NFL Week 1: 10 Biggest Storylines

Ryan ComstockCorrespondent ISeptember 14, 2010

NFL Week 1: 10 Biggest Storylines

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    NEW ORLEANS - SEPTEMBER 09:  The NFL opening weekend Kickoff logo on the field at Louisiana Superdome on September 9, 2010 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    The first week of the NFL season is in the books and it's time to look back on the ten biggest happenings of this year's first batch of games, along with some honorable mentions.

    This week had its fair share of big performances, surprises, and controversy, so let's take a look at the most important events.

    Did your team make the cut?

    (I will get Brett Favre out of the way right now and say that it seems he shouldn't have skipped training camp this year.  He was out of sync with his receivers and clearly rusty.  Minnesota needs to hope he can get it together.)

1. Rumors Of The Patriots' Demise Have Been Greatly Exaggerated

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    FOXBORO, MA - SEPTEMBER 12:  Rob Gronkowski #87 of the New England Patriots celebrates his touchdown catch with teammate Dan Connolly #63 in the second half against the Cincinnati Bengals during during the NFL season opener at Gillette Stadium on Septembe
    Jim Rogash/Getty Images

    Much was made this offseason of a possible end to New England's reign.  Their performance against Cincinnati quieted those rumblings for now as they won 38-24.

    While the Pats' ability to score points was not in much doubt, not many people could have foreseen Wes Welker coming back as fast and as strong as he did, catching eight balls for 64 yards and two touchdowns.

    The big question for New England was how their defense would fare.  They looked solid against what should be a potent offense, forcing two turnovers including an interception return for a touchdown.  Whether they can sustain that remains to be seen. 

    They get a shaky looking New York Jets offense in Week 2.

2. Houston Texans Take Down Indy

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    HOUSTON - SEPTEMBER 12:  Quarterback Peyton Manning #18 of the Indianapolis Colts reacts on the sidelines during the NFL season opener against the Houston Texans at Reliant Stadium on September 12, 2010 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty
    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    Houston has spent many years building a team with one goal in mind: beat the Indianapolis Colts.  For one game, at least, the strategy payed off.  The Texans toppled the reigning AFC champs 34-24.

    Arian Foster had an absolutely monstrous day rushing for 231 yards and three touchdowns and the defense was able to hold on against Peyton Manning.

    The Texans have been a trendy pick the past few seasons and on Sunday they looked like a real contender. 

    They will look to keep it going next week in Washington.

3. Steelers Will Be Just Fine Without Big Ben

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    PITTSBURGH - SEPTEMBER 12:  Rashard Mendenhall #34 of the Pittsburgh Steelers celebrates with teammate Isaac Redman #33 after scoring the game winning touchdown on a 50-yard run against the Atlanta Falcons during the NFL season opener game on September 12
    Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

    Pittsburgh got back to what the franchise has done best over the years.  Run the ball, play stellar defense and come away with a victory, as they did against Atlanta, winning 15-9.

    Rashard Mendenhall ran for 120 yards, including a game winning 50-yard touchdown dash in overtime, while the defense kept a strong Atlanta Falcons ground game in check and forced a key interception late in the 4th quarter.

    Dennis Dixon did nothing spectacular, but did a fine job managing the game and can only get better with experience.  Atlanta is not among the NFL's elite, but they are a solid, well-coached team and the Steelers did well to get a win in a tough defensive battle.

    They will take on Tennessee and Chris Johnson next Sunday.

4. Dallas' Offense Continues To Struggle, Looks Sloppy In Loss

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    LANDOVER - SEPTEMBER 12:  Head coach Mike Shanahan of the Washington Redskins shakes hands with head coach Wade Phillips of the Dallas Cowboys after the NFL season opener against the Dallas Cowboys at FedExField on September 12, 2010 in Landover, Maryland
    Larry French/Getty Images

    Penalties and sloppy play were the downfall of the Dallas Cowboys in their 13-7  Sunday night loss to Washington.

    The 'Boys looked to have won the game on the final play, but a holding penalty nullified the touchdown and ended the game.  Dallas had 12 penalties for 91 yards in the game and the struggles that began in the preseason for the offense continued as they were unable to find a way to score until it was too late.

    Dallas will look to clean up its act against Chicago next week.

5. Jets' Offense, Secondary Look Shaky in Loss To Baltimore

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    EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - SEPTEMBER 13:  Mark Sanchez #6 of the New York Jets lays on the ground after a sack in the fourth quarter by the Baltimore Ravens during their home opener at the New Meadowlands Stadium on September 13, 2010 in East Rutherford, New J
    Andrew Burton/Getty Images

    New York entered the season with much fanfare due to their offseason moves and their, some may say excessive, trash-talk.  In their first game it looked like their mouths may have written checks their you know whats can't cash as they lost to Baltimore 10-9.

    To say the offense looked bad would be a compliment.  The running game, as expected, was solid, but their passing attack was absolutely awful.  Mark Sanchez was able to complete just 10 of 21 passes for 74 yards and was sacked twice.

    The defense looked great against the run, but their play in the secondary could not have inspired Jet fans.  The team racked up 125 yards in penalties as well, many coming on pass interference and defensive holding calls.  The Ravens consistently attacked Antonio Cromartie and rookie Kyle Wilson, something to watch for from other teams going forward.

    New York will look to avoid an 0-2 start vs. New England.

6. Possible QB Controversy Brewing In Philly

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    PHILADELPHIA - SEPTEMBER 12:  Michael Vick #7 of the Philadelphia Eagles rushes during a game against the Green Bay Packers at Lincoln Financial Field on September 12, 2010 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
    Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

    Andy Reid stated that Kevin Kolb will be his starting quarterback if healthy, but it cannot be overlooked that the offense sputtered with Kolb in the game and came to life once Michael Vick replaced him after an injury, almost pulling off the comeback in a 27-20 loss to Green Bay.

    Vick had 175 yards with a touchdown on a 16 of 24 passing day and added 103 yards on the ground.  He looks to be back to his old super-exciting self with his legs back under him and will get a chance to do it again next week with Kolb likely out.

    Eagles' fans are not known for being patient.  If Vick has another impressive performance and Kolb struggles upon his return, pressure will be put upon Reid to make Vick the starter.

    We'll see how he does next week against Detroit.

7. Chris Johnson on His Way To 2,500?

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    NASHVILLE - SEPTEMBER 12: Chris Johnson #28 of the Tennessee Titans runs into the end zone for a 76-yard touchdown in the first half of the NFL season opener against the Oakland Raiders at LP Field on September 12, 2010 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by
    Joe Robbins/Getty Images

    Chris Johnson has had his mind set on gaining 2,500 yards since last season ended.  His 142 yard performance against Oakland did little to make that seem unreasonable.

    The Titans were dominant in a 38-13 win that also saw Vince Young at his most efficient, passing for 154 yards and two touchdowns as he completed 13 of 17 passes.

    Tennessee hopes to make it back to the playoffs after missing them a year ago and Johnson will have a much tougher test facing Pittsburgh next weekend.

8. Giants Look to Be Back In Form

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    EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - SEPTEMBER 12:  Chris Canty #99 of the New York Giants celebrates after sacking Matt Moore #3 of the Carolina Panthers during the NFL season opener at New Meadowlands Stadium on September 12, 2010 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Pho
    Chris McGrath/Getty Images

    After a giant let down in 2009, New York came into this year with a lot to prove.  In a 31-18 win over Carolina, they looked more like the team we were all expecting to see last season.

    Hakeem Nicks filled the void left in New York's passing attack after they lost Plaxico Burress with 75 yards and three touchdowns and the defense was back to its old self forcing five turnovers to go along with four sacks.

    The road gets much tougher against Indianapolis next Sunday night.

9. Lions Have Victory Snatched Away on Controversial Call

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    CHICAGO - SEPTEMBER 12: Calvin Johnson #81 of the Detroit Lions waits for a instant replay ruling on an apparent touchdown catch in the final minute against the Chicago Bears during the NFL season opening game at Soldier Field on September 12, 2010 in Chi
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    The call was right according to how the rule is written, but the rule may need to be changed.

    It looked to everyone on the field that Calvin Johnson had caught a game-winning touchdown pass, but the play was overturned after a review by the officials, giving a 19-14 win to Chicago. 

    If you haven't seen the play, upon catching a Hail Mary pass in the endzone Johnson let go of the ball after he went to the ground.  It was ruled a touchdown on the field, but after a review it was determined that he did not maintain possession all the way through.  The rule was a cause of confusion last year and will surely be looked at this offseason.

    In what could be developing into a trend, Lions' quarterback Matt Stafford was injured in the game and looks to be missing time, just as he did in 2009.

    Detroit will look to bounce back next week against Philadelphia.

10. 49ers Disappoint, Seattle Has Lots Of Fun In Seahawks Victory

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    SEATTLE - SEPTEMBER 12:  Head coach Pete Carroll of the Seattle Seahawks (R) is congratulated by Seahawks' Chief Executive Officer  Tod Leiweke after the NFL season opener against the San Francisco 49ers at Qwest Field on September 12, 2010 in Seattle, Wa
    Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

    This was supposed to be the year that San Francisco overtook Arizona in the NFC West and went deep into the playoffs.  Their Week 1 performance left much to be desired, however.

    The final score was 31-6 and it was positively indicative of how the day went for the 49ers.  Alex Smith went 26 for 45 and threw two interceptions, casting much doubt on his ability to lead this team to the postseason.

    On the other sideline, Pete Carroll and the Seahawks appeared to be having a grand old time.  If they can keep up that type of energy and excitement all season, they may be able to surprise some people.

    Seattle takes a trip to Denver while San Fran faces the daunting task of staving off an 0-2 start against New Orleans in Week 2.

Final Thoughts

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    ST. LOUIS - SEPTEMBER 12: Sam Bradford #8 of the St. Louis Rams is sacked against the Arizona Cardinals during the NFL season opener at the Edward Jones Dome on September 12, 2010 in St. Louis, Missouri.  The Cardinals beat the Rams 17-13.  (Photo by Dili
    Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

    -St. Louis' coaching staff did not do Sam Bradford any favors in his NFL debut in having him attempt 55 passes.  The Rams need to lean more heavily on Steven Jackson and the running game as they ease their franchise quarterback in.

    -Washington certainly made the right move in trading for Donovan McNabb.  You can never bet against a great player with something to prove and McNabb will be playing with a chip on his shoulder all year.  If they can string some wins together early, they could reverse their recent bad fortune.

    -Keep your eye on Matt Forte of the Chicago Bears this year.  He had 151 receiving yards Sunday and has a chance to put up some monster numbers with Mike Martz calling the plays.

    -Kansas City had the upset of the weekend in their win over San Diego Monday night.  The franchise is no stranger to big special teams plays having had Dante Hall in the early 2000's, and they provided much excitement in their return game with rookies Javier Arenas and Dexter Mccluster.  Even if they can't continue to win this year, they should provide some highlight reel material on special teams.

    Check back next week for my thoughts on what should be an exciting second week.