At long last, the first week of the 2014 NFL Season has arrived, and with one game out of the way (Packers vs. Seahawks), we look towards Sunday’s matchups.
I’m not going into specific detail about the teams, just what I think the final scores will be, who steps up, and who struggles.
With that being said, here are my Week 1 picks.
Saints At Falcons: Atlanta 28, New Orleans 24.
I can see a close game between these two teams in the “Dome QB Duel.” Drew Brees should have no problem throwing for 300+ yards and 3 TD passes, but the defense might struggle on Matt Ryan’s home turf, where I also see 3 TDs being thrown. Home Field Advantage favors Atlanta.
Vikings At Rams: Minnesota 13, Rams 6.
I predict the Vikings will beat St. Louis on the road, though almost all of it has to do with runningback Adrian Peterson. While the Rams have a capable defense, I don’t see the offense doing enough to win the game for the GSOT.
Browns At Steelers: Pittsburgh 21, Cleveland 10
Given the previous history of the two teams, Pittsburgh should be able to handle Cleveland with little problem, especially with Legarrette Blount and Le’Veon Bell being able to play. Ben Roethlisberger is also a better QB than Brian Hoyer, so I don’t have much hope for the Browns getting an upset, despite a rising defense.
Jaguars At Eagles: Philadelphia 27, Jacksonville 9
I don’t expect a strong performance from Nick Foles, but he should be able to play decently against the Jaguars. The real star should be LeSean McCoy, and although Jacksonville has a potentially sound roster, I don’t trust Chad Henne enough to lead this team.
Raiders at Jets: Oakland 14, NY Jets 13
I’m not sure if this is an upset, but with Derek Carr carrying a lot of upside from his preseason performance, this should be enough to lead Oakland past the Jets in week 1. I don’t put a lot of faith into Geno Smith under the flawed coaching of Rex Ryan.
Bengals at Ravens: Baltimore 30, Cincinnati 17
With a better offensive line, Joe Flacco should see miles of improvement, especially on his home turf. Having Gary Kubiak certainly helps. And while Andy Dalton has AJ Green to help him out, I see a 2 TD 3 INT game for him on the road, which will ultimately damage the Bengals.
Bills at Bears: Chicago 20, Buffalo 10
With an arsenal of weapons at his disposable, I expect Jay Cutler to do enough to lead Da Bears to victory. I like the Bills’ backfield, but I don’t see EJ Manual or Kyle Orton performing well enough this round.
Redskins at Texans: Washington 10, Houston 3
I really had a hard time making this prediction, because I like the Skins’ additions of DeSean Jackso to match Pierre Garcon and a potentially healthy RGIII. I also like the potential of Houston’s defense with JJ Watt and Jadeveon Clowney, as well as Arian Foster running the ball. But I put more faith into Washington’s QB than I do Houston’s in a tight defensive battle.
Titans at Chiefs: Tennessee 20, Kansas City 17
I’m going with the Titans for the upset special. I sense a breakthrough performance from Jake Locker, and the Titans D should be able to do enough to stop Alex Smith. Jamaal Charles is a different story.
Patriots at Dolphins: New England 28, Miami 3
Tom Brady has a full arsenal for week 1, and it should be enough to spread the outcome. As much as I like Ryan Tannehill, I fear double-digit sacks thanks to an awful Dolphins offensive line and the Patriots’ improved defense.
Panthers at Buccaneers: Tampa Bay 13, Carolina 10
I’m especially excited about this game, because the Buccaneers 2014 squad can finally show if they’re as good as their offseason indicated. Needless to say, I don’t expect much from the Bucs offense with Josh McCown away from Chicago, and I predict Cam Newton will struggle with a pretty inexperienced receiving core (outside of Greg Olsen). I give the edge to Tampa.
49ers at Cowboys: Dallas 35, San Francisco 31
Defense won’t exist in this matchup, but the edge goes to Dallas, because the offense (Romo, Dez, Witten, DeMarco) has more upside that Kaepernick, Gore, and Crabtree. That said, had the 49ers not had a shocking offseason where they lost a significant amount of their core defenders, it would be a different story.
SNF: Colts at Broncos: Denver 41, Indianapolis 21
I don’t have much hope for the Colts with a struggling team around Andrew Luck. Let’s face it, Peyton Manning at this rate should pass for 6 touchdowns with ease, and the defense is improved enough to make the final score a blowout.
I’ll have my Giants-Lions and Chargers-Cardinals predictions by Monday morning, and yeah, I expect to be wrong on a lot of these predictions (as usual). See you then.