The 2018 NFL season is now officially underway. Here’s a recap of how the top teams fared in week one action and a preview of the Monday Night matchups.
The 2018 NFL season officially began on Thursday night, with the Super Bowl champion Eagles defeating the Falcons in a tough defensive struggle. A full slate of games followed on Sunday. Here’s a rundown of how the top teams in each conference fared during the season’s first games. After that, we’ll preview the two Monday night matchups, as the Jets take on the Lions and the Rams face off against the Raiders.
The NFC Contenders
First, let’s have a look at how some of the NFC’s top contenders performed during week one. The Thursday night game was eerily similar to last year’s NFC Divisional playoff game, with the Eagles winning at home by less than a touchdown. In a sense, however, both teams emerged from the game optimistically. The Eagles began their title defense with a victory over a high caliber team, while the Falcons showed they could keep up with the world champs.
The conference runner-up Minnesota Vikings defeated the San Francisco 49ers behind new quarterback Kirk Cousins’ two touchdown passes. But they also had a lot of help from a 49ers offense that turned the ball over 4 times. These turnovers included three costly interceptions thrown by Jimmy Garoppolo, whose lost for the first time as a starter in the NFL.
In other top-flight action, the Saints suffered a disheartening 48-40 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as Ryan Fitzpatrick outdueled Drew Brees in a game filled with offensive pyrotechnics. And in probably the most exciting game of the day, Aaron Rodgers shook off an early game injury to lead the Green Bay Packers to an important 24-23 win over the Chicago Bears.
View this post on Instagram
The AFC Contenders
Here’s what happened when five of the top projected AFC playoff teams took the field for the first time this season.
Last year’s AFC conference finalists both eked out key victories during week one. The Jaguars clamped down on Eli Manning as their defense led them to a 20-15 road victory over the Giants. In Foxboro, the Patriots did what they always do, beating the Texans 27-20 behind Tom Brady’s 3 TDs and Rob Gronkowski’s 123 receiving yards.
Last year’s other two AFC divisional playoff teams didn’t fare quite as well. The Steelers started off the season with a bit of a thud, with their game against the lowly Browns ending in a tie. Titans fans had it even worse– a 27-20 loss to the Dolphins.
The experts predicted big things for the Chargers this season, but if Sunday’s game was any indication, they’re in for a dogfight in the AFC West. Philip Rivers threw for over 400 yards, but his sparkling performance was overshadowed by Patrick Mahomes’ 4 TD passes and a 38-28 Chiefs win.
The Monday Night Games
In the early game on ESPN, The New York Jets travel to Detroit to take on Matthew Stafford and the Lions. The Lions look to build on last season’s 9-7 record and promise to be more formidable than ever on offense. For the Jets, rookie quarterback Sam Darnold will need a lot of support from his offensive line and running back Bilal Powell to make his first start a successful one. Look for an uptick in offensive line play to give Matthew Stafford time to pick apart the Jets’ secondary and carry the Lions to an opening game win.
The late game features a matchup between the Oakland Raiders and the Los Angles Rams, two teams coming off very different seasons last year. The Raiders look to rebound from last year’s 6-10 campaign as former coach Jon Gruden returns to the sidelines after a 10-year hiatus. Second-year Rams’ coach Sean McVay brings in a Rams team with most of last season’s 11-5 team still intact, but it’s the addition of three former Pro Bowl defenders that should make this a fairly easy win on the Raiders’ home field.
photo via @NFL 📷: @logan_bowles