First impressions can be deceiving.
The hype that surrounds the beginning of the NFL season each year is so intense that fans often have a hard time shaking what they witness on that first glorious Sunday. Every year a few results from Week 1 act as a mirage that deceive fans into making rash conclusions about particular squads.
Below are three games from Week 1 that have thrown Vegas, fantasy owners, and fans for a loop.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Atlanta Falcons: TB 31 -ATL 24
What we saw then: Sophomore QB Jameis Winston threw for 281 yards and four touchdowns including a 45 yard bomb to Mike Evans who was a yard short of 100. Atlanta’s backfield duo of Tevin Coleman and Devonta Freeman combined for 44 yard on 19 attempts.
What we know now: The Bucs have gone 1-3 since their win over the Falcons. In those four games, Winston has thrown five touchdowns to seven interceptions. Poor quarterback play has the Bucs ranked 23rd in total yards per game.
On the other hand, Atlanta went on to win four of their next five games and currently touts the leagues top offense, much in part due to a dominant back field led by Freeman who averages 5.0 yards per carry, has yet to lose a fumble, and has the sixth most rushing yards in the NFL. Coleman is first in the league in receiving yards among running backs averaging over 50 a game. If not for a blown call on 4th down against the Seahawks, the Falcons could easily be riding a five game winning streak.
Buffalo Bills at Baltimore Ravens: BAL 13 – BUF 7
What we saw then: The Baltimore Ravens sneaked out a win with leading receiver Mike Wallace amassing 91 yards on three catches highlighted by 66 yard score after leaving the entire Bills defense in the dust. Justin Forsett was serviceable, averaging 4.1 yards per carry on 10 rushes. Tyrod Taylor was a non-factor, with only 111 yards through the air and 11 on the ground.
What we know now: Wallace would find the endzone two more times the following week against the league worst Cleveland Browns, but has yet to reach pay dirt since while averaging 61.7 receiving yards per game. Justin Forsett struggled enough to be cut, and now averages less than 3.0 yards a carry in a struggling Lions backfield. After starting 3-0, the Ravens have slipped losing three straight currently sitting at .500.
In stark contrast, Buffalo is one of the leagues hottest teams. Since firing offensive coordinator Greg Roman after a week two loss to the Jets, the Bills have rattled off four straight, including defeating a then undefeated Patriots team in Foxborough. Though Taylor has not been lighting up the stat sheet, he has quietly thrown eight touchdowns to only two interceptions while leading the league in rushing among QBs with 236 yards. LeSean McCoy appears in prime form averaging 5.6 yards per carry, a league best for backs with at least 60 carries. In a few short weeks Rex Ryan has gone from Vegas favorite of first head coach firing to potential coach of the year candidate.
Los Angeles Rams at San Fransico 49ers: SF 28 – LA 0
What we saw then: The stifling 49ers defense held the Rams to under 200 yards total. Carlos Hyde had 85 yards and two touchdowns on the ground, showing glimpses of last year’s season opener where he had 182 yards from scrimmage and a pair of scores. Case Keenum threw two interception on route to 130 yards on 35 attempts.
What we know now: The 49ers stink. Aside from the win-less Browns, San Fran’s five game skid is the worst in the league. Carlos Hyde has been the lone bright spot, scoring six touchdowns and averaging just over 70 yards on the ground. But the defense that kept the Rams off the board has allowed 185 points against, more than any other team. A shocking feat considering they have a shutout in the books. On average they allow more than 390 yards per game, which is sixth worst in the league, and second in the NFC.
The Rams? Well they are a bit of an enigma but are leaps and bounds better than they showed on opening night. They would follow up their Monday night disaster with three straight wins before losing their last two, including two huge divisional games against the Seahawks and Cardinals, the later of which was on the road. Todd Gurley is struggling against eight-man fronts, and sits in the middle of the pack among RBs. The defense sits in the middle of the pack in points and yards allowed. And Case Keenum has played slightly above expectation to, you guessed it, sit in the middle of the pack among QBs with a better passer rating than Carson Palmer and Cam Newton. In his most recent performance, a 31-28 loss to the Lions, he went ballistic going 27 for 32 for 321 yards and three touchdowns. Though far from a contender, the Rams are 2nd place in one of the league’s tough divisions; a far cry from what we projected after their week one loss.
Which match up this season had you fooled? Let us know in the comments below.
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Follow author: @MarkStaniusz