Welcome to the inaugural installment of the “NFL Weekly Overreaction Reaction.”
The plan for this column is every week throughout the NFL season, I will give a Super Bowl prediction based on the previous week’s results, and the previous week's results alone.
You know the term “Monday morning quarterback” where everyone second guesses everything? Well, think of this column as an over-the-top overreaction based on each week’s results.
Now, some weeks it may not be an overreaction, which is the case after week 1. But other weeks may be just that — a wild overreaction. I will try to only predict the Super Bowl matchup each week based on every single week’s results, not a season-long body of work to base these predictions on.
Otherwise, what would the point be in predicting the Patriots vs. whichever NFC team they’re going to beat on a weekly basis? Where’s the fun in that? (Editor’s note: with New England’s continued dominance, there’s a chance it might end up being that anyways, but I promise to do my best to mix things up each week.)
With the guidelines now established clear as mud, here’s the post-week 1 Super Bowl LIV matchup.
So based on week 1’s results, the NFL will get a dream matchup for this season’s Super Bowl — the Dallas Cowboys and New England Patriots.
Like I said a couple paragraphs ago, sometimes the weekly overreaction reaction will not be an overreaction. And that’s the case here.
In my NFL preseason column, I had both the Cowboys and Patriots reaching their respective conference championship games (only to lose to the Chiefs and Saints).
But after week 1, New England and Dallas looked Super Bowl-ready, so they get the nod this week.
After an offseason filled with drama, the Cowboys looked phenomenal in week 1. Yes, I know it was against a New York Giants team that might finish with a bottom-5 record. But there were several teams with high expectations that just barely beat bottom feeders in week 1. Dallas handled New York.
Dak Prescott looked like maybe he’s worth $35M a year. Prescott completed 25-of-32 passes for 405 yards and four touchdowns — a quarterback rating of 158.3, which is perfect.
At least through week 1, the Cowboys offense, with offensive coordinator Kellen Moore calling plays, looked vastly different compared to recent versions of Dallas’ offensive formations, receiver routes, play calls, etc.
Dallas didn’t even need Ezekiel Elliott in week 1, although his presence, especially early, opened things up for Prescott as Giants defenders bit hard on a couple of play-action fakes.
The Cowboys’ receiving corps of Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup and Randall Cobb — with tight end Jason Witten back in the mix along with Blake Jarwin — looks like a very well-rounded group.
Dallas’ defense was a little concerning as the Cowboys allowed 306 yards to Eli Manning, 11 catches for 116 yards to Evan Engram, and 120 rushing yards on just 11 carries to Saquon Barkley as New York racked up 470 yards. But the Cowboys are too talented on defense to let that become a trend.
The Patriots, meanwhile, dominated headlines even before Sunday’s game by signing disgruntled Antonio Brown after the former Steelers and Raiders receiver threw a number of hissy fits to get out of Oakland — only to wind up getting exactly what he wanted. But don’t get me started on that.
Anyways, New England completely embarrassed its longtime AFC rival as the Patriots whipped the Steelers, 33-3. And that was without Brown in the game.
The Steelers were held to 32 rushing yards, and despite Ben Roethlisberger throwing it 47 times, he ended up with only 276 yards.
Meanwhile, Tom Brady continues to do his best Benjamin Button impersonation as the “GOAT” continues to elude father time. Brady threw for 341 yards and three touchdowns as he completed passes to seven different receivers, four of which had more than 50 receiving yards. At times, Brady appeared to toy with the Steelers defense.
Pittsburgh is widely viewed as one of New England’s top competitors in the AFC, along with Kansas City, but the Patriots made it clear early and often they stand alone as the class of the conference — and league.
A Cowboys-Patriots Super Bowl would shatter ratings records, advertising records and more. It would be quite the scene. Two of the NFL’s most successful franchises squaring off on the biggest stage. New England with its longstanding recent dominance the past two decades vs. a team that hasn’t done much at all the past two decades.
Post-week 1 runners-up: Tennessee Titans after their 43-13 beatdown of offseason champ Cleveland; Kansas City Chiefs after hanging an easy 40 points on a supposedly good Jacksonville defense; New Orleans Saints, after a thrilling Monday Night Football win against a good Houston team; and Minnesota Vikings, after completely embarrassing Atlanta, jumping out to a 28-0 lead before a 28-12 win.
Check back next week to see who will be in Super Bowl LIV, again.
Sports Editor A.J. Crisp is in his eighth year covering sports for the Times-Review. He can be reached by phone at 817-645-2441 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.