The Atlanta Falcons were able to capitalize in week one by taking down their division-rival Carolina Panthers. This one win immediately gave them a leg-up in the division as they were able to earn a win, force a loss on a rival, and get an early tally on their divisional record.
The only thing that would have made that better is if their two other division rivals would have lost, but they had no such luck as those two teams barely sneaked out a win.
Atlanta Falcons received zero help from the Tennessee Titans and Minnesota Vikings
Week one was certainly a productive week for the Atlanta Falcons. They were able to start their season 1-0 for the first time in six years and they continued their historical domination of the Carolina Panthers.
Elsewhere, the New Orleans Saints were hosting the Tennessee Titans while the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were playing the Minnesota Vikings on the road.
On paper, there was uncertainty if the Titans could hang with a new-look Saints team but thanks to a bend-but-do-not-break defense, they were able to.
All told it is kind of crazy that the Titans kept the game close. Derrick Henry had just 63 rushing yards and quarterback Ryan Tannehill was downright awful as he went 16 for 34 for 198 yards with zero touchdowns and 3 interceptions. The Titans could not find the endzone as they kicked five field goals.
Late in that game, the Titans were driving down the field with the two-minute warning approaching. They were in the red zone and got caught in a fourth and six. Head coach Mike Vrabel elected to kick their fifth field goal. instead of going for the go-ahead touchdown. It was a questionable decision that did not pay off as they never got the ball back.
That is a situation where you must go for the touchdown. It was a terrible decision that not only hurt the Titans, but it hurt the Falcons as the Saints were able to start their season 1-0.
As for the Buccaneers, it did not look like a game that they would win. They played a Vikings team, on the road, who flourished in one-score games last year. However, that did not continue to start the 2023 season.
The Bucs were able to kick a go-ahead field goal with five minutes left and then they forced a punt on the ensuing Vikings' drive, and much like the Titans, the Vikings never got the ball back.
There was also another eerie similarity between these two games as both losing QBs (Tannehill and Cousins) had three turnovers. Kirk Cousins threw an interception and lost two fumbles which certainly cost them the game and spoiled Justin Jefferson's 150-yard performance.
So, two quarterbacks who usually take good care of the ball, ended up costing the Falcons sole possession of first place in the NFC South after week one. It may seem like a miniscule outcome but it would have made the Falcons pursuit of a division title just a tick easier after the first week of the season.