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NFL Week 1 Recap: Five Overreactions

Week 1 of the 2023 NFL season is in the books. So it’s a perfect time to draw broad conclusions about how things will play out based on each team playing 5.8% of its schedule.

16 teams are on pace to finish 17-0 while another 16 face the ignominy of becoming the first 0-17 teams in NFL history. Hey, if we’re going to overreact, let’s do it with some gusto.

But what are the top five overreactions to Week 1? Read on to find out.

5. The Cincinnati Bengals grossly overpaid Joe Burrow

Fresh off becoming the highest-paid player in the NFL after signing a five-year, $275 million contract last week, Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow turned in the worst performance of his career in a humiliating 26-3 loss to the Cleveland Browns on Sunday.

Burrow was just 14-for-31 passing for 82 yards, was sacked twice and averaged a miserable 2.6 yards per attempt. Cincinnati mustered just 142 total yards and punted on 10 of their 14 possessions. Touchdowns? Heck, the Bengals didn’t even get into the red zone on Sunday.

Mike Brown made a huge mistake committing to Burrow, as Cincinnati is now just 24-18-1 in his 43 career starts.

Reality: Burrow missed most of training camp with a calf injury and opening day is a notoriously bad time to try to knock off rust. With more than 9,000 passing yards, 69 touchdowns and a 69.3% completion rate over the last two seasons, it’s fairly safe to assume Burrow will be just fine.

4. The Kansas City Chiefs are in big trouble

The defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs lost their opener at home on Thursday night, falling to the Detroit Lions 21-20. The offense is in tatters, with five dropped passes in the loss, three by Kadarius Toney.

Patrick Mahomes was a pedestrian 21-of-39 for 226 yards, just a 53.8% completion rate and 5.8 yards per attempt. Mahomes also threw a game-tying pick-six in the third quarter. The defense only got one sack on Detroit’s Jared Goff. It was hardly a performance worthy of a Super Bowl champion.

Reality: The Chiefs didn’t have defensive anchor Chris Jones (holdout) or passing-game security blanket Travis Kelce (knee). As for the Super Bowl thing? Of the previous 57 Super Bowl champions, 10 opened their championship seasons with a loss and three (1993 Dallas Cowboys, 2001 New England Patriots and 2007 New York Giants) started 0-2. The 1980 Oakland Raiders opened 1-4. All is not lost after 60 minutes of a 17-game season.

3. Defenses have caught up with offenses

Teams averaged just 19.3 points in Week 1, down from 21.9 in 2022. That means defenses adapted to the latest offensive trends and can shut them down. No more wild shootouts; instead games will be the old three-yards-and-a-cloud-of-dust slugfests for which many older fans clamor.

After years of rule changes all designed to make scoring easier, defensive masterminds figured it all out and taught their players to stop everything. The NFL may be in danger of having its first 0-0 tie since the New York Giants and Detroit Lions on Nov. 7, 1943.

Reality: With injury prevention superseding preparation more than ever during training camp and the preseason, offenses are naturally lagging behind defenses to open the season. Defense is a read-and-react business while offenses rely on precision timing and execution. In other words, offenses will get their collective feces together in time.

2. How ’bout them Cowboys?

The Dallas Cowboys are back (and this time we mean it)! After a 40-0 demolition of the New York Giants in prime time on Sunday night, Dallas is on pace to outscore its opponents 680-0 to become the best team in NFL history.

The Cowboys haven’t been to a Super Bowl since 1995. But after decades of telling us they’re back, this time it’s definitely legitimate. Dallas dominated both sides of the ball against the Giants, who reached the divisional round last season.

The defense sacked Daniel Jones seven times, forced three turnovers and scored once. The special teams also added a touchdown.

Reality: The Cowboys’ defense suffocated Big Blue, whose offensive line looked overmatched. But there’s a lot of football left before February and Dallas not only hasn’t reached the Super Bowl in 38 years, it hasn’t gotten to an NFC Championship game in that span, either.

1. J-E-T-S! Done! Done! Done!

The Aaron Rodgers Show lasted just four snaps on Monday night before the four-time NFL MVP went down with an apparent Achilles’ tendon injury while being sacked by Buffalo’s Leonard Floyd. The New York Jets went on to get a 22-16 overtime win on Monday night at MetLife Stadium.

Rodgers will undergo an MRI on Tuesday to determine the extent of the injury, but coach Robert Saleh wasn’t optimistic after Monday’s game. The Jets acquired Rodgers in the offseason, giving the franchise its first superstar quarterback since Joe Namath, who led the franchise to its lone Super Bowl win after the 1968 season.

Gang Green hasn’t made the playoffs since its back-to-back AFC Championship losses in 2009 and 2010 but Rodgers was going to change all that.

Instead it’s back to Zach Wilson, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2021 draft who has thrown more interceptions (19) than touchdowns (16) in 23 NFL games, including Monday night. Jets fans can’t seem to catch a break.

Reality: This one might be just as bad as it seems. Wilson was 14-of-21 for 140 yards in relief of Rodgers, throwing a pick and a touchdown pass. But New York rallied from a 13-3 halftime deficit to lead 16-13 with 1:48 remaining in regulation. The defense registered five sacks and forced Josh Allen into four turnovers (three interceptions and a fumble).

Quarterback play is vital in today’s NFL. The dropoff from Rodgers to Wilson is probably enough to make a long playoff run unlikely for the Jets.

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