40 things we learned in Week 1 of the 2017 NFL season

The 40 things we learned from Week 1 of the NFL season:

1. While we're happy to give a tip of the helmets to have football back on Sundays, it does feel different this season. #hurricanes. #Sept. 11. #perspective. So, remember, it’s only a game, folks. 

2. And, oh, how those games can make your head spin, especially then each team is unveiling its new product on the first week of the season. A lot of “whoops” plays Sunday.

3. Are openers important? Under the 16-game schedule — excluding the 1982 strike season — teams which go 1-0 are twice as likely to reach the postseason than teams who start 0-1. So if your team lost this weekend, might as well start that draft chart. (Just kidding.)

4. The Buffalo Bills are in first place in the AFC East. By themselves. New England Patriots — tied for last. #frameit

5. Pittsburgh Steelers RB Le’Veon Bell was not in football shape. That’s what holdouts will do. In the first half, he had four carries for 8 yards vs. the Cleveland Browns, who ranked 31st in NFL against run last season. He finished with 10 carries for 32 yards. Ewww.

6. Meanwhile, Steelers WR Antonio Brown had 182 receiving yards, sixth-most of his career. He was in training camp.

7. And Pittsburgh QB Ben Roethlisberger now has 37 career TD passes vs. the Browns, the team he's victimized most in his 14-year career.

8. First touchdown on the first Sunday of the 2017 season? The Steelers’ blocked punt of the Browns. Can’t make it up.

9. Houston fans barely got done singing “Home of the Brave” before Texans coach Bill O'Brien yanked Tom Savage in favor of rookie Deshaun Watson. (Well, it was halftime, but you get the idea. Once again, O'Brien showed the quick trigger even though the offensive line was as much to blame as Savage for Houston's struggles.)

10. Detroit Lions QB Matthew Stafford's first pass after becoming highest-paid player? A pick-six. Some of these are just too easy.

11.Giorgio Tavecchio > Sebatian Janikowski. The Vegas crowd will love it. #raiderskickers

12. Uh, Ben McAdoo? If Odell Beckham Jr. is out and your offense is sputtering, you might want to get your big free agent WR involved in the game. Brandon Marshall had no catches on just three targets in the Giants' loss.

13. Cody Kessler quietly fell down the depth chart to become the Browns’ No. 3 QB. He was inactive Sunday. Yeesh.

14. Back to Stafford. After leading eight fourth-quarter comebacks in 2016, he did it again Sunday, firing two of his four TD passes in the final period of a 35-23 victory over the Arizona Cardinals.

15. Fantasy alert: Lions rookie WR Kenny Golladay's preseason buzz was real. He scored two more TDs Sunday.

16. Fantasy alert: Cardinals RB David Johnson, who had dreams of 1,000 yards apiece rushing and receiving, ran for 23 yards and injured his wrist.

17. The Baltimore Ravens intercepted Cincinnati Bengals QB Andy Dalton three times in the first half. They had not picked him off in the previous two meetings. They ended up taking it away from Dalton five times overall (4 INTs; 1 fumble).

18. Ravens QB Joe Flacco sat out the preseason and still managed a division win on Sunday. Can you say elite? We can’t, but thought we would throw it out there.

19. Have a nice week in Chicago, Jordan Howard. He had the game-winning TD pass in his hand at the pylon in the final seconds and dropped it when he heard Falcons footsteps. Bears fans are so patient with things like that.

20. CBS analyst and former coach Bill Cowher says Colin Kaepernick must prove to him that his dedication to his craft means as much to him as his cause. How is he supposed to do that if nobody gives him a chance? #justwondering

21. Despite their win, the Falcons didn’t exactly prove that they're over their Super Bowl hangover.

22. Thursday night leftover: Wow. And we will always say it backwards: Wow.

23. Thursday night leftover II: The Patriots will bounce back, Captain Obvious. But the lesson here was the Kansas City Chiefs are legit — Super Bowl legit.

24. The first missed extra point of the season? Philadelphia Eagles K Caleb Sturgis, take a bow.

25. Washington Redskins QB Kirk Cousins delivered another one of “those games” (INT, 2 fumbles) where you don’t know he if he is the answer for the future or not. 

26. Cousins was also Washington's leading rusher (30 yards). That's definitely not the answer.

27. Browns fans should be encouraged by the play of rookie QB DeShone Kizer. We are now interested observers.

28. What exactly was Indianapolis Colts coach Chuck Pagano thinking by not requesting a replay on a first-quarter pass play that might have given his team a touchdown? It was close enough, and replays seem to show it would have resulted in six points. It's decisions like that which will start the Pagano hot seat watch. 

29. But we're pretty sure QB Scott Tolzien's play won't result in many wins for Indy. Get warm, Jacoby Brissett.

30. Jason Witten became the Cowboys' all-time leading receiver, passing Michael Irvin. A fitting achievement for the NFL's best model of consistency over the last 15 years.

31. Did you notice that Falcons TE Austin Hooper had an 88-yard TD catch? That play was nearly a quarter of Atlanta's offense.

32. Jaguars DL Calais Campbell had four sacks, and Jacksonville bagged Texans quarterbacks 10 times. Meanwhile, Houston LT Duane Brown is holding out.

33. Tough break for Eagles CB Ronald Darby. Well, actually tough dislocation (of his ankle). But what a shame. After coming over in an August trade, he looked like a solution for Philly's secondary woes.

34. Minus one costly penalty, the Seattle Seahawks still have the NFL's best defense. Just ask Aaron Rodgers.

35. The Seahawks may still have the NFL's worst O-line. Just ask Russell Wilson.

36. Los Angeles Rams QB Jared Goff passed for 306 yards, 71 more than any game in his rookie season. He also notched a win, something he didn't manage to do in 2016.

37. The Rams, now led by rookie coach Sean McVay, scored 27 of their 46 points in the first half Sunday. They scored 27-plus points in two games last year.

38. Jaguars rookie Leonard Fournette rushed for 100 yards in his first NFL game, and against last year's top-ranked Houston D. You were right, Leonard, this league ain't so hard ... though it'd be easier if WR Allen Robinson (torn ACL) hadn't been lost for the year.

39. Could be a long season in San Francisco for 49ers rookie coach Kyle Shanahan. After he oversaw the highest-scoring offense in the league last year with Atlanta, his Niners managed just three points Sunday.

40. Panthers first rounder Christian McCaffrey made his NFL debut and already appears like he'll be a central figure in Carolina's offense after catching five passes (38 yards) Sunday and running the ball 13 other times for 47 yards.

© 2017 USATODAY.COM


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