We kicked off the NFL’s opening Sunday with a series of bangs and fizzles. That’s the way it goes, and I think we learned a lot about a lot of teams. Straight to the reaction.
Pittsburgh 7, Baltimore 35
The Steelers posted 7 points on the board, and they also put up 7 turnovers. That was the story of the game.
Baltimore had their way with Pittsburgh, and they left the Steelers with major questions in their wake. Ben Roethlisberger was unable to do anything right, and many of his problems revolved around a continuing theme. Poor blocking.
The Steelers will need to rebound quickly from one of their biggest embarassements in recent history.
There’s not much to say about the Ravens in this one, other than wow. I picked the Steelers to win the game, and it was shoved right back in my face. The Ravens dominated a seemingly great team, and they should be fine moving forward.
Atlanta 12, Chicago 30
Matt Ryan threw the ball 47 times in this game. That’s not a combination for success. This was another game I figured would be great to watch, and it was largely the exact opposite. The best part of the game was a self-caused fumble that the Bears promptly turned into 7 points.
The Bears, who many were down on going into the season, showed that they can put up a lot of yards to go with their staunch defense.
Jay Cutler threw for 312 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 1 interception. Matt Forte was never able to really get it going, totalling only 68 yards, but with great performances from the Bears’ defense and Jay Cutler, no super-star performance was needed. Certainly a strong start for the reigning NFC North champions.
Cincinnati 27, Cleveland 20
Let’s be honest here. Neither one of these teams are very good. That being the case, the Bengals impressed me. I thought they wouldn’t win more than 3 or 4 games all year, and it already looks like they may be able to squeak out 5 or 6. Then again, maybe it’s too early to tell.
I’m much more concerned about the Browns level of play, or lack thereof. This was a game I thought the Browns would win simply because they have such a strong running game, and Colt McCoy showed last year that he may have what it takes to pilot a successful team. With performances like this, I’m forced to rethink that notion.
Both of these teams may be in the running for the first pick of the draft, but it looks like the Bengals may be playing themselves out of that pick.
Indianapolis 7, Houston 34
This was one of the games I had the pleasure of watching. The big story line was Peyton Manning, so; let’s start with the Texans before we dive into that.
The Texans were the sharpest team in the NFL through the first half of play. They didn’t score after the break, but they had the game wrapped up going into the locker room. They ran the ball well, they threw it well, they played great defense, and their special teams unit was solid. There’s a lot to like from the Texans, and they certainly played like a playoff team.
The Colts were, to say the least, terrible. That may not be a strong enough word for the way they made me feel, but hey, that’s what I came up with.
Kerry Collins was getting hit all day, and he had a number of big time misfires. The Colts will look to rebound, but it’s hard to imagine them making the playoffs, much less winning more than 5 games without Peyton Manning at the helm. The team has some very talented players surrounded by a vacuum of talent. Don’t expect much better from them going forward.
Tennessee 14, Jacksonville 16
This was another game that I had the pleasure of watching, and it didn’t disappoint.
The Jaguars were the better team most of the game, but they let a couple of plays slip through their fingers, resulting in 14 Tennessee points. Fortunately for them, they were able to come up with an interception to finish the game. In a division that I expect to come down to the Texans and the Jaguars, it was very important for them to keep pace with the Texans early on.
It was a rough day for Chris Johnson and the Titans. Johnson carried the ball 9 times for just 24 yards, and that put the weight of the world on Matt Hasselbeck, who handled it well in the second half. It was a case of too little too late for the Titans. They had too many penalties and inconsistencies to pull out a win.
Buffalo 41, Kansas City 7
Where did the Bills come from, and where did the Chiefs go? I’m as confused as many of you are by this particular score.
The Chiefs won the AFC West last season, but they already look like the Chiefs we’re all used to seeing. I already assumed the Chargers would re-claim the division this season, but the Chiefs may be making it much easier for them to do so. They have to get it together quickly if they want to be playing in the playoffs again this year.
For the Bills, this is a huge victory. There’s no way they win their division, but there’s always a chance of making it as a wild-card team, and they were definitely an effort team last season. I believe the Jets will be a little bit down this season, and it leaves a small window if the Bills can continue to play at such a high level.
Philadelphia 31, St. Louis 13
This didn’t surprise many of us. The “dream team” won.
The Eagles are certainly one of the most talented teams in the league, but they let the Rams hang around for a long time. Reason for concern? No, not really, but it is something to keep an eye on. Regardless, the Eagles haven’t had a long time to gel, so; they’ll only get better from here on out.
The Rams shouldn’t be too concerned by this game either. They play in the weakest division in football, and they’ll get their shots at their division foes in due time. In fact, if I’m a Rams fan, I like that they stuck around for so long. Sam Bradford will have a chance to get his team into the playoffs this season, but it’s all about the divisional games for the Rams.
Detroit 27, Tampa Bay 20
The Buccaneers have some distractions floating around this season. Most notably, they’re reportedly being investigated by the NFL for contacting players during the lockout. Whoops. That’s the word that describes this game for them as well.
The Bucs play in one of the toughest divisions in football, as do the Lions. This game could turn out to have been an important wild-card tie breaker, and the Lions were able to gain the upper hand on the arm of Matthew Stafford. This is the first time in recent memory that the Lions have a winning record, and they’d like to keep it that way going forward. I see no reason they can’t do that.
The Bucs will have to win a lot of tough games to make it into the playoffs following this tough loss, and they’re already behind the 8 ball. They have a tough road in front of them, and frankly, I don’t think they have what it takes. They’re getting better, but they’re not there yet.