Hello, football fans. The 2019 NFL season is now upon us. I for one can’t wait to watch, cover and analyze the events of the season as they occur. Now here at AEE, we have broken things down by divisions. This is to allow for more of our talented and informative writers a chance to do their thing, as well as to give all our followers the chance to see things from multiple perspectives. Now your boy, yours truly, as the resident Rams fanatic will be diving into all things NFC West. So in other words, much like the Rams, this is my division in 2019. So what do you say, let’s get started and see what transpired in week 1!
Los Angeles Rams @ Carolina Panthers
This was on-paper, the best game of the week in the division and will kick us off. On a side note, I was at this game live and of course, it was an absolute blast! I went with and or met several friends and or family members in Charlotte for this one, both Rams and Panthers fans alike. I arrived at 7 am for some great tailgating to get the season started right. Not to mention and to my liking, we’re set up in said tailgating festivities right next to the North Carolina chapter of RWO (RamsWorldOrder) who came ready and rolling roughly 150 people deep. Carolina never had a chance, we started the takeover in the parking lot 6 hours before kickoff with megaphone induced chants of “who’s house?”……..”Rams house” spewing from our beer and brat scented mouths! It was on and we were ready!
Fast forward to the game its self. It was a defensive one early, also aided by some bad offense which is going around in these early season matchups with all the lack of preseason reps, etc. Anyway like was the story for the entire game the Panthers offensive gameplan was to get the ball to Christian McCaffrey and let him do his thing. Not a bad strategy as the only problem with it was it worked way too well. The stud Swiss Army knife of RB’s shredded my beloved Rams defense to the tune of 19 carries for 128 yards (6.7 ypc) and 2 scores. Oh CMC also added 10 grabs for 81 more yards to total 209 yards on 29 touches and 2 TDs. Damnit I wanted him in fantasy! Oh well, we got the W and CMC was fun to get to watch live for the first time.
Even with CMC going off the Panthers only managed 3 first-half points on a cheap last-second 46 yard FG by Joey Slye. Slye missed a 53-yard attempt earlier in the half. Mixed that with a DJ Moore fumble in the red zone on the opening drive and a Cam Newton mistake on a poorly thrown backward pass for a pick, and here we are. Cam wasn’t the only QB who struggled in this one as the Rams and new 110 million dollar man QB Jared Goff looked sluggish for a good bit of this contest as well. You see the 30-27 final and think what is this guy talking about?! However, much of those 57 points were scored either in junk time or helped by mistakes from the other team.
Both teams defenses looked better than their offenses on this day. All eyes were on Rams star RB Todd Gurley. How would he play? How are the knees? How much he would play? Who plays at RB when he’s not? Well, it didn’t look too good for about 2 1/2 quarters on Sunday afternoon for Gurley as he wasn’t finding space and looked sluggish. Luckily for my Rams Malcolm Brown, not rookie 3rd round pick Darrell Henderson, was spelling Gurley quite a bit in those 2 1/2 quarters and doing so rather well tallying 11 carries for 53 yards and 2 TDs. In fact, Brown was in the backfield and finished off the Rams first two TD drives. Now I’m hoping Gurley was just knocking off rust cause he did have a very nice latter part of the game finishing with 97 yards on 14 carries (6.9 ypc) overall.
Again both team’s passing games were a little off most the game. Both Cam and Goff missed passes on what could or should have been big plays for their teams. Many of the ones that did connect were short underneath passes as both teams did a good job preventing the big plays especially with so many big-play threats on these teams. Goff finished 23/39 186 1 TD 1 INT and Cam 25/38 239 with 1 INT. The Goff TD was a 5 yarder to TE Tyler Higbee on the Rams final score of the day which was set up by a Gurley heavy drive. Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp took most of Goff’s targets. Woods finished with 8 catches for 70 yards on 13 targets and Kupp 7 catches for 46 yards on 10 targets.
Other than McCaffrey on the Carolina side DJ Moore bounced back from his opening drive fumble to play pretty well and finish with 7 grabs for 76 yards on 10 targets.On the defensive side of the ball for Carolina LB’s Shaq Thompson and Luke Kuechly had solid games while DB James Bradberry was the team player of game on D. The 4th year corner finished with 4 tackles, 2 pass deflections, 1 TFL, 1 sack and a very nice Int where he jumped in front of the attended receiver for the pick. The Rams side saw good games from the likes of safety John Johnson, and LB Dante Fowler who had 2 tfl and 2 sacks. This was needed as the Panthers did all they could to keep Aaron Donald quiet. They did a great job as the defending 2-time DPOY and consensus best defensive player in the league was held in check. To that, I say remember in his 20 1/2 sack season last year Aaron Donald didn’t get his first until week four so he’s a bit of a slow starter.
Anyway, on this day it was LB Corey Littleton who led the way for Wade Phillips bunch. He finished the day with 14 tackles 8 of which were solo 2 Pass deflections along with an interception that he returned 26 yards setting up the Rams for an easy score. We did have a scary moment in the game when the Panthers Christian McCaffrey tried to hurdle new Rams safety, Eric Weddle. While doing so McCaffrey kneed Weddle in the back of the head causing him to be down for a few minutes eventually being carted off the field. Injuries are never fun to see and I wish Weddle a speedy recovery. A late missed FG by the Rams Greg Zuerlein preceded the final TD of the day by Carolina. A 1-yard lunge by fullback Alex Armah to help make the games final score a bit closer than the game perhaps. Legatron did nail all 3 prior attempts including a 56 yarder earlier in the game.
Carolina had some good ST highlights as well namely blocking 2 punts of the all pro leg of newly extended Rams punter Johnny Hekker. All in all, this game was good even though a little on the sloppy side which is to be expected in the opener in times.
In week 2 the Rams will look to start 2-0 not only overall but vs the NFC South as New Orleans comes to LA for the much anticipated NFC Championship rematch with the Saints. While Carolina won’t have to wait long to rebound from the opening weekend loss as they host Tampa Bay in week 2’s Thursday Night matchup.
Detroit Lions @ Arizona Cardinals
Now forgive me, like I said at the Rams-Panthers game and didn’t get to follow the rest of the games as closely. That being said, excuse my language but FUCK TIES. Like famously shouted by Herm Edwards many years ago, “you play to win the game”. Not to tie, to win. Every game should have a winner and a loser. Ties are stupid and the NFL needs to do something to change things up to stop these foolish ties. I for one would rather they go back to sudden death than the current format. Now as for this game, it was one that the visiting Lions choked away to the new-look Cardinals. After jumping out to a 17-0 lead and entering the fourth quarter up 24-6, #1 overall pick Arizona Qb Kyler Murray looked as he did in the preseason, not worthy of said pick.
Let’s be honest he looked bad for 3 quarters of this game. On the other side, Detroit’s veteran signal-caller Matthew Stafford was playing well. On several occasions hooking up with their first round draft pick, TE TJ Hockenson, and first-year Lions WR Danny Amendola. By games, end totaling 6/131 and a TD and 7/104 and a TD Respectfully. Expected to be Detroit’s top WR Kenny Golladay caught Stafford’s 3rd score in a quiet 4/42 day for him. Also held in check was 2nd year RB standout Kerryon Johnson who totaled just 62 yards and no scores on 16 carries and 2 catches. Stafford finished the day 27/45 385 3 TD 0 INT but was far better in first 3 quarters than the final one.
The Lions will need much better production from Golladay and Johnson if they want success on offense in 2019. For the Cardinals, as I mentioned before, they were putting out a new-look offense. Led by first-year NFL head coach Cliff Kingsbury and his hand-picked quarterback Kyler Murray. Fans were not liking what they were seeing for three Quarters out in the desert. However for all Of the inexperience And bad play that showed for the first 3 quarters. Kingsbury and Murray were able to let their poise and knowledge of their offense shine in what was an impressive fourth-quarter comeback.
Unfortunately, neither team was able to separate in overtime. Only trading FG’s on each ones opening position of the period. Hence leading to the before-mentioned dreaded tie! Murray finished the day 29/54 308 2 TD’s 1 INT. Other notable player stats include old man Fitz (Larry Fitzgerald) still going strong to the tune of 8/113 and a TD and star RB David Johnson totaling 137 yards on 24 touches with a TD. Long-time Raven LB Terrell Suggs enjoyed his first game in Cardinal red as well grabbing a pair of sacks to go with 3 tackles for loss. Week 2 finds Suggs and Arizona going back to Baltimore with a matchup vs the Ravens, Detroit goes home for a date with the Chargers.
Cincinnati Bengals @ Seattle Seahawks
A much better football game than I was expecting broke out in the great northwest. I don’t like pulling for the Rams rivals but was forced to due to me going with Seattle as my survivor poll pick in week 1. Well, 1 is exactly what the Seahawks ended up winning by on Sunday making me sweat it out. Especially when you consider that Cincy’s top weapon RB Joe Mixon was a nonfactor managing only 6 carries for 10 yards and 2 catches for 7 yards. In total, the Bengals got only 34 yards on the ground and lost the turnover battle 3 to 1.
The surprise almost hero was QB Andy Dalton. The Red Rifle impressed with going 35/51 for 418 2 TD 0 INT day, good for a 106.5 RTG. With normal #1 target AJ Green currently on the shelf, it was speedster John Ross who was Dalton’s favorite target grabbing 7 balls for 158 yards and 2 TD’s. Could a breakout season for the former first round pick be on the horizon? Sam Hubbard, Carlos Dunlap, and Dre Kirkpatrick led a nice effort by the defense which did some good things and held Seattle to just 161 yards passing and 72 rushing despite the 1 point loss.
Seattle franchise QB Russell Wilson didn’t put up big stats but was efficient with an excellent 134.6 RTG on 14/20 196 2 TD’s 0 INT. He didn’t take off much from the pocket just 4 times for 8 yards. Wilson’s best helpers on offense came from Chris Carson who finished with 81 yards on 21 touches and 2 TD’s one rushing, one receiving and rookie WR DK Metcalf who started his career with a 4/89 effort. Seattle’s defense played very well in the second half allowing just a FG. They got to Dalton for 4 sacks in all including one from the newest Seahawk, former Texan Jadeveon Clowney.
Week 2 sees Seattle going east at battle Pittsburgh while I’ll get to talk more about the Bengals as they stay in the NFC West and host San Francisco.
San Francisco 49ers @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Look, forgive me if you are a 49ers or Bucs fan but I’m going to keep this one short and not so sweet. This was a sloppy game between two teams that if judging by this aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. These teams combined for 6 turnovers and 19 accepted penalties. Jameis Winston was very bad, throwing 3 picks and posting a 45.4 RTG. Jimmy G wasn’t great by any means but at least minimalized his mistakes. San Fran got pick 6’s from Richard Sherman and Ahkello Witherspoon and first-round pick Nick Bosa got his first NFL sack.
The lone bright spot to me for Tampa was second-year RB Ronald Jones. Jones had 75 yards on 13 carries to go with his lone catch, an 18 yarder. I was high on him last year coming out of USC but he did almost nothing, a redshirt year if you will. So it was good to see him have a good game.
In week two the Niners will travel to Cincinnati while the Bucs must right the ship in a hurry as they visit Carolina on Thursday night.
That was week 1 in the NFC West, which now looks like:
- Rams 1-0
- Seahawks 1-0
- 49ers 1-0
- Cardinals 0-0-1
Hope you enjoyed! Until next week.