The last three months of the year are always the most exciting of the NFL as it builds up to the globally renowned Super Bowl. In 2019, what players do you think will make the headlines? Which teams will cause some real upset? And what team might take a shocking downward spiral?
This season it seems the Cleveland Browns will be the team to watch out for, though they lost their first game to the Tennessee Titans, the Browns have acquired wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr and with OBJ alongside growing NFL sensation Baker Mayfield, it’s a duo that should have every team concerned. Mayfield reported that he is confident that his side will bounce back from the loss they suffered at FirstEnergy Stadium against the Titans and rally together to head back to the top.
Here are some of the other stories from the NFL’s opening week.
A Deflating Defeat for The Chicago Bears on The Opening Day of NFL 2019
The Chicago Bears kicked off the new NFL season against the Green Bay Packers on September 5th but it wasn’t the kind of start the Bears wanted to open the season with. However, they shouldn’t worry too much as the opening week of NFL games never seem to rightly dictate a team’s performance throughout the season.
Take the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for example, in Week 1 last year they started in outstanding form, defeating the New Orleans Saints 48-40 at the Superdome. Ryan Fitzpatrick, who scored four touchdowns and a throw from over 400 yards was being crowned as the Bucs be all and end all and yet by the end of the season the Saints topped the South division and the Bucs finished last, with a winning percentage difference of 500.
It also shouldn’t be forgotten that the Bears have recorded more NFL victories than any other franchise, so they shouldn’t be ruled out just yet. They have three All-Pros in Khalil Mack, Kyle Fuller and Eddie Jackson, and though their offense needs some tweaking, there’s no doubt they could reproduce the success of 2018. Expectations are high for this team in the new season, with fans and football enthusiasts hoping to see Mitch Trubisky take the next step as well as linebacker, Leonard Floyd. Floyd made head-turning efforts last season and head coach Ted Monachino thinks he could outdo Mack as the Bears’ best pass rusher; if he does the Bears defence will be more fearsome than ever. Either way, the Bears still have time to work it out but the pressure is on.
Oakland Raiders Put Questions and Criticism to Bed
The Raiders got off to a sublime start in the opening week, crushing the Denver Broncos 24-16 and creating lots of reason for optimism as the new season gets underway. Last season, it was evident that the Raiders suffered from the loss of Khalil Mack, who is set to face his former team in London during the International Series but with Clelin Ferrell as the new defensive tackle, faith has been restored. The rookie made a productive and promising start for his side and in teaming up with Johnathan Abram, the two made some big moves to hinder their opposition last week.
Derek Carr was also incredible as per, not only was the quarterback untouchable but he completed 22 of his 26 passes for 259 yards and a touchdown. Understandably, Denver’s Von Miller wasn’t happy with himself over this at all. The games standout player though was Josh Jacobs, who, according to ESPN has made history in his NFL debut for the Raiders. The rookie has been dominating headlines with his impressive performance, as he amassed 113 yards from scrimmage and two touchdowns. That’s what you would call being in beast mode.
The Broncos failed to record a single sack in the game, which hasn’t happened for their team since 2017. Kolton Miller and Trent Brown’s offensive tackles definitely played part in this as it helped to open up space for Jacobs to breakthrough. And to think the Raiders did this all without Gabe Jackson and Richie Incognito. UK fans you’re in for a treat when The Raiders show out in London.
Carolina Panthers Rank at No.15 Going into Week 2
Though the Panthers lost their first game to the Los Angeles Rams, they did well to push the Super Bowl runners-up and come away from the game with a nail-biting 3-point difference. The Rams are favourites for landing a place in the season’s final and as they have their eyes set on the Super Bowl, it won’t be getting any easier for them on the field. They’ll host the Saints at the Coliseum in Week 2, for a rematch of the NFC title game but don’t be fooled by their opponents, the Rams have an explosive offense.
The Panthers on the other hand, will have to work hard to ensure they don’t finish 0-2 in Week 2, though they shouldn’t be too hard on themselves, given their solid performance against the Rams. Tomorrow, they host their Southern rivals, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who have also lost their first game of the season 17-31 to the San Francisco 49ers. The Panthers are down as the favourites and given that they have been victorious in five of their last six games against the Buccaneers, there’s no reason they can’t claim a sixth win. The Bucs currently reside at No.30, so have much more to worry about than their NFC neighbours.
The Bucs will want to watch out for the Panthers running back Cam McCaffrey, who played 100% of the Panthers 67 snaps. Whether it’s rushing or receiving, McCaffrey is exciting us all. In the game against the Rams, he had 19 carries for 128 yards, two touchdowns and ten catches for 81 yards! Offensive tackle, Greg Little is also set to make his debut having passed the concussion protocol and if we go off his performance in preseason, he looks more than capable.
Questions are still lingering over quarterback Cam Newton and his throwing ability after the surgery on his shoulder. It has been reported that his throwing arm is fine but statistics state that he only threw the ball over 20 yards once in the game against the Rams, so fans will be searching for that powerful throw in the next game. Will he able to silence the critics tomorrow? We’ll have to wait and see but we hope so because we’re dying to see more of his feel-good celebrations that have become so iconic.
There’s no denying that the NFL kicked off its 100th anniversary with a bang and pro football has much to celebrate at this milestone. Some teams suffered huge defeats like the Miami Dolphins in their game against the Baltimore Ravens, which saw the game conclude 10-59. For the Ravens it was happy days, they made a miraculous start, scoring three touchdowns in the space of 11 minutes and continued to stun all those watching. How far can they go this season?
Other games were much more harrowing to watch. Like the Buccaneers, or even more so, the Cincinnati Bengals who missed out on a victory by just two points! Imagine being so close. They lost to the Seattle Seahawks 21-20 and as the game drew to an end, it seemed that even the Seahawks were in disbelief at the impressive level of football the Bengals had delivered. And just think, if the Bengals had signed Antonio Brown after he was released from the Raiders, they would have been an even bigger force to be reckoned with. Either way, the Bengals have made a statement in Week 1 and against a strong team too so keep your eyes out for this team because they may be one to cause some upset.
To all our UK fans who can’t get across the Atlantic, or any fans wanting to see the NFL action somewhere a little different, we’ve got you covered. Witness the action first-hand with the four games headlining in London at Wembley and the new state-of-the-art Tottenham Hotspur Stadium and be a part of NFL’s centennial landmark.