Quarterbacks Will Struggle…Except Drew Brees
Week 1 of the 2017 NFL season will live on as the week quarterbacks collectively forgot how to throw the football. We all should have known something was up when Tom Brady posted a 35.1 QBR with zero touchdowns on Thursday. After this paltry performance, what hope was there for the rest of the league? It was understood that journeymen (take a moment to soak in that Scott Tolzien, Josh McCown, Tom Savage and Brian Hoyer all started an NFL game in the same week) and younger guys (DeShone Kizer and Blake Bortles) would struggle, but there’s a serious problem when established veterans such as Andy Dalton and Carson Palmer combine for seven interceptions.
We figure to see much of the same from the Monday Night QB’s. However, there’s one exception: Indoor-loving Drew Brees. The New Orleans QB has been criticized at times for his play on the road, but Brees delivers anytime he’s playing on turf. In his only two road games played indoors last year (Arizona, Atlanta), Brees threw for 739 yards and six touchdowns while completing 67.3-percent of his passes. As for the other quarterbacks on Monday evening, Sam Bradford and Trevor Siemian just aren’t very good (even though Bradford gets to play against that mediocre Saints defense), and Philip Rivers has thrown for as many interceptions as he has touchdowns over the last three years against the Broncos.
The Games Will Be Better
With all of the pessimistic QB-talk aside, these games will still be enjoyable to watch from a viewer’s standpoint. The highly-touted Week 1 match-ups (Packers-Seahawks and Giants-Cowboys) were major let-downs, and fans can expect more from the games tonight.
New Orleans and Minnesota have plenty of juicy storylines embedded into the game. The Saints’ explosive offense against the Vikings’ stout defense should be fun. Peterson’s homecoming back to Minnesota should also be interesting.
The Chargers and Broncos always find a way to keep their games entertaining, despite each team’s individual ranking. Joey Bosa is good for one ‘how in the world did he do that?’ play every game, and Rivers is good for one ‘why in the world did he do that?’ decision each half.
The Saints offense scored the second most points in the league last year. The Chargers, Broncos and Vikings all had defenses ranked in the top-7 in takeaways last year. Expect more scoring, and more entertainment. After all, they can’t be worse than yesterday’s marquee games…right?!?
Adrian Peterson Will Get Plenty of Touches
We can’t know for sure, but one has to assume that Peterson wouldn’t have signed with the Saints under the assumption that he’d be playing second-fiddle to Mark Ingram Jr. The all-time great running back will be donning an NFL jersey that isn’t in Viking purple for the first time in his career. As such, we expect him to make a major impact against his former team.
As Peterson has never been known for his pass-catching ability, expect Ingram Jr. to take over in those situations. However, AD will surely be called upon in the red-zone situations. Sean Payton will look to get his running back going early, and preferably in the end zone as soon as possible.
Joey Bosa Will Introduce Himself to Trevor Siemian
After ending his lengthy holdout, Bosa totaled 10.5 sacks in a monster rookie campaign. The Chargers defensive end was nearly unblockable by the end of the year, finishing the season on a five-game sack streak.
What’s most remarkable is the level of talent Bosa was succeeding against. Bosa individually accounted for three of Derek Carr’s 16 total sacks last year, and got to Matt Ryan twice in a match-up in late October as well. Interestingly enough, one player Bosa wasn’t able to bring down was Denver’s Siemian.
Siemian was sacked a total of 31 times last season, with 20 of those coming in the second half of the year. Bosa and fellow pass rusher Melvin Ingram will be licking their chops in this match-up. The Ohio State product is primed to record his first of many career sacks against the Denver Broncos.
Road Teams Will Prevail
Road teams have posted an impressive 8-5 record thus far in Week 1, and we expect those winning ways to continue.
We’ve already spoken about Brees’ production on turf and Peterson’s immediate impact potential, but New Orleans also made strides on the defensive side of the ball. They’ll have talented first-round pick Sheldon Rankins fully healthy this year. They’ve also added veterans Manti Te’o and A.J. Klein to the fray. If Brees takes care of the ball, it’ll be difficult for Minnesota’s offense to keep up with New Orleans’ scoring pace.
In the later game, the Chargers are looking to make a statement in the AFC West. LA enters the game (mostly) healthy after splitting the season series with the Broncos last year. We’re giving the nod to the Chargers because they have the better quarterback, and Melvin Gordon’s ability in the backfield will help ease up those talented Denver defensive backs.
The road teams reign supreme, and finish a remarkable 10-5 in a bizarre Week 1.
Sources: Isaiah J. Downing/USA TODAY Sports, Kim Klement/USA TODAY Sports, Kirby Lee/USA TODAY Sports