WOW. What an opening week in the NFL. Here is the round up from the NFC South
Carolina Panthers v Denver Broncos
Billed as a re-run of SB 50, this game more than lived up to the hype. The Panthers will be licking their wounds after this defeat as they were clearly on top after an inspired performance on both sides of the ball in the first half. The Broncos turned the game around in the second half, recovering from a 10 point deficit and much of the credit has to go to Broncos debutant QB, Trevor Siemien. By no means perfect, Siemien looked composed in his first NFL game and looked an upgrade on the recently departed Mark Sanchez. Denver also employed a much improved running game which is probably a result of Manning no longer being under centre and Kubiak being able to run the Offense his way. Still, if it wasn’t for Denver calling time-out when Gano was lining up his game-winning field goal then it could so easily have been the Panthers who would have left Mile High with the W – such are the fine lines between winning and losing in the NFL.
The Panthers, they may be disappointed losing this one, however, other than having to improve their run D, they look as good as last year. For Denver, if Siemien can continue with this level of performance then this season promises to be a good one for the team with the leagues best Defense.
After the game, much of the focus was on the NFL’s concussion protocol after Cam Newton suffered a number of hits to the helmet. Due to Cam’s playing style, expect this to be an issue throughout the season.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers v Atlanta Falcons
The Bucs overhauled Defense put on a good display in Atlanta to claim a huge win on the road against their divisional foes. Jameis Winston, a traditional slow starter, carried on this trait after missing a wide open Mike Evans in the Red Zone on the opening drive of the game and then throwing an INT whilst deep in the Bucs territory which led to the Falcons sole first half TD. Fortunately, for the Bucs, Winston found his rhythm in the 2nd quarter and was nigh on unstoppable through the next two quarters as he threw for 4 unanswered TDs. Credit to Falcons though as an increased feeling of urgency and a no huddle offense brought an unanswered 11 points Atlanta’s way as Matt Ryan looked to conjure up another come from behind victory in the Georgia Dome. It was not to be as Bucs D held firm on final possession.
This win sets the Bucs up nicely for the season especially with the Offense carrying on from where they left of last season and already a more dynamic looking Defense. The Falcons will be disappointed to lose the opener at home although Mo Sanu looks a very good compliment to Julio Jones and Tevin Coleman looked very good coming out of the backfield. Defensively, the Falcons certainly appeared to rush the passer more than last year but still afforded Winston too much time to find his targets.
Oakland Raiders v New Orleans Saints
Not a game for the defensive connoisseurs as Oakland won a 69 point thriller. The game was decided by Oakland’s brave decision to go for a two point conversion with less than a minute on the clock when one point behind. Although, with the game Drew Brees was having, the Raiders obviously decided that they would not be able to stop him in OT. On the subject of Drew Brees, he was simply sublime and in Brandin Cooks, the Saints have a Wide Receiver who can take full advantage of Brees play as was demonstrated by his ridiculous 98 yard catch and run. New Orleans will be hurting after this loss especially after the Raiders failed to connect on a 4th and 5 late in the game only for it to be flagged for defensive pass interference to give Raiders a new set of downs from which they scored.
The Saints need Brees and Cooks to perform at a high level on a regular basis as they are going to struggle to shutdown the opposition. The Raiders start their season on a high with Carr carrying on his form from last season. With Cooper, Crabtree and Murray on Offense, scoring should not be a problem, however, an improvement in the secondary will be required if the Raiders ambitions of a return to the play-offs are to be realised.
My week 1 predictions were:
Bucs win/Falcons Loss
Well 2 out of 3 is not bad and was a missed field goal away from a clean sweep of predictions.
My week 2 predictions are: