NFL Week 1 Winners And Losers: Peyton Throws 7 Touchdowns Edition

Denver Broncos vs. Baltimore Ravens

There was a lot of symmetry in the season opener on Thursday between the Baltimore Ravens and the Denver Broncos. First, via Bruce Arthur, last year's Super Bowl blackout delay lasted 34 minutes, while Thursday's lightning delay was, well, 34 minutes. When Peyton Manning took the field — and then left the field, and then took the field again, repeat a few times possibly — and stared across at his opponent, there was some symmetry in the quarterbacks as well. Sure, it's hard to boil down careers, let alone quarterback comparisons, to the jewelry on their fingers, but there was Manning — he of the one Super Bowl ring and countless other disappointments — looking at Joe Flacco, he also of the one Super Bowl ring and the first quarterback in league history to win a playoff game in each of his first five seasons. That stat kind of frightened me because Mark Sanchez was actually two-fifths of the way there after his second season until the Jets reverted back to form and righted the universe in their own special way.

All the symmetries would be pushed aside though by the second half, as Manning put up the more crooked of crooked numbers with seven touchdown passes. The last guy to do it, as Manning quipped post-game, was "a Canadian quarterback out of Cal who kicked the crap out of a guy on YouTube a couple of years ago." That would be Joe Kapp, and this would be the YouTube video in question.

Of course, a performance like this in week 1 might cause a lot of people to convince themselves that the Broncos are the favorites in the AFC. But the title of favorite will probably be a moving target as the season rolls up. After all, how many seasons of this do we need until we realize that even though the season is only 17 weeks plus the playoffs, things change? They change fast. They change often. One constant: It's always changing. I mean, if you want to check the power rankings in say week 10 of the last few seasons, go ahead, this column will be here waiting for you to check back. If you actually go through with the exercise, you'd think the New York Giants won every Super Bowl since you started learning what the Roman numeral equivalent for 40 was.

So there's your super long introduction to what will hopefully be a weekly winners and losers column throughout the season. Let's get to it. Because of the timing of the article, all Monday Night Football participants are exempt from making the list. Lucky them.


Loser - Danny Trevathan. Already covered elsewhere on this site. I haven't played Madden for a few years, but it would be super cool if you could press a combination of buttons during a pick-six or a long touchdown that would allow you to possibly pull a Trevathan as you're approaching the goal line. You'd have to mash the buttons perfect, like say while you're at the 5-yard line, to allow your computerized self to do the super cool drop-the-ball-all-nonchalant thing after he gets in the end zone. Otherwise, it's a touchback. Actually, I take that back; that's almost as stupid as what Trevathan did. Somehow I blame the NFL for curbing all the excessive end zone celebrations. Because of it, it's got folks like Trevathan getting all excited to celebrate before they're not allowed to.

Winner - A lot of fantasy owners. So, you mean I spent probably a total of 20 hours reading about rankings, and more rankings, and Doug Martin and C.J. Spiller and Jamaal Charles and who the sleepers were for nothing? Turns out, your optimal draft strategy — at least for week 1 — was to just stack all the Broncos you could get and throw them all into one lineup. By the way, if you play in Yahoo leagues, let me know if you actually went out to get a Snickers after. You know what I'm talking about.

Loser - A lot of fantasy owners. Bilal Powell outscored the following running backs: C.J. Spiller, Maurice Jones-Drew, Marshawn Lynch, David Wilson and Stevan Ridley. Actually, if you want to get really crazy about it, LeBron, who was at the Cowboys game, also outscored David Wilson, who is the newest member of The Lonely Island. Also, people take fantasy really seriously. You ever run a Twitter search on one of your players when he's having a really bad game? You come across things like this.

Winner - Joe Flacco. I know, weird to have him on the list after that thrashing and the fact that he had a tear in his eye for Dennis Pitta every time Ed Dickson and Dallas Clark failed him on Thursday. But he's armed with a new contract, he's Teflon now because he's got the Super Bowl ring, and if the Ravens fail this year — and many think they're going to regress — it will be either the lack of reliable options on offense, the Ray Rice-Bernard Pierce thing not working out, or the fact that the new faces on defense failed to come together as a unit. So while it's probably not fun to try to repeat with a bunch of new guys, we don't really have too many questions for Flacco this year. Seriously, a year ago, we were still wondering if he could beat Pittsburgh in a big game or some facsimile of that. Things done changed.

Loser - Tim Tebow. I'm going to try and mention him all 17 weeks this year because page views. So the latest news is that Tebow could possibly get back in the NFL, except teams want him to give up the quarterback dream and take a different position. You really have to admire a guy who is mediocre at the thing he loves to do the most and refuses to compromise even if it means unemployment. There's something admirable there. You just have to look really hard. In trivia that I'm asking without an answer: Which other quarterback lost a playoff start in his last NFL start and never got another chance again?

Winner - The Jets. Not all 1-0 starts are built the same. And not all of them matter. For the Jets, it took a late hit on Geno Smith at the end of the game to set them up for their winning field goal. But you know what, Rex Ryan and company will take it. I'm pretty sure we're still on our way to the disintegration of these Jets this season. But hey, 1-0!

Winner - Terrelle Pryor. 112 yards rushing, 217 yards passing and almost an upset win at Indianapolis that would've ended a million one-strike survivor pools. Another upside to all of this: Matt Flynn should probably start scripting his future New York Times best-seller titled "All The Greatness I Saw From The Sidelines."

Loser - The Bills. The most reliable result in sports. The debt for benching Doug Flutie after he led you to a playoff spot is still not fully paid yet.

Loser - The Packers' luck with referees. We all know about The Golden Taint last year thanks to the replacement refs. Yesterday, the 49ers got an extra third-down play thanks to some incorrect officiating, although it does not totally excuse Clay Matthews from attempting to fly. It was interesting listening to Bob Costas and Mike Florio discuss this as a footnote after the Cowboys-Giants game, as they simply chalked it up to "sometimes even the best makes mistakes." While referee mistakes and the actual impact on the final result of the game is not a direct one-to-one relationship, just because these aren't high school refs masquerading as professionals in the NFL, we still need to hold the referees more accountable than just brushing it off. Am I done getting on my high horse? For now, yes.

Winner - Anyone with the NFC East fetish. Poor choice of words? Probably. There's 12 of these every year, and while some may argue that the division is in fact competitive as a result of its general mediocrity, these games always deliver entertaining finishes and a lot of great in-game career referendums on each of the team's quarterbacks. Also, you never know what's going to happen in Jerry Jones' press box when he's in prime time. I've been on the fence before about the NFC East. But after last night's Cowboys-Giants game, I accept defeat: I love this division. Oh look, we have another one of these match-ups tonight.

Loser - Mike Wallace. Okay, back on the high horse for a bit. So after getting just 15 yards on one reception, Dolphins wide receiver Mike Wallace told reporters after the game: "I don't want to talk. I don't feel like talking about it. Ask Coach. It's not my game plan," which is a terrible response after a loss and even worse because Wallace's Dolphins won on the road in Cleveland. Wide receivers are such a different breed when it comes to personality and egos. I mean, we can start with Terrell Owens and go on to Randy Moss and so on. But when your prized receiver makes it about himself after a team starts the season with a win? I'd be slightly concerned. There's disappointment for the sake of motivating yourself to be better, and then there's Mike Wallace's post-game comments. Okay, the high horse is gone for this week.

Looking ahead to next week, I can't wait for: 49ers-Seahawks, the Manning Bowl, the "one team will start the season 2-0 and get a few articles written about themselves" game between the Cowboys and Chiefs and Redskins at Packers.

Of course, this column is incapable of covering all the winners and losers from week 1, so feel free to tell me what I missed in the comments section.

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