If there are two things that NFL fans are great at (besides being awesome, of course), it’s forming an opinion on a player or team, and doing it quickly.
Thanks to Week 1 of the NFL preseason, there are a ton of knee-jerk reactions that have been established. While we need to remind ourselves to be a little more open-minded towards the fact that we probably only saw about 15 plays from anyone who will actually impact their respective team this year, there are some reactions that carry a little more weight: the Bears stink. (Just kidding, sort of.)
Unfortunately, we do have to wait around for at least a few days before we can get a closer look at what 2016 has in store. (sigh.) But it doesn’t mean we have to do so quietly and patiently.
Instead, we should dive in a little further to what we were witness to in Week 1.
Here, I’ve taken the time to address some of the biggest questions and knee-jerk reactions that have been constructed following Week 1 of the preseason, and have set the odds on how likely they are to actually happen when we kick the real season off on September 8 in Denver.
Odds on Jimmy Garoppolo having the Pats at 4-0 entering Week 5: 9/1
Garoppolo looked very good against the Saints on Thursday night, but everyone looked good against the Saints’ defense in 2015.
The Pats open the season against the Arizona Cardinals, followed by games against the Dolphins, Texans, and Bills. A 3-1 record after those four games is very attainable, but can Garoppolo beat the much-hyped Cardinals? The odds should tell you my opinion.
Odds on Jimmy Garoppolo starting Week 5: 20/1
The Pats would have to be 4-0, and Garoppolo’s passer rating would have to be damn near 158.3. But, we all said the same thing about Brady more than 15 years ago.
Odds on Blaine Gabbert starting Week 1: 4/5
It took a 43-yard touchdown pass to save Gabbert’s stat-line (4/10 for 63 yards and a touchdown), but it may not prevent Colin Kaepernick from receiving more first-team reps this week at practice, as long as his shoulder is no longer suffering.
Gabbert did make some nice plays though, and it is Colin Kaepernick behind him.
Odds on Trevor Siemian starting for the Broncos in Week 1: 3/2
Heading into Week 1 of the preseason, not many actually believed that Siemian had a chance to start, even after he was named a co-starter on Denver’s first depth chart. However, after going 7/12 for 88 yards through the air against the Bears, everyone is starting to realize that the second-year quarterback from Northwestern is certainly capable of the role.
He wasn’t the only impressive quarterback wearing a Broncos jersey though, as both Mark Sanchez and Paxton Lynch also looked very good – outside of a classic Sanchez interception.
In spite of his promising performance, it still appears more likely than not that the Broncos will side with Sanchez and the experience he possesses. The gap has certainly closed though.
Odds on Jared Goff starting Week 1: 5/2
Was that not the perfect start for the revival of football in Los Angeles? (HA!)
It wasn’t all bad for the Rams though, as they ended up winning the game 28-24, on the back of Sean Mannion, and his three touchdown passes in the second half. Unfortunately, not every Rams quarterback played well Sunday night, as Jared Goff had an underwhelming night (4/9, 38 yards, and an interception), being outperformed by both Mannion and Case Keenum.
There were a couple balls where his receivers could have made a better play for him, but he was guilty of staring down receivers at times, and misplaced a few throws. Not to mention, he didn’t recognize the blitz coming on a few occasions.
Despite their desire to win now, the Rams need to let Goff grow as an NFL quarterback before throwing him into the fire. His Week 1 performance should justify the concerns over whether he’s ready for the NFL right now.
Odds on Brock Osweiler being benched: 12/1
Although his Texans debut was very disappointing (4/7 for 27 yards), Houston doesn’t have anyone nipping at Osweiler’s heels, and they’ve been so starved for a franchise quarterback over the last few seasons.
You can bet head coach Bill O’Brien didn’t see what he had hoped, as Osweiler missed a couple open receivers, and chose to throw passes well short of the first-down marker a couple of times on third-downs as well.
Still, the dude is set to make $72-million over the next four years. It would have to get really bad for Osweiler to find his way back to the bench – like, worse than Brian Hoyer’s Week 1 start in 2015.
Odds on Dak Prescott remaining the backup quarterback in Dallas: 7/5
In spite of Prescott’s extremely encouraging performance in Week 1 (10/12, 139 yards, and two touchdowns), it would only take one poor outing to remind everyone that he was a fourth-round pick, who needed to be developed over the next couple of seasons.
But, his debut was almost flawless – the two incompletions were clear drops – and Jerry Jones would be foolish to give away any future assets for a backup quarterback after Prescott’s showing.
Odds on Cam Newton being penalized for celebrating: 7/2
We have documented every single dance move that Cam Newton has thrown our way, and he subjected himself to further scrutiny in the Panthers’ preseason opener, when his actions from the sideline negated a defensive touchdown.
I’m sure head coach Ron Rivera has had a private discussion with the league’s reigning MVP about his exuberance after that one. Yet, I doubt we’ve seen the last of Newton’s celebrations.
Odds on Jameis Winston leading the Bucs inside the top-ten for scoring this season: 5/1
This may come as a surprise to you, but the Bucs actually put up the fifth most yards per game (375.9) on offense last season. It took a while to sink in with me as well, so take your time with it.
However, they were unable to turn those yards into many points, finishing 20th in scoring.
In their first preseason game of 2016, they only managed nine points, but Jameis Winston and the starting offense actually looked pretty good, accounting for the team’s lone touchdown.
Top-ten may be asking too much from them though.
Odds on Roberto Aguayo missing an extra-point this season: 4/1
The Buccaneers may have made the most surprising pick in the 2016 NFL draft, when they took a kicker in the second round. Yes, a kicker!
Aguayo was a first-team All-ACC pick three times, made all 198 extra points that he attempted, and finished his college career with an 88.5 field goal percentage.
However, all that means nothing now. In Aguayo’s NFL debut, he missed the first extra point he attempted, but converted on a 38-yard field goal in the fourth quarter.
An extra-point in the NFL isn’t a chip-shot anymore.
Odds on Sterling Shepard winning OROY: 9/1
Despite only making one catch for 24 yards in his NFL debut, Shepard has been the subject of a lot of chatter around Giants camp. Once Eli Manning gets under centre, you can expect the rookie will see more targets.
He hasn’t done anywhere near enough to displace Ezekiel Elliott as the favorite for Offensive Rookie of the Year, but he’s closed the gap for runner-up.
Odds on the Titans winning the AFC South: 19/2
They may have opened some eyes when they ran for 288 yards on 33 carries (8.7 yards per carry), but they were playing the San Diego Chargers.
DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry led the way, combining for 167 yards and two touchdowns on the ground, but they also had a lot of running room.
We’ll see if the Titans’ offensive line can dominate the trenches against someone other than San Diego.
Odds on Arizona losing a game by 21 points or more this season: 7/1
Last season, the Cardinals lost to the Seahawks by 30 points in the final week of the regular season and lost by 34 points in the NFC Championship game. Arizona’s preseason opened with a 31-10 loss to the Oakland Raiders. Will this be the greatest margin of defeat they see this year?
Looking ahead in 2016, the Cardinals will face Seattle twice, and the team who put a beating on them to end their season, the Carolina Panthers. However, this year’s Arizona team is projected to be even better than 2015’s version.
Every team suffers through some stumbles each year, but I can’t see any of those stumbles resulting in a 21-point defeat for the Cardinals.
Odds on there being three safeties recorded in one game: 50/1
The NFL record for safeties in a game (not including preseason) is three, which was matched (but won’t count in the record books) by the Green Bay Packers and Cleveland Browns this past weekend.
The extremely sloppy play will dwindle once each team is only allowing one quarterback to take snaps – for most teams anyway. (Sorry, Cleveland.)
Photo Credit: ShoneBK (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.