5 Things We Learned from NFL Week 1
NFL Sunday has a rhythm all its own. So many games are going on and so many exciting plays occur that it's often impossible to decide on one or two plays as being the most exciting.
Here are five things we learned from the NFL's first Sunday, highlighted by a sublime NFC powerhouse matchup between the San Francisco 49ers and Green Bay Packers and capped by an ugly matchup between the Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants.
Colin Kaepernick Is Better Than We Thought
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It's an easy narrative to buy into that Colin Kaepernick does his work with his legs, because we all remember those 181 rushing yards he had against the same Packers in the playoffs.
In Week 1, we barely saw the read-option, and Kap had his first 400-yard passing game of his career.
It's a rare category of signal-caller that can lose his No. 1 receiver but still retain the trust of the fans. The guy on the other side of this matchup at Candlestick Park, Aaron Rodgers, lost Greg Jennings this offseason and we don't bat an eye—we know Rodgers will make do with either Randall Cobb or Jordy Nelson as his primary target.
It's probably a bit too early to put Kaepernick in Rodgers' category, because that distinction is reserved for the elite of the elite. Kaepernick lost Michael Crabtree but made do with Anquan Boldin and Vernon Davis in Week 1.
If this can continue, the 49ers will be unstoppable.
The Patriots Have a Problem
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Going into Week 1, Tom Brady had put up 51 career touchdowns against the Buffalo Bills. It's not like the Patriots were awful in this game, but they proved that the loss of most of their receiving corps from last season could definitely hurt them.
Danny Amendola had 10 catches for 104 yards, but left the game with a groin injury. He did return, but confirmed the downside of signing him—he can produce when healthy, yet it didn't take long for him to get hurt.
Stevan Ridley was playing well before fumbling the ball on his tenth carry, and we learned that Bill Belichick will not tolerate that, turning to Shane Vereen and occasionally LeGarrette Blount on early downs.
There are a lot of moving parts in New England, and their shaky win today proves it could be a problem.
So Do the New York Giants
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Six turnovers. Ugh.
You can't lose the turnover differential that badly and expect to be in football games, but that's the hole in which Eli Manning and the Giants offense found themselves Sunday night.
The final score was 36-31, but the game really wasn't that close.
The Giants proved that they aren't where they need to be, making countless, comical errors, including a ball bouncing off of a member of the punt return team, which the Cowboys recovered deep in Giants territory. David Wilson fumbled twice, and Manning threw one of his three interceptions into a defensive lineman who was staring him in the face.
It was ugly and not indicative of a team ready to make a playoff run in the deep NFC.
Reggie Bush Could Be the Missing Piece to the Detroit Offense
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Matthew Stafford attempted 727 passes last season, partially due to a ridiculously inept running game with Mikel Leshoure plodding his way to a 3.7 yards-per-carry average.
So in the offseason, they brought in Reggie Bush, and Week 1 saw a great return on investment.
Bush accounted for 191 yards from scrimmage and added a 77-yard touchdown catch, as he appears to give the Lions the versatile weapon out of the backfield that they simply did not have last season.
It was a win for the Lions running game as a whole as Joique Bell had two short touchdowns.
But the game spotlighted the impact that Bush could have on this offense in 2013. His speed and elusiveness will be key this year in keeping defenses honest and taking pressure off Stafford and Calvin Johnson.
Andrew Luck Must Have Been Offended by the Lack of Attention
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Again, it's easy to buy into the narrative that Kaepernick and the likes of Russell Wilson and Robert Griffin III all have their sexy read-option running plays that are changing the way the NFL defends quarterbacks.
Andrew Luck must have heard all that and used it as fuel for his 38 rushing yards on six carries, including the game-winning touchdown in Indianapolis' 21-17 win over the Oakland Raiders.
Luck looks like he has made significant strides in his second offseason. He showed poise and sharp decision-making skills in the Week 1 win against the Raiders.
He reminds us all that running ability and athleticism need not be limited to the other guys in his draft class. He was chosen No.1 for a reason, and the Indianapolis Colts look like a strong contender for another wild card spot in the AFC playoff race.