The NFL is back in full force. Finally. Here are 32 things we learned from Week 1:
1. So great to have Aaron Rodgers back. Then, so awful to lose him to another catastrophic injury. Then, so great to have the Leader of the Pack back again to remind us how much more fun the NFL is when he’s working his magic.
2. How sick must Jon Gruden and the Raiders have been watching Khalil Mack wreak havoc in a Bears uniform Sunday night? Mack may be gone from Oakland, but he won’t be forgotten, nor will the questions about the decision to ship him out.
3. We’re pretty sure Chicago hangs on to beat Green Bay if new coach Matt Nagy does the right thing and calls OT Charles Leno’s number on a pass play out of the slot.
4. Week 1 MVP? How about Buccaneers “backup” QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, who connected for four TD passes and a career-high 417 passing yards (still 22 fewer than New Orleans counterpart Drew Brees). But Tampa Bay pulled off the upset of the day with a 48-40 win on the road, and it just got a little more likely that suspended Jameis Winston may not have a job waiting for him when he returns in Week 4.
5. What dat? The Saints have not won their opener since 2013.
6. Alvin Kamara, Michael Thomas, Mike Evans and DeSean Jackson each went over 100 receiving yards in that game and had 585 collectively. The Bucs and Saints recorded 26 first downs apiece and combined for 1,004 total yards, 11 TDs … and one sack. The Buccaneers and Saints produced 88 total points, the most for a Week 1 game in the Super Bowl era, which dates to 1966.
7. The Titans and Dolphins combined to play a 7-hour, 8-minute game, the longest since the 1970 merger by nearly two hours. Lightning delays played havoc with a contest staged in South Florida.
8. The 21-21 tie between the Steelers and Browns was the NFL’s first on opening day since 1971.
9. We wish Ben Roethlisberger (5 turnovers) was not our fantasy quarterback.
10. We do wish we had Steelers RB James Conner (192 total yards, 2 TDs in his first NFL start). Le’Veon who?
More: Browns aren’t satisfied with tie, but stalemate with Steelers is sign of progress
11. Pittsburgh’s T.J. Watt had more sacks (4) than brother J.J. had tackles (3). Oh, and Chargers FB Derek Watt had 1 yard on one carry … equaling the number of game-saving field blocks T.J. had.
12. CB Denzel Ward (2 INTs) has jumped out to a nice lead over Baker Mayfield as front runner for Cleveland’s most valuable first-round pick of 2018 … in 2018 anyway.
13. Browns fans didn’t get any free Bud Light after Sunday’s tie. Feels like the Cleveland faithful earned at least 8 oz. mini cans, right?
14. Cleveland’s tie snapped a 17-game losing streak. But the Browns still own just one win in their past 36 outings. Truly surreal.
15. Adrian Peterson’s 96-yard rushing debut with Washington vaulted him past Marshall Faulk and Jim Brown into 10th place all-time. AD now has 12,372 career yards. (Peterson also had a 52-yard catch, his longest in nine years.)
16. Jimmy Garoppolo’s eighth NFL start produced his first loss and first three-INT day. But you get what you pay for, right? Garoppolo is only making $27.5 million annually. He was bested by Minnesota’s Kirk Cousins, who’s pulling down $28 million per year.
17. But Patrick Mahomes remains undefeated, the second-year passer moving to 2-0 after his four-TD debut as the man for the Chiefs, who have now beaten the Chargers nine straight. (The victory was even more impressive considering K.C. got shredded for 541 yards.)
18. Maybe Tyreek Hill was correct last month when he claimed Kansas City “will be the best offense in the National Football League.” Arguably the most electric player in the NFL, Hill did his part Sunday with 169 yards and two TDs courtesy of Mahomes’ arm and another 91-yard score on a punt return courtesy of his own blazing speed. Hill has 13 touchdowns of at least 50 yards since he entered the league in 2016. No other player has more than four in that span.
19. The Bolts are still missing field goals in September. You can’t hang L.A.’s loss on Caleb Sturgis, but his 48-yard misfire with 66 seconds to go cost the Chargers any shot at a comeback in their 38-28 loss. Still, Roberto Aguayo will probably remain on speed dial a while longer. … OR MAYBE JUST CALL DAN BAILEY AND FIX THIS!
20. Is 2018 when Broncos OLB Von Miller finally wins defensive player of the year honors? He got started by making seven tackles, three sacks, forcing two fumbles and recovering one.
21. The Seahawks began the post-Legion of Boom era by allowing 470 yards, 25 first downs and 27 points. Welcome back, Earl Thomas.
22. Any concern over lack of production from New England’s receivers remains legit. Just nine of Tom Brady’s 26 completions (for 83 yards) went to wideouts Sunday. (Suspended Julian Edelman is eligible to return against Indianapolis on Oct. 4.)
23. Any concern over the lack of production from Dallas’ receivers remains legit. Thirteen of Dak Prescott’s 19 completions went to wideouts Sunday, producing all of 135 yards. We wouldn’t want any part of this either, Dez.
24. Tyrann Mathieu’s move to Houston was one of the offseason’s less-heralded signings. But he seems to be back in Honey Badger form, picking off Brady and recovering a Patriots fumble in his Texans debut.
25. Those new “Titan blue” jerseys will take some getting used to. We suspect the navy jerseys will be more appealing combined with Tennessee’s new navy helmets. (It would also be nice if there was anything appealing about the Titans offense.)
26. Really nice to see Andrew Luck play well in his return, notching his first TD pass in 616 days. But it’s always been the 51 Colts not named Luck (or Vinatieri) that worried me.
More: Bills have epic blunder on their hands, especially at QB
27. Baltimore doused Buffalo 47-3, the second-worst loss in the Bills’ 59-year history … and salt in the wound of Ravens fans, who watched Buffalo advance to the 2017 playoffs instead of their team by virtue of a tiebreaker. Baltimore QB Joe Flacco tallied three TD passes for the first time since Dec. 4, 2016.
28. Buffalo QB Nathan Peterman has a 16.8 QB rating in three NFL starts. He hasn’t finished any of them (benched twice, injured once).
29. How soon is too soon to call for first rounders Josh Allen (Bills) and Josh Rosen (Cardinals) to start? Hint: it’s still too soon.
30. There were 26 penalties (for 236 yards) called in the Thursday night opener between Philadelphia and Atlanta, tying the high-water mark for any game in 2017. Too much laundry, refs … which Julio Jones and I can personally attest to after witnessing some of those highly dubious calls.
31. The Eagles are still about one play better than the Falcons, who should maybe try something else than “Julio bail us out” with the game on the line. (Of course, when Jones’ 180 total yards account for more than 60% of your offense, it’s probably understandable why struggling Atlanta QB Matt Ryan and struggling OC Steve Sarkisian weren’t looking elsewhere.)
32. Hey, @BortlesFacts, Blake Bortles is 2-0 all-time vs. the Giants. No wonder Tom Coughlin switched sides. (And how jealous is Tom Brady?)
Follow Nate Davis on Twitter @ByNateDavis