We are now officially through the first Sunday of the NFL season, and I sure wasn’t thinking the Washington Football Team would have a better record than the San Francisco 49ers. What should we make of that?
Let me tell you, week one is the time to overreact to everything.
Every team is either undefeated with playoff hopes, or they remain winless with at least a little extra stress heading into week two. So, just like all the new Buccaneers players that followed Tom Brady to Tampa Bay, I figured I’d jump on the bandwagon. Here are a few overreactions, and my thoughts on if these are real, or they’re just week one blips in the radar.
- The Vikings are toast
Look, today’s opener wasn’t a good start to the 2020 campaign. The Minnesota Vikings’ secondary made Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Allen Lazard look like All-Pro receivers as the pair pulled in over 50 yards and a touchdown each. Aaron Rodgers looked untouchable at times, and Green Bay more than doubled Minnesota’s time of possession.
Every Vikings fan reading this is probably going to have nightmares of Aaron Rodgers throwing a slant route to Davante Adams for the next week, but this team is far from done.
I want every one of these Vikings fans to dig deep into their purple and gold stained hearts and ponder this question: Did you really think you were going to win this game?
Against a HOF quarterback? With no Danielle Hunter and extremely limited play from Yannick Ngakoue? With six new defensive starters, and three being extremely young cornerbacks?
Those are a lot of odds stacked against this team to expect a win, no matter who the Packers’ second best receiver is. At the end of the day, sure, this loss is a little uglier than a Minnesotan might have hoped for, but it’s not the end of the world.
Star running back Aaron Jones was mostly held in check besides his one touchdown run. The red zone defense held up besides the one Jones run. There weren’t stupid penalties defensively, besides the line jumping on Rodgers’ snap count, but that happens to every Green Bay opponent, especially in a silent stadium.
Dalvin Cook scored twice, and Kirk Cousins’ only bad throw of the day was his interception. It was a great defensive play by Jaire Alexander, and you have to just move on from it. Which, another positive, Cousins did! He completed 17 of his last 22 passes including two touchdowns.
The Vikings had about as bad a week one as you can imagine, but they got matched up with a team that is proving they belong in the Super Bowl conversation if they continue to play this well. The Vikings are fine, they just aren’t on that level yet. I bet games against a Colts offense that petered out against Jacksonville of all teams, and then Tennessee, who have Ryan Tannehill at quarterback instead of Aaron Rodgers, will get the Vikes back on track.
- Cam Newton is the perfect quarterback for New England
Newton adds an element to the New England offense that we have never seen before. No seriously, according to pro-football-reference.com, there has never been a Patriot quarterback that has rushed for more than 20 yards and two touchdowns in a single game. Newton rushed for 75 yards and two scores in his Patriot debut.
He is certainly a luxury that Bill Belichick has never had either. Defenses have to pay so much attention to him as a potential runner or passer that it helps open up lanes for other backs, as seen in New England’s 217 rushing yards in the season opener.
Newton’s ability to create plays with his legs also keeps plays and drives alive for New England. His skill was put on display during their fourth quarter touchdown drive that inevitably put the game out of reach.
On fourth and one from the Miami 5, up 14-11, Newton took the snap and darted left. He then made his best impersonation of a freight train as he went through a line of Dolphin defenders at the first down marker. He churned his powerful legs for every inch he could get, and by the time the entire Dolphins’ defense could finally bring him down, he had plowed all the way down to the Miami one yard line for four yards. Sony Michel punched in the touchdown on the next play. New England went up 21-11 with under five minutes on the clock. The Pats are still the Pats.
Obviously, New England isn’t going to have the luxury of playing the Dolphins every week (nor will their defense always be able to get three interceptions off subpar throwers like Ryan Fitzpatrick), but Cam Newton brings new life to this offense, specifically in the rushing attack. This will make them difficult to beat every week, so yes, this overreaction is in fact real. Thanks, Chicago, for not signing this man and allowing him to fall into Bill Belichick’s lap.
- San Francisco is having their Super Bowl hangover
So, it’s become a trend over the past few years. Unless you are the Brady/Belichick Patriots, it is difficult for a team to make the Super Bowl after losing the previous year.
The 2014 Broncos lost in the divisional round.
The 2015 Seahawks lost in the divisional round.
The 2016 Panthers went 6-10.
The 2017 Falcons lost in the divisional round and haven’t been to the postseason since.
The 2018 Patriots won the Super Bowl because of course they did.
And in 2019, the Rams went 9-7 and missed the playoffs.
Are the Niners next in this unfortunate list? Last week, I predicted the Saints to be the 2020 NFC champions. As a Saints fan, that probably means I just jinxed my team once again, but that doesn’t matter. What’s done is done.
Listen, no matter if I jinxed my Saints or not, I really don’t think San Francisco will be the team coming out of the NFC. They lost Matt Breida in the offseason, who was important to their running game, and Tevin Coleman looked awful today. Raheem Mostert looks like the only back of that three-headed monster from 2019 that has remained a head of said monster.
They also benefited from a much easier schedule in 2019 than they have in 2020. If you look at San Fran’s schedule from week 6 on, the only game that I know for sure that the 49ers are the better team is against Washington. Although, after today, apparently we aren’t allowed to sleep on them either.
Their division is absolutely brutal as well. Arizona has already proven they can beat this team. The Seahawks will always be in a game because of Russell Wilson, and Seattle has an improved defense. The Rams also looked very much alive in their Sunday Night win against Dallas. There is absolutely a world where this team finishes last in their division, even if it is 8-8.
I’m not going to say that this team will finish last in the division because I don’t trust the Rams, at least not yet. 0 fourth quarter points in a close game still scares me.
However, I will say that if this team makes the playoffs, it will more than likely be as a wild card team. They will follow suit with all the other previously mentioned Super Bowl losers and be out of contention by the end of the divisional round.