At the Water Cooler : Week 1

football, news, teams, week 1

Welcome to a new feature here at Football for Normal Girls: At the Water Cooler, a one-sentence(ish) highlight from each NFL game over the weekend (plus a preview of Monday night’s game). Just enough information to help you through any water cooler/grocery store/dinner table football conversation!

Here’s what you need to know about Week 1:

Denver Broncos vs. Baltimore Ravens (Broncos won, 49-27)

If there were any doubts that Peyton Manning is back and better than ever in his second year post-surgeries with the Broncos, his record-tying seven (SEVEN) touchdowns on Thursday night’s opener against the Ravens quieted them.

Buffalo Bills vs. New England Patriots (Patriots won, 23-21)

Buffalo would have won this game were it not for earning 10 penalties for a whopping 75 yards – it was the mistakes that killed them, not lack of ability to win the game.

Chicago Bears vs. Cincinnati Bengals (Chicago won, 24-21)

It’s been said that more NFL games are lost than won and that was certainly the case with the Bengals on Sunday, who gave up a big lead late in the second half to lose to the Bears, who actually didn’t look too shabby in their first game under rookie head coach Marc Trestman.

Cleveland Browns vs. Miami Dolphins (Miami won, 23-10)

Sorry, Browns fans. I was wrong.

Detroit Lions vs. Minnesota Vikings (Lions won, 34-24)

The story of the game for me is from the reigning league MVP, Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, who ran in a 78-yard touchdown…on his first carry. He wasn’t much of a factor for the rest of the game, but what a way to start the season.

Indianapolis Colts vs. Oakland Raiders (Colts won, 21-17)

This game should have been a blowout, but the Colts needed to return to their 2012 ways as the comeback kids to win this one and start the season 1-0.

New Orleans Saints vs. Atlanta Falcons (New Orleans won, 23-17)

Welcome back, Sean Payton! And holy passing attack, NFC South: Saints QB Drew Brees and Falcons QB Matt Ryan combined for nearly 700 passing yards and 4 touchdowns.

New York Jets vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Jets won, 18-17)

There likely isn’t a guy in the NFL who feels worse waking up this morning than Tampa Bay linebacker Lavonte David, who had a late hit on Jets QB Geno Smith which gave the Jets easy field goal position for the win in the final seconds of the 4th quarter.

Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Tennessee Titans (Titans won, 16-9)

This one was all ugly. But despite their only offensive score not coming until the 4th quarter, the ugliest part for the Steelers was losing center Maurkice Pounce, who may have a torn ACL.

Carolina Panthers vs. Seattle Seahawks (Seattle won, 12-7)

A win’s a win, but it was a little surprisingly to see everyone’s #1 pick, Seattle, struggle to win this one in Carolina.

Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Kansas City Chiefs (Kansas City won, 28-2)

Even if NFL Europe doesn’t take off and the Jaguars don’t move overseas, Jacksonville may vote them off the island peninsula after scoring zero offensive points in their home opener on Sunday.

(Confused about why the Jaguars didn’t score any offensive points and yet still scored 2-points? That’s a safety, a defensive score, and you can read all about it in this post.)

St Louis Rams vs. Arizona Cardinals (Rams won, 27-24)

The Cardinals may have lost (another one of those games lost rather than won), but Larry Fitzgerald is one happy wide receiver: he finally has a dependable quarterback (Carson Palmer) who shows off what Fitzgerald is really capable of – 2 touchdowns on the day, for starters.

San Francisco 49ers vs. Green Bay Packers (49ers won, 34-28)

I said it all offseason and I’ll probably say it all of this season: Anquan Boldin, new 49ers wide receiver acquired from the Ravens, was the best move of the offseason.

Dallas Cowboys vs. New York Giants (Cowboys won, 36-31)

At the end of the first half Giants head coach Tom Coughlin reportedly told his team that he had never seen a worse half of football…which is probably because he hadn’t seen the second half yet (or because he missed last year’s Jets at Cardinals game).

Washington Redskins vs. Philadelphia Eagles (Monday night, 7:10pm EST)

You might want to do a few jumping jacks to get warmed up before this one. It promises to be wild, blazingly fast ride.

San Diego Chargers vs. Houston Texans (Monday night, 10:20pm EST)

You might be ok to go to bed before this one gets started. It promises to be a fairly easy win by the Texans (sorry, San Diego).

How did you all make out this weekend? Any highlights that weren’t covered here?

What To Know : After Week 1

We’re adding another new feature to go hand in hand with Friday’s post: a postgame guide to what happened over the weekend. Here’s what you need to know about Week 1 in the NFL:

  • Peyton Manning: Peyton’s return to football was nothing short of glorious. Once he was given free reign of the offense and went into his classic no-huddle mode, it was the Peyton of old back in action once again. He led the Broncos to a 31-19 victory over the Steelers.
  • RGIII: AKA Robert Griffin the Third. He lit it up for the Redskins – one of the best starts ever for a rookie quarterback. It wasn’t just the fact that the Redskins won against a tough opponent in a volatile environment (Saints at home) and it wasn’t just his performance stats. It was the maturity and intuition with which he played. He made smart decision after smart decision after smart decision – completely uncharacteristic for a rookie quarterback in his first NFL game.
  • Alfred Morris: Another stand out Redskins rookie. He looks like a remarkable rookie running back so far. (If you are in a fantasy league and he’s still available: draft him. ASAP.)
  • Stephen Hill: As long as we’re talking about rookies who look like they have potential, let’s throw wide receiver Stephen Hill in the mix. He looked great in the Jets season opener.
  • Offense? Really?: Three characteristically defensive-minded teams put up 40+ points on offense over the weekend: the Bears, the Jets, and the Ravens.
  • Unfortunate Surprise #1: Michael Vick threw 4 picks against the Browns…and the Eagles still won. (Translation: the Browns are just that bad.)
  • Unfortunate Surprise #2: I should have known better. I jumped the Bills bandwagon after all of the good press and positive moves they made in the offseason…but after living in Rochester for 8 years I should have known that the Bills never fail to fail. Sorry, Buffalo. I was really rooting for you. But after a 48-28 smackdown loss against the Jets, it looks like the same old, same old, once again.
  • Unfortunate Surprise #3: This one was the most troubling for me…the Packers defense. OH, the Packers defense! Where fore art thou, 2010 Super Bowl Champion D?!?! The Packers loss to the 49ers on Sunday was just ugly…there is a lot of work to be done before the Bears come to town for the Thursday night game in 2 days.
  • Replacement Ref Grade: C+. Most egregious blunder: giving the Seahawks a 4th time out in the final two minutes of the 4th quarter by mistake.

Last but not least, as a big fan of Mike and Mike in the Morning I have to give a shout out to their new show, Mike and Mike’s Best of the NFL, which debuts at 3pm on ESPN this afternoon. If you miss it the first time you can catch the reair on ESPN2 at 6:30pm. If it’s anything like the morning show, it will be amazing!

What To Know : Week 1

Here’s a new feature for the regular season: a little pregame prep we’ll call What To Know. Every Friday I’ll post the game to know, player to know, and storyline to know for the upcoming week.

And…a handful of recipes to make for your football watching pleasure.

It’s the best of all worlds! You’ll be well-educated AND well-fed!

So, off we go. Here’s the crucial information you need to know about Week 1 of the regular season:

GAME TO KNOW: Steelers vs. Broncos

This marks Peyton Manning’s return to football…and in a new uniform. Last year the Broncos ended the season with Tim Tebow as starting quarterback. They beat the Steelers in the first round of the playoffs, which means two things 1: The Broncos are a playoff-capable, if not playoff-caliber, team, and 2: The Steelers have something to prove. They had no business losing that game. The Steelers are also starting their first season without star wide receiver Hines Ward (retired in the off season) and with new offensive coordinator Todd Haley (former Chiefs head coach), so there will be plenty to watch for on the Steelers side of the ball, too.


The Jets actually did a respectable job of not talking about something: how they are planning on using Tim Tebow. Watch for Tebow to be used in unconventional ways and in 4th down situations…or in a completely different way that no one is anticipating.

STORYLINE TO KNOW: Replacement Refs

The regular refs are in a lockout with the NFL over contract disputes. So the NFL has brought in replacement refs to officiate until the regular refs return…and homeboys are struggling. I mean, you can hardly blame them. They’ve been pulled from NAIA college leagues, the ridiculous but legitimate lingerie league, and other conspicuous places. So it’s not like they have NFL experience. But still…it’s been rough. Someone called an eight yard penalty during one of the preseason games. Eight yards. Now, I know we’re all still learning here, but I think it’s pretty cut and dry that penalties come in 5 yard increments. Oh boy.

The replacement refs pose a few sizable problems.

1: Player safety. It’s kind of like the “wait until your father gets home” complex – players will try to get away with more because the replacement refs might be less confident about making harsh calls.

2. Game timing. During preseason, games felt like they took an eternity because it took an eternity for the refs to discuss the penalties and decide on the correct call.

3. Game Integrity. More often than not, it hasn’t been the correct call.

For a hilarious insider’s view on this situation, check out Vikings punter Chris Kluwe’s article on deadspin.


3 Ingredient Mini Turtle Brownies

5 ingredient baked potato skins

grilled zucchini pizza

maple pecan popcorn

roasted garlic guacamole