Opening week is always an entertaining time in the NFL as some teams look to measure up to the hype created during the offseason while others fall victim to the cruelty of the game of football. Week 1 saw three NFC East teams get off to promising starts while one of the division’s most storied teams found itself on the wrong side of a lop-sided loss greater than the final score.
More predictions about NFC East teams were on target than not after Week 1 action came to a close on Sunday. The Eagles soared while the Commanders and the Giants found creative ways to win. And the cruelty of the game certainly reared its head, knocking one of the NFL’s elite quarterbacks onto the bench for at least several weeks.
1. Philadelphia Eagles (1-0) NFL Rank per NFL.com: 10
Week 1 Results: 38-35 Win vs. Detroit Lions
The Eagles jumped from 14th overall to tenth heading into Week 1 according to NFL.com’s Dan Hanzus.
Big questions about whether the Eagles’ third-year quarterback Jalen Hurts was capable of leading the offense were answered with a solid performance that saw the Eagles amass 455 yards against Detroit which included 243 yards through the air, but no touchdowns. Hurts added another 90 yards rushing and was one of four runners for the Eagles to find paydirt.
The Eagles defense allowed QB Jared Goff to throw for 215 yards and surrendered another 181 yards on the ground. After largely holding Detroit in check for three quarters, the defense gave up 14 points in the fourth quarter. The Eagles offense was able to string together a 10-play drive to close out the game.
Overall, the Eagles look like the NFC East contenders’ sportswriters have been saying they are, but the true test will come when the Eagles face a more stout defense than the 23rd-ranked unit they faced in Detroit.
Philadelphia will face the Minnesota Vikings on Monday night.
2. New York Giants (1-0) NFL Rank per NFL.com: 21
Week 1 Results: 21-20 Win vs Tennessee Titans
Much will be made this week of the bold decision by new head coach Brian Daboll to roll with the offense and pick up the two-point conversion to take the lead late in the fourth quarter on the road in Nashville. Yes, the move was bold, and yes, the Giants eventually won the game, but the victory only happened because the Titans missed a field goal as time expired.
The Giants squandered the entire first half, breaking up a series of short drives that ended in punts with a fumble by Daniel Jones as he was sacked by Jeffery Simmons. Simmons recorded two sacks on the day and the Titans defense took Jones down a total of five times while forcing two fumbles and an interception.
In the second half, Jones came out firing and hit a 65-yard touchdown pass to Sterling Shepard, then followed that performance up with a one-yarder to fullback Chris Myarick. Giants running back Saquon Barkley added another score on the ground.
In a case of “sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good,” the New York Giants escaped with a win, but the offense has a long way to go before they will be competing on a level to challenge for the NFC East title. The Giants defense will need to show a lot more grit to hold off some of the more explosive offenses Big Blue will face in 2022.
The Giants face the Carolina Panthers in New Jersey on Sunday.
3. Washington Commanders (1-0) NFL Rank per NFL.com: 24
Week 1 Results: 28-22 Win vs Jacksonville Jaguars
The Washington Commanders have been at the heart of some of the most disturbing NFL conversations in recent years and the full impact of the Dan Snyder scandal is yet to be fully felt across the league. But Washington comes into 2022 with a new name and the hope of a new direction.
The Commanders’ defense did just enough to ward off a valiant comeback effort by the Jaguars in the fourth quarter and were able to overcome two interceptions tossed by quarterback Carson Wentz to hang onto victory in Week 1.
They came to play ball; the results speak for themselves. Jags QB Trevor Lawrence was held to only 24 completions on 42 attempts and managed only 260 yards passing that included a 49-yard completion to Christian Kirk. The run game was similarly challenged by the Washington defense, compiling only 160 yards total.
Most sportswriters are putting the Commanders slightly behind the Giants, in part because of the erratic play of the offense and the low bar challenge set by Jacksonville’s 27th-ranked defense. Wentz gets the benefit of the doubt here, but with caution. Eagles fans can speak about the highs and lows of putting too much faith in Wentz early in the season.
Washington faces the Detroit Lions on Sunday for the first test of how well they truly measure up against the Eagles.
4. Dallas Cowboys (0-1) NFL Rank per NFL.com: 27
Week 1 Results: 19-3 Loss vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Even if quarterback Dak Prescott had not left the game late in the fourth quarter with a significant injury to his throwing hand, the Cowboys would have bottomed out the NFC East. All offseason, sportswriters questioned what exactly the Cowboys’ plans would be at receiver and offensive line and the ultimate results couldn’t be more disappointing for the 93,797 fans that packed AT&T Stadium Sunday.
The Cowboys defense shows promise that it will once again be one of the league’s most dominating units. Holding Tom Brady to just one passing touchdown and forcing four field goals is an accomplishment that not many units can claim over the 23 seasons the future Hall of Fame quarterback has played.
Cooper Rush will now get an opportunity to show whether he belongs in the NFL after riding the bench since 2017. If Dallas is going to stay competitive over the 4 to 8 weeks Prescott is expected to miss, Rush will need to get production from a shaky receiving core and the Dallas defense will need to give the offense all the help they can.