Buying or Selling Direction of NFL Teams After Week 1

Chris TrapassoAnalyst ISeptember 10, 2013

Buying or Selling Direction of NFL Teams After Week 1

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    Your team emerged victorious in Week 1—are they headed to the Super Bowl? 

    What if your team lost? Are they going 0-16? 

    Every NFL club has played only one game, but analysis is needed.

    In this article, teams that won in Week 1 were slapped with a "trending upward" tag, and teams that lost were hit with a "trending downward" tag. 

    This article examines if we should buy or sell the direction in which teams are trending as they head into Week 2.

Arizona Cardinals: Trending Downward

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    The Arizona Cardinals lost a nine-point, fourth-quarter lead against the St. Louis Rams to begin the 2013 season, but there are many reasons to be encouraging by their performance. 

    Carson Palmer reminded everyone how bad the Cardinals quarterbacks were last season, as he threw for 327 yards with two touchdowns and an interception in defeat. 

    Thanks to the new-found competence at the quarterback position, Larry Fitzgerald resurfaced, catching eight passes for 80 yards and two scores. 

    Arizona's defensive front had a strong afternoon, limiting the Rams to 2.8 yards per carry. However, tight end Jared Cook couldn't be stopped. He reeled in seven passes for 141 yards and two touchdowns. 

    Palmer was sacked four times, which is a bit concerning after the vast pass-blocking issues in the past, but 390 total yards is more than respectable for one of the NFL's worst 2012 offenses. 

Atlanta Falcons: Trending Downward

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    The Atlanta Falcons have a legitimate franchise quarterback and are loaded at wide receiver and tight end, but they didn't get off on the right track to begin the 2013 season in New Orleans against the Saints.

    Roddy White wasn't completely healthy, although it's hard to question his future viability as he's yet to miss a game in his NFL career. 

    Steven Jackson was efficient—11 carries for 77 yards—but the offense could only muster 17 points against a defense that was ripped to shreds by most teams a year ago. 

    Drew Brees was tremendous, despite relatively pedestrian statistical games from Marques Colston and Jimmy Graham.

    The Falcons need to sort out some things in their secondary and along their offensive line, but they don't have that much to be worried about.

Buffalo Bills: Trending Downward

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    The Buffalo Bills can take many positives from their season-opening loss. First-time NFL head coach Doug Marrone and rookie quarterback EJ Manuel played with Bill Belichick and Tom Brady all afternoon. 

    Mike Pettine's defense—without Stephon Gilmore and Jairus Byrd—held Brady in relative check, creating pressure more often than usual which resulted in a lower completion percentage than usual for the future Hall of Famer.

    Manuel played like a poised veteran and really only had a few inaccurate passes. C.J. Spiller was bottled up, but Fred Jackson went over 100 yards from scrimmage. 

    The Bills allowed 5.4 yards per rush to the New England running backs; however, the Patriots are quietly a dominant power-running team. 

    Buffalo's new organizational foundations passed their first, rather arduous test with flying colors despite getting the loss. 

Baltimore Ravens: Trending Downward

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    What is there to write about a defense after it allows 510 yards and seven passing touchdowns besides the obvious?

    After a shaky start, Peyton Manning shredded the Baltimore Ravens en-route to a historic evening and a 49-27 victory.

    Joe Flacco was forced to throw it 62 times, and Ray Rice averaged only three yards per carry. Anquan Boldin and Dennis Pitta were missed. Big time. 

    If Jacoby Jones misses extended time, the Ravens passing game struggles may very well continue.

    We have no choice but to "buy" the Ravens downward trend at this juncture.

    Remember, though, we're only a game into the season, and we probably should have faith in GM Ozzie Newsome.

Carolina Panthers: Trending Downward

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    The Carolina Panthers defense played well in some areas against the Seattle Seahawks in Week 1, as they allowed only 2.7 yards per carry and sacked Russell Wilson on two occasions. 

    Allowing 12 points is typically enough to secure a victory in today's NFL, but Mike Shula's offense couldn't put points on the board. 

    Cam Newton threw for only 125 yards and had a mere 16 completions. 

    As a team, Carolina ran at a 5.7-yards-per-carry clip, which included 86 yards from DeAngelo Williams. 

    Unfortunately for Williams, his fumble late in the fourth quarter as he neared the end zone sealed the victory for Seattle. 

    The Panthers have an underrated defensive front seven but intimidating skill-position playmakers don't seem to be there on offense.

Chicago Bears: Trending Upward

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    Jay Cutler and Brandon Marshall were up to their old tricks against a strong Cincinnati Bengals defense in Week 1. 

    The Chicago Bears quarterback completed 21 passes for 242 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. Marshall was found on eight occasions for 104 yards and a score. 

    Chicago displayed fine resiliency coming back from a 21-10 deficit in the third quarter. A.J. Green had a huge game—get used to reading that blurb—but Charles Tillman intercepted Andy Dalton twice and, somehow, the Bears offensive line kept Geno Atkins off the stat sheet. 

    Marc Trestman just might be ideal head coach for Cutler. 

Cincinnati Bengals: Trending Downward

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    The Cincinnati Bengals simply have too much talent on both sides of the football to underwhelm this year. They lost a second-half lead against the Chicago Bears and displayed a lack of discipline on a few plays. 

    However, Andy Dalton's effort was extremely encouraging, as he completed 26 of his 33 attempts for 282 yards and two touchdowns. 

    Don't forget, he's held back the Bengals over the last two seasons. Dalton did throw two interceptions, but if he continues to throw the ball accurately, and BenJarvus Green-Ellis is slowly phased out of the feature back role, Cincinnati should compete for the AFC North crown. 

Cleveland Browns: Trending Downward

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    The Cleveland Browns are an especially tough team to gauge after their Week 1 performance. Ray Horton's defense held the Miami Dolphins offense to a mere 275 total yards, which included 20 rushing yards at .9 yards per carry. 

    Conversely, Trent Richardson ran for only 47 yards on 13 carries. 

    The real issue was Brandon Weeden, who tossed three interceptions, although he found tight end Jordan Cameron nine catches for 108 and a touchdown. 

    Horton's defense played well enough to win, but expect Richardson to be more of an offensive focal point as the season progresses. 

    It's a tentative sell for the Browns' downward trend at this point, because if Weeden doesn't bounce back, it'll be a tough season for Cleveland.

Dallas Cowboys: Trending Upward

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    The Dallas Cowboys can't expect to force six turnovers every week, but Monte Kiffin's 4-3 defense ideally suits DeMarcus Ware and linebackers Sean Lee and Bruce Carter. 

    Tony Romo looks to have dodged a bullet on the injury front, and Dez Bryant was really the only primary offensive player to have a subpar game against the New York Giants for the Cowboys. 

    With a defensive front that features three Pro Bowl caliber players and a balanced offense, Dallas has a chance to surprise in the NFC East. 

Denver Broncos: Trending Upward

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    Peyton Manning. That is all. 

    Just kidding. 

    But seriously, the Sheriff was legendary—duh—in his 2013 season opener against the Baltimore Ravens with seven touchdowns, and his pass-catching arsenal is quite impressive, especially if Julius Thomas continues to produce down the seam. 

    The defensive front held Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce in check, and Shaun Phillips had 2.5 sacks in place of the suspended Von Miller for the Denver Broncos. 

    John Fox's team looked the part of AFC juggernaut in Week 1, just like many were expecting. 


Detroit Lions: Trending Upward

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    The Detroit Lions spread offense worked wonders against the Minnesota Vikings, as quarterback Matthew Stafford threw for 357 yards with two touchdowns and a pick. 

    Although Calvin Johnson was held to only four receptions for 37 yards, Reggie Bush looked like he was back at USC. He carried the ball 21 times for 90 yards and caught four passes for 101 yards, including a 77-yard sprint to the end zone. 

    Adrian Peterson burst through the middle of Detroit's defense for a 78-yard touchdown on his first carry of the season, but the Lions defensive front held the reigning MVP to to 15 yards on his remaining 17 rushing attempts. 

    If Bush and Nate Burleson continue to take pressure off Megatron, Detroit will be a tough out in every game. 

Green Bay Packers: Trending Downward

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    The Green Bay Packers may have lost to the best team in the NFL in Week 1, but they didn't go down easy. 

    Clay Matthews' personal foul on San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick was foolish, but the play was incorrectly replayed after offensive tackle Joe Staley was given an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty and resulted in an Anquan Boldin touchdown. 

    Aaron Rodgers was magnificent, as he threw for 333 yards at nine yards per attempt with three touchdowns. 

    Allowing Kaepernick to throw for 412 yards with three scores and no interceptions wasn't an encouraging showing from Green Bay's secondary; however, the Packers won't be facing the 49ers every week. 

    No need to worry for the fervent fans from Wisconsin.

Houston Texans: Trending Upward

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    The Houston Texans beat the San Diego Chargers late Monday evening, but it certainly wasn't in the fashion many expected. 

    A feverish, 21-point comeback was needed, and Brian Cushing's pick-six tied the game at 28 mid-way through the fourth quarter. 

    Ben Tate picked up Arian Foster, as the former All-Pro ran for only 52 yards on 18 carries. 

    Matt Schaub passed for 346 yards, and Andre Johnson was uncoverable. He reeled in 12 of Schaub's tosses for 146 yards. 

    The Texans have to work out some kinks on both sides of the ball, but they'll be fine. 

Indianpolis Colts: Trending Upward

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    Another game, another fourth-quarter comeback and game-winning drive for Andrew Luck

    What else is new? 

    The Indianapolis Colts signal-caller led four fourth-quarter comebacks and seven game-winning drives as a rookie, according to Pro Football Reference

    Although he wasn't prolific through the air, his 19-yard touchdown scamper sealed the come-from-behind win.

    Chuck Pagano's defense is a bit worrisome, but with Luck under center, the Colts are never out of it. 


Jacksonville Jaguars: Trending Downward

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    The Jacksonville Jaguars are mess at the quarterback position. That doesn't bode well in today's NFL. Their playmakers are below-average, and the defense isn't stout in any one area. 

    Gus Bradley's squadron managed only two points and allowed 28 in a Week 1 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs, a sign of what's to come in 2013. 

Kansas City Chiefs: Trending Upward

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    The Kansas City Chiefs handled their business against a clearly lackluster Jacksonville Jaguars team in Andy Reid's coaching debut. 

    Quarterback Alex Smith took what was there—nothing more—and didn't make mistakes. 

    Jamaal Charles ran efficiently, and Justin Houston had three sacks. 

    We'll get a better idea of what type of team Kansas City is in Week 2 when they host the Dallas Cowboys, but after their sound Week 1 performance, their upward trend must be bought. 

Miami Dolphins: Trending Upward

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    The Miami Dolphins outplayed the Miami Dolphins in Week 1, but some question marks were not answered in victory. 

    Lamar Miller was held to three yards on 10 carries, and quarterback Ryan Tannehill was sacked four times despite throwing for 272 yards. 

    Brian Hartline went for 114, but free-agent Mike Wallace had one catch for 15 yards in his debut. 

    As a team, Miami sacked Brandon Weeden six games and held Trent Richardson under 50 yards on the ground. 

    If the offensive line doesn't improve, things could go south for the Dolphins in a hurry. 

Minnesota Vikings: Trending Downward

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    The Minnesota Vikings fell to the division rival Detroit Lions in Week 1, but the level of concern should be low heading into Week 2. 

    Although Adrian Peterson was held in check outside of his 78-yard touchdown run, should we really bet against him. 

    As a defense, Minnesota allowed 469 yards and 34 points, but the Lions offense will be hard to stop in 2013.

    The Vikings can't deal with many more three-interception games from Christian Ponder, but for the time being, we can't bury Minnesota, mainly due to the presence of AP. 

New England Patriots: Trending Upward

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    Tom Brady was without his top-five pass-catchers from the 2012 season, and it showed against the Buffalo Bills in Week 1. 

    He completed just 29 of his 55 attempts for 288 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. A handful of typically easy completions hit the turf, and a lack of timing seemed to be the culprit in those missed connections. 

    But the power running game was efficient, as Stevan Ridley, Shane Vereen and LeGarrette Blount rushed 30 times for 162 yards. 

    As a team, New England went 11-of-18 on third downs, and Danny Amendola caught 10 passes for 104 yards.

    When Rob Gronkowski returns, the Patriots offense should return to form.  

New Orleans Saints: Trending Upward

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    Rob Ryan had the finest defensive coaching performance of Week 1, holding Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, Roddy White, Tony Gonzalez and Steven Jackson to 17 points and under 400 yards of total offense. 

    It'll be interesting to see if the injury-depleted New Orleans Saints can continue to have stingy defensive efforts, but Drew Brees is reunited with head coach Sean Payton, and that spells trouble for opposing secondaries. 

    Heck, Darren Sproles and Kenny Stills had more receiving yards than Jimmy Graham and Marques Colston, and Brees threw for 357 yards. 


New York Giants: Trending Downward

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    The New York Giants won't turn the ball over six times every week. 

    Despite the turnovers, Eli Manning and his offense actually played well against the Dallas Cowboys in Week 1, and on defense, they allowed only 331 yards. 

    David Wilson must fix his fumbling issues to allow the Giants more offensive balance throughout the season. 

    Tom Coughlin's club has shown us many times before that they cannot be counted out early. 

New York Jets: Trending Upward

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    Rex Ryan will get the most out of his defense, there's no doubting that. Due to his defensive prowess, the New York Jets will be in more games than many expect. 

    Geno Smith deserves credit for playing well in his NFL debut, there's just not enough firepower on the offensive side to sustain viability and score enough points to win each week. 

    Remember, if it wasn't for a late hit by Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Lavonte David, we're probably talking about a Jets loss this week. 

Oakland Raiders: Trending Downward

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    The Oakland Raiders surprised the masses with their effort on the road against the Indianapolis Colts. 

    Quarterback Terrelle Pryor made some mistakes throwing the football but made his fair share of promising plays too, especially with his feet. 

    There's a chance the Raiders won't be downright atrocious in 2013, but they're still highly likely to lose more games than they win. 

Philadelphia Eagles: Trending Upward

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    Welcome to the NFL, Chip Kelly. 

    The Philadelphia Eagles were in hyper-speed for the entire first half, as they accumulated entire-game statistics and took a 33-7 lead into the break. 

    Things weren't as efficient in the third and fourth quarters, but they didn't need to be. 

    Philadelphia's defense could surprise, mainly because DeMeco Ryans and Mychal Kendricks are majorly impactful from their inside linebacker spots. 

    But it's all the about the offense for the Eagles. Michael Vick, LeSean McCoy and DeSean Jackson could be in for huge years in Kelly's up-tempo offense this season.

Pittsburgh Steelers: Trending Downward

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    As if losing to the Tennessee Titans in the home opener wasn't bad enough, center Maurkice Pouncey, linebacker Larry Foote and running back LaRod Stephens-Howling suffered season-ending injuries in defeat. 

    Ben Roethlisberger threw for only 191 yards and was sacked five times. 

    Isaac Redman ran eight times for nine yards. 

    The defense allowed a pedestrian 229 yards to Jake Locker's club, but Pittsburgh's offensive efficiencies were too much to overcome. 

    With trip to Cincinnati to face the Bengals in Week 2, the Steelers are a prime candidate to begin the year 0-2.

San Diego Chargers: Trending Downward

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    Expectations weren't high for the San Diego Chargers in 2013, but their showing against the Houston Texans in Week 1 shows games aren't played on paper. 

    Philip Rivers threw four touchdowns, and even without rookie linebacker Manti Te'o, Arian Foster was held in check. 

    The Chargers defense could surprise the masses, and if Ryan Mathews stays healthy, San Diego may win a few more games in which they enter as underdogs. 

San Francisco 49ers

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    San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick went berserk against the Green Bay Packers, as he threw for 412 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions. 

    He displayed a calm confidence on all of his throws and fit a handful into tight windows down the field. 

    The defense didn't stymie Aaron Rodgers, but that's much easier said than done. 

    San Francisco secured a victory in Week 1, the first of many in 2013. 


Seattle Seahawks: Trending Upward

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    It wasn't easy, but ask any NFL team—a road win is a road win, regardless of the score. 

    Russell Wilson was dynamic, as he threw for 320 yards despite constant pressure from an underrated Carolina Panthers defensive front seven. 

    The Seattle Seahawks defense kept Cam Newton under wraps, a key to beating Ron Rivera's club. 

    A huge, early-season showdown with the San Francisco 49ers looms in Week 2. 

St. Louis Rams: Trending Upward

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    What a way to start the season for the new-look St. Louis Rams. 

    They had their proverbial backs against the wall at home against a divisional opponent and rallied in the fourth quarter to win by a field goal. 

    Sam Bradford was a yard shy of 300 yards passing, and Robert Quinn at three sacks of Carson Palmer. 

    Through in Jared Cook's huge day and six grabs for rookie Tavon Austin, and it's easy to see why the Rams should be excited about what's to come. 

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Trending Downward

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    The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have to win that game against the New York Jets. 

    They didn't play tremendously, but they were good enough to emerge victorious on the road. The main reason to buy the Buccaneers downward trend at this point is due to what we've seen in the past from Josh Freeman. 

    If he can't be consistent, Greg Schiano's club will struggle, regardless of how stout the run defense is or how well Darrelle Revis covers. 

Tennessee Titans: Trending Upward

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    The Tennessee Titans need to be bought right now because there are always a few teams who come out of nowhere and piece together winning seasons. 

    Jake Locker must improve to make the Titans one of those surprise teams in 2013; however, the linebacking corps is one of the most athletic in football and the defensive tackle tandem of Jurrell Casey and Mike Martin is severely underrated. 

    When Chris Johnson gets going—and he will—Tennessee will be a pesky squad. 

Washington Redskins: Trending Downward

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    Robert Griffin III's second NFL season couldn't have gotten off to a worse start, as he looked tentative and the offense sputtered while Chip Kelly's rolled. 

    Encouraging resiliency was displayed in the second half on both sides of the ball, as RG3 finished the night with 329 yards through the air. 

    The Washington Redskins must protect their franchise quarterback better and give Alfred Morris more holes through which to run in what likely will be a tightly contested NFC East. 

    Let's not bury the defending division champs yet.