Every week gives us some strange games with interesting matchups, but the first game of the season is always telling for EVERY team.
If we look at the one completed, Some things happened that weren’t quite expected: Tony Romo had little trouble with the “vaunted” Giants’ pass rush. In fact, the Giants’ defense looked average in every phase. They gave up 300+ yards passing and 130-ish on the ground to Cowboy RB DeMarco Murray. I don’t think anyone expected numbers quite like that from the defending Super Bowl Champions and the fact they’re the first Super Bowl winning team to lose their opening day game the following season in about 10 years means the Giants, not the Cowboys, are the ones with the work in front of them. If anyone can pull it off, it’s Tom Coughlin. He has taken slow starts and turned them into Lombardi trophies twice now, but I’m sure he hates having to do things the hard way all the time.
St. Louis Rams at Detroit Lions:
This game will be interesting because of the changes in St. Louis at the WR position and Sam Bradford’s healthy for a change. With the Lions’ CB Chris Houston and S Louis Delmas out, the Lions are missing…*gulp*…the better half of their atrocious secondary. Both teams’ defensive strengths are their defensive lines, but given the circumstances, the Rams have a great chance to steal a road victory early under experienced Head Coach Jeff Fisher. Rams 31, Lions 24.
Buffalo Bills at New York Jets:
On the surface, it looks like a slaughter in the making as the Jets’ offense has yet to score a touchdown this season after 4 games in the preseason. They certainly do have issues on the right side of that offensive line, and goodness gracious, Super Mario for the Bills is playing the left defensive end spot in their 4-3 scheme. The reality is that the the Jets’ defense is more mature than that of the Bills and has the best CB tandem in the NFL. So we’ll have a good defense (Bills) that could evolve to “great” at some point and an already great defense with the Jets. But with Fred Jackson back from a broken foot for the Bills, I’d not be the least surprised to see the Bills want to run the ball. Fitzpatrick is a capable QB, but that pass defense is ferocious. The preseason action would say the Bills should win this one, but the Jets’ home opener should spring some surprises from Tony Sparano – some of it being the Tebow-led Wildcat. The game should be entertaining due simply to the Jets desire to prove they’re not as inept as they’re made out to be. Jets 17, Bills 13.
One of the worst secondaries (Vikings) faces last season’s most inept passer (Blaine Gabbert). Add in the uncertain status of All-Pro RBs Adrian Peterson and Maurice Jones-Drew, and BOTH teams should be leaning on the pass more than they would otherwise. The Jaguars have Justin Blackmon and Laurent Robinson and Gabbert has looked pretty good in the early going. None of this truly means anything until regular game statistics and plays start piling up, but Jacksonville fans should feel more optimistic about their team than they did a few months ago. But a long road trip to open with a still-unproven QB? Christian Ponder had a better rookie season last year than Gabbert, which tells you absolutely nothing, but he’ll be at home with their shiny new
toy wall, 4th overall pick Matt Kalil, protecting his blind side. The preseason favors a Jaguars victory, but circumstances are unclear with the running game of BOTH teams in flux. Because of this, I’d have to say this game is the most unpredictable one: Vikings 21, Jaguars 20
Honorable mention: Indianapolis @ Chicago – Indy may try to run more than pass in order to test Chicago Bears MLB Brian Urlacher’s health. He’s had surgery this offseason and reports are that he’s not back to full strength. He’s also well on the north side of 30, meaning he doesn’t heal as fast as rookies. Since the Colts now have 2 real NFL starting cornerbacks after the Vontae Davis trade, they’ll be able to match-up with Brandon Marshall and Earl Bennett. Don’t forget – Davis and Marshall are ex-teammates from Miami and Davis will be covering Marshall. Alshon Jeffery should see the field a fair amount as well. I don’t expect Marshall to be much of a force in this game that the Bears should heavily be favored in. While I also can’t quite see Indy pulling the upset at Soldier Field, I think it’ll be a very good game. Bears 28, Colts 24