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NFC Week 1 Notes

NFL: Seattle Seahawks at Green Bay Packers Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Most week one games are in the books, including all but the Vikings/Saints game in the NFC. Focusing on the Vikings conference, there are a few noteworthy themes:

Offensive Lines Required

Seattle is in trouble. Their offensive line looks a lot like the Vikings’ last season. The Packers aren’t exactly a pass rushing juggernaut, but the Seahawks’ offensive line has gone from bad to worse this year. The Seahawks only gave up 17 points, but their offense couldn’t do much with Russell Wilson under siege most of the game.

While the need for a good offensive line was exemplified most by Seattle’s lack of it, it showed up in other games too. Arizona also had trouble keeping Lions’ pressure away from Carson Palmer, and the Redskins’ OL also had an uncharacteristically weak performance out of the gate against the Eagles. The Giants OL also struggled.

There were also a couple good performances that made a difference too. Carolina and the Kalils had a good starting performance, which helped propel their victory over the 49ers. The Cowboys also turned in a solid performance, allowing them to run 47 plays in the first half- about average for 3 quarters- and control the game over the Giants.

Injuries Having an Impact

Of course key injuries always have an impact, but not always this early in the season. But from OBJ sitting out for the Giants, to the LT Seattle lost in preseason against the Vikings, to the losses the Patriots suffered- Edelman and Hightower- to the Cardinals’ loss of David Johnson, to the WR losses of the Bears- Meredith and now once again top 10 draft pick Kevin White- out for the season- injuries are having an early impact on the fortunes of several teams.

Also on the AFC side, I’m thinking the Colts missed Andrew Luck as well.

Continued Decline of the Running Game

In the NFC, not many teams - apart from the Cowboys and perhaps Carolina - really feature much of a running game. It will be interesting to see if the Vikings and Saints add to that list this season- I would expect them both to do so- but particularly in the NFC so far there seems to be a relative lack of focus or emphasis on running the ball.

It’s only week one, so perhaps take that with a grain of salt, but as the NFL continues to evolve into a pass-first league, and especially a pass-when-you’re-behind-league, along with the de-emphasis on drafting the RB position high, the increase in RB-by-committee situations, and it could be a weakness that may haunt many teams in the NFC at times during the season- and post-season.

Who Looked the Best?

On the NFC side, it’s hard to look past the Cowboys as having the best overall performance of all the teams playing on Sunday. They contolled the ball and time of possession on offense, while also shutting down the Giants on defense- holding them to only 3 points. They really dominated the game on both sides of the ball against a team that swept them last season and who many felt may take the NFC East crown away from the Cowboys this year.

On the AFC side, it’s hard to look past the Chiefs performance Thursday night, scoring the most points against Bill Belichick since he became head coach of the Patriots, while doing enough to break up the rhythm of the Patriots short/intermediate passing game- along with some key short yardage stops- to stall Tom Brady down the stretch. Bill Belichick may be the best coach in the NFL, but Andy Reid clearly bested him Thursday night with a better game plan and a team that didn’t back down at several key junctures opening on the road at the Super Bowl champions- a game that has been as close to a gimme as possible in the NFL for the home team the past several years.


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