Don’t let the fact that we’re four days removed from the Buffalo Bills pantsing the defending Super Bowl champion Los Angeles Rams make you forget just how impressive Josh Allen and company were in Week 1. The Bills, who entered the NFL campaign as the Super Bowl LVII favorite, proved why that was the case on opening night of the 2022 season.
Buffalo dominated Los Angeles to the tune of a 31-10 beatdown despite turning the ball over four times. The Bills gashed the Rams for seven-plus yards per play and converted 90% of their third-down attempts — the fourth team in the past 50 years to do so, per ESPN. The combination of Stefon Diggs and Gabriel Davis have the potential to become one the best receiver pairs in the league for Allen. And the defense sacked Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford seven (!) times with a pair from Von Miller, who switched sidelines this offseason. It already looks like a team-altering addition.
Buffalo’s victory arguably was the most noteworthy performance on the slate, though the Kansas City Chiefs might have something to say for that.
Following a season-opening win, Patrick Mahomes acknowledged how he heard whispers about how the Tyreek Hill-less Chiefs might fall off. Mahomes responded by completing 30 of his 39 passes, shredding the Arizona Cardinals blitz en route to 360 passing yards and five touchdowns. Nine different pass catchers caught balls from Mahomes with Travis Kelce unsurprisingly hauling in eight of the nine passes thrown to him for a team-leading 121 yards.
While Arizona might not prove to be the best measuring stick, the domination of Kansas City — 7.4 yards per play, 6-for-6 in red zone — was telling. It certainly looks like we might have yet another Bills-Chiefs playoff thriller on the horizon this season.
Here are some more NFL takeaways from the Week 1 slate:
— The preseason questions relating to the New England Patriots proved well-warranted. Bill Belichick’s team looked like one of the NFL’s worst offenses during its 20-7 flounder against the Miami Dolphins, and it might have resulted in a back injury to second-year quarterback Mac Jones.
— Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady acknowledged how the offense left a lot on the table during “Sunday Night Football” against the Cowboys, but nevertheless the 45-year-old signal-caller improved to 7-0 in his career against Dallas. Brady’s connection with Julio Jones (three rec., 69 yards) is going to be something to keep an eye on — especially with a potential hamstring injury to Chris Godwin.
— The Philadelphia Eagles look like they landed a game-changer in wide receiver A.J. Brown. Brown, who finished with 10 catches on 13 targets for 155 yards, accounted for nearly 73% of Philadelphia’s air yards during Week 1, according to Next Gen Stats. He’s the first Eagles player with 10 or more catches and 155 or more yards in a game since 2014, per ESPN’s Field Yates, after registering 128 yards before halftime. With Brown’s connection with Jalen Hurts leading the way, Philadelphia pulled out Week 1 win over Dan Campbell’s Detroit Lions.
— While there were a number of surprising Week 1 results, none was more of a shocker than the Indianapolis Colts tying the Houston Texans. Matt Ryan and company had a 517-299 advantage in total yards in Houston, but ended up having to score 17 fourth-quarter points just to earn an overtime tie. Rodrigo Blankenship was one of the many kickers who missed a game-winner Sunday. That’s going to be one the Colts want back when they’re headlining the AFC South playoff race — and maybe playoff seedings?
— Sticking with the Texans, in what world does it make sense 32-year-old running back Rex Burkhead is out-snapping Dameon Pierce — 71% to 29% — after the rookie’s promising preseason? Burkhead finished with 70 yards of offense on 19 touches while Pierce received just 12 touches for 39 yards. Fantasy football managers who started Pierce surely weren’t thrilled.
— Saquon Barkley is back in a big way for the New York Giants. Barkley, who spent the 2021 season still recovering from the ACL injury he suffered the season prior, totaled 194 yards of offense in the Giants’ 21-20 victory over the Tennessee Titans. Barkley looked explosive, strong and dynamic while scoring one touchdown and adding the game-winning two-point conversion. The G-Men don’t have many other offensive options, which could lead to a standout campaign from Barkley.
— The Cowboys — similar to the Patriots — put together one of the more embarrassing Week 1 offensive performances in a 19-3 defeat. And they only have themselves to blame. It went from bad to nightmare when quarterback Dak Prescott suffered a thumb injury late in the fourth. Unless the Cowboys do something to better their standing behind center, rolling with Cooper Rush could essentially end Dallas’ season.
— Miami Dolphins’ Mike McDaniel, Giants’ Brian Daboll, Chicago Bears’ Matt Eberflus, and Minnesota Vikings’ Kevin O’Connell all earned victories in their first-ever games as NFL head coaches.
— Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers said he knew there would be growing pains following a 23-7 defeat to the Vikings, but Rodgers might be in actual pain given the five quarterback hits and four sacks he took in Minnesota. Yeah, it was a rough day at the office for the reigning NFL MVP with the 2022 season looking a bit more bleak after Week 1.
— Of course, it might have gone better for the Packers should they have covered Vikings wideout Justin Jefferson like the All-Pro he is. Jefferson went off for a career-high 184 yards on nine catches with two touchdowns and didn’t see as much of Packers All-Pro cornerback Jaire Alexander, for some reason.
— The Week 1 clash between the Cincinnati Bengals and Pittsburgh Steelers might be one of the craziest games we see all season. But while the Steelers earned the overtime win, the injury to Defensive Player of the Year favorite T.J Watt caused Pittsburgh to lose more than it gained.