Week one of the NFL is here, finally. After a long lockout, a circus-like free agency period, and a pre-season leaving us with a lot of questions, we are ready to get this season under way. With one game already in the books let’s take a look at the other 16 games coming Sunday and Monday.
Atlanta at Chicago. Matt Ryan and the boys head into the Windy City with new receiver Julio Jones looking to test out their high powered offense against one the leagues better defenses. I expect this game to be a close one but at the end of the day I like the Bears defense more than I like the Falcons offense. I give the nod to Chicago
Cincinnati at Cleveland. This one is going to be ugly. Neither one of these teams are going anywhere this season. The Browns are under new head coach Pat Shurmur and start the season off with Colt McCoy under center. This combo should be much better than Jake Delhomme and Eric “not so genius” Mangini. There are a couple of new faces on the other side of the ball as well with the Bengals debuting quarterback Andy Dalton and wide receiver A.J. Green. I am going with the lesser of two evils in this one and taking Cleveland.
Buffalo at Kansas City. The Chiefs look to pick up right where they left off last year after making winning the division. Matt Cassel appears to be a little bruised up after the pre-season but will be making the start along with two his favorite weapons Jamaal Charles and Dwayne Bowe, but will be without tight end Tony Moeaki. Buffalo improved on their defensive front in the off season adding a few key pieces through the draft to a line that was one of the worst in the league last year. Look for the Chiefs to handle this one with ease at home, I’m giving it to Kansas City.
Philadelphia at St. Louis. This one has the makings to be a classic and one I will be watching closely at the one o’clock hour. Philadelphia signed every player that wasn’t bolted down in the off season prompting many to start calling them the Dream Team. Michael Vick, DeSean Jackson, and LeSean McCoy, as we saw last year have the ability to go off at any time. Second year quarter back Sam Bradford heads into the season under new offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels hoping to improve on his 3500 yard rookie season. I like this one to be high scoring and I’m taking the upset give me Bradford and St. Louis.
Detroit at Tampa Bay. Both of these teams I like to improve from last season. I think they both if healthy have a legitimate shot at making the playoffs. The Lions look to have good seasons from Matthew Stafford and Jahvid Best while the Bucs looks at Josh Freeman and LeGarrette Blount to continue their success from last year. This one is going to be a close one but I’m going with Detroit.
Tennessee at Jacksonville. In this divisional matchup I expect Tennessee to take care of business rather easily. I feel like Matt Hasselbeck is an upgrade from Kerry Collins and Vince Young for the Titans and even though Chris Johnson missed the entire preseason he will still be ready to go week one. It’s hard to trust any quarterback with the last name McCown and I think it’s only a matter of time before we see Blaine Gabbert take the helm for the Jags. Give me Tennessee, and I don’t think it’s close.
Pittsburgh at Baltimore. This is a tough one, it’s a divisional rivalry, and these teams hate each other. Pittsburgh seems primed to avenge their Super Bowl loss last year and is always a pick to win that division. The Baltimore defense is always tough and I believe Ray Rice is going to have a monster season this year with the addition of Vonta Leach at fullback blocking for him. This one is going to be won in the trenches and I give the Ravens line a slight edge, so I want Baltimore at home.
Indianapolis at Houston. The pre-season was a cruel mistress to both of these teams. Arian Foster is battling a hamstring injury and is most likely a game time season while the Colts have all but hung up the season on Peyton Manning after his most recent neck surgery. Both teams seem to be very savvy in the social media department with Colts owner Jim Irsay announcing that Manning would be “out a while” on twitter. Arian Foster used his twitter account to give everyone a look at his MRI for his torn hamstring but let’s be honest those aren’t the worst things to be passed around the twitter-verse right Anthony Weiner. I am going with Houston here, sorry Colts no Manning, no good.
New York Giants at Washington. I really don’t like either one of these teams going into the season. The Giants have been absolutely decimated by injuries on the defensive side of the ball. The Redskins at the same note seem to be on the “suck for luck” campaign I just don’t understand how anybody could expect to be competitive entering the season with Rex Grossman and John Beck. I wonder if anybody in DC is aware that David Garrard is available now. I expect the Skins to see a healthy dose of Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs with the Giants trying to play keep away. I am going with New York in this one but I don’t feel great about it.
Seattle at San Francisco. This is another ugly game that unless you just want to torture yourself I wouldn’t even bother watching this one. At least this game can answer a question for me, who is worse Tarvaris Jackson or Alex Smith? This one could really go either way but give me Jim Harbaugh in his coaching debut, I like San Francisco.
Minnesota at San Diego. Donovan McNabb makes his debut in the purple and yellow, he still has something left in the tank and can keep the Vikings competitive this year. Having said that San Diego looks primed and ready to make a run at the AFC title. Philip Rivers is starting the year with all his weapons available Vincent Jackson, Malcom Floyd, and Antonio Gates. To be honest I am really just happy to write a preview of the Vikings and not have to talk about Brett Farve. So I like San Diego in this one in convincing fashion.
Carolina at Arizona. Both the Panthers and Cardinals go into the game with a lot of questions yet to be answered. Will Cam Newton be the franchise quarterback they hope he can be? Is Kevin Kolb ready to lead the Cardinals? After a rough pre-season I think the Panthers have a lot to prove but I am going with the Cats under new coach Ron Rivera, Carolina in a nail biter.
Dallas at New York Jets. Sunday’s night game is possibly the best game this week. The Cowboys get Tony Romo back and Felix Jones is now the main running back with Marion Barber gone. Rex Ryan will have the Jets ready to rumble in week one, especially with his brother Rob Ryan calling the defensive plays on the other side of the field. Dallas has a few holes on the offensive line so I see Romo being under heavy pressure all evening. Throw in that Sunday is the ten year anniversary of 9/11 I am taking New York in prime time.
New England at Miami. This matchup can be summed up in two words, Belichick and Brady. The Patriots have beefed up on both sides of the ball with acquisitions of Chad Ochocinco and Albert Haynesworth. The Dolphins have some fresh faces in Miami with Reggie Bush and Daniel Thomas in the backfield but I don’t think it is going to make a difference on Monday night. I got New England here and I expect them to be scoring in mass quantities.
Oakland at Denver. Two new head coaches will be making debuts for their teams in the late on on Monday. John Fox takes over for the Broncos and Hue Jackson will be calling the plays for Oakland. We will see heavy doses of the run in this one, both Darren McFadden and Knowshon Moreno will have nice games here. These two teams matchup pretty closely some I will give it to Denver at home.