5 Big Storylines in the NFL This Week
Week 1 is in the books, so let’s take a look at some of the biggest storylines coming out of Kickoff Weekend.
Zeke’s Not in the Clear Yet
Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott ran for 104 yards against the Giants, but he’s still not cleared all legal hurdles regarding his 6-game suspension.
On Monday morning, the NFL filed an appeal with the 5th S. Circuit Court of appeals to protest the injunction issued by the judge in Sherman last Friday which is allowing Zeke to play this season. The NFL also asked for an emergency stay of that same injunction.
What do all these legal maneuverings mean for Zeke’s availability to play in games the rest of this season? In short, it’s still up in the air. Because all the court documents regarding the NFL’s request for a stay aren’t due until Friday afternoon, Zeke will be allowed to play this coming Sunday in Denver when the Cowboys play the Broncos. But after this weekend, depending on the results of the appeal and the stay, Zeke could still have to serve his 6-game suspension this year. If the NFL does not get the result it wants, it can ask for an appeal and that ruling may not come for many weeks, maybe not until the offseason. For now, Zeke is practicing with the team and plan on playing the rest of the season…unless the courts tell him otherwise. This legal drama is going to drag on.
Jose Juarez via AP
Another Top Running Back Is Out 12 Weeks with Injury
Last season only one running back in the NFL had more scrimmage yards (rushing + receiving) than Zeke. His name is David Johnson of the Cardinals and he’s one of the most exciting, dynamic players in the NFL. But he suffered a wrist injury in the Cardinals Week 1 loss to the Lions which will sideline him up to 12 weeks. For all those Fantasy Football owners who were thrilled to have Johnson on their team, this is a big blow. But it’s an even bigger blow to the Cardinals. A guy who topped 2,000 scrimmage yards last season is out until December.
What Happened to these Offenses?
The Cowboys defense smothered the Giants offense on Sunday Night Football, holding Eli Manning and the Giants to a paltry 3 points.
David J. Phillip via AP
But the Giants were one of six NFL teams that was held to single digits on Kickoff Weekend. The Bengals stunk up the joint, getting blanked by the Ravens 20-0. The gosh-awful 49ers scored only 3 points at home against the Panthers. The Seahawks were held to zero touchdowns and 9 points (3 field goals) at the Packers, and the Texans managed only 1 touchdown in a 29-7 thrashing by the Jaguars defense.
Why were there so many poor showings on offense? It’s no mystery: it’s bad play by the offensive lines as well as turnovers. The biggest example is the Texans who allowed 10 sacks in their loss to the Jags.
Matt Patterson via AP
How to Make a Gazillion Dollars
The Texans’ inability to block anybody on the Jags’ defense may result in a big payday for Texans left tackle Duane Brown who did not play Sunday because he’s in a contract holdout. In his absence, things went horribly wrong for the Texans offensive line. The Houston Chronicle wrote: “Let’s just say Grenada’s army put up more resistance against U.S. forces in 1983.” Brown still has a year left on his contract and Texans general manager Rick Smith doesn’t want to change a contract when there’s time still left. But there will be no season for the Texans – whether its Tom Savage (who was benched Sunday) at quarterback or rookie DeShaun Watson (who played the second half) – if they can’t protect the passer. Duane Brown got richer while his backup got beat for 4 sacks by the Jaguars’ Calais Campbell.
Jim Mone via AP
Sam Bradford Looks Awesome in Vikings Big Win
Which was more surprising in Kickoff Weekend: the Chiefs beating the Patriots in New England on Monday Night Football?
The moribund Rams offense and QB Jared Goff scoring 46 points in a win over the Colts? Or Sam Bradford throwing the ball more than 10 yards downfield as he torched the Saints’ defense in the Vikings’ 29-17 home win on Monday Night Football?
It’s between the last two options. Goff topped 300 passing yards in the debut of new Rams head coach Sean McVay. But the Colts defense is really terrible, so let’s not get too hyped-up about the Rams.
As for Sam Bradford, he carved-up the Saints defense completing 27 of 32 passes for 346 yards…and he aired the ball out downfield. Last year, Bradford set an NFL record for completion percentage, but that’s because he dinked-and-dunked little drop-off passes for 5 or 6 yards. On Monday night, he had 8 completions of 20+ yards, the most since Brett Favre played for the Vikings. Bradford looked awesome, but part of that is due to the revamped Vikings offensive line which gave him time to throw downfield. I don’t know if this will last all season for Bradford, but it sure was fun to watch on Monday night.