The hot takes are spreading after the first NFL Sunday of the season. I will not allow them to go unchallenged. At least not the false ones.
Here are six headlines from Sunday, but are they true or false?
The Chiefs are the best team in the AFC.
Opposing teams in the AFC view Kansas City as the team to beat coming off of back-to-back Super Bowl trips. However, that doesn’t make the Chiefs the best team. They are not. Sunday’s game against the Browns confirmed what we already suspected: Cleveland has a far better roster — and a much better overall team — than Kansas City.
The Chiefs beat the Browns 33-29. KC won the game and tiebreaker over Cleveland — that’s great. But, I still can’t unsee the Browns pushing around the Chiefs’ below-average defense and exposing their flaws. Patrick Mahomes, Tyreek Hill, and Travis Kelce are otherworldly and cover up the Chiefs’ blemishes. Now here are three more truths about the Chiefs:
- Their defense is horrible.
- They have no depth at the receiving position after Kelce and Hill.
- The revamped offensive line is, at best, bottom 10 in the NFL.
Meanwhile, it’s hard to identify any roster flaws on the Browns. The Chiefs won, but the Browns have the better roster by a mile.
Green Bay should be terrified.
I can’t explain how Jameis Winston and the Saints beat down, humiliated, and laughed at Aaron Rodgers and the Packers in a 38-3 win.
It was not as though the Saints exposed the Packers’ weaknesses or that Green Bay showed holes on its roster. Instead, the Packers looked inexplicably out of it. It’s also often better for a team to lose in a blowout than a close game. So they should just throw out the tape and move on.
The Packers should not panic.
Green Bay largely brought back the same team that won 13 games and appeared in the NFC Championship Game last season. The pieces are there to make a long playoff run. Keep in mind: All-Pro LT David Bakhtiari, who is on the PUP list, will return later this season, and Aaron Rodgers will not always have defenders in his face.
Come December, we will look back at this game and chuckle at the final score.
Steelers-Bills was more about Pittsburgh than Buffalo.
The Steelers’ next-level defense halted the Bills’ all-star offense. While the fans give most of their attention to high-scoring offenses, great defenses continue to own these offenses head-to-head. See: the Super Bowl and Aaron Rodgers’ recent playoff games against the 49ers.
Pittsburgh is better than most of us expected. Of course, it was hard to expect much from the Steelers after their late-season collapse last year. Following an 11-0 start in 2020, Pittsburgh lost five of its six final games, including a first-round playoff exit.
Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers’ offensive line are not strong enough to lead Pittsburgh to a Super Bowl. That said, the Steelers’ defense has a puncher’s chance against the top teams in the NFL, which includes the Bills.
The Bills, Browns, and Packers all lost in Week 1. Yet I predict all three will end up playing in their respective conference championship games.
Justin Herbert has changed the Chargers’ culture.
For the first time in what seems like forever, the Chargers won a close game. Get this, Los Angeles did not blow a 4th quarter lead on Sunday, and they actually beat the Football Team 20-16. I’m not lying.
The Chargers not only have their guy now, but their guy is better than almost every other team’s guy. There’s a fun ongoing debate on which young QB Patrick Mahomes will ultimately view as his rival over the next decade. In other words, who will be the Peyton Manning to Mahomes’ Tom Brady? My money is on Josh Allen, but Herbert has me rethinking. Herbert does it all. He has the size, arm strength, athleticism, accuracy, confidence, and QB presence we create on Madden. Except Herbert is an actual human being.
No one wants to play the Chargers this season because of Justin Herbert.
Kyler Murray was the best player on any field Sunday
I expect some beat writer has said that an offensive guard was the best player Sunday to earn Twitter respect from football guys. Maybe some guard I never heard of was the best player. However, I didn’t notice him, and the rest of the country didn’t either.
Kyler Murray was phenomenal, leading the Cardinals to a 38-13 crushing of the Titans. Murray had five total touchdowns (four in the air, one on the ground.) He also had a few plays that no one should be able to execute. Murray was one of the best players on Sunday — just not the best. That would be Patrick Mahomes.
While I have many concerns about the Chiefs’ roster, Mahomes successfully offset those negatives on Sunday. The Browns sacked Mahomes only twice behind a line that allowed at least 10. Myles Garrett and crew were in Mahomes’ face nearly every play. Yet Mahomes threw three touchdowns, including a 75-yard missile to Hill. What’s more, he ran for another touchdown and completed 27 of 36 passes. I don’t know how he did it, and Kevin Stefanski doesn’t either.
Kansas City will not win the AFC this season, but it will not be Mahomes’ fault. He was again the best player on any field Sunday, not Kyler Murray.
The right rookie QBs are starting.
Mac Jones, Zac Wilson, and Trevor Lawrence are starting for their respective teams — as they should — and the 49ers are effectively using Trey Lance while keeping Jimmy G as the starter. Those are obvious and correct decisions, and yet the media have crushed the Bears’ decision not to start Justin Fields. That doesn’t mean the Bears made the wrong choice though.
Chicago fans don’t want to hear it, but Matt Nagy made the right call by starting Andy Dalton over Justin Fields.
Dalton is fine and completed 27 of 38 passes against a defense that employs Aaron Donald. He’s good enough for now. Though Fields should and likely will take over at some point this season, the Bears should continue to start Dalton over the next several weeks.
The worst move a team can make is to put their rookie QB in a position to lose confidence. Behind the Bears’ offensive line, confidence is only to go down. Chicago faces the best defensive lines in the NFL throughout its first nine weeks: Rams, Browns, Bucs, 49ers, Steelers. So why allow those lines to ruin Fields?
Let Dalton go for now and get Fields ready for the second half of the season. It’s not like the Bears are going anywhere good anyway.