After a preseason where Joe Burrow only took three snaps, the big question in Cincinnati was whether he was mentally ready to play, and if Sunday’s performance was any indication, the answer is a resounding yes. Although Burrow’s numbers won’t blow anyone away (20 of 27 for 261 yards and two touchdowns), he came up with clutch throw after clutch throw.
Burrow’s biggest throw arguably came in overtime when he connected with C.J. Uzomah for a 32-yard gain on fourth-and-1 from his own 48-yard line.
If the pass had fallen incomplete, the Vikings would have taken over needing just 10 or so yards to get into field goal range. Instead, the pass from Burrow set up Evan McPherson’s game-winning field goal from 33 yards out.
Another big question for the Bengals heading into the season was whether or not they made the right decision when they drafted Ja’Marr Chase. Although that’s not a question that will be answered in just one game, the Bengals certainly looked like they made the right decision in Week 1. Chase caught everything thrown his way on a day where he finished with five catches for 101 yards. His biggest play against the Vikings came just before halftime when he caught a 50-yard bomb from Burrow.
The Bengals also had some big questions surrounding their defense heading into the season, which was one of the worst units in the NFL last year. Although it hasn’t fixed everything, the defense definitely looked much improved in a game where it sacked Kirk Cousins three times, which was a huge number for a team that only tallied 17 sacks during the ENTIRE 2020 season (That number was an NFL-low).
The Bengals offensive line is still a big question mark — Burrow got sacked five times and took some huge hits — but the Bengals proved on Sunday that they can win even if their offensive line isn’t perfect, which is something that couldn’t be said last season.
With this one win, the Bengals are now tied for first place in the AFC North, which is something that should definitely serve as a confident booster for a team that’s spent so much time in the division cellar over the past five years.
Alright, let’s get to the grades for every game from Week 1. If you’re looking for a deeper dive on the Cowboys-Buccaneers game that was played on Thursday, be sure to click here.
Cincinnati 27-24 over Minnesota (OT)
Las Vegas 33-27 over Baltimore (Monday)
San Francisco 41-33 over Detroit
Arizona 38-13 over Tennessee
Seattle 28-16 over Indianapolis
L.A. Chargers 20-16 over Washington
Houston 37-21 over Jacksonville
Carolina 19-14 over N.Y. Jets
Jets-Panthers grades by Patrik Walker (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)
Philadelphia 32-6 over Atlanta
Eagles-Falcons grades by Jeff Kerr (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)
Pittsburgh 23-16 over Buffalo
Bills-Steelers grades by Bryan DeArdo (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)
Denver 27-13 over N.Y. Giants
Miami 17-16 over New England
Dolphins-Patriots grades by Tyler Sullivan (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)
New Orleans 38-3 over Green Bay (in Jacksonville)
Packers-Saints grades by Jordan Dajani (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)
Kansas City 33-29 over Cleveland
Browns-Chiefs grades by Josh Edwards (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)
L.A. Rams 34-14 over Chicago
Bears-Rams grades by Jared Dubin (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)