It’s the first Burning 7 column of the 2018 NFL season. Now just a heads up. Normally this will drop on either late Sunday nights or Monday morning (depending on if my kids allow me to complete it in time). Let’s not waste too much time and get into this thing. One week in and this new season is really burning with big takeaways.
1. Aaron Charles Rodgers is a bad man.
I don't mean to steal from Stephen A Smith's popular tag line. But seriously what more needs to be said about this guy? Leaves in the 2nd quarter with a knee injury that everyone assumes the absolute worst cause why not. The entire city of Green Bay, shoot the entire football community was in complete shock.
Then he returned and proceeded to have a performance for the ages.
Now let me be clear. A 20-0 early third quarter deficit is actually not insurmountable. That’s only three possessions and you are back in the lead assuming your defense actually holds. But the Green Bay Packers up to that point even WITH Aaron Rodgers in the lineup before the injury showed no life whatsoever. So there was no reason to think that even with him returning with a clear leg injury that he could mount a comeback, let alone help his team win the game outright.
His stat line after returning from injury speaks for itself: 17 for 23, 273 yards, three TDs, 152.7 rating; Packers outscore Bears 24-6.
I hear the comparisons of former NY Knick great Willis Reed. It applies to some degree. Only Reed’s injury actually happened in an NBA Finals.
However what last night proved once again is not only is Aaron Rodgers the best in the business, in that he means much more to his team than anyone else does to theirs. If last year didn’t prove that, maybe last night did.
2. It’s great to have Andrew Luck back in our lives.
So what if the Colts lost. That’s not what I wanted to see.
I wanted to see Andrew Luck back on a football field for the first time in two years with zero injuries to worry about.
I wanted to see him take a hit and get back up without flinching.
I wanted him to play good football.
Despite losing to the Bengals we got all those things.
The NFL is better place when Andrew Luck is in it
3. Tom Brady is 41 years old. Doesn’t matter.
26-39, 277 yards 3TD’s 1 INT with a QB rating of 104.
Another day at the office for the greatest quarterback to ever play the game.
Again,41 years old.
I’m just saying.
4. The Kansas City Chiefs might be the 2nd best team in the AFC.
Their matchup against the Chargers on Sunday was arguably the most important game of the game as both teams are on everyone radar as the dark horse to shake things up in the AFC. Here’s the thing though.
Much like last year, I’m not even sure I trust the Pittsburgh Steelers in spite of all their talent. If and only if the Chiefs team we saw Week 1 is a preview of things to come and Patrick Mahomes continues pumping out performances like he did on Sunday, I truly believe it’s the Kansas City Chiefs who are the biggest threat to the Patriots in the AFC.
5. Matt Ryan is not a tier 1 quarterback.
I like Matt Ryan.
I certainly think he’s still a Top 10 quarterback in the league.
But between the Super Bowl meltdown from two years ago to Thursday night’s RedZone meltdown in Philadelphia, I find it harder and harder to defend the 2016 league MVP today. What is clear today is he is nowhere near in the conversation of the following quarterbacks:
Two years ago it was an argument. In 2018 that argument has died a slow death.
6. The Washington Redskins are a very interesting team.
Not that the Arizona Cardinals are anything to sneeze at but watching Alex Smith on Sunday with the protection he got from his offensive line, the first thing that came to mind was the old school Redskins and “The Hogs”. Those teams under the Joe Gibbs regime won three Super Bowls between 1982 and 1991.
Now I would never compare Jay Gruden to the Hall Of Fame coach but Washington looks like a interesting team that with a few breaks in the otherwise tough NFC can certainly find themselves in the playoff conversation.
I’m not ready to say they will overtake the Eagles in the NFC East but keep an eye on Washington in the coming weeks. They can be a party crasher.
7. Monday Night Football thoughts
As I said earlier this column will normally drop on Sunday night/Monday mornings. But since there was multiple Monday night games with intriguing narratives surrounding both matchups I decided to wait a day.
Jets/Lions: How insane is this. Sam Darnold’s very first NFL throw is a Pick-6. Then the game flips in the Jets favor. Darnold looked sharp for the most part. The Jets dominated the Lions in all three facets of the game. Jets/Dolphins all of a sudden looks really interesting in Week 2.
By the way it’s only one game but is it time to wave the Matthew Stafford is overrated flag? He looked dreadful.
Rams/Raiders: After a slow start the Rams dominated the game in 2nd game and showed flashes of what this team can become once they gel. The big question for me this season was how Jared Goff in his third season would handle the pressure of leading a team that has serious Super Bowl aspirations. One game in, he’s done very well.