Thoughts From Around the NFL After Week One

| September 16th, 2020

Normally, these kinds of thoughts would be relegated to the Twitter feed once the season begins but this season is unique. With no good camp reporting anywhere, and no preseason fake games to look at it, the last five days were the first opportunity to see these 32 teams in any realistic way. So having caught at least condensed game versions of every team, some thoughts.

NFC North.

A week ago, these were the odds to win the NFC North: Vikings +160, Packers +180, Bears +380, Lions +550.

Today, these are the odds: Packers +110, Vikings +260, Bears +300, Lions +900.

These odds didn’t move because of the lunacy of Bears/Lions. They moved because Aaron Rodgers was the best player in the league Week One and the Vikings defense didn’t look like they’d practiced this summer.  (The gap closure between the Vikings and Bears is sizable for one week.) Pay no attention to the final score of the game (43-34). The Packers led 30-10 going into the fourth quarter and called off the dogs. Oh, and they scored two more touchdowns without the dogs. If Rodgers needed 60 Sunday, he could have gotten it.

NFC East.

The story in this division was a tale of two lines. Washington has a terrific collection of DL talent but it’s clear Carson Wentz and the Eagles won’t survive with their makeshift OL. Wentz was a sitting duck, sacked 8 times, and flustered throughout.

Sometimes coaches get enamored with this “next man up” bullshit and that’s clearly what happened with Doug Pederson. “Next man up” is fun to say but teams don’t have the economic freedom to create the depth necessary to execute it. The Eagles don’t have good players on their OL right now and their scheme relies upon having one of the best lines in the game. They need to embrace what’s actually happening, and change the scheme.

(The Cowboys changed coaches and looked exactly the same.)

NFC West.

14 catches. 151 yards. DeAndre Hopkins is the best wide receiver in the league and he’s Aaron Donald’s existence from being the best player in the league. His arrival changes the division landscape.

NFC South.

The Saints are better than the Bucs right now. Did anybody expect a different outcome Sunday? If the Bucs struggle Sunday against the Panthers, then it’s time to start being concerned about the Tom Brady era in Florida. (And my Super Bowl pick.)

Does anything sum up Matt Ryan’s career in Atlanta better than his throwing for 450 yards and losing by two touchdowns? Falcons next three against Cowboys, Bears, Packers. If they are 0-4, does Arthur Blank finally pull the plug on Dan Quinn? (Yea, I’m firing coaches after a week.)

AFC North.

I watched less of Ravens/Browns than any other game this week. What’s the point? The Ravens are fantastic and the Browns stink. This is an evergreen statement. The Browns are a Thursday night loss to Joe Burrow – who looked solid in his debut – from that combustible locker room fully combusting. And Kevin Stefanski is closing in on decision time with Baker Mayfield.

AFC East.

If Josh Allen and Cam Newton play the way they played Week One, neither is making it to the end of this campaign. Cam looks like he’s already running at about 60% and Allen is simply too reckless in space. (Which is why he continues to give the ball away for seemingly no reason.)

But the story Sunday was the Jets. While Robby Anderson and Jamal Adams were dominating for their new teams, the Jets looked like the worst team in the league. They were horribly ill-prepared to play a football game. Their quarterback continues to look lost. Their coach is over-matched every Sunday. What is their plan? How do you rebuild with a third-year QB? The Jet problems start with ownership, and always have.

AFC West.

Josh Jacobs may be the best back in the NFL.

The Chiefs are the best team in the NFL. (They edge Baltimore after Week One because beating the Browns means nothing to me.)

The L.A. Chargers need to make their QB change as soon as possible. Even in victory, they were lifeless against the Bengals. They’re the league’s most irrelevant franchise. Why keep relevancy on the bench?

Vic Fangio’s Broncos have no chance in this division. In order to beat the Chiefs and Raiders, he’s going to need more than 14 points a game and this group doesn’t seem like they have that potential.

AFC South.

I thought the Colts giving Phil Rivers $25 million was insane. And Sunday, Phil Rivers 2020 looks eerily like Phil Rivers 2019.

Deshaun Watson was always going to miss Hopkins and there’s a reason. The Houston offensive line isn’t good and he’s now got almost exclusively speed threats on the outside. Bill O’Brien doesn’t know how to build a team and it won’t surprise me if Watson starts using his legs far more than he wants.

Tennessee needs a kicker.

There’s no reason to search for conclusions in the league anytime soon. We won’t know what these teams are, or even what they may be, for 3-4 more weeks. On to Week Two.

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