Ruttig’s NFL Rants, Week 1: The AFC West is the NFL’s best division


Week 1 of the NFL season has come and provided plenty of storylines as is the norm with any debut weekend. While the games on the field drew the ire of many in terms of game quality, there is still plenty to talk about after the first week of 2017.

So without further introduction, let’s get right into my thoughts on Week 1 of the NFL Season in our new weekly column.

Rant 1: The games weren’t that bad

All Sunday, there was a sour taste on Twitter among fans, writers, and sports personalities pissing and moaning over the lack of excitement out of Week 1.

After months of anticipation, there was something lacking in the minds of many as the opening Sunday of 2017 did not live up to the thrill many expect from a day of NFL action.

Some of that was deserved as defenses ruled the opening week, Sunday Night Football was especially bad, mostly due to the absence of Odell Beckham Jr. and the Giants ineptitude on offense without their number one target in a game that slogged to a rather uneventful 19-3 finish.

While there were some bad games, the overall quality of play wasn’t that far off of a typical NFL week. Bad games are bound to take place, but there was some good football in the mix of all the bland.

The Raiders had a strong showing against the Tennessee Titans in a matchup of two of the league’s top young quarterbacks in Derek Carr and Marcus Mariota. Detroit came up huge with a second half push against the Arizona Cardinals and the Baltimore Ravens stunned the Cincinnati Bengals in a blowout AFC North rivalry game to open the season.

Even the primetime games were better than portrayed. New England-Kansas City was an obvious regular season classic and the late game of the annual Monday Night Football doubleheader went to the final play with Younghoe Koo missing a field goal for the Los Angeles Chargers.

Was there bad football on Sunday? At many points, there was. But was there also plenty of quality games and play on display? Yes, there was.

Not every moment of a 17-week schedule can be the equivalent of snorting a line of cocaine and drinking a Red Bull at the same time. Week 1 wasn’t great, but it definitely wasn’t the travesty some made it out to be on Sunday.

rant 2: the afc west is the nfl’s best division

Much of Week 1’s top moments came from the NFL’s best division at the moment as the AFC West’s four teams all came out with strong displays.

The Chiefs obviously opened things with their upset of the New England Patriots in Foxboro. Alex Smith found his deep ball for the first time in years and head coach Andy Reid’s dynamic offense put up 42 points to send Dave Portnoy home crying on Barstool Sports Night at Gillette Stadium.

On Sunday, the Raiders came up huge with a convincing road win over a strong Tennessee Titans team that many expect to be the favorites to win the AFC South. The Oakland defense – pointed out as the weak spot of a team that has a dominant offense – played far better than expected and held Marcus Mariota, Demarco Murray and co. to just 16 points.

The Raiders performance in Nashville proved their mettle and indicates there will be very little Second Season Syndrome in Oakland after the Silver and Black ended their playoff drought in 2016. Derek Carr is motivated to get to the playoffs after his season ended in Week 16 last year, and the Raiders appear to be early season contenders.

The other two teams in the AFC West took to battle in a division game on Monday Night Football with the Denver Broncos narrowly edging out the Los Angeles Chargers in a game that went down to a last second field goal miss by Chargers rookie Younghoe Koo.

Both the Chargers and the Broncos looked great on Monday night with Denver quarterback Trevor Siemian surprising with some quality throws throughout the night to build a comfortable lead. The Chargers then proved their mettle by getting back into the game, but inevitably fell short in the end in a game that should have both teams confident for the rest of the season.

From top to bottom, there is no arguing that the AFC West is the most competitive and talented division in the league right now. All four teams could conceivably make the playoffs this season and it is a shame that at least one of them will have to miss out on the postseason while the AFC South remains a dumpster fire.

The late afternoon block will be must watch this season if the Chiefs, Raiders, Broncos, and Chargers can play at this level for the rest of the year.

Rant 3: The Colts Screwed Up By Not Signing Colin Kaepernick

The Los Angeles Rams opened up their season on Sunday with a gift of a Week 1 victory thanks to the Indinapolis Colts decision to roll out Scott Tolzien as their starting quarterback.

The Colts offense was a debacle in Los Angeles and Tolzien was the main culprit. The longtime NFL sideline jobber threw two Pick-6’s on the day and the Colts bowed out of Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum with a 46-9 loss to open their season.

Tolzien’s performance came as the first game in a stint where he will be the stopgap for the injured Andrew Luck, who will be out nearly half the season with a labrum injury.

Tolzien’s outing was bad enough that the calls for Colin Kaepernick were instant and deserved as the Colts appear content with throwing away their very real chances of competing in the weak AFC South rather than bring in the proven veteran.

Some feel it is insufferable at this point to call for Colin Kaepernick whenever a quarterback falters, but in Indianapolis, the decision is so infuriating that everyone involved needs to be taken to task.

Head coach Chuck Pagano is on the hot seat and the Colts have turned a once proud AFC South dynasty into a team that battles with the Jacksonville Jaguars to stay out of the divisional cellar. This is a team that can’t afford to throw Scott Tolzien on the field for up to six games and just see what happens, but they will because they are too scared to give Colin Kaepernick an opportunity.

When the Colts return Andrew Luck and are too far out of playoff contention for it to matter, we all should remember this moment and the Colts decision to turn a blind eye to a capable playoff starter. When Chuck Pagano is sitting on the unemployment line in February, he will remember it too.

week 1 Awards

MVP: Alex Smith, Kansas City Chiefs

Threw the ball all over the yard against the New England Patriots in one of the best games of his career and shutdown the rumblings of Patrick Mahomes replacing him at starting quarterback.

Defensive Player of the Week: The Baltimore Ravens Defense

Cheating with this one and giving the award to the Baltimore Ravens defense after the Ravens embarrassed Andy Dalton and the Bengals on Sunday. A 20-0 blanking on the road earns you those type of things and the Ravens defensive unit deserves praise today.

Rookie of the Week: Kenny Golladay, Detroit Lions

Kareem Hunt of the Kansas City Chiefs also had an impressive rookie Week 1 debut, but Kenny Golladay earns the award for the week thanks to his crucial two touchdown catches to lift the Lions to a win over the Arizona Cardinals.