Fans across the country are either waking up with a huge smile on their face or dreading the morning commute. Yes, the NFL season has returned. However, that glee of getting to watch your favorite team week in and week out comes with the agony of watching them under perform.
There was plenty to go around this week, so fans of the New York Giants and New England Patriots, you are not alone. Also, some unexpected dominant performances might be fool’s gold for other teams around the league. The Jacksonville Jaguars and Los Angeles Rams were prime examples of this.
Much like any week in the NFL, there were also some incredible plays. The speed, strength and talent of these players is unmatched, leading to some memorable highlights each season.
In this new segment, each week I’ll break down the best and worst of each NFL week. Tuesday Takeaways starts now!
Week 1 Winners
Jacksonville Jaguars – Although I mentioned that it might be fool’s gold, the Jags definitely came out a winner in Week 1. Their physical style of play on defense and powerful duo at running back give them a fighter’s chance in the inept AFC South.
Rookie Leonard Fournette led the way with 100 yards rushing and a touchdown. His back up, Chris Ivory, had a productive day as well. This one-two punch will keep the Jags afloat while Blake Bortles works through his issues in the pocket.
As for the Jacksonville defense, they feasted on an inexperienced offensive line on the road. Going forward that will give them a lot of confidence. Calais Campbell had 4 sacks, and Tashaun Gipson had an interception. Not to mention they did all of this against a division rival, the Houston Texans.
Detroit Lions – Trailing 17-15 at the end of the third quarter, the Lions stepped up at home to secure a Week 1 win. Scoring 20 unanswered before a late Arizona Cardinals touchdown, the Lions have to be pumped about a quality win versus a team as talented as the Arizona Cardinals.
Matthew Stafford threw four touchdown passes, including the tremendous grab from Kenny Golladay. He has numerous weapons at his disposal, and spread the wealth to seven different receivers on Sunday. His favorite, Golden Tate, had the biggest day. He caught ten passes for 107 yards.
Throw in a 58-yard boot, and a 35-yard interception return for a touchdown and the Lions played well in all three phases of the game on Sunday. All wins are important in the NFL, but some are better than others. The Lions defending home turf against the Cards falls in to that category.
Week 1 Losers
New York Giants – Unfortunately the only winner from the New York Giants this week was Odell Beckham Jr. He might have rather seen his team get to 1-0 without him, but that was not the case.
The Giants struggled mightily all night against the Dallas Cowboys. The offense was only able to muster three points, and didn’t do a single favor for their defense. Without OBJ the team is inept. He affects the game in every way, and he needs to be on the field for the Giants to win. When contract negotiations come around for the star player, he should receive a healthy increase in salary. They struggled to move the ball, to sustain drives, and the only time they reached the red zone, it resulted in a field goal.
The defense was stout as usual, and kept the Giants in it throughout. However, without Odell, they played the whole game on fumes.
New England Patriots – This is the only week I expect to see the Patriots here, but nevertheless, they deserve to be here Week 1. Tom Brady went 16/36, failed to throw a touchdown pass, and by the end of the game he looked confused by the hungry Kansas City Chiefs defense.
Additionally, this was supposed to be a celebratory night for the Pats. They hung their fifth championship banner and were ready to start the season 1-0. The game started well, but they blew coverages, assignments and eventually the lead against Kansas City.
Injuries piled up for the Pats as well. On offense, Danny Amendola looked to suffer a concussion. He has become a trusted target for Brady, and was going to see an increased role with Julian Edelman out for the year. On defense, Dont’a Hightower suffered an apparent knee injury. Those are always extremely nerve racking for football players these days. Fortunately, it was ruled an MCL sprain, but Hightower will have to be careful on it as the season progresses.
Week 1 Top Plays
Week 1 was action-packed, and offered up a variety of must-see plays. Three in particular stand out in my mind. Some were pivotal while others were just plain outstanding.
The first is nothing too crazy. Cole Beasley of the Dallas Cowboys made a catch on third down that sustained momentum for his team and pretty much made a comeback for the Giants impossible. He juggled the ball, and needed help from his helmet. Although it was a short gain, the focus and timing that were involved in the catch helped it land on the list.
Our second top play is just something you don’t see everyday. A tight end scoring an 88-yard touchdown is a rare sight. On Sunday, Austin Hooper made it look easy. After not recording a catch for the entire game, he waited until the fourth quarter to make his move. After a blown coverage by the Chicago Bears‘ secondary, Hooper caught the pass around midfield and scampered another 15 yards before he was approached by a defender.
What happened next might be the highlight of his season. With his left arm, he delivered a mean stiff-arm to the safety of the Chicago Bears that sent his body flying in to the turf. Hooper galloped the rest of the way for an easy yet crucial touchdown for the Atlanta Falcons.
Lastly, comes an insane interception from an otherwise mediocre football game. The Carolina Panthers rolled the San Francisco 49ers, 23-3. The final score was far from the most important talking point in this one. Jaquiski Tartt made a memorable play early in the second quarter, and tried to do all he could to keep the Niners afloat.
The acrobatic ability mixed with the presence of mind to get up for a lengthy return showed Tartt’s talent as well as his football IQ. Unfortunately, the talent level for the Niners isn’t what it used to be. It will be a long season in San Francisco.
Hopefully Week 2 of the NFL season offers more of the same!
Week 2 Must-See Match Ups
New Orleans Saints vs. New England Patriots – Both teams start the season 0-1, and Drew Brees and Tom Brady will look to bounce back.
Atlanta Falcons vs. Green Bay Packers – The grand opening of Mercedes Benz Stadium for the Atlanta Falcons should be a game to remember.
New York Giants vs. Detroit Lions – Monday Night Football at MetLife Stadium. Nothing else needs to be said.