Week 1 highlights include Broncos, rapid-fire passing attacks

Peyton Manning (18) prepares to pass in the second quarter against the Baltimore Ravens at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. (Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports)

Peyton Manning (18) prepares to pass in the second quarter against the Baltimore Ravens at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. (Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports)

The first week of National Football League action is toast.

Here are a few morsels gathered:

First and foremost, the Denver Broncos as constituted are good, real good. Thursday’s 49-27 walloping of the Baltimore Ravens showed that.

As long as Peyton Manning is standing in the pocket – and, no, he won’t throw seven TD passes in every game – the Broncos will be competitive with any team at any venue.

Staying on the Bronco tack, we had reaffirmation that the roster is deep and more than capable of overcoming the injury to star corner Champ Bailey and the suspension of game-changing linebacker Von Miller.  Yes, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie is a great addition at corner and 2 ½ sacks from elderly free agent linebacker Shaun Phillips should silence doubters. 

We witnessed good line play on both sides of the ball and a receiving corps that featured the dueling Thomas’s (four TD catches between tight end Julius and wide receiver Demaryius) and wondrous Wes Welker.

We also learned the Broncos don’t need much of a running game to score, don’t need Eric Decker to catch Manning’s lobs every time he is targeted (he will factor in soon) and don’t need Trindon Holliday to run back a kickoff or punt for a touchdown in every game.

Speaking of running games or the lack thereof, check out this trend (fantasy owners take special note):

There were only three 100-yard rushers and one wasn’t from a running back.

Oakland quarterback Terrelle Pryor rushed for 112 yards on 13 attempts.  He also was 19 of 29 passing for 217 yards in his debut as the Raider starter after beating out Matt Flynn, all of which showed us that the Raiders may not be as bad as advertised, losing only 21-17 to the Colts at Indianapolis.

The top rushing performance came Monday as Chip Kelly’s Philadelphia Eagles debuted their hurry-up offense, with LeSean McCoy rushing 31 times for 184 yards in a 33-27 win in Washington over the Redskins.

The only other 100-yard rusher New England’s Shane Vereen, who rushed for 101 yards on 14 carries.  Vereen, by the way, also was targeted 10 times by Patriot quarterback Tom Brady, catching seven for another 58 yards.  Vereen, however, will miss several weeks after breaking a wrist, an injury that will require surgery.

Other busy running backs included Detroit’s Reggie Bush, who rushed 21 times for 90 yards and caught four passes for 101 yards in a 34-24 win over the Vikings, and DeMarco Murray of Dallas, who rushed 20 times for 86 yards and caught another eight passes for 35 yards.

Minnesota’s Adrian Peterson fell far behind Manning early in this season’s MVP race, gaining “only” 93 yards on a relatively scant 18 carries.  It will be tough to break Eric Dickerson’s record of 2,105 rushing yards at that pace – something Peterson vowed to do this time around after missing by just 9 yards last season.

On the receiving front, Anquan Boldin confirmed suspicions that his absence would hurt the Ravens and QB Joe Flacco when he hauled in 13 passes from San Francisco QB Colin Kaepernick for 208 yards and a TD.

Kaepernick, by the way, tried to keep up with Denver’s Manning (462 yards in his seven-TD effort) by going 27 of 39 for 412 yards.  Alas, he could only throw for three TDs in a 34-28 win over the Packers in what was the best game of the weekend.

There were several other eye-opening performances from wideouts, including A.J. Green of the Bengals (nine catches, 162 yards and two TDs), Denver’s Demaryius Thomas (161 yards, five catches and two TDs), Andre Johnson of Houston (12 catches, 146 yards), Vincent Jackson of the Bucs (seven catches, 140 yards) and Jordy Nelson of the Packers (seven catches, 130 yards and a TD).

As for the teams themselves, the Chiefs went on the road to Jacksonville and won 28-2, holding the Jags to 12 first downs and 178 total yards.  They added six sacks and two interceptions.  New Chiefs QB Alex Smith, by the way, did what he was brought in to do, completing 21 of 34 passes with two TDs and no interceptions.

They won’t roll over and play dead for Denver as they did last season.

The Patriots showed they will still be able to move the football despite not having Welker, Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski in the lineup, with Brady’s short passing game piling up 26 first downs and 37 minutes of possession in a 23-21 win over stubborn Buffalo on a field goal with 5 seconds left.

Surprises: Cincinnati and Pittsburgh going down to defeat and the Jets winning 18-17 over Tampa Bay behind rookie QB Geno Smith.

Yes, it’s a new season; stay tuned and pay attention.

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Tags: Denver Broncos National Football League Peyton Manning

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