NFL Week 1 Sunday Surprises
by DS Williamson
The Bucs busted the Saints, the Browns tied the Steelers and the Bills looked even worse than anyone could've imagined.We certainly weren't short of stunning upsets and entertaining games on Sunday. Some of the games went chalk, but do you know what caught my eye? These five NFL Week 1 Sunday Surprises, of course.
TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS +9.5 over NEW ORLEANS SAINTS Nobody saw this coming. Nobody. Tampa headed into the Big Easy a +9.5 dog and there was plenty of action on the home favorites to decimate their division rival. Instead, the Bucs left the Superdome with the biggest of NFL week 1 Sunday Surprises in the bag. The Bucs shocked the Saints with a huge 48-40 upset. Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick completed 21-of-28 passes for 417 yards and 4 TD passes (he also rushed for an additional score). Wide receiver Mike Evans caught all 7 of his targets for 147 yards and a teeder. DeSean Jackson caught all 5 of his targets for 146 yards and 2 touchdowns. Any concerns about the Bucs playing without Jameis Winston, who remains suspended for a few more weeks, have been washed away. This is by no means a death sentence for the Saints, who still racked up 475 yards of offense but it doesn't exactly illicit confidence.
Next Game: Philadelphia -3.0 at Tampa , Cleveland at New Orleans -8.0
CLEVELAND BROWNS +3.5 over PITTSBURGH STEELERS One of the worst outcomes in sport is a draw. It's just so...unsatisfying. Pittsburgh can’t blame the 21-21 tie against Cleveland in NFL Week 1 Sunday Surprises on running back James Conner, who subbed for holdout Le’Veon Bell and played great. He rushed for 135 yards and 2 touchdowns. Save for a lost fumble, Conner did his part. Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger didn’t do his. Big Ben started the season by throwing for 335 yards, a TD, and 3 interceptions. He only completed 56.1% of his passes and lost 2 fumbles. Even Pittsburgh's defense looked ill-prepared. The Browns rushed for 177 yards against Pittsburgh’s defense, and while they looked incompetent as well, Tyrod Taylor and the offense were able to claw their way back to pull even with a supposed Super Bowl contender. Sadly, despite securing a sneaky cover, the Browns still haven't won a game since Week 16 of the 2016 season.
Next Game:KC at Pittsburgh -5.0, Cleveland at New Orleans -8.0
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS -6.5 over HOUSTON TEXANS Most NFL handicappers felt that Houston had a shot to at least cover the spread against the New England Patriots, and bettors followed suite accordingly. Houston came very close, failing by a half-point in a 20-27 loss, but anyone who watched the game will tell you the honest truth. The Texans were getting beat down the whole way.
Houston’s offensive line opened up rushing lanes for Texans’ backs, but they allowed the Pats to hit Watson 12 times. The Patriots forced Watson to both throw an interception and lose a fumble. Watson went 17-of-34 for 176 yards. Versus New England last season, he completed 22-of-33 for 301 yards and 2 TDs. The hype train for the Texans has rightfully slammed on the brakes.
Next Game: New England -2.0 at Jacksonville , Houston at Tennessee
KANSAS CITY CHIEFS +3.5 over L.A. CHARGERS I’m not the only one who thought the Chiefs offense might take a backward step after Andy Reid decided to trade quarterback Alex Smith and go with second year starter Patrick Mahomes. Instead of being a hindrance to the explosive offense we've come to know and love in Kansas City, Mahomes was the engine. The new chief of the Chiefs proved me wrong by completing 15-of-27 for 256 yards and 4 touchdowns in KC’s 38-28 win over the L.A. Chargers. Mahomes didn’t throw an interception, which is the best sign that he can continue to play at this level.
Next Game: KC at Pittsburgh -5.0, LAC -7.0 at Buffalo
BALTIMORE RAVENS -7.5 over BUFFALO BILLS The Ravens dominated the Bills 47-3 in what qualifies for NFL Week 1 Sunday Surprises simply because of the score itself. Although beating Baltimore on the road isn’t easy, Buffalo made the Ravens look like world beaters. Heading into the season, my biggest question about Buffalo was how their offensive line might play without Cordy Glenn and the answer was as obvious as it seemed. Baltimore sacked Buffalo quarterbacks 6 times for 28 yards of loss. After Peterman went 5-of-18 for 24 yards and 2 interceptions, Sean McDermott replaced his starter with rookie Josh Allen, who completed 6-of-15 for 74 yards and didn't look like a better option.
It’s early, but the Bills already have my vote for the worst team in the league. That probably doesn't come as much of a surprise.
Next Game: Baltimore at Cincinnati PK (Thu), LAC -7.0 at Buffalo
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