There were plenty of intriguing storylines that played out in Week 1. Peyton Manning’s dismantling of the defending champs. Colin Kaepernick’s emergence. The continued vilification of Ndamukong Suh. The complete no-show by the Redskins on Monday Night Football.
But I was drawn to a familiar narrative from last season: rookie quarterbacks.
Given the amazing performances of first-year QBs last season, I’m rather interested to see how the surprisingly solid performances by rookie passers E.J. Manuel and Geno Smith translate in Buffalo and New York, respectively.
Manuel came close to knocking off the Patriots in his inaugural NFL game, throwing for two TDs and racking up a combined 173 yards. Meanwhile, Smith actually won his game (with the aid of some idiocy by the Bucs defense), throwing for 256 yards and rushing for 47 more. Neither stat line was particularly impressive, but they both seemed more capable of running an NFL offense than perhaps we expected before the season began.
It also appears each quarterback has enough help around them to be successful. The Bills have as good a two-headed monster at running back (Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller) as any in the league, and the Jets have what figures to be a top-flight defense. Neither team is necessarily asking their rookie passer to win games by themselves.
I’m not saying the Bills and Jets will challenge the Patriots for the AFC East title, but crazier things have happened. Did anyone think the ‘Skins would win the NFC East last year? Were the Colts looking like an 11-win team in preseason 2012? The Seahawks went from an afterthought in a bad division to chic Super Bowl pick in a matter of months.
Obviously, it’ll be near impossible to live up to the standard set by the triumvirate of Robert Griffin III, Andrew Luck and Russell Wilson last season … and we probably won’t see a draft class come close for another generation or so. But it’ll be interesting to see if Smith and Manuel can continue to play well enough just to keep their teams in contention.
And maybe even shock some people.
But that’s in the future. Let’s talk about the past:
Ravens 27 Broncos 49
Well, I guess that settles it. Peyton Manning’s NFL-record seven TD passes proves he’s 100 percent healthy. Either that or the tales of Baltimore’s defense being younger and faster than it was last year were greatly exaggerated. Side note: What’s with guys dropping the ball before they cross the goal line? How hard is it to carry the ball until you’re completely surrounded by the painted end zone and then celebrate? You’d think Danny Trevathan would have learned from DeSean Jackson’s mistakes a long time ago.
Patriots 23 Bills 21
Give Buffalo credit for just hanging around with a rookie QB and an overrated defense.
Bengals 21 Bears 24
In the offseason, I heard someone say A.J. Green is the best receiver in football. It’s hard to disagree when you can catch nine passes for 145 yards and two touchdowns against Charles Tillman and the Chicago D.
Dolphins 23 Browns 10
In what might be one of the most staggering stats I’ve ever seen in the NFL, Cleveland has started the season at home in 14 of their 15 seasons since returning to the league in 1999. Including Sunday’s result, the Browns are 1-13 in home openers. Cleveland really is a factory of sadness.
Vikings 24 Lions 34
This game came down to the play of the star running backs: Adrian Peterson ran for 82 yards on his two touchdown runs. Otherwise, he tallied 11 yards on 16 carries. Meanwhile, Reggie Bush had 90 rushing yards and 101 receiving yards (including an amazing 77-yard TD catch). Whoever said Bush would be a difference-maker in Detroit this year had to be pretty smart…
Raiders 17 Colts 21
Good news/bad news for Oakland:
Good news: Terrelle Pryor ran for 112 yards and showed he’s an OK passer against a good defense.
Bad news: Pryor is the starting quarterback.
Falcons 17 Saints 23
Make no mistake: This was a statement game for New Orleans. Coach Sean Payton is back from suspension, Drew Brees is still one of the best in the business and the defense is no longer the worst in NFL history.
Oh, and Atlanta? You gotta do better than 17 points against a division rival if you have legitimate Super Bowl aspirations.
Bucs 17 Jets 18
Darrelle Revis’ return to New York was ruined by the following factors:
1. Josh Freeman isn’t as good as his 2010 season led us to believe.
3. The defense Revis left is better than the one he joined.
Titans 16 Steelers 9
I figured Pittsburgh would struggle on the ground this season, but this is ridiculous. Rushing for 2.1 yards per carry? Scoring nine points at home against a mediocre Tennessee squad? Big Ben playing down to Jake Locker’s level? The last time the Steelers dropped a home opener was 2002. Even though they won their division at 10-5-1 that year, this doesn’t bode well for the Steelers.
Seahawks 12 Panthers 7
Even though they pulled out the victory, this ugly affair doesn’t give me any confidence in my Super Bowl pick. Hopefully this result just speaks to how good Carolina is this year.
Chiefs 28 Jaguars 2
Nice debut for Andy Reid. Not so much for Gus Bradley.
Cardinals 24 Rams 27
Somehow it just feels appropriate that Arizona — the team that started last season 4-0 and lost 11 of their last 12 games — blew an 11-point fourth-quarter lead against a division rival.
On the other side of the coin, Sam Bradford desperately needed this come-from- behind win. He needs to prove he’s a franchise QB and today he showed signs.
Packers 28 Niners 34
The real game played out almost exactly the way I thought it would (with the exception of Anquan Boldin being completely unguardable), so my comment here will be based on fantasy football: I will never understand how I ended up with Colin Kaepernick in the fifth round. I don’t think you heard me. I got Colin Kaepernick in the 5th round.
Giants 31 Cowboys 36
Eli Manning seemed to want to match his brother’s TDs with turnovers and suffered his first loss in Dallas in the process. If this is what the NFC East has to offer in 2013, it’s gonna be a long season on the East Coast…
Eagles 33 Redskins 27
Ditto here. RG3 might’ve been all in for Week 1, but perhaps he should’ve aimed for Week 1 … of the preseason. By the time he knocked off the rust, it was way too late.
Texans 31 Chargers 28
Give San Diego credit for giving Houston a scare, but let’s be honest here … the Chargers don’t have much of a chance this season, given that the stench of a Norv Turner Coaching Regime takes about five to 10 years to clear out.