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Point/Counterpoint: What NFL team looked most promising after the first week?

BY DI STAFF | SEPTEMBER 12, 2013 5:00 AM

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The Daily Iowan staff debates which NFL team has the most promise after the first week of pro football kicked off last weekend.

Its hard to put any team over the San Francisco 49ers after the show they put on in their season-opener on Sunday. Third-year quarterback Colin Kaepernick burned the Packers’ defense with his arm for 412 yards and 3 touchdowns in his best passing game yet.

His constant improvement since taking over for Alex Smith midway through last year has been nothing short of amazing. If he continues his rapid maturity, San Francisco could very well wind up back in the Super Bowl.

While Kaepernick’s spectacular opening may have stolen the spotlight, the entire team had a solid day.

The always-solid defense forced two critical Green Bay turnovers and looked every bit as dominate as it did last year. The kicking game was solid if not spectacular. The rushing game only accounted for 90 yards on 34 rushes, which is mildly surprising after the Packers gave up 181 rushing yards to Kaepernick alone the last time the two teams met.

However, the 49ers have one of the deepest RB corps of any team and a perennial 1,000-yard rusher in Frank Gore. Also, young guns Kendall Hunter and the soon-to-be healthy LaMichael James will both contribute this year. Jim Harbaugh likes to run the ball and will get these talented backs into some running room.

Wide receiver was also a bit of a question mark at the beginning of the season because Michael Crabtree, the team’s best wideout, injured his Achilles in May. Anquan Boldin, a trade acquisition from the Ravens, hauled in 13 passes for 208 yards and looked every bit like he could pick up the slack until Crabtree returns. Vernon Davis also caught 2 touchdowns and looked like he was picking up right where he left off last year in the playoffs, where he became one of Kaepernick’s favorite targets.

Possibly the most important thing for the 49ers is to keep Kaepernick healthy. As a read-option QB, he is prone to be hit more and injured more. While he hasn’t suffered any real injuries so far, the 49ers can’t allow him to take as many hits as he did last year. This is mostly because of this year’s backup quarterback situation. That is to say, Colt McCoy is not Alex Smith.

San Francisco has one of, if not the, hardest schedules in the NFL. It has a date with the Seahawks as well as games with the Texans and the Colts — all in the next four weeks.

That stretch will tell a lot more about this year’s 49ers, but for right now, things are looking very good for San Francisco to have another excellent season.

— by Jordan Hansen

There were about a half dozen teams who had pretty impressive showings in their first week of NFL action; however, you’d be hard-pressed to find a team that impressed observers quite as much as the Denver Broncos did last weekend.

A lot of people have high expectations for the Bronco’s this season, and for good reason.  The Bronco’s made some serious moves this off-season, including adding wide receiver Wes Welker and cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, and to many, they are considered early favorites to win the Super Bowl this year.

The team handled the hype and lived up to every single bit of it, thrashing the defending-champion Baltimore Ravens, 49-27, on national TV to ring in the 2013-14 NFL season.

The game was fairly close in the first half, with the Broncos being forced to punt three times on their first three drives, and they were down at the half, 17-14. However, Peyton Manning soon caught fire and torched the Ravens’ secondary, flinging 7 touchdowns for 462 yards through the air.  It was an absolute clinic that left Raven quarterback Joe Flacco left with little else to do after the game than to scratch his head and marvel at the feat.

However, the dominance of the Broncos goes beyond Manning. After losing star linebacker Von Miller to a suspension for violating the league’s drug policy and Pro Bowl defensive end Elvis Dumervil to free agency, the Broncos’ defense was heavily perhaps their biggest question mark. After getting off to a slow start, they shut it down in the second half, giving up only 10 points in the third and fourth quarters.

Linebacker Danny Trevathan would have had a pick six had he been able to keep his composure and wait one more second to cross the goal line before tossing the ball up in celebration. Instead, the ball rolled out of bounds, and the touchdown was ruled a touchback for the Ravens. The scoreboard was misleading, all things considered. The score could have been a lot worse.

All in all, it was quite the coming out party for the Denver Broncos.

— by Ryan Rodriguez


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