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Aaron Rodgers’ heroics and other takeaways from the first Sunday of the season

Here's what we learned from the first Sunday of the new NFL season.

Jay Asser 2018/09/10

Whenever Aaron Rodgers is on the field, the Green Bay Packers have a chance to win, regardless of the odds stacked against them.

Just in case that had been been forgotten, Rodgers served a reminder on Sunday with a magical performance in the 24-23 victory over the Chicago Bears that will go down in Lambeau Field lore.

Forget winning the opener – at one point in the contest it seemed like Green Bay’s season might be over just as quickly as it had started.

Rodgers exited in the second quarter and was carted to the locker room with what appeared to be a serious knee injury, leaving Packers fans to grapple with the potential worst-case scenario.

But just when it seemed like things couldn’t get any more grim, Rodgers return to the field in the second half and led a heroic comeback on one leg to erase Chicago’s 20-0 lead.

Despite being robbed of his signature mobility, the hobbled quarterback made play after play to awaken both the Packers and the Lambeau faithful in attendance as he wielded his arm talent to carve up Chicago’s defence.

It’s unclear how injured Rodgers is and how his knee will affect him for the rest of the season, but if there’s one thing for certain after Sunday night, it’s that Green Bay’s leader can still single-handedly change outcomes, even at significantly less than 100 per cent.

Here are other takeaways from the first Sunday of the season.

EXPLOSIVE CHIEFS

The Kansas City Chiefs are going to be a whole lot of fun to watch this season thanks to the high-octane offence they’ve assembled.

In his first game as the full-time starting quarterback, Patrick Mahomes looked every bit the part as he threw for 256 yards and four touchdowns in the win over the San Diego Chargers.

Two of those scores were more of a technicality as he flipped the ball to receivers going in motion at the snap, but Kansas City’s schemes and play-calling will be essential in unlocking Mahomes vast potential.

And there may be no one more fitting to be on the end of Mahomes’ cannon throws than Tyreek Hill, who had 173 total yards from scrimmage, two receiving touchdowns and one punt return to the house in his monster day.

This is just the perfect marriage of talent, skills and system, and it’s going to result in a ton of points for the Chiefs this season.

SAINTS’ DISAPPEARING ACT

It’s never wise to read too much into the first week of the season, but with that said, the New Orleans Saints defence looks nowhere near good enough to be part of a Super Bowl contender at the moment.

The unit took a major step forward last season, but fears of regression were realised in the 48-40 shootout loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday, when back-up quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick picked them apart with ease.

Tampa Bay punted once all game as the Saints secondary was burned to a crisp with four scoring plays of at least 36 yards.through the air.

They received little help from the pass rush, which generated zero sacks as rookie Marcus Davenport – who New Orleans surrendered a future first-round pick for to move up and select in this year’s draft – was a ghost.

The good news for New Orleans is that their offence was nearly as unstoppable as the Buccaneers’, but for a team that was touted as being well-rounded coming into the season, the Saints disappointed in their first showing.

NEW BROWNS, OLD TRICKS

The Cleveland Browns didn’t lose a regular season game for the first time since Week 16 of 2016, but they also didn’t win as squandered opportunities left them resigned to a tie with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

In a vacuum, a tie with the reigning AFC North champions, who are also Super Bowl hopefuls, would be reason for encouragement for a Browns side that went 1-31 the past two seasons.

However, considering they won the turnover battle by a whopping 6-1 margin, Cleveland should have absolutely been celebrating a win.

Yet, somehow, they managed to mess it up with a comedy of errors to look like the same old Browns, even though this team has almost a completely new roster.

Maybe it’s a sign of progress though, as unexciting as it is.

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Aaron Rodgers Cleveland Browns Green Bay Packers Kansas City Chiefs New Orleans Saints Patrick Mahomes