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Good morning! I think you did great in Week 1.
Takeaways: Oh my god, Week 1
The best moment from yesterday’s NFL season openers came from Seahawks quarterback Geno Smith. In the second quarter of the Rams’ 30-13 win, Aaron Donald, the scariest man in football, found himself with a free lane to Smith.
Smith could be overheard simply screaming: “OH MY GOD.”
— CJ Fogler account may or may not be notable (@cjzero) September 10, 2023
It was perfect, and it forms the basis of our Week 1 evaluations. We’ll call it the OMG Scale:
- The Packers are still good with Jordan Love. The first-year starter wasn’t Aaron Rodgers, but he wasn’t bad either, and Green Bay’s 38-20 demolition of Chicago on the road announced to the rest of the NFC North that the Pack won’t be fading away. The performance looks even more promising, considering the division-rival Vikings’ embarrassing day.
- The Browns’ defense is really, really good. It was an ugly weather day in Cleveland, but that shouldn’t overshadow how tough it was for Joe Burrow — the NFL’s new richest man — and the Bengals to do anything in a 24-3 loss. We assume Cincinnati will bounce back, but Cleveland’s defense could carry this team to a playoff berth.
- The Ravens looked good against Houston, but they suffered the season’s worst Week 1 luck. Running back J.K. Dobbins tore his Achilles tendon in the win and is out for the season.
- The Chargers are still the Chargers. I don’t understand it. There’s talent everywhere, and yet in our last two times watching them, they’ve blown a 27-point lead in a playoff game and a late lead in yesterday’s thrilling loss to the Dolphins.
- The rookies looked good. Anthony Richardson, Bijan Robinson, Bryce Young and C.J. Stroud all played OK, as far as first games go. Richardson and Robinson shined especially, although Richardson’s day was spoiled when he threw a late pick in a loss to the Jaguars. See all the rookie highlights here.
- Sorry, Sean Payton. Jimmy Garoppolo and the Raiders ruined Payton’s Denver debut, a game the Broncos frankly should’ve won. Denver opened the game with a failed onside kick and later missed a field goal and an extra point, which would’ve made the difference in a 17-16 loss. Whoops.
Oh … my god?
- Two ways to look at San Francisco’s 30-7 win in Pittsburgh: Either the Niners are clear Super Bowl favorites already (and Brock Purdy is no fluke), or the Steelers are just awful. The answer is likely somewhere in between. This is probably our biggest take-y game. Purdy was awesome, Kenny Pickett was meh and expectations for both are already in place after one week.
OH MY GOD.
- The precise quote is reserved for what the Cowboys did in the Meadowlands last night, which might be the funniest result of the weekend for everyone outside of Giants fans. Every single thing went wrong for New York, and I fully believe if this game gets played next week, it’s much closer. But man — 40-0. What an absurd game. Expect the hype in Dallas to be astronomical.
Did I skip your team? That’s because I hate it. But you can still read all the Week 1 takeaways from the rest of the league here.
Robert Mays and Nate Tice also have full reactions to every game on their live postgame show from last night. They’re in midseason form:
Serious Matters: A mess at Michigan State
Michigan State football coach Mel Tucker, a darling of the sport two years ago, was suspended without pay yesterday as the university conducts a sexual harassment investigation against him. Expect this to play out more this week. The latest:
- USA Today reported prominent rape survivor and activist Brenda Tracy accused Tucker of sexual misconduct while on a phone call with Tracy. The two had a professional relationship because of her advocacy work, and Tracy has spoken to the Spartans team multiple times. She was even an interim captain for MSU’s 2022 spring game.
- Tucker disputes some of the episode, saying it was “consensual phone sex.” Tracy submitted her allegations in a Title IX complaint in December.
- Tucker signed a fully guaranteed 10-year, $95 million contract with the school in 2021.
This all comes at the same school that faced intense scrutiny during the Larry Nassar scandal, which ended with Nassar in jail and multiple top administrators fired.
Read our full story for more in-depth context. Stay tuned.
News to Know
Luis Rubiales has left his post as president of the Spanish football federation, a month after he kissed midfielder Jenni Hermoso on the lips during Spain’s World Cup medal ceremony. It’s the theoretical end of what has been a startling post-World Cup saga for Spain.
Canada > USA
At least in World Cup basketball this year. The Canadians — led by Dillon Brooks’ 39 points — upended the Americans for third place at the FIBA World Cup early yesterday morning. It was a wild game, which saw Mikal Bridges score four points in the final four seconds to send the game to overtime. Joe Vardon writes that it wasn’t a total loss for the Americans, but it does raise plenty of questions.
GOATs: Novak’s enduring claim
CA few short months ago, it looked like Novak Djokovic’s inevitable march to a 24th major title was suddenly in jeopardy. Carlos Alcaraz’s performance at Wimbledon was that good.
Luckily for Djokovic, Daniil Medvedev took care of Alcaraz in the U.S. Open semifinals this weekend. Yesterday, the 36-year-old Djokovic cruised to a straight-sets win to claim his record-tying title:
- With the win, Djokovic has 24 singles Grand Slam titles. That’s more than Serena Williams (23) and tied with Margaret Court. Djokovic can easily lay claim to the men’s tennis GOAT title for now.
- Djokovic also regained some swagger this tournament. He avoided Alcaraz, sure, but he dispatched the upstart Ben Shelton — even mimicking the youngster’s celebration — and topped Medvedev, who beat Djokovic in the 2021 U.S. Open final.
Djokovic will have to wait until next January to challenge for his 25th Grand Slam title at the Australian Open. He’s the defending champ.
Week 1 isn’t over yet. Tonight brings the Jets debut of Aaron Rodgers, the subject of today’s A1 article. Zack Rosenblatt has the definitive story of how Rodgers — walking around the facility barefoot half the time — won over the Jets and made them into Super Bowl believers.
Dana O’Neil writes about another cascading effect of conference realignment: The NCAA Tournament might have to expand just to survive.
Deion Sanders has achieved what the greats do: finding disrespect, real or perceived, and making it into motivation. David Ubben argues it’s an art form.
Antonio Morales has a good roundup of Pac-12 newcomers already making an impact.
Want to get in an early NHL futures bet for the season? Dom Luszczyszyn has you covered.
(Photo: Mitchell Leff/ Getty Images)