Lots of NFL fans got to really enjoy Week 1 because their teams performed at or above expectations. However, this is a dark corner of the league where fans reside that saw their favorite teams lay an egg in their season openers. If you are a fan of one of the five following teams, you can feel the pain from that last sentence.
1. Cleveland Browns
There’s no other place where we can realistically start this list. The Browns may have one of the most tortured fan bases in the NFL, but things only got worse after being blasted at home by the Titans in Week 1.
This doesn’t mean Cleveland fans should give up hope. Baker Mayfield will certainly enjoy better games. His teammates could help him out by giving him some time to throw the football. The former Oklahoma star was definitely guilty of holding on to the ball too long in Week 1, but he also took a beating. His offensive line play must improve if the Browns are going to break their postseason drought.
It might seem unfair to call the team’s Week 2 game at the Jets on Monday night as a must-win affair, but it really is if Cleveland expects to meet their lofty preseason expectations. The Browns currently sit as 2.5 road favorites. They need to scratch out a win to keep their hopes alive.
2. Miami Dolphins
The Dolphins didn’t come into the season with lofty expectations, but no one in South Florida expected the complete disaster they were forced to endure against the Ravens. Getting torched by a running quarterback like Lamar Jackson in Week 1 is an ominous sign for Miami’s hopes of being a respectable team this season.
Of course, it’s entirely possible that the team’s ownership isn’t really concerned with being competitive. The Dolphins could easily devolve into the most obvious case of tanking in NFL history. Don’t look for them to get healthy in Week 2. Brian Flores’ team does get another chance to play at home, but they are 18.5 point underdogs against the Patriots.
3. Pittsburgh Steelers
No one really expected Mike Tomlin’s team to go into Foxborough and emerge with a victory in the opener, but most thought they could keep the game reasonably close. Instead, the Steelers limped away from New England licking their wounds from a hideous 33-3 defeat.
Sadly, that score might not indicate just how completely the Steelers were dominated. It’s hard to point to anything Tomlin’s tem did right on Sunday night. There were serious issues to correct on both the offensive and defensive sides of the football.
The Steelers can’t afford to fall to 0-2 and they’ve got a tricky home game with Seattle on the docket in Week 2. Pittsburgh currently stands as 4-point favorites, but they can’t afford to take Russell Wilson and company lightly.
4. Atlanta Falcons
Somehow, the Falcons have avoided taking a lot of heat for their ugly 28-12 loss at Minnesota. Credit the Vikings for being the good team we thought they’d be, but Matt Ryan and company gifted them a very easy win in the opener.
The final score line wasn’t indicative of how much of a blowout this game was. The Falcons scored two touchdowns relatively late in the game after they already trailed 28-0. Minnesota quarterback Kirk Cousins only threw the ball a measly 10 times in the comfortable victory.
The Falcons will be under the microscope in Week 2 when they host the Eagles on Monday Night Football. Head coach Dan Quinn needs to get a victory over Philadelphia to stay off the hot seat. Atlanta needs to do more than cover with the 1.5 points they’re getting from oddsmakers in this game.
5. Chicago Bears
Thursday night’s opener may seem like a long time ago, but fans shouldn’t forget just how bad the Bears looked against the Packers. Matt Nagy is hailed as an offensive guru but his offense only managed to score three points against Green Bay’s revamped defense.
That ugly offensive output raises serious questions about whether or not Chicago can rely on Mitchell Trubisky as their franchise quarterback moving forward. He’ll need to play much better in Denver on Sunday afternoon to help his team even its record at 1-1. The Bears currently sit as slight 1.5-point favorites, but they should be in a position to cover rather easily if Nagy can get his offense heading in the right direction.
For the record, no fans should panic about their team’s ugly performances in Week 1. Each team’s biggest improvement should take place between their first and second games. Pay close attention to how each of these five teams performs in Week 2 to see if they can get their respective seasons back on track.