FOX Sports Betting Analyst
Fifteen games down with one left to go in the first NFL weekend of the 2023 season. After all of Sunday’s games have gone final, which three teams and/or players do I think have earned some love and which do I not trust right away? Check out my Week 1 stock up and down report.
San Francisco 49ers
The one question anyone had about the 49ers heading into the 2023 season was the play of second–year quarterback Brock Purdy. Purdy was the final pick of the 2022 NFL draft and he ended up starting for the 49ers last season after injuries to the two quarterbacks in front of him. Purdy played well, leading the 49ers to the NFC Championship game. The 49ers entered this season with arguably the best roster in football. Debatable best players in the NFL at left tackle, running back, pass rusher, middle linebacker, slash player, plus George Kittle at tight end put the Niners in a position to win the NFC if Purdy is able to improve on his play from last season.
After one game it appears Brock Purdy has elevated his game. He was fantastic in the opener against the Steelers, completing 19 of 29 passes for 220 yards. He was under control and able to help his offense convert multiple third downs early in the game. This version of Purdy is what the Niners need to win the NFC. The rest of their team played as though today was an extension of 2022. The defense played faster and more physical than the Steelers. They dominated the game. Christian McCaffrey was unstoppable, and outside the right tackle spot struggling in pass protection, the offensive line was humming.
Christian McCaffrey spins his way into an AMAZING 65-yard rushing TD
The Jordan Love era in Green Bay could not have started any better. The Packers went to Chicago as underdogs by kickoff and smoked the Bears, winning 38-20 in a game that wasn’t as close as the final score. All eyes in the NFL world were on Love as the Packers transition from future Hall of Famer Aaron Rodgers to Love, who is now in his fourth season. There was reasonable doubt about Love’s ability to be a routinely effective NFL quarterback, and after one game this season he’s removed some of that doubt. Love was 15 of 27 for 245 and three touchdowns. More importantly, he had no turnovers and was playing in great rhythm with the offense. The Packers have the rushing attack and defense to be in every game if Love plays like he did Sunday. Impressive start to the season for the Packers quarterback.
The Dolphins’ offense came roaring out of the gate in 2023, putting up 36 points in Los Angeles as they defeated the Chargers in a close game, 36-34. The story was the offense, led by quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, who had 466 passing yards and three touchdowns, with 215 of those yards coming from Tyreek Hill. Hill is well on his way to his stated goal of 2,000 receiving yards this season. When the Dolphins’ offense is playing with this rhythm they are nearly unstoppable. Add in an offensive line missing its best player and still not allowing any sacks? Miami must be loving what they got cooking on offense with a healthy Tua.
The importance of this Dolphins’ win goes beyond what the offense did. The Miami defense allowed too many points but when it mattered most at the end they brought it big time, ending the game with two sacks on the final three plays. The Dolphins now own a tiebreaker against the Chargers and already are a game up on the Chiefs and Bengals in the AFC East.
Surprise NFC playoff teams from 2022
The Seattle Seahawks and Minnesota Vikings each overachieved in 2022.
The Seahawks were pegged as a possible destination for Bryce Young heading in 2022 before Geno Smith played the best season of his career to help propel Seattle into the playoffs. Geno, the reigning Comeback Player of the Year winner, was awful Sunday against the Rams, throwing for only 112 yards and looking more like the Geno Smith we saw earlier in his career. The Seahawks’ defense got shredded by Matthew Stafford despite missing his All-Pro receiver in Cooper Kupp. Not a good day in Seattle for the home squad.
The Vikings won 11 regular-season games last season by one score or loss. They lost a one-score game to the Giants in the wild-card round and promptly lost their first game of 2023 to the Buccaneers by three points. Regression to the mean. No surprise except for those who sing Skol Vikings on Sundays.
Matthew Stafford and Aaron Donald discuss Rams’ win over Seahawks
It’s difficult to win each week in the NFL. It’s even more difficult to make the playoffs each season. And all three of these teams played Sunday like they expect to make the playoffs just by putting on their uniform. That’s clearly not the case and things will need to be corrected quickly by both to maintain success in the NFL
New York Giants
What an embarrassing night for the New York football Giants. The Giants barely put up a fight against the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday night. The Cowboys scored on offense, defense and special team. The Giants appeared completely befuddled and not prepared to play a Dallas squad that has Super Bowl aspirations. Daniel Jones was awful, but is that truly that surprising? He succeeded last season in very controlled offensive scheme, but on Sunday the Cowboys made him uncomfortable. The Giants have spent two first-round picks and a second-round picks on both their tackles and center, but the Giants O-line played like they’d never seen a twist before. Not acceptable by that group. The Giants’ defense barely slowed down the Cowboys’ offense, who scored on four of their first five drives. Dak Prescott wasn’t touched the entire game and running back Tony Pollard rushed for 70 yards on just 14 carries. It was a butt-whooping tonight by America’s Team. Hard to feel confident in the Giants moving forward.
The Bengals started 2022 by losing their first two games and then finishing the season in the AFC title game. The Bengals started the 2023 season by losing to the Browns by a wide margin. The Browns controlled the game from start to finish, only allowing Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow to throw for 82 yards while dominating the line of scrimmage. The Bengals’ offensive line does not look much improved yet. The Browns controlled the Bengals’ defense with a steady diet of Nick Chubb and some timely throws by Deshaun Watson, who did not throw the ball that well today.
Unlike the losses to start last season, the Bengals did not turn the ball over five times against the Steelers in Week 1. They actually won the turnover battle in this road contest. Burrow missed a large portion of the 2022 training camp for a surgery, just as he missed a large chunk of practice this camp with a calf injury. Burrow did not look comfortable at all Sunday. Not sure if the calf is limiting his ability to put zip on throws or play with confidence, but it was a poor performance from him. The Bengals play the Ravens in Week 2 and if they can’t win that one, they will have losses to two division opponents. Not excellent. However, I would not panic about this team, even if they lose again. They have Joe Burrow and will be a playoff team this season
Geoff Schwartz is an NFL analyst for FOX Sports. He played eight seasons in the NFL for five different teams. He started at right tackle for the University of Oregon for three seasons and was a second-team All-Pac-12 selection his senior year. Follow him on Twitter @GeoffSchwartz.
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