It's no small feat to go into an opposing team's stadium in Week 1 of the NFL season and grab a win. Unfortunately, there will be some squads who come oh-so-close to accomplishing that only to come up just short.
There are three matchups on the docket this weekend that look to fit the bill.
The Green Bay Packers will visit the Bay area to take on the San Francisco 49ers in what is normally a hard-fought contest. These two squads also met in the NFC Divisional round in 2012-13.
Across the country, the Philadelphia Eagles will take part in an East Coast battle on the road with their division rival, the Washington Redskins.
And, last but not least, the Cincinnati Bengals are looking to live up to the hype this season and take care of business away from home against a team with a new leader roaming the sidelines, the Chicago Bears.
Let's take a look at each of these showdowns and why the road team will just miss winning the game.
Week 1 Picks
|Baltimore at Denver||Denver|
|Tampa Bay at New York Jets||Tampa Bay|
|Arizona at St. Louis||St. Louis|
|New York Giants at Dallas||Dallas|
|New England at Buffalo||New England|
|Cincinnati at Chicago||Chicago|
|Miami at Cleveland||Miami|
|Atlanta at New Orleans||Atlanta|
|Tennessee at Pittsburgh||Pittsburgh|
|Minnesota at Detroit||Detroit|
|Oakland at Indianapolis||Indianapolis|
|Seattle at Carolina||Seattle|
|Kansas City at Jacksonville||Kansas City|
|Green Bay at San Francisco||San Francisco|
|Philadelphia at Washington||Washington|
|Houston at San Diego||Houston|
Green Bay Packers (at San Francisco 49ers)
In two meetings last season, the 49ers topped the Packers in both. The first occurred during Week 1 of the 2012-13 NFL season, but the eight-point win for San Fran was without its current quarterback, Colin Kaepernick.
Then came the playoffs when the Pack lost to the Niners in the divisional round, 45-31. Sure, the score looks a bit lopsided now, but Green Bay was only one touchdown behind going into the fourth quarter of that one.
Quarterback Collin Kaepernick is very much a threat to the weak Packers defense, but this is a unit that has become quite familiar with the sophomore QB after he thrashed them in the playoffs last season. Chances are, the Packers will have a smarter approach to containing the talented signal-caller.
Beating a team like the Niners who can play defense is no small task, but the Packers have a great offense led by elite quarterback Aaron Rodgers. It remains to be seen if the Pack can improve their rushing attack from last season, but the passing game will no doubt be there.
That will enable Green Bay to make up for their lackluster defense by matching whatever point total the Niners put up. If things go according to plan, this will be a pretty high-scoring affair with the Packers falling just short—possibly on the final drive of the game.
Final score: 49ers 34, Packers 28
Philadelphia Eagles (at Washington Redskins)
The Eagles were a dreadful 4-12 last season, but now the team from Philly has a new life with a brand new head coach in Chip Kelly. The former Oregon Ducks coach will look to implement his frantically-paced offense in a new league after it was wildly successful in college.
Who knows if it will even work out for the Eagles and their offense. However, there may need to be an adjustment time for opposing defenses to catch on and keep up with the new style and pace Kelly is bringing to Philadelphia.
That will leave the door open for the Eagles to surprise the Redskins in this game and put some points on the board. And remember Michael Vick now because Week 1 may be the healthiest you see him all season and that bodes well for the Eagles.
Quarterback Robert Griffin III will make his long-awaited return to the field after missing all of the preseason following last year's knee injury. Griffin III will likely play well, but there is an undeniable chance that he is rusty considering he hasn't taken part in full practices during the offseason or exhibition games to get ready.
In the event that's the case, the Redskins may play down to their Week 1 opponents which would make this game a lot closer than many people may think.
Final Score: Redskins 24, Eagles 20
Cincinnati Bengals (at Chicago Bears)
There are high expectations for the Bengals this season. With many predicting that the Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens will have bad seasons in 2013-14, Cincy is rising to the top of the AFC North division as the favorite.
The truth is that Cincinnati's roster is not vastly improved from last season when it won 10 games. Meanwhile, the Bears have made improvements during the offseason to shore up a huge weakness on its offense: The offensive line.
Chicago added Jermon Bushrod and Matt Slauson through free agency, and drafted Kyle Long to beef up the O-line. Those three additions will go a long way in improving pass protection for Jay Cutler against what is looking like another solid defensive unit for the Bengals.
However, the Bears will also have an elite defense this season. Losing their leader Brian Urlacher may have been tough, but that means the Bears are a bit younger and faster in their front seven. Even if the Bengals are successful in stopping the Bears offense, Chicago has the defense to back it up.
Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton has never been much of a fast starter in his two previous season-opening games and the same will likely happen here. The only problem is that Dalton's mistakes will be magnified as the Bears have the kind of defense that can force turnovers and make something happen with them.
Final Score: Bears 17, Bengals 14
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