Sam’s Section: Recapping Week 1 of the NFL season

Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce (87) points prior to an NFL preseason football game against the Arizona Cardinals, Saturday, Aug. 19, 2023, in Glendale, Ariz. Photo by Rick Scuteri/AP Photo.

Week 1 of the NFL season has wrapped up, and there are a lot of stories that resulted after just the first week. Whether it was a season-ending injury to a future Hall of Famer or not scoring a single point on Sunday night football, here are some of the takeaways I have as we recap the first week. 

The Chiefs will go as far as long as Travis Kelce is healthy. 

Travis Kelce is one of the greatest tight ends of all time. However, he was not on the field for the Chiefs’ home opener, which celebrated the team’s second Super Bowl win in the Patrick Mahomes era. Kelce hyperextended his knee in practice the week before the regular season began. Mahomes struggled without his trusty tight end, passing for 226 yards, two touchdowns, and an interception returned for a touchdown. Kansas City did not even score a touchdown in the second half, both coming in the second quarter. The All-Pro tight end had 110 receptions for 1338 yards and 12 touchdowns last season. The Chiefs are optimistic that he will be back for Week 2’s game against the Jaguars, but if he misses more time, you could see the Chiefs needing help for a playoff spot at the end of the season. 

The 49ers are the best team in the NFC and might be the best team in the NFL. 

The 49ers were dominant in the team’s season-opener against the Steelers, a team that improved its defense with the new addition of defensive back Patrick Peterson. However, Pittsburgh’s defense did not look like it improved, as they allowed two touchdowns from wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk and a 65-yard touchdown run by running back Christian McCaffrey. The trio of quarterback Brock Purdy, McCaffrey and Aiyuk is one of the best in the league. Purdy has emerged as the franchise quarterback in San Francisco, leading the team to the NFC Championship last season. The defense was strong, only allowing one touchdown and forcing two turnovers. With wide receiver Deebo Samuel and tight end George Kittle, both some of the best at their respective positions, the 49ers are lethal on both offense and defense. They will have another road test on Sunday as they face Matthew Stafford and the Rams. 

The Packers still own the Bears, even without Aaron Rodgers. 

A new era has begun in Green Bay, with Jordan Love becoming the new starting quarterback for the Packers. In his first game as the QB1, he passed for 245 yards and three touchdowns, two of which went to wide receiver Romeo Doubs. Despite only completing about 55% of his passes, Love looked comfortable despite all the pressure and shoes he had to fill. Running back Aaron Jones had a strong game, scoring a rushing and receiving touchdown in the third quarter. The Packers knew the game was theirs once Quay Walker picked Justin Fields off for a 37-yard pick-six. Fields was not impressive, only passing for 216 yards and a touchdown in addition to the interception. The two rivals will face off at the end of the season at Lambeau Field for the rematch. 

Las Vegas Raiders cornerback Azizi Hearn loses his helmet as he tackles San Francisco 49ers running back Jordan Mason, left, during the second half of an NFL preseason football game, Sunday, Aug. 13, 2023, in Las Vegas. Photo by John Locher/AP Photo.

Bill O’Brien was exactly the type of change Mac Jones needed to succeed. 

Mac Jones and the Patriots’ offense struggled last season with Matt Patricia as the de facto offensive coordinator. Bill O’Brien is now the offensive coordinator, having spent time in New England in that role during part of the Tom Brady era.Jones regressed last year in his second year in the league, completing 65.2% of his passes for 2997 yards, 14 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. In Week 1, he passed for 316 yards, completing 35 of his 54 attempts, three touchdowns and one interception. He looked more poised in the pocket, getting rid of the ball consistently under 2.5 seconds. Seeing O’Brien’s offense has been a breath of fresh air, as it was hard to watch last season. They still have room for improvement, including decision-making on big plays and the offensive line, but I think this will be a big year for Jones under the new offense. 

Despite a massive win in overtime, the Jets are no longer contenders. 

There was a lot of hype coming into this season for the Jets as they acquired legendary quarterback Aaron Rodgers from the Packers. However, the four-time MVP was only on the field for four snaps, as he completely tore his Achilles tendon, ending his season and possibly his career. He did not even complete a pass, and former No. 2 overall pick Zach Wilson had to take over for the remainder of the game and will likely be the starting quarterback for the rest of the season. Wilson hadn’t been impressive in the NFL before Monday night and did not impress during Week 1’s game against the Bills, passing for 140 yards, a touchdown and an interception. Josh Allen performed abysmally, with three passes intercepted and only passing for one touchdown. With a lackluster performance from Buffalo’s offense, many would think that the Jets would have taken care of business in regulation. However, Xavier Gipson returned a punt for 65 yards to win the game in overtime. The Jets have a talented roster, but losing Rodgers puts them out of contention. I am certain that Rodgers would have taken advantage of the Bills’ mistakes on offense. 

The Titans can’t start Ryan Tannehill. 

The Titans did not score a touchdown in the season-opener against the Saints, relying on the leg of Nick Folk, who drilled five field goals in the 16-15 loss. Ryan Tannehill did not complete over 50% of his passes, passed for less than 200 yards, and threw three interceptions. The offense looks strong on paper, with running back Derrick Henry and wide receivers DeAndre Hopkins and Treylon Burks. I am surprised the team did not go with Malik Willis as the starting quarterback as they continue to prepare Will Levis for his inevitable NFL debut. Tennessee’s defense only held New Orleans to one touchdown, but turning the ball over three times will not secure Tannehill’s job as the starting quarterback. 

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