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Packers: Winners and losers from Week 1 win vs. Vikings

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With week one officially in the books for the Packers, let’s take a look at who stood out, and who struggled against the Vikings.

After a long offseason with so much back and forth debate about how the Green Bay Packers will look this season, and what their future will look like, it was fun to watch the Packers come out and take care of business against their division rival.

In this article, we’re going to take a look at some players whose stock rose and fell in Week 1.

Let’s start.

Loser: Christian Kirksey

Now, I have been on the record all offseason saying that Kirksey will be an upgrade over the departing Blake Martinez. After yesterday’s performance, there were some good things along with some bad.

Kirksey was one of two players to play 100 percent of the snaps in Sunday’s game.

With health being one of the worries with Kirksey, this was a nice thing to see, especially with how weak Green Bay’s MLB position already is. While Kirksey did get involved in 12 tackles, he didn’t do much else out there.

The rush defense picked up right where it left off last year, getting gashed by Minnesota. Including a play where Kirksey couldn’t chase down Kirk Cousins. Kirksey was flagged for a face mask at one point in the game which does happen but you still don’t like to see it.

I don’t think this performance is cause for concern, and there were certainly other factors on why the rush defense was so bad. However, I was still expecting a bigger impact for the newcomer.

Winner: Jaire Alexander

Alexander turned in a fantastic game and in my opinion, was easily the MVP of the defense. Alexander has been a legit number one corner since the Packers drafted him in 2018. Some people have been pegging Jaire to be an All-Pro this season, and Week 1 was a great way to start.

Alexander got himself an interception and this beautiful sack for a safety where he read Minnesota perfectly.

Alexander is still very young and does still get beat at times. Adam Thielen had a great game going for over 100 yards and two touchdowns, but this was still a great performance by the young corner.

Loser: Mike Pettine

Now it must be stated that I am a big fan of Pettine for the most part. After taking over for Dom Capers in 2018, I think Pettine has installed a great culture in the defense and it seems like the players like him as well.

However, his absolute refusal to stop the run can be frustrating. The Vikings rushed for 134 yards as a team, and for all the good the Packers offense was doing, the defense was allowing Minnesota to stay in the game. An early injury to Kenny Clark doesn’t help things, but it seems Pettine doesn’t adjust his game plan at times and is okay with teams running all over his defense.

Good teams will use this to their advantage, and both 49ers games from last season are evidence of this. It will be interesting to see going forward how Green Bay handles strong rushing teams.

Winner: Wide receivers

With all the talk throughout the offseason about how the Packers didn’t draft a wideout, it was a pleasant surprise to see the current WR room go out and have strong showings. Davante Adams balled out with 14 catches for 156 yards and two touchdowns. Adams is one of the best receivers in the game today and took advantage of these young Minnesota corners.

Moving onto Allen Lazard, who had some expectations coming into this year as the clear cut number two WR. Lazard had a nice day as well going for 63 yards, on four catches, and a touchdown. Lazard also got a really nice 19-yard run on an end-around which was awesome to see.

Finishing up with Marquez Valdes-Scantling, who had four catches, 96 yards, and one touchdown. After taking quite a bit of criticism for his play last season, MVS came out ready to play Sunday, putting his 4.3 speed on full display.

Of course, it must still be stated that even with the good game for MVS, he did still have two drops. One of them would’ve been a 60-plus-yard catch.

Winner: Aaron Rodgers

Moving onto my final winner and MVP of the entire game, Aaron Rodgers. Aaron looked locked in today going for 364 yards, four touchdowns, and zero picks. Rodgers over the last few years has been accused of being past his prime and looking uninterested.

In yesterday’s game, I think it’s fair to say that was not the case. Rodgers arguably had his best game in the last few years with that stat line he put up. He looked like he was having a lot of fun out there and was zipping some balls. I already talked about his throw to MVS, but I think this throw to Lazard in the end zone was my favorite of the day.

Rodgers was on point all game and was looking like his younger self. If he can keep it up all season, expect the Packers to be a tough opponent each week.

Final thoughts

As stated, it was great to see Green Bay pick up a win against Minnesota. Here are some other things that stuck out to me:

In limited playing time, UDFA Krys Barnes played well and should be playing next to Kirksey going forward. Somewhat of a quiet day for Aaron Jones, though he still was solid going over 60 yards and a TD.

I thought the offensive line played great and they only allowed one pressure.

Elgton Jenkins looked good while playing multiple positions in yesterday’s game. A couple more shoutouts to Tyler Ervin who was such a great find last season and continues to prove he belongs, and to rookie Josiah Daguara, who looked okay in limited playing time. He only had one catch but was all over the field with his blocking ability.

One last note, it would’ve been nice to see more from the pass rush. Za’Darius Smith got one sack but was otherwise kind of quiet. Preston Smith, we didn’t hear much from at all and didn’t even make the stat sheet.

Next: 5 standout Packers performances in Week 1

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Cam Newton has already done enough to deserve contract extension

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Cam Newton has already proved he deserves a real contract from the Patriots.

What more do you need to see? Cam Newton has seamlessly transitioned in taking over for Tom Brady, and the New England Patriots look like they could do big things this year. Tighten up the defense, figure out the running game, and this team could have a shot to compete against the Kansas City Chiefs and Baltimore Ravens.

After a conservative Week 1 showing on offense, the Pats unleashed Newton in Week 2 against the Seahawks, and the former MVP threw for 397, rushed for 47, and scored three total touchdowns. He nearly grabbed his fourth on the final play of the game, but was stopped short of the goal line in an effort to get the Patriots a win in the final seconds.

Newton has a firm grasp of the offense and clearly hasn’t lost any of his passing abilities. He was throwing with pinpoint accuracy and eluding the rush like we saw two years ago.

If he’s performing like this in just his second start with a new team, in a completely different system, and after being a free agent for 86 nights, the Patriots need to act fast before he builds his value even more. New England already made out like bandits guaranteeing him just $550K in 2020.

It’s time to offer him a lucrative three-year extension and provide a clear outlook for the foreseeable future. Newton has earned it, and at this point, a downgrade in 2021 will dearly hurt the Pats. He’s already the unquestioned leader of this team and has been dubbed “one of the hardest working players” Bill Belichick has ever seen.

The Patriots got lucky that no other team offered the former MVP a contract this offseason in, what pretty much everyone knows at this point, is proving to be malpractice by the other general managers across the league in need of a quarterback.

And if New England’s future isn’t Newton-centric … where else are you going here? They’re far too good to nab a top draft pick in 2021, and the free agency pipeline doesn’t feature superior options. Cam Newton is better than Jarrett Stidham.

Ever think Newton was held back a little bit in Carolina? Aside from that short stint with Steve Smith Sr., Cam never really had a No. 1 wideout. Tight end Greg Olsen led the team in receiving three times. The Panthers wide receiving corps was hardly much of a threat throughout his nine seasons in Carolina.

Now, though it isn’t much of an upgrade, he’s got Julian Edelman, N’Keal Harry, and a talented backfield that boasts Sony Michel, James White and Rex Burkhead, all of whom play a role in the rushing and receiving game. Plus, when you consider Josh McDaniels to be a superior offensive coordinator to Norv Turner, Mike Shula and Rob Chudzinski, it’s clear Newton can reach heights he’s perhaps never seen before.

The Patriots’ system caters to the QB unlike any other, and with Newton’s dual-threat abilities, McDaniels will be able to throw off opposing defenses, because New England prepares for games week in and week out arguably better than any other NFL team.

There’s value in that, too, which is why Newton deserves real money aside from this dumpy one-year deal, because he’s already proven capable to operate under unfamiliar and complicated circumstances after just two weeks.

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SF 49ers: 3 goals for Nick Mullens in relief of Jimmy Garoppolo

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Nick Mullens #4 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images)

It’s not official yet, but if SF 49ers quarterback Nick Mullens is the starter on Sunday here’s three goals for him to achieve.

There’s a trend on social media called “put your finger down if___.” The point of the game is to check off things in a specific topic. So, raise a hand with all your fingers up. Now, put a finger down if you thought SF 49ers quarterback Nick Mullens could potentially start in Week 3 of the NFL season because Jimmy Garoppolo went down with an injury?

If you put a finger down, you’re a psychic. Or have watched enough football to know anything is possible.

After last season, it seemed like the only time we’d see Mullens would be in garbage time situations and maybe if the SF 49ers were 14-1 in the last game of the year. Garoppolo was feeling great, the team was rolling and they only lost once in their final five games.

But alas, here we are. Garoppolo is dinged up and Mullens could potentially see his first start in almost two years. He last started against the Los Angeles Rams in December of 2018. He stayed consistent with his stats in the season finale: three touchdowns, three interceptions and three sacks.

If you’re wondering “has Mullens ever played against the New York Giants?” The answer is yes. Once, where he threw for 250 yards one touchdown and two interceptions.

Before the season began, Niner Noise’s Peter Panacy dissected Mullens future on the SF 49ers. Included is what’s at stake for Mullens after the 2021 season. So there’s a chance, assuming he gets the start against the Giants, Mullens is playing for more than just a win for his teammates.

For right now though, Mullens just need to stay focused on the task at hand which begins with staying healthy.

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Josh Allen wins AFC Offensive Player of the Week after Week 2

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Josh Allen is having a career start to his season for the Buffalo Bills and after his first career game with over 300 passing yards, he followed it up with his first 400-yard passing game against the Miami Dolphins in Week 2. He also threw for four touchdowns and didn’t have a turnover.

That performance in Week 2 was good enough to earn his first AFC Offensive Player of the Week award in 2020.

Josh Allen loves to play the Miami Dolphins

This is Josh Allen’s third time winning the honor. Amazingly the other two times he has won the award came after games against the Miami Dolphins the first time when he was a rookie in 2018 after his Week 17 performance. In this game, Allen threw for 224 passing yards, added 95 rushing yards, and had five total touchdowns with three passing and two rushing touchdowns.

He would his second AFC Offensive Player of the Week award in Week 11 last season after he had 256 passing yards and four total touchdowns with three through the air and one on the ground.

There is no question that Josh Allen enjoys playing the Miami Dolphins and for his career, he has thrown for over 1,300 passing yards with 17 total touchdowns and only three interceptions in five games. He also has won four out of his five career starts against the AFC East rival.

The development Josh Allen has shown this season has been truly remarkable as he has looked the best he has at any point in his three years. Allen has always had that athletic ability to make plays with his legs but he is now making great throws from the pocket.

Next: 4 Rams the Bills will need to gameplan for in Week 3

This progression for Josh Allen is a big reason for the Buffalo Bills’ success and they will look to continue that this Sunday against the Los Angeles Rams.

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