NFL Winners and Losers: The A.J. Brown trade might be a game-changer for the Eagles

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In the aftermath of the Philadelphia Eagles' trade for A.J. Brown, there were questions about the risk involved. Like there's no risk in the first-round draft pick the Eagles shipped off, or any contract given to a talented player.

Eagles general manager Howie Roseman took a shot not many teams other than the Los Angeles Rams would take. When the Tennessee Titans misread the growing receiver market on A.J. Brown — and did they ever misread it — Roseman pounced. He sent a first-round draft pick to the Titans and signed Brown to a four-year, $100 million deal.

Risk? Not really. The Eagles knew what Brown could do in the NFL. He's a No. 1 receiver. On Sunday, he looked like the difference between the Eagles being good and potentially being a lot more than that this season.

A.J. Brown had a good game in his Philadelphia Eagles debut. (Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images)
A.J. Brown had a good game in his Philadelphia Eagles debut. He caught 10 passes for 155 yards in Sunday's victory in Detroit. (Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images)

The Eagles, with Brown carrying a lot of the offense, squeaked out a fun 38-35 win over the Detroit Lions. They wouldn't have won without Brown, who tied a career high with 155 yards on 10 catches. He was a huge part of the offense Sunday.

Roseman had a great offseason building a strong roster. His crowning achievement was stealing away Brown, an alpha receiver, from the Titans for a reasonable price. Jalen Hurts targeted him early and often in the win over the Lions. It was easy to see, after just one game, how Brown will make Hurts' life a lot easier.

Philly's defense, which Roseman kept adding to in the offseason, gave up a lot of points but had a hot start that helped the team to a lead. At one point Lions QB Jared Goff was 3-of-9 for 6 yards, and had thrown a pick-six. That pick-six was by James Bradberry, who Roseman stole in free agency after the New York Giants cut him in a salary-cap move. It gives the Eagles, who already had Darius Slay, two good cornerbacks. The run defense looked like a potential problem, but the Eagles have the talent to turn that around fast. The defense should be fine before long.

With Brown changing the way the Eagles' offense will play, they have a much higher ceiling than last season when they were a wild-card team. There's work to do, but Roseman has put together a heck of a roster.

Here are the rest of the winners and losers from Week 1 of the NFL season:

WINNERS

Saquon Barkley: Barkley looks like he’s back.

Barkley, the New York Giants’ star running back, had an ACL tear in 2019 and had a quiet 2020 season. There were questions about what he had left. He answered a lot of those questions on Sunday.

Barkley was a big-play threat in a 21-20 win against the Tennessee Titans. Barkley had 164 yards rushing on 18 carries, and added 30 yards on six catches. He also showed off some toughness on a huge two-point conversion run to give the Giants a one-point lead with a little more than a minute to go. The Giants held on when the Titans missed a field-goal attempt on the final play.

The Giants couldn’t be sure what they had with Barkley coming into the season. He looked as good as ever.

Everyone who drafted Justin Jefferson in fantasy: Jefferson is going to have a monster season. If the Green Bay Packers' defense couldn't slow him down, not many will.

Jefferson was the key player in the Minnesota Vikings' big 23-7 win over the Green Bay Packers. Jefferson had nine catches for 184 yards and two touchdowns. That came while the Packers' receivers around Aaron Rodgers didn't produce much of anything.

The Vikings have clearly decided to build their offense around Jefferson's immense talent. He was a top-four pick in most fantasy drafts, and everyone who drafted him is feeling really good. He could break some single-season records if he stays healthy.

Miami Dolphins: A lot of attention will go to the troubles of the New England Patriots after Week 1, and rightfully so, but give the Dolphins credit too.

The Dolphins made big splashes in the offseason, as they often do, but mostly those moves don't pay off. On Sunday the Dolphins looked like the far superior team to the Patriots in a 20-7 win. Big receiver addition Tyreek Hill did his job with 94 yards on eight catches. Tua Tagovailoa did too. He had 270 passing yards, a touchdown and no interceptions. Jaylen Waddle had a huge fourth-down touchdown near the end of the first half. The defense looked great, including a scoop-and-score touchdown.

It's only one game, but the Dolphins should feel good about their start.

Jameis Winston: The New Orleans Saints were in trouble most of their game against the Atlanta Falcons, but Winston made the plays the Saints needed to have.

Winston threw it deep in the final minute to Jarvis Landry for 40 yards to set up a potential field goal. Then, inexplicably, Winston got called for intentional grounding for spiking the ball when the clock wasn't running. Winston got that right back with a 17-yard completion, which set up Wil Lutz for a 51-yard field goal to take the lead. The Saints blocked a field goal on the final play and the Saints won 27-26.

Winston can be a roller coaster. But he saved the Saints from what would have been a bad loss Sunday.

Cade York, fourth-round draft pick: The Cleveland Browns took a chance by selecting a kicker in the fourth round of this year's draft, with the 124th overall pick. We saw why Sunday.

The Carolina Panthers had a great comeback and took a 24-23 lead late. Jacoby Brissett got the Browns in Panthers territory, but it would still be a 58-yard field goal for York, making his NFL debut. The Browns trusted York, a great long-distance kicker at LSU, to attempt it. He nailed it for the lead with eight seconds left. The Browns won 26-24.

The Browns have had their share of kicking issues through the years. York, who made all four field goals he attempted Sunday, should fix that.

Carson Wentz: It's easy to rip Wentz. And when he threw a weird interception on a screen pass to Jacksonville Jaguars rookie pass rusher Travon Walker, it seemed like the same old Wentz. That interception set up a Jaguars touchdown and a 22-14 lead over the Washington Commanders.

Then Wentz made some huge plays. He hit Terry McLaurin for a 49-yard touchdown down the sideline. Washington didn't get the two-point conversion, but got the ball back trailing 22-20. Wentz then hit rookie Jahan Dotson for 24 yards inside the two-minute warning for the lead. The Commanders picked off a desperation throw by Trevor Lawrence after that for the 28-22 win.

Wentz will have his share of rough games. The Eagles and Colts will tell you that. But his Washington debut will be fondly remembered.

LOSERS

Kyler Murray: Murray had excuses for a quiet game. DeAndre Hopkins was out due to suspension. Rondale Moore was inactive due to injury. Zach Ertz played through a calf injury but was a non-factor.

Still, if the Arizona Cardinals paid their quarterback $230 million. For that kind of money, you have to carry whoever is on the field with you.

Murray didn’t do much in Sunday’s 44-21 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs, and it didn’t help that he was against Patrick Mahomes, who threw for five touchdowns in his first game without Tyreek Hill. Murray finished with just 193 yards on 34 attempts. Murray couldn’t get much going against a Chiefs defense that nobody expects to be elite. Arizona needs a lot more out of him.

Las Vegas Raiders: The Raiders are a good team in a tough division. They can't afford to lose many AFC West games, but they're already trailing in the division after one week.

Davante Adams was great in his Raiders debut, getting 141 yards, but it still wasn't enough. The Raiders lost 24-19 to the Los Angeles Chargers. Derek Carr threw three interceptions and with a chance to lead a go-ahead drive late, he was sacked on fourth down and Las Vegas never got the ball back.

In some other divisions, the Raiders would be contenders to win a division title. It's going to be very hard for them in this season's brutal AFC West, and Sunday wasn't a great start.

Baltimore Ravens for not getting Lamar Jackson's deal done: Jackson doesn't have a contract extension and said he won't discuss it with the Ravens during the season. That sets up a huge bet-on-yourself season for the former MVP.

On Sunday, the price went up for his contract extension.

Jackson had a solid game, carrying the Ravens offense that had injuries at running back and to left tackle Ronnie Stanley. He threw three touchdowns and the Ravens won 24-9.

The Ravens should bounce back this season, and Jackson will lead the way. If he stays healthy and plays at his normal level, it will lead to an even bigger ask next time he sits down at the negotiating table.

Trey Lance: It might not take long before Lance hears the footsteps behind him.

On Sunday the San Francisco 49ers played on a sloppy wet field without top tight end George Kittle. Still, the 49ers shouldn't lose to the Chicago Bears. The 49ers' offense was often disjointed, and Lance made the biggest mistake of the game. Trailing 10-7 in the fourth quarter, he threw a bad interception to safety Eddie Jackson. That set up a touchdown run by Khalil Hebert that gave the Bears a two-score lead. The Bears won 19-10.

Lance might not have that much wiggle room for bad games, since Jimmy Garoppolo agreed to a restructured deal to stay on the team. Sunday wasn't a good way for Lance's season to start.

Cincinnati Bengals kicking game: The Bengals had no business winning against the Pittsburgh Steelers after turning it over five times. But a touchdown on the final play of regulation by Ja'Marr Chase gave the Bengals an extra-point attempt for the win. Minkah Fitzpatrick blocked it and the game went to overtime. It was a great play by the Steelers' All-Pro safety. Playing with emergency long snapper Mitchell Wilcox, due to an injury to normal long snapper Clark Harris, the snap was a beat slow.

In overtime, the Bengals drove down for a 29-yard field goal attempt by Evan McPherson. He missed it after a high snap. Steelers kicker Chris Boswell clanged a field-goal attempt off the upright in overtime, but the Bengals couldn't take advantage, Boswell got another shot late in overtime and hit 53-yarder to win it 23-20.

The Bengals' kicks were the types of plays that went their way in their Super Bowl run last season. The Bengals should be fine going forward but they'll kick themselves for losing Sunday.

A Colts-Texans tie: The way the opener between the Indianapolis Colts and Houston Texans ended was entirely unfulfilling. The Texans played very well early to take a lead. The Colts, behind fantastic performances by Jonathan Taylor and Michael Pittman Jr., had a great comeback to tie it. They had a chance to win in overtime but Rodrigo Blankenship missed a field-goal attempt. The two teams settled for a 20-20 tie.

It's not the worst outcome for either team to get a half-win. But with a shortened 10-minute overtime, a tie felt like a miserable start to the season for both teams.