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October 23, 2020

The NFL is back: Week One's best and worst performances

By ERIC LYNCH | September 17, 2020

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AlexanderJonesi / CC BY-SA

Bill Belichick didn’t need Tom Brady to coach the Patriots to a dominant week one victory.

The National Football League (NFL) is back in full force and Week One was as exciting as it always is. While we all want to watch some good football, many fans are watching Week One to predict how the rest of the season will go. 

One of the biggest moves made this offseason was Tom Brady’s departure. Brady left his longtime team, the New England Patriots, to join the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Many were unsure how he would look without Bill Belichick’s system. 

It suffices to say that he didn’t look like his usual self. Many have already been comparing him to his Tampa Bay predecessor, quarterback Jameis Winston. Like Winston, Brady had as many interceptions as he had touchdowns. One of his interceptions was a pick-six, facilitating the New Orleans Saints’ victory. It’s normal for a quarterback to struggle with a new system, but with the six-time champion hitting 43 years old, many fans are sensing that this is the beginning of the end.

Cam Newton has taken Brady’s place as the Patriots’ new quarterback. Newton has been receiving lots of criticism since he suffered a major injury in the 2017 season. But this Sunday, Newton looked incredible. He got two rushing touchdowns and had no turnovers. The team easily beat the Miami Dolphins to start off the season. While Belichick’s system certainly helps, Newton still looked like a top-tier quarterback on the individual level. 

Another team that received a lot of attention was the defending Super Bowl champions, the Kansas City Chiefs. The team still looks incredible and are probably favorites to win again this year. Patrick Mahomes and company looked as good as they did last year, but the exciting news to come from Week One was rookie running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire. 

Edwards-Helaire was the only running back taken in the first round of the 2020 draft and it’s clear that he was a worthwhile pick. He got 25 carries for a total of 138 yards and one touchdown. After winning a Super Bowl and continuing to improve tactics, the Kansas City Chiefs will be a fun team to watch this year. 

The Baltimore Ravens faced off against the lowly Cleveland Browns in Week One. It’s hard to draw many conclusions from such a one-sided game, but it was good to see the team playing well. MVP Lamar Jackson had over 300 total yards with three passing touchdowns to lead the Ravens to a 38-6 victory. 

While the receivers looked good, the rushing game was weaker. Mark Ingram only had 29 rushing yards while rookie running back J.K. Dobbins had 22. But, Dobbins did get two rushing touchdowns, so I wouldn’t say this is really an area for concern. Look for the Ravens to once again be contending for a Super Bowl victory. 

As for my hometown team, the New York Jets, Week One looked predictably awful. They allowed Josh Allen to throw for 312 yards and get two touchdowns, losing 27-17. Every year, the Jets promise their fans something new and exciting, and every year they quickly let us down. Some of us had hoped that the Patriots would finally lose their grip on the division, but it seems even that hope is gone too.

Another team that usually disappoints its fans is the Jacksonville Jaguars. Gardner Minshew received a lot of hype last year after a few breakout performances, and the Jaguars decided to stick with him as their main quarterback. In his Week One matchup against the Indianapolis Colts, Minshew completed 19/20 passes for three touchdowns. While a win against the Colts isn’t much to celebrate, things are looking good for Jaguars fans. 

The last team I want to highlight is the Washington Football Team. I was unsure how players would perform playing for a team with such a name, but it turns out that it may have actually motivated them. Washington beat the highly anticipated Philadelphia Eagles 27-17 by outscoring them 20-0 in the second half. Washington’s defense secured eight sacks and two interceptions in the game, making up for the offense’s rather average performance.

Overall, this season looks like it will be a good one. The top teams look fun and there are already some dark horses in the making. The NFL is back, and let’s all hope that it’s here to stay. 

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