The first week in the 2013 Regular Season was full of excitement, here at My Mind on Sports we’ll be taking the time to reflect on all of the action from around the league from a Division Standpoint at the end of every week played.
Detroit Lions start the season 1-0 after beating the Vikings. Held Adrian Peterson in check for the most part, AP finished with 93 yards on 18 carries which included a 78 yard Touchdown run to start the day. He scored twice more but they were in short yardage situations. Reggie Bush made his debut for Detroit and showed that he’s a football player, not just a running back. Bush gained 191 total yards (90 rushing, 101 receiving) for the Lions, Calvin Johnson had two TD catches overturned. The Lions were composed for the most part, definitely started the season off right with a division win.
The Marc Trestman era started off well for the Chicago Bears, they played a tough young team in the Cincinnati Bengals. The biggest change in the game happened at the half, the Bears offense was sputtering until the adjustments made during the break kicked in. Those changes propelled the Bears to their First win of the season and Trestman’s first win as a Head Coach. Cutler and Marshall hooked up as always, but more importantly was the concerned effort to spread the wealth, something that was definitely lacking in the past. AJ Green had a huge day, but Charles Tillman was able to fight back by picking off Andy Dalton twice.
The Vikings struggled mightily on the offensive side of the ball against Detroit, the Lions took AP out of the equation and dared Christian Ponder to beat them. The game plan payed off as Ponder threw Three interceptions and was sacked three times. Their defense did a great job to keep them in the game, but they couldn’t do it by themselves.
Green Bay was in an intense battle with the San Francisco 49ers that had the vibe of a Playoff Game. The Packers defense was amazing against the run, a lot of credit to the defensive line as they were able to clog up the running lanes. This game was a shootout and the 49ers were able to outlast the Packers thanks to a big day from Colin Kaepernick, Anquan Boldin, and Vernon Davis. The Packers were without a couple starters in the secondary, but that is no excuse for the decimation of that unit. The running game with Rookie running back Eddie Lacy wasn’t effective in this game, but the Packers did make an effort to be balanced offensively.
There is nothing to say to other than every team in this division is tied atop the division with and 0-1 record. Cleveland has to limit their turnovers going forward, Pittsburgh’s offensive line must do a better job blocking so their offense has a “chance” to get in rhythm, the Bengals have great talent but need to remain composed, and Baltimore as a team needs time to gel.
The New Orleans Saints got their Head Coach back and their First win of the season, it was also against a division rival. The Saints rallied to beat the Atlanta Falcons after a very slow start, Drew Brees and the offense got back on track, but it was Rob Ryan’s defense that left a lasting impression. They got after Matt Ryan and disrupted the timing of the Atlanta offense, Rookie Safety Kenny Vaccaro made the play of the game in the endzone. As time was winding down, the Falcons found themselves on the 3 yard line. Instead of running the ball, they chose to put the ball in the air and Vaccaro got his fingertips on a pass intended for Hall of Fame Tight End Tony Gonzalez, Safety Roman Harper caught the carom and the Saints held on to win….with their Defense!
Carolina’s front seven showed that it isn’t to be taken lightly when healthy, they stymied the Seattle Seahawks for three plus quarters. The issue being that the offense was never able to capitalize on the success their defense was having. Instead, Seattle stuck around long enough to get into the end zone and win the game. In this day and age in the NFL where these “new breed” Quaterbacks are giving defenses fits, it’s ridiculous that the Panthers refuse to take advantage of Cam Newton and tailor the offense around his skills. While it’s only the first game, their offense struggled as they lack the creativity needed to make it work. They aren’t blessed with great receivers, but running the ball without any threat of going downfield in the passing game makes it easier on defenses. The Panthers must tailor the offense to Cam’s skills rather than having Cam “fit” or struggle to fit in their unimaginative offense. Get Cam on the move, move the pocket, go down field, generate “chunk” plays.
Atlanta lost to the Saints as mentioned earlier, the Falcons defense wasn’t bad at all. Their secondary did a fairly good job against the New Orleans offense. The issue with Atlanta in Week 1 was their choice to abandon the run for stretches, they now possess the ability to control the clock with the addition of Steven Jackson. Also, there is no better for a passing game that is out of rhythm than a strong rushing attack. It can get the offense back on track, Atlanta won 13 games last season and made it to the NFC Championship game so there is no reason to think that they won’t bounce back.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers did everything they could possibly do to lose that game against the Jets, after Josh Freeman drove them downfield for what had appeared to be the game winning Field Goal. Instead, the Jets were able to drive down field(thanks in part to an ill-advised personal foul by Lavonte David) and kick the Game winning Field goal. The Buccaneers are a young team and should learn from this experience.
Only one team lost in this Division, the Jacksonville Jaguars got abused by the Kansas City Chiefs as they lost 28-2. They may be in for an extremely long season in Jacksonville, most likely a top 5 pick in next year’s draft. The fact that it’s only Week 1 should be stated, but there is no excuse for putting just two points on the scoreboard.
The Titans beat the Steelers behind a great defensive effort led by Defensive Tackle Jurrell Casey who had Three sacks. Jake Locker, Chris Johnson and company had a productive day on offense but this was all about the Titans defensive effort. They suffocated the Pittsburgh offense from start to finish, outside of a late Touchdown pass by “Big Ben.” The Titans offense has to be excited going forward knowing that their defense is capable of holding teams at bay for them.
The Colts started year two in the Andrew Luck era with an exciting win over the Oakland Raiders, not many expected it to be an exciting game but it surely was. Luck threw two TDs without turning the ball over once, Reggie Wayne (no shock) was one of the main beneficiaries. On the defensive end, free agent acquisition Safety LaRon Landry made his presence felt by tallying 15 Tackles. His Secondary mates Greg Toler and Antoine Bethea also had an interception a piece.
The Houston Texans escaped with a win last night against the San Diego Chargers, their defense really turned up the heat for Philip Rivers and company and rendered them useless. Brian Cushing had an amazing interception, that he returned for a Touchdown to tie the game at 28. The Houston Texans avoided a disappointing start to their season, they deserve all the credit for turning this game around into their favor.
The Philadelphia Eagles finally debuted Chip Kelley’s new high octane offense, it looks eerily similar to Oregon’s high octane offense from Chip’s tenure there. Either way, it was exciting to watch a team run 53 offensive plays in one half! They couldn’t maintain the pace for the entire game as there were several miscues and three and outs, their defensive effort was even more impressive. They transitioned to a 3-4 defense and don’t exactly have the “ideal” pieces for it, that didn’t matter as they looked far more destructive than last year’s unit. Trent Cole looked as if he was born to play Outside Linebacker in a 3-4 defense, Mychal Kendricks was all flying all over the field making plays and their secondary was definitely improved versus last year’s performance. All in all, it was a good debut for the Philadelphia Eagles and their new Head Coach.
Staying on a defensive note, the Dallas Cowboys and new Defensive Coordinator Monte Kiffin debuted their new 4-3 defense. Six turnovers later, it was safe to say that the Cowboys defense is not remotely reminiscent of last year’s group. Taking a page from the Turnover Machine that is the Chicago Bears, Dallas defenders were routinely seen holding ball carriers up so teammates could rip and pry at the football. They seemed much more aggressive on that side of the ball and it ended up winning the game for them. They do have to worry about the health of QB Tony Romo and Wideout Dez Bryant going forward, neither of which they can afford to lose for an extended period of time.
The New York Giants and Washington Redskins got off to poor starts, both will need to rebound as this Division is always hard fought. Neither can afford to go 0-2 and fall into a hole, as the NFC as a Conference as extremely competitive as well. The Redskins were out of sync as an offense, they will get that together. They were one of the best offensive teams in football last year, especially running the football where they finished First. New York must take better care of the ball, they can’t count on their defense the way the Redskins can to keep them in games in spite of an inefficient offense or multiple turnovers. They have big match-ups in the upcoming week as the Giants face the Broncos and the Redskins face the Packers.
The Buffalo Bills and the New England Patriots played an amazing opening game, unfortunately for the Bills, they were unable to hold on and get the “W.” The Patriots did it the “Patriot” way, getting a key stop when needed and getting the ball back into Brady’s hands. Brady led a cool, efficient drive down the field chewing up every available second possible before New England kicked the game winning FG with 5 seconds left. Buffalo shouldn’t hang their heads in the least bit, Rookie QB EJ Manuel played an solid game, very efficient for his first time out. Manuel went 18 of 27 for 150 yards with 2 TDs and no turnovers. Buffalo has plenty to be optimistic about, as for New England…they have to be concerned about the health of Brady’s new favorite target in Danny Amendola. Outside of him, the receiving corps is fairly young with lots of inexperience. Credit to the Patriots for pulling out a win, no matter how late it was in the game, a win is a win. The Patriots remain the class of the division, but they will have their hands filled with this young, talented Buffalo Team later this season.
Geno Smith’s Debut went well, the New York Jets rallied to beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers thanks to a late game penalty committed by Tampa Bay. Nick Folk converted on the long FG and the Jets got their first win of the season. Smith had a decent outing; while there were negatives such as the five sacks and interception, Smith also threw a TD while completing 24 of 38 passes for 256 yards. He did just enough offensively as the Jets got an outstanding effort from their defense, facing on of the leagues top rushers last year in Doug Martin, the Jets surrendered just 65 yards on 24 carries to Martin. The Jets have a tough task coming up as they take on the New England Patriots.
Ryan Tannehill’s new weapon Mike Wallace wasn’t a happy camper per several reports, but the Dolphins took care of business and got their first win of the season. The Dolphin defense was outstanding on their way to forcing three interceptions and accumulating six sacks! Miami’s running game was virtually non-existent, so they had to rely on a strong defensive showing and the arm of their QB. Tannehill completed 24 of 38 passes for 272 yards, threw both one TD and one INT. The big issue being the fact that he was sacked four times, but it’s only the first week and their is time to work on it. Miami is starting their season off 1-0, but if they wish to continue winning their going to eventually need deep threat Mike Wallace and figure out a way to manage his emotions or ego.
The Seattle Seahawks are coming off a successful season, they lost in the Playoffs but they are definitely around to stay. Seattle struggled in their Week 1 Matchup against the Carolina Panthers, but they showed that they were not only resilient, but mature in the way that they rallied to beat the Panthers. Russell Wilson and the offense got off to a slow start, but made plays when they needed it. Wilson led his team to victory by completing 25 of 33 passes for 320 yards and a TD. The Panthers did a great job of stopping Seattle’s power run game, they limited Marshawn Lynch to 43 yards on 17 carries. Seattle has a big play date looming this upcoming Sunday Night versus their Division Rivals, the San Francisco 49ers. It’s the “Game of the Week” and should live up to that billing.
The Arizona Cardinals do not have an issue under center anymore, Carson Palmer threw for 327 yards and two TDs. He did throw an interception in their loss to the Rams, but the Cardinals offense seemed explosive for the first time since Kurt Warner was throwing to Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin. They must strive for more balance going forward on offense, the rushing game only generated 86 yards while averaging just 3.3 yards a carry. Their defense did a pretty good job as well, this should definitely be an improved Arizona team.
St. Louis started this season with off with an exciting win over the Cardinals, staring at a 13 point deficit heading into the fourth quarter and rallying to win. Their defense fueled the rally by shutting down the Cardinals offense, Defensive End Robert Quinn had three sacks and three forced fumbles. He was outstanding in this game, as was Trumaine Johnson picking off a Palmer pass. Sam Bradford started the season off good as well, going 27 of 38 for 299 yards with two TDs and 1 INT. The Rams have to be more productive on offense, but with a defense like that, they’ll have every opportunity to stay in every game they play. They must take better care of the ball moving forward.
The San Francisco 49ers came out on top against a tough opponent in Week 1, the defeated the Green Bay Packers. While they didn’t run the ball nearly as well as most expected, they did put enough points on the board to win the game. The first full season with Colin Kaepernick at QB started off well as the young man passed for 412 yards and three TDs without any interceptions. Anquan Boldin made a statement in his debut with 13 catches for 208 yards and Vernon Davis showed that he has improved chemistry with Kap. The 49ers did struggle to tackle in open field situations and must get that together heading into this weekend’s matchup with the Seattle Seahawks.
Oakland and San Diego had two tough losses, both coming at the end of the game. The Raiders had the chance to win the game, but couldn’t punch it in. While the Chargers were in control of the game, but just couldn’t close the deal. Both teams will be able to learn from their Week 1 experiences, Philip Rivers and Terrelle Pryor must make better decisions with the football to give their teams a better chance of victory.
Denver was amazing on Thursday night, once their offense got rolling it didn’t come off the tracks until the clock hit triple zero. Manning tossed seven TDs and threw for 462 yards in their opening night win against the Baltimore Ravens to the tune of 49 to 27. The Kansas City Chiefs faced the Jaguars in Week 1, it went about as well as most good teams do against very bad teams. The Andy Reid era got off to a bang, they beat Jacksonville 28-2. The Broncos and Chiefs both started their 2013 Campaigns 1-0, which one will be able to continue that streak heading into Week Three?