The NFL is back and after watching Aussie rules footy for the last 7 months it was really nice to see a professional athlete fall down and not get inexplicably tea-bagged by an opponent for 10 seconds. I had some thoughts on the five games I got to watch over the first weekend, but don’t expect Peyton Manning level analysis or anything- I’m mostly just looking for narratives and ways to poke fun at professional athletes whose bank accounts all have a lot more zeros than mine.
Buccaneers def. Cowboys 31-29
He looked incredibly uncomfortable hanging out with Ed Sheeran during the game, but Roger Goodell couldn’t have asked for a better opener than that. High scoring, down to the wire, and Tom Brady leading a game winning drive against the Cowboys in a packed stadium where they fire cannons after a touchdown might be the most American thing ever.
Brady’s now thrown 5 picks in his last 10 quarters played- he’s incredible for 44 but the narrative that he’s just as good as ever is ridiculous. With his stacked receiving corps. though, he only has to look like his old self a couple times a game. Especially if they’re gonna get away with manhandling defenders like Chris Godwin did at the end of this game. And the way all the Bucs talk about Brady they’d do a lot worse for him- he could definitely start a successful cult when he retires in 2047.
Even though this came down to the last second it never really felt like the Cowboys were keeping up. Mike McCarthy has been a head coach for 15 years and I’ve never seen him look comfortable calling an NFL game- that hasn’t changed. Dak Prescott played well, but do you really want him throwing 60 times a game even if he is 100% healthy? And I know the Cowboys gave up on the run early because Tampa’s rush defense is stellar, but I feel like Ezekiel Elliott’s best days are behind us.
- With a name like Ryan Anger, the Cowboys’ punter clearly missed his calling as a character in a Tom Clancy novel.
- Cris Collinsworth said ‘bugaboo’ and ‘bango’ during this broadcast analysis. That’s how you get the big bucks.
- Refs getting caught saying “…let’s just say…” on a hot mic gives me big ACAB energy
- We get it. He’s old.
Steelers def. Bills 23-16
It took Ben Roethlisberger 18 years in the NFL to actually work out in the offseason, and he still looks like the duckling from Tom & Jerry when he runs. But he looks much better than he did in the last few weeks of last season and in that playoff embarrassment against the Browns. The Steelers defense is the story here though, holding the Bills offense everyone compared to Kansas City to just 16 points. Devin Singletary looked legitimately overjoyed when he actually got to carry the ball a bit more in the fourth, but the Steelers didn’t allow Buffalo to get anything going on the ground. I’m gonna take so much pleasure in every mistake Cole Beasley makes for the rest of the season (please get vaccinated), but despite a decent performance from this vaunted receiving corps., Josh Allen wasn’t accurate enough to cash in consistently. He overthrew his target on 2 guaranteed TDs in the first half and that proved to be the difference in a defensively dominated ball game.
- Anyone not named Peyton Manning saying ‘Omaha’ pre-snap sounds as wrong as an acoustic guitar cover of a Three 6 Mafia song.
- Ben Roethlisberger reminded me of Lebron James playing defense the last few years when he blamed Najee Harris for not catching a pass thrown behind his head.
- I swear Cameron Sutton dapped up every Bill that touched the ball- is he tryna get traded?
- It must feel amazing to get paid $80 million guaranteed and then strip sack the MVP favorite in your next game. Good for TJ Watt, the Liam Hemmsworth of the NFL.
Saints def. Packers 38-3
Did Aaron Rodgers throw this game? That’s the simplest explanation for the Packers looking completely inept on offense, and honestly I wouldn’t put it past him.
On the other side, the obvious story is Jameis Winston. Throwing 5 TDs is rightfully the headline, especially playing at ‘home’ in Jacksonville due to Hurricane Ida. But what was more impressive was how he did it. There was a play late in the 1st quarter where he stood in the pocket for like half an hour looking for something downfield before throwing it into a crowd of fans- not defensive backs. Personal growth.
He may also be the rare pro athlete who says they’re in the “best shape of my life” and actually is. He was consistently outrunning defenders and picked up several 1st downs with his legs. If Jameis has wheels, Taysom Hill is even more useless now right?
- It’s so weird that a team from Wisonsin has the crowd advantage at a neutral site game in Florida.
- What’s the over/under on how long Aaron Rodgers will let his hair get?
Rams def. Bears 34-14
This game felt a lot closer than the final score indicated. The Bears actually looked like the better team offensively for most of the 1st 3 quarters outside of a couple big plays by the Rams. But hitting the big plays is in the Rams DNA, and a couple deep balls were all they needed to put an inferior roster in their place.
As far as the QB controversy in Chicago is concerned: Andy Dalton looked ok, but threw a pick in the endzone on their opening drive and Justin Fields rushed for a touchdown to give the team some hope going into the 4th quarter. I feel like that sums up the situation.
- I don’t know who looked worse after that first Rams touchdown: the Bears secondary or Jared Goff?
- No matter what the circumstance is, going for 4th & 15 with Andy Dalton under center is never a good call.
Raiders def. Ravens 33-27 (OT)
I don’t really know what to make of this game. Both teams were pretty sloppy on offense. Derek Carr was doing a lot pre-snap and not much was happening post-snap through most of the game. Darren Waller got 7 targets in the 1st quarter, which is Megatron levels of reliance in the passing game, but eventually they got others involved a little. Meanwhile, the Ravens don’t have anyone catching passes they would even dream of targeting that often. It’s insane the Ravens have never had a Pro-Bowl receiver in their history and it’s hard to blame the lackluster passing game all on Lamar Jackson when that’s true.
Injuries seemed to finally catch up to the Ravens late in the game as the running game stalled just enough for the Raiders to comeback and force overtime, and then the depleted secondary blew a play to give Derek Carr a wide-open touchdown pass. I don’t think either team should feel great about where they are right now after this game.
- There is no way Derek Carr is retiring if the Raiders dump him like he claims.
- I was worried the commentators were going full ‘A-a-ron’ with Ty’Son Williams’ name at first, but then I saw the apostrophe. He looked pretty good out there in his debut off the practice squad.
- The ‘END RACISM’ stamps in the endzones made for a good laugh. I guess I shouldn’t expect much more from a team based in Las Vegas that tweeted “I Can Breathe” after the Derek Chauvin verdict.