The Detroit Lions went nuts for 431 yards of offense against a supposedly-rebuilt Tampa Bay defense. The Bucs had a slightly below-average defense in 2010, but loaded up on defenders in the draft … and Matt Stafford had his way with Tampa on the road. When Stafford’s weapons are healthy – Megatron, Pettigrew, Burleson, Best – the Lions will move the ball on people. The play-calling was near-perfect, and other than a pick-six off the hands of his tight end, Tony Scheffler, Stafford was flawless (24-of-33, 72%, 305 yards). Now, the negatives: Detroit fumbled four times (recovered all of them) and the Lions were only 2-for-11 on 3rd down. But Stafford wasn’t sacked and Las Vegas must have been impressed – the Lions are 9-point favorites against Kansas City next weekend.
San Francisco had just 12 first downs and 209 yards … but still beat the Seahawks by 16 points. The real reason the 49ers won was because Ted Ginn ran a punt and kickoff back for touchdowns in a span of 59 seconds. But offensively, Frank Gore averaged 2.7 ypc and Alex Smith threw for just 124 yards. San Francisco had the ball for 31 minutes and mustered only 12 first downs. As bad as the 49ers looked offensively, the defense did sack T-Jack five times and generate three turnovers. But if the 49ers couldn’t move the ball against a mediocre Seahawks defense … what will they be able to do against the Cowboys, which annihilated the Jets’ offensive line Sunday night? The 49ers have opened as 3-point dogs against Dallas next weekend … I humbly suggest loading up on Romo in that one. No word if San Fran will be without Michael Crabtree.
Cleveland Browns: Just 285 yards of offense, no running game, no passing game. The Browns were at home and playing the lowly Bengals, who are supposed to be one of the worst teams in the league. Only 26 carries for 83 yards? That might be OK if Colt McCoy wasn’t terrible: 19-of-40 (47%!) and an interception. He was sacked twice. The offense looked like it didn’t get enough work in the preseason: three false start penalties. The Browns were an anemic 4-for-15 on third down. The Browns – who swept the Bengals in 2010 – were supposed to be a team on the rise, but nothing from week one gave the impression Cleveland would contend for a playoff spot this season. Very, very interesting game at Indianapolis next weekend.
Pittsburgh Steelers: 7 turnovers in 35-7 loss to Baltimore. Ben Roethlisberger threw three interceptions and fumbled twice. As if that wasn’t bad enough, the Steelers had the best defense in the NFL in 2010 (14.5 ppg, 276 yards per game), but Baltimore gashed basically the same unit for 385 yards (170 on the ground). As we noted in the preseason, that defense is aging. You can’t draw many conclusions from season openers, but the Steelers offensive line was manhandled all afternoon and the defense run over. I expect Tomlin and the Steelers to take it out on the Seahawks next weekend.
New York Jets: 16 carries, 45 yards. The Jets did not rush for a first down. They threw the ball 44 times. This makes absolutely no sense with a suddenly-shaky offensive line and new receivers for Mark Sanchez. Rex Ryan vowed to throw more … but a nearly 3:1 pass:run ratio is absurd. Sanchez had a good game passing (26-of-44, 335 yards, 59% completions, 7.6 YPA, two TDs, one INT), but he also fumbled and threw a pick-six. Thinking way ahead to the postseason … to keep the ball away from prolific offenses like San Diego and New England, the Jets will have to run the football.
Just missed/we already covered: Cam Newton’s impressive debut vs. Arizona, Buffalo’s defense forcing three turnovers and holding the Chiefs to 213 yards.
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