The 2021 Green Bay Packers lost 38-3 in Week 1. They ended up as the No. 1 seed in the NFC.
Last season’s Tennessee Titans lost 38-13, at home, in the opener. They were the AFC’s No. 1 seed.
Clearly, a bad Week 1 loss isn’t a death sentence in the NFL. However, plenty of teams that lose Week 1 are letting us know they’re in for a miserable season.
How panicked should we be about each Week 1 loser? While not giving in to the overreaction after the first game, let’s take a realistic look at the panic index for each 0-1 team on a scale from “not worried at all” to “2022 Dallas Cowboys.”
We already knew they’d be bad: Atlanta Falcons, New York Jets
Not like we’re freaking out when teams we thought were vying for top-10 picks were bad in Week 1. Though especially in the Jets’ case … this season could get really bath
Maybe some misplaced hype: Carolina Panthers, Detroit Lions, Jacksonville Jaguars
Each of those teams spent some time this offseason getting hyped up as a potential breakout. Some cold water was poured on each of them. The Lions are probably the team to worry about at least, because there’s not a lot of shame in losing to the Eagles. Giving up 38 points wasn’t ideal though. These teams should be OK, but Sunday was a reminder that the offseason is long, and we talk ourselves into breakouts when we probably should know better. They should all be moderately competitive, but just lower expectations.
Don’t worry yet: Los Angeles Rams, Las Vegas Raiders
The Raiders and especially the Rams lost to good teams. The Rams were blown out and if you want to get nervous at how uncompetitive they were against the Buffalo Bills, it’s fair. I’ll wait for this week’s Rams-Falcons game. If the Rams look bad in that one, then yeah, sound the alarms.
Just a turnover-fueled anomaly: Cincinnati Bengals, Denver Broncos
The Bengals were minus-five in turnover differential and still took the game against the Pittsburgh Steelers to overtime, and missed a 29-yard field goal attempt to win it. The Broncos fumbled twice at the goal line and lost by one to the Seattle Seahawks. No need to worry here. Although, I can’t blame you for being a touch concerned about Broncos coach Nathaniel Hackett’s decision making.
With those teams out of the way, let’s take a closer look at these remaining six Week 1 losers:
RELAX: Green Bay Packers
We’ve done this before with the Packers. This season there’s the added layer of no Davante Adams, but a Week 1 loss to the Minnesota Vikings isn’t that bad. It just looked ugly. Let’s assume Green Bay will bounce back, even if their ceiling is lower this season without Adams.
panic meter: Calmer than you are
It was just the rain … maybe: San Francisco 49ers
If you want to blame a crazy downpour for the 49ers’ 19-10 loss to the Chicago Bears, I’ll allow it. It was hard to function. But the Bears played in the same monsoon and won. The worry about the 49ers is their new QB, Trey Lance, who didn’t play well. Was that the rain or a sign that he’s not ready? I still think Lance will be good, but he needs to look a lot better in the sunshine this week.
panic meter: No reason to be alarmed, at least until Lance’s first incompletion Sunday
If you can’t beat the Giants at home … : Tennessee Titans
Nothing really looked good for the Titans. We have to keep in mind that nobody would have cared if they hit a field goal to end the game, but a 21-20 loss to the New York Giants still doesn’t look great. They were bad in Week 1 last season too and Mike Vrabel is a good coach so not all is lost, but it’s hard to get excited about what’s on the roster. Sunday’s loss showed they’re just mediocre.
panic meter: Let’s not start the Malik Willis QB controversy yet, although maybe in a few weeks
Well, it was vs. the Chiefs: Arizona Cardinals
We could look back and put the Cardinals in that “They just got steamrolled by a great team” bin like we’re doing with the Rams. But that 44-21 loss to the Chiefs was even uglier than the score indicates. The Cardinals defense was awful and the offense did nothing. I’d be worried, especially for a team that notoriously has collapsed in the second halves of seasons.
panic meter: Maybe less than a week from our first “Is Kliff Kingsbury in trouble?” headline
Preseason might matter: New England Patriots
When every single story in August says the Patriots’ offense is a mess, maybe there’s validity to that. A preseason finale in which the Patriots’ starting offense was shut down by the Raiders’ backups flowed right into the regular season, when they scored seven points in a loss to the Dolphins. Now Mac Jones has a back issue to worry about. Maybe Bill Belichick figures all this out, but it’s pretty bad right now.
panic meter: Wouldn’t make any postseason plans
Oh no: Dallas Cowboys
Dak Prescott told us not to panic. Jerry Jones said Prescott could return sooner than first thought. We tried to lay out a case for the Cowboys staying relevant through the Prescott injury. But it’s not just the injury. It’s how bad Dallas looked in that loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers before the injury. And then it’s the Prescott injury. And other injuries. This could get fantastically ugly in a hurry.
panic meter: Stay calm! All is well! ALL IS WELL!