NFL football is officially back and the season openers were not at all short of action. With overtime madness, divisional upsets and multiple walk-off wins, Week 1's long-awaited match ups were a warm welcome to the 22/23 season.
Bills 31 - 10 Rams
The first game saw Josh Allen lead the Bills to a dominant win on the road at SoFi Stadium.
The reigning champs, the Los Angeles Rams, put up a respectable fight in the first half, closing out the mid-game scoreline at 10-10. But struggled on both sides of the ball when they returned to the turf, where they were outscored 21-0.
Allen passed for 297 yards and three touchdowns, finding Gabe Davis, Isaiah McKenzie and Stefon Diggs in the endzone, and rushing for 6 to make it four TDs on the day.
Stafford kicked off the season in his typical form, combining 240 yards in the air with three interceptions. Perhaps last year's league leader in INTs is looking to keep his crown? Though perhaps he's not all to blame...
The retirement of veteran LT Andrew Whitworth proved detrimental to their pass protection, as the Rams offensive line allowed a whopping 7 sacks on the night. Von Miller played a key role in the pocket-pressure in his Buffalo debut - bagging 2 solo takedowns of his former quarterback.
Eagles 38 - 35 Lions
Jalen Hurts helped the Philadelphia Eagles hold off a fourth-quarter comeback from Jared Goff and the Lions, as they outscored Philly 14-0 in the final 15.
Hurts converted a crucial fourth-and-1 run with just 1:06 left to seal the kneel-out victory. He had a huge day on the ground with 17 carries for 90 yards and a touchdown, plus 239 passing and 0 interceptions.
Goff ran a dynamic Detroit offense that racked up 386 yards. D'Andre Swift gashed the Eagles defense with 15 carries for 144 yards and a touchdown - the first Lions player to rush for 100yards in a season opener since Barry Sanders in 1996.
A.J Brown also proved his value with an impressive debut - clocking 155 yards from 15 catches. I thought his $100,000,000, 4-year contract seemed a little steep, but it could be a fair price if he continues putting up numbers like this.
🎥 Every reception from AJ Brown's 10-catch, 155-yard Eagles debut. pic.twitter.com/Zjn0PqVb7a— Victor Williams (@ThePhillyPod) September 11, 2022
49ers 10 - 19 Bears
Despite some exciting competition in the Soldier Field matchup, the game's most interesting moment came from the Bears' attempt to dry a small section of the turf for a field goal.
Illinois' spontaneous monsoon provided challenges to both teams in their week 1 game, as 8 of the 12 first-half drives ended in a punt. And, after a scoreless first quarter that saw endless four-and-outs, the Bears lined up for a field goal try late in the half.
But Chicago were hung out to dry by their own towel...
Rookie holder Trenton Gill was whistled for unsportsmanlike conduct when he attempted to dry the ground with his hand towel. The 15-yard penalty pushed them out of FG range and they were forced to punt for a scoreless first half.
They returned to outscore San Francisco 19-3 and secured the win. But, I was more than distracted by the puzzling penalty call. Is towel-gate trending yet?
Unsportsmanlike conduct on Bears holder Trenton Gill for drying the ground with a towel 🤣pic.twitter.com/HiGJ4vNgB2— Pickswise (@Pickswise) September 11, 2022
Steelers 23 - 20 Bengals
Joe Burrow had a rocky start in this overtime showdown. After throwing a pick six on his second play of the day, the Bengals QB continued to have issues in the passing game. Burrow threw 3 interceptions in the first half alone, which left Cincinnati trailing 17-6 as they head into the locker room. Zac Taylor must have had some stern words for his offense, as they came back to outscore Pittsburgh 14-3 in the second half.
With just two seconds left, the game was tied 20-20 and the Bengals had victory in sight with only the extra point to make. But Minkah Fitzpatrick - player of the game in my books - blocked the kick to send it to overtime.
OT saw two missed field goals, the second of which would have secured the W for Pittsburgh but was rejected by the left upright. Fortunately for them, Burrow couldn't summon a game winning drive in return and the Steelers were given one last shot with 8 seconds remaining. Boswell put up 3 points from 52 yards to take the Week 1 victory in dramatic fashion.
The absolute slog of a game does give the Steelers a win for the season opener, but comes with some heavy losses. Most notably, T.J Watt, who is likely to be out for the season with a torn pectoral muscle.
Joe Burrow to Ja'Marr Chase to tie the game.— Ari Meirov (@MySportsUpdate) September 11, 2022
Steelers BLOCK the extra point. It's Minkah Fitzpatrick getting his hand on it.
Patriots 7 - 20 Dolphins
Mac Jones struggled massively against the Dolphins defense on Sunday. After throwing a pick on a promising early drive, the sophomore QB never truly looked comfortable. A strip-sack touchdown put a stop to any momentum and the Dolphins came out with an easy win.
The Pats have since reported that Jones suffered a back injury during the game, but check-ups have been inconclusive regarding the severity.
Tua Tagovailoa had a comfortable game, producing 270 yards and 1 touchdown in the air. But, it's clear the Dolphins' defense won the game for Miami.
A pretty boring one if you ask me...
Browns 26 - 24 Panthers
You could say the Browns are essentially paying their former QB to try and beat them... but much to their luck, Mayfield fell just short of his plan to take revenge his former team.
After being outscored 20-7 in the first three quarters, Baker came back to score 17 in the last 13 minutes of the game, putting Carolina ahead by one point with just 1:13 left.
Jacoby Brissett responded with a drive to the Panther's 40 yard line which set up a 58-yard field goal attempt. Kicker Cade York soared the ball through the uprights and left just 8 seconds on the clock.
Baker may have his moments this year, but it looks like it could be a long season for Carolina.
McCaffrey made a rather underwhelming comeback, with just 10 carries for 33 yards. He may have got himself a touchdown, but these numbers are nowhere near what we'd expect from the star RB. I think I just miss watching C-Mac tear up the league, but let's give him some time to settle back in.
Colts 20 - 20 Texans
That's right, we have our first draw of the year in another OT game with even more field goal issues. Despite the disappointment of playing 75 minutes of football for no result, this game still had some interesting moments.
The Colts struggled to get any offensive momentum which put them down early in the first half. They found themselves in Houston territory on most drives but simply couldn't reach the endzone. Two zero-point quarters left them chasing a 14 point deficit in the fourth. But Carson Wentz came into his own, taking advantage of a fumble recovery from the Colts D to put 7 on the board and following up with a second score on the next drive to tie the board.
A few punts took us to the end of the 4th and as overtime kicked off, it was nothing new for stunted offensive drives. A missed Colts field goal and a Texans punt saw the clock roll down to 0, forcing both sides to settle for a draw.
Some fans weren't so happy about the field goal fiasco, to say the least:
Saints 27 - 26 Falcons
The Falcons have to feel nauseated by this one. They comfortably led for almost the entire game - up 16-7 at halftime and 26-10 in the fourth quarter, but somehow threw it all away.
To put it bluntly, the Saints had very little going for most of the day and it seemed done and dusted when Winston limped off the field in the third quarter. But, he re-emerged from the locker room and completely turned the tables, throwing for 212 yards and two touchdowns in the fourth quarter alone.
On their penultimate drive, Atlanta botched a snap on third-down, and elected to punt on fourth-and-1 which put the Saints on their own 20, after a penalty call against the Falcons. This gave the Saints more than enough time to waltz down the field and put up 3-points to win the game.
Expect Taysom Hill to make some more freak plays (like below) if Winston carries his injury into week 2.
Taysom Hill with a HUGE run (and then scored a TD a few plays later)! pic.twitter.com/ucI1BfIPe0— PFF NO Saints (@PFF_Saints) September 11, 2022
Ravens 24 - 9 Jets
After an offseason that was filled with hope, hype and great expectations, the New York Jets looked like… well, the New York Jets, in their loss to the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday.
Although they were still within one score heading into half time, what followed was nothing short of abysmal.
Now, it certainly wasn't a pretty game for either side, but Lamar Jackson played without both of his starting tackles for most of the afternoon and still logged some respectable numbers. He hit 17-of-30 for 213 yards, three touchdowns and one interception.
Flacco's stat line may say otherwise but he looked miles away from a starting NFL quarterback, despite finishing the day with 37-of-59 for 307 yards. Trust me, it's not what it seems.
This is much more accurate... ironically:
Elite Interception thrown by Joe Flacco pic.twitter.com/uza8h6Ac71— PlayerProfiler NFL (@Profiler_NFL) September 11, 2022
Jaguars 22 - 28 Commanders
Carson Wentz delivered the most on brand performance of any QB in Week 1...
Only he could throw two stunning TDs, either side of consecutive interceptions. The rollercoaster game makes Wentz the first QB in Commander's history to throw four touchdowns in a Burgundy and Gold debut.
It looks like it'll be a rocky road in Washington despite the win, so strap in Commander's fans, this could be a long one.
As for the Jags, Trevor Lawrence formed a nice connection with Christian Kirk to hit 117 yards of his 275 total. After missing a few sure touchdowns early on, he returned after the break to find his stride and put the Jags ahead in the fourth. But, they couldn't hold the lead and ended the game with an interception on 3rd down when the win was there for the taking. Not good.
Ugly INT by Trevor Lawrence when he still had a chance to win the game in the 4th. pic.twitter.com/PPUSUENU8O— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) September 11, 2022
Packers 7 - 23 Vikings
The Green Bay Packers fell so far short of the odds in this one... it's hard to believe just how bad they were.
Heading into the game as heavy favourites, the reigning MVP Aaron Rodgers had an absolute shocker by his standards - clocking just 195 yards and an interception. A lot could be said about his pass protection, or lack thereof, but we'd still expect more from a four-time MVP.
Troubles continued on the other side of the ball as The Pack absolutely loved leaving Justin Jefferson wide open. The star WR racked up 184 of Cousins' 227 passing yards, and both touchdowns too. The only other receiver to log more than 18 yards, was Adam Theilen with 36. Looks like Cousins has a new favourite.
The Minnesota Vikings look very strong after Sunday's win, but who knows what'll happen when they face an opponent that actually plays defense.
Giants 21 - 20 Titans
Saquon Barkely is back!
Returning from an ACL tear is no easy feat, but to be the most dominant player on the field in your comeback game, when Derrick Henry is playing too, is a whole other thing.
Barkley rushed for 164 yards and caught 30 more. His touchdown run was certainly needed in this 1-point win, but even more crucial was his 2 point conversion that put New York ahead after trailing 20-19.
Certainly a ballsy call from HC Brian Daboll, but one that pays off when you have 230lbs of pure muscle in the backfield.
The comeback win against such a strong side makes the Giants look great for the upcoming fixtures.
Plus, when you're able to give Derrick Henry a taste of his own medicine, maybe anything can happen...
Didn’t know it was physically possible for Derrick Henry to be decleated like this pic.twitter.com/VAJVbkNpWa— Barstool Sports (@barstoolsports) September 12, 2022
Raiders 19 - 24 Chargers
This game may well be a snapshot of what the season in Las Vegas could become - Derrick Carr putting up respectable numbers with Davante Adams, but falling just short in what will be a very tough AFC West.
Khalil Mack put a stamp on his first game against former teammates with 3 sacks, 3 tackles-for-losses and 4 QB hits. The constant pressure led to two fumbles and three interceptions from Carr... It's clear the Raiders O-line have some work to do before facing them again in Week 12.
Herbert, on the other hand, had the time to put up some good stats. 26-of-34 for 279 yards, 3 touchdowns and 0 interceptions sees him comfortably settling into his third year in LA. Expect good things to come from the Chargers this year.
Khalil Mack bull rushing through a hold for the sack pic.twitter.com/ENIvCpy29J— Kenjac (@JackKennedy) September 11, 2022
Chiefs 44 - 21 Cardinals
So much for the downfall of the Kansas City Chiefs offense... The consensus that Tyreek Hill would be sorely missed is now dead in the water, to say the least.
It seems only three things in life are certain: death, taxes and Patrick Mahomes balling out.
The star QB put up a ridiculous 5 touchdowns and 360 yards, hitting a 37-7 scoreline early in the 3rd. At that point it was clear Kansas cooled things off, which allowed Kyler Murray to open up a little and close the gap to 23.
I wouldn't say it was a terrible game for the Cardinals, instead the Chiefs just dominated. Murray held his own, but I wouldn't be too surprised by changes to the coaching staff in Arizona sometime soon.
Travis Kelce was Mahomes' favourite target of the day with 8 receptions for 121 yards and a touchdown, including this absolute dot:
Buccaneers 19 - 3 Cowboys
Football in Dallas could be over before it even begins...
Prescott is already in and out of surgery, with eyes looking to Week 8 as his earliest return.
If a measly three points is all they could manage with Dak at the helm, I hate to think what they'll muster with Cooper Rush running the offense.
The Tampa Bay run game looks strong with Fournette bagging 127 yards on the ground. Meanwhile, Brady had a solid season opener with 212 passing yards, but just 1 touchdown and 1 interception. Nothing special.
Mike Evans led the Bucs WRs with 71 yards and an impressive one-handed TD grab to top it off.
Broncos 16 - 17 Seattle
Wilson will have his head in his hands after this 1-point loss against his former side.
Russ delivered a whopping 340 yards passing in his Denver debut, but was forced to settle for three field goals as he struggled to find the endzone. His one touchdown was a 40-yard underthrow, saved by Jerry Jeudy and his pure athleticism.
JERRY JEUDY. BUILT BY BAMA. pic.twitter.com/cjOYEXqWWN— Barstool Bama (@BarstoolAlabama) September 13, 2022
The Broncos sacrificed countless picks and players to get Russell Wilson on their side, but even when he gets the job done, they throw it all away with a missed 64-yard field goal from Brandon McManus.
A tough kick for sure... but maybe they should have used some of their trades for Justin Tucker if they plan on fumbling games with 400 yards from their offense.
The Broncos really traded five draft picks for Russell Wilson and threw him a bag just to settle for a 64-yard field goal pic.twitter.com/yPW5bf8kWT— Jomboy Media (@JomboyMedia) September 13, 2022
All props to Geno Smith though.
Poor guy waited 8 whole years to reach the Week 1 starting spot and silenced anyone who wasn't taking him seriously. If he keeps playing the same way, the Seahawks won’t just compete for the division - they could prove that they made Russel Wilson, not the other way around.
So, that's my round-up of the season openers. Whether you agree with my takes or not, you can tweet your heart out and let me know - BestSportsOdds Twitter.
Check in every single Tuesday for the next 18 weeks to get my take on the week's matchups.
Until next time,
Yours truly, Big Papa Football