Oh, hello. I didn’t see you there. Well, guess what time it is? That’s right! 9pm! No, seriously, it’s the start of the fabled NFL season. It just feels like it’ll never get here. And this year, some people might have wished it didn’t after watching the Zebras in the preseason games. But I’m not here to slam the replacement officials, I’m here to slam crappy teams (and horrible overrated ones)! So, let’s go, shall we?’
Dallas at New York: The 2012 season kicks off in typical TV fashion with a NFC East showdown between the Giants & Cowboys. The Giants had quite a run to the Super Bowl last year, going through the Packers & 49ers, before beating the Patriots in the Super Bowl. The Cowboys didn’t make the playoffs again, and as usual, will be heavily overrated. But I expect the Giants to put them in their place to start out the NFL season.
Prediction: New York 24, Dallas 20
Sunday & Monday Games
Indianapolis at Chicago: With the Colts ending up as the worst team in Football last season; thanks Peyton, they got the #1 overall pick and without hesitation, they drafted the best scouted QB since the aforementioned Manning. Unfortunately, Indianapolis’ offense won’t be able to help the D when the reformed tandem of Culter and Marshall are on the field, ripping their DB’s to shreds. Chicago are big favourites to be the threat to not only the Lions Wild Card spot, but the Packers NFC North domination. I don’t see how this will happen with such an inept offensive line, but that shouldn’t be too much of an issue in week 1.
Prediction: Chicago 35, Indianapolis 17
Philadelphia at Cleveland: Cleveland’s draft class is an extremely promising one, despite the drafting of one of the oldest players in draft history with Brandon Weeden late in the 1st round. They got the best RB since Adrian Peterson in Trent Richardson and picked up what seems to be a gem in the supplemental draft with Josh Gordon. All that probably won’t get them over the top against Vick & co. The Eagles had a pretty poor season by their standards last season. Vick had injury problems again and the Defense didn’t live up to their ridiculous expectations (no surprise). I think a full offseason will be extremely beneficial for the whole Eagles team over a lot of teams. And I think they start off their season with a good win.
Prediction: Philadelphia 28, Cleveland 20
St. Louis at Detroit: Jeff Fisher took over the hopeless Rams after last year’s disaster. Sam Bradford is finally back fully healthy and Steven Jackson had a full season for the first time in a while. Unfortunately for the Rams, their WR corps didn’t improve a lot in the break and their first round pick Michael Brockers is out with an ankle sprain for 2 or 3 weeks. The Lions finally made the playoffs last season and will look to improve (they’ve improved by 4 games the past 2 seasons) yet again. The Lions’ problem has changed, either. Their defensive backfield is still at 6’s and 7’s. They may be without their defensive leader in Louis Delmas for this game, also. Fortunately for the Lions, the best connection in Football is still around. Stafford to Johnson. And I assume that’ll be heard a lot again this season and possibly a couple of times in this game. The Lions offense is just too powerful and the Rams isn’t good enough to keep up.
Prediction: Detroit 30, St. Louis 14
New England at Tennesse: After not winning a playoff game since their last Super Bowl victory, the Patriots made it all the way to the big dance, only to fall short to the Cinderella Giants team. Tough luck, Pats. Tennessee were in a bit of a rebuilding mode last season, trying to find a true identity at QB and they’ve settled on the young gunslinger who’s got some legs on him for good measure. Tennessee could be a sneaky team this season, but I don’t think they’ll have their way against Bieber Brady in week 1.
Prediction: New England 38, Tennessee 28
Atlanta at Kansas City: If you’ve been following the Falcons during the off-season by any chance, it sounds like they’re going to be the best team in Football. Well, maybe not THAT good, but the best team in the NFC South, which isn’t too far off. I still think their D is a bit suspect. Especially after losing their leader in Curtis Lofton. But their WR corps is crazy good, with the already anointed best WR in Julio Jones, along with the always consistent Roddy White. The Chiefs’ biggest scalp last year was beating the Packers at home. But don’t think their D can’t repeat that feat each week. With drafting Dontari Poe, they added another big cog in the middle of their 3-4 system. Unfortunately for the Chiefs, Tamba Hali will be suspended for this game and Brandon Flowers status is up in the air, too. Fortunately, however they get back the most promising RB in Football, Jamaal Charles. In the end, though I don’t the Chiefs can keep the Falcons out of the endzone, nor keep up with them.
Prediction: Atlanta 24, Chiefs 13
Jacksonville at Minnesota: There aren’t A LOT of thrilling games on the week 1 schedule, but this one is likely placed right at the bottom. Two of the worst teams from last season meet in Minnesota for week 1 pride. That’s right, one of these teams will be equal with the super powers of the NFL in wins. Amazingly, two of the best RB’s in football will likely play sparingly with Adrian Peterson coming back from an ACL tear (a lot quicker than most) and Maurice Jones-Drew coming back from his off-season long hold out. These teams picked 5 and 4, respectively in the 2012 draft. And both teams picked a critical position of need. The Vikings got the best LT prospect (Matt Kalil) and the Jaguars got the best WR prospect (Justin Blackmon). When you hear the headline of Ponder vs. Gabbert, your underwear magically tightens up in excitement, right? OK, maybe excrement…Anyway. I’m giving the edge in this one to Minnesota based on their home field advantage and fake crowd noise. But I wouldn’t count out Jacksonville’s D.
Prediction: Minnesota 17, Jacksonville 13
Washington at New Orleans: Washington has finally got their QB saviour in Robert Griffin III, trading up to the #2 spot to draft him. While the Saints have lost their Head Coaching saviour, Sean Payton thanks to bountygate. Along with Mr. Payton, the Saints also lost LB Jonathon Vilma and Will Smith. However they seemed to sign every LB possible, singing both Curtis Lofton and David Hawthorne and eventually trading for Barrett Ruud, though Ruud isn’t starting yet. The Saints defense shouldn’t lose a step, and neither should their offense, with Drew Brees being close enough to a Head Coach, that no Sean Payton shouldn’t trouble the new leader in Passing Yards in a Season. I don’t see the Redskins being terribly competitive for the beginning of the year. I don’t think the Saints should have a lot of trouble in this game.
Prediction: New Orleans 31, Washington 14
Buffalo at New York: The Bills D has been so heavily talked up, it sounds like they’re already in the top 5. Although on the other end the Jets D is probably a lot closer to being a top 5 D. I guess this game will come down to how poorly the Jets offense plays, because if the preseason is any indication (heh) they’re going to struggle badly. Until of course Mr. Saviour comes in, throws for a 30% completion rate and somehow wins them the game. The Bills offense is buoyed by the return or Fred Jackson and having a great tandem in the backfield, along with CJ Spiller. Along with Fitzpatrick being fully healthy to start the year, the Bills may end up putting up more points than most people expect. I’ll temper my expectations for the first game, but the Jets have no offense so far. And there isn’t much else to go on right now.
Prediction: Buffalo 20, New York 7
Miami at Houston: I’ll just start by saying that the Texans are my Super Bowl pick. OK, now that that’s out of the way, I’ll be quick. The Dolphins offense has no viable WR out of Davone Bess, a slot receiver and their best TE blocks. Their defense isn’t fantastic either. Houston has the best running game in the league and defense. Matt Schaub to Andre Johnson is likely to be popular connection this season. Houston shut out Tannehill and co.
Prediction: Houston 28, Miami 0
San Francisco at Green Bay: Easily considered the best game of the week, San Francisco’s defense goes to visit Green Bay’s offense. What a great match-up. The 49ers got so close to the Super Bowl under first year head coach Jim Harbaugh. And the Packers met the Giants and got embarrassed in the first half. But with clean slates and spectacular teams, this game should be fantastic. It’s a hard game to pick, but 49ers offense just can’t keep up with Rodgers and the Packers, no matter how many times he gets sacked/intercepted etc. he’s just too good.
Prediction: Green Bay 24, San Francisco 17
Arizona at Seattle: I’m partially on the Seahawks bandwagon this year. Specifically the defensive part. Their defense has so much potential, it’s crazy. A top 5 finish is well within their reach. Seattle will definitely be the biggest threat to the 49ers in the NFC West this season. Russel Wilson has looked very good as their QB throughout the preseason, and I think he can take it into the season against an average Arizona defense. The Cardinals did eventually pick a starting QB, going with John Skelton over the expensive and useless Kevin Kolb. Arizona is horrible on offense, outside of Larry Fitzgerald and Beanie Wells. Their offensive line is a disaster and gigantic liability and I expect a bottom 10 record for them this season. I think the Seahawks shut down the Cardinals quickly and take a comfortable win.
Prediction: Seattle 21, Arizona 3
Carolina at Tampa Bay: Tampa Bay had quite the offseason, signing both Vincent Jackson and Carl Nicks to sure up parts of their offense. They also drafted Mark Barron and Doug Martin. Two key pieces to the new team. Unfortunately they lost Davin Joseph to injury which is a major blow to their offensive line. I’m not quite sold on the Buccaneers. Freeman’s poor year last season shows some concerns, but a lot of QB’s have poor sophomore campaigns. Perhaps just not at that level. The Panthers had quite a good season last year. They only went 6-10, but after going 2-14 the previous system, that’s a good effort with a lot of change to their team. The obvious big change which completely revitalised their team was Cam Newton who lit a fire under the team throughout the year. I think the Panthers are a sneaky chance to win the NFC South or Wild Card if their defense can improve a bit. And I definitely have them winning their first game.
Prediction: Carolina 28, Tampa Bay 17
And then there were…Three? Yes, thank goodness for week 1 Monday Night Football double-headers!
Pittsburgh at Denver: The Sunday Night Football season is kicked off by Peyton Manning’s first game as a Bronco. It also happens to be the game where the new overtime rules were deemed useless on one play, cause Tim Tebow actually connected on a pass, which amazing went for a TD. Regardless, this should be a good contest. The Steelers defense isn’t the peak unit it used to be, getting quite old quickly. Their offense isn’t too scary right now without Rashard Mendenhall, but they do have Mike Wallace and Antonio Brown to throw to. But that’s about it. The Broncos team is in OK shape, with a decent WR corps and two capable TE’s for Peyton to seek out. Their defense is what worries me. They played well in parts last year, but there’s a lot of holes in the defensive backfield, outside of Champ Bailey and he’s getting older. I think the Steelers can start off with a win, but it’ll be a close contest.
Prediction: Pittsburgh 20, Denver 16
Cincinnati at Baltimore: The Ravens and Bengals square off in the first game of the Monday night double-header. Baltimore’s offense has changed to a more up-tempo, no-huddle pass based scheme. The defense should be impressive, again, but losing the Defensive Player of 2011 hurts them a lot. And Ed Reed’s age and injury problems could become a problem into the season, as well. But the thing about the Ravens is they always play well as a unit, without a lot of unbelievable star players. The Bengals had a good showing last year with Andy Dalton and A.J. Green putting up good years for their rookie campaigns. And now they try to better that campaign. They may struggle, though, as they don’t have any true #2 or #3 WR, along with an underutilised TE. Their defense played very well last year, but they could struggle to repeat this season. I don’t see the Bengals getting over the Ravens in this one, though.
Prediction: Baltimore 26, Cincinnati 17
San Diego at Oakland: To round out week 1, comes an AFC West grudge match between the Raiders and Chargers. I find this to be a very hard game to call. The Oakland defense can be good, but they’re very inconsistent. Whereas Philip Rivers loves throwing interceptions, it seems. San Diego have a good defense, but I think the 3-headed monster of McFadden, Palmer and Moore can actually pull the upset and get over on the Chargers.
Prediction: Oakland 30, San Diego 21
I hope you enjoyed reading my picks and have a great and enjoyable first week!