Week 1 takeaways in the NFL: Saints' D, Cowboys' O flop

Clark questions usage of Elliott in Cowboys' loss (1:07)

Ryan Clark discusses the Cowboys' options on offense and questions the lack of carries for Ezekiel Elliott. (1:07)

The NFL returned this weekend with an exciting slate of games. Cleveland almost ended its winless streak, a handful of contenders struggled, the Sunday night game saw an epic comeback and a number of teams got their first looks at new players at prime positions.

Here are all of the biggest takeaways from Week 1 (through Sunday's games).

NFC East | NFC North | NFC South | NFC West
AFC East | AFC North| AFC South | AFC West


Buffalo Bills

Bills coach Sean McDermott said after Sunday's 47-3 loss to the Ravens that he will "look at the tape" before deciding who will start at quarterback against the Chargers on Sunday. "Overall, I thought we could have been better at a number of positions," McDermott said. Nathan Peterman was benched for rookie Josh Allen in the third quarter after completing 5 of 18 passes for 24 yards with two interceptions.-- Mike Rodak

Miami Dolphins

Ryan Tannehill's return to real action for first time in 637 days was a success, even though it was overshadowed by four hours of lightning delays. This team experienced chaos in 2017 in nearly every area, including quarterback. And now that Tannehill is back and in rhythm, it should be a calming presence. It was a good sign for the Dolphins that they didn't wilt when adversity struck. -- Cameron Wolfe

New England Patriots

The Patriots' pass rush came to life against a weaker Texans offensive line to contribute to Deshaun Watson's shaky return, recording three sacks and 12 QB hits while forcing a fumble. With the offense trying to buy time until Julian Edelman returns from a four-game NFL suspension (Phillip Dorsett helped there with a 7-66-1 line), the defense and special teams will need to pull their share against the Jaguars in Jacksonville on Sunday. -- Mike Reiss

New York Jets

The Jets have faith in rookie quarterback Sam Darnold. The coaches showed it on the first play of Monday night's win in Detroit, dialing up a risky long pass. It turned into a pick-six, but Darnold eventually rewarded their faith by playing mistake-free for the rest of the game. This will show upcoming opponents the Jets won't be overly protective of their young QB. -- Rich Cimini


Baltimore Ravens

The Ravens' 47-3 season-opening win not only showed the instant connection between Joe Flacco and his new weapons but could also prove valuable for Thursday night's early battle for first place in the AFC North. Baltimore was able to rest many of its key veterans, which is big on a short week. Flacco hit each of the free-agent wide receivers -- Michael Crabtree, John Brown and Willie Snead IV -- in the end zone. It's the first time Flacco has thrown three or more touchdown passes to his wide receivers in the same game since October 2014.-- Jamison Hensley

Cincinnati Bengals

The Bengals are going to have growing pains as they work with a young roster. The linebackers weren't great as a unit with Vontaze Burfict out, and the defensive-line rotation wasn't very effective against the quick passing game of Andrew Luck. But they made enough plays to win, which could bode well for their growth. -- Katherine Terrell

Cleveland Browns

Browns quarterback Tyrod Taylor called the season-opening tie a "sour feeling," but the Browns can take heart from an active defense that forced six turnovers. The Browns have done that 45 times in their history, going 40-3-2 in those games. -- Pat McManamon

Pittsburgh Steelers

The Steelers passing game showed cracks in Cleveland that Pittsburgh needs to patch up entering Sunday's matchup with the Chiefs. The Steelers should have won convincingly over the Browns -- James Conner dominated with 192 total yards in Le'Veon Bell's absence -- but four sacks and six turnovers facilitated a tie. Ben Roethlisberger was under constant duress and missed on several throws he typically makes. "It's just frustrating that you can't make plays down the stretch," Roethlisberger said. -- Jeremy Fowler


Houston Texans

Deshaun Watson failed to pick up where he left off during his stellar rookie season, and the Texans offense got off to a slow start. Watson said he was "terrible" and knows he's better than what he showed in Sunday's 27-20 loss to the Patriots. Watson finished 17-of-34 for 176 yards, with one touchdown and an interception -- but 115 of those yards came in the second half. He'll look to improve in Week 2 versus Tennessee. -- Sarah Barshop

Indianapolis Colts

Andrew Luck proved he could play a full game while also taking hits in the Colts' loss to Cincinnati on Sunday. Luck (shoulder) threw for 319 yards with two touchdowns and an interception in his first game since Jan. 1, 2017. "His accuracy was good," coach Frank Reich said. "I thought he was really poised. I mean it was fun just seeing him for four quarters on the sideline. Seeing what they were doing. Adjusting." -- Mike Wells

Jacksonville Jaguars

Running back Leonard Fournette left the game in the first half because of a right-ankle injury, but coach Doug Marrone said he's optimistic about Fournette's prognosis. Fournette has dealt with this before and said he knows how to manage it. Still, it's hard to see him being full strength for Sunday's game against New England, so T.J. Yeldon and Corey Grant could have to carry the Jaguars' ground game. The Jaguars also have Brandon Wilds on the practice squad to promote if Fournette is unable to go against the Patriots. -- Mike DiRocco

Tennessee Titans

Marcus Mariota was taken out of the game after being hit by Dolphins defensive end William Hayes. The hit caused Mariota to lose feeling in his hand but he said he was fine after the game. He had accuracy issues on a few throws before he was injured, missing Corey Davis and Delanie Walker for would-be touchdowns on the same drive in the first quarter. His two interceptions came after he was hit by Hayes, overthrowing wide receiver Tajae Sharpe and missing running back Dion Lewis on a screen. -- Turron Davenport


Denver Broncos

Of all of the things the Broncos wanted to leave behind after a 5-11 finish, the biggest might be an inability to respond to adversity. When the 2017 Broncos got down, they usually stayed down. Sunday, they trailed the Seahawks by four points early in the fourth quarter, but Case Keenum led a seven-play, 75-yard touchdown drive on the Broncos' next possession -- he was 4-of-4 passing on the march -- and they closed the deal from there. As wide receiver Demaryius Thomas said: "That's how you want to bounce back. This team can do that." -- Jeff Legwold

Kansas City Chiefs

The Chiefs might be able to consistently score enough points to cover for their shaky defense. If they can put up 38 points on the road against a good defensive opponent in Patrick Mahomes' second career start, they should be able to win any scoring war they get into down the line. -- Adam Teicher

Los Angeles Chargers

A point of emphasis during the offseason, special teams, remains an issue. Special-teams mistakes led to 14 points for the Chiefs. Tyreek Hill put the first points on the board with a 91-yard punt return for a score in the opening quarter, and with the Chargers in contention late, undrafted rookie J.J. Jones fumbled a punt, which James Winchester recovered at the Chargers' 2-yard line. New kicker Caleb Sturgis also missed a 48-yard field goal wide left. "That's something that we emphasized and we worked on," Chargers coach Anthony Lynn said. "We knew Tyreek was going to be back there. He was back there last year and I don't think he got 10 yards, but we just didn't execute today." -- Eric D. Williams

Oakland Raiders

After an inspiring, ball-controlling first half, the Raiders simply ran out of gas in Monday night's season opener, falling to the Rams 33-13 after leading, 13-10, at the half. The Raiders have a short week to get their offense back in gear and, less than a week after dealing with Aaron Donald and Ndamukong Suh, have the unenviable task of facing Von Miller and the Broncos in Denver. This was a deflating loss for Oakland, no doubt, and if the Raiders allow it to bleed over the rest of the week, they will be in serious trouble in Denver. -- Paul Gutierrez


Dallas Cowboys

Dating back to last season, the Cowboys have not scored more than 20 points in their past four contests, and Dak Prescott has not thrown for 200 yards in seven of his past nine games. The last time they scored more than 20 came against the next week's foe, the Giants, in Week 14 of 2017, but 20 of their 30 points came in the fourth quarter. In Prescott's four career starts against New York, the Cowboys have scored 75 points (18.8 points per game). -- Todd Archer

New York Giants

The Giants scored one touchdown, a 68-yard run by Saquon Barkley in the fourth quarter. It wasn't enough, but they maintained that they're close. Wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. was optimistic because they had chances against the Jaguars. They were "right there," and could've scored three additional TDs. Beckham (11 catches for 111 yards) and Barkley showed their playmaking ability, and there's time for the unit to mature under coach Pat Shurmur. New York will continue its growth against Dallas on Sunday night. -- Jordan Raanan

Philadelphia Eagles

Quarterback Nick Foles and the offense are still searching for their rhythm. The Eagles eked out an 18-12 victory over the Falcons on Thursday on the strength of their defense. If not for a couple of goal-line stands and a little "Philly Philly" magic by coach Doug Pederson, there would be some angst heading into Week 2 against the Bucs. Foles didn't look like his Super Bowl self in the preseason, either, but with Carson Wentz expected back soon, he should only have to hold down the fort for a bit longer. -- Tim McManus

Washington Redskins

The Redskins' offense could be fun to watch, partly because of their heavy dose of run-pass option. It's hard to say if they'll do that as much every game, but it will be emphasized all season. It's one reason why they rushed for 182 yards Sunday, and it helped open outside lanes for both Chris Thompson and Adrian Peterson. Quarterback Alex Smith has run this before, both in college and in Kansas City, and makes good decisions. The Redskins believe they have the personnel to make this tactic work whether a defense is in its nickel or base package. -- John Keim


Chicago Bears

The Bears let the Packers off the hook. Chicago thoroughly outplayed Green Bay for nearly three quarters, which in itself is a major development, since Chicago has been dead last in the NFC North in each of the past four seasons. But the Bears are far from a finished product. They're not good enough yet to finish off a quarterback like Aaron Rodgers, who annihilated the Bears' defense in the final quarter. So while there's plenty of reason for optimism, the Bears still have a ways to go on both sides of the ball. Chicago isn't a playoff team yet, but its talent level has improved significantly across the board. -- Jeff Dickerson

Detroit Lions

If what multiple Jets players said is true -- and they knew exactly what was coming from the Lions in Monday night's loss -- then this could be a long month for Detroit. Why? Well, the familiarity doesn't go away the next few weeks. The Lions have to head to San Francisco on a short week, an already tough ask, but Jimmy Garoppolo knows the Patriots defense as well as any quarterback from his time in New England. And then the Lions face Bill Belichick and New England -- the architect of so much of what Matt Patricia runs defensively. -- Michael Rothstein

Green Bay Packers

Last week, Bears defensive end Akiem Hicks ended his conference call with Packers media by repeating: "Khalil Mack, Khalil Mack, Khalil Mack, Khalil Mack." On their way back to Chicago, the Bears must've been thinking, "Aaron Rodgers, Aaron Rodgers, Aaron Rodgers, Aaron Rodgers." Rodgers' comeback from his first-half knee injury not only saved this game for the Packers, it also saved their season. To lose Rodgers in Week 1 less than a year after he broke his collarbone would have been devastating for the franchise. Instead, the Packers have just another chapter to add to Rodgers' book of legendary performances. -- Rob Demovsky

Minnesota Vikings

As Dalvin Cook pointed out postgame, the ceiling is high for the Vikings' offense. The unit looked dynamic throughout much of Kirk Cousins' debut, during which he connected on two touchdown passes and carved up the 49ers' secondary. Cousins was backed by the league's No. 1 defense, which came through with four turnovers. Minnesota displayed the full scope of how good it can be in its 24-16 season-opening win to set up for a crucial NFC North showdown at Green Bay next Sunday. -- Courtney Cronin


Atlanta Falcons

The Falcons still have a lot of work to do with their red zone offense, which was an emphasis after they finished 23rd in the league last season in that area. The Falcons managed a 1-for-5 showing in Thursday's loss to the Eagles. Yes, offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian showed some new wrinkles with different personnel, and the Falcons used a power game with a blocking fullback. But they still struggled to punch the ball in and missed on five opportunities in the final seconds. -- Vaughn McClure

Carolina Panthers

Losing tight end Greg Olsen (foot) and right tackle Daryl Williams (knee) will distract somewhat from the Panthers' 16-8 victory over Dallas. But it won't distract from the fact quarterback Cam Newton will remain a running threat under offensive coordinator Norv Turner, and this defense is for real. Newton rushed 13 times for 58 yards and a touchdown, while Luke Kuechly led a smothering Carolina defense with 13 tackles. The Panthers face division rival Atlanta in Week 2. -- David Newton

New Orleans Saints

The Saints' defense flopped in Week 1, as the popular Super Bowl pick lost 48-40 at home to the Buccaneers. New Orleans allowed Ryan Fitzpatrick to throw for 417 yards and four touchdowns. The good news that is the Saints have been through this before. Their defense struggled heavily in the first two weeks last season, too, before they rattled off an eight-game winning streak. But this was a disturbing performance for a unit that looked like it had turned things around. "We needed to get slapped in our face one good time to see that we're not on the level we think we're on," cornerback Marshon Lattimore said. "But we're gonna get better." -- Mike Triplett

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Everybody thought for the Bucs to have a chance at winning any of their first three games with backup quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, they'd need a Herculean effort by the defense. Instead, it was Fitzpatrick making "Fitz-magic," throwing four touchdowns and rushing for a fifth. DeSean Jackson was on the receiving end of two of those scores, but he left the game with a concussion and is now in jeopardy for the Bucs' home opener against Philadelphia next Sunday. Whether Jackson plays or not, the Bucs need their defense to show up after surrendering 475 yards of offense. -- Jenna Laine


Arizona Cardinals

Coach Steve Wilks said Sunday's 24-6 loss to Washington won't define his team -- but it might have been a peek into what to expect from Arizona this season. Wilks called the 182 rushing yards the Cardinals allowed "unacceptable." The Cardinals also showed if they fall behind early, they'll be quick to abandon the run, which changed the entire outlook. One game might not define Arizona, but the blueprint might have been drawn Sunday on how to beat the Cardinals. -- Josh Weinfuss

Los Angeles Rams

Todd Gurley looked every part of the reigning NFL Offensive Player of the Year in a victory over the Raiders. Gurley had only five touches in the first half, but took shovel pass 19 yards for a touchdown -- one of the newest wrinkles in coach Sean McVay's offense. And in the second half, Gurley went to work in the running game to finish with 108 yards (85 in the second half) on 20 carries. As Jared Goff continued to attempt deep passes, it's easy to think the run game will open up for Gurley even more in the coming weeks. -- Lindsey Thiry

San Francisco 49ers

The 49ers made mistake after mistake in Sunday's loss to the Vikings and still had multiple end-of-game possessions with a chance to tie it. Four turnovers, a handful of drops and three missed chances to score a touchdown in four red zone trips were at the root of the loss. Many of those mistakes, such as a pick-six from quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo stemming from a miscommunication, were things the Niners can control. They get Detroit at home in Week 2. -- Nick Wagoner

Seattle Seahawks

Earl Thomas' importance to the Seahawks defense -- especially in its current state -- was clear in Seattle's 27-24 loss to Denver. The All-Pro free safety, who returned Wednesday from his holdout, had an interception that set up the Seahawks' first touchdown, another pass breakup and five tackles. Seattle's defense is inexperienced and has a major question mark with its pass rush. All of those issues were evident in this game. Just imagine where that group would be without its best playmaker holding down the back end. "It's important to have Earl regardless if [there's] new players or old players," safety Bradley McDougald said. "Earl's gonna be Earl, and he showed it today." -- Brady Henderson