The first week of the NFL season had all of us scratching our heads more than usual. There were more than a few games where we just had to stand back, pause for a moment, and go: “What did I just witness?”
There are several teams that played either way above their expected level of competence, or far below. Green Bay, for example, got their asses handed to them by someone who hadn’t started an NFL game in over a year. Are they really that bad? Are the Saints really that good? Was it just a weird week that we’ll look back on and go, “Yeah, that was just a huge fluke”? Probably the last one, but we won’t be sure until we see it happen.
This week, the Packers get their old punching bag, the Detroit Lions. On paper, this should be the perfect opportunity for the reigning MVP to get back in the swing of things. In his last four games against Detroit, Rodgers has thrown for 1,136 yards, nine touchdowns, and just two picks. I would go back further, but Rodgers fifth-most recent game against the Lions saw Mr. Discount Double Check start the game, throw five passes and then hit the showers. However, his sixth-most recent game against Detroit had Rodgers throw for 442 yards, three touchdowns, and no interceptions. Basically, Rodgers owns the Lions. He has for a long time, but if you were to ask a bunch of people which team they thought played better in Week 1, you’d probably get several responses along the lines of, “Oh, Detroit. For sure.”
Detroit did not play well for 55 minutes of its Week 1 matchup against San Francisco. However, those last few moments seem to have several fans forgetting the rest of the game. Keep in mind, the Lions were playing against mainly second-teamers on two of their last three drives, and needed some incredible luck on that onside kick in order to come within one score of the 49ers. Rodgers should not be worried about the Lions. We all know how well he plays when there’s a chip on his shoulder, and a 38-3 loss coupled with several fans on Twitter blaming his offseason shenanigans is a mighty big chip.
On the flip side, there are several teams who played way better than we thought they would. The first one that comes to mind is the Denver Broncos. They absolutely thrashed the New York Giants by a final of 27-7. That led many of us, myself included, to think Washington, whose defense was monstrous in 2020, would have a field day with the Giants on Thursday night. In actuality, the Giants gave Washington a run for their money, and, if not for a big drop by Darius Slayton in the end zone, the Giants probably win that game. So, if Denver can crush New York, who can hang with Washington, who was a playoff team in 2020… are you following me here? We all knew Denver had some ballers on their squad coming into the season, but we weren’t sure whether or not Teddy Bridgewater had the arm talent to make the Broncos a legitimate playoff contender. He certainly looked the part in Week 1, and while a Week 2 contest against Jacksonville may not seem like a good measuring stick game, imagine if the Broncos take the L… then how would that game measure up? The Broncos should crush the Jaguars, no questions asked, and if they don’t, well maybe they don’t have what it takes to compete in the undefeated AFC West.
Speaking of the Jaguars, after the thwomping they suffered in Week 1, a lot of questions began to surface about Urban Meyer. After USC announced they’d fired their head football coach Clay Helton, rumors began swirling that Urban Meyer was getting ready to go back to college. While Meyer made an effort to shut down those rumors rather quickly, other rumors started making rounds on the internet that Meyer had lost his passion to coach after just one week in the NFL, and that Meyer’s temper was causing problems at Jaguars’ practices. Meyers’ performance in Week 1 did nothing to quell the worries that thousands of Jaguars fans had coming into the season. A 37-21 thrashing at the hands of the team many thought would be the worst in the league is not a good sign whatsoever. Meyer made the worst first impression possible, but a Week 2 win in the team’s home opener would, in all likelihood, eliminate any and all ill will Jags fans have for their head coach.
Finally, I understand that giving any team the title “undefeated” after just one week may be a bit of a stretch. That being said, in Week 1, zero teams from either the AFC or NFC West divisions started the season with a loss. Even more impressive, all but two of those teams took home the Week 1 dub against teams that made the playoffs in 2020. In Week 2, we see a similarly difficult slate of games for those divisions. The Seahawks, Rams, Raiders, and Chiefs all get 2020 playoff participants once again, and the Cardinals and Chargers each get teams that were close to a playoff spot last season. It will be tough, but it’s possible that we see two divisions start the season undefeated through two weeks. I couldn’t even begin to tell you the last time something like that happened.
Those are the storylines to look out for in Week 2 of the NFL season. If I had to choose one team from either West division to lose this Sunday, I’d probably pick the Raiders. While they looked great in their MNF win over Baltimore, they’re coming off a short week and heading to Pittsburgh — a notoriously difficult city to win in. The Steelers defense looked phenomenal in Week 1, and more than made up for the lackluster performance from Ben Roethlisberger. That being said, the Raiders proved that they were more than capable of moving the ball down the field against Baltimore. Maybe with a few key fumbles from the Steelers, the Raiders can pull off the upset once again.