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Week One: Winners and Losers

The Winners and Losers of an exciting first week in the NFL.

Week one was a terrific return for the NFL, and as always, we saw a few big winners and a few big losers emerge by Monday night. Here’s our list of a few of them.

Week One Winners

Sean McVay

The Rams were terrific in their season opener in Seattle, and maybe no one shined brighter than head coach Sean McVay. It wasn’t a dominating performance from the jump, but McVay completely outcoached Pete Carroll over the course of the afternoon. Los Angeles took a six-point deficit into the half before dominating the game for the last thirty minutes, holding Seattle to 14 offensive plays and TWELVE total yards in the second half while outscoring them 23-0. 

McVay’s team was able to keep Seattle almost entirely off the field by going on some very long drives of their own, including their longest opening drive in 23 years. Matt Stafford looked as good as he did during the team’s Super Bowl run, but without Cooper Kupp in the lineup, he relied heavily on rookie receiver Puka Nacua. Nacua finished Sunday afternoon with ten grabs on fifteen targets for 119 yards, which was a franchise rookie record. Even without talent that this team is used to having on offence, the way they picked apart Seattle’s defence was very impressive. McVay has certainly had Pete Carroll’s number in the last few years, and the domination continued with a surprising upset in front of the 12s.

Tua Tagovailoa

Tua was terrific for the Dolphins in their Week one win over the Chargers, throwing for 466 yards and three touchdowns. Despite worries about his health, Mike McDaniel made it clear that the Dolphins are going to go through Tua and the passing game once again this season. This makes sense, because if you have Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle at receiver, you don’t have much of a choice in the matter anyways. 

Still, it was great to see that Tagovailoa can still get it done and put some very big numbers up while doing so. He’s already faced a ton of scrutiny in his young career, but clearly, the Dolphins organization believes that he can be the quarterback that makes them a Super Bowl contender in the AFC. After Week one, it’s hard to disagree. The number one concern for him will remain his past with concussions but if Tua can stay healthy, the Dolphins have one of the most dangerous offenses in the NFL.  

Dallas Cowboys

Sunday night wasn’t just a win for the Cowboys, it was a statement. The ‘Boys have Super Bowl aspirations in 2023 and after Week one, it’s easy to see why they think that this is the year things might finally go differently. The team dominated their NFC East rival New York Giants all night, starting things off with a blocked field goal that was returned for a touchdown. After that, the defence didn’t let Daniel Jones and the offence do anything, and the night ended with the franchise’s largest shutout win ever. 

Offensively, Dak Prescott’s unit didn’t need to be anything special to get the win, but they did their job nonetheless. Running back Tony Pollard scored both touchdowns and will continue to be a large piece of this offence with Zeke Elliot now in New England. We may learn a little more about how good this offence is next week against a very strong Jets defence that allowed just 16 points to the Buffalo Bills on Monday night. For now, though, it’s all positives for Jerry Jones and America’s Team. 


Kadarius Toney

It was almost a week ago now, but Kadarius Toney’s Thursday Night Football performance still stands out as one of the worst of Week one. Unfortunately, it’s not often that a wide receiver can have as much of a negative impact on a game as Toney did for his team. The former first round draft pick was targeted five times but ended the night with just one catch for one yard. On the other throws, Toney was credited with three drops, one of which landed in the hands of Lions’ CB Brian Branch and was taken back for a touchdown. Toney’s two other drops came on crucial third down plays for the Chiefs.  

Despite his struggles, both Andy Reid and Patrick Mahomes have come to the defence of Toney. He’ll be given ample opportunities to right his wrongs from opening night, but there is definitely an argument to be made that the Chiefs would have won in Week one if he hadn’t been playing. We’ll see if he can bounce back in Week Two and emerge as the WR1 in Kansas City after all. 

Steelers Fans

All through the preseason, hype was growing around Kenny Pickett and the Pittsburgh Steelers. The second-year quarterback looked fantastic in limited minutes, leading the Steelers on a touchdown drive every time he touched the field. People were talking, and all of the sudden, big things were expected in Pittsburgh for Week one against San Francisco. Then, they got dominated from the opening kickoff by a clearly superior team.  

On Sunday, Pickett and the offence looked completely different than they did in preseason, and very similar to the struggling unit we watched last year. The second-year quarterback went 31/46 for 232 yards and threw one touchdown and two interceptions. Running back Najee Harris had just eight total touches in the game, and Diontae Johnson left with a hamstring injury. For a storied a franchise with a fanbase like the Steelers have, it was an extremely dissappointing opener on a day that started with so much excitement about a new era in Pittsburgh.  

Josh Allen

The biggest knock against Josh Allen has always been his protection of the football, and Week one against the Jets showed that he may never shake the issue. After leading the league in turnovers in 2022, Allen threw three interceptions and fumbled once on Monday Night against the Jets. With Aaron Rodgers exiting the game on the first drive, no one expected New York to be able to pull the win out, but Allen’s inability to protect the ball kept them hanging around all night.  

For Bills fans, it’s a problem they’ve seen for years. Allen can look like the best quarterback in the league for a few games, but he’s never been the safest bet on the field, and at some point, his aggressive style comes back to bite the team. The biggest losers of Monday Night could have easily been the Jets for losing Aaron Rodgers and having to go right back to Zach Wilson, but they still beat Josh Allen and the Bills. Although I think he’ll bounce back from this as he often does, it’s still concerning to see this continue, especially for a team with Super Bowl aspirations.

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