The NFC West starts strong in Week 1

Dayna O’Gorman
Senior NFL Reporter
NFC West/AFC West

By Dayna O’Gorman // @DaynaOG

The 2020 NFL season kicked off with a bang on Thursday night, and the fireworks just kept coming as the season continued on Sunday.

The NFC West had three of their four teams come out with a win, including a surprise win in a divisional game.

While we all agree that some teams will start out slowly due to the lack of preseason games, this was not the case for the NFC West.

Each team looked in regular-season form, with maybe just a few hiccups here and there. It leads one to believe that this will be a division to watch.

Seattle Seahawks   38
Atlanta Falcons       25

The Seahawks have played the Falcons pretty regularly over the last few years, so these teams know each other well. With two franchise quarterbacks, with high-level offenses, at the helm, most expected this to be a somewhat high scoring affair. The unknown was what would Seattle’s new defense look like. Would newly acquired safety Jamal Adams be “bored?” The answer is no.

QB Russell Wilson threw for 322 yards and four touchdowns in Sunday’s win. He also only threw four incompletions. I hate to say it, because its a silly catchphrase, but the Seahawks “Let Russ Cook,” and it worked. He also lead the team in rushing due to a beautiful play that allowed him to get over 20 yards in a single run. Seattle running back Chris Carson didn’t miss his opportunities though. He just got them in the form of two passing touchdowns.

As for the defense, it is well known that Seattle severely lacked a pass rush last season and had one of the lowest sack numbers in the league in 2019. That changed on Sunday. Both Adams and defensive end Benson Mayowa sacked Falcons QB Matt Ryan, and the defense racked up 8 QB hits. A good improvement from last year and very encouraging to Seahawks fans.

Overall, it was a strong win by Seattle. Head Coach Pete Carroll isn’t known for starting strong in season openers on the road, but this was a great start to the season.

Arizona Cardinals       24
San Francisco 49ers  20

In this divisional matchup, the 49ers were favored to win by a fair margin. Coming off of the Super Bowl, most thought San Francisco would pick up right where they left off. However, of all the teams in the NFC West, the 49ers seemed to be the team that was missing those preseason games the most.

I have to admit, the beginning of this game had me scratching my head. Both Arizona and San Francisco looked a bit sluggish and a out of sorts. It took a while for both teams to click. But soon, Cardinals QB Kyler Murray found his rhythm, especially with new wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, and things started to move. Murray threw Hopkins 14 times, netting Hopkins 151 yards (well over half of Murray’s 230 yards), including setting up a one yard run for RB Kenyan Drake that gave them the lead.

While it wasn’t a perfect game for Arizona, most can see that the offense has a few new toys in the toy box and are planning on making the most of them.

As for San Francisco, their defense seemed as fierce as ever, with the team getting two sacks on Murray. They held the Cardinals scoreless in the third quarter, however, they seemed to struggle with a way to stop Hopkins. Cornerback Richard Sherman was switching sides of the field, something he doesn’t do often, in what I’m assuming was an attempt to slow down the Murray/Hopkins connection.

But most believe it was the offense that was the bigger problem for the 49ers. The word “sloppy” has been used a lot in descriptions of QB Jimmy Garoppolo’s performance. While there were miscues, Garoppolo did throw for 259 yards, two touchdowns, and zero interceptions. It seemed that just a few tweaks and San Francisco could have had this game wrapped up. It will be interesting to see what changes are made next week.

Dallas Cowboys      17
Los Angeles Rams  20

The first Sunday Night Football game of the year. We knew there would be controversy, right? It was also the inaugural game in the beautiful new SoFi Stadium and the Rams brought home the win.

The Cowboys had been crowned the early favorite for the NFC title, but the Rams had answers for just about everything Dallas sent their way, and that answer was usually two time Defensive Player of the Year, defensive tackle Aaron Donald.

Los Angeles QB Jared Goff threw for 275 yards with one interception, however, it was RB Malcolm Brown that scored their two touchdowns. Brown rushed for a career-high 79 yards. Last year’s Fantasy Football hidden gem, WR Robert Woods, had six catches for 105 yards, leading him to be the teams top receiver.

The controversy of this game came toward the end. Cowboys WR Michael Gallup made a catch that would have put Dallas within field goal range, enabling them to tie the game. That catch was called back due to offensive pass interference. The Dallas sideline opposed the call, saying OPI is never called in that situation. The Rams, of course, said it was a correct call.

As I mention, it was a good start for the NFC West. This division has a lot of playmakers and a lot of elite-level talent. Next week should be another round of great games.

Follow Dayna on Twitter // @DaynaOG

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