Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Takeaways and Giveaways: NFL Week 1

by Jeff Bowers

Week One in the NFL is in the books! So let's go game by game and see what we believe or "take away" from each match up or what we don't believe or "give away."

Ravens 27 Broncos 49

Takeaway: Despite the loss of OLBs Elvis Dumervil (due to faxing) and Von Miller (due to drugs), the Broncos defense is still formidable enough to make a run at the Super Bowl. And that Peyton to Welker connection looks like it is going to live up to the hype.

Giveaway: The fact that the Ravens gave away WR Anquan Boldin looks like a huge mistake. Torry Smith struggled in the #1 spot and when Jacoby Jones went down, so did the Ravens chances.

Patriots 23 Bills 21

Takeaway: Tom Brady misses his toys! With often injured (and now injured again) WR Danny Amendola and RB Shane Vereen as the primary targets, the Pats struggled and needed a late rally to beat a rookie-led Bills team. The wait for Gronk (also often injured) is on in Beantown.

Giveaway: Some things never change. The Bills absolutely play their hearts out only to go down at the very end. Great showing by QB EJ Manuel in his first start proved why the Bills took him way ahead of the experts' ideas. Whether he stays healthy will prove who was actually right.

Bengals 21 Bears 24

Takeaway: When Jay Cutler actually has time to throw, he's pretty good. What might be the best O-line Cutler has ever had in front of him allowed him to actually find receivers not named Brandon Marshall early on and then find his guy when it counted. Bears resurgence?

Giveaway: Despite having a ton of talent, the Bengals still lack that "thing" that makes them elite. QB Andy Dalton is competent, but not a difference maker. Neither is anything else in the backfield. Looks like another 9 to 10 win season and a first round exit.

Dolphins 23 Browns 10

Takeaway: The preseason is a mirage! QB Brandon Weeden looked phenomenal in the preseason, holding off any would-be competition for the job. And yet, when the bullets went live Weeden struggled and threw 3 costly picks and was very erratic. The Browns have got to be a run-first team to have success this season.

Giveaway: Why did the Dolphins let Reggie Bush walk? The RB tandem of Miller and Thomas was just terrible. Depending on your 2nd year QB to carry you each week is a recipe for below .500 football.

Vikings 24 Lions 34

Takeaway: Lions are Scary! With Reggie Bush finally providing a legitimate threat out of the backfield for the first time since Barry Sanders left, the Lions offense is popping. And with a dominating (and dirty) defensive line led by A Boy Named Suh, the Lions could be vying for that division.

Giveaway: Two guys who are making me look like a genius in my draft evaluations: QB Christian Ponder and WR Cordarelle Patterson. I said Ponder is a solid back-up QB, much like Ryan Fitzpatrick and thus far that is exactly what he is. About Patterson, I loved his talent but the fact that he had no skills at being an actual wide receiver meant he could only contribute primarily as a kick returner for the first year or so. Apparently the Vikings know that too as converted WR Joe Webb got more PT than Patterson.

Raiders 17 Colts 21

Takeaway: Somewhere Al Davis is smiling! There is no doubt that if Al and his jumpsuit were still with us, Terrelle Pryor would be in his second year as a starter for the Raiders. Pryor acquitted himself quite well on Sunday, even showing some poise on throws right up until the final drive. The Raiders definitely made the right choice for starter, now they just need to let him grow.

Giveaway: I wondered all off-season why the Colts felt it necessary to shop at the "bargain bin" of free agency. The additions of RT Cherlius, WR Heyward-Bey and OLB Erik Walden all seemed odd for a team that had just won 11 games. These are stop-gap guys, not building blocks. I think this team is due for a regression and will miss the playoffs this year.

Falcons 17 Saints 23 

Takeaway: He may not be great, but no one coaches backups and fill-ins better than DC Rob Ryan. The Saints defense has just been riddled with injuries, much like the Cowboys defense last year, and yet Ryan finds a way to hold it together. It may not work every week, but the combination of Sean Payton and Ryan looks like it will win more than it loses.

Giveaway: Wasn't this supposed to be Atlanta's year? After convincing TE Tony Gonzales to give it one more try, the Falcons spent all off-season finding cheap replacements for all their holes and letting several free agents walk. The result may be salary cap help but it is definitely made this team look like a chocolate éclair, looks delicious but is soft and gushy in the middle.
Bucs 17 Jets 18

Takeaway: The narrative that ESPN spun all off-season about how the Jets were one of the worst teams in football actually helped the Jets win on Sunday. Rex Ryan showed the team that the Jets were ranked 32nd in the Power Rankings. That "us against the world" stuff actually worked and helped this team rally down late to win. The real test comes Thursday at the sight of the dreaded "Butt-Fumble" in Foxboro.

Giveaway: Though the Bucs' season looks doomed already due to the ineffective QB play of Josh Freeman, that defense Greg Schiano is building is intimidating. Hard (and likely fine-able) hits by both safeties Goldson and Barron knocked Jets receivers out of the game and sent a message to all others looking to go over the middle against the Pewter Pirates.

Titans 16 Steelers 9
Takeaway: The Steelers are in for a loooonnnggg season. Already depleted at the skill positions going into training camp, Black and Gold suffered injuries to their starting rookie runner and tight end, then in the first game lose their best O-linemen (Pouncey) and a rock in their defense (Foote). As I predicted prior to the year (pat, pat, pat) the Steelers will finish last in the AFC North.
Giveaway: This might have been the worst game played in the NFL all weekend. The Titans are not good either.

Seahawks 12 Panthers 7 

Takeaway: The Seahawks were really lucky to win this game. Just like the Patriots are breathlessly awaiting the return of Gronk, the Hawks may have the same wait for WR Percy Harvin. Look for Seattle to get more dangerous as the playoffs approach.
Giveaway: I'm still just not a believer in the Panthers. I like Cam, but I think they ask him to do too much. The defense is finally respectable, but still doesn't make me take notice yet. I think the Panthers will improve but are still trapped in that zone known as "Mediocrity."
Chiefs 28 Jaguars 2

Takeaway: The Chiefs are looking much improved. That team had a lot of talent on it the past few years, but no coaching or QB or health. With health (always dicey), Andy Reid and Alex Smith can take these Chiefs back to the playoffs.

Giveaway: The Jacksonville two-tone helmet has got to go! I can't imagine the issues it causes a quarterback to have all of these colors flashing as receivers turn. And Blaine Gabbert or Chad Henne need no help in struggling!

Cardinals 24 Rams 27

Takeaway: Carson Palmer still has some juice. Palmer threw for 327 yards and 2 TDs (both to Fitzgerald). But the Cards are still a team just approaching respectability. They will provide some fun and upsets, but are not contenders yet.

Giveaway: The Rams and Cards are about as evenly matched as two teams can be. Dangerous bunkmates for the Niners and Seahawks, but will finish somewhere between 8-8 and 5-11.

Packers 28 49ers 34

Takeaway: Roger Goodell must hate the Packers. For the second year in a row, the Packers have gotten shafted by the refs in Week 1. This time to personal foul call that led to the Fightin Kaepernicks getting an extra 3rd down and thus a TD was pretty rough. Maybe it's because Aaron Rogers is reported to be an ass by all his former WRs.

Giveaway: The idea that Kaepernick is a one trick pony looks very busted. CoKap threw for 412 yards as the Packers D kept him mostly contained in the pocket. I still worry about the skill positions in SF, but for right now they look strong to quite strong.

Giants 31 Cowboys 36

Takeaway: Another draft evaluation validation! This time it's Giants RB David Wilson. I loved Wilson in the draft, but had a mid 2nd round grade on him due to his propensity to fumble. I thought he would always need to be a change-of-pace guy. Look like Tom Coughlin thinks that too now.

Giveaway: It's tough to say whether the Cowboys defense was good or just lucky with 6 turnovers, but the new commitment to creating turnovers by Kiffin is definitely working. My question is "why doesn't everyone do that?" and "why wasn't that a thing in Dallas before now?"
Eagles 33 Washington 27

Takeaway: The Chip Kelly Experiment looks pretty revolutionary early on. As I predicted in our Madden 25/NFL Preview Show, the Eagles would win quite a few games early and then the league would catch up. But that might be enough to win the division anyway.

Giveaway: Apparently the preseason is important. RGIII looked a little rusty and put his team behind the 8 ball early on. And he's still not planting fully on that surgically repaired knee. Something to watch as the season goes on.

Texans 31 Chargers 28

Takeaway: I'm still not convinced that Schaub can win a Super Bowl, but if it's going to happen this is the year. The Texans struggled to run the football and needed Schaub to carry them, something he has really never done well. But Schaub responded and rallied his team back from down 21 points. Nice start to a promising season.

Giveaway: Poor Chargers. And poor Phillip Rivers. With no running game and little time to throw, Rivers' talent is just getting fiddled away Dan Fouts-style.

Please join us Thursday night for The Sports Narrative Radio Show for all your prep for the sports weekend! Until then, be well and be good,

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