Freud on the NFL: It. Was. Just. Week. 1.
1. Chiefs (1-0) … A win at New England is always good.
2. Steelers (1-0) … They have all the tools.
3. Cowboys (1-0) … Give Zeke more touches.
4. Packers (1-0) … Always lurking.
5. Patriots (0-1) … If Tom Brady gets hit by bus, then worry.
1. Colts (0-1) … Scott Tolzien is still in the NFL?
2. Bengals (0-1) … The Andy Dalton Saga continues.
3. Niners (0-1) … Freud bangs head against desk.
4. Browns (0-1) … Hey, the Indians are rolling!
5. Cardinals (0-1) … David Johnson injury is critical.
OK, boys and girls, this is why we don’t make major judgments after Week 1 of the NFL season.
• The Niners beat the daylights out of the Rams … and went 2-14 only beating the Rams.
• The New York Giants beat the Dallas Cowboys and nobody thought that Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott were a very big deal. The Cowboys went 13-3 and were the NFC’s No. 1 seed.
• The Broncos beat the Panthers — when Carolina missed a last second field goal — in a Super Bowl rematch, and all was well as Denver started 4-0. How’d that turn out?
The NFL, like any other sport played at an elite level, is a game of constant adjustment. No one is going to the Super Bowl after Week 1; no one’s season is over after Week 1, except for the Browns and 49ers.
The Broncos breakdown
Most local football fans were a little short of sleep after Monday night’s nail biter of a 24-21 Broncos win over the Los Angeles — weird — Chargers.
• The offensive line had a mixed outing — the Broncos did have 140 yards of rushing, but Trevor Siemian was sacked four times, and took some hits that you don’t want your quarterback taking. A note here — guard Ronald Leary sustained a concussion on Monday night. He’s in the league’s protocol program, whatever that means. Players have come back to play the next week after a concussion — hence my skepticism of the program. On the other hand, it’s a short week before Denver hosts the Cowboys.
• By and large, a good outing for Siemian. Very cool to see him moving out of the pocket. He’s never going to be a Cam Newton, but that’s an added facet, which was probably limited by his left-shoulder injury last year.
He completed enough deep passes, which along with a healthy C.J. Anderson, prevented the Chargers from bunching everyone in the box, like other teams did for most of the second half of last season.
Siemian gets a pass on his fourth-quarter interception, as that was pass interference, and the turnover should have been nullified. Don’t forget though that he nearly threw a pick-six, which was dropped, in the first quarter.
• The defense did its part with a Bradley Roby pick in the third quarter, which turned into a Denver touchdown, a key sequence of events that made it 21-7. Along with the offensive line, the Broncos’ defense against the run is something to watch. The Chargers’ Melvin Gordon was able to pick up some yards in the first half before Los Angeles — weird — had to abandon the run.
Remember that the Cowboys, its massive offensive line and Elliott are coming to town on Sunday.
• The disconcerting part of the Broncos opener was in inability to close it out. It will be interesting to see how the balance of touches between Anderson and Jamal Charles goes after the latter’s fumble.
Denver was in the red zone twice after building a 21-7 lead and only got three points, a 20-yard field goal from Brandon McManus, who missed during the fourth quarter. Wouldn’t 27-21 have felt better for Broncos’ fans as Rivers and company were on that last drive?
Missed field goals happen. Perhaps Siemian needs to gain more experience to know when to get rid of the ball, particularly given the position of the team on the field — he was sacked twice, making McManus’ miss a longer attempt.
• Championship teams take an opening like the Broncos had on Monday, and blow through it. On the other hand it’s Week 1, so asking for a masterful performance is over the top. The Broncos won a divisional game. That’s fine.
The reason we emphasize the Broncos winning a divisional game is that AFC West looked pretty good in Week 1. The Chiefs had an impressive 42-27 win at New England. If you were predicting wins and losses before the season, then that was a hypothetical L for Kansas City.
The Raiders won in Tennessee, 26-16. That’s a good W for Oakland, given its schedule. After hosting the Jets, the Raiders are at Denver, and home for the Ravens, Chargers and Chiefs. Not many easy wins there.
There is joy in seeing New England getting pounded. Don’t even think about sticking a fork in them. Two seasons ago, K.C. beat the Pats even worse in Week 4, and New England won the Super Bowl.
Philadelphia and Minnesota both started well. Just remember that the Eagles and Carson Wentz started fast last year and it didn’t amount to much. The Vikings were playing against New Orleans, which doesn’t know how to play defense.
Pittsburgh won ugly at Cleveland. Whatever. The Steelers are a Super Bowl contender. The Giants — the football ones — looked awful against the Cowboys.
It. Was. Just Week. 1.
On to Week 2.
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934, firstname.lastname@example.org and @cfreud.