Somewhere in Cincinnati, Paul Guenther is sweating.
Is it because he just ate 37 chicken wings? Probably. But also because he now has to draft a game plan that allows his Bengals secondary to contain Pittsburgh Steelers WR Antonio Brown.
Good luck with that.
Brown started his 2016 season off with a predictable bang, as the All-Pro receiver caught eight passes for 126 yards and two touchdowns in 38-16 blowout victory over Washington.
He also received the most hilarious unsportsmanlike conduct penalty in NFL history:
Hide the women and children Antonio Brown is NSFW https://t.co/nKHWcfZrk7— Barstool Sports (@barstooltweets) September 13, 2016
If Monday's game taught us anything, it's that Antonio Brown is the greatest entertainer in the NFL. Here are some more things we learned:
The NFL - Stock down
After totally dropping the ball on the whole Cam Newton situation, the NFL continued to prove how lame its administration is by handing Brown a 15-yard penalty for his touchdown dance. Remember guys, do NOT have fun out there!
Old dudes - Stock up
DeAngelo Williams rushed for 143 yards and two nail-in-the-coffin touchdowns on 26 carries on Monday. In doing so, he became the NFL's leading rusher by a pretty substantial margin. At age 33, Williams might still be the most dangerous one-cut back in the NFL, as he and All-Pro G David DeCastro executed the counter run to perfection. Williams added six receptions for good measure, several of which saved Ben Roethlisberger from imminent danger.
Speaking of Roethlisberger, is there any quarterback in the league who you would rather have right now? As far as I'm concerned, Roethlisberger, Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady are 1a, 1b and 1c in the quarterback hierarchy (rank them however you want, I'm not here to argue), and everyone else in the NFL is two through whatever. At this point, it's a very distant second place. Roethlisberger was in mid-season form against Washington, as he connected on 27 of 37 passes for 300 yards and three touchdowns. On a key fourth-and-one play at the beginning of the second quarter, for example, Roethlisberger audibled out of a running play and subsequently threw a perfect 40-yard arc to Brown, who came down with a touchdown to give Pittsburgh a 7-6 lead.
As per usual, LB James Harrison was a monster against the run, and he secured a game-ending interception late in the fourth quarter. Notably, the bulk of Harrison's snaps occurred in the second half. This could be purely tactical, or it could be a "see how the game goes" type of thing. Regardless, it appears to be working.
The offensive line - Stock up
Collectively, Pittsburgh's offensive line played a tremendous game against Washington. Williams could have driven an aircraft carrier through some of the running lanes created by Pittsburgh's front five, and Washington's lone sack came on a terrific play from LB Ryan Kerrigan, who is among the best pure pass rushers in the NFL. By comparison, Dallas Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott averaged just over 2.5 yards per carry running behind Dallas' all-world line against the New York Giants on Sunday. The Steelers clearly boast one of the NFL's best offensive lines.
Fantasy football owners - Stock up
Congratulations to everyone who started Brown or Williams in a fantasy league tonight. Mathematicians have actually used Monte Carlo simulations to study fantasy football playoff odds based on Week 1 performances (gravity, I should point out, remains unsolved). Remarkably, these researchers have determined that winning your first fantasy game boosts your overall playoff odds from 50 percent to just over 62 percent. Losing, however, drops your odds to 32 percent.
System corners - Stock down
Antonio Brown is the morning coffee rush, Bashaud Breeland is a fresh-faced teenager working their first summer job and Josh Norman is the guy at Starbucks who won't help out at the register because he's in the back taking inventory. At least Patrick Peterson willingly shadows the other team's best receiver.
Tackling technique - Stock down
Overall, Pittsburgh's defense did its job. Keith Butler made some early adjustments after Kirk Cousins surgically dismantled the Steelers secondary on the first two drives of the game, which allowed the Steelers hold Washington to just nine points in the firs three quarters of action. Despite these strategic changes, the Steelers still missed what I can only categorically describe as "a bunch" of tackles. Perhaps most troubling is the fact that Lawrence Timmons, who is without question one of the best defenders in team history, missed no fewer than four tackles. Starters don't typically have much of an opportunity to practice live tackling in training camp and the preseason, so some lackluster technique is to be expected. But after Pittsburgh's tackling woes last season, they need to get this figured out.
Ryan Shazier - Stock up
Shazier was lights out up until a knee injury forced him from Monday's game. Based on his performance against Washington (six tackles, forced fumble, interception), Shazier will be an integral component of Pittsburgh's defense.