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NFL Week One: The Way We See It



An upset win for the Seahawks over the Patriots has left Tom Brady and Co. pondering what other potential slip-ups lay ahead in this unpredictable season.

Tom Brady and Co. have much work to do after a bad loss in Week One.



Two of the NFL’s most respected teams are looking at big, nasty black eyes following their season-opening performances.

However, neither the New England Patriots nor the New Orleans Saints are about to panic. Both teams are too deep and too experienced to let Week One  losses damage their psyche.

The Pats seemed to wilt in their opening assignment in Miami. They seemingly had control of the game as they took a 20-10 lead into the lockerroom, but the offense stalled in the second half. Tom Brady suddenly looked like an older quarterback, while the offensive line couldn’t control the speed on the Miami defensive line. Olivier Vernon and Cameron Wake lived in the New England backfield in the final 30 minutes and Ryan Tannehill and running back Knowshon Moreno did enough so that the Dolphins pulled away for a 33-20 win.

The Pats have to be concerned about the play of their offensive line, considering that they traded offensive guard Logan Mankins to Tampa Bay just a couple of weeks ago. Bill Belichick can usually make the adjustments needed to overcome personnel difficulties, and he will be put to the test in that area again.

It may take a couple of weeks to make those adjustments, but the Patriots should start reeling off victories — straight up and against the spread — once that happens.

The Saints appeared to be in control throughout much of the first half against the Atlanta Falcons, but they could not sustain their early success against Matt Ryan & Co.

It should not have come as a surprise to anyone that the Falcons came out with a maximum effort against their old rivals. Atlanta endured a nightmarish 2013 season and had perhaps the most disappointing season of any team in the league.

The new year couldn’t have gotten here fast enough for head coach Mike Smith and his charges, and the Falcons did not let an early deficit slow them down.

Ryan was simply sensational, as he completed 31-of-43 passes for 448 yards. The Falcons responded every time Drew Brees lit up the defense, and while it seems that most observers forgot that Atlanta was an elite team in 2012, the Falcons remember and want re-establish themselves. They took the first step with their 37-34 overtime victory.

The Chicago Bears believe they can challenge Green Bay in the NFC North, and they appeared to have an easy opening game against the lowly Buffalo Bills.

Chicago scored more points than any other team in the league not named the Denver Broncos, and the Bears appeared to have the weapons in Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery, Matt Forte, Martellus Bennett and Jay Cutler to run the Bills right into Lake Michigan.

But the Bills didn’t care about Chicago’s reputation. They jumped out to a 10-point lead and while the Bears came back to force overtime, Buffalo was not about to let this game slip away.

Quarterback E.J. Manuel took advantage of what the yielding Bears defense gave him and running back Fred Jackson made the decisive play in overtime that set up Buffalo’s game-winning chip-shot field goal.

The Bears have problems. Head coach Marc Trestman may be as smart as a nuclear physicist, but he has the commanding presence of an overripe banana. His player may not have the kind of respect for him that is needed for a man who must command the lockerroom.

In addition to that intangible issue, Jay Cutler makes careless throws and the defense can’t stop anyone. Putting your hard-earned money on such an undependable bunch would seem to be a big mistake in the foreseeable future.

While one NFC North team may have disappointed, the Minnesota Vikings were very impressive in their 34-6 road victory over the St. Louis Rams.

Credit this win to new coach Mike Zimmer, who has the kind of football coaching demeanor needed to get his players fired up. Zimmer is not just a rah-rah guy. He may know more about solid defensive play than any coach in the league, and the Vikings could be in a position to surprise a lot of people — and help bettors win a lot of money — this season.

The first week of the season is not a time to panic or celebrate. Sean Payton and Belichick will just roll up their sleeves and go back to work in order to get their teams back on track.

So will Zimmer, who is not about to do anything but keep his mind on his business and keep his team focused from this point forward.

The first chapter of the 2014 season is just being written, and there’s sure to be many plot twists as it develops.

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