By Sid Saraf, FOXSports.com
Well, the first game of the 2013 season is in the books. We saw the Broncos start out 1-0 with a 49-27 victory over the defending-champion Ravens on Thursday night, and now it’s on to the first Sunday smorgasbord, right?
People love to jump to conclusions after the season opener using the next two off days to figure out how the entire season — be it real or fantasy — will play out. Players with decent stats immediately are declared budding Hall of Famers. Teams that stumble in their first game instantly are labeled as squads in crisis.
We’re here to dispel some of those falsehoods. And in honor of Peyton Manning’s record-tying seven touchdown passes, we present seven overreactions sure to stem from the NFL season opener. Let’s get to work.
1. Peyton Manning caught the right team at the right time — this game was a fluke!
Ahhh, the anti-overreaction. Take a guy who has a career night, and rather than say this will be the norm, go with “there’s no way in hell that’s happening again!”
But this is Peyton Manning, people. He’s bringing a bit of a track record to the table on this one.
If you dismiss this game altogether, you sound like a hater — or somebody who was matched up against Manning in fantasy this week.
2. Peyton Manning will throw 112 TD passes this year!
Ok, now we’re talkin’! Full-blown, head-in-the-clouds overreaction. I think I made it clear that I don’t think it’s all downhill for Manning after Thursday night, but let’s be real, here.
Sure, he threw seven TD passes against the defending champions. If you multiply that by 16 games, that’s 112 scores! Book it, right?
But c’mon. Let’s shoot for a more realistic figure. Nobody can . . . wait, you know what? I’m not going to debate you guys on this one. It’s Peyton freaking Manning. If anyone can throw 112 TD passes in a season it’s this guy. Nothing’s impossible for him.
Manning became just the sixth player in NFL history to throw seven TD passes in a game — and he also finished with 462 passing yards on Thursday night. Oh yeah, he also joined Y.A. Tittle as the only QBs to ever throw seven touchdowns in a game without an interception.
At this point, we’ve run out of words to describe his talent.
If you told me Peyton Manning will reach the sun on a balloon, I wouldn’t bet against it.
3. Julius Thomas is this season’s breakout fantasy superstar!
Did you see the little-known tight end on Thursday? He pulled down two touchdown passes in the first half! You know what else? He played four years of college basketball at Portland State. Guess who else played college basketball? Oh yeah, none other than Antonio Gates, Tony Gonzalez and Jimmy Graham!
If those three became tight-end gods, there’s nothing stopping Thomas! He’s playing with Peyton Manning! Grab him off the waiver wire while you still can!
Now let’s all take a deep breath and put down the anointing oil. This is Week 1, people. It’s a very long season and the intelligent thing to do is wait to see a larger sample size before making room on your fantasy roster. Before kickoff on Thursday, Thomas was owned in 4.7 percent of NFL.com fantasy leagues.
Expect that number to rise, but if it gets above 30 percent just based on this game, that’s just silly. And for the people who say that playing with Peyton Manning means Thomas will get a lot of receptions, think again. Manning routinely spreads the ball around to anywhere from five to 10 people in a given game.
Andre Caldwell pulled down a TD grab on Thursday. Are you gonna go out and grab him, too? No, didn’t think so.
Show some patience. It won’t hurt.
4. Wes Welker is a nice fit in Denver, but his days as a dominant weapon in the NFL are over
Sure, he had two short TD catches. But what else did he have?
How about this fumbled punt that gave the Ravens an easy touchdown on the next play?
After all, remember the Super Bowl from two seasons ago when he dropped an easy pass from Tom Brady?
What else? Well, he had perhaps the play of the game, when he didn’t catch a Manning pass with the Broncos trailing by three in the third quarter and faced with a third-and-9. But the referees called it a catch, the Ravens did not challenge the call, the Broncos got a first down and a minute-and-a-half later Denver was in the end zone with the lead for good.
Welker did catch nine balls, but was third on the team in yards (67) and last among the seven Broncos to catch a pass in yards per reception (7.4).
So . . . a nice possession receiver, but nobody to scare defense with, or to trust in critical moments, right?
Sigh, just stop.
With wet and slippery conditions in Denver on Thursday, bad things were bound to happen. (See: weather delay) In fact, Welker isn’t the Broncos’ normal punt returner, as the job belongs to Trindon Holliday. Why Holliday wasn’t on the field for the play in question is anyone’s guess.
Welker is there to catch passes over the middle and free up Denver’s outside receivers. And the little guy did his job on Thursday night, catching nine passes for 67 yards. Oh, and he also had two touchdown grabs. That’s not good enough for you? I love Twitter, but I wish people would watch an entire game before sending out pointless blather.
Guess what else? The Broncos won, so Welker’s mistake didn’t cost the team a thing. Chalk it up to an honest mistake and move on.
5. The Ravens won’t recover from their offseason losses on defense!
Did you see Manning slice and dice that D to the tune of seven TD passes? That was ugly! Man, if Ray Lewis and Ed Reed were still in Baltimore, there’s no way they look this bad!
Hmm, really? You sure about that? Let’s check the tape from the Ravens’ epic victory over the Broncos in last season’s playoffs. Manning and Co. put up 35 points in that game. That was with Lewis and Reed in the lineup. In fact, if it weren’t for one ill-timed jump from defensive back Rahim Moore, the Ravens probably would have limped home with a loss.
Lewis and Reed? They were shells of their former selves last season. Now, it’s true that losing Paul Kruger and Dannell Ellerbe (among others) could end up hurting, but it’s still too early to tell. You can’t jump to conclusions just because Manning made your team look bad. That’s what Manning does for a living.
Lick your wounds and live to fight another day.
6. Eric Decker should have never married
Look at that bum! Manning throws seven TD passes and all Decker can manage is two lousy catches for 32 friggin’ yards! I spent a high fantasy pick on him! He’s screwing my fantasy team!
He spent all offseason running around with his new wife Jessie James and ignoring football! He was way too busy going on honeymoons in Cancun and planning some unwatchable reality TV show when he should have been in the film room!
You guys need to drink less coffee. People just loooooove to paint the picture of the jezebel stealing their sports hero’s ability to play the game.
Thursday’s game has nothing to do with his outside life.
In fact, it has more to do with Decker possibly being the odd man out in Denver’s passing game. With Demaryius Thomas, Welker and even Julius Thomas (superstar!) battling for balls, catches could be hard to come by for Decker. And if he keeps up with the butterfingers and the fumbles, he could be in for even less playing time.
But hey, at least we’ll always have this:
7. Despite the Broncos’ win, Danny Trevathan’s embarrassing fumble is cemented as the Bonehead Play of the Year
Actually, that’s not an overreaction. Nobody will forget it. Somewhere, Leon Lett and DeSean Jackson are smiling. In fact, if this isn’t the Bonehead Play of the Year, then we’re in for quite a treat at some point this season!
Let’s take a look at it again:
Questions? Comments? Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org and we might respond in our weekly mailbag!