Following the Raiders loss at home to the Rams, Week 1 of the NFL 2018 season has end. And it was a good week! We’ll get into some of the key games during this week’s podcast but here’s a quick look at each game.
Eagles 18 – 12 Falcons
The Eagles offence didn’t fire in this game. Key contributors to their Superbowl win in February, Nick Foles and Zach Ertz were shadows of the players we last saw in Minnesota. Foles completed 19 of 34 pass attempts for a measly 117 yards, no touchdowns and 1 INT. Matt Ryan’s stat line was slightly better (21 of 43, 251 yards and 1 INT) but both QBs failed to deliver on their hype. Ryan was hassled by the Eagles defensive line all day and credit should go to that unit for the win. The Falcons continue to struggle in the red zone which will be troublesome to their fans. London born Jay Ajayi ran in two TDs to please fantasy owners and ultimately seal a win for the Eagles on what was a poor match.
Colts 23 – 34 Bengals
How good was it to see Andrew Luck back on the field in a game of meaning? He also came through without any injury concerns. How long that will last with that offensive line is anyone’s guess! First round pick Quinton Nelson looked poor but the whole line suffered. Carlos Dunlap feasted on the Colts O-Line and was a menace throughout the game recording a sack and a number of QB pressures. The O-Line is also not helping out on the running game for the Colts, they’ll hope to see Marlon Mack return in Week 2 but there needs to be an increase in holes for him to run through to gain any significant stats. John Ross caught his first NFL TD and whilst his stat line was poor looked lively throughout the game. Joe Mixon also looks better in this match (95 yards from 17 attempts and a TD) and will look to continue that form next week.
Ravens 47 – 3 Bills
We all predicted this and was sad to see that our predictions came true. Ravens defence was good last year and up against Nate Peterman they started off the year in fine fettle as well! Peterman recorded less passing yards than Flacco recorded pass completions and threw two interceptions. Why oh why the Bills front office thought it was a good idea to put him in is beyond me, and most other people. What’s worse is the Bills O-Line which gave up seven sacks on the day – even Aaron Rodgers would struggle behind that. The Ravens offence looked much better this year, Flacco connected with each of his three new veteran receivers (Willie Snead, John Brown and Michael Crabtree) for a TD.
Saints 40 – 48 Buccaneers
Hands up who had Ryan Fitzpatrick in their fantasy starting lineup?!? Anyone?? No? Thought as much. Fitz-magic had a career day against the Saints recording 439 yards from 37 passes and four TDs. The Saints pass rush was not able to get near him and the backfield struggled against Mike Evans and Deshaun Jackson. On the flip side, the Bucs pass rush looked ferocious. The Bucs have invested heavily on the defensive front in the off-season and it looks to have paid dividends as now Gerald McCoy can’t be double teamed. He showed off against the Saints getting to Brees constantly throughout the game. Be interesting to see what happens to both teams next week and whether the hype generated from this week one epic is accurate.
Patriots 27 – 20 Texans
We spent the offseason doubting them so of course they kick off week 1 with a win. Gronk will catch all the headlines for his performance (123 yards and a TD) but Phillip Dorsett quietly had a confidence boosting game in the absence of any other talent at wide out. The Patriots pass rush also impressed against a lacklustre Texans offensive line. Trey Flowers was able to pressure Watson numerous times. Watson himself had a slow start in his first game since his season ending injury last year but got better as the game progressed. Likewise JJ Watt. Both should be better in week two.
Vikings 24 – 16 49ers
Jimmy G has finally lost a game. Now that’s done we can get on with the season! The 49ers were up against a stout defensive and a favourite to make the Superbowl this year so shouldn’t be too disheartened by this result. Garoppolo did throw three INTs which puts a question mark on his decision making ability under pressure, however the Vikings defensive line is probably one of the best in the league – he’s not going to be up against that every week. For the Vikings, Cousins made a solid debut, throwing for 244 yards and two touchdowns but it’s the Vikings defensive that will take the plaudits for this win.
Dolphins 27 – 20 Titans
A game that lasted a massive seven hours due to lightning storms in the area causing multiple stoppages. If there was such a thing as a game MVP then it should go to those in the crowd that stayed for the whole thing! Rookie safety Minkah Fitzpatrick had a great debut for the Dolphins recording an INT but was also all over the pitch during the game – he could be a strong asset for years to come. Mariota went out of the game injured (again) to leave Blaine Gabbert to try and get the Titans season off to a win. Needless to say, he failed but another injury to Mariota is a real concern. Tannehill made his return from an ACL and combined well with Kenny Stills for two TDs
Giants 15 – 20 Jaguars
A new look Giants team faced off against the leading defence of the Jaguars and it was the Jags that clinched it. New running back star for the G-Men, Saquon Barkley recorded a 68 yard TD run, but aside from that was well bottled up by the defence. The Jags secondary did struggle a bit with the likes of OBJ but ultimately won out as Eli Manning was unable to throw for any TDs. The Jags offensive line was under pressure for much of the game but managed to hold out well and provide a solid platform for Bortles to do his job. He wasn’t amazing but did connect with Yeldon for a TD pass. Worrisome for the Jags will be Leonard Fournette leaving the field injured.
Browns 21 – 21 Steelers
Browns fans, it wasn’t a loss. You won’t be going 0-16 in 2018. Tyrod Taylor didn’t look comfortable in the pocket and his usual safety first approach failed him as he threw an INT. On the flip side, Big Ben didn’t look much better and recoded three INTs. James Conner produced a strong performance to show that there may well be life after Bell. Denzel Ward snagged two INTs and looked like the No.4 might not have been too high for the former Ohio State cornerback. The match ball though goes to TJ Watt, recording four sacks and eight tackles. The Browns had an opportunity to win the game late on but a famous victory escaped them. Lots of questions for the Steelers offence
Chargers 28 – 38 Chiefs
Tyreek Hill was the star of the show in this match. The Chargers could just not handle the speedy wide receiver and he stormed to 169 off of seven receptions and two touchdowns. The Chargers were without Joey Bosa which meant more pressure on Ingram to rush the passer and whilst he was able to get to Mahomes a few times, it wasn’t enough. The second year quarterback had a great day recording 256 yards and four TDs. Biggest concern for the Chiefs will be their defence as there was a run of missed tackles, particular by their linebackers. Rivers looked his normal self and the offence was ticking over nicely but they were unable to outgun the Chiefs in this shootout.
Panthers 16 – 8 Cowboys
If I were a Cowboys fan I would be getting very worried about who the hell Dak is going to throw to. 170 passing yards for Prescott off of 19 throws, 73 yards went to Cole Beasley. Zeke got only 15 touches of the ball – the Cowboys need to give him more if they are to stand any chance of the win. The Panthers defence looked better than I expected them to recording six sacks on the night. Luke Kuechly proved once again why he’s considered one of the best linebackers in the league. He went down with an injury late in the game which will be a concern Did Jerry Jones save Dez’s number on his phone?
Cardinals 6 – 24 Redskins
Adrian Peterson scored his 100th career touchdown in an easy win against a poor Cardinals team. Alex Smith also made a solid debut for the Redskins throwing for two touchdowns and of course, no INTs. The Cardinals will be concerned with their offence with Bradford only able to throw for 153 yards and an INT. Returning running back, David Johnson was only able to dash for 37 yards. The 3rd down conversion rate for the Cardinals was a lousy 12%. Lots of work to do for the team from Arizona.
Broncos 27 – 24 Seahawks
Two teams that from a personnel point of view look quite different to their 2017 versions. It was the Broncos that won the duel in part down to their pass rush. Von Miller will get the glory with his three sacks but rookie Bradley Chubb was equally impressive as he beat his man a good number of times. The same can’t be said of the Seahawks pass rush was only able to record the solitary sack with Case Keenum given the time to make a series of passes to record three TDs. He did though record three INTs, shared between the two Seahawk safeties Earl Thomas and Bradley McDougal. One other upside for the Broncos was their running game that was able to record 4.6 yards per carry. Rookies Royce Freeman and undrafted free agent, Phillip Lindsay able to each record 71 yards off 15 carries.
Packers 24 – 23 Bears
Well this game was a bit of a rollercoaster! The debut of Kahlil Mack and he was a constant thorn in Green Bay’s side in the first half recording a strip sack fumble and returning an INT for a TD. Not a bad way to start paying off the investment the Bears made in him. No surprises that the offence looks markedly different for Chicago in 2018. A lot of short passes and outside runs allowed for some good gains and the Bears built up a good lead, buoyed by Aaron Rodgers leaving the field injured. He came back though. And boy did he come back. In the second half, Rodgers led the Pack to three touchdown drives and ultimately the game win.
Lions 17 – 48 Jets
Monday night football in 2018 kicked off with everyone watching rookie QB Sam Darnold make his first start. Didn’t start great when he threw a pick six to Detroit’s cornerback Quandre Diggs. Things got much better though and Darnold ended the night with 198 passing yards and two touchdowns, his first to Robby Anderson an absolute beauty. Stafford on the other hand really had a night to forget throwing four INTs to one TD. The two rushing attacks were also on either end of the spectrum with Detroit’s never really getting going and the Jets able to create some big plays, despite a great start from Da’Shawn Hand in the middle of the Lions defensive line. Crowell recorded 102 yards on his first start for gang green including a 62 yard TD run. Much to think about for rookie head coach Matt Patricia.
Raiders 13 – 33 Rams
Not many people gave the Raiders much of a chance against a heavily backed Rams team and the game went true to form. The Rams defence was consistently on top of the Raiders with the defensive line getting into Carr’s face all night long and the backfield reducing Jordy Nelson and Amari Cooper to a combined 32 yards. Brandin Cooks featured heavily for the Rams attack and did what we expected him to do – get up the field and draw flags, twice the ploy worked to give the Rams great field position. Gurley barely came off the field and looks like he’s carrying on his form from 2017. One highlight for the Raiders will be the performance of Jared Cook who caught nine passes for 180 yards. The biggest worry though is who is going to rush the passer in Mack’s absence.