Finally, we have an NFL weekend to celebrate.
This past Wednesday night; the Dallas Cowboys defeated the defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants 24-17 to officially christen the 2012 regular season.
This Sunday, all NFL teams will officially make their season debut. And yes, some favorites will win their opener rather easily, while others will struggle to take control of the game.
Here are three NFL Week 1 shockers you’ll never see coming:
Indianapolis Colts over Chicago Bears as a 9.5-pt. Underdog
It was quite an offseason for the Indianapolis Colts, as out went Peyton Manning and Jim Caldwell and in came Andrew Luck and Chuck Pagano. If you believe in preseason results, then better days are ahead for this proud franchise.
But to win on opening weekend, the Colts must exploit a vulnerable Chicago Bears defense, as linebacker Brian Urlacher hasn’t fully recovered from a lingering knee injury. Luck does have some offensive weapons surrounding him in wide receiver Reggie Wayne and tight end Coby Fleener, but the big question is can he overcome a very questionable running game by throwing the football.
Expect him to frustrate the Bears by perfectly executing the short passing game, as a win in the Windy City is an excellent start to the Andrew Luck era in Indianapolis.
Tennessee Titans over New England Patriots as a 6-pt. Underdog
The Tennessee Titans are a very hard-nosed, tough football team that rarely allows opponents to push them around on their home field.
During the preseason, young quarterback Jake Locker easily took away the starting position from Matt Hasslebeck, and he must consistently throw deep on a weak New England Patriots defensive secondary to prevail in Week 1. Also, the Titans will need running back Chris Johnson to become a dominant runner once again in 2012. He rushed over 100 yards in only four games last season.
The New England Patriots are coming off another Super Bowl appearance, and to be successful, the offensive line must protect quarterback Tom Brady in the pocket. If he’s upright, then Brady will find his talented receivers downfield, but if he’s picking himself off the ground, then it will be a long afternoon for the Pats.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers over Carolina Panthers as a 2.5-pt. Underdog
It’s a new era in Tampa Bay, as head coach Greg Schiano comes from the college ranks with a very enthusiastic approach to coaching, and coupled with some key additions has Buccaneer fans looking forward to this season. Quarterback Josh Freeman will have two new offensive weapons to throw the football at in rookie running back Doug Martin and Pro Bowl wide receiver Vincent Jackson.
Last season, quarterback Cam Newton was the biggest story in the NFL, and Panther fans hope for more of the same this year. Expect Schiano to run more blitz packages from the inside linebacker position to help negate Newton’s speed to the outside and also speed up his arm release. If the Panthers can run the football, then they will win this game—but it will be a tough task against a very active front seven.