2023 NFL Week 1: Top Takeaways for Every Team from Sunday's Games

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Week 1 of the regular season in the NFL provided plenty of excitement for viewers. Despite rookie quarterbacks going winless, they can still take away some positives from their debuts. Additionally, a few teams that were underestimated in the offseason made strong statements with impressive wins. However, the Baltimore Ravens received unfortunate news regarding key players, which overshadowed their solid victory. Sunday's games also brought some surprises, including the reigning NFC South champions pulling off an unexpected upset, the Pittsburgh Steelers struggling after a promising preseason, and the Arizona Cardinals showcasing a strong defense capable of slowing down opposing offenses this season. These are among the top takeaways for each team following Sunday’s action.

NFL Week 1 takeaways

Carolina Panthers: That kid is still young

It’s no surprise that Bryce Young struggled in his regular-season debut on Sunday. There were indications of this during the preseason. Issues with pass protection and his own greenish ways led to this belief.

About that? Young threw two ugly interceptions while completing just 20-of-38 passes for 146 yards in a 24-10 loss to the Atlanta Falcons. He was also sacked two times and hit a total of seven times. Without wide receiver D.J. Chark and with Adam Thielen limited, Young didn’t have the weapons to succeed. Things will get better. But his debut was about as rough as it gets.

2023 NFL Week 1 Top Takeaways for Every Team from Sunday's Games including Carolina Panthers

Atlanta Falcons: Bijan Robinson and Co. provide balance

In looking at another young quarterback, Atlanta did not ask Desmond Ridder to do much in Week 1. He was efficient, completing 15-of-18 passes for 115 yards and a touchdown. It was more than enough to take out Carolina by the score of 24-10.

However, it was Atlanta’s rushing attack that took hold. Rookie Bijan Robinson gained 83 yards on 16 touches, including a brilliant touchdown catch from Ridder. Tyler Allgeier added 75 yards and two touchdowns on 15 attempts. This is going to be the recipe Atlanta needs if it hopes to contend in the NFC South moving forward.

Top Takeaways for Every Team from Sunday's Games include Atlanta Falcons

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Cincinnati Bengals: Are the Bungals back?

Star quarterback Joe Burrow headed into NFL Week 1 having just inked the richest contract in NFL history. Things were seemingly set up well for Cincinnati against the division-rival Cleveland Browns on Sunday despite Burrow having missed training camp to injury.

It did not go swimmingly for Zac Taylor’s squad in what was an ugly 24-3 loss to Cleveland. Burrow completed 14-of-31 passes for 82 yards. You read that right. Eighty-one yards on 31 pass attempts. Star receiver Ja’Marr Chase tallied 39 yards on nine targets and was frustrated afterwards. It was a complete and utter dumpster fire for Cincinnati.

Top Takeaways for Every Team from Sunday's Games incude cincinnati Bengals

Cleveland Browns: It’s Myles Garrett’s world

An underrated contender for the NFL Defensive Player of the Year award, Garrett showed us just how dominant he can be in Cleveland’s NFL Week 1 win over Cincinnati. The dude was all up in Burrow’s grill throughout the game, tallying four quarterback hits and a sack in the process.

Regardless of the Browns’ offensive struggles, their defense has a chance to be among the best in the game this season. Led by Garrett, this unit held Cincinnati to 142 total yards and six first downs. That’s downright absurd.

Jacksonville Jaguars: Calvin Ridley’s prime return

For a while, it looked like the Jaguars were in for a fight against an inferior Colts team Sunday afternoon. In fact, they were down 21-17 after three quarters. It didn’t look great for a Doug Pederson-led squad that has legitimate conference title aspirations.

Lost in the shuffle through the first three quarters was the performance of star wide receiver Calvin Ridley. Making his first appearance since he was a member of the Falcons back in 2021 after being suspended all of last season, Ridley caught 8-of-11 targets for 101 yards with a touchdown. He acted the part of Trevor Lawrence’s top target in his first game as a member of the Jaguars. And in reality, it has Jacksonville’s offense set to take off big time after dropping 31 on Indy.

Top Takeaways for Every Team from Sunday's Games include Jacksonville Jaguars

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Indianapolis Colts: Anthony Richardson exceeds expectations

Indianapolis’ 31-21 loss to Jacksonville on Sunday represented its 10th consecutive defeat in a season opener. No one really expected much more than that given the lack of talent on the Colts and the entire Jonathan Taylor drama.

Aside from that, rookie No. 4 pick Anthony Richardson put up a much better performance than most of us expected. The Florida product completed 24-of-37 passes for 223 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Despite being under pressure throughout, he showed poise and the talent level that made him a top-five pick. On a day that the Colts lost, Richardson was clearly a winner. It also helped that he avoided a serious injury late in the game.

2023 NFL Week 1 Top Takeaways for Every Team from Sunday's Games include Indianapolis Colts

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Baking with Mayfield

The post-Tom Brady era in Tampa Bay did not start out swimmingly during NFL Week 1. Led by Baker Mayfield, the Bucs put up 16 yards on eight plays in their first two possessions. That’s when the offense came alive to do just enough in a narrow 20-17 win over the Vikings.

Spanning the latter part of the second quarter and the opening of the third quarter, Mayfield led Tampa to touchdowns on consecutive possessions. That span saw the former No. 1 pick complete 9-of-14 passes for 109 yards with two touchdowns, including a touchdown strike to Mike Evans. There was a lot of dink-and-dunking throughout, but Mayfield did enough to help his Bucs to a huge season-opening win.

2023 NFL Week 1 Top Takeaways for Every Team from Sunday's Games include Tampa Bay Buccaneers Baking with Mayfield

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Minnesota Vikings: Kissing Cousins

Welp. If this is indeed the start of Cousins’ final season with Minnesota, it could very well go down in flames. Statistically, the embattled veteran was fine (33-of-44 passing, 344 yards, 2 TD, 1 INT). But that’s box score scouting at its finest. Cousins also lost two fumbles, both coming on consecutive possessions early in the game.

Cousins also threw an interception late in the second quarter down inside the Buccaneers’ five-yard line. This took points off the board. And with the Vikings down 20-17 late, Cousins proceeded to lead two consecutive three-and-outs. Talk about coming up small when it counts the most.

Tennessee Titans: Ryan Tanne-what?

A whole lot of meh. That’s the best way to describe what we’ve seen from the Titans recently. After losing seven consecutive to conclude last season, the Titans had a chance to steal one in New Orleans Sunday afternoon. About that?

Ryan Tannehill picked a terrible time to bring out his best Ryan Leaf. The veteran quarterback tossed three interceptions in the 16-15 loss. They actually came over the course of a five-possession span in the second and third quarters leading directly to 10 points for the Saints. Ouch! Perhaps, it’s Malik Willis’ time in Tennessee.

2023 NFL Week 1 Top Takeaways for Every Team from Sunday's Games include Tennessee Titans Ryan Tanne

New Orleans Saints: Wide receivers are going to be a problem

For other teams. In a game that saw Derek Carr struggle to an extent in his Saints debut, the veteran quarterback’s wide receivers stepped up in a big way. It also couldn’t have come at a better time with star running back Alvin Kamara out of action due to suspension.

Chris Olave, Rashid Shaheed and Michael Thomas caught a combined 18-of-24 targets for 262 yards in the narrow 16-15 win. More than anything, we’re encouraged to see Thomas return to pre-injury form to an extent. The former record-breaking receiver had played in all of eight games since the end of the 2019 season due to a plethora of ankle injuries. It was great to see him back.

2023 NFL Week 1 Top Takeaways for Every Team from Sunday's Games include New Orleans Saints

San Francisco 49ers: ‘Lets go Niners’

These are the last chants we expected to break out at the end of Sunday’s game against the Steelers in Pittsburgh. But from the get, San Francisco absolutely dominated Mike Tomlin and the homestanding Steelers. San Francisco was up 20-0 before Pittsburgh drove down the field for a touchdown to conclude the second quarter.

Like clockwork, Christian McCaffrey took a handoff to open the third quarter and took it to the house for a 65-yard touchdown. That’s pretty much all she wrote. Second-year quarterback Brock Purdy completed 19-of-29 passes for 220 yards with two touchdowns and zero interceptions. McCaffrey had 169 total yards on 25 touches. Brandon Aiyuk caught all eight of his targets for 129 yards with two touchdowns. San Francisco’s D held the Steelers to 239 yards while sacking Kenny Picket five times in a 30-7 win. Yeah, this team is good.

2023 NFL Week 1 Top Takeaways for Every Team from Sunday's Games include San Francisco 49ers

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Pittsburgh Steelers: What the heck was that?

No, really. What in the heck was that, Mike Tomlin? At one point in the first half, San Francisco had outgained Pittsburgh by a margin of 202 to negative three yards. It wasn’t until Pittsburgh scored a touchdown late in the second quarter that it had put up positive yardage. This comes on the heels of a preseason in which Kenny Pickett led the Steelers to touchdowns on all five of his possessions.

There wasn’t much to like about what Pittsburgh did Sunday afternoon. Pickett was inaccurate throughout and found himself sacked five time. Najee Harris tallied just 31 rushing yards on six attempts. Meanwhile, the Steelers’ defense yielded nearly 400 total yards of offense and 22 first downs to the 49ers in an ugly 30-7 loss. This was not one of the team’s best days under Tomlin.

Arizona Cardinals: Effort meet lack of talent

One of our breakout stars for the 2023 NFL seasons, linebacker Zaven Collins forced two first half turnovers. Josh Dobbs completed 21-of-30 passes in a workmanlike performance from the veteran journeyman. The Cardinals’ defense racked up six sacks of Commanders quarterback Sam Howell.

Despite this, it was not enough for Jonathan Gannon to win his debut as the Cardinals’ head coach. Down 17-16 with less than five minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, the Cardinals gave the ball away. Washington then got a field goal to go up 20-16 before holding Arizona again. The moral of this story is simple. Arizona put up a heck of an effort during NFL Week 1. It just doesn’t have the talent to win against a majority of teams.

Washington Commanders: Daniel Snyder, who?

It was not pretty. First-year starting quarterback Sam Howell was under duress throughout the game. The Commanders averaged just over three yards per rush on the ground. The hobbled Terry McLaurin was held to two receptions on four targets. Washington committed eight penalties and turned the ball over three times.

Normally, this would have led to absolute disaster at home and fans heading for the exits. Instead, Washington was able to hold on for a 20-16 win as players on both sides stepped up when it counted the most. The backdrop here was new owner Josh Harris being in attendance months after he bought the team from the disgraced Daniel Snyder. The Commanders have a lot they must address. But the end result Sunday afternoon had to be appealing for the new owner.

2023 NFL Week 1 Top Takeaways for Every Team from Sunday's Games include Washington Commanders  Josh Harris

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Baltimore Ravens: The treachery of the Ravens flock

Baltimore put up a pretty solid performance in a 25-9 home win over Houston in NFL Week 1. But that’s not really the story for these Ravens. They should have come out on top against inferior competition at home. Instead, it’s all about injuries.

Running back J.K. Dobbins went down with what’s feared to be a torn Achilles‘. He’s lost for the season. Starting left tackle Ronnie Stanley, center Tyler Linderbaum and safety Marcus Williams all also suffered injuries. Each one will be getting an MRI on Monday with it being feared that Williams suffered a torn pectoral muscle. A Ravens team that has been plagued by injuries over the years could not escape that fate Sunday. It’s just a crying shame.

Houston Texans: C.J. Stroud could be him

Of the three rookie first-round quarterbacks starting NFL Week 1, Stroud looked the best. More than anything, the No. 2 overall pick out of Ohio State avoided the turnovers we saw from Richardson and Young.

It was not enough for a rebuilding Houston team to remain competitive against Baltimore. But he was poised and collected throughout the game. Stroud completed 28-of-44 passes for 242 yards. He also added 20 yards on four rush attempts. For first-year head coach DeMeco Ryans and Co. the 2023 season is going to be more about Stroud’s development than anything else. So far, so good.

2023 NFL Week 1 Top Takeaways for Every Team from Sunday's Games include Houston Texans C.J. Stroud

Chicago Bears: No Fields of Love

Expectations throughout all of the spring and summer gave into reality inside Soldier Field Sunday afternoon. Entering his third season in the NFL, most expected Justin Fields to take that next step through the air. Boy, were those expectations unrealistic.

Fields put up 189 net passing yards on 37 attempts. He threw an ugly pick-six to put this one away in the second half. The former first-round pick also lost a fumble in what was an excruciatingly bad performance. For many Bears fans, it had to be like chewing tinfoil while listening to Roseanne sing opera. In the end, Chicago lost by the score of 38-20 with Fields having targeted new Pro Bowl wide receiver D.J. Moore all of two times. Stinky stuff here.

2023 NFL Week 1 Top Takeaways for Every Team from Sunday's Games include Chicago Bears

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Green Bay Packers: Being like Jordan

Just the Packers’ third NFL Week 1 starting quarterback since 1992, Jordan Love was looking to make a statement for Green Bay on Sunday. Going up against a hated division rival added yet another layer to that. Unlike Fields, Love came out smelling like roses.

The quarterback’s stats were good (15-of-27 passing, 256 yards, 3 TD, 0 INT). But it’s how Love took control of the game that stands out the most. During a three-drive span in the third quarter, Love led Green Bay to 17 points. He completed only 3-of-6 passes during that span. But two of them went for 30-plus yards, including a 35-yard touchdown strike to running back Aaron Jones. This helped turn a 10-6 lead into a 24-6 drubbing en route to the Packers dropping 38 points against their counterparts.

Denver Broncos: Different coach, same result in Mile High

Russell Wilson should stop kissing the babies and focus more on playing NFL football. That criticism from new Broncos head coach Sean Payton might be unfair. But what we saw from Denver as it blew a fourth quarter lead at home against the Raiders on Sunday was pretty darn pathetic.

After completing 17-of-19 passes for 125 yards with two touchdowns in the first half, Russ came up small. He threw for a mere 52 yards in the final two quarters. Meanwhile, the Broncos’ vaunted defense allowed the Raiders to drive down the field 75 yards for a touchdown with just over two minutes remaining to win by the score of 17-16. This is not going to sit well in Mile High.

2023 NFL Week 1 Top Takeaways for Every Team from Sunday's Games include Denver Broncos

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Las Vegas Raiders: It’s Jimmy’s team

Jimmy Garoppolo was nowhere near perfect in his regular-season debut as the Raiders’ starting quarterback. He suffered through an injury scare early and threw an interception with Vegas down by three in the fourth quarter. That’s all fine and dandy. What we do know is that Garoppolo came up big, like he has throughout a majority of his career.

With the Raiders down 16-10 at the halfway mark of the final stanza, Garoppolo led them down the field 75 yards on six plays. The drive culminated in a six-yard go-ahead touchdown pass to Jakobi Meyers. That drive saw Garoppolo complete 4-of-5 passes for 60 yards. Not too shabby, Jimmy GQ.

Seattle Seahawks: Let the overrated chants start

Let’s start with the overreactions to NFL Week 1 action. People will see Seattle’s 30-13 home loss to the talent-stricken Los Angeles Rams and assume the team is just plain overrated. The ‘Hawks earned a playoff spot last season and were expected to compete with the San Francisco 49ers out west.

Instead, Geno Smith tallied 95 net passing yards. Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford threw for 334 yards without his top weapon in that of Cooper Kupp in the mix. The loss was bad. But let’s preface it for a second. Starting tackles Abraham Lucas and Charles Cross exited the game to injury. Star receiver Tyler Lockett also went down to injury. Let’s not act like the ‘Hawks were 100% in this one. But we might want to ring an alarm to an extent.

Los Angeles Rams: What rebuild year?

Puka Nacua (who) led the Rams with 10 receptions for 119 yards. Running back Kyren Williams put up 52 yards on the ground. As noted above, Matthew Stafford tallied 334 passing yards. Defensively, the Rams held Seattle to 13 first downs and 180 yards. This is not the end result we expected from the Rams to start a season with muted expectations.

In no way does this mean Los Angeles is going to contend for a playoff spot moving forward. It still has a major lack of talent. But one thing is clear. The Rams are playing for head coach Sean McVay, not that this should surprise anyone.

2023 NFL Week 1 Top Takeaways for Every Team from Sunday's Games include Los Angeles Rams

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Philadelphia Eagles: Hot start, slow finish

The defending NFC Champions had New England in a hole early, taking a 16-0 lead roughly 12 minutes into the game. That was in large part due to miscues from Patriots stars Mac Jones and Ezekiel Elliott. At this point, it looked like the Eagles would win going away.

Not so fast. Jalen Hurts and Co. netted just nine points and 145 yards in the second half. Meanwhile, the Eagles let New England back in the game with two second quarter touchdowns. Philly’s defense needed to hold at the end with the Patriots driving, coming away with a mere 25-20 win. It was not a complete game for Hurts and Co.

“We’re going to learn from our mistakes, I guarantee you that, and we’re gonna continue to grow,” the QB said afterwards.

New England Patriots: Three quarters of stellar football

New England doesn’t have the same margin for error that it did during the Tom Brady era. Unfortunately, two players in the first quarter Sunday pretty much sealed the Patriots’ fate. Mac Jones threw an ugly pick-six into the hands of Eagles cornerback Darius Slay with the Pats down just 3-0 early. On the very next play, Ezekiel Elliott loss a fumble. It led to another Eagles touchdown and a 16-0 New England deficit.

We love how the Patriots responded to make this game close. It just wasn’t enough in the end. They need to avoid those game-changing mistakes like we saw Sunday in order to compete for a playoff spot in the AFC this season.

2023 NFL Week 1 Top Takeaways for Every Team from Sunday's Games include New England Patriots

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Miami Dolphins: Offensive explosion in Southern California

We knew just how dynamic Miami’s offense was a season ago when Tua Tagovailoa found himself on the field. There was no reason to believe this would change in 2023. However, the Dolphins’ offense made an otherwise good Chargers defense look silly in this one.

Tagovailoa completed 28-of-45 passes for 466 yards with three touchdowns. The dynamic Tyreek Hill added 11 receptions for 215 yards and two touchdowns. Jaylen Waddle, Durham Smythe, Braxton Berrios and River Cracraft each had at least 40 yards through the air. The end result was Miami tallying 536 total yards and 30 first downs in a 36-34 win. “I just felt like I was in a zone,” Hill said after the game.

2023 NFL Week 1 Top Takeaways for Every Team from Sunday's Games include Miami Dolphins

Los Angeles Chargers: Same ole, same ole

The last time Los Angeles took the field in a meaningful game, it blew a 27-0 lead to the Jacksonville Jaguars in the NFL Playoffs. Head coach Brandon Staley spent the offseason asking questions about that meltdown. He’s firmly in the hot seat this season.

If what we saw from Los Angeles on Sunday is any indication, that seat just got hotter. The Chargers’ offense did their thing with Justin Herbert completing 23-of-33 passes for 228 yards. Austin Ekeler and Joshua Kelley combined for 208 yards on the ground. However, it was the Staley-led defense that came up empty in a 36-34. At least, there were more Dolphins fans than Chargers fans on hand inside SoFi Stadium to watch this disaster class of a performance.

2023 NFL Week 1 Top Takeaways for Every Team from Sunday's Games include Los Angeles Chargers Head coach Brandon Staley

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