Week 1 of the 2013 regular season is loaded with big-time matchups that could go either way, as teams look to right their wrongs from last year's campaign.
Coming back from starting 0-1 is in no way an insurmountable task, but getting off on the wrong foot can kill a lot of the momentum from training camp and put teams in an early hole.
Let's take a look at the teams that will struggle to a season-opening defeat on the first weekend of the regular season.
Week 1 Schedule and Predictions
|Baltimore at Denver||Thu., Sept. 5, 8:30 p.m.||NBC|
|Tennessee at Pittsburgh||Sun., Sept. 8, 1 p.m.||CBS|
|New England at Buffalo||Sun., Sept. 8, 1 p.m.||CBS|
|Cincinnati at Chicago||Sun., Sept. 8, 1 p.m.||CBS|
|Miami at Cleveland||Sun., Sept. 8, 1 p.m.||CBS|
|Atlanta at New Orleans||Sun., Sept. 8, 1 p.m.||FOX|
|Tampa Bay at NY Jets||Sun., Sept. 8, 1 p.m.||FOX|
|Minnesota at Detroit||Sun., Sept. 8, 1 p.m.||FOX|
|Oakland at Indianapolis||Sun., Sept. 8, 1 p.m.||CBS|
|Seattle at Carolina||Sun., Sept. 8, 1 p.m.||FOX|
|Kansas City at Jacksonville||Sun., Sept. 8, 1 p.m.||CBS|
|Arizona at St. Louis||Sun., Sept. 8, 4:25 p.m.||FOX|
|Green Bay at San Francisco||Sun., Sept. 8, 4:25 p.m.||FOX|
|NY Giants at Dallas||Sun., Sept. 8, 8:30 p.m.||NBC|
|Philadelphia at Washington||Mon., Sept. 9, 6:55 p.m.||ESPN|
|Houston at San Diego||Mon., Sept. 9, 10:15 p.m.||ESPN|
Note: Projected picks are in bold
There's no doubting that the EJ Manuel era is filled with promise, but until the coaching staff can clear him physically enough to assume the starting role permanently, it's tough to imagine the Bills winning many games.
That belief is only compounded by the fact that they open up 2013 with a visit from New England.
Manuel returned to practice on Tuesday, per CBS Detroit, but his chances of starting the opener are still in doubt. Either way, he'll be no match for a New England offense looking to use their playoff loss to Baltimore as season-long motivation.
The Bills are progressing at a great pace, but until they build some consistency offensively and pose enough threats, I'm taking Tom Brady every time.
Being in the losing column will soon become a familiarity for this team.
Unless newly-named starter Terrelle Pryor blossoms into a dangerous dual-threat weapon and showcases his potential, the Raiders will struggle mightily to put up points this season. Even early on, it should take some time to get rolling, if it ever does.
Meanwhile, the Indianapolis Colts will host the hapless Raiders for their Week 1 matchup, hungry to build off a miraculous 2012 campaign and continue developing their young skill position players.
Look for Andrew Luck to distance his Colts early on and give some of those developing players some added experience. Unless 2012 was a facade on the Colts' behalf, these two teams will be separated by a major talent gap.
I like what the Chicago Bears are bringing to the table for the most part this season, it just doesn't match up well to their Week 1 opponent—the Cincinnati Bengals.
After completely falling apart and throwing away playoff positioning last season, Jay Cutler and the Bears will host a Cincinnati team that suddenly boasts one of the better rosters in the AFC and is a perennial playoff contender.
The Bears were stout in pass defense and run defense last season, finishing eighth in both, but with no Brian Urlacher in the fold and an aging squad, youth in the form of A.J. Green and Andy Dalton will prevail.
Unless Charles Tillman plays out of his mind and shuts Green down, the Bengals should be able to distance themselves from the Bears at Soldier Field Sunday.