The Washington Post

NFL Week 1: Traction vs. overreaction

Are Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Bills about to experience an early-90s renaissance? (Ed Zurga/AP)

True, it's unwise to draw broad conclusions from one-sixteenth of a season. If we could extrapolate full seasons from a single game, as Jimmy Kempski of Blogging the bEast tweeted on Monday night, Donovan McNabb is on his way to a 634-yard year passing. Tom Brady, on the other hand, will throw for 8,272 yards. That would be some sort of record.

Even the most reactionary fan knows Brady won't pass for 517 yards each week, and the Bills won't always win 41-7 — Buffalo coach Chan Gailey tried to temper expectations after Buffalo's remarkable win against the Chiefs.

Still, after the most excruciating offseason in memory, we've finally got some actual data to pore over, and some real results to react to. It'll take a lot more than one week to figure out if what we saw in the openers were a bunch of aberrations, or true hints of things to come. Until then, let's react to what we've seen.

Here are a handful of obvious conclusions from Week 1. You tell me whether they have traction, or are simply overreactions.

Do the Colts have any hope with Kerry Collins at QB? (David J. Phillip/AP)

The Colts are finished without Peyton Manning.
Falling behind 34-0 to the Texans in the first half was certainly a pretty ugly start to life without Peyton in Indianapolis. It's a good bet the Colts aren't nearly that bad. Football is a team game, of course, and the Colts aren't completely devoid of talent outside the quarterback position. But no NFL team gives its QB more control over offensive playcalling, and no team is built around a single player like the Colts are with Manning. It's no wonder they struggled without him, and as much as I hate to say one player makes this much difference, it might actually be true.
Keith's call: Traction

The Chiefs are in big trouble.
There's no debating that a 34-point home loss against the Bills (4-12 last season) is an awful start. And then the news got worse when dynamic safety Eric Berry was confirmed lost to a season-ending ACL injury. But it's also safe to say Week 1 was so demoralizing and humbling for the Chiefs that Todd Haley won't have any problems getting maximum effort from his players going forward, and that he and his staff will closely tailor future game plans to make sure the Chiefs are who they have previously been. Which is a team that relies on Jamaal Charles and the run game to build big leads. They might not get to 10 wins again, but they won't often look as bad as they did in Week 1.
Keith's call: Overreaction

Chris Johnson's holdout hurt him.
It sure seems that way, after 24 rushing yards and 49 from scrimmage for the Titans against the Jaguars. It's not as if Jacksonville is dominant defensively. Johnson held out for 35 days and got a $53.5 million contract extension, but he's not in regular-season form yet.
Keith's call: Traction

Will Le'Ron McClain and the Chiefs turn their frowns upside down? (Ed Zurga/AP)

Cam Newton is an instant superstar.
Not quite. His 422 yards of passing were largely a function of Arizona starting a rookie (Patrick Peterson) and a player they had slated as a reserve (A.J. Jefferson) at cornerback. Newton does have "it" — he was calm on the clutch drive and tossed what would have been the game-tying touchdown pass on fourth and 10 had Greg Olsen been able to stay inbounds. That's the better takeaway — his star quality will translate into the NFL. But don't be stunned if he throws for fewer than half of 422 this week against the top-notch Packers.
Keith's call: Overreaction

The Packers are going back to the Super Bowl
It's early of course, but it was hard to find fault with anything Green Bay did in the opener against the Saints. They gave up 34 points, but they got off to such a fast start, they were playing to protect the lead most of the time. Injuries and other unexpected developments could certainly knock the Packers off their path, and the Eagles, Saints and Bears look like worthy adversaries. But after Week 1, it looks like the road to Indianapolis will go through Green Bay.
Keith's call: Traction

The lockout hurt the game
Depends on perspective. Pass defense around the league was shaky, evidenced by all the all the 300-, 400- and 500-yard passing games. The 7,842 passing yards were a one-week NFL record. So if you like offense, the game might even be better. And defense and special teams weren't exactly useless — there were scores from those units in all but four games, with five punts returned, three kickoffs taken back and the Jets blocking a punt for a key score on Sunday night. In fact, the only perspective from which one might claim the lockout hurt the game is from that of the Colts. Or Chiefs, Steelers or Falcons. Otherwise, football looked pretty good.
Keith's call: Overreaction

What are your calls?


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