The beauty of Week 1 in the NFL is that nobody knows what the next 16 weeks have in store. No one can accurately predict what will happen, but somebody has to try and predict what might happen. That's where I come in.
The NFL season is the mecca of lunacy, which makes it acceptable for me to make five bold predictions that err on the side of lunacy—well-researched lunacy but lunacy nonetheless—that may or may not come to fruition in the league's first week.
Maybe these predictions will all come true exactly as they are written here, or maybe they won't. Either way, the NFL is back in all its glory. Anything can happen.
Brandon Stokley will have more receptions than Wes Welker
Peyton Manning is a better quarterback than Joe Flacco. Wes Welker is a better receiver than Torrey Smith. Compare the number of targets that Manning and Flacco respectively have, and opportunity supersedes logic.
With the major losses of Anquan Boldin to free agency and Dennis Pitta to injury, Flacco’s landing strips have disintegrated to three: Torrey Smith, Brandon Stokley and Jacoby Jones.
Welker has had five seasons with 100 receptions or more in his nine-year career, but he is now one-third of a high-powered receiving unit including Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker. Not to mention, he will be lining up against Ravens cornerback Lardarius Webb, who has had Welker’s number in past playoff matchups.
If opportunity ratio isn’t the seller, than the defensive matchups are. With Champ Bailey out for Denver due to a lingering foot injury, Von Miller suspended for six games and Elvis Dumervil playing for the other team, the Broncos defense is a real question mark. Flacco should have all the time in the world to deliver air strikes in Mile High, even to Stokley.
Darrelle Revis will have more touchdowns than the Jets offense
Smith has decided to blindly enter a game against an improved Buccaneers secondary headlined by the additions of Revis and Dashon Goldson. Given that Revis is motivated to seek revenge on his former team and prove that he’s still the best corner in the NFL, Smith might want to watch some tape on rookie mistakes.
While it’s asinine to believe that it’s that easy for any NFL team to be held scoreless—and contrary to popular belief, the Jets are still a part of the NFL—Revis possesses more talent in one kneecap than any wide receiver he will be defending on Sunday. It’s possible that it will take him longer than one game to re-establish Revis Island, but it’s more possible that Smith and the Jets are stranded out at sea.
The recent selection of Newton as one of the team captains shows his growing maturity, which complements his existing talent. In other words: Watch out.
Newton’s monster-season-in-the-making doesn’t explain why he’ll outrun Marshawn Lynch this week, though. The Panthers defense is pretty good, ranking 14th overall in opponent rushing yards per game last season. Seattle’s defense is better, but the Seahawks are also missing key pieces to begin the season. The suspension of defensive end Bruce Irvin for a PED violation and the questionable early-on ability of defensive end Chris Clemons have hurt the defensive stability.
Will the Seahawks win the game? Probably. Will Cam Newton do everything in his power to change that? Absolutely.
The Packers will have a 100-yard rusher for the first time since October 10, 2010
Rookie running back Eddie Lacy will be bearing most of the brunt in the backfield for Green Bay this season. He will aided by veteran James Starks and fellow rookie Johnathan Franklin—as if the Packers needed more weapons.
You’re sitting there laughing because you think I’ve forgotten that Green Bay is facing the San Francisco 49ers’ vaunted defense, which could be considered the closest thing in the NFL to a concrete wall. Instead, you should be hoping that this prediction comes true.
A Lacy field day would instigate a fired-up Jim Harbaugh and a lot of fantastic Harbaugh gifs like this one. Then, we can all laugh together.
Jamaal Charles will rush for 200 yards
Here’s the thing: Charles doesn’t require a lot of carries to post big numbers. That’s evident by him being No. 1 in all-time yards per carry in NFL history with roughly 5.8 yards per rush throughout his career.
To paint a picture to accompany the facts, look at Week 15 of last season. Against the Indianapolis Colts, Charles accumulated 226 yards on just 22 carries for an average of 10.3 yards per carry.
Bet on that continuing right out of the gate this season, unless the muggy air in Jacksonville slows him down. The Jaguars defense won’t.
You can follow Megan on Twitter at @meganKarmstrong.