NFL Week 1 takeaways: DeAndre Hopkins steps up
It was an exciting opening week to the NFL season, as seven games were decided by a touchdown or less.
Kansas City, Baltimore, Buffalo, Pittsburgh, and New England all took care of business with comfortable wins, but Super Bowl runner-up San Francisco was upset by Arizona at home as a 7.5-point favorite.
Here are my three takeaways from Week 1.
DeAndre Hopkins and Davante Adams are still big-time receivers
Hopkins caught a career-high 14 passes for 151 yards and showed what a monumental mistake Houston made by trading him. He was instrumental in Arizona’s game-winning drive against San Francisco, and his presence takes the up-and-coming Cardinals offense to a new level.
Hopkins is great, and the NFC West rates as the NFL’s toughest division.
Adams torched Minnesota’s young, revamped secondary with a career-high 14 catches (156 receiving yards and two touchdowns). The elite receiver has developed a bond with quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who looked sharp.
Rodgers completed 32 of his 44 passes for 364 yards, and Green Bay’s offense should be more potent than last year.
Quarterback woes across the league
Up 17-0, Carson Wentz let Washington back into the game with a pair of interceptions, and he surrendered a costly fumble in the second half. The Eagles offensive line is banged up, but Wentz really struggled after some early success. His confidence level appeared shot after halftime, when he held the ball too long (eight sacks), and serious doubts are starting to surround Philadelphia.
Dak Prescott needs to make more plays late in close games, as Dallas has fallen to 1-7 in its last eight games decided by one score, and lead more scoring drives.
The Cowboys' opener played out similar to last year, with the offense picking up first downs before stalling drive after drive. After scoring 15 points or fewer in three games down the stretch last season, Dallas put up only 17 against Los Angeles. Given their offensive weapons, and a less-than-stellar defense, the Cowboys' point production must increase significantly, or it is going to be another disappointing season.
Baker Mayfield’s fortunes have declined precipitously over the last 12 months. Baltimore’s defense is good, but Cleveland’s quarterback threw an interception on the opening drive (21 interceptions last year), and his miscues continued throughout the game. He wound up with a 53.8% completion rate.
This is an important third season for the first pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, and Mayfield performed poorly.
Philip Rivers received little help from his defense and lost top running Marlon Mack to injury, but his late interception sealed the win for Jacksonville, which converted a pair of interceptions into 10 points in a 27-20 win over the Colts. Ball security is a legitimate concern with Rivers, who had 20 interceptions last year.
Tom Brady had a pair of major miscues, including an interception returned for a touchdown. It marked the third straight game Brady has thrown a "pick six," and his turnovers led to 10 points for New Orleans.
Brady still made plays in his first start for Tampa Bay, but he needs to clean up the turnovers.
Plenty of bright spots
Seattle’s offense looked different with Russell Wilson the complete focus, and he delivered a phenomenal performance to outshine a dynamic Atlanta offense (506 total yards).
Wilson completed 31 of his 35 passes, and he had as many touchdowns as he did incompletions (four). Seattle is a legitimate Super Bowl contender with Wilson playing at such a high level, and the defense got a boost from new safety Jamal Adams (12 tackles and a sack).
Jaire Alexander emerged as a shutdown cornerback for Green Bay last season, and he was all over the field harassing Minnesota in Week 1. His sack/safety of Kirk Cousins changing the momentum of the first half. Alexander also recorded an interception to become only the fifth player in NFL history to achieve a sack, interception, and safety in one game.
James Robinson established a new rushing record for an undrafted rookie running back in his debut, when he accumulated 62 yards in Jacksonville’s upset of Indianapolis. Robinson played at Illinois State, where he posted 4,444 rushing yards, and he provided a boost after Jacksonville recently waived Leonard Fournette.