Week 1 in the NFL means one thing: OVERREACTION TIME! PANIC TIME! But when you take into account injuries, performance and schedule, fans of these three teams may (MAY!) have reason to be slightly concerned:
Bills REASONS TO PANIC*
* Fred JACKSON, their star back, got taken out by LaRon Landry and likely will be sidelined a month. Silver lining: CJ Spiller ran for 169 yards.
* Receiver David Nelson is out for the season.
* Ryan Fitzpatrick tossed three interceptions, including one pick-six.
* The secondary was toasted (especially rookie Stephen Gilmore) by Mark Sanchez. The defensive line was toothless (no sacks).
* Reason for optimism – the Chiefs are up next! And then the Browns! Buffalo should handily beat those two teams, right? If you’re one of the few who thought they were playoff-worthy, Buffalo needs those wins. New England and San Francisco are up after that.
Packers, REASONS TO PANIC*:
* Packers got a gift punt return TD in the 4th in a 30-22 loss to the 49ers – it should have been called back, but a ref picked up his flag – or this one would have been a blowout.
* Green Bay’s defense was putrid, and made Alex Smith (20-of-26, 2 TDs, no turnovers) look like a star instead of a game manager.
* The 49ers rushed for 186 yards. Matt Forte is licking his chops.
* The good news is Green Bay won’t face another defense this good … oh, wait, they play the Bears Thursday. Chicago isn’t quite on San Francisco’s level, and Rodgers is 7-2 against the Bears in his career. The Packers scored 27 and 35 on the Bears last year and Jermichael Finley caught four TD passes in those wins. That being said, if Green Bay falls to 0-2, it has a trip to Seattle in Week 3, and the Seahawks have one of the biggest homefield advantages in the NFL. Games against the Saints, Colts and Texans follow. Yes, it is realistic to think the Packers could start 1-4. Unlikely, but not out of the realm.
Steelers, REASONS TO PANIC*:
* Offensive line woes. RT Marcus Gilbert and RG Ramon Foster left the Denver game due to injuries, and two rookies replaced them. Roethlisberger was sacked five times (three on the last drive.
* No running game. Mendenhall still hurt. Team had 26 carries for 75 yards (2.9 ypc).
* Wont pick on the secondary too much because Ryan Clark was out. A lot changes with James Harrison being a menacing force on the end.
* Can’t call Week 2 against the Jets must-win, but if you’re a pessimist, a trip to the West Coast looms in Week 3 at Oakland. The Steelers beat the Jets in their last meeting (AFC title game).
* If you’re new here, PANIC is a running meme. It’s not real panic, like Wisconsin firing its offensive line coach after two games.