The first week of the 2013 NFL season is in the books. Opening weekend brought both surprises and expected outcomes. Let’s take a look at some of the best week one storylines.
The Super Bowl champs need some work
Even with Ray Lewis and Ed Reed no longer on the roster, the Baltimore Ravens still had high expectations for their revamped defense. They carried these expectations into Denver Thursday, Sept. 5, only to have their expectations dashed on national television.
Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning accomplished something that had not been done since 1969 — he tossed seven (yes … seven) touchdown passes in a 49-27 victory. If there was any question as to whether Manning still had anything left in the tank, he answered it.
Baltimore’s secondary simply had no answer for Manning and the Broncos offense, showing signs of both frustration and fatigue by the second half. The Broncos did not even have to rely on their running game, allowing Manning to do all the work. Expect big things from the Broncos this season, as the receiving corps of Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker and Wes Welker appears to be contending for the NFL’s best.
The Ravens still managed to put points on the board offensively, scoring two touchdowns through the air and one on the ground, but the effort was not enough. While quarterbacks usually take the blame in such a situation, Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco got no help from his receivers, as they dropped ball after ball.
If the Ravens want to succeed offensively, they will have to establish at least one more consistent receiver in addition to Torrey Smith, or they will continue to struggle.
If there is any consolation for the Ravens, the Steelers, the Bengals and the Browns all lost on opening weekend as well, tying the AFC North heading into week two. Regardless, the defending champions still have plenty of work to do if they plan on making the playoffs.
The Packers fall short
Ravens management must have been kicking themselves Sunday, Sept. 8, as they watched 49ers wide receiver Anquan Boldin shred the Green Bay Packers defense for 208 yards and a touchdown.
Boldin, who was traded from the Ravens to the 49ers for a 6th round draft choice, showed no hesitation in making the tough catches. The 49ers tight end Vernon Davis also caught two touchdowns, and quarterback Colin Kaepernick threw for 412 yards and the three touchdowns to lead his team to a 34-28 victory over the Packers.
Packers outside linebacker Clay Matthews chased Kaepernick all day, even incurring a personal foul for a hit on Kaepernick that was clearly out of bounds. Aaron Rodgers looked good, throwing for 333 yards, three touchdowns and only one interception.
Packers wide receivers Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb each had seven catches and a touchdown, and rookie running back Eddie Lacy rushed for a touchdown, but the effort fell short. The Packers defense could not stop Kaepernick and the 49ers offense, and 49ers running back Frank Gore’s goal line touchdown run gave the 49ers the lead for good.
* Ravens undrafted, rookie wide receiver Marlon Brown was a lone bright spot for the team’s offense. He could assume a larger role with Jacoby Jones out for a couple of weeks.
* The Broncos will not need to choose a primary running back if Peyton Manning continues to play like he did Thursday night.
* The Steelers need a playmaker. Rookie wide receiver Markus Wheaton, whom many expected to take over for Mike Wallace as the team’s deep threat, has not yet emerged as a viable target.
* Patriots rookies Kenbrell Thompkins and Zach Sudfeld, who both received attention in the preseason, looked like the undrafted rookies they are, dropping several passes.
* Lions running back Reggie Bush fits the Detroit Lions offense perfectly.
* The Jaguars are frontrunners for the first overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft. Quarterback Blaine Gabbert looked awful, and he will not play in week two as he recovers from an injury he suffered Sunday.
* The Cardinals addition of quarterback Carson Palmer makes wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald relevant again.
* Previously thought to lack offensive weapons beyond Kaepernick, the 49ers combination of Anquan Boldin and Vernon Davis, as well as their deep backfield led by Frank Gore, will be more than enough to put up points.