Week 1 of the NFL’s regular season has come and gone, and here were the best players from every conference in all games played this weekend.
AFC East: DL Leonard Williams, New York Jets
While the Jets suffered a gut-wrenching 23-22 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals, the defensive line was not the problem for Gang Green. The game ended on a heartbreaking Ryan Fitzpatrick interception, but if not for that pick, they were in close contention until the very end. The defense was a major factor in the game, with the defensive line sacking Bengals’ quarterback Andy Dalton a whopping 7 times. Leonard Williams was the leader in that category, racking up 2.5. If not for some extremely poor secondary play (AJ Green won his division because of that), the game may have had a much different outcome, especially with Williams leading the way on defense.
AFC West: RB Spencer Ware, Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs had an inspiring overtime win against the San Diego Chargers, coming back from a 21-3 halftime deficit to edge the Bolts in overtime with a 33-27 score. One major cog in the Chiefs’ offense was running back Spencer Ware. On the ground, Ware rushed 11 times for 70 yards (6.4ypc) and a touchdown, while also catching 7 passes for 129 yards. This was an impressive feat, as no running back came close to matching his output in Week 1. With Jamaal Charles still sidelined due to his ACL injury from 2015, Ware has been able to capitalize on the opening.
AFC North: WR AJ Green, Cincinnati Bengals
The Bengals were able to win the contest against the New York Jets on a former Jets kicker’s leg and a game-sealing interception from young defensive back Josh Shaw. The main reason for Cincinnati’s win was the play of AJ Green. Matched up against “star cornerback” Darrelle Revis, Green was able to collect 12 receptions for 180 yards (15ypr) and a touchdown. The touchdown was an impressive 54 yard catch-and-run grab while on Revis Island, where Green has purchased some real estate.
AFC South: WR Will Fuller, Houston Texans
Viewers were given a glimpse of how strong the Texans’ offense may be this year in their 23-14 win against the Chicago Bears. While DeAndre Hopkins and Lamar Miller had strong days, none impressed more than first round draft pick Will Fuller. Fuller showcased the main reason he was drafted high on almost every catch: his blistering speed. It showed on his touchdown catch, where he caught a screen behind the line of scrimmage and carried it over 20 yards to the end zone. In total, Fuller put up an impressive stat line of 5 catches for 106 yards (20.2ypr) and a touchdown. He is the first Texans rookie to collect 100 yards in his debut.
NFC East: QB Carson Wentz, Philadelphia Eagles
Wentz was electric in his first start, a 29-10 win over the Cleveland Browns. With news surrounding him this week coming out of Cleveland saying that Browns’ executives didn’t see Wentz as a top-20 quarterback in the future, he put on a show worthy of making them question their decision. Wentz completed 22 of 37 passes (60%) for 278 yards and two touchdowns. His two scores were beautifully thrown passes to Jordan Matthews and Nelson Agholor. Now that the Sam Bradford era has ended in Philly, look for Wentz to impress week in and week out.
NFC West: RB Carlos Hyde, San Francisco 49ers
On a night where not much scoring was done on the west coast, Carlos Hyde was a bright spot in Santa Clara. In a 28-0 blowout of the Los Angeles Rams, Hyde rushed 23 times for 88 yards (3.8ypc) and two touchdowns. Hyde looked very strong and showed impressive vision, with the ability to find cutback holes and improvise when necessary on some blown plays due to poor offensive line play in front of him. The offense isn’t exactly a strong suit for the 49ers, but Hyde will look to carry the team this year with Blaine Gabbert at the quarterback spot.
NFC North: QB Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers
After an offseason of questioning whether or not Aaron Rodgers would return to form after an abysmal 2015 season, the former Cal signal caller showed supporters that they need not worry about his production in a 27-23 win against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Rodgers completed 20 of 34 passes (59%) for 199 yards and two touchdowns. One touchdown was a beautiful 29 yard pass to Davante Adams while being sacked and Adams being glued to Jalen Ramsey. This throw showed the doubters that the Packers’ offense will get back on track soon with its full arsenal of weapons returning.
NFC South: QB Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints
The Saints just barely lost in a 35-34 shootout to the Oakland Raiders and head coach Jack Del Rio, who showed some aggressiveness, going for a two point conversion with the team down 34-33 in the fourth quarter. While quarterback Derek Carr got the win, it was Saints’ signal caller Drew Brees that was more impressive. The former Charger completed 28 of 42 passes (67%) for 423 yards and 4 touchdowns. This includes a picture-perfect play, where Brees completed a pass to Brandin Cooks, who carried it 98 yards for the score. Brees is known to put up massive yards throughout the season, and Week 1 is no exception for the leader of the Saints. His top two targets alone had 17 catches for 315 yards and three touchdowns.