NFL Team Grades for Week 1 of 2018
It's hard to imagine a wilder opening to the 2018 NFL season. The Philadelphia Eagles began their title defense at home with a Week 1 victory over the Atlanta Falcons. Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers mounted a thrilling fourth-quarter comeback. And the Cleveland Browns ended their 17-game losing streak—with a tie.
We have a long way to go before Super Bowl LIII—or even before we know what each team's story is going to be—but the first chapter of 2018 has been written. How did each team fare? That's what we're going to determine here.
Every week at Bleacher Report, we'll be handing out grades for each of the 32 teams based on that week's performance. We'll be basing those grades on the final outcomes, as well as how the squads performed while getting there. There's no such thing as a moral victory in the NFL, but not every loss will result in an automatic "F."
So, how did your favorite team grade out in Week 1? Let's take a look.
Opponent: Washington Redskins
Result: Lost 24-6
The new regime of the Arizona Cardinals had a chance to start off the season with a big win. They hosted a Washington Redskins team with a makeshift backfield. They had their own star running back in David Johnson back for the first time in nearly a year and a proven quarterback in Sam Bradford.
The Cardinals were instead embarrassed at their newly renamed State Farm Stadium, and it's hard to know where to place the blame.
Some of it has to rest on offensive coordinator Mike McCoy. He refused to regularly put the ball in Johnson's hands—he had just nine carries—and he only seemed to utilize the back on short and intermediate routes.
Bradford has to take some blame as well. He wasn't a complete disaster, but he failed to push the ball downfield. His longest passing play went for 27 yards, but he averaged a mere 4.5 yards per attempt. This conservative attack never put the Redskins off balance.
Defensively, the Cardinals weren't much better. They surrendered 429 yards of total offense and failed to keep Arizona in the game.
On the bright side, Johnson did score his first touchdown since 2016.
Opponent: Philadelphia Eagles
Result: Lost 18-12
Last postseason, the Atlanta Falcons played a sloppy, close game against the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFC Divisional Round. The Falcons had a chance to take the lead with roughly a minute remaining, but Matt Ryan's goal-to-go pass to Julio Jones fell incomplete.
This week, the Falcons played a sloppy, close contest against the Eagles. They had a chance to take the lead as time expired, but Ryan's goal-to-go pass to Julio Jones was incomplete.
The big disappointment is the fact that Atlanta had a full offseason to avenge its playoff loss and didn't seem to make any progress. The team's red-zone woes from 2017 have obviously carried over, and that's going to be an issue if the Falcons are hoping to get back to the postseason.
All of the blame offensive cannot be placed on coordinator Steve Sarkisian, but it's clear the offense isn't as dynamic as it was under Kyle Shanahan. This team has too many weapons to be netting only three points on its first two red-zone trips.
The defense did its part to keep the Falcons in the game. It held Nick Foles to just 117 yards passing and forced a pair of turnovers. The offense will need to do its part to rebound against the Carolina Panthers at next week's home opener at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
Opponent: Buffalo Bills
Result: Won 47-3
Is Joe Flacco elite? No, we're not back to that question yet, but if the Baltimore Ravens keep performing like they did in Week 1, we may get there. The Ravens humiliated the Buffalo Bills in a game that only appeared to be close during the opening kickoff.
Flacco shone, going 25-of-34 for 236 yards and three touchdowns. Perhaps first-round rookie Lamar Jackson has lit a fire under him, but Flacco looks like a different quarterback. It helps that the Ravens got Flacco some new weapons this offseason, acquiring Willie Snead IV, John Brown and Michael Crabtree. Flacco tossed each of them a touchdown.
Alex Collins, Kenneth Dixon and Javorius Allen all rushed for scores.
Baltimore's defense was truly impressive in Sunday's game, though. It limited starting Bills quarterback Nathan Peterman to just 24 passing yards, picked him off twice and didn't allow Buffalo to get a first down until the third quarter.
Baltimore has a quick turnaround, as it will go on the road to battle the Cincinnati Bengals on Thursday night in a game that will determine first place in the AFC North.
Opponent: Baltimore Ravens
Result: Lost 47-3
There isn't much to say about Buffalo's Week 1 performance, other than that it was an unmitigated disaster and likely a warning sign that the 2018 season is going to be a lost cause.
The offense was a joke with Peterman at the helm. It almost makes one wonder if Peterman has been blackmailing head coach Sean McDermott into starting opportunities because he doesn't look like he belongs on an NFL field.
Not even LeSean McCoy was effective (seven rushing attempts for 22 yards), but that's to be expected when the opposing defense has zero respect for your passing game.
The Bills defense did some good things—it notched a pair of sacks and held the Ravens to 3.4 yards per carry—but it was never going to carry the team with the offense not at least chipping in on occasion.
On the bright side, Bills fans got an early look at seventh overall pick Josh Allen. He was slightly better than Peterman (6-of-15 for 74 yards), and if this is going to be a lost season, there's little reason not to turn over the keys to him now.
Opponent: Dallas Cowboys
Result: Won 16-8
The hiring of Norv Turner as offensive coordinator may eventually change the way the Carolina Panthers do business on that side of the ball. On Sunday, however, the offense looked a lot like it did in 2017, meaning it was the Cam Newton show.
This isn't an issue when Newton is playing efficiently, which he did in Sunday's game against the Dallas Cowboys at Bank of America Stadium. He completed more than 65 percent of his passes, rushed for 58 yards and didn't commit a turnover.
Unfortunately, Newton lost one of his top weapons when tight end Greg Olsen left with a foot injury. According to NFL Media's Andrew Siciliano, Olsen was on crutches and in a walking boot after exiting the game.
The Panthers also lost starting right tackle Daryl Williams to a knee injury.
Carolina's defense, particularly the front seven, was superb against the Cowboys and their vaunted offensive line, which has been dealing with injuries and other health concerns. It sacked Dak Prescott six times and, for the most part, contained star running back Ezekiel Elliott. While Elliott did average more than four yards per carry, he never broke loose for a game-changing run.
Panthers fans should feel good about getting the win, but they would probably feel better if Carolina had produced more than 16 points.
Opponent: Green Bay Packers
Result: Lost 24-23
Chicago Bears fans have to feel good about what they saw from $141 million man Khalil Mack. The new addition dominated against the Green Bay Packers, racking up a sack, an interception, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery and a defensive touchdown in limited action.
But Bears fans cannot feel good about the end result, as their team blew a 17-point fourth-quarter lead to lose by a point.
Sometimes, though, quarterback Aaron Rodgers just takes over a game, and there isn't much anyone can do about it. His furious comeback aside, the Bears can find a lot to build upon.
Mitchell Trubisky flashed franchise-quarterback traits, completing 65.7 percent of his passes and rushing for 32 yards and a touchdown. He seemed to have an easier time attacking downfield than he did last season with the likes of Allen Robinson and Taylor Gabriel on the field.
The defense, led by Mack, was impressive—at least for three quarters.
Chicago may not be a playoff team in 2018, but it is going to be relevant again in the NFC North.
Opponent: Indianapolis Colts
Result: Won 34-23
The Cincinnati Bengals own a share of the AFC North lead after Week 1, thanks to their spoiling of Andrew Luck's return from injury. They nearly allowed the Indianapolis Colts quarterback to lead a comeback in his first game since the 2016 campaign, but reserve safety Clayton Fejedelem forced a fumble from tight end Jack Doyle and returned it 83 yards for a game-sealing touchdown with less than a minute remaining.
The Cincinnati offense looked better than it did in Year 1 under offensive coordinator Bill Lazor. Andy Dalton completed 21 of 28 passes and tossed a pair of touchdowns, though he did have an interception. Running back Joe Mixon produced 149 yards from scrimmage to go with a score.
Second-year receiver John Ross finally nabbed his first NFL catch—and his first touchdown.
Defensively, it was a mixed bag. The Bengals did force two turnovers, including one that resulted in the game-winning score, but they allowed 380 yards of offense.
If not for the final turnover, Cincinnati easily could have lost this game, and it could struggle against more balanced teams. Still, the Bengals have positives to build on, and a win against an elite quarterback is always something you'll take.
Opponent: Pittsburgh Steelers
Result: Tied 21-21
It feels so very Browns for Cleveland to end its 17-game losing streak without winning. Still, the fact that the Browns were able to match a talented Pittsburgh Steelers team blow-for-blow on a rainy, water-logged afternoon is a testament to how much this team has changed since last season.
Cleveland's defense was a force, sacking Ben Roethlisberger four times and forcing six turnovers. The unit is going to be fun to watch in 2018. Cleveland's offense, though, not so much.
The Browns couldn't consistently move the ball, and it's fair to wonder if quarterback Tyrod Taylor (15-of-40 passing) is the right fit for the talent around him. The offense is the reason why the Browns couldn't win a game in which they had a plus-five turnover differential.
Since the Browns returned to the NFL in 1999, teams with that turnover differential are 132-4-1.
For any other squad, this game would translate into a solid "C" or worse, but we have to grade the Browns on a bit of a curve. After all, they did end a massive losing streak, and they did it against an AFC North rival. Cleveland has ensured it won't go 0-16 in 2018; now it has to work on putting one in the win column.
Opponent: Carolina Panthers
Result: Lost 16-8
Give the Cowboys defense credit. For a unit that has been maligned in recent years, it appears to be on the rise. It started making strides in 2017— the year in which Demarcus Lawrence emerged as one of the league's top defenders—and it held the Panthers in check for most of four quarters Sunday.
Yes, Newton was able to make the occasional big play, but the Cowboys limited Carolina to 16 points and kept themselves in the game.
The offense is where Dallas should have concerns. Prescott was unable to push the ball downfield, and while Cole Beasley had seven receptions for 73 yards, the Cowboys don't seem to have a game-changing pass-catcher.
Even more alarming is the fact that the offensive line was a liability. It allowed six sacks and frequently saw Prescott scrambling to avoid pressure. The line is supposed to be the strength of the offense, but the group isn't the same with All-Pro center Travis Frederick out with Guillain-Barre syndrome.
Dallas has questions to answer if it hopes to be a playoff team in 2018. Can the offensive line rebound and start taking over games again? Can Prescott return to the form he showed as a rookie without a Dez Bryant or a Jason Witten on the roster? The answer to both in Week 1 was "no."
Opponent: Seattle Seahawks
Result: Won 27-24
What a difference having a functional quarterback can make. Turnovers were still an issue for the Denver Broncos offense (three interceptions), but Case Keenum mounted enough of a passing attack to keep the Seattle Seahawks off balance and to complement his team's defense.
The end result was a three-point win over a rebuilding Seahawks team that still brings a lot of talent to the table.
Keenum passed for 329 yards and three touchdowns to go with his three picks. If he can start avoiding turnovers, he can be the Broncos' answer under center. Denver might also have its answer in the backfield, as Phillip Lindsay and Royce Freeman each rushed for 71 yards.
Denver's defense might not be what it once was, but it was solid. It allowed just 306 yards of total offense, produced three turnovers and sacked Russell Wilson six times.
It wasn't a perfect game, to be sure, but Denver showed that teams can't overlook it this season.
Week 1 Opponent: New York Jets
Result: Lost 48-17
The Matt Patricia era for the Detroit Lions didn't start with a roar. Heck, it didn't even start with a whimper. What we saw on Monday night against the New York Jets was a defensive statement so quiet that it was essentially nonexistent.
It certainly didn't help that Matthew Stafford tossed four picks—one that was returned for a touchdown—but the defensive architect of the New England Patriots the past six seasons certainly didn't produce a dominant defense on Monday.
New York, with a rookie quarterback at the helm, had 349 yards of offense and averaged 4.7 yards per rush.
The Lions offense was as disappointing the defense. It produced just 10 points and next to nothing on the ground (39 yards, 2.6 yards per carry).
This new regime was supposed to bring a strong defense and a competent running game to finally complement Matthew Stafford and the passing attack. What Lions fans got against the Jets—at home no less—was a soul-sucking embarrassment.
Week 1 Grade: F
Green Bay Packers
Opponent: Chicago Bears
Result: Won 24-23
Packers fans collectively held their breath Sunday night, when Rodgers briefly left the game with a knee injury. Green Bay isn't close to the same team without him, and a long-term injury could have derailed its season before it began.
Rodgers did return, though, and he led a historic comeback, despite heavily favoring his injured leg. The 17-point deficit was the largest overcome in Packers history in the fourth quarter.
Rodgers insists he'll be ready for Week 2 as well.
"I'm playing next week," Rodgers told NBC's Michele Tafoya (h/t Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk).
There are plenty of reasons to remain concerned about the Packers' playoff chances, though. The running game (3.8 yards per carry) is still inconsistent, and the defense is far from elite. However, the offensive line has to be the biggest worry. If it cannot protect Rodgers to keep him healthy, the Packers aren't going to go far.
We'll find out what kind of adjustments Green Bay is able to make in Week 2, when it faces the NFC North rival Minnesota Vikings.
Opponent: New England Patriots
Result: Lost 27-20
Houston Texans fans have to be thrilled that quarterback Deshaun Watson was back on the field for Week 1. They were likely less happy with the way he played. The second-year quarterback didn't look nearly as decisive as he did as a rookie, and having a slow trigger made him a far less efficient quarterback.
He finished the game just 17-of-34 for 176 yards with a touchdown and an interception. He did run eight times for 40 yards, but that probably isn't what a team wants its franchise quarterback to be doing while he's coming off a torn ACL.
While the final score indicates a close game, this one never was. The Texans didn't draw closer to New England than seven points, and their defense did little to slow down Tom Brady. Yes, the unit sacked him twice, but it rarely pressured him.
Houston needs to see more of the Watson from 2017 if it hopes to have any shot at the postseason. To a degree, the Texans can lean on the running game, which averaged 4.9 yards per carry, but they have to be able to stretch defenses through the air. Watson (5.2 yards per attempt) didn't do that Sunday at Gillette Stadium.
Opponent: Cincinnati Bengals
Result: Lost 34-23
Luck looked like his old self at Lucas Oil Stadium against the Bengals, and that's the biggest thing to take away if you're a Colts fan. He had his team in position to take the lead late in the fourth quarter before Fejedelem stripped the ball from Doyle and returned it 83 yards for a touchdown.
There are other positives, though. Tight end Eric Ebron (51 yards, one touchdown) looks like he's going to be a big piece of the passing attack, as does rookie running back Nyheim Hines (seven receptions, 33 yards). The defense also looks like an improved unit.
Indianapolis held the Bengals to 330 yards of offense and forced two turnovers. Those aren't eye-popping stats, but they show the Indianapolis defense isn't the sieve it was for most of 2017.
The offensive line seems to be better too, which is huge with Luck back under center. The signal-caller was only sacked twice by a good Cincinnati pass rush. Fans should feel relatively confident that he'll be able to stay healthy for a full season.
The running game, which averaged just 3.4 yards per carry, does need to improve to bring balance to the offense.
Opponent: New York Giants
Result: Won 20-15
The Jacksonville Jaguars didn't make it look easy, but they escaped MetLife Stadium with a win over the New York Giants on Sunday. They did so without running back Leonard Fournette, who left the game with a hamstring injury, and it was largely thanks to their defense.
That unit looks as dangerous as it was in 2017. It did allow rookie Saquon Barkley to rip off a 68-yard run. Otherwise, though, big plays were difficult to find for the Giants.
Outside of that big rush, Barkley averaged just 2.2 yards per carry.
If Fournette misses extended time, the Jaguars will have reason to worry. The offense was ineffective without him—the Giants outgained Jacksonville by 19 yards, and Blake Bortles only completed 54.5 percent of his passes. It took a 32-yard interception return from linebacker Myles Jack to give the Jaguars an 11-point lead in the fourth quarter.
Jacksonville better figure out its offense soon. It hosts the Patriots at EverBank Field in Week 2.
Kansas City Chiefs
Opponent: Los Angeles Chargers
Result: Won 38-28
It's still too early to say with certainty that Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes is the real deal. Based on four quarters of 2018 action, though, he looks like it. The rookie torched the Los Angeles Chargers to the tune of 256 passing yards and four touchdowns with no interceptions.
Of course, it helps when you have weapons like Tyreek Hill and Kareem Hunt.
If this wasn't Mahomes' first start since taking over for the departed Alex Smith full-time, we'd be talking more about Hill, who was the real offensive star. He caught seven passes for 169 yards and two touchdowns. He also returned a punt 91 yards for a score to kick off Kansas City's onslaught.
Offensively, the Chiefs look ready to hang with anyone. Defensively, there is still a lot to be desired—and that's putting it mildly.
Kansas City allowed 541 yards of offense. While the defense did force two turnovers, it wasn't the reason the Chiefs won. They need to work on limiting big plays because they cannot count on winning a shootout every week.
Los Angeles Chargers
Opponent: Kansas City Chiefs
Result: Lost 38-28
Another year, another slow start for the Chargers. They started Sunday's game against the rival Chiefs slowly (an early 14-3 hole), and the loss puts them at the bottom of the AFC West.
Yet, there were some positives to take away. Quarterback Philip Rivers (424 yards, three touchdowns, one interception) isn't showing any signs of aging at 36, and running back Melvin Gordon III showed some burst on the ground. He also proved himself capable of picking up some slack in the short-passing game, catching nine passes for 102 yards. (Tight end Hunter Henry is out for the season with a torn ACL.)
Defensively, there is reason to worry. Despite having a top-tier pass-rusher in Melvin Ingram—Joey Bosa missed the game—the Chargers rarely pressured Mahomes. They couldn't contain Kansas City's explosive offensive weapons.
They will have a chance to right the ship next week against the Bills at Ralph Wilson Stadium. They'll need to do so if they hope to vie for a playoff spot.
Los Angeles Rams
Week 1 Opponent: Oakland Raiders
Result: Won 33-13
The Los Angeles Rams got off to a slow start in Monday night's late game, falling behind 13-10 to Jon Gruden's Oakland Raiders at halftime. Of course, a slow start shouldn't have come as a surprise, as the Rams added several new faces—including Marcus Peters, Ndamukong Suh, Aqib Talib and Brandin Cooks—in the offseason
Plus, virtually none of the Los Angeles stars saw action in the preseason.
The Rams knocked off the rust in the second half and cruised to what turned out to be a dominating win. Actually, "cruised" is underselling the Rams' effort a bit, as the Raiders gave a physical effort for all four quarters.
To put things more accurately, the superior talent of L.A. shined through in the second half and at times made things look easy.
The Rams got some big-time contributions from some of their new players too. Cooks drew a couple of long pass-interference penalties and Peters had a 50-yard interception return for a score.
All told, it was a sound opener for a team that is expected to handle rebuilding squads like Oakland with ease.
Week 1 Grade: A
Opponent: Tennessee Titans
Result: Won 27-24
Were the Miami Dolphins perfect in Week 1? No. Were they helped by some key injuries to the Tennessee Titans? Certainly. Will Dolphins fans take a win and a share of the AFC East lead to start the 2018 season? You better believe it.
Quarterback Ryan Tannehill did toss a pair of interceptions, but he was mostly efficient in his return to the field from injury. He didn't look like a signal-caller who missed all of 2017, and he completed 20 of his 28 attempts for 230 yards and two scores.
Frank Gore and Kenyan Drake were effective on the ground, as the two combined for 109 yards on just 23 carries.
The big takeaway is that Miami has talent in all three phases of the game. The defense snagged three interceptions, Jakeem Grant returned a kickoff 102 yards for a score, and Kenny Stills hauled in four passes for 106 yards and two touchdowns, including a 75-yarder.
It's hard to tell how good the Dolphins are going to be because they beat a Titans team that was without starting quarterback Marcus Mariota for much of the game. Still, opening the season with a win is big, as is the fact that the Dolphins have their own starting signal-caller back.
Opponent: San Francisco 49ers
Result: Won 24-16
The San Francisco 49ers became the darlings of the NFL after Jimmy Garoppolo took over at quarterback. The Vikings took their best punch and managed to counter for a hard-fought victory.
"They had us off balance," Minnesota head coach Mike Zimmer said, per Michael Silver of NFL.com. "I had to make adjustments on the fly, changes to fronts and coverages; we had some injuries, and I had to move some guys around."
The Vikings did deal with some injuries Sunday—cornerback Trae Waynes, for example, left with a knee injury—but they overcame. It helped that the Vikings got an efficient game out of Kirk Cousins, who finished 20-of-36 for 244 yards and two touchdowns.
Though the defense was good enough to keep it from becoming a shootout, Cousins and Co. did have to put up decent points to walk away with the win. This is something the Vikings will likely be able to do regularly, especially now that running back Dalvin Cook (95 yards from scrimmage) is healthy and back on the field.
New England Patriots
Opponent: Houston Texans
Result: Won 27-20
At some point, Brady is going to fall off the proverbial cliff. It doesn't appear that will happen in 2018, though. Brady was efficient against the Texans, passing for 277 yards and three touchdowns with one interception.
The Patriots defense, which was a disaster in 2017, was mostly efficient. It did allow the Texans to pull within a touchdown, but it stopped Houston from mounting a realistic comeback attempt. It also produced two turnovers and sacked Watson three times.
The Texans had just 325 yards of offense.
There weren't many surprises, perhaps other than the fact the Patriots leaned on Rex Burkhead in the running game. He wasn't particularly effective, though, rushing for just 64 yards on 18 carries. Expect the Patriots to put the ball in the hands of running back Sony Michel once he's healthy.
This was a workmanlike win for the most businesslike team in the league.
New Orleans Saints
Opponent: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Result: Lost 48-40
The New Orleans Saints carried hopes of reaching the Super Bowl into the season. They may not get there, and their Week 1 performance reminded me of the one the Patriots had in the most recent Super Bowl.
Drew Brees passed for 439 yards and three touchdowns. Alvin Kamara rushed for 29 yards, had 112 yards receiving and scored three times. Wideout Michael Thomas caught 16 passes for 180 yards and a touchdown. Yet the Saints still lost.
If we learned anything from Sunday's game, it's that the Saints defense might not be the emerging unit we thought it was last season. It was a liability, and it's the reason New Orleans has a share of last place in the NFC South.
That is a tough division, so the Saints have to figure out how to tighten up the defense. New Orleans has another divisional game in two weeks, against Atlanta.
On a positive note, the Saints offense is the well-oiled machine it's always been.
New York Giants
Opponent: Jacksonville Jaguars
Result: Lost 20-15
If there's a team that can try to take a moral victory out of a Week 1 loss, it's the Giants. They're coming off a 3-13 season and faced a squad that came within a few plays of the Super Bowl last season, but at no point did it feel like New York was overmatched.
Barkley made his debut, and wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. returned. Each of those two offensive stars topped 100 yards.
The New York defense, which was a liability last season, did its part to keep the Giants in the game. Jacksonville produced just 305 yards, and Bortles threw one interception.
Against many other teams, allowing just 20 points will put the Giants in position to win. With Barkley and Beckham on the field, they have too much firepower.
New York cannot afford to rely on only two players, though. Eli Manning needs to get guys like Evan Engram (two catches, 18 yards) more involved.
New York Jets
Week 1 Opponent: Detroit Lions
Result: Won 48-17
The Jets decided to go with rookie Sam Darnold as their starting quarterback for Week 1. The USC product responded by throwing a touchdown on his first pro play—to the wrong team.
Who cares? So the rookie threw a pick-six on the opening drive. He settled down after that and helped lay a spanking on the host Lions. He finished the game 16-of-21 for 198 yards, that pick and two touchdowns. He showed great mobility in the pocket, accuracy on the run and, most importantly, that New York can win with him right out of the gate.
Darnold wasn't the only new addition to show off on Monday. Running back Isaiah Crowell ripped off a 62-yard touchdown run, ran for another score and finished with 102 yards on just 10 carries.
The Jets defense deserves a ton of credit for picking off the Lions five times and for limiting them to just 10 offensive points.
To be fair, the pair of Jets turnovers and a lack of sacks by the defense will keep us from giving the Jets a perfect grade, but there really isn't much for Jets fans to be down about.
Week 1 Opponent: Los Angeles Rams
Result: Lost 33-13
The final score would indicate an ugly game for the new-look Raiders, and that's exactly what it was in the second half. For the first two quarters, however, Oakland proved that filling the roster with older veterans wouldn't take away from the team's physicality.
The Raiders jumped out to a 13-10 halftime lead over the Rams while getting physical, impact plays from aging vets such as Marshawn Lynch and Jared Cook.
Fans can debate whether the Raiders' older roster wore down in the second half or if a more talented L.A. squad simply started pulling away (I'd argue the latter), but there's no denying that things fell apart for Oakland.
It's doubtful that even Khalil Mack would have slowed the Rams' onslaught after halftime.
The Raiders have capable players, and they are going to give some teams tough competition this season. However, the Rams provided a stiff measuring stick for where the Raiders are in their rebuild, and they fell far short. They are most likely playing for the future, not 2018.
Week 1 Grade: C-
Opponent: Atlanta Falcons
Result: Won 18-12
Things weren't pretty for the Eagles on Thursday night, at least not offensively. Nick Foles didn't look anything like the guy who won MVP honors in Super Bowl LII, and he struggled to create big plays with Alshon Jeffery sidelined by injury.
"It was one of those unique games where it's not really a rhythm thing," Foles said, per Jeff McLane of Philly.com. "It's just that you're going to fight all game."
The Eagles got enough big plays offensively—including another critical reception by Foles and a pair of rushing touchdowns from Jay Ajayi—to go ahead on the scoreboard in the second half. Thanks to a strong performance from the Eagles defense, the offense didn't need much.
The defense was as good as it was during last year's championship run. It twice turned the Falcons away from the red zone with zero points, and it limited them to just a single touchdown. This defense will be able to carry the Eagles until quarterback Carson Wentz returns.
Next up, the Eagles will travel to face the Buccaneers.
Opponent: Cleveland Browns
Result: Tied 21-21
The Steelers didn't have running back Le'Veon Bell with them when they came to Cleveland, but that proved not to be a problem. Second-year running back James Conner rushed for more than 130 yards and found the end zone twice on the ground, and the running game looks like it will be fine even if Bell never reports.
What the Steelers have to worry about is the sloppy play that nearly cost them the game against a team that went 1-31 over the past two years. The offense committed six turnovers, and Pittsburgh committed a dozen penalties as a team.
Oh, and let's not forget that recently paid kicker Chris Boswell shanked a 42-yard field goal in overtime.
Pittsburgh's defense held strong for most of the game, despite being put in bad positions often. Even with six turnovers giving Cleveland multiple opportunities, the Browns had a mere 327 yards of offense. The Steelers made life for Tyrod Taylor miserable too, sacking him seven times and baiting him into an interception late on a drive that could have given Cleveland the lead.
That defense will be tested next week, as the Steelers will host the Chiefs in their home opener.
San Francisco 49ers
Opponent: Minnesota Vikings
Result: Lost 24-16
Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo finally tasted defeat as an NFL starter, and 49ers fans cannot take much consolation in the fact that it came against one of the better teams in the NFC.
Yes, there are some positives to be taken away here. DeForest Buckner logged 2.5 sacks, and the pass rush as a whole looked more effective than it was last year. Matt Breida (11 carries, 46 yards) added some punch to the rushing game. However, Garoppolo still threw three interceptions, and the 49ers suffered more key injuries.
Starting guard Mike Person was forced to leave the game, as was backup Joshua Garnett. The 49ers were forced to move right tackle Mike McGlinchey over to guard to fill in. The 49ers also lost wideout Marquise Goodwin to a quad injury.
The injuries are piling up for a team that has already lost running back Jerick McKinnon for the season. We'll see how impactful they prove to be next week when the 49ers host the Lions.
Opponent: Denver Broncos
Result: Lost 27-24
The Seahawks could be in trouble this season. There is still talent on this team, and they still have Russell Wilson, but it became obvious against the Broncos that the Seahawks aren't going to dominate anyone defensively.
Yes, Seattle picked off Denver quarterback Case Keenum three times, but Sunday's game would have been even uglier if it hadn't. The Seahawks allowed a whopping 470 yards of total offense. The Legion of Boom is officially dead.
Seattle's offensive line is still a concern as well. Wilson was under pressure much of the game and was sacked six times. This might not be a major surprise considering Seattle was going up against Von Miller and Co., but let's not forget that Wilson is one of the most mobile quarterbacks in the league.
The Seahawks have to figure out how to better protect Wilson or he isn't going to survive the season.
It didn't help matters that rookie first-round pick Rashaad Penny was virtually useless in the ground game (seven carries for eight yards). He was supposed to help give Seattle a solid rushing attack. On the bright side, Seattle may have itself a budding star in tight end Will Dissly (105 yards and a touchdown).
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Opponent: New Orleans Saints
Result: Won 48-40
No Jameis Winston, no problem for the Buccaneers. With Ryan Fitzpatrick running the show, Tampa's offense looked as explosive as it has in recent memory, and fans may be wondering if they even want Winston back in the starting lineup.
It's worth noting that we've seen some greatness from Fitzpatrick before, but it has never lasted. Still, it's hard not to be impressed with his performance from Sunday. He passed for 417 yards, rushed for 36 more and scored five total touchdowns.
Fitzpatrick was helped immensely by Mike Evans and DeSean Jackson, who had 147 and 146 yards receiving, respectively.
Tampa's defense, on the other hand, is still a cause for concern. Yes, the Saints have one of the top offenses in the NFL, but the Buccaneers defense didn't even seem to be on the field at times. If not for a pair of fumble recoveries, the defense might have blown the game in a shootout.
This defense may prevent the Buccaneers from being a playoff team as it stands, but Tampa's offense is explosive enough to grab the rest of the NFC South's attention.
Opponent: Miami Dolphins
Result: Lost 27-20
The Titans weren't blown out in Week 1, but it's difficult to imagine a game going worse. Tennessee lost a trio of starters during the game, including quarterback Marcus Mariota to an elbow injury. Offensive tackle Taylor Lewan got a concussion, and tight end Delanie Walker suffered an ankle injury.
According to NFL Media's Ian Rapoport, Walker will "almost certainly" miss the rest of the season with a fractured ankle.
The loss of Walker will be a big blow to a receiving corps that already lacked top-tier talent. In fact, the Titans offense as a whole was a mess against Miami. Mariota and Blaine Gabbert combined for three interceptions, and it took a 94-yard kickoff return from Darius Jennings to even pull within one score late.
The Titans have a lot of work to do if they're going to get back to the postseason in 2018. The first order of business will be getting Mariota back on the field because Tennessee won't want to rely on Gabbert against J.J. Watt and the Texans defense in Week 2.
Opponent: Arizona Cardinals
Result: Won 24-6
The Alex Smith era in Washington didn't begin with a bang; it more appropriately began with some efficient, effective passing and limited mistakes. That, of course, is why the Redskins acquired Smith in the first place.
Of Smith's 21 completions, 13 went to running backs or tight ends, but the Washington offense didn't need to strike deep to move the ball.
This was largely because running backs Adrian Peterson and Chris Thompson forged a dangerous backfield duo. The two combined for 161 yards rushing, 133 yards receiving and two touchdowns.
Defensively, the Redskins were dominant where it mattered most. They limited chunk plays and didn't allow the Cardinals to score until the fourth quarter. They bottled up David Johnson until then and forced two turnovers along the way.
Arizona might not have been the toughest challenge for the new-look Redskins, but it's hard to argue with a one-sided Week 1 victory.