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Sunday, February 05, 2023

NFL football is back and so are hot takes. Thirty-two teams suited up this past weekend for the first meaningful football since the Philly Special shut up Patriots fans everywhere, momentarily putting an end to “28-3” memes.

After one game I’m sure plenty of NFL fans are already drawing their own radical conclusions about their team’s season. They are either plotting a violent coup to overthrow their newly hired coach (I’m looking at you Lions and Raiders fans) or picking out their Super Bowl LIII tattoos (that’s you Jets and Browns fans).

That being said, I’m here to try to assess the legitimacy of some of the results of the opening week of football.

 

Kansas City Chiefs

Following the best season of Alex Smith’s career, the Chiefs shipped him off to Washington in favor of the second-year gunslinger from Texas Tech known as Patrick Mahomes. The KC front office clearly saw something in Mahomes that made it worth parting ways with one of the better quarterbacks in the league. The rest of the NFL saw what it was Sunday against the Chargers.

Mahomes made light work of a Los Angeles defensive unit that finished 2017 ranked third in the league. He tossed four touchdowns and no interceptions, threw for 256 yards and put up 38 points in a road win. With Leveon Bell on the sideline in Pittsburgh, Mahomes likely has the best offensive weapons at his disposal in the league in Tyreek Hill, Travis Kelce and Kareem Hunt.

The Chargers were thought to have put their history of underperforming in the past and win the AFC West for the first time since 2009. Then Mahomes came along. He’s the real deal. Watch out for this Chiefs team.

 

New York Jets

The way the Jets’ Monday Night Football game against the Lions began was very New York. The No. 3-overall draftee Sam Darnold threw a pick-6 on his first career pass attempt. One of my friends texted me saying, “I forgot how hard it was to be a Jets fan.”

But then New York proceeded to outscore Detroit 48-10 and intercept Lions quarterbacks five times. Darnold finished with just under 200 yards, threw two touchdowns and hardly looked like a rookie after his initial mistake while Isaiah Crowell and Bilal Powell ran all over the place.

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The Jets aren’t proven yet. One win does not mean this team is “back.” However, they are trending in the right direction and seem to have found their guy behind center and have gradually put together a stout defense that can keep them competitive in most games.

 

Atlanta Falcons

Somehow, someway, the Falcons are mired in mediocrity despite talent across the board. In a Thursday night game against the defending Super Bowl champs, Matt Ryan continued his streak of ineptitude when targeting his 6-foot-3 wideout Julio Jones in the red zone. Ryan, two years removed from an MVP season, had 22 incompletions and an interception and allowed his team to lose to the Foles-led Eagles, who played even worse than Ryan did.

Unfortunately for Atlanta, the issues do not stop at their offensive woes. The injury bug bit the Falcons early as they lost safety Keanu Neal for the year and Deion Jones was put on IR. Running back Devonta Freeman also did not return to the game after a knee injury in the second half. Freeman has said he’s “good to go” for Week 2 but he has a history of knee injuries that the Falcons need to be wary of. Tevin Coleman may be the best backup running back in the league (although now James Conner may have something to say about that), so Freeman certainly has a capable replacement, but no team stands to benefit from losing Pro Bowlers on both sides of the ball.

In a division with the Carolina Panthers, New Orleans Saints, Fitzmagic in Tampa Bay and a stacked NFC, the Falcons could be in danger of missing the playoffs for the first time since 2015.

 

You can follow Kyle Wood on Twitter @Kkylewood or contact him at kwood@alligator.org.

 

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