Predictions for each Week 1 matchup
Obviously, I can't predict the Cowboys @ Giants game because it already happened, but for the record, I would have picked the Giants in a close, slightly higher scoring game. I would have, however, taken the Cowboys getting 4.5 points.
Now for the real stuff.
Colts @ Bears: Like pretty much everyone else in the world, I really like Andrew Luck and think that he'll be a big help to the Colts' offense. However, this is still a very similar defense to the one that gave up 62 points to the Saints last year, and I don't think that Luck is ready to exchange blows with Jay Cutler, Matt Forte, Brandon Marshall, and the rest of the Bears offense.
Bears win 31-21.
Eagles @ Browns: What's funny is that this seems to be the exact type of game that the Eagles would lose last season. With losses to the Bills, Cardinals, and Seahawks, the Eagles repeatedly upset fans who thought they had a sure win. However, everyone is healthy for the Eagles now. Desean Jackson has stated that he'll put effort in again. The Browns are lead by a quarterback who's making his first start, and their offensive centerpiece, Trent Richardson, is coming off of a knee scope.
Eagles win 28-6.
Rams @ Lions: Did you see what Tony Romo did to this defense in one half of a preseason game without Miles Austin, Dez Bryant, or Jason Witten? 9 of 13 for 198 yards and two touchdowns. I can't imagine what Matt Stafford and Calvin Johnson are about to do to these guys. Sam Bradford is a solid player, but has no one to throw to. The Lions defense is built to stop guys like Steven Jackson with Suh, Fairley, and Vanden Bosch.
Lions win 38-14.
Dolphins @ Texans: Wait, so Ryan Tannehill is starting, right? And Reggie Bush will be running into the teeth of last season's 4th best run defense? And Andre Johnson is back, correct? Foster (questionable, knee) or no Foster, the Texans score enough points as their defense gives a rookie quarterback fits.
Texans win 24-10.
Falcons @ Chiefs: The victims of about a thousand ACL tears last season, the Chiefs have everybody back now. With quarterback Matt Cassell and exceptional running back Jamaal Charles back from injury, the offense should look much better against an average Falcons defense that lost middle linebacker Curtis Lofton to the Saints. The Chiefs also added bruiser Peyton Hillis to pound the rock. Shutdown cornerback Brandon Flowers can slow the production of one of the Falcons' elite receivers, and Eric Berry is back playing a mean centerfield. Michael Turner is now 30 years old, and the Chiefs' have a solid front seven. It's all the ingredients for an upset pick, but I just think that the Falcons' new aerial attack will be too much for the Chiefs to keep up with.
Falcons win 27-21.
Jaguars @ Vikings: Who's even the favorite here? Both these teams are garbage. Both teams' best offensive players will be playing very limited roles at best, both quarterbacks are second year players coming off of pretty poor rookie seasons, and both have solid defenses. Vegas must even have a tough time with this one. Well, my guess is it's going to be a close game, because there's going to be little-to-no scoring. You know what? I'll go with the better kicker. Jaguars' Josh Scobee over Vikings' rookie Blair White.
Jaguars win 12-10.
Redskins @ Saints: The Saints don't lose in the Super Dome. They just don't. Especially when they're facing the Redskins. The Redskins defense is good enough to limit Brees and the Saints from embarrassing them, and RG3 will help the Skins score on a depleted Saints defense, but it's the Saints... in the Super Dome. Oh, and the bounty suspensions were just overturned while I was writing this, so the Saints will have Will Smith back (no Vilma though, he's injured).
Saints win 35-17.
Bills @ Jets: Well, you gotta pick the Jets here, right? Tebow's in their corner. Who cares if he plays? He'll just rub Sanchez's head and instill the power of God in him. Or... the Bills will run all over the now-mediocre Rex Ryan defense with Fred Jackson and CJ Spiller while the Jets continue to not score touchdowns. Eh, I'll give the Jets one touchdown.
Bills win 20-10.
Patriots @ Titans: The AFC champions made improvements on both sides of the ball this offseason. The Titans have a raw second year quarterback behind center. I think Chris Johnson has a big game running the ball to the outside (away from Vince Wilfork), but Tom Brady keeps pouring it on with Wes Welker and new deep threat Brandon Lloyd, a player he will soon learn to love.
Pats win 38-17.
Seahawks @ Cardinals: Who's even the Cardinals' starting quarterback? Hold on, I actually have to look it up... Okay, Rotoworld tells me that John Skelton is the starter. Do I need to explain anymore? Alright, here's something - Marshawn Lynch. He might not play, but I still don't see the Cardinals scoring enough points to win.
Seahawks win 21-9.
49ers @ Packers: Gotta say, I can't wait to watch this game. Offensive powerhouse versus defensive powerhouse. As Madden used to say in his old video games, "what happens when an unstoppable force meets and immovable object?" I'm actually taking the immovable object on this one. It's not yet frigid in Lambeau, and Aaron Rodgers is coming off of a bad preseason, and while I expect him to have another sensational year, he may not come out on fire. I like the Niners additions of Randy Moss and Mario Manningham to improve their passing game, and they've still got their big offensive line and bruising runners. Also, Green Bay gave up the most yards in the league last year and was only 19th in scoring defense.
Niners win 27-24. I'll take it a step further on this one: they win on a 17-yard Vernon Davis touchdown to take the lead.
Panthers @ Buccaneers: I'm a big Cam Newton fan. I'm very excited for the Panthers that Jon Beason is returning and that Luke Kuechly will be helping out at linebacker. However, I also love the Bucs' additions of Vincent Jackson at receiver, Carl Nicks at guard, and Doug Martin in the backfield. I think the Bucs will be revitalized after an embarrassingly disappointing season last year, and they will put up a good fight with the Panthers at home. However, Davin Joseph, arguably the Bucs' second best offensive lineman, will not be playing. I still think the Bucs will run pretty well on the Panthers and get Jackson and Mike Williams the ball in the passing game, but Cam and the Panthers will be too much for last year's 30th ranked defense.
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.