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Ten Thoughts on the NFL: Misery Loves Company

The NFL is back, but some teams missed the memo

Dallas Cowboys v New York Giants Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images
  1. I’ve seen this movie before: Let’s start with the Bears and get this thing over with. The Chicago Bears lost to the Green Bay Packers. Again. Take out the quarterback, insert a new one, same results. According to Brad Spielberger, the Bears pressured Jordan Love on just six of his passes while the Packers pressured Justin Fields 35 times. One of the worst pressure rates for the Bears defense and one of the worst pressure rates allowed by the Bears offense. Cool. For a team that hired a former offensive lineman as their GM, that’s not a good look on opening day of his second year.
  2. Steamrolled: One of the most disappointing results of Week 1 belongs to the Pittsburgh Steelers. They allowed the San Francisco 49ers to do whatever they wanted on Sunday, losing 30-7 to kick off the year. I know the 49ers are supposed to be good, but Kenny Pickett slinging the ball 46 times for a mere 232 yards won’t cut it. The vaunted Steelers defense had no answers for the 49ers attack, led by Christian McCaffrey’s 152 yards on the ground (!) and Brandon Aiyuk’s perfect receiving day (8-129-2). The Steelers live in a tough division with a coaching staff that deservedly gets the benefit of the doubt, but this one might be a harbinger of an actual bad year in Pittsburgh.
  3. Regression to the Mean: Like many Bears fans, I know a lot of Vikings fans. Mostly nice people, they’ll bring hotdish over to your party, exchange a kind word at the supermarket, etc. Unfortunately, I heard a lot of confidence from Vikings fans headed into the season and I just don’t think they fully understood the potential regression heading their way. The Vikings were INCREDIBLE in one-score games last season, which led to an inflated record for a flawed team trying for the “competitive rebuild.” Now, Vikings fans had a lot more fun than Bears fans last season, but I believe regression to the mean is coming and is going to hit this fan base hard. Losing to Baker Mayfield and the Bucs at home is a tough start to the year. Let’s hope that continues.
  4. Bungles: Oh, you thought the Bears offense was bad on Sunday? Wait until you hear about the Bengals! Joe Burrow and the Cincinnati Bengals looked like the Bungles of old led by Joe Cool’s 14/31 passing for 82 yards (2.6 Y/A!!!) and less than 150 total yards of offense. They say the defense is usually ahead of the offense early in the year but just how much of a head start did the Bengals offense give the Browns defense? Burrow is legit and missed most of camp with an injury, so undoubtedly better days are ahead for that offense, but that’s not the ideal start for a potential Super Bowl campaign.
  5. The Skyy is, er, Limited: The Kansas City Chiefs hung another banner before laying an egg against the Detroit Lions. Now, I’m not going to take anything away from the Lions, who got the job done in KC, but the Chiefs looked absolutely lost without Travis Kelce. With the best quarterback in the league working with one of the best offensive minds in the game, it was shocking to see Kansas City play sloppy, mistake-riddled football to let the Lions hang around long enough to steal it at the end. Kelce will likely get back soon and they just signed Chris Jones to get the star defensive tackle back on the field, but it was shocking how ineffective they looked without their star tight end. Somehow, genius QB play and scheme wasn’t enough.
  6. Big Apple Bag Punch Part I: Did you catch the Sunday Night Football game? You can be forgiven if you had enough football in your life after the Bears game concluded, but the New York Giants suffered a 40-0 drubbing at the hands of the Dallas Cowboys on national television. Daniel Jones put up a terrible game, completing 15/28 for 104 yards (3.7 YPA!) and two picks. He was sacked seven times as the Cowboys defense looked like the ‘85 Bears and 2000 Ravens had a baby. It was such a dominant performance that the Cowboys offense barely needed to lift a finger as they coasted through most of the second half, running out the clock. The Giants were a playoff team last year, knocking out the Vikings in the first round. Losing at home to your rival 40-0 takes the cake for the week.
  7. You are not Serious People: The Los Angeles Chargers had one of the best rushing games in recent memory. Austin Ekeler topped the century mark at 117 on only 16 carries while Joshua Kelley put up an impressive 91 on 16 carries of his own. A strong running game combined with Justin Herbert’s rocket arm under Kellen Moore carved up that Dolphins defense to the tune of 34 points, capitalizing on the Chiefs opening night loss. Right? Not so fast, my friends! The Chargers seem to lose like this a lot and for a team with a lot of expensive talent on the defensive side of the ball and a defensive-minded head coach, losing a shootout just can’t sit well. In a conference where it may come down to a tiebreaker against a team like the Dolphins, this is a tough way to start the year for Chargers faithful.
  8. Mile High Meh: The Denver Broncos went out and got themselves a quarterback last year by trading away the farm to get the vestiges of Russell Wilson. If you’ll remember, Denver hired Nathaniel Hackett in a blatant attempt to get Aaron Rodgers to force his way out of Green Bay and play in the Mile High City. After that failed, they went and got Wilson as their consolation prize, gave him a portion of the Denver Mint, and then watched it all implode. Married to Wilson’s contract, the Broncos, ah, jettisoned Hackett and landed a big fish in Sean Payton. The Broncos spent big in free agency, showing the urgency the new ownership group in Denver has to field a winner. Then the former Saints coach proceeded to talk trash about just how poorly coached Hackett’s Broncos were in an interview much more candid than what we’re used to hearing. Talking like that puts a target on your back and, whoa boy, not a great start to Denver’s season as they lose to the division rival Raiders at home. Even the mile high altitude that normally trips opponents up early in the season couldn’t help them to victory despite Wilson’s stat line looking healthy.
  9. Geno the Pumpkin: The Geno Smith story was one of the highlights of the 2022 NFL season. Bouncing around the league for years before finally getting another chance to start and making the most of it. The journeyman got a nice contract to remain the starter in Seattle despite some reservations about the viability of that deal. Smith failed to keep Seattle competitive at home against the division rival Rams, a team many believe would be a stealthy team to tank for a top choice in next year’s draft. Smith’s line of 16/26 for 112 yards (4.3 YPA!) against a lot of Rams defenders that came into the league without much pedigree. It’s a headscratcher at the least, but majorly concerning for a team that thinks of itself as a contender in a weak NFC.
  10. Big Apple Bag Punch Part II: Aaron Rodgers, finally free from Green Bay, runs out of the tunnel on Monday Night Football on 9/11 with the American flag. On his fourth play, Rodgers is sacked by former Bears linebacker Leonard Floyd and has to be carted off. He returns to the field in a boot and as of this writing, it is feared an Achilles injury and Rodgers would be lost for the season. The game itself turned out great for the Jets as their defense forced four Josh Allen turnovers and an amazing punt return for a walk off TD in OT seals a memory forever. However, for a team built to win now with hopes as high as they’ve ever been in New Jersey, the Rodgers injury is probably the biggest bad beat of Week 1.

What stuck out to you? Who is the most miserable of all? Hit up the comments below and let me know.