Predictions for each Week 1 matchup
Panthers win 31-21.
Steelers @ Broncos: There are certainly some interesting storylines in this one. Peyton Manning's first start as a Bronco, obviously. Steelers' safety Ryan Clark will not play due to his sickle cell condition and the high altitude of the Broncos' stadium. James Harrison is returning from injury and reportedly won't be 100%. And the Steelers' running back situation is a mess, and new offensive coordinator Todd Haley wants to move to a smashmouth, old-school offense. Well, I say Haley forgets about his new offense for now, and Big Ben slings it out to Mike Wallace, upcoming monster Antonio Brown, and Emmanuel Sanders. Peyton won't yet be completely in sync with his receivers, and the running game will struggle.
Steelers win 23-20.
Bengals @ Ravens: I like the Dalton to Green connection, and though I'm not a big fan of BenJarvus Green-Ellis, I like how he and Bernard Scott can compliment each other. The Bengals have a stout defense (7th in the league last year) and could give Flacco problems. The Ravens are transitioning to an uptempo, pass-first offensive approach, and I expect Flacco (who I think is a very average quarterback) to take some time to master it. In addition, elite outside linebacker Terrell Suggs won't be playing. The Bengals were within one score of the Ravens both times they played them last year, and I think this is the time for the team to mature and take the next step.
Bengals win 28-24.
Chargers @ Raiders: I'm a Raider fan, and if I pick the Raiders, I'll jinx it. If I pick the Chargers, I won't be able to sleep at night. So make up your own mind on this one.