5 Most Disappointing Teams from Week 1 of the 2012 NFL Season
Four playoff participants from the 2011 campaign endured disappointing opening day losses, while one fancied contender suffered a heavy defeat in Week 1 of the 2012 NFL season.
These teams contributed to the most disappointing first-week results. The group is headlined by the defending league champions. There is also a team that drafted to improve last season's last-ranked defense, but now has to face the reality that the unit may be no better.
Another team invested heavily in free agency to fix a defense that still conceded over 40 points on opening day. Here are the five most disappointing teams from Week 1.
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For a team that was criticised for failing to beat top opposition in 2011, the Cincinnati Bengals were supposed to enter the new season better-equipped to take on the heavyweights in the AFC.
That's why it was so disappointing to see them hammered 44-13 by division-rival the Baltimore Ravens on Monday Night Football. Last season's AFC runners-up had their way with the Bengals, making them look ordinary in every area.
Cincinnati was particularly poor on defense, allowing Joe Flacco to routinely shred them on the play-action pass. Mike Zimmer's unit is coming dangerously close to overrated status after some poor performances to end last season and a nightmare showing to begin this campaign.
That's bad news for the Andy Dalton-led offense and for the Bengals' chances of a return to the postseason.
New York Giants
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It's not easy trying to guess why the defending Super Bowl champions were so flat for the first game of their title defense. Did the New York Giants simply take the Dallas Cowboys lightly, having had the better of recent encounters with their NFC East counterparts?
Whatever the reason, the Giants were abysmal in the first game of the 2012 NFL season. Dropped passes, poor pass-protection and a defense that couldn't stop anything saw Big Blue humbled in a defeat nowhere near as closely contested as the 24-17 scoreline might suggest.
The most disheartening aspect of the defeat is how it showed that the Giants have not fixed last season's biggest weaknesses. There was poor play at cornerback and a feeble showing from an offensive line that appears no better than 2011's shaky unit.
Just one game in and the Giants face quite a challenge just reminding themselves, never mind the rest of the league, that they are a championship-calibre team.
Green Bay Packers
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The Green Bay Packers used their first two draft choices to bolster their defensive front seven and also moved an all-pro cornerback to free safety to help fix a leaky secondary. All of these moves were done to improve the worst defense in football in 2011.
Well, the bad news is that the Packers defense looks every bit that bad at the start of this season. Coordinator Dom Capers faces a massive challenge trying to rectify the litany of mistakes his unit was guilty of in a 30-22 loss to the San Francisco 49ers.
Confusion was the only thing that reigned supreme in the new-look secondary, as Niners' quarterback Alex Smith missed on only six passes and threw two touchdowns.
As if that wasn't bad enough, a front seven featuring rookies Nick Perry and Jerel Worthy allowed Frank Gore to average seven yards a rush, on his way to 112 yards and a touchdown from 16 carries.
That's not to say the offense was blameless. Aaron Rodgers threw a bonehead interception to NaVorro Bowman and the offensive line allowed the 49ers to apply constant pressure and notch three sacks.
If the Packers hadn't been gifted Randall Cobb's punt return for the score by an horrendous officiating gaffe, the score would have more accurately reflected how easily the Packers were dominated.
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It must be tough to swallow that after spending big to land the top defender in free agency. The defense still allows 48 points from an offense that was allergic to the end zone during preseason.
However, that's just the reality the Buffalo Bills are facing after Week 1.
The Bills did everything they could this offseason to get better defensively. They switched to a 4-3, promoted Dave Wannstedt to coordinator and splashed the cash to sign rush ends Mario Williams and Mark Anderson.
As if that wasn't enough, they also used the 10th overall pick in the draft to select cornerback Stephon Gilmore. Yet even with all of that seemingly in their favour, the Bills revamped defense still contrived to allow the New York Jets to gain 384 yards of total offense and score four touchdowns.
Many, including this author, believed the Bills' defense would spearhead a revival for a team that has not been to the playoffs since 1999. However, their shocking opening-day defeat is more than a rude awakening for pundits and scribes.
It is a brutal reminder to the team that there is still a long way to go before they are ready to legitimately contend.
New Orleans Saints
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Those who thought the Buffalo Bills defensive effort was bad enough may have to invent a new word for how the New Orleans Saints' unit performed on opening day.
Hosting a Washington Redskins offense that was 26th in the league in scoring in 2011 and had a rookie under center, the Saints allowed 464 total yards and 40 points. It took just one game against the Saints' defense to put the Redskins attack at the top of the league rankings and make quarterback Robert Griffin III an instant star.
It made no difference if the former Baylor standout was throwing or running the ball—the Saints still couldn't stop him. This is despite the fact that his main wide receiver left early, due to a foot injury. Griffin was put under no pressure, even though he was playing behind a line that surrendered 41 sacks a year ago.
Washington also amassed 153 yards on the ground, and the Saints defense became increasingly generous as the game progressed.
This is a group that was supposed to be revitalised by the arrival of new coordinator Steve Spagnuolo and key free agents like Brodrick Bunkley, David Hawthorne and Curtis Lofton.
There may be a power vacuum on the sidelines, but until the Saints fix this defense, it won't matter who is running the show this season.