NFL football is back, and with it every team and its fans are ever optimistic that this year could be their year. New faces in new places. New head coaches tasked with turning franchises around. Rookies ready to make their presence known.
This series is returning for its third-straight season. Here’s a look back at the week that was: Week 1 in the NFL, 2021.
Ja’Marr Chase recorded five catches for over 100 yards and a touchdown for the Cincinnati Bengals. Trey Lance threw a touchdown on his first (and only) pass attempt for the San Francisco 49ers. Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence passed for three touchdowns but also tossed three picks on 51 pass attempts, resulting in a loss to the Houston Texans. Mac Jones‘ debut with the New England Patriots in their loss to the Dolphins won’t make the record books, but was a solid one.
Dak Prescott returned from his gruesome left ankle compound fracture. He threw for over 400 yards and three touchdowns in Thursday loss to the reigning Super Bowl Champion Buccaneers. Unfortunately, Tom Brady was commanding the other offense; he tossed four touchdowns of his own. Antonio Brown had five receptions for 121 yards, adding a touchdown.
One, Just One
The top running backs, Derrick Henry, Christian McCaffrey, Alvin Kamara and Dalvin Cook, combined for just one touchdown in Week 1. That’s something that didn’t sit too well with many fantasy owners. Cook found the end zone in the Vikings overtime loss to the Cincinnati Bengals.
Russ off and Cooking
Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson passed for four touchdowns on the road against Indianapolis. In true Russ fashion, he trusted his receivers on routes and passes that not many other signal callers would even attempt. With a Week 2 home matchup against the Titans (whose defense was shredded by the Cardinals), Wilson’s hot start will likely continue.
Vengeance is His
In a back and forth battle, Sam Darnold helped lead his new team, the Carolina Panthers, to victory over his former team, the New York Jets. The quarterback did not turn the ball over, and McCaffrey provided 180 yards from scrimmage. Darnold was also largely aided by his defense, who welcomed Jets quarterback Zach Wilson into the NFL.
Right Men for the Job
First-year, first-time head coaches David Culley (Texans), Brandon Staley (Chargers) and Nick Sirianni (Eagles) all got their first wins in their NFL debuts. While Urban Meyer (Jaguars), Arthur Smith (Falcons), and Robert Saleh (Jets), will all have to wait at least another week to notch theirs.
Kyler Murray, in the Cardinals thrashing of the Titans in Tennessee, threw for four touchdowns and ran for another. On the defensive side of the ball, Chandler Jones sacked Ryan Tannehill five times and forced a pair of fumbles.
Who DAT? Not Drew
In their first season opener without Drew Brees under center, the New Orleans Saints had quite a bit going against them. Due to the effects of Hurricane Ida, they were forced to play in Jacksonville. They were facing the reigning NFL MVP, Aaron Rodgers. Former No. 1 overall pick of the Buccaneers, Jameis Winston, was remarkable. He had five touchdown passes while tallying just 148 yards through the air in the Saints 38-3 thrashing of the Packers. Most impressively, he didn’t throw an interception, something that plagued him with the Bucs.
A Week 1 Over-Exaggeration
The Texans were the only AFC South team to win in Week 1. The Eagles were the only NFC East team to win in Week 1. The Dolphins were the only AFC East team to win in Week 1. At least two of them were unanimously picked to lose opening week.
The West(s) Reign Supreme
The Rams convincing victory against the Bears concluded a perfect day for the NFC West. The Rams (like the Cardinals), won in blowout fashion. With the Seahawks and even more so the 49ers putting up big point totals as well, all four NFC West teams won in Week 1.
The same holds true for the AFC West. Each of the four teams were victorious, but their four games were all hard fought victories, culminating with the Las Vegas Raiders overtime win on Monday night against the Ravens.
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