The first NFL Sunday finally arrived, and it proved to be well worth the wait.
Between all the big plays and stunning upsets, Week 1 had everything a football fan could ask for. If you struggled to keep up with it all, don’t you worry. The Playbook has you covered with a recap of the top moments from Sunday’s action.
Chiefs are inevitable
In what was arguably the biggest game of the day, the Kansas City Chiefs demonstrated why they are so tough to defeat.
Cleveland led for the first three quarters and even took a 29-20 lead on a 2-yard touchdown run from Kareem Hunt with 10:24 left to play in the game. According to NFL game data, the Browns had a win probability north of 75%, and the bettings odds were in their favor as well.
Then, this happened.
Cleveland proceeded to lose 10 yards on its ensuing drive, capped by a fumble on the punt. The Chiefs took their first lead of the game, when Patrick Mahomes linked up with Travis Kelce for a 8-yard touchdown. And there was never any doubt after that.
Bark, bark: Underdogs had a week
It was a good weekend, if you took the teams getting points. Underdogs went 11-3 against the spread through the first 14 games of Week 1. But a few significant underdogs didn’t need the points, as they won outright.
Pittsburgh, which was +6.5 at Buffalo with a moneyline of +225, recorded a stunning 23-16 victory over last year’s AFC runner-up. A pivotal moment in the game occurred in the fourth quarter, when the Steelers blocked a punt for a touchdown to extend their lead to 20-10.
It was a shocking result. However, if you watched the debut episode of Upsets & Underdogs, you would have been all over this pick!
Also in the early slate, Houston, of all teams, started off the 2021 season with a win. The Texans, who were +3.5 and had a +150 moneyline, recorded a 37-21 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars. Just as we all expected, Houston is now atop the AFC South standings after Week 1.
Behind five touchdown passes from quarterback Jameis Winston, New Orleans rolled to a 38-3 win over Green Bay in Jacksonville. The Saints entered the matchup against last year’s NFC runner-up as 3.5-point underdogs, and had a moneyline value of +155.
In addition, the Cincinnati Bengals (27-24 victory over Minnesota), Miami Dolphins (17-16 win over New England), and Arizona Cardinals (38-13 drubbing of Tennessee) all recorded outright wins as three-point underdogs.
Arizona was notably led by standout performances from Kyler Murray and Chandler Jones. According to ESPN Stats & Info, Jones matched the single-game sack record by a Cardinal, while Murray became the first Arizona player since 1962 to throw for four passing touchdowns and run for another in a game.
Russell Wilson enters MVP conversation
Seattle’s superstar quarterback cooked against the Indianapolis defense, tossing four touchdowns in a 28-16 road win. A pair of those touchdown passes went to Tyler Lockett, who also finished with 100 yards on four receptions.
It was a performance that could very likely raise Wilson’s MVP stock, as he entered the year with +1800 odds to win the award. In the offseason, we argued in article form that Wilson was one of the top values when looking at MVP futures at WynnBET.
And Joe Fann made a similar case in the debut episode of Bet to Wynn.
Rookies make their debut
Football fans are always eager to get their first glimpse of the rookies, but let’s keep our focus on the quarterbacks for now. While none of the three starters (Trevor Lawrence, Zach Wilson, Mac Jones) got a win in their debut, they all flashed some promising potential.
Wilson, who was selected with the No. 2 overall pick by the Jets, went 20-for-37 for 258 yards in a 19-14 loss in Carolina. He also threw two touchdowns and one interception, while being sacked six times. Corey Davis, who caught Wilson’s first career touchdown pass, entered the year with +450 odds to do so.
Lawrence, meanwhile, connected with Jacksonville’s Chris Manhertz for his first touchdown pass. In the loss to the Texans, Lawrence posted a stat line of 28-for-51 for 332 passing yards to go along with three touchdowns and three interceptions. It marked the first regular-season defeat of Lawrence’s football career.
In a battle of former Alabama quarterbacks, Jones and New England were narrowly defeated by Tua Tagovailoa and Miami. Jones completed 28-of-39 passes on his way to 281 yards and one score to Nelson Agholor.
Despite not starting, San Francisco quarterback Trey Lance and Chicago’s signal caller Justin Fields both saw the field on Sunday, as well. Lance threw a touchdown on the first pass attempt of his career, connecting with Trent Sherfield for a 5-yard score.
What we saw on social
Let’s close out this recap with any notable posts from social media during Sunday’s action, starting with a bizarre post from the Carolina Panthers Twitter account: