Contenders, new faces and injuries: What we learned from Week 1 of 2023 NFL season – CNN


Week 1 of the new NFL season is in books and there are no shortage of talking points.

While it is important not to overreact – a win doesn’t mean a team is bound for the Super Bowl and a defeat isn’t necessarily indicative of a long season ahead – there are things we can learn.

From debuts and breakout candidates to serious injuries, CNN looks at some of the key takeaways from the first slate of action.

Matt Freed/AP

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy looks for a receiver against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Like all sports, the first week of the season is an opportunity for fans to see new players in their new colors, whether that be rookies or veteran signings.

This year’s influx of rookies made their first steps in the NFL over the weekend with varying success.

The three quarterbacks who were at the top of the draft – Bryce Young, C.J. Stroud and Anthony Richardson – all began their careers with defeats, but all three showed glimpses of promise in their own ways; Young and Stroud providing poise and accuracy and Richardson displaying his raw athleticism and arm power.

Arguably, the most exciting prospect, running back Bijan Robinson, showed why he’s predicted to have an immediate impact, scoring an electrifying touchdown in the Atlanta Falcons’ victory over Young’s Carolina Panthers.

Danny Karnik/AP

Robinson celebrates scoring a touchdown against the Carolina Panthers.

Three veteran quarterbacks who found new homes during the offseason – Derek Carr moving to the New Orleans Saints, with Jimmy Garoppolo replacing him at the Las Vegas Raiders, and Baker Mayfield traveling down to Florida to spearhead the Tampa Bay Buccaneers – began with narrow victories to get life in a new city off to a flier.

There was also an opportunity for players who have previously been on teams to get their first real chance to shine in the spotlight.

Jordan Love, who was named as the Green Bay Packers’ starting quarterback after the departure of Aaron Rodgers, excelled on his first chance, throwing for 245 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions, in an almost perfect performance in a 38-20 victory at Soldier Field over their NFC North division rivals Chicago Bears.

In Washington, Sam Howell began life as the Commanders’ starting quarterback with a win, but wasn’t necessarily convincing, throwing an interception and losing a fumble in just his second start.

It is too early to say whether all of these new faces will be successes, but a strong performance on opening day can earn a boat-load of goodwill from supporters and coaching staff.

Quinn Harris/Getty Images

Jordan Love evades defenders against the Chicago Bears.

With the start of the season comes the first real full-speed contact many players will have experienced, with most sitting out the majority of preseason.

And with that, predictably, come casualties.

Most notably was the serious-looking injury suffered by Aaron Rodgers on his New York Jets debut on Monday Night Football.

Rodgers, 39, who was traded to the Jets from the Packers in the offseason, was carted off the field after just his fourth play against the Buffalo Bills.

Jets head coach Robert Saleh told reporters in the postgame news conference, “(We’re) concerned with his Achilles (tendon). MRI’s probably going to confirm what we think is already going to happen with his Achilles, so prayers tonight. But, it’s not good.” Rodgers’ X-rays “were negative,” the team posted on X, formerly known as Twitter.

Michael Owens/Getty Images

Rodgers is helped off the field against the Bills after suffering an injury.

The other serious injury over the weekend came to Baltimore Ravens running back J.K. Dobbins who suffered a torn Achilles in Sunday’s 25-9 win over the Houston Texans, coach John Harbaugh confirmed to reporters following the game.

The fourth-year running back, who scored the game’s first touchdown on a four-yard run in the first quarter, will miss the remainder of the season.

It is the second serious injury Dobbins has suffered in his short NFL career after he tore his ACL, ruling him out of the 2021 season entirely.

There were standout performances – in particular, the San Francisco 49ers demolition of the Steelers, the Dallas Cowboys’ rout of the New York Giants and the Detroit Lions’ narrow victory over the reigning champions Kansas City Chiefs.

Those types of victories, and the manner in which they came, could be a marker for playoff aspirations.

There were also results which, while noteworthy, left more questions than answers.

For example, the Cleveland Browns comfortably beat the Cincinnati Bengals. But is the Browns’ defense able to replicate the stranglehold it had over Joe Burrow and the Bengals offense? Was it just an off day for Burrow or indicative of something larger?

Following the victory over the Los Angeles Chargers, will the Miami Dolphins’ offense continue to be electric? Can Justin Herbert and the Chargers live up to expectations?

Matt Durisko/AP

San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk celebrates reacts after catching a touchdown pass against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Also, can Zach Wilson – who was relegated to the Jets’ bench after Rodgers’ arrival – maintain a playoff push?

Victories for the Atlanta Falcons, Baltimore Ravens, Jacksonville Jaguars, Las Vegas Raiders, Washington Commanders and Philadelphia Eagles all showed flashes of promise, but also elements of ring rust which will need addressing if a positive outcome can be attainted this year.

As for the teams which lost, some can take heart while some have much more room to grow.

The New England Patriots, Indianapolis Colts, Los Angeles Chargers and Kansas City Chiefs all had reasons to think they can bounce back swiftly, while the Houston Texans and the Carolina Panthers look like they might be in for tough seasons.

Away vs. home

Detroit Lions 21-20 Kansas City Chiefs

Carolina Panthers 10-24 Atlanta Falcons

Houston Texans 9-25 Baltimore Ravens

Cincinnati Bengals 3-24 Cleveland Browns

Jacksonville Jaguars 31-21 Indianapolis Colts

Tampa Bay Buccaneers 20-17 Minnesota Vikings

Tennessee Titans 15-16 New Orleans Saints

San Francisco 49ers 30-7 Pittsburgh Steelers

Arizona Cardinals 16-20 Washington Commanders

Green Bay Packers 38-20 Chicago Bears

Las Vegas Raiders 17-16 Denver Broncos

Miami Dolphins 36-34 Los Angeles Chargers

Philadelphia Eagles 25-20 New England Patriots

Los Angeles Rams 30-13 Seattle Seahawks

Dallas Cowboys 40-0 New York Giants

Buffalo Bills 16-22 New York Jets

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