NFL’s Centennial Season Kicks Off

The NFL's opening week was certainly one to remember.

Max Dolinh, Staff Writer

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   Football is back! This past week, the NFL finally kicked off its 100th season after one of the most eventful offseasons in recent memory. The week had everything a football fan could ask for: breakout performances, surprising upsets, and amazing comebacks. While the first week of games is not a great indicator of how the season will pan out, it can still give insight to some storylines that might develop. With week one in the books, here are some of the biggest stories and takeaways from the first 16 games:

 

Lamar Jackson Silences Critics in Blowout Win

   Arguably the best performance from any player in week one was on behalf of Baltimore Ravens’ QB Lamar Jackson. The former Heisman winner took the reins from Joe Flacco last season and set the quarterback record for rushing attempts in a season despite only starting seven games(in which he went 6-1). Going into the season, critics expressed doubts about Jackson’s ability to be a franchise QB due to his reliance on his legs during his rookie campaign. Needless to say, his performance on Sunday definitely solidified himself as a capable thrower. Jackson finished 17-20 for 384 passing yards, 5 passing TDs, and a perfect passer rating en route to a 59-10 domination of the Miami Dolphins. Along with that, he only had three rushing attempts and amassed just six yards on the ground. On the other hand, the Dolphins look like a legitimate 0-16 contender. After trading away franchise left tackle Laremy Tunsil and receiver Kenny Stills to the Texans for a huge package of picks, the Dolphins have very few bright spots on their talent-depleted team. After the embarrassing loss, reports emerged of multiple Dolphins players asking to be traded away. On his sensational performance, Jackson said after the game, ”Not bad for a running back.” More great performances came from free-agent acquisition Mark Ingram and speedy rookie wideout Marquise “Hollywood” Brown, who connected with Jackson on two long TDs in the first quarter. Lamar Jackson and the Ravens look poised to set the league on fire in 2019.

 

The Patriots are Still the Team to Beat

   Coming off their sixth Superbowl win in February, the expectations for the Patriots this season are high as usual. Tom Brady, now 42 years old, is still at the helm and looking for another ring. On Sunday Night Football, they faced off against the Steelers in what was perceived to be a competitive matchup. Instead, the Pats dominated the visiting Steelers in a 33-3 win. The Steelers appeared flustered all game against the stagnant Pats’ defense while Tom Brady showed no signs of falling off, finishing with 341 passing yards, 3 TDs, and no interceptions. The Steelers will need to find a way to get their offense going if they want to compete in an AFC North division that is up for grabs. As if the Patriots couldn’t get any better, superstar receiver Antonio Brown is expected to suit up for them next week after his infamous fallout with the Raiders over the summer.

 

Star-Studded Browns get a Wakeup Call

   With their moves over the offseason and performance last year, the stage was set for the Browns to finally break out after countless losing seasons. They finally found their offensive cornerstones with QB in #1 pick Baker Mayfield and running back Nick Chubb, who both had great rookie seasons. The defense also looked to be coming together, headlined by star pass rusher Myles Garrett and sophomore cornerback Denzel Ward. But perhaps their biggest offseason move was acquiring WR Odell Beckham Jr. from the Giants. OBJ gave Mayfield a top 5 receiver to add to his arsenal of offensive weapons. However, in their week one bout against the Titans, all the star power on the Browns could not come together. Even with home-field advantage, they were defeated convincingly 43-13. The game was close going into the fourth quarter, with the Titans only leading 22-13, but the Browns went on to allow 21 unanswered points. Mayfield finished with only one touchdown and three picks, including a pick-six to Malcolm Butler. Veteran pass rusher Cameron Wake registered 2.5 sacks for the Titans in their defensively dominant performance. The Browns may be one of the best teams in the league on paper, but that will not matter if new head coach Freddie Kitchens cannot find a way to put it all together this year.

 

Minshew II Impresses after Foles goes Down

   Over the offseason, the Jaguars let go of Blake Bortles and signed former Superbowl MVP Nick Foles to be their new starting QB. Many Jags fans hoped that they had finally found their franchise QB after Bortles failed to pan out. The hype was building up to see Foles in action against a poor pass defense in the Chiefs. Unfortunately for the Jaguars, Foles went down with a broken clavicle after being hit on a touchdown pass to D.J Chark. As a result, 6th round rookie QB Gardner Minshew II was put into the game with relatively low expectations. Minshew played surprisingly well, putting up a 22-25 line with for 275 yds, two TDs, and one interception. However, the Jacksonville defense could not hold up against Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs and the Jags fell 40-26. The Chiefs also lost a key player to injury as Tyreek Hill went down and will likely be out for 4-6 weeks. If Minshew can keep his good performance up, the Jaguars can still be competitive this season and he might just keep the starting job when Foles returns from IR.

   

   Other big takeaways from week one include the early impact of rookie pass-catchers T.J Hockenson and Terry McLaurin, Dak Prescott’s “perfect” performance against the rival Giants, and the Saints and Texans putting up a game for the ages on Monday Night Football, just to name a few. The NFL spoiled its fans with many great games on its kickoff week, which is hopefully a sign for things to come.

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