NFL Week One Wrapup: Breaking Chalk

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by Ryan Meehan

When I was a kid, my sister and I loved to draw with street chalk.  It wasn’t until years later I realized that “chalk” is also a sports term used to describe a pick that went precisely as planned.   This week (aside from a few exceptions) someone left the chalk out in the street.  The garbage truck ran over it, as evidenced by some of the predictability-busting results.  So let’s take a look at what happened in week one of the 2014 NFL season, and which games caused you to take out a second mortgage on your house.

Seahawks 36, Packers 16 

I don’t necessarily think that the Packers played a poor game for a majority of this contest.  Rodgers went 23 of 33, not exactly Super Bowl MVP numbers put pretty damn good when you consider what he was facing.  The difference here was the pace at which the teams in the NFC West play.  The teams in the NFC North just can’t play at that pace.  The Packers had one drive late in this game that proved they might be able to do so, but they can’t play at that pace all game long.  This will be a problem for them later on in the season.  Can I change my Super Bowl pick?  Seattle might not lose a game this year…

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Vikings 34, Rams 6     

You know your team’s in bad shape when the lone image to be used as a “highlight” from the day’s matchup on your social networking site was one of your kicker sending one through the uprights for three measly points.  But can we really blame the Rams PR department?  Bradford is out for the year, and not only is Greg Zuerlein the only one who scored on Sunday but he might very well be the team’s best player.  As crazy as it sounds, from a marketing standpoint I almost think it would be better for the Rams if Michael Sam had made the team.

Falcons 37, Saints 34      

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This wasn’t shocking to me, but it does speak volumes about the Saints and their “improved” defense.   New Orleans has Cleveland next week so maybe they’ll rebound well, but it was just a case of who had the ball last in a shootout here.  Also, we need to talk about Matt Ryan for a second:  He threw for 448 yards in this one, and he’s starting to look like the Matt Ryan who we all fell in love with a few years back.  The Falcons’ defensive backs are still suspect, and I think it goes without saying that anybody can win the NFC South this year.  Well, maybe not everybody

Panthers 20, Bucs 14    

This was huge for Carolina because they still got out of a road game with a W and they didn’t have to play their star quarterback.  With all of the Sports Illustrated hype that Tampa received after the writers agreeing that the Bucs would win that division as a three seed (if it sounds that insane reading it, think of how it makes me feel…) you have to admit letting Derek Anderson walk all over them probably didn’t help their case that much.  Where was Lovie Smith and this genius Tampa Two setup that’s supposed to destroy games like the one the Panthers played on Sunday?  The answer is:  It doesn’t matter.  The Bucs won’t be anymore relevant than they were last year.

Eagles 34, Jaguars 17     

The only thing weirder than the Eagles giving up 17 points out of the box during their season opener is have to be Jacksonville cranking out 17 points out of the box on the road the first game of the season.  I could only imagine some of the obscenities that were coming out of Chip Kelly’s mouth when he realized his team was getting housed at home by the league’s resident “Here comes absolutely fucking nobody” franchise.  But can you blame him?  The Cowboys are going to have a terrible defense this year, the Giants are still deciding which way to screw the 2014 season before Coughlin hits the bricks, and the Redskins are going to be down to their second string quarterback as soon as RGIII snaps his plant leg in ballet lessons.  And the Eagles almost missed the opportunity to take advantage of all that stuff right out of the box.  Thankfully they didn’t and still managed to cover the spread in a game where Jacksonville basically couldn’t get anything going as soon as Philly got their collective head out of their ass.  But take note:  This was a close one, and the Eagles WILL need to play better at the beginning of games.

49ers 28, Cowboys 17

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Wake me up if I pass out from laughing.  I don’t know what I was thinking picking Dallas to step up this year, because I think this is really it for their core players.  Their defense is beyond pathetic, and it just seems like no matter what they do they can’t put it together.  On the other end, San Francisco looks great and Vernon Davis had two touchdowns in the first quarter alone.  If a quarter of this nonsense about how Harbaugh is fighting with management is true, the front office needs to get their heads out of their asses because all this guy does is win football games.

Texans 17, Redskins 6     

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You can call this whatever you want to call it, but Washington’s defense is invisible.  Who knows, maybe the Skins will be so bad this year that nobody will press the name change issue any further.  If Native Americans are offended by anything that has to do with the football team that hails from the District of Columbia, it should be the fact that they could find the end zone if the end of the world was coming and the only springboard to get them to the moon was on the goal line.  It’s interesting that two guys who got mad money in the offseason delivered and delivered big:  One was Andy Dalton…and the other was JJ Watt.

Bengals 23, Ravens 16   

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I thought that the Ravens really missed out on a golden opportunity to reclaim this division for their own after following up a Super Bowl victory by missing the playoffs last season.  I was right in the sense that this wasn’t going to be a shootout, but I was wrong because I thought that since the game was in Baltimore maybe we’d see a little bit more fire out of them.  Maybe this division is theirs to lose?  They were down 15-0 at the half, so they are having problems getting things going when it really counts.  It’s a good thing they didn’t have any bad press between the game and the time you’re reading this.  Oh, Wait…

Steelers 30, Browns 27     

Although I had desperately hope that the Browns would win this game, I’m happy as hell the Steelers didn’t cover the seven point spread which was ridiculous in the first place.  If there is one thing you remember about this game, it’ll likely be this kick that Antonio Brown planted on Cleveland’s punter.

Pretty awesome, huh?  I don’t even care if it’s legal, that was hilarious.  As for the rest of the team, they played good enough to win but faced a very poor defense.  Neither of these teams have either the drive or the roster to make the playoffs, so who cares.

Chiefs 26, Titans 10   

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I feel good about myself here, because I was suspect that this would be an upset.  I think that five years from now, people are going to look at this moment as a turning point in the AFC Wild Card picture for the rest of this decade.  Could Kansas City’s 2013-2014 season have been a freak on the control chart?  It’s very possible…this was a home loss in a stadium whose ticket holders actually believe (although they are dead wrong) that the environment they create for home games is every bit as deadly as that of Seattle’s.  And the truth is, unless you’re Javon Belcher that’s just not the case.

Bills 23, Bills 20     

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Before everyone jumps down my throat for jumping down the Bears’ throats for choking this game away, let’s get one thing straight here:  This game was a gift.  This was a Buffalo team that didn’t play well against the New York Giants in the Hall of Fame Game when their first team was on the field, and it should have been a total gift of a home opener for the Bears.  If they think that they are going to just waltz into San Francisco next Sunday Night and beat a team that in any other year could have easily won the Super Bowl, they are in for the very hrash reality that they may be digging themselves out of an 0-2 hole by next Monday morning.  As for Buffalo I’m not exactly ready to polish their crank at the bath house just yet, because they always bite it late in the season and to be honest with you I’m not convinced the Bears don’t totally suck.  I don’t usually recommend hitting the panic button this early in the season but 86 rushing yards isn’t very impressive, and Chicago could be in trouble.  Also 341 yards in the air for Jay Cutler should tell you a little something about his leadership in the red zone if he could only get it to translate to twenty points.  He also threw two picks, so it might be time to break out the nests for the boo birds to roost.  Could be a long year, Bears fan.  Also, Fred Jackson is the oldest running back in the league and he made the Bears look like high school kids trying to tackle him.

Dolphins 33, Patriots 20        

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This isn’t the end of the world for New England:  They’ve lost games early on in previous seasons and been fine because they know that the rest of the division won’t give them a run for their money.  And that very well may be the case again this year, but remember the Dolphins finished .500 last season amongst an unprecedented locker room disaster and they scored 33 points in this game.  The Pats got outscored 23-0 in the second half, which is pretty much the polar opposite from how we’ve come to know Tom Brady over the past decade.  The Dolphins looked really good and New England might have some trouble walking away with the AFC East this year like they’ve been able to do for some time now.

Jets 19, Raiders 14     0000000000000000000000gp

I had this pegged as 20-10 Jets, so I would be proud of such accuracy but who am I kidding – this game doesn’t matter.  I think both of these teams should be forced to listen to the theme song from “Growing Pains” in the locker room before each game until they hit a ten win season.  It’s so hard to pay attention to either of these teams so I’ll just leave it at this:  Oakland had 25 yards on the ground.  My neighbor’s dog rushes for more than that in a thirty minute timespan on Sundays, and his leash might stretch to four feet.  The Jets are good at killing clock when it comes down to it, but they aren’t going to be able to get good teams to fall for that shit.  And if the Dolphins-Pats game was any indication of how the rest of the season may go, there’s four losses right there.  The energy level in this one was lower than Liberace’s leukocyte count in 1985.

Broncos 31, Colts 24      

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This one got out of hand real quick.  But at the same time Denver got outplayed by the Colts in the final 32 minutes, and regardless of how good you might think Peyton Manning is – there’s still some problems with the Broncos.   You can’t count out Luck, but you can outgun him and that’s why Indianapolis is still not a Super Bowl contender.  They allowed Denver to run 40 plays in the first half, and had no answer for the Thomas wideouts.

Lions 35, Giants 14  

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The Giants might be the worst team in the league, and the Lions have nothing to smile about.  Everyone who had anything to do with this contest is an asshole.  Detroit acts like children, celebrating after the most routine tackles.  New York wasn’t even running their routes correctly, and they were God awful.  The point is, nobody learned anything here.  Both of these divisions are going to be terrible, and torturous to watch on television.  I can’t help but wonder if Eli Manning is turning the ball over this much in practice.  The Giants will be lucky if they win five games this season.

Cardinals 18, Chargers 17

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I’m starting to really love me some Arizona.  Carson Palmer is really growing on me, and he made some great throws in this one.  This was every bit as exciting as I hoped it would be, and I had a blast watching the second half of this game.  Really the only thing that I saw that didn’t strike me as sensible is the fact that both of Arizona’s failed two-point conversions were very poorly constructed.  This is surprising because Bruce Arians is an ex-offensive coordinator, and you would think he’d know better.  Nonetheless, the Cardinals came from eleven down and ended up winning a game they lost control of in the third quarter.  San Diego made a lot of mistakes late, and won’t be able to do that against Seattle next week.

Final Note

You’ve probably noticed I didn’t mention Ray Rice.  I will in the preview piece next week, but I will say with 100% confidence that he will never play another down of pro football.  The CFL has already said they don’t want him, and when a league that has the 55 yard line as its midfield isn’t interested in you you’re toast.  A good way to avoid this is simply to not knock your girlfriend unconscious and then lie about it.  More from me on this story as it develops.

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Once again thanks for visiting First Order Historians and enjoying more of the internet’s finest in user generated content.

Meehan

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