After nearly seven months without NFL games that have any significance in the win-loss column, we often overreact to Week 1 outcomes.
During the offseason, front-office executives and coaches make roster moves to set up the franchise for short- or long-term success. Some teams focus on veteran acquisitions for an immediate playoff push while other clubs tear down the foundation left over from the previous regime in a rebuild.
Either way, fans are eager to see progress and the fruits of offseason player development.
However, when a team falls flat in a season opener, you can feel a fanbase's optimism quickly turn into skepticism. While some clubs can flush a Week 1 stinker down the toilet, other squads have deeper issues that can derail a season.
Let's take a look at seven teams that lost by double-digit margins. We'll use a panic meter that ranges from 1-10 with low numbers that signal minimal concerns to higher numbers for full-scale alarm mode.
Green Bay Packers
After an offseason of uncertainty between the Green Bay Packers and Aaron Rodgers, he rejoined the team at the beginning of training camp. According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, the front office agreed to restructure his deal, which seems like a Band-Aid on a fractured relationship.
Nonetheless, Rodgers committed to play for the Packers this year, which gives this team a shot to win the Super Bowl. Green Bay has reached back-to-back NFC Championship Games—only to fall one stop short of the title game.
Packers fans likely expected Rodgers to pick up where he left off from his 2020 MVP year, but the New Orleans Saints defense stifled him and the offense, allowing just three points. He threw for just 133 yards and two interceptions.
Rodgers talked about using the embarrassing 38-3 loss as motivation.
"This is a good kick in the you-know-where to hopefully get us going in the right direction," he said.
Perhaps Green Bay took New Orleans lightly with Jameis Winston, who threw for five touchdowns, under center in place of now-retired Drew Brees. Regardless of the reason for the Packers' poor performance, they'll have an extra day off to regroup before a Monday Night Football matchup with the Detroit Lions at Lambeau Field.
Every NFC North team lost its season opener. The Packers will play a Lions squad that fell behind the San Francisco 49ers 38-10 before a few late touchdowns tightened the score margin. With Rodgers healthy, Green Bay has nothing to worry about in a winless division with a favorable matchup next on the schedule.
Panic Meter: 1
The Houston Texans stand alone atop the AFC South with a win. At home, they thrashed the Jacksonville Jaguars 37-21.
The Texans went into the 2021 campaign in rebuild mode with journeyman quarterback Tyrod Taylor under center in place of Deshaun Watson, who requested a trade, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter, and faces 22 lawsuits from women alleging sexual assault and misconduct.
The Texans also allowed wideout William Fuller V to walk in free agency and released star defensive end J.J. Watt.
Yet Taylor threw for 291 yards and two touchdowns while wideout Brandin Cooks racked up 132 receiving yards. The Texans defense picked off Trevor Lawrence three times.
While this seems like a code-red alarm, the Jaguars also have a roster that's in the early stages of a rebuild. They have a first-time NFL head coach and defensive coordinator in Urban Meyer and Joe Cullen, respectively.
Since 2002, David Carr is the only No. 1 overall pick to win his team's season opener as the starting quarterback, so Lawrence's loss in his first NFL game shouldn't raise any red flags. He threw for 332 yards, three touchdowns and three interceptions, though two of those scores came late in the game.
With a rookie quarterback and a new regime, the Jaguars will go through growing pains that include embarrassing losses. They will face a stout Denver Broncos defense, so the uneasiness about Lawrence's early passing performances could go up a notch after next week.
Panic Meter: 2
The Atlanta Falcons hosted the Philadelphia Eagles and didn't score a touchdown in front of their home crowd.
The Falcons settled for field goals on two red-zone trips, converted on just three of 14 third-down situations and gave up 99 yards via penalties.
Overall, Arthur Smith's team had a sloppy, inefficient outing, and he took responsibility for the subpar performance.
"I did a really poor job getting us ready to go," Smith said. "I feel awful for our fans. Everybody showed up today. We'll do a better job. That game is not going to define us. It's a long season to go. I certainly didn't do a good enough job getting us ready to go today."
Smith made the right statement at the podium, but that doesn't excuse him for having his team ill-equipped for competition. Meanwhile, first-time head coach Nick Sirianni's squad committed 14 infractions, but his offense accumulated 434 yards and scored touchdowns on all three of its red-zone trips.
Atlanta will have an even tougher matchup on the road against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 2. If the Falcons don't clean up the penalties, they could fall into an 0-2 hole with two blowout losses.
As a first-time head coach, Smith has to right the ship before players begin to question his methods. Yet with a new regime, he'll have plenty of time to steer this team back on the right track.
Panic Meter: 3