NFL Week 1: 115 Things to Take Away from NFL's Opening Weekend
The first week of the 2012 NFL season has come and gone, and what have we seen?
We have seen big hits, truck sticks and tons of interceptions. We have seen new faces, touchdown dances and a few players return to their old promise.
Predictions shattered, underdogs triumphed and rookies got their first taste of regular season football.
But through all of this, what can we really take away?
Here are 115 facts and bold predictions following the first weekend of the 2012 NFL season:
1. Peyton Manning has not missed a step. He has taken command of this Broncos offense and read the Steelers’ defense beautifully all game. For example: his first touchdown pass was created after he read the blitz and threw a quick screen to Demaryius Thomas in open space.
2. Per ESPN Stats & Info, “Peyton Manning’s #TotalQBR when using the huddle offense (in 1st qtr) was 29.1. In last 3 qtrs w/ no-huddle offense, it was 98.3.”
3. Denver head coach John Fox has proven that he can win with any type of quarterback; e.g. (Delhomme, Tebow, Manning).
4. Knowshon Moreno cannot be counted on to pick up a block in the backfield.
5. Pittsburgh is going to have to count on Jonathan Dwyer and not Isaac Redman in the absence of Rashard Mendenhall.
Week 1 game of choice
6. Antonio Brown has the explosiveness to finish as a top 10 WR.
7. Per SI_Peter King, “Dick LeBeau [is] 1-7 against Peyton,” as defensive coordinator for the Steelers.
9. Julio Jones will probably finish the year with more targets than Roddy White.
10. Roddy White has led the NFL in targets the past two seasons.
11. The best days of Michael Turner are behind him.
12. Dexter McCluster had 10 targets in the first game this season. He will end up with the majority of targets for KC, edging out Dwayne Bowe.
13. While Peyton Hillis is a nice change of pace back, there is no two-headed monster in KC. Charles is the workhorse in the Chiefs’ backfield.
14. The Cutler-Marshall combination is back and in mid-season form.
15. Michael Bush elevates Matt Forte into a top 5 running back in the NFL.
16. Michael Bush will finish the year with at least 10 touchdowns this season.
17. Andrew Luck did exactly what I predicted he would do. He faced adversity, threw three interceptions and fumbled the ball in his first game. At no point, however, did I lose confidence in him. He remained poised and made a few exceptional plays in the process. While this might not be his year, he will show you more than enough promise for you to realize his immense potential.
18. The Colts need to get the running game more involved in the next few weeks if they want any shot at winning. This should help Luck out a lot.
19. Robert Griffin III threw for two touchdowns and zero interceptions in his first game while Luck, Tannehill, Wilson and Weeden combined for two touchdowns and 11 picks.
20. RGIII was also the only one of the record five rookie quarterbacks who started Week 1 to win.
21. Despite throwing for 100 fewer yards than Cam Newton in his debut, Robert Griffin demolished Cam in Total QBR with a 92.3 rating compared to 75.3 and QB rating of 139.9 compared to 110.4.
22. Rookie Alfred Morris deserves the nod as first string RB for Washington.
23. Pierre Garcon had more than 100 yards and a touchdown in only one quarter of play on Sunday before getting injured.
24. The Griffin-Garcon combination this year is going to be something special.
25. Drew Brees finished well below his 71.2 completion percentage in 2011, finishing his first game at 46 percent.
26. The Saints lost their 2011 opener and continued on to finish 13-3. Not too worried.
27. There were eight total interceptions in the Browns/Eagles game.
28. Brandon Weeden’s 1.2 QBR is not even the lowest rating of the recent QBR era. Luke McCown and Mark Sanchez had games with a QBR under one in 2011.
29. Trent Richardson averaged 2.1 yards per carry in his first NFL game. Clearly not 100 percent, but the Browns O-line didn’t give him much help either.
30. Michael Vick’s carelessness with the football is catching up with him once again. Like last year, his offensive line has given him no protection, which makes him overly susceptible to flinging the ball into coverage as he did four times this weekend.
31. No protection + scrambling to make something out of nothing = another Vick injury
32. A few more games like this, you will begin to hear the Nick Foles chants in Philly.
33. 56 pass attempts for Vick and only 20 carries for McCoy is not the Eagles recipe for success.
34. Calvin Johnson is going to be the player to break the Madden Curse. He is miles ahead of every other wide receiver in this league.
35. Don’t expect Stafford to throw three picks in a game again this season. Still finished the game with 355 yards in the air.
36. Steven Jackson (See number 11)
37. Bradford struggled, but finished the game strong, 6-8 84 yards and a TD. Still zero fantasy relevance.
39. Kevin Kolb lost the preseason quarterback battle, but won this game for the Cardinals.
40. Kolb led a game winning drive after John Skelton went down with injury. Kolb went 6-8 for 66 yards and a TD pass.
41. Arizona has no running game. Don’t trust Williams or Wells whatsoever.
42. Tough first game for Russell Wilson. Led a nice comeback but was pressured all game.
43. My opinion: Matt Flynn starts Week 4.
44. Blaine Gabbert is the most improved player in the NFL through the preseason and Week 1. Gabbert threw for 260 yards a two touchdowns without a pick against the Vikings.
45. Gabbert’s 39-yard touchdown pass with 20 seconds left would have been the play of the day if the Jags had won.....but they blew it.
46. Both Maurice Jones-Drew and Adrian Peterson looked great for not playing in the preseason.
47. MJD won’t have nearly as many yards as last season but should have 4-5 more touchdowns with an improved offense.
48. Adrian Peterson is healthy and poised to have another great season. Good sign to see Peterson used on goal line carries.
49. Percy Harvin only played in 58 percent of Vikings snaps last season despite playing every game. Expect that percentage and his targets to increase this year.
50. Houston is the third-best overall team I saw over the weekend. Despite a lackluster first quarter.
51. Matt Schaub is an elite quarterback when Andre Johnson is playing at full strength.
52. Andre is playing at full strength again.
53. Foster had a solid game in spite of being a game time decision.
54. It looks as though the Texans’ backfield won’t be as split between Foster (26 carries) and Tate (5 carries) as previously thought.
55. Tannehill looked like a rookie.
56. Extremely impressed by Reggie Bush. With Daniel Thomas out with a concussion, Bush will get even more of the workload this upcoming week.
57. Maybe the Buccaneers D isn’t as bad as we thought.
58. Last year the Bucs were last in the NFL in rushing defense.
59. They allowed 10 total rushing yards (franchise record) and only 10 points on the day.
60. Doug Martin is the most impressive rookie running back so far.
61. Vincent Jackson was targeted more than two times more than any other TB receiver.
62. Cam Newton has to cut down on his interceptions if the Panthers want to make the playoffs this year. Offensive line needs to also give him a lot more protection.
63. Steve Smith is the most physical small man on the field every game. 15.1 yards per reception sounds just about right.
64. DeAngelo Williams was absolutely abysmal in Carolina’s first game.
65. In all fairness, he was only given six carries in a game in which Jonathan Stewart was ruled out, and the game came down to the wire. Confused? Yes, me too.
67. TE’s in New England do it again. Both finish with 6 receptions for right around 60 yards and a score.
68. But who got the most targets from Brady? Welker? Nope. New addition Brandon Lloyd.
69. NE finally has a solid running back.
70. Per ESPN Stats & Info, “Stevan Ridley is 1st #Patriots RB with 100+ rush yds in season opener since Curtis Martin in 1995. Also his 1st career 100-yd rush game”
71. Chris Johnson 11 carries for 4 yards? Uhoh. Sell Sell Sell!
72. Having Kenny Britt back should help Jake Locker incredibly.
73. Rookie Kendall Wright looked good and should mesh well with Locker all year.
74. Bills defense improved? Not even close.
75. Mario Williams was a complete dud against the Jets O-line all game.
76. On the other side, CJ Spiller had the best day of any running back in the NFL. 169 yards on 14 carries and a TD. Spiller shoots up the rankings with Fred Jackson out for at least three weeks.
77. Ryan Fitzpatrick looked ugly. 20.4 QBR and three picks. Managed to squeeze in three touchdowns late.
78. Jets were great all around.
79. Defense was physical and caused problems for Fitzpatrick for most of the game. Faded away late.
80. The spotlight was on the Jets' quarterbacks Sunday, and Mark Sanchez brought the house down like Jay-Z. Three touchdowns and a 97.1 QBR should ease some of the Jets fans’ minds. Still, I am nowhere near sold.
81. The 49ers were the second-best team I watched this weekend.
82. Alex Smith and Frank Gore looked in mid-season form.
83. The addition of Randy Moss adds a strong veteran presence on the field that defenses have to account for every play.
84. The Niners’ defense is by far the best in the league. Their secondary was extraordinarily active all game and helped fill the gaps on all rushing plays to prevent another team from scoring a rushing TD.
85. David Akers. Wow.
86. Surprisingly, of all Packer receivers, Randall Cobb was the most active with nine receptions. He also had the punt return that kept GB in the game.
87. Rodgers was decent, but was under pressure all game and made a few costly throws late in the game.
88. Did anyone honestly think bringing in Cedric Benson would help the Packers run game against SF? I didn’t.
89. Packers’ defense had no answer for the 49ers’ offense. Defense will once again be the Packers’ weakness.
91. Is this the year for Tony Romo? So far so good. 3 touchdowns and 300 yards for Romo will have people wondering if the Cowboys are finally for real.
92. If Demarco Murray stays healthy, Dallas will ride his shoulders to the promised land.
93. Sorry, but Ogletree will not keep it up.
94. Demarcus Ware is a spectacle to watch.
95. Ahmad Bradshaw had absolutely no holes to run through all game. He created everything he got.
96. Can’t blame this one on Eli. Blame this one on the dropped passes by the wide receivers, especially Victor Cruz, or on the defensive line who was incapable of getting to Romo or stopping Murray.
97. Ravens were the best team I saw all weekend.
98. The addition of the no-huddle offense in Baltimore has turned their above average offense to one of the best in the NFL.
99. Flacco is making a name for himself as an elite quarterback.
100. Both Torrey Smith and Anquan Boldin make it easy for him, as they are both great route runners and can burn you every play.
101. Despite only 10 carries, Rice was all over the field today. He averaged 6.8 yards on the ground with two touchdowns and added a few receptions.
102. Baltimore’s defense smothered Andy Dalton and sacked him four times.
103. Ed Reed became the all-time interception return yards leader, passing Rod Woodson with 1,497 total yards returned in his career.
104. This win was the 9th consecutive divisional win for the Ravens.
105. The Bengals got flat-out stomped. They had no answer for the pass-heavy Ravens and only made them punt twice.
106. Despite making the playoffs in 2011, the Bengals did not beat one playoff team all season.
107. BenJarvus Green-Ellis made his debut for the Bengals and added 91 yards on the ground with a touchdown. Should have a lot more production than he did in NE.
108. Bengals WR Andrew Hawkins impressed me the most on offense, racking up eight receptions for 86 yards.
109. The Chargers defense came to play in the last game of the weekend.
110. Philip Rivers commanded his offense and was extremely accurate all game. He worked through his progressions and made much smarter passes than he did last season. Very pleased with his game play and has me thinking big things for Rivers this year.
111. Chargers need to stop being so conservative in the red zone. They were only able to convert for one touchdown, while five other drives ended in field goals.
113. A few injuries at WR set the Raiders’ offense back a little bit, but new acquisition Derek Hagan and rookie Rod Streater showed some signs of good things to come.
114. Carson Palmer looked sharp for the most part. Would have looked much better if his wide receivers held on to a few more balls, but still, it was a good showing from him.
115. The team with the higher QBR won 15 out of the 16 games this weekend. And a record five teams scored more 40 points in their first game.
...And they say offense doesn’t win games.
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