DATA DEPENDENT: Top pass-rush-catch combos in the NFL.

After looking forward to the return of the National Football League for months, Week 1 came and went in a flash. After watching sports leagues around the world repackaging their products in compliance with the new COVID-19 realities, there were a lot of questions going into the Chiefs-Texans opener. Would teams be able to keep their players and staff virus free? How would games feel like without the massive audiences filling stadiums? How would erratic training camps and pre-seasons affect the level of play going into the season? What teams would excel under challenging circumstances? How much will we know about teams by Week 2? Would either New York team be able to outscore the Yankees? Turns out, unanswered questions are a lot less daunting once answered.

The Kansas City Chiefs picked up right where they left off. They soundly smacked down the Houston Texans without ever getting out of 2nd gear. Patrick Mahomes barely broke a sweat. Meanwhile, the San Francisco 49ers — last season’s runner-up — fort off to a sputtering start, losing to an Arizona Cardinals team armed with off-season acquisition DeAndre Hopkins. Tampa Bay’s Tom Brady (still sounds weird) ran for a touchdown but also threw two interceptions, including a devastating pick-6, on the way to a loss to a very good New Orleans Saints team. The Patriots won as did the Las Vegas Raiders (though they sound like an XFL team), Green Bay Packers, and Los Angeles Rams. 

As expected, the Cleveland Browns and Baker Mayfield looked lost in their lopsided loss to the Baltimore Ravens and neither the Jets (17 points) nor the Giants (16 points) was able to outscore the New York Yankees (20 points against the Blue Jays).

And while there was a little bit of rust, it didn’t affect the level of play as much as feared. In fact, teams looked pretty good overall. With that in mind, we’ll focus on the best Passing-Receiving-Rushing combinations of Week 1 with an eye firmly focused on Week 2. 

(NOTE: While total yards is a pretty crude indicator — particularly for quarterbacks — we’ll rely on that for now, particularly for simplicity and fantasy football sakes.)

(ANOTHER NOTE: In the case of the Atlanta Falcons, we’re using reception yards solely since there were three receivers in the Top 10 and RB Todd Gurley II had a modest 56 yards.)

Wide receivers and Tight ends.
Running backs.

The top pass-rush-catch combinations were as follows:

  1. Matt Ryan – Julio Jones – Calvin Ridley – Russel Gage (Atlanta Falcons)
  2. Aaron Rodgers – Davante Adams – Aaron Jones (Green Bay Packers)
  3. Jared Goff – Robert Woods – Malcolm Brown (Los Angeles Rams)
  4. Teddy Bridgewater – Robby Anderson – Christian McCaffrey (Carolina Panthers)
  5. Matt Stafford – Danny Amendola – Adrian Peterson (Detroit Lions)

One last note for everyone looking for Lamar Jackson, Kyler Murray, Cam Newton, or Russell Wilson, if a quarterback led the team in rushing, we’re not including them. We’re looking for three individual players here.

Now, looking forward to Week 2.I

Atlanta Falcons @ Dallas Cowboys

The Dallas Cowboys came into the 2020 season with high expectations. Last weekend’s narrow loss to LA Rams did a lot to temper the enthusiasm, though Aaron Donald’s constant pressure played an outsized role in the outcome. Dak Prescott had a pretty average game, though Ezekiel Elliot pretty much performed as expected. The Cowboys are also nursing key injuries.

For the Falcons, Matt Ryan has an embarrassment of riches on the receiving front. Last weekend, Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley were givens. Russell Gage’s 12 targets was the big surprise, turning him into the team’s third option. Many expected Tight end Hayden Hurst to play that role, so it’s not crazy to expect even more on the receiving end. Hurst has a lot of expectations to live up to and that could benefit Atlanta.

According to the latest NFL lines for Week 2, the Dallas Cowboys are still favored (-200) to defeat the Falcons.  

Detroit Lions @ Green Bay Packers 

In the words of Professional Football Focus, “The Rodgers reveng tour is officially underway.” Against the Vikings, he was precise, efficient, and willing to challenge defenses. He threw 9.7 yards downfield on average. With Detroit’s secondary hurting — Desmond Trufant, Jeffrey Okudah, and Justin Coleman are dealing with injures — Rodgers has the opportunity to spoon feed Davante Adams. 

On the other hand, the Lions also have an opportunity to live up to pre-season expectations. A lot of that will hinge on Adrian Peterson building on last week’s performance against the Chicago Bears, a game which they lost by a sliver. He had 14 of the team’s 24 carries. The Packers allowed 1,748 rushing yards last season, fourth most in the league, so expect him to have a few more carries. 

The Green Bay Packers hold the edge over Detroit, as -6 point spread favorites.

Carolina Panthers @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers 

The Carolina Panthers have a very winnable game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Last weekend, the Bucs ran their offense in a way more familiar for Brady. They won’t do that forever and will start adjusting soon. He’ll have to learn the team’s offense eventually. 

Unfortunately for the Panthers, they have one of the worst defenses in the league. Nothing they can do on offense can save them at this point.

The Buccaneers are heavy favorites against the Panthers. Ranging from (-410) upwards on most moneylines.

Los Angeles Rams @ Philadelphia Eagles

With the Eagles riddled with injuries, they’ll have to pick themselves up from the mental damage last weekend’s winnable loss may have inflicted. Their offensive line is hurting, a particularly devastating reality when faced with the juggernaut that is Aaron Donald.

On the other hand, Philadelphia’s pass-rush grade was the highest last weekend (90.0) so expect added pressure on LA’s receivers. Watch Robert Woods. His performance may make or break the Rams.

In the latest moneyline odds, the Rams are slight favorites over the Eagles.

The Big Question 

Can Gardner Minshew continue his near-perfect form?

Game of the Week

New England Patriots @ Seattle Seahawks.

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