NFL Week 1 in Review: Ezekiel Elliot Plays After All, Quarterbacks Hit or Miss

Week 1 of the 2017 NFL regular season is officially in the books and there are a whole lot of takeaways.

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Week 1 of the 2017 NFL season will surely be producing hot takes until fans and analysts are brought back down to earth. You may hear outrageous things such as the New England Patriots won’t repeat this season, Andy Reid is better at time management, and Sam Bradford will lead the Minnesota Vikings to the playoffs.

I’m not saying these predictions won’t become a reality this season, but Week 1 is the Week of Overreactions, so let’s see what happens. Here’s some observations we can definitively proclaim following Week 1:

Andy Dalton’s time as Cincinnati Bengals starting quarterback may be coming to a close:

If Ezekiel Elliot plays all season, the Dallas Cowboys will be a formidable opponent for any team. Just ask the New York Giants who lost to the Cowboys 20-3 on Sunday Night Football:

The Arizona Cardinals were in trouble with running back David Johnson healthy and veteran starting quarterback Carson Palmer spiraling courtesy of Father Time. The Cardinals are in significantly more trouble without Johnson, who is one of the best all-around players in the NFL. Per ESPN, Johnson will miss at least two to three months of action due to a left wrist injury suffered during the Cardinals’ 35-23 loss to the Detroit Lions.

Houston Texans defensive end JJ Watt has raised over $32 MILLION for for Hurricane Harvey relief and continues to represent the very best of athletes in all sports. Give this guy the Walter Payton Man of The Year Award for the next decade.

The Kansas City Chiefs could be a great team this season with or without Eric Berry. Just ask Tom Brady and the New England Patriots.

We wish Berry the best as he recovers from his season-ending ruptured Achilles tendon injury.

The Indianapolis Colts confirm quarterback Andrew Luck will be out Week 2 in Sunday’s game vs. the Arizona Cardinals. The Colts’ options at starting QB at the moment are the dreadful Scott Tolzien (9-18 passing for 128 yards, two interceptions, and four sacks in Week 1 loss vs. Rams) and the highly-regarded but unproven former Patriots backup Jacoby Brissett. Personally, I think the choice is pretty easy to make with Brissett looking good last season and this past preseason. Then again, this is the same Colts team that has surrounded Luck (when healthy) with the least amount of talent a franchise can provide to a very good to great QB. Now if Brissett doesn’t fare any better, the Colts might want to seriously (keyword: seriously) consider signing Colin Kaepernick. I won’t be holding my breath, y’all.

From earlier: Colts trade for QB Jacoby Brissett:

You can take the Chargers out of San Diego and put them in Los Angeles. The problem for Chargers fans is these are still the same old, underachieving Chargers.

The New Orleans Saints need to integrate Hall of Fame running back Adrian Peterson (just six carries for 18 yards) into the offense quickly or release him because their Week 1 29-19 loss to the Minnesota Vikings is not a good start. Not a great Monday for the Saints defense either, who made Vikings quarterback and perennial underachiever Sam Bradford look like Saints QB Drew Brees.

Here are statistical highlights for Week 1 provided by NFL Communications:

  • Atlanta tight end AUSTIN HOOPER had two catches for 128 yards, including an 88-yard touchdown reception in the Falcons’ 23-17 win at Chicago. Hooper’s 88-yard touchdown is the longest TD catch by a tight end in a season opener in NFL history.
  • Los Angeles Rams cornerback TRUMAINE JOHNSON and safety LAMARCUS JOYNER each had an interception-return touchdown and defensive end MORGAN FOX recorded a safety in the team’s 46-9 win over Indianapolis.
  • The RAMS are the first team in NFL history to record two interception-return touchdowns and a safety in a season opener.
  • The Rams’ two interception-return touchdowns are tied for the most ever in a season opener and Los Angeles is the first team to accomplish the feat on Kickoff Weekend since the 2007 Minnesota Vikings (September 9, 2007 vs. Atlanta).
  • The Jacksonville Jaguars, led by defensive ends CALAIS CAMPBELL (four sacks) and DANTE FOWLER, JR. (one sack, 53-yard fumble-return touchdown), defeated Houston 29-7 at NRG Stadium.
  • The JAGUARS, who had 10 sacks and a defensive touchdown in the contest, are the second team in NFL history with at least 10 sacks and a defensive touchdown in a season-opening game. The Los Angeles Raiders recorded 10 sacks and had a 76-yard interception-return touchdown in the team’s 31-0 victory against the New York Jets on September 8, 1985.
  • Detroit quarterback MATTHEW STAFFORD passed for 292 yards with four touchdowns and one interception for a 113.1 passer rating in the Lions’ 35-23 win over Arizona. Stafford, who led the Lions back from a 17-15 fourth-quarter deficit, has 27 game-winning drives in the fourth quarter or overtime since 2011, the most such drives by a quarterback in the NFL over the span.
  • Last year, the Lions won eight games when trailing in the fourth quarter, the most by a team in a single season in NFL history.
  • Cleveland rookie quarterback DESHONE KIZER passed for 222 yards with a touchdown and rushed for a TD against Pittsburgh in his first career start. Kizer’s start marks the 10th consecutive season a rookie quarterback has started on Kickoff Weekend, the longest streak since at least 1950.
  • Pittsburgh rookie linebacker T.J. WATT had two sacks and an interception in the Steelers’ 21-18 win at Cleveland. Watt is the first player to record at least two sacks and an interception in an NFL debut on Kickoff Weekend since sacks became an official statistic in 1982.
  • Oakland kicker GIORGIO TAVECCHIO converted all four of his field-goal attempts in the Raiders’ 26-16 victory at Tennessee. Tavecchio, who connected on two 52-yard field goals in the contest, is the first player in league history to make two field goals of at least 50 yards in his NFL debut. He also joins SEBASTIAN JANIKOWSKI as the only players in team history to convert multiple 50-yard field goals in a single game.

The DALLAS COWBOYS defeated the New York Giants 19-3 on Sunday Night Football and the DENVER BRONCOS beat the Los Angeles Chargers, 24-21 on Monday Night Football. The Cowboys and Broncos both improved to 38-19-1 (.667*) on Kickoff Weekend, tied for the top mark in the NFL. *Note: Ties for both teams occurred prior to 1972 and do not count in winning percentage.

The Broncos have won six consecutive games on Kickoff Weekend, the longest active streak in the NFL.

The GREEN BAY PACKERS defeated the Seattle Seahawks 17-9 on Kickoff Weekend at Lambeau Field. The Packers have won their past five home openers and have an NFL-best 55 wins on Kickoff Weekend.

Denver’s VANCE JOSEPH (24-21 vs. Los Angeles Chargers), Buffalo’s SEAN MC DERMOTT (21-12 vs. New York Jets), and the Los Angeles Rams’ SEAN MC VAY (46-9 vs. Indianapolis) all won in their Kickoff Weekend debuts.

The Rams’ 46 points under McVay marked the third-highest total in a head coach’s debut since 1933, trailing only the debuts of BOB SNYDER with the 1947 Los Angeles Rams (48-7 win at Pittsburgh) and BUD CARSON with the 1989 Cleveland Browns (51-0 win at Pittsburgh).
New England quarterback TOM BRADY passed for 267 yards in the Patriots’ Week 1 loss to the Chiefs. Brady (4,075) joined PEYTON MANNING (4,736) and DREW BREES (4,597) as the third quarterback with at least 4,000 career passing yards in season-opening games.

New Orleans quarterback DREW BREES passed for 291 yards with one touchdown for a 104.7 rating in the Saints’ 29-19 loss at Minnesota on Monday Night Football. Brees, who has 34 career touchdown passes on Kickoff Weekend, tied PEYTON MANNING (34) for the most career touchdown passes in season-opening games.

Cleveland rookie quarterback DESHONE KIZER made his first-career start against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Kickoff Weekend. At least one rookie quarterback has started in Week 1 in 10 consecutive seasons, the longest streak in the NFL since at least 1950.

PROLIFIC PASSERS: Minnesota quarterback SAM BRADFORD completed 27 of 32 passes (84.4 percent) for 346 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions for a 143.0 passer rating in the Vikings’ 29-19 victory over New Orleans on Monday Night Football. Kansas City quarterback ALEX SMITH passed for 368 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions on 28 of 35 passing (80.0 percent) in the Chiefs’ 42-27 win against New England in Foxborough on Thursday night.

Bradford and Smith are the only quarterbacks in NFL history to complete 80 percent of their passes with at least 325 passing yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions in a season-opening game.

Smith, who led the Chiefs to a victory over the Super Bowl LI Champion Patriots, is the first quarterback in league history with at least 350 passing yards, four touchdowns, a completion percentage of 80 or higher and no interceptions against the defending Super Bowl champion.

ROOKIES ROCKET OUT OF GATES: Three rookie running backs – Kansas City’s KAREEM HUNT (148 rushing yards), Minnesota’s DALVIN COOK (127) and Jacksonville’s LEONARD FOURNETTE (100) – each rushed for at least 100 yards in their NFL debuts on Kickoff Weekend. Hunt, Cook and Fournette are the first trio of rookie running backs with at least 100 rushing yards in Week 1 since OTTIS ANDERSON (193 rushing yards), WILLIAM ANDREWS (167) and JERRY ECKWOOD (121) in 1979.

FAST-RISING FALCON: Atlanta wide receiver JULIO JONES had four catches for 66 yards in the Falcons’ 23-17 win at Chicago on Kickoff Weekend. Jones, who has 501 career receptions, reached 500 catches in his 80th career game, tying ANQUAN BOLDIN for the fewest games to reach the milestone in NFL history.

COWBOY CORNERSTONE: Dallas tight end JASON WITTEN had seven catches for 59 yards and a touchdown in the Cowboys’ 19-3 win against the New York Giants on Sunday Night Football. Witten, who has 11,947 career receiving yards in 15 seasons with the Cowboys, passed Pro Football Hall of Famer MICHAEL IRVIN (11,904) for the most career receiving yards in franchise history.

Want more on Week 1 0f the 2017 NFL season? Check out highlights of all the NFL action you may have missed:

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