The story of NFL week 1 was about rust. Teams looked sluggish, fantasy scores were low and several teams were left looking for answers. I was struck by the fact that nearly every game probably had more bad than good. There were bright spots, but there were a lot of nasty moments. In looking at the good, bad and ugly of each game, I hope to highlight the highs and lows for different teams. Here’s hoping it gets prettier from here.
Chiefs @ Patriots
Good: Kareem Hunt. 148 yards on the ground, 98 receiving and 3 total touchdowns. All that and a win over the reigning champions. Hard to beat that debut.
Bad: Tom Brady. 16-36 with no touchdowns. It was a rough night for the GOAT. IF he doesn’t turn it around the murmurs about his age will pick up steam. But, betting against Brady is not usually the way to go.
Ugly: Patriots Defense. Outscored 21-0 in the 4th quarter, they were blown away by the Chiefs speed. They gave up over 500 yards of offense, 42 points and looked overmatched, particularly at the linebacker position. If Dont’a Hightower’s injury lingers, there might not be a quick fix.
Steelers @ Browns
Good: Antonio Brown. The best receiver over the last three seasons kept it rolling. He didn’t get in the end zone, but caught 11 balls for nearly 200 yards and repeatedly bailed out Roethlisberger with his ability to scramble open and create yards after the catch.
Bad: DeShone Kizer. This ‘bad’ is actually a positive for the Browns. Yes, Kizer was raw–going 20/30 with a TD and an interception–but even his rookie play was a step forward for the Browns. If his development continues he will be an unquestioned ‘good’ very soon.
Ugly: The Browns opening series. Run for 1 yard, run for -9 yards, false start, run for 4 yards. Blocked punt. Steelers recover for touchdown. Not great.
Jets @ Bills
Good: Bills’ offense. Tyrod Taylor was fine, throwing for 2 touchdowns, but the ground game was the real plus. LeSean Mccoy ran for over 100 yards and Mike Tolbert got in the end zone. We’ll learn more against a better opponent, but for week 1, the offense was a bright spot.
Bad: Josh McCown. To roughly zero people’s surprise, Josh McCown struggled to do anything positive for the Jets offense. 187 yards and 2 picks, while leading the offense to just 10 first downs.
Ugly: Jets rushing. Unlike quarterback, the backfield was supposed to be a minor strength for the Jets. 38 rushing yards was nothing near a strength. This offense may be unable to generate anything positive all season, but any hope starts with the running game.
Falcons @ Bears
Good: Tyrik Cohen. The ‘human joystick’ was a breath of fresh air for the Chicago offense. Supplementing Jordan Howard in the backfield, he ran for 66 yards on 5 carries– including an exhilarating 46 yard run down the RIGHT sideline on a toss play to the LEFT. Eight catches for 47 yards and a score was icing on the cake.
Bad: Kevin White’s injury. The fractured scalpula is the latest injury for the talented wideout and is another blow to an already depleted receiving corps.
Ugly: Austin Hooper’s stiff arm. Hooper made the Bears defensive back (name redacted) look like a bug on his windshield on the way to the game’s biggest play.
Ravens @ Bengals
Good: Ravens defense. 4 interceptions and a fumble recovery, while holding Cincinnati to 221 total yards. The defense overwhelmed the Bengals and is set up for a dominant season.
Bad: Joe Flacco. Good thing the defense looked strong because Flacco was 9 for 17, mustering just 121 yards with one touchdown and an interception. The running game was excellent, but Flacco will have to step it up to make this team a contender.
Ugly: Andy Dalton. 4 picks and a fumble. You don’t need to see his 0.7 QBR to know it was an all-time brutal game.
Cardinals @ Lions
Good: Matthew Stafford. It started ugly, as the first pass under his new mega-contract was a pick-six. He turned it around though and finished with 285 yards and 4 touchdowns, while not throwing another interception. He spread the ball around and had the Lions looking good in week 1.
Bad: Carson Palmer. The opposite is true for Palmer. He also spread the ball around, but failed to limit his turnovers and finished with three interceptions and just one score. Palmer will have to turn it around for the Cardinals to capitalize on their team’s talent.
Ugly: David Johnson’s injury. From bad to worse for the Cardinals. Johnson’s dislocated wrist will keep him out for 2-3 months and that will ruin fantasy seasons everywhere. More importantly, it’s a tough blow for a great young player and a promising team.
Jaguars @ Texans
Good: Leonard Fournette. 26 carries for 100 yards and 1 touchdown against a tough defense. It’s clear the Jaguars plan to build their offense around him and he seemed up to the task for the first week.
Bad: Blake Bortles. The reason the offense runs through Fournette is Bortles inability to move the offense. The one positive is that he avoided turnovers. If he can continue to do that, the Jags may have a chance.
Ugly: Tom Savage. The upside of his lousy performance is that the DeShaun Watson era should be underway. His first start is Thursday in Cincy.
Raiders @ Titans
Good: The Carr-Lynch relationship. Both players played well for Oakland and the post-game pressers made it clear this team has a good thing going
Bad: Marcus Mariota. He didn’t do anything terribly, but he also didn’t do anything great. For this team to live up to the hype, he’ll need to show his star potential going forward.
Ugly: Titans’ rushing game. If this team can’t get more than 95 yards on the ground, it will be a rough season. Murray looked a step slow for them, but the whole ground game was controlled to an alarming degree.
Eagles @ Redskins
Good: Carson Wentz. 26 for 39 for 307 yards and 2 scores was what the Eagles needed from their young signal-caller. Next week’s test for the Chiefs will be an important one for him and the team.
Bad: The second half. No offensive touchdowns made the latter 30 minutes a bit of a slog. The only touchdown was an Eagles scoop and score.
Ugly: Redskins rushing game. Washington is built around their passing game, but if Kirk Cousins is their leading rusher in more games, they will struggle to put points on the board.
Colts @ Rams
Good: Jared Goff. An efficient 300 yards with no turnovers and a score gave the Rams some hope for last year’s first overall pick. Some of that may be how putrid the Colts are, but you can only beat who you play.
Bad: Chuck Pagano. He rushed a play that cost the Colts a chance to review a play and get a touchdown. He apparently was preparing for the 49ers. His team seems headed for a dismal year. Not a good time to be Chuck Pagano.
Ugly: Scott Tolzien. He is winless in all his career starts and threw two pick-sixes on Sunday. Jacoby Brissett may get the start this week and honestly, it couldn’t get worse.
Panthers @ 49ers
Good: Panthers defense. It was great to see Luke Keuchly back on the field and he led his unit to four sacks and one interception while stifling Kyle Shanahan’s team in his debut.
Bad: Cam Newton. HE did throw two touchdown passes, but he stills struggled to move the ball and the competition will get tougher. He must progress to get he and his team anywhere near their 2015 heights.
Ugly: 49ers offense. Kyle Shanahan likely hoped for a more sparkling debut than 217 total yards, three points and two turnovers. This team is extremely short on weapons, but 49ers fans will want to see some better signs as the season wears on.
Seahawks @ Packers
Good: Packers defense. They stymied Russell Wislon and the Seahawks, keeping them out of the end zone and under 100 yards rushing, while limiting them to 11 first downs. If this unit is legitimately improved, Green Bay will be set up well to make their Super Bowl run.
Bad: The officiating. The Seahawks got a pick-six called back, which was a legitimate clipping call. Yet, on the same play Seattle defensive back was ejected for a non-existent punch during a skirmish initiated by a Packers wideout. Seahawks fans will also feel like there should have been pass interference called for the Packers mauling Jimmy Graham in the end zone. The referees played a bit too much of a role in this one.
Ugly: Seahawks offense. All credit to the Packers defense, but this was a rough outing for Russell Wilson and co. The offensive line will need to play a lot better to give this team a chance to be a Super Bowl threat.
Giants @ Cowboys
Good: Cowboys defense. Yet another defense that jumped off the page in week 1. If they remain strong against the run and keep teams out of the end zone it will be a good year in Dallas
Bad: Ezekiel Elliott. The second year back had a good game, rushing for 104 yards. Still, his off-the-field issues will be a shadow on the season for the Cowboys. For one week, it was fine, but now we know he will be on the field all season and it will be interesting to see the impact his distractions will have–both on and off the field.
Ugly: Giants without OBJ. 3 points is really the only number you need to know here. The Giants were supposed to be better equipped to deal with Beckham Jr.’s absence, but through one game they look like they need the star wide receiver on the field.
Saints @ Vikings
Good: Dalvin Cook. Another stud rookie running back with a tremendous performance. 22 carries for 127 yards, while looking very explosive will have Vikings fans dreaming big.
Bad: Sam Bradford. Hard to play any better. 27 for 32 with most of those incompletions being drops, while throwing for three touchdowns was one of the best performances of the week. The ‘bad’ here is that Bradford has been an eternal tease for his entire career. He’s always accurate and he always seems like performances like this can be the norm, but that Bradford has never consistently showed up. Perhaps he can run this offense with a coordinator (Pat Shurmur) that he is very comfortable with and take the Vikings on a playoff run. BUT, I worry he is setting up fans for disappointment.
Ugly: Saints offense, especially Adrian Peterson. The Vikings stymied the Saints as a whole, but especially their old running back. He only got the ball six times for 18 yards and the post-game story was all about him yelling at his new coach. That coach–Sean Payton–will need to figure out the right formula for his offense and running back as the season goes along, but it doesn’t seem like there’s an easy solution.
Chargers @ Broncos
Good: Trevor Siemian. I know I expected him to struggle and it seemed like many people did. He spent three quarters shutting up the critics. He was responsible for 3 touchdowns, including one on the ground where he made Joey Bosa look silly. His only interception was a fluke deflection and he gave Broncos fans reason to believe in him.
Bad: Broncos collapse. Despite Siemian’s good showing, the Broncos did all they could to let the Chargers back in the game. A fluke interception, a Jamaal Charles fumble and a poor final possession gave the Chargers a chance to win. Vance Joseph failed to call a timeout to allow time for the booth to review a Chargers fumble, but he salvaged the game with his timeout to ice the kicker.
Ugly: Chargers in close games. This.