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Is there really a more unpredictable week in sports? Probably not. As is it does every year, week 1 continued to baffle and stun every fan tuning in. Whether you witnessed the almighty New England Patriots fall to the Dolphins, the Tennessee Titans taking down the Kansas City Chiefs who were the last undefeated team of last year, or widely favorite New Orleans Saints crumble in the final seconds to the Atlanta Falcons. No matter where, how, or why you were watching, it was a wild day in the NFL.
Upset of the Week
Dolphins 33, Patriots 20
Ever since Tom Brady took the helm from Drew Bledsoe back in 2001, the Patriots have constantly been a threat to runaway with the Lombardi trophy, and this year was no different. In the 2013-14 season, the Patriots went through one of the most injury plagued seasons in recent memory, especially on the defensive side of the ball. With a lot of players from last year coming back from injury and newly aquired all-pro cornerback Darelle Revis, the Patriots appeared in for another successful season.
Yes, a week 1 loss isn't the end of the world, especially for a strong-willed team like the Patriots. However, don't overlook the fact that it is the first time since Tom Brady became the starter, that the Patriots are in sole possession of last place in the AFC East. With only a game behind them it doesn't hold much weight, but maybe this is the year the rest of the division finally overtakes the Pats.
What may really make Patriots fans feel uneasy, is that they went into the second half up 20-0. The Patriots defense was supposed to be the most improved since they last won a super bowl back in 2004, but letting up 33 unanswered points in the second half isn't a good sign.
Often the upset isn't just about the favorite playing down, but rather the other team playing up. The two-headed rushing monster of newly aquired Knowshon Moreno and 3 year running back Lamar Miller, combined for 193 yards rushing, a combined average of 5.5 YPC. The Dolphins' defensive line also did a great job getting to Tom Brady, with 4 sacks compared to the Patriots lone sack. Cameron Wake even forced two fumbles out of Tom Brady, both key plays in leading the Dolphins to victory.
Overall, the Patriots made some noticeable mistakes and were unable to stop the Dolphins rushing attack, but expect them to bounce back like they always do. As for the Dolphins, maybe this is the year they finally take the next step and surprise everyone with a winning season.
Blowout of the Week
Seahawks 36, Packers 16
The 2014 NFL season officially kicked off Thursday night with reigning Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks, taking on Aaron Rodgers' Packers at Century Link field. All the talk prior to the game was whether Aaron Rodgers could step up to the challenge that is the Seahawks secondary.
Unsurprisingly, the Packers really struggled to get into rhythm offensively, only generating 255 yards for the game. However, they did get out to a strong start, but after losing Eddie Lacy to a concussion midgame it was all downhill for the packers. Also, injuries to an already inexperienced offensive line were detrimental to the team, especially against an exceptional pass rushing team like the Seahawks.
Quickly, what was supposed to be an exciting game turned to a blowout, and if it weren't for a garbage-time touchdown in the fourth quarter by the Packers, the game would've looked a lot uglier.
Marshawn Lynch is mad, and every Seahawks fan likes Marshawn when he is mad. It's obvious that continuous "replacement" tailbacks being drafted, contract disagreements, and people just doubting him, has sparked a fire in Lynch. He went out and carried the ball for 110 yards and 2 touchdowns, on only 20 carries. He looked like the same beast mode from past years, if not better, this was the year everybody thought he would lose a step and he refuses to falter.
Look for this year to be no different for the Seahawks dominant defense, balanced offense, and the most distinct home-field advantage with 20 wins in their past 21 games at home. As for the Packers, they should be able to bounce back, but another injury-haunted season is exactly what they should be fearing.
Comeback of the Week
Eagles 34, Jaguars 17
Under second year head coach Chip Kelly the Eagles looked to be the dominant, fast-paced, "run n gun" offense that they were last year. In the first half, they looked like anything but that. LeSean McCoy was unable to get into rhythym on the ground, the offensive line was struggling heavily against the Jaguars new look defensive line, and Nick Foles looked awfully inaccurate, and shaky.
Meanwhile, the Jaguars took advantage of the struggling offense, forcing turnovers and dominating on the other-side of the ball as well, forcing three turnovers in the first half. They jumped out to a 17-0 lead and if it wasn't for two missed field goals (one blocked, one missed) the deficit could've been even harder to come back from. Who would've guessed that undrafted wide receiver Allen Hurns would go into the locker room at halftime with 110 yards receiving and two touchdowns? Or the 30th ranked defense of last year could hold the number 2 offense of last year to zero points.
Why would anyone doubt an offense that put up 27 points per game just last season? The Eagles came out of the second half firing on all cylinders. A lot of credit has to go to tailback Darren Sproles with a 49 yard touchdown to open up the second half. A couple of scores later lead to a 68 yard touchdown to Jeremy Maclin to give the Eagles their first lead of the day. The Jaguars were down to their last chance and on fourth down, defensive end Fletcher Cox took a fumble to the endzone to seal a victory for the Eagles.
It wasn't exactly the prettiest comeback, or win in general, especially against a team they were predicted to blow by, but the Jaguars showed little resilience in the second half and the Eagles were polar opposites. Eagles fans shouldn't hold their breath as their first game of the season easily could've went horribly wrong. As for Jaguars fans, as Jerry Jones might say, this could be considered a "moral victory", or at least the first half was.
Loss of the Week
Titans 26, Chiefs 10
Last year, we saw one of the greatest team turn-arounds in recent memory. New Chief head coach, Andy Reid, turned the worst team record wise, into the last undefeated team last year, eventually taking one of the AFC wild card spots. Many doubted the Chiefs throughout the season, fluke, easy schedule, luck etc. However, if it weren't for Andrew Luck's super-human ability to comeback from large deficits the Chiefs may have made a deep run into the playoffs.
Doubts continued through the offseason after losing 3 of their starting offensive lineman of last year, running back and return man Dexter McCluster, and already struggling wideout Dwayne Bowe to suspension, the season was looking bleak at best. Some fans still had hope though, this was a top 5 defense last year and retained most of it's players on that side of the ball. Going against one of the weakest teams of last year, the Tennessee Titans, it should've been a fairly easy victory, or an easy loss.
The Titans dominated both sides of the ball with 160 more total yards than the Chiefs. Jake Locker looked sharper then ever, the defense looked impenetrable, and even Shonn Greene out-dueled Jamaal Charles. Speaking of which, he was completeley shut down for only 16 yards on the ground. As for quarterback Alex Smith who was recently signed to a pretty lucrative contract for someone with his stats, he tossed three interceptions to one touchdown.
As if it couldn't get worse for Chiefs fans, Pro Bowl linebacker Derrick Johnson will be missing the season with a torn achilles, so the future isn't looking too bright for KC.
Game of the Week
Falcons 37, Saints 34
New Orleans Saints came into the season as one of the biggest Super Bowl Contenders with all key pieces of last year returning, plus Pro Bowl safety Jairus Byrd to lead the defense, and newly drafted Brandin Cooks, a favorite for offensive rookie of the year. As for the Falcons, last year was a huge disappointment for Atlanta fans, they took a huge drop after stringing together a few winning seasons. An early injury to wideout Julio Jones, Matt Ryan struggling, and defensive problems, lead to a dismal record of 4-12.
Much of the game was a seesaw battle but ultimately it took the Falcons overtime to defeat the Saints at their own game, passing. The Falcons totaled up 445 yards through the air against a defense that was very strong last year, and should be even more vaunting this year, but Matt Ryan had little trouble picking it apart, going 31/43 with 3 touchdowns.
The Saints defense looked very poor at times, especially in completing plays. Multiple times the play should have only been a few yard gain, but ended up turning into a first down, or worse, six points. (i.e. Jacquizz Rodgers run). Not that the Falcons' defense looked much better, but out-throwing Drew Brees is a win in itself, along with not allowing Jimmy Graham to cross the plane.
The loss should really be a minor setback for a team like the Saints, however things were much different 2 years ago (Sean Payton suspended all year), it took them several weeks to achieve their first win. The Falcons could have a bounce-back year, after all they're still a very talented team, but the defense still has a lot of issues, and they were glaring against the Saints.