Week 1 in the NFL is always a little weird. We haven’t seen any team really try to win, so we never know what to expect when suddenly all 32 teams do try. And then you have cases like Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow, who missed most of preseason practice with a calf injury.
Even still, there are facts that we know as we head into Week 2.
Fact 1: There are No Must-Wins in Week 2… But…
Of the Super Bowl hopeful teams that lost in Week 1 - the Bengals, Bills, Chiefs, Chargers, etc. - none of them have to win in Week 2 to save their season.
But, in the case of the Bengals, a loss in Week 2 would put them behind the proverbial 8-ball, with two losses inside the division, and a two-game deficit in the standings to the Baltimore Ravens, whom they play on Sunday.
It’s not just what you do early in the season, but what the rest of your division does. The Chiefs and Chargers are fine because the other team also lost. The Bills are fine because the Jets took the biggest loss of all, even as they won. But the Bengals really need to win.
Fact 2: Reports of the Rams Demise Were Greatly Exaggerated
The Los Angeles Rams were supposed to be competing with the Arizona Cardinals for last place in the NFC West. The team is either really young, or too old and broken down. They were going to spend this season paying the price for going all-in to win the Super Bowl two years ago.
Someone forgot to tell the old and broken down Matthew Stafford that he’s all washed up. Last week he looked more like his Super Bowl-self than he has since the Super Bowl, and this Rams team suddenly has life. Don’t think of L.A. as a pushover this year. They proved to be anything but with their Week 1 win in Seattle.
Fact 3: Chicagoans Have a Reason for Worry
This is the year for the Bears to really figure out if Justin Fields is their future at quarterback. In 2024 he will be in line for his second NFL contract, assuming the team wants to continue to build around him. And with the money that will be involved in QB contracts next offseason, they need to be sure.
Week 1, at home, and an Aaron Rodgers-less Packers was supposed to be his coming out party. Instead it was more of the same, with the Bears finishing the game ranked 21st in Real Quarterback Rating and 20th in Scoreability.
This season of consequence for Fields is off to a disturbing start.
Fact 4: You Can’t be Too High on Anthony Richardson
No matter how excited you are to see the continued growth of Colts rookie quarterback Anthony Richardson, you aren’t excited enough. His ceiling is even higher than anyone expected.
Richardson is inexperienced, and it showed in his field of vision in Week 1. He was limited to reading just half the field. But even with that limitation, and the limitations of the Colts players around him, he looked fantastic.
The talent is raw, but it is overflowing. Indianapolis has themselves a great quarterback for the future.
Fact 5: Never Cover Tyreek Hill with Single Coverage
The Chargers should know better. They used to play Tyreek Hill twice a season. When you play man coverage on Hill, you are going to get burned. Repeatedly.
Hill absolutely went off in SoFi Stadium last week because 21 of his routes were run against man coverage. He finished with 215 yards and two touchdowns. Last year against the Chargers he faced man coverage on just seven routes, and he finished with 81 yards.
He still had a good game, but he didn’t look like a video game. So why did L.A. change? Why did the former defensive coordinator turned head coach, Brandon Staley, not stick with what worked?
Those are questions only he can answer. What we can be certain of, however, is that Bill Belichick will not make the same mistakes in Week 2. In Hill’s last five games against the Patriots, he has just one touchdown.