And so it begins – Week 1’s 4-point stance

For the 2019 NFL season I’m going to focus on four key takeaways from my perspective after each round of games. Why the 4-point stance? Well, the idea is to get my ‘hands in the dirt’ and rush head first into what has grabbed my attention each week. Let’s see how the first week of the NFL’s 100th season panned out.

1. Some things never change

Nine of the twelve 2018 playoff teams won on opening weekend. Only one side (Chicago) lost to a rival who did not make the playoffs (Green Bay). It is fair to assume that the strong sides from 2018 will remain strong in 2019 and all will challenge for playoff spots. Particularly noteworthy performances were from Baltimore, New England and Dallas. Yes, the Ravens beat down on a Dolphins side who look like they are in some disarray, maybe even with an eye on 2020 already. However, the way in which Baltimore went about compiling their 50+ total with Lamar Jackson throwing for 5TDs was efficient and ruthless. Sterner tests will come but the size of the victory may give the Ravens a springboard from which they can make a fast start in the AFC North.

2. Performance of the week

Lots of possibilities here but I wanted to highlight the playcalling of new Dallas OC Kellen Moore. The Dallas offense, and in particular QB Dak Prescott, ripped the Giants young new-look defines to shreds. Expecting the run the Giants were suckered time and again into play action pass plays and Kellen Moore used a variety of looks and players in motion to confuse their opponent. It meant that Zeke could take it easy on his return after the hold out while Dak simply purred in the pocket. It is only one performance but there is lots to like about Dallas this year and Kellen Moore has had an instant impact.

3. I would worry if I was….

No one should panic after week 1. Of course not. However, a number of teams probably had a very uneasy team meeting following Sunday night / Monday night. I would be worried if i was – the Dolphins (obviously), Jaguars (Foles now on IR), Browns (all the pre-season hype and then….), the Bucs (Winston already on borrowed time), Giants (concerns over defense came true), Atlanta (woeful for first 3 quarters) and the Steelers (what was that…32 yards rushing). All of these sides need to bounce back in week 2 and make a statement that they are going to be competitive this season. Since 2002 only around 10% of sides starting 0-2 have made the playoffs.

4. Do the Giants even like Eli?

I’m a Giants fan, since the 1980s, and I’ve watched in the last decade as NYG have pretty much wasted the Manning years since Super Bowl XLVI. In order for a QB to be successful (in very simple terms) you have to keep him upright and provide him with targets. Up until this season the Giants have, of late, treated their offensive line like a patchwork quilt. Eli has spent recent years dropping back and looking up to see on-rushing defenders about to flatten him. With the additions last year of Nate Solder and Will Hernandez, followed by this year the return of Jon Halapio and the acquisition of Mike Remmers and Kevin Zeitler the O-line already looks like it will give Eli more time in the pocket. The problem is now that the quality at WR has been reduced. The trade of OBJ (let’s not get into that) took away a huge target and he was not replaced, either in free agency or the draft. Yes, there is Shepard (and now Tate although not until week 5 after the PED violation), Evan Engram is improving and Saquon is always there but no quality target to truly stretch the field. Everything looks like it will happen in the short yardage space, defenses will not be worried about the ‘over the top’ play. I’d suggest any QB would struggle to put up game winning numbers in this scenario. I hope I am wrong but I cannot see the Giants offense dominating enough to win more than a handful of games.

Look ahead to week 2 match ups – my 4 to watch

New Orleans Saints @ LA Rams – only one place to start and that is the first meeting for these two since the NFC Championship game last season (and nothing controversial happened there did it?). I think New Orleans will be so fired up for this one there will be no stopping them so for me it is Saints by 7.

Philadelphia Eagles @ Atlanta Falcons – time for Atlanta to step up and show the talent they have in the roster, a case of ‘wakey-wakey the season has started’. Eagles were shocked by the Redskins for the first half of last week and I’m backing the Falcons to come good at home in the dome, Falcons by 4.

Seattle Seahawks @ Pittsburgh Steelers – in another ‘need to bounce’ match up Pittsburgh need to reboot the post-Bell post-Brown era against a Seattle side that struggled against an energised Bengals team. I expect this to be close and low scoring, but Steelers come out on top by 3.

Kansas City @ Oakland Raiders – after the upheaval going in to week 1 it was a testament to the players and coaching staff that they put in a huge performance against the Broncos to start the season with a W. However, the Chiefs offense hit the ground running against Jacksonville and the Raiders won’t contain Pat Mahomes so it is Chiefs by 10.

Same time next week!

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