BOSTON, September 11, 2013 – The NFL is finally back, and it brought the same cast of characters it does every year: the powerhouse super bowl favorites, the teams that everyone knows will finish 8-8, and the teams that lead people to say, “Oh, Alabama could absolutely beat them.”
Unfortunately, the beginning of the NFL is the least significant time of the year; just ask the Cardinals, who started 4-0 last year before winning just one of their last twelve games. The first week is when teams finally need to start trying after a month of preseason games, which for starters is 15 minutes of half-effort and 45 minutes of rest.
So what can fans actually conclude after the first week of the NFL?
Peyton Manning’s shoulder is fine
Remember when the Broncos’ offense was going to suffer due to the lack of arm-strength in Peyton Manning? Tell that to his seven touchdowns in 60 minutes. Denver Bronco Wes Welker looked incredibly similar to New England Patriot Wes Welker, catching nine passes for two touchdowns.
A quick side-note: the Patriots refused to give Wes Welker more than $5million a year for two years, but gave $6million a year for five years to Danny Amendola, who has an injury history, and whose best case scenario is playing like Wes Welker. They are going to regret that.
The passing offense generated 445 yards overall, and that was against a defense that won the super bowl last year. This may be a bit of an overreaction, but 445 passing yards, without any semblance of an established rushing game, against that defense, is an extremely impressive performance.
Now, if only Montee Ball could block.
Marc Trestman is not a total idiot
All of the speculation in Chicago this offseason was whether bringing in a CFL coach (yes, that’s the Canadian Football League) would actually help an offense that’s been suspect since the franchise’s 1919 inception.
Did Trestman’s debut go well? Well, kind of.
The offense looked sluggish and lackadaisical in the first half, scoring seven legitimate points and three miracle points after a booming 58-yard field goal by Robbie Gould. The lone highlight of the first half was tight end Martellus Bennett’s phenomenal touchdown catch. Chicago fans know how important it is to have someone at the position who can catch a little better than Kellen Davis.
In the second half, Jay Cutler finally got to show his clutch genes, and Marc Trestman got to reveal some of his bold play-calling. In the fourth quarter, Trestman’s offense lined up to go for a 4th-and-short in field goal range without even looking over at the sideline, catching the defense off guard and picking up a critical first down on the way to a game-winning score.
Jay Cutler still threw a Jay Cutler interception, Matt Forte had a tough time in rushing for 2.6 yards per carry and the Bears’ offense still threw 24 points onto the scoreboard. That is a good sign for things to come.
Chip Kelly is also not a total idiot
The big question in Philly this offseason was whether the players could keep up with Kelly’s offensive speed requirements and whether the referees would allow the Eagles to play at their desired speed.
The Eagles scored 26 points in the first half, so Chip Kelly’s doing something right.
Questions still remain about the stamina of the players as the games go on, let alone the season. The Eagles were only able to put six points on the board in the second half, and the defense is going to be worn down by the fact that the Eagles offense is going to be on and off the field as quickly as possible.
Also, ask LeSean McCoy how he would feel about 512 touches in a single season. If Chip Kelly uses McCoy the rest of the season like he did in Week 1, that is where LeSean McCoy’s carries will be.
No one can survive 512 touches in a single NFL season. It remains to be seen if Philly can survive Chip Kelly’s 60-minute wind sprints.
San Francisco’s offense is downright frightening
When Michael Crabtree went down with a torn Achilles, the 49ers’ offense was supposed to get worse, as Colin Kaepernick was supposed to have lost his favorite target.
Enter Anquan Boldin. Kaepernick-to-Boldin is downright terrifying, with the receiver piling up over 200 yards in his debut. Kaepernick was not able to shred the Packers with his legs like he did in last year’s playoffs, but that was because he was messing around and throwing for 412 yards. The man is a ridiculous talent.
And do not forget, Kaepernick’s favorite target is coming back at some point this year. If Boldin and Crabtree line up together in the postseason, there might not be any answer to San Francisco’s read option.
The NFC is a lot better than the AFC
The AFC does not have a single division as good as the NFC West or the NFC North. There is not a single walkover team in the entire NFC, although the Cardinals might be pushing it. The AFC, on the other hand, is littered with the Jets, the disappointing Browns, the abysmal Steelers, the perennially underperforming Chargers, and two teams who both really want to be the worst in the league, the Raiders and Jaguars.
Any one of the above teams listed should not be favored against any NFC team on a neutral field. The NFC is going to dominate the inter-conference play this year.
To contact Nick Goralka, see above to send him an e-mail containing a question, comment, or scathing insult. His work appears in Alley-oops for Touchdowns! at the Washington Times Communities online.
This article is the copyrighted property of the writer and Communities @ WashingtonTimes.com. Written permission must be obtained before reprint in online or print media. REPRINTING TWTC CONTENT WITHOUT PERMISSION AND/OR PAYMENT IS THEFT AND PUNISHABLE BY LAW.