No less than three NFL teams that were expected to win their divisions lost their openers in Week 1, two of them as favorites, and another—the Philadelphia Eagles—was down 17 points to one of the league’s bottom-feeders at half time. It made for a wild weekend.
And while anything can and does happen in the NFL, when the New England Patriots, Green Bay Packers, and New Orleans Saints all lose their openers, you know it’s been a weird Week 1. A quick look at the current NFL betting lines for this weekend shows that these three are all favored in Week 2, but the question remains: what gives? Will 2014 see a changing out of the league’s division winners?
In short, depends on the division.
Let’s start in Wisconsin. The Packers were thoroughly outplayed in their rematch of 2012’s Fail Mary game, but they were playing in a stadium where the Seahawks have lost just once in the last three seasons, against perhaps the best secondary of all time.
While Eddie Lacy’s concussion is a concern, this is still Aaron Rodgers team and a game against the Jets in Week 2 should quiet the chatter around the team being vulnerable to the Lions or even Vikings challenging them for the divisional crown.
For the Saints, Week 1’s 37-34 loss was a heart-breaking entry in the ongoing battle between quarterbacks Drew Brees and Atlanta’s Matt Ryan. That said, this was never going to be a walk for the Saints, who looked good and were up against one of the best performances of Ryan’s career.
All that said, the Falcons made it clear that they are back. Every season, the NFL has a worst-to-first team that storms from the bottom of their division to the top, and with Julio Jones (7 catches for 116 yards in week 1) and Roddy White (5 for 77) healthy, there’s no reason to think that couldn’t be Atlanta. Look out, Mr. Brees.
The preseason favorite that may be in the hottest water may be the one the fewest people anticipated coming into Week 1. The Miami Dolphins shocked the New England Patriots in Miami on Sunday, out-gaining Tom Brady and company 222-67 in the second half, and outscoring them 23-0.
This was no lucky win for the Dolphins. A vicious defensive line sacked Brady four times, and Knowshon Moreno looked surprisingly good in teal and orange, rushing for 134 yards as the Fins simply outplayed the long-time AFC East champs.
And it’s not over yet folks. The Dolphins have a feather-light schedule ahead, with games against the Bills, Raiders, Chiefs, and Jags all coming in the first half of the season, so this may not be a lead they soon relinquish.