The first 16 games of the 2021 NFL season are in the books and we saw plenty of drama unfold from Tampa to Las Vegas.
While the players may feel they produced some highlight worthy plays, nothing could top the Panthers pregame production for the best clip of the weekend.
Perhaps the most entertaining finish was saved until last with the Ravens and Raiders playing out a classic in Las Vegas.
Now back for its fourth season is 5 Lessons Learned NFL style where give you the five biggest takeaways from the week’s action.
1 – Tampa Does Not Know How to Do a Super Bowl Celebration
American sport is known for its over the top, excessive production, especially when celebrating a title.
Even by local standards here in Australia, the Buccaneers pregame commemoration of its Super Bowl win was rather tame and to be totally honest, rather underwhelming.
Just ask Tom Brady who was experiencing his seventh banner raising ceremony.
One minor comfort is the fact that there were plenty of fireworks once the ball was kicked off.
Brady and Dak Prescott lit up Raymond James Stadium in one of the most entertaining season openers in recent years.
Arguably the best throw of the game was Brady’s touchdown pass to Antonio Brown in the second quarter.
Despite a gallant effort from the Cowboys, you just cannot stop Brady on a game winning drive (unless you are the Philadelphia Eagles or New York Giants).
2 – What Home Ground Advantage?
All offseason the common thought process was that with full stadiums returning for 2021, home field advantage would have a much more pronounced effect on the outcome of games.
Tampa Bay would be rocking on opening night as fans celebrated the team’s second title, Bills Mafia would be going off when the Steelers came to town and other teams would have experienced a similar boost playing in front of a friendly crowd.
It turns out that was not the case as home sides struggled, going 8-8 head-to-head and 6-10 against the spread.
Out of all of the home favourites, Buffalo suffered the biggest upset, having entered the game favoured by a touchdown.
The win was sealed with this phenomenal special teams play.
Pittsburgh’s defence kept Josh Allen and company in check, ruining plenty of multis by holding him to 270 passing yards and sacking him three times.
Next week the Bills head on the road to steamy Florida to take on division rivals the Miami Dolphins.
3 – The Dog Days Commenced
Week 1 was also tough for favourites betters with only five managing to cover.
Kansas City went into its season opener against Cleveland as a six point favourite, in large part due to their ridiculously explosive offence but fell a couple of points short of the cover in their 33-29 victory.
They did it the hard way needing to come from behind but this play from Mahomes to Tyreek Hill really got things going.
Down in Jacksonville there was another surprising upset as the two-time NFC Championship Game participants Green Bay were on the wrong end of a belting from a Saints side most thought would be beginning a rebuild.
Taking over for the retired Drew Brees, Jameis Winston had a field day, tossing five touchdowns and showing there may yet be life in this side.
The Packers could not get anything going and will have a lot to correct before their big clash with Detroit next Tuesday (AEST).
4 – You’ll Get Punished For Dumb Mistakes
The NFL can be a really simple league sometimes, do your job, don’t make mistakes and you’ll be in with a decent shot of winning most of your games.
It’s a philosophy that has served Bill Belichick very well for over two decades in New England but those reminders apparently fell on deaf ears at Gillette Stadium.
As the Mac Jones era began, there is a simple path for the Patriots to follow this year, rely on a strong offensive line and running game, get the defence to make a few plays and let the rookie signal caller to come along at his own pace.
Jones did his part against Miami, completing over 70% of his passes for 281 yards and his side’s lone touchdown of the day.
Eight penalties and two lost fumbles doomed the Patriots, with the team in position to win until Damien Harris coughed the ball up in range of a go ahead field goal.
Perhaps the one positive for Patriots fans is the knowledge that Belichick will have seen all of those errors and will undoubtedly be correcting them ahead of their next game in New Jersey against the Jets.
5 – Kyle Shanahan Still Can’t Manage a 4th Quarter
It was the easiest option to back in Week 1, surely the healthy again 49ers would belt the daylights out of the Lions.
After all this was a team that was 18 months removed from a 10-point lead in the Super Bowl… just ignore how that game ended.
It was all following the expected script when Jimmy Garoppolo hit Deebo Samuel for this 79 yard touchdown.
38-10, midway through the fourth quarter, surely the visitors could start to think about putting some backups in…
It’s ok, it’s just a consolation touchdown, nothing to worry about, better kick a field goal just for some added insurance & take a 41-17 lead with 10 minutes left.
There’s only 1:53 left, we can just kill the clock from here even if the lead is now down to 16 points.
Fine, send the defence out there again, they can make the stop.
Better make sure Detroit doesn’t convert the two point conversion…
Seriously how is this still a game?
Still, San Francisco got the ball back and just need one first down to close things out…
Well at least someone is happy with that result.
Up next is a suddenly tougher than expected test against the Eagles who came away with a massive 32-6 win in Atlanta.