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Week 1 takeaways, massive questions: Playing cards’ offensive explosion, Payments’ letdown and Darnold’s revenge

Week 1 of the 2021 NFL season had a bit of little bit of every little thing. The Cardinals’ offense appeared nice in a giant win over the Titans, as Kyler Murray starred with 5 whole touchdowns. Tennessee struggled all day, as did one other AFC powerhouse, the Payments.

Elsewhere, Panthers quarterback Sam Darnold had a day in opposition to his outdated workforce, the Texans stunned with a giant outing in opposition to Trevor Lawrence and the Jaguars, and Carson Wentz’s debut in Indianapolis did not go to plan. Rookies throughout the league confirmed their expertise by discovering the top zone, the Eagles blew out the Falcons, and Washington has looming questions concerning the quarterback place after Ryan Fitzpatrick left the sport with a hip harm. Minnesota and Cincinnati went to additional time, whereas the 49ers needed to fend off a late comeback try by the Lions.

Within the afternoon slate, Jameis Winston and Saints destroyed the Packers, Teddy Bridgewater opened with a win for the Broncos, the Dolphins held off the Patriots and the Chiefs got here again to beat the Browns. Matthew Stafford capped off the evening with a giant debut for the Rams.

Monday Night time Soccer capped Week 1 with a wild, additional time win for the Raiders, taking part in in entrance of followers in Las Vegas for the primary time.

Our NFL Nation reporters react to all of it, with the foremost takeaways and lingering questions from this week’s motion — and what all of it means going ahead. Plus, they every have a look at the larger image with their present workforce confidence score — a 0-10 grade of how they really feel in regards to the workforce’s future outlook popping out of the week. Let’s get into it.

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Standout performer: Raiders QB Derek Carr with 435 passing yards, 2 TDs



What to know: The Raiders’ cross rush is far improved, and Las Vegas’ offensive line is a piece in progress. Maxx Crosby had two sacks, Yannick Ngakoue tipped a cross and Carl Nassib made an important third-down cease in regulation, earlier than his game-turning strip sack in additional time. Derek Carr, in the meantime, was below duress a lot of the evening, and he nonetheless got here up clutch late, after a sluggish begin. Being extra comfy behind a now-tested O-line will solely assist. — Paul Gutierrez

Did Carr discovering his receivers additionally assist him discover his rhythm after a clunky begin? It was all Darren Waller within the first half, when Carr focused his Professional Bowl tight finish 12 instances. And the Ravens had been prepared for him. However as soon as the playbook opened up and Carr began in search of the likes of Henry Ruggs, Bryan Edwards and Zay Jones — who had the walk-off TD — Carr obtained cozy. — Gutierrez

Gutierrez’s confidence score: 8.1. The Raiders had each motive to put down after Baltimore went up 14-0, however they confirmed a resolve that had been lacking lately, and it’s one which will probably be wanted in Pittsburgh. — Gutierrez

Subsequent recreation: at Steelers (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET)



Lamar Jackson’s third fumble of the sport helps arrange Derek Carr’s game-winning landing cross to Zay Jones in additional time.



What to know: Lamar Jackson cannot be Lamar Jackson if the Ravens cannot defend him. Jackson’s two expensive fumbles had been the results of him eluding a collapsing pocket. He was pressured on 17 of 39 dropbacks (44%), though the Raiders solely blitzed twice. Ravens normal supervisor Eric DeCosta mentioned after final season {that a} key to bettering the passing assault was upgrading the offensive line, which led to at least one starter returning to the identical spot as final season. Offensive tackles Ronnie Stanley and Alejandro Villanueva struggled in opposition to the Las Vegas cross rush. This proved Jackson cannot be a one-man present. — Jamison Hensley

What occurred to the Ravens’ cross protection? Baltimore allowed a quarterback to throw for greater than 400 yards for the primary time in 4 years. This one was a head-scratcher as a result of the Ravens had contained Derek Carr within the first half. However the cross rush disappeared, and the secondary allowed too many receivers to run free. Carr handed for 308 yards within the second half and additional time. This is not a great signal for a protection that misplaced Professional Bowl cornerback Marcus Peters to a season-ending knee harm on Thursday. The Ravens must regroup quick, as a result of they face Patrick Mahomes on Sunday evening. — Hensley

Hensley’s confidence score: 6.5. This collapse is regarding as a result of the Ravens sometimes begin the season so robust. It makes you ponder whether the dangerous run of accidents have taken an emotional toll on Baltimore. However the Ravens can shortly reestablish themselves as top-of-the-line groups within the AFC if they will upset the Chiefs. — Hensley

Subsequent recreation: vs. Chiefs (Sunday, 8:20 p.m. ET)

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Standout performer: Rams QB Matthew Stafford with 321 passing yards, 3 TDs



What to know: The Rams’ passing offense is in good fingers with quarterback Matthew Stafford. Forward of Sunday’s opener in opposition to the Bears, Stafford mentioned he wished the offense to be bodily, robust, environment friendly and explosive. Bodily and difficult? Test — see receiver Cooper Kupp preventing for further yards. Effectivity? Stafford began with a bang when he let a 67-yard landing cross fly to receiver Van Jefferson on the opening drive, although effectivity waned by means of the primary half earlier than it picked again as much as begin the second. And explosiveness? Look no additional than the opening-drive bomb to Jefferson and a 56-yard landing dime to Kupp on the opening drive of the second half. — Lindsey Thiry

Can the Rams run the ball constantly? There was no query that dropping operating again Cam Akers to a season-ending Achilles harm earlier than the season could be a giant blow, however the Rams should discover a method to acquire traction on the bottom, as they rushed for less than 18 yards within the first three quarters. Darrell Henderson Jr. began and rushed for 70 yards on 16 carries, with a lot of the yards coming late. Sony Michel, who was acquired simply over two weeks in the past in a commerce with the New England Patriots, obtained one carry for two yards and rookie Jake Funk additionally didn’t test in on offense. — Thiry

Thiry’s confidence score: 8.0. With the hope of a Tremendous Bowl season, the Rams had a strong debut in a decisive victory over the Bears. Whereas there’s loads of room for enchancment, they demonstrated a powerful basis in all three phases that may solely anticipate to enhance because the season continues. — Thiry

Subsequent recreation: at Colts (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET)



Matthew Stafford begins off the season sizzling as he throws for 321 yards, three touchdowns and leads the Rams to a 34-14.



What to know: Chicago’s protection price it the sport. The bar is ready low for the Bears’ offense, however the protection — led by first-year coordinator Sean Desai — is meant to be the workforce’s power. But the Bears’ secondary had a number of busted coverages that resulted in lengthy Rams touchdowns. Unacceptable. The Bears will not go wherever with a protection that makes these sorts of important errors. — Jeff Dickerson

Who can play left deal with? The Bears are cursed on the place. Teven Jenkins — Chicago’s second-round decide and authentic projected starter — is out after again surgical procedure. Jenkins’ substitute, just lately signed veteran Jason Peters, left Sunday evening with a quad harm. Peters’ substitute, rookie Larry Borom, later exited the Rams recreation with what gave the impression to be a nasty ankle harm. Elijah Wilkinson, who primarily performs proper deal with, needed to end the sport on the left facet. — Dickerson

Dickerson’s confidence score: 2.0. Justin Fields cannot repair this. — Dickerson

Subsequent recreation: vs. Bengals (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET)

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Standout performer: Chiefs WR Tyreek Hill, 11 receptions, 197 yards, 1 TD



What to know: The Chiefs are going to want to attain a bundle to win. Their protection was a pushover for 3 quarters in opposition to the Browns. Led by Chris Jones, the Chiefs’ D obtained sizzling within the fourth quarter, however they cannot afford to dig themselves a gap and put as a lot stress on the offense as they did on Sunday. — Adam Teicher

Do the Chiefs have anybody to assist Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill as a receiver? No one stepped ahead in any significant method in opposition to the Browns. The offense leaned closely on its two prime receivers. But when Kelce and Hill play the way in which they did in opposition to the Browns, it may not matter. The pair appeared able to carrying the passing recreation on the receiving finish. — Teicher

Teicher’s confidence score: 7.5. Regardless of the comeback victory, the Chiefs confirmed a whole lot of defensive weak point. The D discovered its method within the fourth quarter, sufficient to permit the Chiefs to rally. However it will likely be troublesome for Kansas Metropolis to dig out of such a gap most weeks. — Teicher

Subsequent recreation: at Ravens (Sunday, 8:20 p.m. ET)



What to know: The Browns took it to the defending AFC champs for 3 quarters. Then within the fourth, they’d a meltdown. Though the end was disappointing, the Browns can take solace in the way in which they performed for a lot of the recreation. Regardless of the loss, Cleveland seems to be for actual once more. — Jake Trotter

When will Odell Beckham Jr. make his debut? OBJ warmed up on the sector pregame earlier than being dominated inactive. Coming off the season-ending left knee harm, he has steadily ramped up his exercise in observe, portending an imminent return. Pretty much as good because the Browns’ offense was Sunday, its ceiling will probably be increased as soon as Beckham comes again. — Trotter

Trotter’s confidence score: 8. Even in defeat, the Browns despatched a message they’ve the potential to be a reliable contender. — Trotter

Subsequent recreation: vs. Texans (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET)

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Standout performer: Saints QB Jameis Winston with 148 passing yards, 5 TDs



What to know: What a powerful, defiant win by the Saints and coach Sean Payton in opposition to a mountain of opposed situations. Certain, we thought perhaps they may scrape by in Week 1 regardless of every little thing they needed to take care of: Drew Brees’ retirement; 10 new starters due to accidents, a suspension and a salary-cap purge; then a relocation to Dallas the previous two weeks and a “home” recreation in Jacksonville due to Hurricane Ida. However nobody may have anticipated this stage of dominance, with Jameis Winston throwing 5 TDs and Aaron Rodgers throwing two INTs. — Mike Triplett

Can the Saints win with Winston at QB? The reply was a powerful sure in Week 1, with Winston finishing 14 of 20 passes for 5 TDs and 148 yards, operating for 39 yards — and most significantly committing zero turnovers. Winston did have one INT nullified by a penalty. However for essentially the most half, he was downright Brees-like with good choices. He was particularly spectacular when avoiding stress. And he added a house run within the fourth quarter with a 55-yard deep TD to Deonte Harris. — Triplett

Triplett’s confidence score: 8.1. Clearly, a case might be made for a ten after that beautiful efficiency. However the greatest query for the Saints stays depth — they usually already had two extra scares in Week 1 when standout heart Erik McCoy left with a leg harm and CB Marshon Lattimore is already coping with thumb and knee accidents. — Triplett

Subsequent recreation: at Panthers (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET)



Jameis Winston tosses the ball to Alvin Kamara, who speeds previous a number of defenders to attain.



What to know: You might need anticipated the Packers’ protection to start out sluggish given they’ve a brand new coordinator (Joe Barry) and one in all their greatest gamers (edge rusher Za’Darius Smith) barely practiced all summer time. However the Packers’ offense? This wasn’t presupposed to occur — though they’d two rookie starters on the offensive line and their left guard filling in for All-Professional left deal with David Bakhtiari (who’s out a minimum of six weeks). Aaron Rodgers and his plethora of weapons appeared sharp all summer time in coaching camp, which made it all of the extra stunning they may barely perform in opposition to the Saints. And to prime it off, Rodgers did one thing he nearly by no means does: He turned it over within the pink zone. His third-quarter interception was his first pink zone interception since Week 6 of 2019. He had thrown 45 touchdowns down there since his final pink zone interception, and the Packers had been one in all solely three groups (the Buccaneers and Browns had been the others) with out a pink zone turnover final season. — Rob Demovsky

Did Rodgers’ offseason drama affect how badly the offense struggled? That may be a sizzling take, however the actuality is that the Packers appeared like a smooth-running machine throughout summer time practices. The larger situation was the offensive line, and the 2 rookie starters — heart Josh Myers and proper guard Royce Newman. Rodgers was below duress far too usually, and his first interception was the right instance. Rodgers confronted fast stress up the center from a five-man rush and threw it up simply earlier than he went down. Rodgers’ second decide was primarily desperation. It was simply the second time Rodgers had thrown a number of interceptions in a season opener (2010 was the opposite, however they received that recreation to start out their Tremendous Bowl season), and it was simply his second multi-INT recreation because the begin of 2018 (it occurred in Week 6 at Tampa Bay final 12 months). — Demovsky

Demovsky’s confidence score: 6.5. That is nonetheless largely the identical workforce that received 13 video games final 12 months, however the concern is not as a lot that it misplaced however how convincingly it obtained beat. If this recreation was in New Orleans’ dome, you possibly can see it. However not at a impartial website with simply as many Packers followers as Saints followers in Jacksonville. — Demovsky

Subsequent recreation: vs. Lions (Monday, Sept. 20, 8:15 p.m. ET)

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Standout performer: Dolphins QB Tua Tagovailoa, 202 passing yards, 1 TD



What to know: Miami’s protection ought to paved the way as soon as once more this season. Second-year quarterback Tua Tagovailoa confirmed flashes of taking cost, significantly in his connections with extensive receiver DeVante Parker downfield. However hindered by mediocre-at-best offensive line play, the Dolphins’ offense in the end stalled out far too usually Sunday to encourage a lot confidence in its skill to hold the workforce. — Marcel Louis-Jacques

Is that this protection ok to maintain Miami out of shootouts shifting ahead? It did sufficient for the Dolphins’ second win in New England since 2008 in opposition to a Mac Jones-led offense, however it’s unclear the way it will maintain up in opposition to a stronger group. The offense’s skill to win video games was a query mark getting into this season, and it stays simply as unsure getting into Week 2. — Louis-Jacques

Louis-Jacques’ confidence score: 6.5. The Dolphins’ protection is for actual and compelled turnovers when wanted most Sunday. The play of the offensive line left loads to be desired, however a Week 2 win in opposition to a Payments offense that struggled in opposition to Pittsburgh in Week 1 however torched Miami final season will ship this confidence score by means of the roof subsequent week. — Louis-Jacques

Subsequent recreation: vs. Payments (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET)



What to know: Patriots quarterback Mac Jones had a promising debut. The sport is not too massive for him — not even shut. The 2021 first-round draft decide from Alabama operated the standard Patriots offense, throwing in rhythm, out of empty formations, and with good accuracy and decision-making. A few instances, he stood in and took successful whereas delivering throws down the sector, which additionally mirrored his toughness. His 133 passing yards within the first half would have been a season excessive within the first half for the Patriots in 2020. With Jones, the longer term is vivid in New England. — Mike Reiss

How critical is beginning proper deal with Trent Brown’s calf harm? He was out after the primary drive of the sport, changed by swing possibility Justin Herron, and the Patriots’ line struggled at instances because of it. It is potential that 2019 third-round draft decide Yodny Cajuste may fill the void if wanted in Week 2, however he was inactive with a hamstring harm. The Patriots even have Yasir Durant, a developmental prospect whom they acquired in a commerce from the Kansas Metropolis Chiefs a few weeks in the past (and he took over for Herron late on Sunday). If Brown is out for an prolonged interval, an alternative choice is shifting left guard Mike Onwenu out to proper deal with and inserting dependable veteran Ted Karras at guard. — Reiss

Reiss’ confidence score: 6.5. Jones seems to be like a top quality beginning quarterback, and will solely develop from right here, whereas coach Invoice Belichick’s defenses historically proceed to enhance. — Reiss

Subsequent recreation: at Jets (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET)

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Standout performer: Broncos QB Teddy Bridgewater, 264 passing yards, 1 TD



What to know: It was fairly the Denver debut for quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, who turned the fifth quarterback to start out the workforce’s season opener over the previous 5 years. He confirmed composure when issues broke down in addition to good mobility, and constantly moved the ball. By the top of the third quarter Bridgewater was 26-of-34 passing for 248 yards and two touchdowns. The Broncos had additionally put collectively scoring drives of 10, 16 and 15 performs. And most significantly, Bridgewater didn’t have a turnover. — Jeff Legwold

What would an extended absence for receiver Jerry Jeudy imply for the Broncos’ offense? Jeudy suffered a decrease proper leg harm within the third quarter. Initially the Broncos believed it was a excessive ankle sprain and never a fracture, however he could have further checks Monday. Jeudy has been referred to as “uncoverable” by his teammates, and an extended absence would be significant. Tim Patrick, who led the team in receiving touchdowns last season, would be pressed into additional work in the two- and three-wide-receiver sets. KJ Hamler, who dropped a sure touchdown Sunday, could be needed to make plays down the field. — Legwold

Legwold’s confidence rating: 7.8. This was certainly their best opener in years, and Bridgewater’s play is cause for some optimism, something the Broncos haven’t had much of over the previous two Septembers. And the defense stifled the Giants. But in the big picture, the Broncos were too reliant on third-down conversions offensively from the kind of distances that won’t be there against the league’s best teams. — Legwold

Next game: at Jaguars (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET)



Melvin Gordon III breaks free for a 70-yard touchdown run in the Broncos’ 27-13 win vs. the Giants.



What to know: The Giants’ offense guided by Jason Garrett still leaves a lot to be desired. It’s hard to win when scoring 13 points, and quarterback Daniel Jones had another costly fumble. Surely it has a lot to do with running back Saquon Barkley (knee) and wide receiver Kenny Golladay (hamstring) being non-factors after spending most of the summer coming back from injuries. They combined for 91 total yards in the loss. It was similar to last year when they weren’t part of the offense and the Giants averaged a paltry 17.5 points per game. — Jordan Raanan

What’s up with the Giants’ defense? This was a bad effort. The pass rush remains a big problem, and so does the defense’s ability to get off the field on third downs. Denver converted on 7 of 15 third downs against the Giants, who were 25th in the NFL last season on third-down defense. Without a consistent pass rush, it’s happening again. — Raanan

Raanan’s confidence rating: 4.2. Not many positives to take from this game. It was always realistic that the offense would come out of the gate slowly considering the injuries this summer, but Jones fumbled again and the defense looked worse than expected. — Raanan

Next game: at Washington (Thursday, 8:20 p.m. ET)

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Standout performer: Bengals RB Joe Mixon with 127 rushing yards, 1 TD



What to know: The future of the Bengals will hinge on quarterback Joe Burrow. On fourth-and-inches in overtime, Burrow appeared to check out of a play at the line of scrimmage. Burrow instead dropped back and hit tight end C.J. Uzomah for a 32-yard strike that set up the winning field goal. — Ben Baby

Are the Bengals going to lock up security Jessie Bates to a long-term extension? As a result of he earned his cash on Sunday. Bates turned a possible loss into an eventual win when he compelled a fumble with the Vikings in area objective vary. Bates’ agent simply gained a giant information level in contract negotiations. — Child

Child’s confidence score: 7.0. The Bengals are in some way by no means out of it so long as they’ve Burrow on the sector. — Child

Subsequent recreation: at Bears (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET)



What to know: The problems from the preseason — particularly these on offense — weren’t an overreaction. Minnesota acquired some assist from the Bengals, however Sunday was hideous offensively. Kirk Cousins appeared uncomfortable, the offensive line made error after error and the Vikings could not set up any semblance of a run recreation with Dalvin Cook dinner. The claims the previous couple of weeks that offensive points from the preseason would work themselves out when all of the starters obtained on the sector was posturing, and Sunday’s loss proved it. — Courtney Cronin

How do they repair the offensive line points? It is onerous to get something going offensively when the O-line racks up numerous holding and false-start penalties. The offensive line was chargeable for 70 of the workforce’s 116 whole penalty yards on Sunday, and the inside obtained pushed round. Cousins doesn’t look comfy or like he is aware of the place his safety is, and that is an issue that does not seem to have a simple repair. — Cronin

Cronin’s confidence score: 5.0. The Vikings must go on the street once more subsequent week to play an Arizona workforce that beat Tennessee 38-13. Contemplating how poorly the offensive line held up in opposition to Cincinnati, it is troublesome to fathom the way it’ll be any higher in opposition to the Cardinals’ cross rush, which featured a five-sack day from Chandler Jones in Week 1. — Cronin

Subsequent recreation: at Cardinals (Sunday, 4:05 p.m. ET)

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Standout performer: 49ers RB Elijah Mitchell with 104 dashing yards, 1 TD



What to know: For 3 quarters, the 49ers provided a reminder of how dominant they are often when wholesome and firing on all cylinders. In addition they let up late and almost coughed up a 28-point lead. The wanted caveat right here is that the Lions once more appear to be contenders for the No. 1 general decide in subsequent 12 months’s draft; if the Niners are going to return to contender standing, they cannot let their foot off the fuel, particularly in opposition to inferior opponents. — Nick Wagoner

How will the 49ers proceed to combine Trey Lance into the offense? Lance threw his first profession landing cross on his second NFL snap (and first cross try) however solely performed sparingly after that, taking a complete of 4 snaps. As a result of the sport was primarily over at halftime, there was no want for coach Kyle Shanahan to indicate an excessive amount of of what he has in thoughts for Lance, however it’s clear he will not be afraid to get the rookie quarterback concerned the place he sees match. — Wagoner

Wagoner’s confidence score: 6.5. It was a promising begin for the 49ers, however accidents to operating again Raheem Mostert and cornerback Jason Verrett — and letting off the fuel within the fourth quarter — put a damper on an in any other case dominant efficiency, which tempers this score fairly a bit. — Wagoner

Subsequent recreation: at Eagles (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET)



Trey Lance fakes the handoff and finds Trent Sherfield for his first profession landing cross.



What to know: A brand new period in Motown felt like enterprise as traditional to start out the sport, with the Lions trailing by a minimum of 21 factors at halftime of their season opener for the third time because the 1970 merger. Jared Goff turned the primary QB not named Matthew Stafford to start out a season opener for Detroit since Jon Kitna in 2008, however he appeared stiff early on — starting 1-of-5 for 12 yards and an interception on passes with greater than 5 air yards down the sector within the first half. The Lions ultimately warmed up, getting inside one rating after happening 38-10 within the third. They refused to stop. Goff ended with 338 passing yards and three touchdowns whereas finishing 38 of 57 makes an attempt in his Detroit debut. — Eric Woodyard

Was operating again Jamaal Williams getting the beginning nod over D’Andre Swift a one-time factor? Or was Swift’s groin harm extra critical than it appeared and the teaching workers wished to ease him again onto the sector? To his credit score, Swift did leap proper in on the second drive of the sport with a 4-yard run up the center, then took a brief display screen cross up the center for a 43-yard landing within the third. It is nonetheless one thing value noting, significantly when Swift is anticipated to be “the guy” this season with Williams as his complementary piece. — Woodyard

Woodyard’s confidence score: 4.5. Expectations are low this season for the Lions with so many new faces. This 49ers workforce is doubtlessly excellent, so it isn’t the worst factor to lose this opener — particularly after such a dramatic end. — Woodyard

Subsequent recreation: at Packers (Monday, Sept. 20, 8:15 p.m. ET)

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Standout performer: Steelers LB T.J. Watt with two sacks, 5 QB hits, a deal with for a loss



What to know: The Steelers’ protection was all the time going to be the power, and that was particularly evident because it saved the sport shut within the first half and spurred the second-half comeback. Of Pittsburgh’s 20 unanswered factors, 17 had been the results of two Payments turnovers on downs and a blocked punt/return landing — which was put into movement when Cameron Heyward had a third-down sack of Josh Allen one play earlier. T.J. Watt, simply off an enormous payday, had two sacks, and was a disruptive power all through the afternoon. The Payments managed to transform seven of 16 third downs, however they had been 0-for-2 on fourth downs. The offense has work by means of rising pains early, however the protection confirmed Sunday it is greater than able to buoying the whole workforce. — Brooke Pryor

What’s up with the Steelers’ OL? The Steelers’ offensive line was the most important query mark getting into Sunday’s recreation, and it stays the most important one. The road, which included two rookies making their NFL debuts, was abysmal — particularly within the first half. The Steelers had dashing yards, and first-round decide Najee Harris was averaging 1.1 yards per carry. Roethlisberger additionally obtained sacked twice within the first half. The second half was higher, and the run recreation picked up behind the road with 76 whole yards and 4.0 yards per carry. — Pryor

Pryor’s confidence score: 6.8. The Steelers outperformed their underdog standing getting into the matchup, and the primary half confirmed main deficiencies on the offensive line — however the protection offers the Steelers’ loads of motive for optimism.

Subsequent recreation: vs. Raiders (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET)



What to know: Regardless of a dominating defensive effort within the first two quarters, the Payments allowed 20 straight factors to the Steelers popping out of the half and misplaced a commanding lead. The protection allowed Pittsburgh to place collectively three drives of nine-plus performs within the second half alone and did not generate constant stress in opposition to a younger offensive line. The Payments additionally had a punt blocked, which was returned for a TD. — Alaina Getzenberg

Can the Payments’ offense replicate final 12 months’s success? Accuracy downfield proved to be an issue for Josh Allen in his first recreation of 2021, regardless of dealing with the bottom blitz fee of his profession, per ESPN Stats & Data. He accomplished 30 of 51 passes, a profession excessive in cross makes an attempt, for 270 yards in opposition to the Steelers and had bother connecting with each Stefon Diggs and Cole Beasley. The offensive line, one of many workforce’s greatest questions coming in, additionally struggled with Allen’s restricted motion, which performed a component within the Steelers not needing to blitz. The road was additionally referred to as for six holding penalties, 4 of which had been accepted, one thing coach Sean McDermott referred to as, “unacceptable.” Allen improved on his accuracy points final season, however the skill to construct on final 12 months’s success will probably be one thing to observe going ahead. — Getzenberg

Getzenberg’s confidence score: 6.3. There are clear points to be corrected on either side of the ball, and being outscored 23-3 within the second half is a telling statistic, however it’s not sufficient for main concern for a workforce with such a excessive ceiling. — Getzenberg

Subsequent recreation: at Miami (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET)

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Standout performer: Panthers QB Sam Darnold with 279 passing yards, 2 whole TDs



What to know: The jury continues to be out on quarterback Sam Darnold. Whereas the third decide of the 2018 draft was environment friendly in opposition to his former workforce in Sunday’s win in opposition to the Jets, it mustn’t have been that shut. Carolina scored one landing on 4 journeys contained in the New York 10-yard line, persevering with a pink zone situation that plagued it final season. Darnold solely proved he can play nicely in opposition to a nasty workforce. — David Newton

Can the offensive line defend Sam Darnold in opposition to a great protection? This group that coach Matt Rhule says stays a piece in progress gave up one sack, however Darnold was hit eight instances. Darnold’s final success is determined by how he’s protected in opposition to prime defenses such because the New Orleans Saints, who’re arising subsequent. — Newton

Newton’s confidence score: 5.1. Simply not sufficient proof that Carolina can beat a better-than-average workforce after this exhibiting in opposition to a workforce that has been a catastrophe the previous few years. — Newton

Subsequent recreation: vs. Saints (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET)



The Jets lose Sam Darnold, and he walks into the top zone for six factors.



What to know: Zach Wilson is aware of learn how to take a punch. Sadly for the Jets, he took too many. Their ballyhooed rookie quarterback confirmed no stop in opposition to a relentless cross rush, however he additionally made too many rookie errors. At instances, the sport was too quick for him, however he settled down and displayed a number of the expertise that made the Jets draft him second general. It was a terrific studying expertise. There is no motive to be down on Wilson, who will enhance each week. — Wealthy Cimini

Can the Jets defend Wilson? Their cross safety was brutal in opposition to the Panthers, and now they face the prospect of not having left deal with Mekhi Becton, who suffered a doubtlessly critical knee harm. You needed to anticipate some rising pains as a result of the beginning 5 had no recreation reps collectively within the preseason, however this was ridiculous — six sacks and 14 pressures. — Cimini

Cimini’s confidence score: 3.5. Cannot win if you cannot rating, and this offense appeared like one thing out of the Adam Gase period for two-plus quarters. — Cimini

Subsequent recreation: vs. Patriots (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET)

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Standout performer: Eagles QB Jalen Hurts with 264 passing yards, 3 TDs, 62 dashing yards



What to know: There’s motive to be excited in regards to the Eagles and their younger offensive playmakers. Quarterback Jalen Hurts outdueled veteran Matt Ryan in his fifth profession begin, going 27-of-35 for 264 yards with three touchdowns, and Eagles rookies DeVonta Smith (six catches, 71 yards) and Kenny Gainwell (43 whole yards) every discovered the top zone of their debuts. Add within the performances of Miles Sanders (113 whole yards) and Jalen Reagor (six catches, 49 yards, TD), and that is an entire lot of manufacturing out of a comparatively inexperienced group. They’re going to look to stick with it in opposition to a powerful 49ers protection subsequent week. — Tim McManus

How excessive is that this workforce’s ceiling? That sort of convincing street win will get individuals speaking about coach Nick Sirianni and the Eagles. Expectations had been low getting into this season, however the Eagles overperformed on either side of the ball Sunday, significantly on protection by retaining Atlanta and its proficient ability gamers out of the top zone. The upcoming stretch within the Eagles’ schedule will inform the true story: Their subsequent 5 video games are in opposition to the Niners, Cowboys, Chiefs, Panthers and Buccaneers. — McManus

McManus’ confidence score: 6.3. The Eagles impressed in coach Nick Sirianni’s first recreation on the helm. It would take extra proof earlier than believing they’re the actual factor, however it was about pretty much as good a begin as they may have requested for. — McManus

Subsequent recreation: vs. 49ers (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET)



What to know: Welp. That loss to the Eagles was actually, actually ugly. All the pieces sort of fell aside for Atlanta. The offense fizzled after two robust drives to start out the sport. The protection was overwhelmed by a thousand gashes, zone reads and brief passes it could not defend. And it obtained worse from there. This was about as dangerous because it may get in coach Arthur Smith’s debut. It was recognized the Falcons had some roster holes and lacked depth, however for it to be such a whole meltdown is regarding. When a workforce’s penalty yards (99) approaches both its dashing (124) or passing (136) yardage, you understand it has been a very dangerous day. — Michael Rothstein

What’s up with the offense? Issues began out robust, with Smith bringing some no-huddle with a personnel set in several formations. However after that, every little thing sputtered. The Falcons’ run recreation — which had 86 yards within the first quarter — completed with 124. The passing recreation barely threw intermediate routes, not to mention deep photographs. Atlanta reached the pink zone twice and settled for area objectives. The offensive line had three false begins. The excellent news is that it may possibly’t get any worse. Besides Atlanta performs the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 2. — Rothstein

Rothstein’s confidence score: 4.2. It is early, however there’s not a lot to love in any section from Atlanta after one recreation. — Rothstein

Subsequent recreation: at Buccaneers (Sunday, 4:05 p.m. ET)

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Standout performer: Texans QB Tyrod Taylor with 291 passing yards, 2 TDs



What to know: It is very early within the season, however after one week, Houston leads the AFC South. If the division continues to wrestle, the Texans may win extra video games than it appeared they might on paper. Final season, half of the workforce’s wins got here in opposition to the Jaguars. This 12 months, it seems to be like there are winnable video games within the AFC South. The true query: Is profitable sufficient that they do not get a prime decide in 2022 actually a great factor for the long-term way forward for the franchise? — Sarah Barshop

Is that this Texans protection for actual? Houston matched its 2020 whole with three interceptions on Sunday. Going into the season, it was clear that Houston’s system for achievement this season was a powerful efficiency on protection and particular groups. The workforce solely allowed 14 factors to Jacksonville, however can Lovie Smith’s protection proceed taking the ball away in opposition to non-rookie opposing quarterbacks? The Texans will discover out in opposition to the Cleveland Browns’ Baker Mayfield in Week 2. — Barshop

Barshop’s confidence score: 3.5. Houston appeared good within the season opener, however Week 2 in opposition to the Browns would be the higher take a look at to see whether or not the Texans will probably be higher than anticipated. — Barshop

Subsequent recreation: at Browns (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET)


What to know: The Jaguars appeared ill-prepared in City Meyer’s first recreation as an NFL head coach, which is inexcusable. Errors occur, however having too many males within the huddle, lining up incorrectly twice (within the first half), and burning two timeouts within the first quarter to keep away from delay penalties are preventable issues. These are the sort of issues that dangerous groups — and the Jaguars have been dangerous the final three seasons — do usually. — Mike DiRocco

Ought to we anticipate these sorts of struggles out of QB Trevor Lawrence all 12 months? To not the extent that we noticed in opposition to the Texans. He’ll make errors. That is what rookie quarterbacks usually do. Let’s additionally bear in mind his receivers dropped six passes. The sport obtained out of hand within the first half, and that compelled the Jaguars to desert the run within the second half, and that makes issues tougher for any quarterback. Lawrence made some actually good throws (the TDs to Chris Manhertz and DJ Chark, for instance) and scanned the sector fairly nicely, however he additionally was astray on a bunch of others and stared down his receivers at instances. It was a tough begin, however Lawrence would not lack confidence, and this may not shake him. — DiRocco

DiRocco’s confidence score: 2.5. The offensive points had been dangerous sufficient, however Tyrod Taylor — not Tom Brady or Russell Wilson or Josh Allen — carved up the Jaguars’ protection. — DiRocco

Subsequent recreation: vs. Broncos (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET)

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Standout performer: Seahawks QB Russell Wilson with 254 passing yards, 4 TDs



What to know: Up to now, so good with the Seahawks’ new offense. It began quick, with Russell Wilson landing passes on three of its first 4 possessions. It was explosive, with massive performs from Tyler Lockett and Chris Carson. It was removed from excellent, although, stalling out within the third quarter. Then once more, nobody may have anticipated perfection out of the gate with a first-time playcaller in Shane Waldron and no snaps for Wilson and a lot of the starters within the preseason. However the Seahawks will take 28 factors, 4 landing passes and no errors from Wilson any day, particularly in opposition to a great Indy protection. — Brady Henderson

Are the Seahawks ok at cornerback? If their cross rush has as a lot firepower because it confirmed Sunday, then perhaps they are going to be. Strain on the quarterback could make life simpler for the fellows on the skin. That was the case in opposition to Indy with three sacks (from Rasheem Inexperienced, Darrell Taylor and Benson Mayowa), 10 QB hits and much more stress than these numbers would counsel. Tre Flowers and D.J. Reed held up nicely sufficient in opposition to a Colts receiving corps that was with out T.Y. Hilton. It’s going to be a a lot more durable take a look at subsequent week in opposition to Julio Jones, A.J. Brown and the Titans. — Henderson

Henderson’s confidence score: 8.7. Wilson has coated up a whole lot of deficiencies through the years, so the Seahawks do not must be excellent round him, particularly if he is taking part in in addition to he did Sunday. — Henderson

Subsequent recreation: vs. Titans (Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET)



Russell Wilson throws two of his 4 landing passes to Tyler Lockett because the Seahawks open the season with a win over the Colts.



What to know: Carson Wentz was presupposed to see what it is prefer to have time within the pocket to throw whereas having one of many prime offensive strains in entrance of him. Wentz as an alternative spent a good portion of the sport getting sacked, hit or scrambling to keep away from having each of these issues occur as a result of the whole offensive line performed poorly. The Colts gave up three sacks and 10 quarterback hits. The objective was for Wentz to keep away from being sacked and hit like he did final season (50 sacks) in Philadelphia. Issues aren’t off to a great begin. And oh yeah, Aaron Donald, the premier defensive lineman within the NFL, and the Rams are up subsequent for the Colts in Week 2. — Mike Wells

Which Colts protection is the actual one? Will the Colts’ protection be extra of the unit that compelled 4 punts, a turnover and sacked Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson 4 instances on six second-half drives than the group that gave up 257 yards and struggled to get off the sector on third down within the first half? The Colts gave up solely 332 yards a recreation final season. Wilson confronted minimal stress within the first half whereas with the ability to decide aside the protection. It did not assist that the Colts did not have veteran cornerback Xavier Rhodes (calf). — Wells

Wells’ confidence score: 5.8. Shedding in Week 1 is not something new for the Colts as a result of they’ve now dropped eight straight season openers. However they weren’t presupposed to play as dangerous on either side of the ball in a recreation that wasn’t as shut as the ultimate rating. The offensive line ought to enhance as soon as left deal with Eric Fisher (Achilles) returns and the protection can construct off its second-half play. — Wells

Subsequent recreation: vs. Rams (Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET)

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Standout performer: Cardinals QB Kyler Murray with 289 passing yards, 5 whole TDs



What to know: The Cardinals’ protection is reliable — as in Tremendous Bowl-good. It was anchored by pass-rusher Chandler Jones’ 5 sacks, which tied the franchise file. It confirmed its depth with newcomer J.J. Watt within the backfield greater than Titans again Derrick Henry on Sunday. Cornerback Byron Murphy Jr. confirmed his versatility and made performs from sideline to sideline. The defensive position all however shut down Henry. Arizona’s protection confirmed what it is able to in opposition to an offense that made the playoffs final season. — Josh Weinfuss

Who would be the Cardinals’ greatest offensive weapon after extensive receiver DeAndre Hopkins? It’ll rely upon the sport, however Arizona confirmed Sunday it has offensive depth. Christian Kirk caught two touchdowns, A.J. Inexperienced might be an possibility regardless of a quiet first begin and Rondale Moore can be value keeping track of. Kyler Murray goes to be Kyler Murray and Hopkins is Hopkins. If defenses need to decide to them, Arizona has loads of different choices who may help them rating 40 factors a recreation. — Weinfuss

Weinfuss’ confidence score: 9.0. The Cardinals have the roster and firepower to be excellent this season, demonstrated by 5 touchdowns from Kyler Murray, two every from DeAndre Hopkins and Christian Kirk and 5 sacks from Chandler Jones. — Weinfuss

Subsequent recreation: vs. Vikings (Sunday, 4:05 p.m. ET)



What to know: The sluggish begin by the Titans will be traced to having just one full week of observe as a unit earlier than the season opener. Tennessee has notoriously gotten off to sluggish begins. Sunday was no totally different as they fell behind 24-6 within the first half. One other week of observe collectively ought to assist. However the Titans could be clever to start out subsequent week’s recreation with tempo on offense to create a way of urgency. — Turron Davenport

What’s up with operating again Derrick Henry? Henry gained 8 yards dashing within the first half. That marks his lowest whole as a starter since 2019, when he picked up 4 yards in opposition to the Carolina Panthers. The struggles begin with the offensive line. Arizona’s defensive position constantly pushed the road of scrimmage into the Titans’ backfield. Henry was hit at or behind the road of scrimmage eight instances leading to a web lack of three yards over the primary three quarters. — Davenport

Davenport’s confidence score: 4.5. The Titans’ offensive line was dominated by Arizona, and questions stay about proper deal with along with left deal with after a nasty efficiency from Taylor Lewan. — Davenport

Subsequent recreation: at Seahawks (Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET)

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Standout performer: Chargers QB Justin Herbert with 337 passing yards, 1 TD



What to know: The Chargers made a number of the goofiest errors (fumbling in the long run zone deep in Washington territory, which gave Washington a touchback) however managed to win the sport because of QB Justin Herbert, who threw for 337 yards whereas finishing 31 of 47 passes. Herbert had the top zone fumble and threw a pink zone interception however managed to maintain his cool, throwing the game-winning landing cross to Mike Williams early within the fourth quarter after Kyzir White compelled a fumble deep in Washington territory which Joey Bosa recovered. The Chargers had two pink zone turnovers however had been capable of play keep-away for the final 6:43 out to get the win. — Shelley Smith

How will the workforce clear up a few of these errors? Receiver Mike Williams saved the sport along with his landing reception, and he and Keenan Allen mixed for 17 catches for 182 yards. Together with the 2 pink zone turnovers, a roughing-the-passer penalty on Joey Bosa late within the first half led to 3 Washington factors. They’re going to want to chop down on the errors going ahead. — Smith

Smith’s confidence score: 5.4. They received a recreation that final 12 months they might have misplaced, because the Chargers had been capable of convert a number of third downs on their ultimate drive to forestall the dramatic losses which they’ve had the final two seasons. — Smith

Subsequent recreation: vs. Cowboys (Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET)



Austin Ekeler runs in a three-yard landing to place the Chargers forward early in opposition to Washington.



What to know: Washington had a number of points, however third-down protection was a serious one. The cross rush didn’t hassle quarterback Justin Herbert almost sufficient as Los Angeles transformed 14 of 18 third downs. Whereas the offense wanted to do extra, the protection is meant to be the rock. Within the pink zone, Washington’s protection stiffened, however the incapacity to get off the sector on third down was a serious drawback. Quite a lot of that stemmed from Herbert’s improbable passing, however a few of that was a couple of line that wanted to harass him extra. Washington’s line didn’t dwell as much as the hype Sunday. — John Keim

What’s the affect if Ryan Fitzpatrick should miss time? Fitz left the sport with a hip harm, leaving the offense to Taylor Heinicke. Heinicke confirmed that he can run this offense nicely and gives a spark. The query with him has all the time been sturdiness and what occurs as groups get extra movie on him. Kyle Allen could be elevated to the No. 2 function. They don’t have one other QB on the observe squad. Washington has had too many seasons the place accidents have been a difficulty at quarterback, so this can be a robust method to begin the season. — Keim

Keim’s confidence score: 5.0. Washington stays a proficient younger workforce in some areas, however now there are questions — once more — at quarterback, and the protection could not bail them out. The important thing to this season will probably be how the workforce progresses within the second half, and one recreation doesn’t sidetrack them. However it does present that they’ve questions that also have to be answered. — Keim

Subsequent recreation: vs. Giants (Thursday, 8:20 p.m. ET)

end rule

Standout performer: Cowboys QB Dak Prescott with 403 passing yards, 3 TDs



What to know: Not like Tremendous Bowl LV, through which the Buccaneers’ protection saved the Chiefs out of the top zone, the Bucs’ offense needed to carry them this time. Quarterback Tom Brady threw for 379 yards, 4 touchdowns and two interceptions, and the protection surrendered 403 passing yards and three touchdowns to Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott. Had it not been for 2 missed area objective makes an attempt by the Cowboys’ Greg Zuerlein, the Bucs would have been doomed by 4 turnovers. Nonetheless, the offense seems to be extra improved than it did at the start of final season, suggesting that sure, they actually will be higher than their title-run season. — Jenna Laine

Did the Cowboys create the template to beat Tampa Bay? They attacked the Bucs with screens and made their protection step up and deal with on the perimeter. This might be particularly problematic if beginning cornerback Sean Murphy-Bunting (additionally their nickelback) misses any time after dislocating an elbow, and in the event that they proceed to be with out security Jordan Whitehead. — Laine

Laine’s confidence score: 7.0. Brady delivered some epic throws for the defending Tremendous Bowl champs, however the protection was disappointing in opposition to Dallas. The Bucs should right their errors with video games in opposition to the Rams and Patriots proper across the nook. — Laine

Subsequent recreation: vs. Falcons (Sunday, 4:05 p.m. ET)



What to know: There are causes to be inspired by the Cowboys’ Week 1 recreation: Dak Prescott’s 403 yards, Amari Cooper’s 13 catches for 139 yards and the protection’s 4 takeaways. After which there are causes to be discouraged by the loss: Ezekiel Elliott had 33 yards on 11 carries, the Cowboys allowed 4 landing passes, and there have been too many errors on particular groups. “Like coach said in the postgame, the only thing we know after this game is that we aren’t going undefeated,” Cooper mentioned. “It wasn’t all bad. We did some good things, too.” — Todd Archer

How a lot fear ought to there be concerning kicker Greg Zuerlein? He hooked a 31-yard area objective try and was off from 60 yards — which is okay — but additionally had an additional level hit the upright. He did not kick a lot over the summer time due to again surgical procedure and had one try within the preseason. The Cowboys have to do a greater job offensively within the pink zone, however Zuerlein cannot miss makeable kicks like this. — Archer

Archer’s confidence score: 7.5. The offense did what was anticipated. Scoring 29 factors in opposition to Tampa Bay is an efficient exhibiting even when it did not — or could not — run the ball. Dallas shredded the Bucs’ cross protection, and Prescott was sacked as soon as. And Dallas would not play Tom Brady each week. — Archer

Subsequent recreation: at Chargers (Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET)

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