The 2015 season is underway and Week One offered up some surprises, which seems characteristic of the opening week of the NFL season. Some observations -
While the Patriots keep winning, the Steelers (and the league) make excuses - The story of the Patriots' 28-21 win over the Steelers - their tenth in their last fifteen meetings - was Pittsburgh's protest about its coaching radios fuzzing up - the NBC telecast made it out to be the result of Patriots jamming and Mike Tomlin all but openly asserted such in his postgame presser. The league somewhat belatedly acknowledged the radio fuzzing was nothing untoward (this after several rival coaches stated flatly it wasn't the result of any jamming), though it led to an uncharacteristic slam of his critics by Belichick in his Friday conference call. It reflects what radio personality Glen Ordway has called an agenda by the league - to punish the Patriots by constantly portraying them in an evil light.
The Jets get a big win thanks to the incompetence of Johnny Fumbles - Now we know that Johnny Manziel will never amount to anything in the NFL. There were five Browns turnovers in all and Manziel fumbled twice and also threw a pick - it showcases Manziel's undisciplined approach to the game and the twelve penalties further shows the Browns do not play smart football, they try to win with athleticism and nastiness.
Andrew Luck continues to fail against the AFC East - The Bills hadn't beaten the Colts in a real game since 1998 (Buffalo's 1999 and 2009 wins were against Colts teams resting for the playoffs). This time around they got a solid performance from Tyrod Taylor to go with 147 rushing yards, this despite 113 yards of penalties (again, a sign of undisciplined play). Andrew Luck is now 2-7 lifetime against AFC East teams - his only wins were against the Bills and Dolphins in 2012; his previous game against Rex Ryan was a 35-9 NY Jets win.
Right now Tennessee owns the AFC South - Marcus Mariota won't get it this easy down the road, but his 42-14 evisceration of the Bucs is what good quarterbacks do to bad teams as he became the first rookie with four touchdowns in his first game since Fran Tarkenton crushed the Bears (in a game he didn't even start) 37-13. It leaves the Titans as the only AFC South team with a win.
Houston was expected to be a contender in 2015 but getting pummeled 27-20 by the Chiefs was bad enough; benching his erstwhile starter leaves Bill O'Brien with a bigger problem next week against a 1-0 Panthers team. And while JJ Watt was in evidence, nobody else on that Texans defense could be found.
Right now Cincinnati owns the AFC North - We knew Pittsburgh and Baltimore would lose given they were facing teams that own them, and we had a feeling the Browns wouldn't show up - they of course didn't - so the Bengals shouldn't necessarily feel all that high right now, especially given their next opponent -
Philip Rivers redeems himself - Rivers overcame two INTs (one of them a Grover Quin pick six) and a 21-3 Lions lead to explode the San Diego Chargers to a 33-28 win; 404 yards and two touchdowns wiped out Matthew Stafford's day and leaves him still with a poor road record against quality opponents.
Red flags for the Broncos - Peyton Manning beat the Ravens again - what else is new? But the poor quality of his throws and needing Aqib Talib to win his latest feud with Steve Smith don't bode well for Peyton; needing to rely on the defense to win is not the formula for success - to where I'm tempted to predict Brock Osweiler will see some significant action this season.
Why didn't the Seahawks run Marshawn Lynch at the end of the Superbowl? That's why - 4th and 1 and Lynch was stopped by the Rams for only their fourth win against the Seahawks since beating them in the 2004 playoffs. Also getting questioned is the onside kick at the start of overtime, but overall this hame indicates the Rams are starting to get something going and the NFC West, and it was Game Of The Week
Despite the loss, the Eagles will be a force - What does a Pyrrhic victory look like? In 2012 the Falcons hosted the Seahawks in the NFC Divisional Playoffs and blew a 27-7 lead; Matt Ryan drove the Falcons down for the winning field goal, but the damage was done - the Falcons blew a 17-0 lead in the NFC Championship Game and lost to the Niners. Since then the Falcons have been a bottom-ten outfit. Well it happened again as the Falcons raced to a 20-3 lead, blew that lead, clawed out a 26-24 lead, then needed a missed Cody Parkey FGA and a tip-drill interception to win a game they really had no right to win. The way the Eagles rallied from a terrible start is what makes title contenders.
The Niners are supposed to be a mess, right? - Suddenly the NFC West looks like a four-way fight, as Colin Kaepernick showed a striking level of improvement in his decision-making in leading the Niners to an embarrassing rout of the Vikings, a team that has appeared to be on the rise. Sustaining all of that remains to be seen, but this is a much better start than was reasonable to expect from a Niners team that looked on the ropes well before training camp started.
So it goes for Week One and Week Two awaits.