the way to the playoffs and maybe even go on a deep run.
2 – Patrick Mahomes doesn’t need Tyreek Hill’s help
One of the big talking points all offseason was how the Kansas City Chiefs’ offense would cope without speedster and number one wide receiver Tyreek Hill following his trade to the Miami Dolphins and whether the team would still be able to put up numbers.
The answer to that was a resounding yes as they put an absolute beating on the Arizona Cardinals with Mahomes throwing five touchdowns as they hung 44 points on the road in the desert. Now of course you could make the argument this is only one game, and we shouldn’t get ahead of ourselves, but when you look at what Mahomes has done in the past, it’s clear to see that this is all on him rather than the talent around him, so as long as he’s healthy, the Chiefs’ offense will be too.
Video: Patrick Mahomes throws his 5th TD pass of the day:
1 – The Buffalo Bills are who we thought they were
How many times have we seen a team come into a season as favourites and then ultimately end up being a disappointment? Again, this was only one game, but when you consider that it was on the road, against the reigning champions who still had a lot of players left over from last year and made some additions, this was the ultimate ‘marker’ being put down by a team that wants to win it all this year.
They get an extra long rest before they play again as they don’t start their home schedule until Monday night against the Tennessee Titans, and if they can pick up a win there, then the momentum will really be rolling as the season goes on and they might end up being very difficult to stop.
Say it quietly, but this team has all the makings of one that can go unbeaten.