The New England Patriots are going to embrace the role of the villain, they are not going to run from it. I don’t think Bill Belichick or Tom Brady or Robert Kraft care that the entire United States outside of the northeast corridor want to see them crash and burn. There was so much anticipation heading into the Thursday night opener for many reasons. The first being how would Tom Brady respond with little preseason action after winning his fight against the NFL and getting his suspension overturned? How many middle fingers would the Patriots throw out to the world while they unveiled their Super Bowl banner before the game? How would Belichick coach this game with ESPN reports surfacing about illegal practices and foul play coming from his directive? The answer is just as we expected them to.
The Patriots were dominant, they were disciplined and they were focused. They played like this entire circus surrounding their team never existed yet they kept their edge by playing with a chip on their shoulder. Tom Brady completed 25-of-32 passes for 288 yards, 4 touchdowns and 0 interceptions. His passes were crisp, his reads were accurate and he looked like the MVP we all know him to be. His favorite target was Rob Gronkowski who went wild with 3 touchdowns on 5 receptions and 94 yards. There is no answer for Gronk when he’s healthy; he’s stronger than any defensive back you can put on him and he’s faster than any linebacker. Next up is the Bills and Rex Ryan who loves to run his mouth against the Patriots. As if this fire, already looking for motivation from anyone, needed someone to pour gasoline on it.
All the Tony Romo haters silently retreated into their homes on Sunday night after #9 led the Cowboys on a game winning drive to stun the New York Giants. 6 plays, 72 yards and 1:27 off the clock culminating with a touchdown pass to Jason Witten. As most of you know by know the Giants had a 1st and goal situation prior to that drive which ended in Tom Coughlin and Eli Manning passing the ball on 3rd down instead of running the ball and letting more time run off the clock. The clock stopped, the Giants opted to kick a field goal and with a minute and a half left the Cowboys had to go the distance for a touchdown trailing by six. If Tom Coughlin ever played Madden 16 he’d know this was a recipe for disaster.
Had they ran the ball there would’ve been 57 seconds left on the clock. The Giants could’ve also elected to go for it on 4th down with a run to either get the touchdown (and end the game) or pin the Cowboys on their own 2 yard line and force them to go 70 yards for game tying field goal with less than a minute to go and no timeouts. That didn’t happen and now the rest is history. Romo to Witten is becoming one of those special passing connections like Manning to Harrison or Young to Rice. Enjoy it while it’s still around and please Cowboy fans don’t ever talk about how Dez Bryant is the main piece of the offense because that’s completely false. On the game Romo finished with 356 yards, 3 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. The Cowboys have now beaten the Giants in 8 straight opening season games and five straight dating back to 2013.
1. Two weeks ago in my NFL Preview article I chose Jameis Winston as my Offensive Rookie of the Year, I’d like to go back and revise that pick. Winston couldn’t have started off his career on a worse note. The first pass that ever left his hand was interception and returned for a pick six touchdown. Jameis struggled the entire game finishing 16-of-33 for 210 yards with 2 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. Some might say that’s not so terrible but when you look at the quarterback on the other side of the field who was taken one pick behind him it’s a very bad day. Marcus Mariota was nearly perfect in every way on Sunday. Super Mariota was a highly efficient 13-of-16 for 209 yards, 4 touchdowns and 0 turnovers. His 95.7 QBR in Week 1 is the best among any rookie in the last decade on opening day.
2. Who wore it worse? The San Francisco 49ers and their black alternate uniforms that looked like a can of Coke Zero? Or the Cleveland Browns of Bowling Green State University. I have to say the 49ers uniforms are the worst. For starters what the hell are you thinking wearing black in the Bay Area? Those colors belong to your neighboring Oakland Raiders. I highly doubt the New York Giants are going to whip out some green jerseys just because it might be trendy. The change to wear black is going black for black’s sake. They’re not any cooler, in fact they are actually less so because trying to force fashion is in itself unfashionable, and the uniforms pitted against solid red numbers and lettering makes it difficult to read. Their uniforms look like something you’d find in Chinatown that are clearly knockoffs. As for the Browns, yes their uniforms do look like a college set but when they match their socks and tops right they look respectable. I like the white on orange look far better than the brown on orange which they wore on Sunday against the Jets.
3. Are the Indianapolis Colts frauds? Think about it for a second. How many wins per season do the Colts get by feasting off a weak AFC South Division? What is their record against teams over .500? What happened when they ran up against the New England Patriots last season in the AFC title game? It was a blowout and not even deflate-gate can take away from how bad the Colts were whipped in that game. I know it’s just one game and the Colts have lost season openers before (2012, 2014) and still made the playoffs but this game against the Bills was terrible. The Buffalo defense is definitely good but to the hold the Colts to 14 points and zero in the first half? Indianapolis only scored 14 or fewer points only once all of last year. Many analysts picked them to go to the Super Bowl, I thankfully changed mine at the last minute from the Colts to Patriots.
4. Who is the best all around wide receiver in the league? I’m not talking about fantasy points but someone that is the most dominant at the wide out spot? Who has the best hands? Who runs the best routes? Who has the most athletic ability? Who performs the biggest when it matters most? Who never gets hurt? I think right now you have to put Julio Jones at the top of that list. It might be a tie with Antonio Brown now that I think of it. Based on this past weekend Odell Beckham Jr. needs to do what he’s doing a little bit longer to be include in that discussion but he’s on his way. Jordy Nelson (hurt), Dez Bryant (hurt), Calvin Johnson and Demaryius Thomas are probably there as well. Jones is rising to the level of Larry Fitzgerald or Andre Johnson, he’s that good. Roll Tide.
5. I saw an interesting stat the other day, Peyton Manning since the middle/end of last season has put up the same number of fantasy points as an above average kicker, or something along those lines. What’s going on with Peyton? Is all the talk about his demise beginning to come true? Are his abilities as an elite quarterback finally coming to an end? He did nothing to dispel those thoughts against the Ravens this past Sunday. Manning was 24-of-40 for 175 yards, 0 touchdowns and 1 interception. If you include the preseason Manning has not found the end zone with a pass on his last 21 drives. He was sacked 4 times, which is unlike Manning to not get rid of the ball, the most since 2013 against the Colts. I’m not ready to write him off just yet but with these scouting reports saying that he’s done when there’s smoke there’s fire.
6. Every team this week scored a touchdown except for one, the Vikings. Minnesota only managed a field goal against the 49ers on Monday Night Football (Super Late Edition). After the game Adrian Peterson, who only rushed for 31 yards on 10 carries, called their performance embarrassing. You know what’s embarrassing to me Adrian? Beating a child with an object. Hitting a 4 year old to the point where there are physical bruises is embarrassing. What is also embarrassing is the United States justice system which allowed Peterson to walk away from all this with probation, a $4,000 fine and some court ordered community service. All of that is more embarrassing than the Vikings lose to the Niners 20-3.