Week 1 is officially in the books and what an opening slate it was. Monday night’s game between the Saints and Texans proved to be the highlight thanks to a vintage performance from Drew Brees. Deshaun Watson was equally impressive.
Everyone has an opinion on which teams looked the best. The power rankings are out and the hot takes are lighting up the stove. But what did we really learn? Which teams are legit contenders versus paper lions? Well, let’s attempt to crack the code.
For starters, pump the brakes on the Dallas Cowboys and Baltimore Ravens. These are two teams that capitalized on easy scheduling and beat up on inferior opponents. They are both somewhere in between Super Bowl and No. 1 draft pick.
Meanwhile, it’s evident the Browns aren’t “who we thought they were” but they’ll right the ship. There’s way too much talent there. The Raiders? Well, good for them. No one deserved an opening win more than Jon Gruden’s hard-scrabble squad.
1. Pump the Brakes on the Dallas Cowboys
There were several whispers that Dallas has reached elite status, after a 35-17 win over an abysmal Giants team. NFL analyst Rich Eisen went so far as to call them a “bonafide Super Bowl contender.” It’s a fun hot take, but nothing could be further from the truth. Sure, Dak Prescott and Amari Cooper looked phenomenal and racked up yardage like Antonio Brown does YouTube views. It was a mirage. The Cowboys punched down. Their defense was a sieve, allowing 470 yards of total offense and 25 first downs. Ezekiel Elliott was held to 54 rushing yards, too.
2. The Baltimore Ravens Can’t Be Trusted
The Ravens were beneficiaries of playing an opponent in tank mode, similar to the Cowboys. The Miami Dolphins might not win a game this season and their players are already lobbying to be traded. Good luck with that. Miami started two guys on their offensive line that they pulled off the street 10 days ago. Lamar Jackson enjoyed his best game as a pro with five touchdown tosses. He won’t approach that again. The Dolphins are bad in all phases. The Ravens went for a fake punt up by 32 points. Karma much? That will come back to haunt them.
3. The Cleveland Browns Will Bounce Back
It was an impossible spot for Cleveland. This is a franchise that has gone 11-52 over the past four seasons. That’s the definition of futility. This year, Baker Mayfield had been garnering MVP talk and the Browns were considered a Super Bowl contender. No pressure, right? They were bound to fail in Week 1, especially after being called for 18 penalties against the Titans. Does Vontaze Burfict play for them? Cleveland draws a bad Jets team this week on Monday Night Football — New York squandered a 16-point lead to the Bills — and Mayfield will be feeling mighty “dangerous” once again. Don’t count the Browns out.
4. The New England Patriots Will Go Undefeated
Wow, that was a beat down the likes of not seen since Mike Tyson was knocking dudes out in the boxing ring. The Patriots are going to be good — really, really good. Is anyone surprised by that? The Pats are always good and all those talking heads calling for the end of their dynasty were premature. However, this team is going to experience some growing pains with their mercurial receivers Antonio Brown and Josh Gordon. These guys are incredibly talented weapons, although headcases. Yes, Brady and Co. have a very easy schedule but they’ll lose a game. Circle Week 11 at Philadelphia.
5. Patrick Mahomes Will Win NFL MVP
The chatter over Mahomes has led water-cooler conversations since the moment the Chiefs lost the AFC Championship Game. It’s warranted, no doubt. Mahomes went 25-of-33 for 378 yards and three scores against a very good Jacksonville defense. He’s definitely in the running for the league’s top award. But let’s not hand it to him after Week 1. The Chiefs are going to be without their top playmaker, Tyreek Hill, for multiple weeks. Mahomes will have to endure that loss, with guys like Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Carson Wentz and maybe even Deshaun Watson all sniffing around for that MVP. It’s a long season.