Finally. NFL football is here. The real games. Do we really need four exhibition games? The college game does not need any. But that is another topic.
Week one of the NFL has come and gone and here are a few items of interest that I learned over the weekend.
I learned that the Carolina Panthers might be all right in 2018.
The Panthers jumped out to a 1-0 start after handing the Dallas Cowboys a 16-8 defeat. The Panthers’ defense was the story of the game. Ezekiel Elliott was held to 69 rushing yards and quarterback Dak Prescott threw for just 170 yards. Prescott had the ball late with a chance to tie the game, but Carolina forced him to fumble away a potential comeback.
Offensively, the Panthers relied heavily on its ground game. Christian McCaffrey and C.J. Anderson can be a productive backfield. The duo combined with Cam Newton to lead a rushing attack that generated 150 yards and two touchdowns.
I learned that the New Orleans Saints’ claim that they have a better than average defense is fake news. Drew Brees threw for 439 yards and three touchdowns, Alvin Kamara ran for two more scores, and the Saints still managed to lose at home. Tampa Bay and backup quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick outscored the Saints, 48-40. Fitzpatrick, a 14th-year journeyman from Harvard, finished the game with 417 passing yards, throwing for four touchdowns and running in another.
I learned that Aaron Rodgers can lead comebacks with only one leg. I have seen him do it over and over again with two healthy legs. But he went one step farther this time. The victims were the Chicago Bears. Rodgers played through a serious knee injury and he and the Green Bay Packers overcame a 17 point fourth quarter deficit to shock the Bears.
I learned that the Cleveland Browns will not go 0-16 this season. The Browns played the visiting Pittsburgh Steelers to a 21-21 tie.
Speaking of the Steelers, I learned that they may not miss star running back Le’Veon Bell. The holdout still has not reported to the team. His replacement, James Conner, ran for just under 200 yards. Bell cost himself around $900,000 for not playing on Sunday. I wonder how long his holdout will continue?
Several quarterbacks switched teams during the off season. Most of them are happy after Week One. Follow this chain of events. Kirk Cousins (formerly of Washington now with Minnesota) beat San Francisco; Case Keenum (formerly of Minnesota now with Denver) beat Seattle; Alex Smith (formerly of Kansas City now with Washington) beat Arizona; and Patrick Mahomes (took over for Smith in Kansas City) beat the Los Angeles Chargers.