Kaye’s Take: What do the four biggest upsets of NFL Week 1 mean for all teams involved?

What do upset NFL Week 1 losses mean for the Packers, Titans, Broncos, and 49ers, and what do the wins mean for the Giants, Seahawks, Vikings, and Bears?

MWeek 1 of the NFL season can serve as a rabbit hole of misinformation. Sure, games are obviously more relevant than preseason projections, but a season-opener can sometimes lead to fool’s gold, especially when a much-maligned squad upsets a potential contender.

This past Sunday, the NFL experienced a handful of notable upsets. While some were sneaky, one-point surprises, others were a little harder to stomach for analysts around the league.

What do the four biggest upsets of NFL Week 1 mean for each respective team?

In this week’s Kaye’s Take, we’re looking at the potential ramifications of four of the biggest upsets from Week 1. While some fan bases shouldn’t be concerned with a slow start, others should start looking for cruise itineraries for February. Similarly, some underdog fans should feel a sense of optimism, while others shouldn’t hold their breath.

Chicago Bears 19, San Francisco 49ers 10

What it means for the Bears

The Bears played up to the wild atmosphere at Soldier Field on Sunday. With cloudy, rainy weather above natural grass, Chicago and San Francisco battled in a water wonderland of sorts.

The Bears, who have been written off as one of the worst teams in the league, used their surroundings to their advantage. Justin Fields used his mobility to make up for an uneven passing game, and the Bears took advantage of 49ers QB Trey Lance’s inexperience, which combined with the rainy conditions, made for a (pardon the pun) perfect storm of adversity for the visiting squad.

Nasty weather games, especially early in the season, are incredibly misleading. The games are about survival and a play or two going the winner’s way. For Chicago, this was a confidence builder. They still have one of the worst depth charts on paper in the league, and they beat a West Coast team with an inexperienced QB on a soggy field.

While the Bears should be celebrating this success, they need to ride the momentum into Green Bay in Week 2 to prove this wasn’t just a fluke.

What it means for the 49ers

San Francisco fans, take a deep breath. While the 49ers are probably not as strong as their preseason projections indicated — with some pundits choosing them as a potential Super Bowl team — the loss to the Bears was hard to judge.

Again, Lance is a 22-year-old starting QB who has started just three games in his career, including the Chicago upset. Playing in the rain with inexperience and a terrible field setup isn’t a recipe for success, especially for a visiting QB.

49ers fans should pay little attention to the results of this one. It’s time to prepare for a bounce-back opportunity against the Seahawks at home.

Minnesota Vikings 23, Green Bay Packers 7

What it means for the Vikings

Of the upsets in Week 1, the Vikings’ dominant win over the Packers seemed to be the most informative. We’ll get to the Packers later, but the Vikings seem to be a team with a lot of juice on both sides of the ball.

Rookie head coach Kevin O’Connell had been dismissed as a virtual unknown, despite his NFL playing career and experience as a head coach. Against Green Bay, he schemed up his offense to run over the Packers.

With Justin Jefferson taking a page out of Cooper Kupp’s book, the Pro Bowl wideout caught 9 of 11 targets for 184 yards and two touchdowns. Jefferson’s performance made Kirk Cousins look swell, as the QB completed 23 of 32 passes for 277 yards, two touchdowns, and a 118.9 passer rating. The running game also benefited from O’Connell’s deployment of Jefferson, as Dalvin Cook picked up a cool 90 yards on 20 carries. Alexander Mattison added 36 rushing yards on eight carries for good measure.

On defense, the Vikings pummeled Packers QB Aaron Rodgers with four sacks. Former Green Bay pass rusher Za’Darius Smith made the most of the matchup against his former squad.

With the way Minnesota performed on Sunday, O’Connell could be the new head coach that bounces his team back into a quick playoff run. The Vikings not only beat the Packers — considered the runaway division favorite — but they actually dominated them from whistle to whistle.

What it means for the Packers

Yikes! Following the trade of Davante Adams to Las Vegas, Green Bay needed to groom some young wideouts to take advantage of Rodgers’ elite throwing process. Against the Vikings, that proved to be a work-in-progress mission.

While Rodgers completed 22 of 34 passes, he only put up 195 yards and an interception. The Packers’ passing game stalled to a halt at times, and Rodgers wasn’t able to take advantage of young weapons like Christian Watson and Romeo Doubs with Allen Lazard sidelined.

Green Bay was also without starting linemen David Bakhtiari and Elgton Jenkins. Those absences proved to be major as the offensive group just couldn’t find a rhythm, despite a strong performance from RB AJ Dillon.

On defense, the Packers’ secondary just couldn’t stop Jefferson, who is a top-three wideout in the game in Year 3. The Vikings’ passing game made the running game even more effective, and the Packers’ defense just couldn’t handle the attack.

While the injury absences of Lazard, Bakhtiari, and Jenkins should give fans a bit of a glimmer of hope, Green Bay needs to bounce back quickly after a major punch in the mouth. They can do so against the Bears at home this weekend.

New York Giants 21, Tennessee Titans 20

What it means for the Giants

Brian Daboll was absolutely the right choice to replace Joe Judge. While it’s hard to project where the Giants will go from here, one thing is certain: the Giants’ roster has bought into Daboll already.

Daboll bought a lot of points with the locker room and fan base by going for the win over Tennessee in regulation. The Giants had just scored in the late fourth quarter to pull within a point of the Titans. Instead of attempting a chip-shot extra point, Daboll trusted former first-round picks Daniel Jones and Saquon Barkley to deliver on a two-point conversion.

With everyone dismissing the Giants, Daboll had nothing to lose and all to gain by showing confidence in his new squad. The educated gamble paid off, and Giants holdovers like Barkley and Sterling Shepard celebrated with their new head coach like he was their best pal. Those moments could lead New York to become a dark horse, even with a much-maligned roster.

It should be noted that Barkley, who has battled routine injuries over the past two seasons, looked like the player of old on Sunday. As Pro Football Network pointed out during its extensive training camp tour, Barkley looked extremely explosive in the summer. He finished Sunday’s game with 18 carries for 164 yards and a touchdown. He also caught six passes for 30 yards in addition to the game-winning two-point conversion.

While Jones looked like his typically uneven self, the QB should gain some confidence with how the Week 1 win ended. He completed 17 of 21 passes for 188 yards, two touchdowns, an interception, and the two-point conversion.

While the win won’t make the Giants sudden contenders, it is a positive step forward.

What it means for the Titans

The Titans are a weird team. Their roster isn’t particularly dynamic, but they play in the lowly AFC South and are well-coached. Against the Giants, neither of those points mattered.

Ryan Tannehill had a nice day on paper, completing 20 of 33 passes for 266 yards and two touchdowns. But the overall offense was missing the dominance of Derrick Henry on the ground. Henry had a respectable 81 yards on 21 carries, but he wasn’t moving mountains like he did before his injury last season. Henry spent most of the summer working in a sandpit off to the side of the team facility during training camp, and it’s fair to wonder if the lack of physicality stunted his season debut.

The Titans will recover from this letdown. Again, they are well-coached and play in the AFC South, where no one won a game in Week 1. The path is set for Tennessee to bounce back.

Seattle Seahawks 17, Denver Broncos 16

What it means for the Seahawks

How can you not feel good for Geno Smith? The journeyman QB has spent the past decade rolling around the NFL as a “butt” of many jokes. But while many have written him off, the Seahawks’ new starting QB delivered on Monday on a grand stage, outdueling his former teammate, Russell Wilson, in prime time, completing 23 of 28 passes for 195 yards, two touchdowns, and a 119.5 passer rating.

Sure, the Seahawks put up just 17 points, but they played complementary football with Smith leading the way. Pete Carroll’s squad had been dismissed as a tanking enterprise, and instead of crumbling at home against a seemingly more talented team, the band put together a scrappy win in Week 1.

Like with the Giants, this is a huge confidence boost for a Seahawks team that isn’t going to contend this season. Playing spoiler is an excellent premise for overachievement, and the Seahawks have shown they can be pesky in the early days of the campaign.

What it means for the Broncos

George Lucas originally thought having Greedo shoot at Han Solo first was a good idea. Machine Gun Kelly once thought that rap was his calling before he reinvigorated the pop-punk genre. And Nathaniel Hackett thought that attempting a 64-yard field goal on the road, instead of trusting his $245 million QB on 4th-and-5 was the right move.

Everyone makes early mistakes. This is a learning process. Hackett can still be a visionary head coach and a success in Denver, but man, that had to be one of the most unnecessary forced errors in recent NFL history.

The Broncos traded two first-round picks, two-second picks, a trio of players, and more to the Seahawks for Wilson. And instead of doubling down on their investment against their trade partners, they essentially missed the forest for the trees.

If Wilson wasn’t able to convert the fourth-down play, the onus is on the offense. But with Hackett turning to the kicker to make an improbable attempt, the blame falls solely on him. To make matters worse, the Broncos failed to convert on three goal-to-go opportunities and the play-calling was extremely disjointed in the red zone.

While this writer predicted that Denver would make the playoffs, a miscalculation like Monday’s blunder could have a lasting impact on the campaign. It shows a lack of trust in the offense and a bewildering thought process by Hackett. Ultimately, Seattle got a treasure trove of draft picks, a trio of role players, and a win against Wilson, and they won’t need to see him again for a few more years.

Wilson looked shellshocked at times after he was booed by the home crowd, which he served for over a decade. He completed 29 of 42 passes for 340 yards and a touchdown but came up short routinely near the goal line. That type of performance can weigh on a player, and the Broncos need him to bounce back immediately if they want to remain in the playoff hunt in a talented AFC West.

It’s not time to hit the panic button, but Hackett and Wilson will be under a microscope for the rest of the season under the new ownership group that didn’t bring in either one of them.

Mike Kaye is the Lead NFL Reporter for Pro Football Network. Follow him on Twitter: @mike_e_kaye.

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