Judging NFL Week 1 overreactions

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Josh Allen is going to be the MVP! No, wait, Justin Herbert is! No, wait… I meant Patrick Mahomes. No, wait, it’s gotta be… Carson Wentz???

Kyler Murray really does need to study more!

Aaron Rodgers really doesn’t have anyone to throw to!

The Patriots really are going to be a disaster on offense!

Saquon Barkley is back!

The Bengals were a fluke!

Jalen Hurts is going to be the Eagles starting quarterback for a long time!

AHHHHH!!!!!!

Yes! We are back for another season of overreaction Monday, and as usual, Week 1 is the absolute best time of the year for overreactions. Seven months of waiting builds to one glorious weekend of games that feel like the biggest events on the sports calendar (until next weekend) and everybody wants to rush to judgment in one direction or the other. Week 1 is the lifeblood of the overreactions column, and we absolutely love it.

So let’s get to it, then! I give you a definitive statement someone, somewhere might be making about what happened this week in the NFL. I make the case. Then I tell you whether it’s an overreaction or not. A tradition unlike any other. Week 1 overreactions here we go:

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1:38

Patrick Mahomes throws for five touchdowns and 360 yards in the Chiefs’ 44-21 win vs. the Cardinals.

The Chiefs’ offense is going to be even better without Tyreek Hill

This is the game I covered for Sunday NFL Countdown and, I have to tell you, Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs’ offense looked pretty determined to tamp down the offseason concerns about how they were going to score points without Hill. They scored 44 of them Sunday in Arizona, routing the Cardinals 44-21 like nothing ever happened. They scored touchdowns on each of their first three possessions, led 23-7 at halftime and kept their foot on the gas in the second half.

“All offseason, everyone’s asked us the questions about what’s this offense going to look like,” Mahomes said. “I always felt like we were going to go out there and put on a show, and we did that.”

They sure did. Mahomes was 30-for-39 for 360 yards and five touchdown passes. He targeted 10 different receivers, completed passes to nine of them and touchdown passes to four of them. They rolled up 488 yards of total offense and picked up a first down on 33 of their 66 offensive plays. That is not a typo. It looked easy without Hill, and the Chiefs told us all along this would work. I don’t know why anyone ever doubted them.

The verdict: OVERREACTION. Look, don’t get mad here. I think the Chiefs’ offense will be one of the best in the league. I think Mahomes is a legit MVP candidate. I think they’ll win their division for the seventh year in a row. But I do not think they are going to score 44 points every week. The Cardinals are injury-ravaged on both sides of the ball and were in no shape to resist this. Chiefs opponents aren’t going to commit this many unforced errors every week.

The absence of Hill is still going to make defensive coordinators feel less terrified when they game-plan against Kansas City. As long as they have Mahomes, the Chiefs will be able to score at a high level, and this year should be no different. But while they may be a more efficient offense without Hill, they won’t be as explosive. No one could. So while I am very high on the Chiefs, and I believe what Patrick Mahomes is telling us about how the diversity of the receiver crew will help him evolve as a quarterback (scary thought alert!), I’m not ready to predict they’ll set some kind of franchise scoring record just because they dropped 44 in the desert Sunday. Maybe they’ll prove me wrong.


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1:24

Ryan Clark hypes up Josh Allen and the Bills after their huge season-opening win over the defending Super Bowl champions.

The Bills are going to win the Super Bowl

This one goes back to Thursday night, but the Bills were so good in that 31-10 win over the Rams that they earned a spot even in this prisoner-of-the-moment Sunday night analysis. Yeah, they turned the ball over three times in the first half, but they still won by 21. Against the Super Bowl champs. On the road. (OK, no one’s really “on the road” from a fan-support standpoint when they visit L.A., but still … it’s a long flight!) I was trying to think of a performance I’ve seen that was more dominant, and all I could come up with was Thanos in Infinity War. The Bills look deep at every single position. Every time they made a tackle, a different guy got up and you thought, “Wow! They have him too!” They dominated on offense and defense and looked every bit the part of a Super Bowl favorite.

The verdict: NOT AN OVERREACTION. Long way to go, of course. We don’t know who’s going to get hurt. Some of the other predicted AFC powers — the Chiefs, the Chargers, the Ravens — looked really good in Week 1 as well. It’s not going to be easy. But if you went into the season, as I did, thinking the Bills had the best team, Week 1 didn’t do anything to change your mind. This is a stacked roster with great coaching and a great quarterback. They believe this is their time to win it all. They added two-time Super Bowl champ Von Miller, who looks like he’s 25 again, to help get them over the hump. If you don’t think this is a squad capable of doing what their great 1990s predecessors couldn’t — deliver Buffalo its first Super Bowl title — then I’m not sure you’re paying attention.


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0:28

Nelson Agholor fumbles pass from Mac Jones to give the Dolphins back the ball in the fourth quarter.

The Patriots are going to finish last in the AFC East

The story of the offseason in New England was the new offense, being run by defensive and special teams coaches, with a second-year quarterback throwing to a collection of so-so receivers behind a suspect offensive line. The story of the week in New England was Bill Belichick taking the team to Miami four days earlier than normal so they could practice in the heat and humidity because they were 2-7 in their last nine games down there. It didn’t work.

The Dolphins took care of the Patriots 20-7, holding New England to 271 yards of total offense and collecting three turnovers in the process. They were more dull than disastrous, but the postgame news that Mac Jones (21-for-30, 213 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT and a lost fumble) injured his back could certainly bring “disastrous” into play. Overall, the Patriots did nothing Sunday in Miami that will get people to stop questioning the offense.

Verdict: NOT AN OVERREACTION. Obviously we can’t rate them ahead of Miami after what we saw Sunday, and Buffalo looked as good as anybody in Week 1. So that kind of leaves the Pats and the Jets battling it out for third place (did you ever think?) if it plays out the way we expect. A lot of that “race” could be decided by the health of Jones and the effectiveness (plus health) of Zach Wilson once he comes back. But I’ve been saying for weeks now, it’s not the coaching that worries me in New England, it’s the personnel. I’m not entirely sure the Jets don’t have better players.


Jimmy Garoppolo will be the 49ers’ starting quarterback again by Halloween

On the list of disappointing Week 1 flops — a list that includes the Rams, Bengals, Cardinals and Packers to name a few — none flopped as sloppily as the 49ers did in a 19-10 loss played in the muck and the mud of rainy Soldier Field. They built a 10-0 third-quarter lead against a Bears team that didn’t even look like it was trying to do anything but get out alive on offense, then they just fell apart. Two touchdown passes by Justin Fields (taken eight picks later than Trey Lance in the 2021 draft) put the Bears in front in the fourth quarter, and they salted it away with a Khalil Herbert touchdown run after Lance’s fourth-quarter interception.

Kudos to Matt Eberflus for his first career win as a head coach, and to the clearly very tough and talented Fields for hanging in after a rough first half. But if the Niners are going to live up to their preseason hype, they’re certainly going to have to win games like this — especially when they have 10-point second-half leads.

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0:49

The Bears D comes up with a huge pick and the offense takes advantage with a Khalil Hebert TD.

The verdict: OVERREACTION. It was a rough day for Lance (13-for-28, 164 yards, 1 INT), who’s taking over for Garoppolo as the starter this year even though Garoppolo did take a pay cut to stay on the team as his backup. Every game the Niners lose — especially those they’re supposed to win — will raise eyebrows and make folks wonder whether they’d be better off with Garoppolo. For all of his faults, he was their quarterback when they got to the Super Bowl three years ago and when they got to the NFC Championship Game last year. There are a lot of veterans on this team who aren’t going to be patient if they think their QB is losing them games.

But it’s hard to pin this loss completely on Lance, and I believe the 49ers will give him every opportunity to keep the job. Kyle Shanahan has staked a good chunk of his reputation on the decision to trade up and take Lance in 2021. He believes Lance’s talent offers a higher ceiling at the position than Garoppolo does, and he believes he’ll be great if given time. I believe Lance will get that time — and that the Niners will have a better chance to win games when they don’t commit 12 penalties for 99 yards.



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