3 NFL teams that were surprisingly impressive in Week 1

NFL, New York Giants, Saquon Barkley - Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
NFL, New York Giants, Saquon Barkley - Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports /
3 of 3
NFL Week 1
NFL Week 1, Justin Jefferson, Minnesota Vikings (Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images) /

Justin Jefferson and Minnesota Vikings roll over Green Bay Packers

Even though we had talked about this leading up to the game, I don’t know if there was a more shocking Week 1 upset than the whooping we saw the Minnesota Vikings give the Green Bay Packers. Now, the Packers were crushed in Week 1 last year and they still ended up having a great season, so there’s no need to panic in Green Bay, but I do think Vikings fans deserve to be absolutely ecstatic over what they saw against the Packers.

Kirk Cousins threw a pair of touchdown passes in this game to Justin Jefferson, who looked like the most dominant player on either side of the ball for either team. Jefferson was constantly running wide open against the vaunted Green Bay secondary and the Packers really had no answer for him. He did most of his damage in the first half but still ended with 184 yards on nine receptions for an average of over 20 yards per catch.

The unit that really deserves some kudos for Minnesota, though, is the new-look defense being orchestrated by Ed Donatell. Donatell didn’t get much credit for his role with the Denver Broncos over the last few years because Vic Fangio had been the primary defensive play-caller, but Donatell wasn’t just there as a player motivator. He knows how to scheme a defense.

The Vikings held the reigning back-to-back MVP Aaron Rodgers to 195 yards passing with no touchdowns, an interception, and four sacks. Those four sacks came from four different players on the Vikings’ defense, including 2022 free agent acquisition Za’Darius Smith, a former Green Bay Packer who was clearly relishing his time out there against his former team.

Can the Vikings keep this kind of play up? Time will tell, but it was a great debut for rookie head coach Kevin O’Connell and his staff on both sides of the ball. The Vikings were dominant over the NFC North favorites and that kind of win early in the season can provide a foundation for confidence over the course of the rest of the year.