The Kansas City Chiefs are back, the Buffalo Bills and the Green Bay Packers may not be who they thought they were, the Pittsburgh Steelers can still play defense and the Matthew Stafford showed what he can do with a better team around him.
Those were some of the highlights and lowlight of the first weekend of the new season.
More on that:
—Kansas City now has to be considered to have a good shot at a third straight Super Bowl appearance. Patrick Mahomes, who was running for his life in the Super Bowl last February, had the protection to pull off another fourth quarter comeback and beat Browns, 33-29. Browns were up 22-10 at halftime and 29-20 early in fourth quarter before Mahomet did his thing. The Browns, though, showed they are contenders but have to eliminate mistakes. A fumbled snap and a punt was a dagger and then Baker Mayfield threw a late pick trying for a comeback.
—The Bills were supposed to be ready to make a Super Bowl run after winning two playoff games last year before losing to the Chiefs in the AFC title game. They were favored against a Pittsburgh team that had a meltdown at end of last year. But the Steelers still have a defense that harassed Josh Allen and kept him off balance the whole game while posting a 23-16 victory. T.J. Watt’s strip sack at the end of first half and a blocked punt for a score were keys to the victory. The Bills now have to rebound.
—Green Bay spent the off season wondering whether Aaron Rodgers was going to play. And they were playing a New Orleans team that had to switch their opener to Jacksonville because of the damage done by Hurricane Ida. It turned out Rodgers had the worst day of his career in a 38-3 loss. Meanwhile, Jameis Winston may have resurrected his career with five touchdown passes against the Packers.
–All four NFC West teams won and it is likely at least one wild card will come from that division. Three incumbent quarterbacks, Seattle ‘s Russell Wilson, San Francisco’s Jimmy Garopollo with a cameo role by Trey Lance and Arizona’s Kyler Murray posted victories while Matthew Stafford won his debut for the Rams. Indianapolis, Detroit, Tennessee and the Bears were the four losing teams.
—All three rookie quarterbacks who started – Mac Jones of New England, Zach Wilson of the Jets and Trevor Lawrence of Jaguars – all lost. But Jones and Wilson kept it close against the Dolphins and Carolina (quarterbacked by former Jet Sam Darnold) while losing by one and five points) while Lawrence was blown out by the surprising Texans.
—Only one starting quarterback, Ryan Fitzpatrick of Washington, was sidelined with an injury. He went on IR with a hip injury and will be out at least three weeks if not longer.
—Four second-year quarterbacks – Justin Herbert of the Chargers, Joe Burrow of Cincinnati, Jalen Hurts of Philadelphia, and Tua Tagovailoa — posted victories over Washington, Minnesota, Atlanta and New England, respectively.
—After one week, Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski are 1-0 in Tampa and Bill Belichick is 0-1 in New England.
—Dallas lost its opener in Tampa Bay, but looked so good that they have a good shot at winning the division.
—Teddy Bridgewater may be resurrecting his career in Denver as he led the Broncos to the win over the Giants. But playing in the same division with the Chiefs and Chargers means he will have some tough ahead games although he goes to Jacksonville this Sunday.