The Seahawks got the win on Sunday but oh how close they came to doing the opposite of that and digging themselves a bigger hole than just 0-1. Had Seattle dropped the first game it would not have only meant that they were winless, it would have also been a loss at home, making it less likely that they’d make it up later. It would have also been to a team that most still expect to be below .500.
If you win the games that you’re really supposed to win then you can afford to lose some of the ones that you’re really supposed to lose. Had the Bengals held onto their second half lead, the Seahawks would also be last in the division. Here’s a quick look at why:
The Cards find themselves in last place in the NFC West to open the season not because of 0-1 but due to 0-0-1. In checks you want an extra “0” but in this case it feels gross. That being said despite not being a winner or a loser, I suspect Kyler Murray and Kliff Kingsbury are feeling better than they did in the first half of the game.
The Lions led 17-3 at halftime and 24-6 in the fourth quarter before 18 unanswered points by Murray and the Arizona offense. The Cardinals first six drives included five punts and an interception, followed by a field goal to end the half and two punts to open the second. However, the Cards then went: FG, FG, TD, TD, and then one more FG in overtime that Detroit matched, and one more punt.
Murray’s numbers started out horrifically but he finished 29/54, 308 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. Yes, we live in a world where a ROOKIE DEBUT includes 54 pass attempts. (That being said, it was not as good as the debut of sixth round pick Gardner Minshew in Jacksonville. More on that later if you look it up later.)
Overall, the Cardinals saw good things out of their young quarterback, David Johnson had 18 carries for 82 yards and 55 receiving yards with a touchdown while lining up at receiver 15 times, Larry Fitzgerald looks as old as Tom Brady and had 113 yards, and they showed an ability to make up ground fast. Terrell Suggs had two sacks in his hometown debut. On the downside, the defense gave up three Matthew Stafford passing touchdowns and the team ultimately dropped a home game to an opponent that many expected to be bad.
They almost did the thing Seattle narrowly avoided except it’s even a little worse since this is a conference opponent and they tied. Arizona is in last place but the fourth quarter by Murray is encouraging if you’re on that side. They travel to Baltimore next week to play the Ravens, who won 59-10 on Sunday. The Seahawks play the Cardinals in Arizona in Week 4.
Every NFC West team played another team that most expected to be bad and this also helped the San Francisco 49ers open the season with a win, but this time on the road. A road conference win for both the 49ers and Rams helped them just a tiny bit more than Seattle but it’s really nitpicking after only one game.
That being said, is this the Kyle Shanahan offense we’re all meant to fear?
Jimmy Garoppolo returned from his latest injury to go 18/27 for 166 yards, one touchdown, one interception, one sack. Matt Breida led the team with 15 carries but for only 37 yards. Raheem Mostert had 40 on nine carries and Tevin Coleman had six for 23. George Kittle had way more targets than any teammate, catching eight of 10 but for only 54 yards.
The Bucs had the worst defense in the NFL a year ago so if that’s anywhere near the case again, the 49ers had an even worse day on offense than in the box score. This is how their wide receivers fared:
Richie James: 2 targets, 1 catch, 39 yards, 1 TD
Dante Pettis: 1 target, 1 catch, 7 yards
Marquise Goodwin: 3 targets, 1 catch, 7 yards
Kendrick Bourne: 3 targets, 1 catch, 9 yards
Deebo Samuel: 3 targets, 3 catches, 17 yards, 1 fumble lost
Not that Seattle’s wideouts outside of DK Metcalf were anything special in terms of volume this weekend, but the 49ers clearly seem to lack a Metcalf or a Tyler Lockett. Or Shanahan doesn’t want his offense to explode beyond short, short passes because it can’t because Garoppolo has a long road to go before proving himself as a starting quarterback and maybe he’s just not that good after his injury (also threw a pick-six to Vernon Hargreaves) and maybe he never was.
The defense picked off Jameis Winston three times though and O.J. Howard lost a fumble, giving Tampa Bay four turnovers that led to 14 San Francisco points, all from pick-sixes including one by Richard Sherman.
Jameis Winston copies Jimmy Garoppolo and throws a pick-six. This one is by Richard Sherman.— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) September 8, 2019
Sherman had 0 INTs last season. pic.twitter.com/12xTLH5Juj
They next travel to Cincinnati to play those 0-1 Bengals. They don’t face the Seahawks until Monday Night Football in Week 10.
Rams 30, Panthers 27
I think this could be a beatable team.
Though the Rams led for the entire game on the road, Jared Goff looked anything like one of the richest quarterbacks in the NFL, going 23/39 for 186 yards, one touchdown, one interception, one sack, and one fumble. Remember Goff also had three poor playoff performances, so this makes four in a row for him now in terms of games.
Panthers CB James Bradberry intercepts Jared Goff pic.twitter.com/19TtjKRnhq— Sports Gifs & Videos (@Supreme_gifs) September 8, 2019
Todd Gurley did not have a good first half as Sean McVay limited him and put Malcolm Brown in plenty to open things up. Then in the second half Gurley opened with a 25-yard run and some big pickups late in the fourth quarter that helped him finish with 14 carries for 97 yards. Brown had 11 for 53 and two touchdowns. No receivers really shined in this one either, but we don’t know how good Carolina’s defense is going to be this season.
The big mystery of all these games.
We do know that LA’s defense had no answers for Christian McCaffrey: 19 carries for 128 yards and two touchdowns, 10 catches for 81 yards. (The Seahawks travel to Carolina (of course) in Week 15.) But Cam Newton had an interception and lost a fumble, while receiver D.J. Moore also lost a fumble. The Newton fumble led almost directly to seven points for the Rams.
Los Angeles is maybe the NFC West team that feels the best about their win, traveling across the country to beat a Panthers team that we don’t know, could be in the playoffs. That’s not as likely for the Bengals, Lions, and Bucs. The Rams also never trailed and didn’t need huge games from their offensive stars to get a road win.
They did just barely enough and as we saw in Seattle, that’s all you need. Enough.
The Rams host the Saints next weekend and travel to face the Seahawks on Thursday Night Football in Week 5.
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NFC West Standings
- Murray leads the NFL in pass attempts
- The only starters to throw fewer attempts than Russell Wilson were Kirk Cousins (8-of-10 in a win) and Nick Foles, who broke his clavicle and exited the game
- Wilson leads the division in Y/A so far at 9.8. Goff is second-to-last in the entire NFL in Y/A at 4.8.
- Wilson is 4th in the NFL in passer rating
- Devon Kennard of the Lions racked three sacks on Murray, giving him the NFL lead so far