Well I start in the hole, 0-1. I thought the Giants would win their home opener, but the Cowboys had other ideas. Jason Garrett has to feel good today. Here are the rest of my NFL week one predictions.
Indianapolis at Chicago: I think the Colts will show they’re a more dangerous team than their roster makeover might suggest. There will be growing pains for sure, and Bears’ MLB Brian Urlacher isn’t 100%. Neither is his counterpart, Pat Angerer, as he’s out for 6 weeks minimum. It’ll be an interesting fame, but the more veteran home team will take this one. Bears by 4.
Philadelphia at Cleveland: Trent Richardson will be starting but the Eagles have one of the best d-lines in the NFL. The Browns have the best o-line in their division, so in that aspect it’s strength-against-strength. Philly has a ton more firepower on offense, however, and cannot afford a loss here with the good teams in their own division. Andy Reid is probably feeling some heat too. Eagles by 11
St. Louis at Detroit: The already-suspect Lions secondary doesn’t have its two decent guys – S Louis Delmas and CB Chris Houston. The Rams have a decent pair of corners after signing trash-talking Cortland Finnegan. Let’s see how much trash he talks against Megatron. This one could be a real shootout, but the final? Rams by 7
Miami at Houston: For those of you in “Eliminator” challenges who aren’t sure who to pick this week, the Texans at home are as safe a bet as anyone. Miami’s offense is young and developing slowly while their defense has been inconsistent at best in the preseason. A blowout wouldn’t surprise me, and that bites because the Dolphins are my fave AFC team. Texans by 24
Atlanta at Kansas City: Speaking of the “Eliminator,” you might be enticed to pick the Falcons. Don’t. The more I think about my preseason record predictions, the more I think KC could come on stronger than I gave them credit for. While I don’t know that they have things together enough to beat the veteran Falcons even at Arrowhead, it should be a decent game. Falcons by 9
Jacksonville at Minnesota: A matchup I highlighted in my post Friday, this is one of the most intriguing games because of both teams’ RB situation. Peterson plays more than MJD today, oddly enough. That and the home field advantage should allow the Vikes to sneak by what appears to be an improved Jaguars offense…and the Vikes have one of the NFL’s worst defensive backfields. Can Blaine Gabbert, Laurent Robinson, and Justin Blackmon take advantage? Some, but not _quite_ enough just yet. Vikings by 1
Washington at New Orleans: Ohhh boy. RG3 is out for a rude awakening today, after a federal court ruled that Roger Goodell has no jurisdiction over “Bountygate” as it is a “pay-for-performance” issue, and thus a salary-cap issue. Jonathan Vilma won’t be playing, but his and Will Smith’s suspensions have been reversed. Vilma won’t play, but Smith will. The Saints will be riding an emotional high opening at home against a team with a solid, underrated defense but young offense. The Saints could play anyone – including the Packers, Niners or Pats – and win today. Saints by 17
Buffalo vs. New York Jets: Another game I looked at a couple of days ago. The Jets offense isn’t quite as horrible as they’ve looked, and word from Buffalo today is “We’ve not seen the Jets’ version of the Wildcat, but they’ve not seen ours yet, either.” Could just be pre-game bluster and smoke screens, but that Jets defense is almost finished reloading. The Bills’ defense is too, but isn’t quite there yet. One note: NO team ran the Wildcat more in 2011 than the wagon-circling Bills. In a low-scoring affair…Jets by 4
New England at Tennessee: This should be a good test for Titans’ QB Jake Locker’s first start. The Pats have a couple of pass-rushers from the draft, but it’s their first game too and the Pats’ secondary still needs help. If only Kenny Britt weren’t suspended, we might have a good game on our hands. As it is, the Pats win in their home opener. Pats by 22
Seattle at Arizona: Too many good storylines to cover them all, but suffice it to say rookie QB Russell “Stretch” Wilson is already a better NFL QB than anyone the Cardinals have. If only Seattle had the two starting WRs the Cards have, they’d be a force to contend with. Seattle already has a top-ten defense and the Cardinals offense is atrocious due not only to their horrid QB play, but they’re already dealing with issues and injuries on the interior OL. This one gets ugly early. Seahwaks by 20
San Francisco at Green Bay: This was my pick for “Game of the Week” not to miss. The two teams are as different as can be these days, and the Packers at home should be a lock on opening day. Not so fast this year. The Niners are solid in every phase of the game and often let other teams beat themselves. While the Packers may not beat themselves, I think the matchups favor the Niners right now. 49’ers by 3
Carolina at Tampa Bay: I’m glad the Panthers play the Bucs on the road opening day. I’d hate to be the Panthers having to go there late in the season looking for a win – they’ll be a lot more mature by then. As it sits, too many changes in Tampa Bay in the offseason and they’re facing an improved Panthers’ squad with Superman at QB. It’ll be a good first half, but the Panthers should put it away in the second. Panthers by 13
Pittsburgh at Denver: The most exciting playoff game last season gives us a rematch in the same venue. Wonder of Wonders, Tim Tebow beat them in OT with a long TD pass (actually, a short pass and long RAC). He’s not there now; he’s been replaced by some Manning fellow. The Steelers’ RB situation right now is something the Red Cross should be dealing with. It’ll be a physical game as any with the Steelers is, and I see Manning doing enough to eek out a win. They’re the healthier team, and playing at home. Broncos by 4
Cincinnati at Baltimore We’ll learn a ton about the Bengals’ progress immediately with this game. The Ravens were a dropped pass away from the Super Bowl last year but are missing defensive NFL MVP Terrell Suggs. That won’t be enough for the Bengals to win, as they didn’t beat a single team that had a winning record last year. I think Haloti Ngata could have a monster game against the Bengals’ patchwork interior OL. Ravens by 16
San Diego at Oakland: The Chargers have Phillip Rivers. The Raiders have Carson Palmer. I still think Terrelle Pryor is the most dangerous QB the Raiders have and if they’re smart, they’ll realize it too…but not this week. Chargers by 21