Seven teams lost from last season on Sunday afternoon, with four losses against teams that missed post-season a year ago. Both #1 seed from 2021 were defeated. After the Rams lost in their season opener Thursday, their opponents in the NFC Championship game, the 49ers, were sent through 2 inches of continuous rain by the humble Bears. And the AFC champion Bengals lost in a very painful way.
Let’s delve into a few of these teams to see if fans should be genuinely concerned about what they saw over the weekend. There’s not much to say about the Cardinals’ chiefs handling the Cardinals, who at first glance looked to be better than the team we saw a year ago. I want to beat the five teams that qualified for the playoffs in 2021 and then lost to an outside playoff team on Sunday.
I’ll also add two teams that made the playoffs last season, and I’ll beat them first. The Steelers ended up on top of the Bengals in overtime, but I wonder if both fan bases might feel bad about their teams heading into week two. Unbelievable:
Go to a team:
49ers | Bengals
Packers | patriots
invaders | Steelers | titans
First week result: Lost 23-20 to Pittsburgh Steelers
During the 2021 qualifiers, we talked about the many reasons why the Bengal team turned 7-6 and in the middle of a crowded qualifier picture to somehow exit the AFC as conference champions. All the AFC midfielders have been injured in one way or another. Their success rate increased. Joe Burrow was more confident about the left knee he injured in 2020. And the defense merged. Nobody thinks they stand a chance against titans and bosses. All of these factors mean something.
The biggest difference between the Bengals who lost to the Bears and Jets and those who defeated the Chiefs and Titans, was as clear as day. During the first 13 games of their season, they converted the ball more than 21 times. When they turned the ball two or more times during their 13-game season start span, they went 0-5.
Over the last seven games of the season — with the exception of the senseless Week 18 game that kicked off at the start — Burrow & Co went 6-1. They only turned the ball twice, with one bounty in their victory over the Titans and their subsequent victory over the Chiefs.
We knew the Bengals weren’t going to flip the ball once a month for any length of time, but the regression after the mean didn’t have to come on so suddenly and be so dramatic. Burrow and Cincinnati converted the ball in four of the first five rounds in Week 1, with the quarterback losing a fuss on a ribbon bag and throwing three interceptions. A fourth pick was added later in the game. Burrow was sacked again in overtime, but teammate Samaje Perine fell into a stupor.
Maybe the Bengal team would win this game without these giveaways. Safety Minkah Fitzpatrick took the first interception home for a pick six, giving the Steelers’ limp attack seven crucial points. The Bengals might have been in a position to attempt a long field goal if Burrow had just avoided a tape sack in overtime, forcing Cincinnati instead. Even with the flush, the team was in a position to win an extra point at the end of regulation or a 29-yard field goal in overtime, neither of which resulted in points.
Should Bengalis be concerned about the transitions? Not right. We know from history that the five giveaway game is historically unlikely. Watching those shows, the Steelers deserve credit for making some great moments. TJ Watt somehow managed to capture Burrow’s full-speed pass 0.2 seconds after it hit the air, according to NFL Next Gen Stats. Cameron Sutton, who put in a great game, made an excellent grip after undermining Burrow in a seam. Ahkello Witherspoon chanted a pass for himself to pick him up. Those throws are more likely to hit the ground unharmed in the coming weeks than to turn into interceptions again.