With Americans once again enamored by football for the next 18 weeks comes an annual tradition: week one overreactions and unfounded preconceptions.
Many teams no longer play starters in preseason or do full-contact practice in the offseason. This results in sloppy plays across the board in the first week, hence the sweeping overreactions.
With just three weeks of preseason, week one is practically a preseason game in and of itself. Teams are still figuring out how to mesh a new team of talented players for success on the field.
At this point in the year, every fanbase seems to think their team is either Super Bowl-bound or already finished. With this totally rational and objective landscape, let’s look at a couple of notable reactions to Week One this year:
Jalen Hurts and the Philadelphia Eagles’ offense will be average after the departure of offensive coordinator Shane Steichen.
This overreaction from Eagles fans springs from the lackluster offensive performance in their 25-20 week one win over the New England Patriots, where they gained just 251 yards of offense.
Last season, the Eagles made it all the way to the Super Bowl with their least amount of yards being 264 in a week 10 loss against the Washington Commanders.
So I can see where people are coming from. The Eagles’ offense looked the worst it has under Jalen Hurts since they were dominated in a 31-15 wild-card loss in January 2022.
But, let’s relax. This was the first game under new offensive coordinator Brian Johnson. Shane Steichen had been calling plays for the Eagles for two years, so Johnson deserves some time to develop his own offense.
If the Eagles’ offense still looks this stagnant and Hurts stays this pedestrian by Week 10, we can talk about a regression. But the Eagles still won against a stout Patriots defense, so things could be a lot worse.
The Cincinnati Bengals are in trouble following their Week One loss to the Browns.
Again, I can see where people are coming from. The Bengals looked bad. Very bad. The usually high-powered Cincinnati offense put up just three points in the 24-3 beatdown in Cleveland, and Joe Burrow had just 82 yards passing in the game — his career low by a wide margin.
Yet, let me remind you of last year. Coming off of a Super Bowl berth, the Bengals started 0-2. It looked bad for Cincy, but they were able to turn it around, winning 13 of their next 14 games to finish the year 13-3 and earn a second straight AFC Championship berth.
Maybe the Browns will provide a formidable challenge to the Bengals in the AFC North. They have a great roster and the potential to do it, as we saw in Week One. However, I wouldn’t count out Burrow and the Bengals based on just a week or two.
The Miami Dolphins are the best team in the AFC.
This take has been circulating on the internet for a few days now following the Dolphins’ 36-34 win over the Chargers. Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa threw for 466 yards — a league high in Week One — and the offense was firing on all cylinders, beating one of the AFC’s best teams.
This take is also popular due to the state of other AFC contenders. The defending champion Chiefs lost their season opener, the Bengals looked terrible (as mentioned) and the Bills had an embarrassing game loss to the Jets. Not to mention the uninspiring wins of the Jaguars and Ravens against teams led by rookie quarterbacks.
Once again, let’s lean on the past few seasons to gauge the legitimacy of the Dolphins instead of overreacting to their week one win. Last season, the Dolphins had an impressive 3-0 start before Tagovailoa went down with an injury, resulting in a turbulent season, a wild-card loss to the Bills and a 9-8 finish.
The Dolphins have what I would call a league-average defense, which is not enough to make up for having the least-proven quarterback out of all the AFC’s top contenders.
So, unless we see this defense vastly improve when cornerback Jalen Ramsey comes back from injury, I’d continue to put teams like the Chiefs, Bengals and Jaguars over the Dolphins in the hierarchy of the AFC.
I leave you with some concluding thoughts.
We could spend hours discussing the reaction to every individual fantasy player’s performance, quarterbacks Justin Fields and Josh Allen’s poor performances, the Dolphin’s high-powered win over the Chargers, the Jets upset win over the Bills, the Cowboys dismantling the Giants, the list goes on.
But in all of these cases, the reaction is a little too much.
I could be proven wrong: the Eagle’s offense could be stagnant the whole year, the Bengals could be dethroned in the AFC North, and the Dolphins could be the best team in the AFC. But Week One reactions are usually ridiculous and taken too far.
And that’s what’s so fun about the NFL. It gives everybody a newfound optimism, a chance to believe in their team before 31 teams inevitably disappoint their fans at the end of the season.
In no other league can just one game intrigue the interest of fanbases like this. Although it leads to silly opinions, it gives the NFL an energy that few leagues can compete with.
So, don’t bet your mortgage on a team to win the Super Bowl after one great performance, but have fun with Week One before we’ve seen too much of these teams to know better. Hail Puka Nacua as the next breakout star receiver. Believe in Jordan Love to be Rodger’s rightful predecessor in Green Bay.
This is what the NFL in September is all about.