Some teams with playoff (at least) aspirations lost in Week 1. Should anyone be worried? The Chiefs will be fine, although I do think that the salary cap talent drain has caught up to them to the point that they’re not beating multiple teams in the playoffs without Kelce, and are definitely vulnerable even with him. The Bengals, also, nothing really to worry about unless Burrow is nagged by injuries all year — he had very few reps in the offseason and their offense has never matched up well against the Cleveland pass rush. I wouldn’t write off the Steelers yet — the 49ers are essentially unstoppable if their core offensive pieces and one of the 40 or so best QBs in the world are available — and the other lessons of Week 1 (Pickett imposes a hard 9-10 win ceiling on the team and Matt Canada is a yutz) we already knew.
Two teams, however, should panic. The Seahawks are totally fucked without their two tackles: Geno is a decent QB but quick-release dink-and-dunk isn’t his game, and he’s not going to get time to consistently hit the deep shots that the passing offense is built around, You also have to be pretty concerned that the defense got completely carved up by (an admittedly surprisingly spry-looking) Matt Stafford throwing to a bunch of XFL-caliber wideouts. They’re not completely out of the playoff picture given how bad the conference is, but one-and-done in the wildcard round is pretty much the team’s upside unless they get Cross and Lucas back.
Then there’s the Bills. I said on the podcast that while the roster and last year’s underlying numbers both suggest a top contender on paper, instinctively it was very hard for me to shake the idea that the team blew its shot in the 13 seconds it couldn’t keep the Chiefs from scoring in the 2021 Divisional Round game. The catastrophic Week 1 loss did not, to put it mildly, change my mind:
How concerned should Bills fans be that Josh Allen keeps putting up games like Monday Night where he puts up some numbers, makes some plays, and then throws it all away with a number of turnovers? – TheWitch on Discord
Jam-your-thumb-into-the-panic-button concerned. Josh Allen and the Bills are doubling down on their imma throw it over the moon tactics when they should have spent the entire offseason working on reeling them in. It reeks of the sort of unwillingness to adapt and improve that sabotages organizations and careers.
The Bills suddenly have the look of a team that peaked in 2021 and keeps trying to repeat that success instead of building upon it.
It’s true that the Jets defense is legit, but that makes it all the worse that Allen turned the ball over again and again trying to play heroball instead of just keeping the ball and clock moving against a team with a lead against a QB nobody — least of all the coach that drafted him #2 overall — thinks can play. (Saleh refusing to let Wilson throw a pass deep in Bills territory down three at the end of regulation is one of the few times I will defend a coach turtling and playing for the tie.) There’s still a lot of talent on the roster but since taking over for Daboll Dorsey has been exacerbating Allen’s limitations rather than mitigating them. Maybe this will finally be the wake-up call they need, but if getting blown out by the Bengals at home in the playoffs didn’t do it it’s hard to be optimistic about them.