Category Archives: Week 1, 2016 Season

Week 1 of the 2016 season.

Week 1: Cleveland Browns vs. Philadelphia Eagles Recap

Final: Philadelphia 29, Cleveland 10

All eyes were on rookie quarterback Carson Wentz in this contest as he became the first rookie quarterback to start Week 1 for the Eagles since 1939.  Obviously the rook is going to be the focal point in this game, so let’s break down his play a bit later.  First, we’ll have a look at some other standout players and noteworthy plays.

Robert Griffin III finished 12/26 for 190 yards with no touchdowns and a pick on Sunday afternoon.
Robert Griffin III finished 12/26 for 190 yards with no touchdowns and a pick on Sunday afternoon.

For Cleveland, the game plan was to get the ball out of Robert Griffin III’s hand quickly to avoid pressure.  The plan worked well early on, however in the first quarter he took too many quick passes and was unable to make any yardage with them.  As the game wore on, he began taking deep shots down the field, connecting on a couple of them despite being underthrown.  The Eagles struggled to pressure the Baylor product early, but were able to completely stuff the run in the beginning.

Defensively for the Browns, they were picked apart and the cornerbacks were exposed a bit.  With that being said, there were many times where the defensive backs didn’t have bad coverage, but a perfect throw beat them.  Cleveland’s front seven did a great job stopping the run, outside of a couple of carries where Philly’s Kenjon Barner was able to break free along the edges.  Ryan Mathews was held to under four yards per carry and had a long of only seven on the day.  The player that shined the most for the Browns defensively was linebacker Christian Kirksey.  His statline may not show this but the young stud out of Iowa was flying around the field Sunday afternoon.

Connor Barwin in action on 9/11/16.
Connor Barwin in action on 9/11/16.

The Eagles finished the game with impressive stats on defense, but one thing to keep in mind is that Cleveland’s offense was only on the field for just over twenty minutes in this game.  Philly actually struggled to get pressure on the Brown’s quarterback early, but after they got a big lead, they were able to pin their ears back and go all in on pass defense.  After doing that they were able to force three sacks.  The Eagles did show weakness in the middle of the field and also had trouble locating the balls that were dropping down from the skies on the deep tosses from RGIII.  Rodney McLeod showed a lot of great range and hard hitting ability as he was the star for the birds’ defense.  He was also able to corral an interception off of a deflected pass.

On offense, the offensive line of Philadelphia was solid, but not spectacular.  They did just enough to slow the Cleveland pass rush so as not to harass the rookie Wentz too badly.  The Eagles suffered from three dropped passes, which was a headache for them last year.  However, Zach Ertz did not contribute to that blemish.  He made a jaw dropping one handed catch on the opening drive and converted a key fourth down in the third quarter in tight coverage.  He finished with six catches for 58 yards.  Nelson Agholor looked improved over a year ago.  He is becoming a more polished route runner.  Jordan Matthews is clearly Wentz’s go to receiver as he hauled in seven passes for 114 yards and a touchdown.  He did drop a couple of catchable balls in this game, however.

Carson Wentz communicates to his team at the line of scrimmage.
Carson Wentz communicates to his team at the line of scrimmage.

After seeing one game out of Carson Wentz, it is safe to say that the Eagles have plenty to be excited about.  The North Dakota State standout showed plenty of zip on the ball, and the ability to make quick decisions.  One of the knocks on him in college and in the preseason was his ability (or lack thereof) to throw the ball under pressure.  He did a fine job in this game with that.  He opted to stay in the pocket, but did not have to move all that much as he was getting the ball out very quickly.  This did result in a couple of tipped passes at the line of scrimmage, but luckily those did not cost hims.  He made a couple of nice pre-reads at the line as well which was very encouraging to see for Eagle fans.  He threw for 278 yards and two beautiful lob touchdowns to Matthews and Agholor in the first and third quarter respectively.  Accuracy was there, as was the decision making.  It will be interesting to see how he performs if his receivers cannot get open as easily as they did in this contest.

Cleveland has a lot to work on before they can become a relevant team.  They will absolutely need to find a running game to help the offense out.  Corey Coleman, who should be a good one, dropped an easy pass in this game but also came back and made a beautiful leaping grab of a pass in the early stages of the third quarter.  That said, he and the rest of the team will need to be more consistent if they hope to win any games this season.  For Philly, one game is in the books and there has to be a slight feeling of euphoria among the team and fan base because of their budding rookie.  However, not every game will turn out this successful.  It will be interesting to see how Carson Wentz responds to adversity as he develops in his first season as a pro.

Cleveland rookie WR Corey Coleman makes an amazing catch in Sunday's game.
WR Terrelle Pryor makes an amazing catch in Sunday’s game.

The Skinny:

  • Carson Wentz looked great in this game making plenty of timely and accurate throws.  He did suffer a couple of batted passes, but was able to make some perfect passes to defeat decent coverage.
  • The Browns’ offense was hit or miss on the day.  They had a couple of big offensive plays, but they had trouble putting drives together without them.
  • The Eagles did struggle to get pressure on Cleveland with just their front four early on.
  • Each team struggled in certain areas on defense.  The Browns were torched on the outside of the numbers whereas the Eagles did not look great on the inside.
  • The  Philly offense resembled that of what it did over the last few seasons with Chip Kelly except it was much more deliberate and the backs were more patient and able to seek out the running lanes.  The Eagles possessed the ball for 39:20, which was more than they had in any game under Kelly.
  • Wentz becomes the first Eagles quarterback to throw two touchdowns in his debut since 1960.
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2016 Season: Week 1 Preview

It is finally here!  Week 1 of the 2016 NFL Season.  We have been patiently awaiting its arrival like we were another Frank Ocean album.  Only difference here is that there is no chance the beginning of the season could be a hoax at first.  We’ve got an immediate Super Bowl rematch which is always fun, a potential Super Bowl preview in the desert, two rookie quarterbacks starting in the NFC East, a throwback game (which will be described below) and a boatload of other exciting games to be played.  Who will win them all?  Check out these picks below!

Thursday, September 7th, 8:30 e.t.

Carolina Panthers @ Denver Broncos

Obviously this is a rematch of Super Bowl 50.  That was a game dominated by Denver’s defense.  A quick highlight of that contest can be seen below.

How will this match up go?  Chances are Cam Newton and company will extract some revenge.  Trevor Seimien gets the nod and will have to stare down the barrel of the gun towards a defense that may be a shadow of what it was last year, but is still good enough to get the job done.  Sans Josh Norman, the Panthers should have their way as long as they can slow Denver’s running game.  Just stick Kawaan Short in a rocking chair and have him guard the middle; Caronlina will be fine.

Carolina 29, Denver 14

Sunday September 11th, 1:00 e.t.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Atlanta Falcons

Atlanta will be parting ways with the Georgia dome this year.  Sure, the four dollar beers will be greatly missed, but on the bright side the new stadium is looking like it has the chance to be pretty awesome, kind of like the team that will nest there.  The Falcons might not be kicking through glass like Stone Cold Steve Austin these days, but they have some talent to build around, especially on offense in Julio Jones and Devonta Freeman.  Of course, Tampa knows about young budding talent.  Look no further than their quarterback Jameis Winston who is, by the way, undefeated against the dirty birds.  2016 brings a lot of great promise towards Tampa Bay, but unfortunately this game will not.  As tempting as it is to swing with the Bucs here, rolling with the Falcons at home seems to be a safer bet.  Unfortunately picking Week 1 games is sort of like sitting at a high stakes poker table with scared money; you’re really afraid to take risks.  Atlanta should put these guys away with a solid offensive performance from Matty Ice as they try to rise up (get it?) to supremacy again.

Atlanta 28, Tampa Bay 20

Chicago Bears @ Houston Texans

Brock Osweiler gets a crack at Chicago to open the season; a team that he defeated in his first ever start in Week 11 last year.  Denver’s defense had a strong showing in that game while the offense wasn’t too special outside of one nice drive and a big play to Demaryius Thomas.  But that was last year.  This year, the Texans have a potential to be a very good offensive team as long as they stay out of their own way.  Jay Cutler can tell you all about that.  Here’s a guy with some serious arm talent who is very prone to making mistakes.  That’s not a favorable combination when facing a ball-hawking Houston secondary.  Also, Chicago really struggled to score points in the preseason.  This trend could continue as they try to find an identity on offense.

Houston 21, Chicago 13

Cleveland Browns @ Philadelphia Eagles

Carson Wentz is making his first career start, and it could not have come against a better team in Cleveland.  That said, it won’t be him who wins this game for Philly, it’ll be the Eagles defense which has the potential to be a top five unit under Jim Schwartz.  Robert Griffin III knows all about playing the birds and has had some mixed success in the past.  However, on Sunday he could be staring at the skies of Philadelphia quite a bit as it is likely he will be on his back for a majority of the game.  Wentz shall see plenty of pressure in his own right as he struggles when the heat is applied.  The Browns will surely take advantage of this.  It should be a defensive game, and the Eagles definitely have the better defense in this one.

Philadelphia 20, Cleveland 10

Minnesota Vikings @ Tennessee Titans

Forrest Gump would be proud of this contest since we should see each team keep running the ball repeatedly throughout.  You’re grandaddy might begin reminiscing on the good ole days where offenses would just pound away at other hoping to knock each other’s teeth out.  Vikings/Titans should be the modern day football equivalent of a Foreman/Ali fight since they will both pound away at each other with their bulky and physically gifted running backs.  The Vikes will weep at the loss of their young quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, but have former Eagle Sam Bradford to fall back on.  That said, Bradford has had a small amount of time to acclimate himself with the Minnesota wide receivers and unless he can learn the playbook through osmosis, he will have a very limited amount of plays at his disposal.  Meanwhile, the Titans have the rocks in DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry to smash through the Viking defense.  Picking the Music City men may be unpopular, but it’s happening.  We don’t write these things to make friends.

Tennessee 27, Minnesota 17

Buffalo Bills @ Baltimore Ravens

Otherwise known as the Tyrod Taylor bowl, the Virginia Tech player will return to face his former team, this time with the keys to the car in hand.  Will Buffalo be able to run over the Ravens in Baltimore?  Most people would nod their heads yes to this, but that would just make too much sense.  Watch, this is going to be the game where Joe Flacco comes out and throws the ball 45 times for 330 yards and a couple of scores.  Steve Smith is healthy and ready to break some ankles, perhaps not only figuratively.  Ben Watson is gonezo, but Maxx Williams will step up and contribute to the offense.  The Bills may struggle on the road in a place where a lot of teams have over a majority of the past decade.

Baltimore 26, Buffalo 22

Cincinnati Bengals @ New York Jets

The Bengals limp into this game hampered with injuries yet are still favored to win this game, if Vegas is to be trusted.  After having the season of his life, the Jets were smart to finally get Ryan Fitzpatrick back on the team.  He went a long time without signing, but luckily for Gang Green he did, otherwise they would be in some serious trouble at running back.  The Bengals don’t have all of the big name talent as they have had in years past, but still have plenty of offensive firepower to be a good team.  Kicking the door down against the Jets is what will probably take place on Sunday.  This is a pick based purely on the thought that Cincy has a better team than New York does at this point in time.  If not, it’d be easy to say that the Jets’ defense swarms and gives headaches to Andy Dalton all afternoon.  But, let’s not get too crazy now.

Cincinnati 24, New York 17

San Diego Chargers @ Kansas City Chiefs

The San Diego Philip Rivers will head to Arrowhead to clash with the Chiefs on Sunday and may not enjoy their stay all too much.  Kansas City had their way with the bolts last year and held them to just six points in two games.  Philip Rivers will be asked to carry the team this season since it does not have a ton of big name talent to lean on.  Although, they do quietly have a bunch of scrappy gamers that may not be good enough to win a ton of games but do have the ability to make some teams mad this year.  Anyways, the Chiefs defense looks even better than it did a year ago, and they weren’t too shabby in 2015.  Alex Smith takes care of the rock as if it were a newborn baby, so relying on him to turn it over isn’t something you’d want to bring to the bank.  Kansas City will be jumping at the return of Jamaal Charles, who should be eased back into action in this game.  There’s no need for him to run his legs off, but fifteen carries doesn’t seem too ridiculous.  The Chiefs will handle the Chargers as they compete for the top spot in the AFC West.

Kansas City 31, San Diego 14

Green Bay Packers @ Jacksonville Jaguars

It’s funny how many things change over a year.  At the beginning of last season, we were questioning whether or not the Jaguars had enough players to even be a competitive team, now we are touting them as one of the more talented and electric offenses in the league.  Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns are a dynamic duo at wide receiver and they got big Blake Bortles tossing them the ball.  The ole gunslinger himself likes to copy off of Brett Farve’s tests when it comes to heaving the ball.  Farve once chilled with Green Bay’s quarterback Aaron Rodgers many moons ago.  Now Rodgers has taken over in Green Bay and has become what all other teams in the league wants their quarterbacks to be: the very best.  He gets Jordy Nelson back this year, and that’s kind of like cork in the bat to an offense that already had the potential to be very good.  The offensive line could be a bit problematic, but it shouldn’t prove too much of a burden this week.  The Packers should roll out of Jacksonville with a win in what may be the weekend’s highest scoring game.  They are going to eat the Jags alive in the middle of the field with slants, drags, and tight end posts.

Green Bay 41, Jacksonville 27

Oakland Raiders @ New Orleans Saints

You thought you knew all about these Raiders last year?  They’re kind of like that ex you had that you never appreciated at the time, but now wish you had back because they look so much better these days.  You gave up on them, don’t lie.  But they are itching to get into the playoffs this year behind Derek Carr and company.  Their first challenge will be against the Saints, who, would be like a current significant other with whom you are getting fed up with and want to break things off with.  This game would serve as a last ditch effort on their part to win you back because Drew Brees is going to go off.  Five touchdowns for the man will get us all thinking about the times back in 2009-2013 where New Orleans was a world beater.  It doesn’t help either that the Raiders are on the road in an eastern time zone, even though it is the first game of the season, their internal clocks could be all out of whack.

New Orleans 38, Oakland 29

Sunday, September 11th, 4:05 e.t.

Miami Dolphins @ Seattle Seahawks

The Dolphins throw Arian Foster into the flames immediately as he will quickly be tested against the Legion of Boom.  A lot of people are trying to find ways to write this defense off but they are still one of the best in the league.  They are also playing at home where opposing team’s dreams and ear drums go to die.  Don’t expect a Miami win this time like we all got back in 2011.  The Dolphins are in some trouble flying practically all the way across the world for this game.  They would have to control the clock for close to two thirds of the contest and that could be difficult if drives are not being put together consistently.

Seattle 33, Miami 10

Sunday September 11th, 4:25 e.t.

Detroit Lions @ Indianapolis Colts

Matthew Stafford versus Andrew Luck II.  The first bout was a memorable one for Mr. Luck as he threw a game winning touchdown pass as time expired to Donnie Avery for the win.  This game probably won’t be that dramatic, but it could have its fair share of twists and turns.  The question is, how good will the Lions be this season?  They have always been thought of as an offensive team, but this year they may not have that luxury.  Let’s face it, their running game is this: mary

It remains to be seen what Marvin Jones can bring to this Detroit offense opposite of Golden Tate, but expect there to be growing pains.  Andrew Luck is going to have a huge bounceback year and it starts at home against the Lions.

Indianapolis 30, Detroit 15

New York Giants @ Dallas Cowboys

Dak Prescott is the second of only two rookie quarterbacks to start this season but unlike Carson Wentz, he also has a rookie running back in the backfield.  Granted, Ezekiel Elliot is already being hyped as the rookie of the year without having played a single down yet, but a lot of it has to do with the strength of Dallas’s offensive line.  They’re good, really good.  Because of that, it is tough to pick against the Cowboys here.  But it’s going to happen anyways.  The Giants secondary is much improved over a season ago, and they had their way last year with Dallas.  A first year QB without any experience is bound to make a mistake or two in this contest.  Sure, he lit it up in the preseason but as we all know the regular season is an entirely different animal.  Not to mention, the Giants have an offense fully capable of putting up points in a hurry.  In a shootout, Eli Manning is to be trusted more than a rook.

New York 35, Dallas 31

Sunday, September 11th, 8:30 e.t.

New England Patriots @ Arizona Cardinals

If Tom Brady were allowed to play in this game, it could be praised as one of the most intriguing matchups of the entire season.  As it is, we get to see Jimmy Garoppolo make his first start in the NFL against a really good defense and an offense to match it.  Most people will write this game off as a win for Arizona since the Pats don’t have #12 under center, but we know better than this.  New England should have another decent defense this season and their tight ends could be the best individual group in the sport.  The Cards may have trouble guarding both Rob Gronkowski and Martellus Bennett as they create an abundance of matchup problems.  With the strength of their defense and a little timely offense, watch the Patriots pull a bit of an upset on the road on Sunday night.

*UPDATE 9/10*  Having no Tom Brady is one thing, but now that New England is without Gronk as well, it will be tough sledding of the Pats on the road against one of the best teams in football.  The original prediction called for an upset, but playing it safe now is definitely the move.  The Patriots won’t have the horses to run with the Cardinals in Glendale.

Arizona 31, New England 23

Monday, September 12th, 7:10 e.t.

Pittsburgh Steelers @ Washington Redskins

The Redskins were 6-2 at home last season, and a lot of it had to do with how well their quarterback Kirk Cousins played.  Will they be able to pick up a win over the Pittsburgh Steelers in Landover?  Unlikely.  However, watching Josh Norman run with Antonio Brown could be one of the most eye-popping battles of the week.  Of course, Norman will probably be playing one side of the field like he’s used to whereas Brown will be moving all about in formations, so we might only get to see those two square off on about half of the snaps.  With an offense capable of lunging into the stratosphere, it is going to be tough to go against the black and yellow in week one.  Many people thing Washington was a one year wonder.  That may not be the case entirely, but don’t be surprised if they fall back just a little bit this season.

Pittsburgh 39, Washington 23

Monday, September 12th, 10:20 e.t.

Los Angeles Rams @ San Francisco 49ers

I almost wrote the St. Louis Rams just now.   But anyways, the Niners are going to throw Blaine Gabbert out there under center to help them with their quarterback situation.  That’s kind of like pouring whiskey onto an open cut in hopes of healing the wound, isn’t it?  Carlos Hyde should definitely benefit from running in Chip Kelly’s scheme as he more closely resembles LeSean McCoy than DeMarco Murray ever did.  If he weren’t running into the teeth of the Ram’s defense and right at one of the best defensive lines in football, it would be tempting to pick the Niners despite their woeful signal-caller paradigm.  Defensively, the 49ers may struggle if the offense goes three and out a lot.  They figure to if their talent level is any indication.  The Rams should find success pounding Todd Gurley in the middle of the field and Case Keenum is slightly better than Blaine Gabbert.  Where else can you see a matchup of a Case versus a Blaine?  Only on Monday Night Football!

St. Louis 22, San Francisco 9

Week 1 Bonus Predictions

Sure Bet of the Week: Seattle over Miami

Upset of the Week: New England over Arizona Tennessee over Minnesota

Offensive Player of the Week: Drew Brees, QB Saints

Defensive Player of the Week: Janoris Jenkins, CB Giants

Rookie of the Week: Kyle Fuller, WR Texans

Best Quarterback: Brees

Best Running Back: Todd Gurley