Last week’s power ranking in parentheses.
Where is Antonio Brown going to fit in after Phillip Dorsett caught two touchdown passes and Josh Gordon had one in a destruction of the Steelers on Sunday night for the Super Bowl champions?
It’s interesting that Bill Belichick added Brown to the mix considering the wide receiver’s penchant for being destructive, but if there is a locker room in the league that can handle him, it’s in New England.
Tyreek Hill went out early against Jacksonville, but his absence did little to slow down the offensive juggernaut as Patrick Mahomes passed for 378 yards (313 in the first half) and three touchdowns in an easy win. Sammy Watkins stepped up, catching nine passes for a career-high 198 yards.
Losing Hill for an extended period of time will hurt, but new running back LeSean McCoy should be up to speed quickly.
Alvin Kamara accounted for 169 yards of offense and Drew Brees led a drive in the final minute that set up Will Lutz’s career-long 58-yard field goal as time expired to sink the Texans. New Orleans did a nice job rushing the quarterback but struggled in the secondary.
Los Angeles waited to feed the ball regularly to running back Todd Gurley until the second half when things were close, and he wound up finishing with 97 yards on 14 carries in a 30-27 victory at Carolina. Surely, the Rams don’t want to burden Gurley early in the season, as he was slowed in the second half of last season with a reported arthritic knee. But this is a sure sign that newly minted quarterback Jared Goff will have to carry more of the load.
Holdout running back Melvin Gordon missed out on $329,705. And in his absence, Austin Ekeler ran for 58 yards and gained another 96 on six receptions, scoring three touchdowns in a 30-24 victory over the Colts in overtime.
Ekeler’s presence is just one of the reasons Gordon’s holdout is short-sighted, a standoff against a front office that has proven before it will stand its ground. The 26-year-old Gordon has a base salary of $5.605 million this season and is seeking a new contract.
It took the Eagles a while to get going as they fell behind the Redskins 17-0, but when Carson Wentz got the offense rolling, Philadelphia soared in a home win.
Wide receiver Desean Jackson, in his first game back with the Eagles since he was unceremoniously dumped by former coach Chip Kelly following the 2013 season, caught touchdown passes of 51 and 53 yards. Jackson has 31 touchdown catches of 50 or more yards in his career, trailing only Hall of Famer Jerry Rice (36). Alshon Jeffery had a touchdown catch and a touchdown run.
With Dallas reportedly closing in on a contract extension for Dak Prescott, you have to wonder if the quarterback’s asking price just went up as he shredded the Giants, passing for 405 yards and four touchdowns and finished with a perfect passer rating of 158.3. Jerry Jones has been on a roll, extending the contracts of star players and has deals looming for not only Prescott but also wide receiver Amari Cooper, who caught six passes for 106 yards and one touchdown.
Lamar Jackson for MVP? Baltimore set franchise marks for points and offensive yards (643) in a 59-10 demolition of the Dolphins, who had no answer for the second-year quarterback.
The Ravens are expected to be a ground-and-pound offense, but Jackson was unstoppable as he completed his first nine passes for 204 yards and four touchdowns in an absolute drubbing of Miami.
Coach Mike Zimmer got his way as the Vikings returned to a run-oriented offense and smashed the Falcons 28-12 in a game they led by four touchdowns at one point.
Dalvin Cook rushed for 111 yards on 21 carries and scored twice, and Kirk Cousins attempted only 10 passes, completing eight for 98 yards with a 23-yard touchdown to Adam Thielen. The Vikings created four takeaways, all leading to touchdowns and put pressure on Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan throughout.
Green Bay’s dominance of the Bears offense was spearheaded by newcomers, a positive sign for GM Brian Gutekunst. Outside linebacker Za’Darius Smith, who came over from Baltimore in free agency, had one of five sacks on Mitch Trubisky and was credited with three quarterback hits and five QB pressures. Fellow outside linebacker Preston Smith, also a free-agent pickup, had 1 ½ sacks and ex-Bears safety Adrian Amos intercepted Trubisky in the end zone.
“I think we showed the league and folks watching that we’re not just an offensive football team anymore,” quarterback Aaron Rodgers said. “That we’ve got a defense.”
Seattle struggled for consistency on offense and possessed the ball for only 24 minutes, 10 seconds, but Russell Wilson hit Tyler Lockett for a 44-yard touchdown early in the fourth quarter that proved to be the difference in a 21-20 victory over the pesky Bengals. The Seahawks will have to iron things out offensively as they travel to Pittsburgh this week and host the Saints in Week 3.
Mike Vrabel’s defense battered Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield, a sign that Tennessee could be a factor in the AFC South. Derrick Henry took a short pass and went 75 yards for a touchdown and also rushed for 84 yards, but the real standout was veteran pass rusher Cameron Wake, who had 2 ½ sacks.
In three hours and seven minutes, a huge amount of the offseason hype for the natural improvements the offense would make in Year 2 under Matt Nagy vanished. That’s not to say that the Bears cannot still make gains on where they were a year ago, but the opener was one face plant into a puddle of mud as the play caller Nagy ignored the run and quarterback Mitch Trubisky struggled behind an offensive line that didn’t have its best night but did more than enough for the passing offense to be effective.
“We didn't run the ball enough,” Nagy said. “So, however we end up doing that, we need to as coaches figure that out.”
The trade for Laremy Tunsil upgraded the offensive line, but Deshaun Watson was still sacked six times and a took a big hit on his final pass. Watson still got off a 37-yard touchdown dart to wide receiver Kenny Stills, who was acquired in the same deal that brought the Texans the new left tackle. But the score wasn’t enough, as Houston couldn’t prevent last-second heroics from the Saints.
Marlon Mack rushed for 174 yards and Jacoby Brissett, taking over for Andrew Luck, was good enough to win as he completed 21 of 27 passes for 190 yards and two touchdown passes to T.Y. Hilton.
But Indianapolis was tripped up by the Chargers in overtime and kicker Adam Vinatieri missed an extra point and field goals from 46 and 29 yards. Surely, the 46-year-old kicker was the least of the team’s worries entering the game — but if Vinatieri makes those kicks, it’s a Colts’ win.
Cam Newton, coming off an ankle injury in the preseason, was shaky. He rushed for a career-low minus-2 yards and didn’t make a lot of throws downfield with his surgically repaired shoulder in a three-point loss to the Rams. His longest completion was for 17 yards and the offense didn’t get going until the second half with running back Christian McCaffrey (128 yards rushing, 81 yards receiving) carrying the load.
Pittsburgh withstood the loss of Le’Veon Bell a year ago, but without wide receiver Antonio Brown, the offense was doomed in the opener at New England. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger struggled getting the ball to outside targets and the score quickly got out of hand so the running game was a moot point. We’ll see if the Steelers can rebound or if an era of offensive excellence is coming to an end.
Josh Allen threw two interceptions and lost two fumbles but righted himself just in time, hitting John Brown for a 38-yard touchdown with three minutes to play as Buffalo rallied from 16 points down to win on the road against the Jets. Buffalo will be back in East Rutherford, N.J., this week as it tangles with the Giants.
After a disastrous 2018, expectations are Jacksonville can bounce back in a big way. But the opener Sunday brought a cold dose of reality as the touted defense was shredded by the Chiefs and worse, quarterback Nick Foles was lost to a fractured left clavicle.
That means rookie Gardner Minshew, a sixth-round pick from Washington State, will be the starter moving forward. Minshew completed 22 of 25 passes for 275 yards and two touchdowns, but the Chiefs were playing soft coverage and Kansas City isn’t known for its defense.
Coach Dan Quinn assumed the defensive play-calling duties this season and Atlanta has got to shore up some holes against the run after getting gashed for 172 yards by the Vikings. The Falcons were 25th vs. the run last season when injuries decimated the defense in the first month. They’ve got to get improvements in that area or they could find themselves trailing quickly in the NFC South.
Somewhere Hue Jackson had to be chuckling, right?
After an offseason full of hype and bold statements, it was the same ol’ Browns who showed up Sunday at FirstEnergy Stadium. Baker Mayfield was picked off three times, sacked five times (once for a safety) and the Browns committed a whopping 18 penalties for 182 yards, the lowlight being a 15-yard penalty in the second quarter against left tackle Greg Robinson for kicking an opponent. Robinson was ejected. Cleveland will have to be much better on the offensive line moving forward.
The Browns are now 1-19-1 in season openers dating back to 1999.
San Francisco set NFL records last season when it created only seven takeaways and managed just two interceptions. That was so last year, as the Niners picked off Jameis Winston three times with Richard Sherman and Ahkello Witherspoon returning interceptions for touchdowns. Add in a fumble recovery and it was a big day for the defense. Let’s see if the Niners can do it again this week at Cincinnati.
Saquon Barkley ripped off a 59-yard run on his first carry of the season, but he can’t do it all and an early 7-0 lead at Dallas was quickly erased. Barkley finished with 120 yards and tight end Evan Engram had 11 catches for 116 yards and a touchdown. Quarterback Eli Manning doesn’t have much in the way of targets on the outside and that is going to be a season-long issue.
Zac Taylor’s offense looks like a perfect fit for Andy Dalton, as he had a career day with 418 yards passing in a 21-20 loss at Seattle. Speedy wide receiver John Ross, who has done next to nothing since being the ninth pick in the 2017 draft, had seven receptions for 158 yards, nearly matching his total of 210 yards from all last season.
Derek Carr came out on fire, completing 16 of his first 17 passes as the Raiders racked up 357 yards of offense a little more than 48 hours after releasing wide receiver Antonio Brown. No one knew what to expect but Tyrell Williams, a speedster brought in from the Chargers in free agency, caught six passes for 105 yards and a touchdown and tight end Darren Waller, a “Hard Knocks” star, caught seven passes for 70 yards while rookie running back Josh Jacobs ran for 85 yards and two scores.
Oakland is going to miss Brown, but it’s not like the offense didn’t spend a lot of time practicing without him this summer. The victory was Jon Gruden’s 100th as a coach and came in the final “Monday Night Football” game at Oakland.
After marching to a 17-0 lead in the second quarter, Detroit was fortunate to escape Arizona with a tie. Matthew Stafford made an ill-advised throw in the closing seconds of overtime that should have been intercepted and would have set up a chip-shot field goal for the Cardinals to win it.
As usual, the Lions running game didn’t produce much but rookie tight end T.J. Hockenson was a bright spot as he caught six passes for 131 yards and one touchdown, setting an NFL record for yards by a tight end in his debut.
Kliff Kingsbury’s offense looked terrible for three quarters before coming to life, as No. 1 pick Kyler Murray completed 15 of 19 passes for 154 yards and two touchdowns after the third quarter to rally Arizona to a tie with Detroit. It’s probably representative of what the season will be for Murray — a rollercoaster.
Expectations were not very high for the Joe Flacco-led offense but the defense was underwhelming in Vic Fangio’s debut. Von Miller and Bradley Chubb were not disruptive forces, and with cornerback Bryce Callahan missing, the Raiders picked on fill-in Isaac Yiadom. The Raiders converted 10 of 14 third downs against Denver and the only offensive highlight for Fangio was wide receiver Courtland Sutton, who caught seven passes for 120 yards.
Recently added kicker Kaare Vedvik missed an extra point and a 45-yard field goal, but that was just one of the problems as New York choked away a 16-0 lead in a home loss to the Bills in Adam Gase’s debut. The Jets could soon be in the market for a new kicker.
Bruce Arians has been charged with fixing turnover-prone quarterback Jameis Winston — and the Week 1 results were not encouraging. Winston was intercepted three times in a 31-17 home loss to the 49ers, the seventh time in his career he’s had three or more picks. Arians blamed the turnover margin for the loss, and that starts with his quarterback.
Washington’s patchwork offensive line held up relatively well on the road at Philadelphia, but the Redskins were killed by big plays, particularly in third-and-long situations as the Eagles stormed back to win. The Redskins touted their defense as a strength coming into the season and blamed communication breakdowns in the secondary, the kind of stuff that will have to be cleaned up quickly with Dallas coming to FedEx Field this week.
Miami started out in the cellar and may occupy this low-rent district for weeks (months?) to come after the Dolphins were plastered at home 59-10 by the Ravens. The blowout keeps alive talk of Miami tanking for the top draft pick in 2020 and led to a report some veteran players want out — now.