The 2013 NFL season arrives with a variety of preconceived notions about each team based on history and talent additions to each roster, but at the end of the day it is always an exercise in futility to properly forecast the outcome of a season.
Week 1 is perhaps the most unpredictable of them all with new schemes, players and more coming together for the first time. Home-field advantage is as important as ever, but most everything else goes out the window.
That has not stopped one team from each contest from being named a favorite. As is the case any other week, favorites will be upset. Here are three matchups that will not go as expected by many.
Note: All odds courtesy of Vegas Insider.
Minnesota Vikings Will Stomp Detroit Lions (-4.5) at Home
The Detroit Lions have home-field advantage at Ford Field against their heated NFC North rival, but that does not mean the team will suddenly become physical.
In fact, the folks in charge of odds seem to be forgetting that Minnesota swept Detroit last year, including a seven-point victory at Ford Field.
Detroit has marginally improved with the addition of running back Reggie Bush, but concerns along the offensive line continue abound and the defense did little to improve.
Adrian Peterson will once again run wild on a soft defensive front as he did last season, which saw him record 273 yards and a touchdown in two contests. This time Peterson is backed by a capable passing game thanks to the addition of Greg Jennings and rookie Cordarrelle Patterson.
The Lions may have the sexier offense, but the Vikings are more physical, can control the line of scrimmage and ultimately the pace of the game in what will be a big victory to start the season.
Prediction: Vikings 23, Lions 17
Green Bay Packers Will Exact Revenge over San Francisco 49ers (-4.5)
Last year the NFC divisional round did not go as planned for the Green Bay Packers as Aaron Rodgers and Co. were bullied on the way to a 45-31 defeat at the hands of the San Francisco 49ers.
Now Rodgers has to travel to San Francisco with Colin Kaepernick's 444 total yards and four scores fresh on his mind.
Except this time Rodgers has some help.
The presence of bruising rookie running back Eddie Lacy will allow Rodgers and the Packers to dictate the pace of the game this time around. Furthermore, Lacy's presence will hold the 49ers defense accountable.
Rodgers will also be able to pick apart a secondary now missing stellar safety Dashon Goldson (he left for Tampa Bay in free agency) as long as the line gives him time to throw. That's the matchup to watch, but Rodgers will get the ball out quick enough against a weaker secondary this time around.
Prediction: Packers 38, 49ers 30
Tennessee Titans Will Bully Pittsburgh Steelers (-7)
Once again the oddsmakers seem to need a history lesson.
Last year the Tennessee Titans welcomed the Pittsburgh Steelers to LP Field and sent them packing with a 26-23 loss.
Granted, this year's matchup is in Pittsburgh, but Tennessee has improved in key areas while the Steelers still have plenty of question marks.
For one, Pittsburgh lost receiver Mike Wallace to free agency. Secondly, rookie running back and starter Le'Veon Bell will miss the game with an injury, per Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Finally, the questionable offensive line is still an issue for quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.
On the other side, Tennessee improved this offseason in its weakest area—run blocking. Right guard Chance Warmack, the No. 10 overall pick, is a bulldozer in the running game. Free-agent acquisition Andy Levitre, who ranked as the No. 10 overall guard in football last year according to Pro Football Focus (subscription required), mans left guard.
The revamped line translates to Chris Johnson possibly re-earning his moniker "CJ2K", especially if his preseason performance of 20 carries over three games for 155 yards and a score is any indication.
The Titans may not be the most attractive team, but they play the same breed of football as Pittsburgh and will outclass the Steelers at their own game on Sunday.
Prediction: Titans 17, Steelers 10
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