The second-best feeling of my week came on just another Tuesday, when I suddenly realized that this was one of those coveted December weekends where we all have the pleasure of enjoying NFL Football on a Saturday evening. (The best feeling was when I cancelled plans to attend a holiday party later that day, talk about a rush.) Upon this discovery, my mood went from absolutely disgusted that the weekend was so far out of reach to only moderately upset, with a glimmer of hope for the future.
The two match-ups weren’t exactly jaw-dropping, heart-pumping material upon first glance, so I’d be naïve to dismiss the fact that most people probably left their apartments last night and interacted with other human beings instead of tuning in to Sam Darnold in prime time. That’s fine, if you’re into that sort of thing. Luckily for you social butterflies, I stayed indoors with my high-powered nasal spray, sinus relief medication (the good kind, if you know what I mean *wink wink*), and the space heater my grandpa bought me from Costco before I learned how to operate the radiator in my apartment, hoping to see Baker Mayfield play with so much electricity that I wouldn’t regret buying a hoodie with a giant orange outline of his face on it (s/o Barstool Sports).
So now, to prepare you for the slate of Sunday games as you chug your Pedialyte, I will recap the important action that you may have missed while you were downing your sixth shot of tequila and reassuring your friends that you’re “not even drunk yet” and you “ate a lot before this so it’s fine” before promptly blacking out and waking up to the twenty-four Instagram DMs that you sent and went largely without response (I definitely have no idea what this is like due to loads of experience or anything, I’ve just… heard from some… friends…).
Anyway, here are the most crucial points I took away from this year’s first NFL regular season Saturday (we get to do it again next week, heyo!):
Game 1: Houston Texans, 29 @ New York Jets, 22
- Neither side had much of a run game going, with each team’s most dazzling runner looking like its respective quarterback. The Jets’ leading rusher was Eli McGuire, who I had to google immediately. I quickly found out that he is a former Ragin’ Cajun, so I stopped reading there and decided that I liked him. There were times, however, when the announcers referred to him by first name only, and I kept getting confused because I did not see any quarterbacks lying on the ground with their mouths wide open as they caught flies with it.
- Breaking news: DeAndre Hopkins is from another planet. He had 10 catches for 170 yards and 2 touchdowns, and became the second-youngest player to reach 500 receptions, behind only Larry Fitzgerald. Larry is obviously a legend, but he’s never helped carry my fantasy team to a chance at winning $400 that I am in dire need of, so I give the edge to Nuk here. Thanks bud.
- As a Penn State fan, I sometimes have a problem looking at Sam Darnold wearing #14 on the Jets and thinking it’s Christian Hackenberg for a second (he wore #5 in New York, but #14 at PSU). Darnold has no idea, but the entire time he was playing to convince me that he wasn’t actually Hack in disguise (albeit not a high standard). I thought he was doing a solid job until I saw this tweet:
Yikes. Guess I need to get back in the film room.
All jokes aside, Darnold actually sold me with his play tonight, even with the loss. He’ll likely perform better when a non-Jets fan can easily name more than one of his receivers. Actually, do we think a Jets fan can even do that?
- As dynamic of a runner as Deshaun Watson is, all three levels of the Jets defense were swarming him all night, coming up with a whopping six sacks. The Jets have a linebacker named Frankie Luvu, which I enjoyed. When he knocks you to the ground then turns around to walk back to his team, it’s almost like he’s effortlessly mocking you: “Haha sorry I just wrecked you, LUV U though!!!” Like when a girl throws an absolute dagger of an insult at her “friend” and then tries to smooth it over immediately after while the friend is trying to pretend everything is okay (I’ll let you in on something here, most girls secretly hate each other a little).
- The Texans squeezed out the win after the Jets failed twice late in the fourth quarter to tie it up, but weren’t that exciting to watch outside of DeAndre Hopkins. It felt like the Jets had the momentum for most of the game, but Ka’imi Fairbairn kicked just enough field goals to show us that not all kickers are complete headcases that struggle to do their job more than me the day after the Eagles won the Super Bowl (no, I was not the person who ate horse shit, punched the glass at Macy’s, or started the raid of that Wawa).
Game 2: Cleveland Browns, 17 @ Denver Broncos, 16
- The night game got off to a hot start, with both teams trading touchdowns early in the first quarter. It was surprising to see how well Case Keenum was jiving with the three rookies he had starting at skill positions. According to the broadcast, Keenum “likes that a lot of these guys are young and inexperienced.” I found this comment was a bit odd, since that’s not usually the direction I trend towards (I keep sliding my age range higher and higher up on Bumble), but who am I to judge another’s preferences?
- Baker Mayfield threw a DIME to Breshad Perriman on the Browns’ first drive (I didn’t know he was alive either — surprise!), but otherwise looked a bit anxious in the first half, overthrowing a lot of his receivers. It was difficult to tell whether this was because he hadn’t adjusted to the altitude or still has not come down from the high he experienced after Hue Jackson was fired. Or, neither of those are true, and I should just accept that the Broncos menacing defense had him shaken up and stop trying so hard to justify my sweatshirt purchase.
- Undrafted rookie sensation RB Phillip Lindsay was held very much in check, gaining a dismal 24 yards on 14 carries. If I had to guess, the second “l” in his first name was holding him back, and he should remove it in order to be as free as Philip Rivers. There are two things real Philips don’t mess around with: extra letters and contraception. To my knowledge, Lindsay is not a father, so he’s 0/2. Better get moving, pal.
- Late in the third quarter, Broncos DB Jamar Taylor got ejected on the weakest call of all time. This is not my America. I’d make a joke about how NFL refs are an embarrassment to all people with functioning eyes but the Broncos are already dead and I don’t advocate for beating horses as a general rule.
- With time winding down in the fourth, when the Browns needed a long drive to kill some clock (and possibly score if they hadn’t chosen a brutal run up the middle call on 4th & 1), Nick Chubb had a few long runs. He finished with 100 yards on the dot and looked solid all night — another s/o to the rich men on my fantasy team who shockingly understand what $400 would do for me.
- On a few plays, Broncos LB Bradley Chubb actually tackled Nick Chubb, who is his second cousin. This threw me for a bit of a loop, because I’d think that most Chubbs around your cousins are occurring much further down south than in Denver. Or just West Virginia. Bradley Chubb and his Broncos teammates were a penetrating force all night, but in the end it was the Browns who stopped the Broncos’ last effort at a game-winning drive. Jabrill Peppers bulldozed Case Keenum on 4th & 10 at midfield and Keenum took the Broncos’ playoff hopes straight into the ground with him (I felt obligated to say this, but no one actually thought they’d make it in, did they?).
It’s Week 15, and Cleveland Browns are still alive, ladies (are there any reading this besides my mom?) and gentlemen.