Last-Minute Predictions for NFL Week 1
It's finally here! After months upon months of agonizing waiting, the first full Sunday of the NFL season is at hand, and not a moment too soon.
Week 1 has proven to be wildly unpredictable throughout the years, and nothing encapsulates that fact more than Thursday night's season opener between the Ravens and Broncos in Denver. Who would have thought that Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning would throw for seven touchdowns on the Baltimore defense?
But the volatile nature of Week 1 won't stop us from forecasting the rest of the opening slate of games. What follows are 10 last-minute predictions.
The Bengals Will Go into Chicago and Beat the Bears
The Cincinnati Bengals are coming off back-to-back trips to the postseason, possess one of the deepest 53-man rosters in all of football and were just featured on HBO's Hard Knocks. To say that their bandwagon has reached full capacity would be an understatement.
On Sunday, the Bengals open their season in Chicago, and they'll be looking to make a statement that they're for real and are a force to be reckoned with.
Expect that to happen.
Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton will play an efficient football game and make big plays when needed. Star receiver A.J. Green will dazzle as usual, and rookie running back Giovani Bernard will score a touchdown as Cincinnati records a huge season-opening win at Soldier Field.
The victory will be the first of many for the Bengals in what's sure to be a very exciting season in the Queen City.
Colts WR T.Y. Hilton Will Dominate the Raiders
In 2012, Colts rookie receiver T.Y. Hilton burst onto the scene, catching seven touchdown passes and proving to be an explosive playmaker.
Throughout this past offseason and the preseason, Hilton has shown that he'll be even better in year two, and his campaign will get off to a rousing start in Week 1 when the Colts host the Raiders.
Indianapolis quarterback Andrew Luck will slice and dice Oakland's porous defense, and Hilton will make several big plays and score at least one touchdown in an inevitable Colts victory.
It will be the first of many big games this season for Hilton, who will soon become the darling of fantasy football players around the country.
Bills QB EJ Manuel Will Play Well, but Buffalo Will Lose to New England
Bills rookie quarterback EJ Manuel will make the first start of his NFL career on Sunday when Buffalo hosts the New England Patriots.
While the Bills won't be able to vanquish the Patriots and will fall to 0-1, Manuel will play well and give Buffalo fans reason for optimism.
In his two preseason appearances, Manuel showed full command of the team's offense and threw two touchdown passes against zero interceptions. While the Patriots certainly provide an exponentially stiffer level of competition, Manuel has the physical and mental makeup to sparkle.
Expect Manuel to make plays with his arm and legs, account for no fewer than two total touchdowns and give the Patriots defense all it can handle, albeit in a losing effort.
Seattle and San Francisco Will Win, Setting the Stage for an Epic Week 2 Game
An argument could be made that the two best teams in football both play in the NFC West: the San Francisco 49ers and the Seattle Seahawks.
Both teams will emerge victorious in Week 1. Seattle, behind quarterback Russell Wilson, will take down the Panthers in Carolina. The 49ers, led by quarterback Colin Kaepernick, will defeat Green Bay at Candlestick Park.
That will set the stage for a huge Week 2 matchup on Sunday Night Football, when the Seahawks welcome the 49ers to CenturyLink Field.
If the thought of 1-0 Seattle hosting 1-0 San Francisco in prime time doesn't give you the chills, check your pulse.
Vikings RB Adrian Peterson Will Rush for over 150 Yards in a Winning Effort
Last season, Vikings running back Adrian Peterson had a campaign for the ages, rushing for an astounding 2,097 yards. Of that, 273 of those yards came in two games against the Detroit Lions, and both of those contests ended in victory for Minnesota.
On Sunday, when the Vikings open their season in Motown against the Lions, expect a similar outcome.
Peterson will rush for over 150 yards and score at least one touchdown, all while leading Minnesota to a huge season-opening win on the road over a divisional opponent.
Buccaneers CB Darrelle Revis Will Intercept a Pass Thrown by Jets QB Geno Smith
This offseason, the Jets traded star cornerback Darrelle Revis to Tampa Bay, and as luck would have it, Revis and the Bucs open their season at MetLife Stadium against Gang Green.
If you don't think Revis will exact revenge on his former team by intercepting a pass thrown by Jets rookie quarterback Geno Smith, you haven't been paying enough attention to the Jets over the past few months.
Revis will pick off at least one pass and lead a dominant Buccaneers defensive effort as Tampa Bay easily dispatches the Jets.
Saints Will Ride a Wave of Emotion and Defeat Atlanta in Coach Payton's Return
The Saints, coming off a disappointing 7-9 campaign in 2012, open their 2013 season by hosting division-rival Atlanta, last year's NFC South champion.
While the Falcons are the superior football team and will ultimately win the NFC South again, they will lose on Sunday to the Saints, and it's because of the return of New Orleans head coach Sean Payton. You can be sure that Payton, who missed the 2012 season due to his role in the Bountygate scandal, will pull out all the stops to ensure a win in his first game back on the sidelines.
The Saints have the clear emotional edge, as Payton's return will energize what's sure to be an already raucous Superdome crowd. New Orleans will ride that wave of emotion to victory on Sunday.
Rams QB Sam Bradford Will Have a Big Game, Setting the Tone for the Season
Rams quarterback Sam Bradford is entering his fourth season in the NFL, and the pressure is on for him to deliver in a major way.
This will be the year that Bradford finally breaks out, and it begins on Sunday when the Rams host the Cardinals.
Bradford will connect early and often with tight end Jared Cook and will find success throwing the ball down the field to receivers Tavon Austin and Chris Givens.
Expect Bradford to throw for at least two touchdowns as the Rams beat Arizona, setting the tone for a big season for the No. 1 overall pick of 2010's draft.
The Giants Will Defeat the Cowboys in a High-Scoring Affair
Since the Cowboys opened AT&T Stadium (aka Cowboys Stadium) in 2009, they have yet to record a home victory against the New York Giants.
That trend will continue in a high-scoring affair on Sunday Night Football, with the Giants coming out on top in Dallas once again.
While both Eli Manning and Tony Romo will have big games, throwing for over 300 yards apiece, it's easier to trust Manning and Giants coach Tom Coughlin than it is Romo and Cowboys coach Jason Garrett when the game is on the line.
Manning's clutch gene will lead Big Blue to yet another victory in Big D.
The Redskins and Texans Will Win on Monday Night
The opening Monday Night Football doubleheader features the Philadelphia Eagles at the Washington Redskins and the Houston Texans at the San Diego Chargers.
In the first game, the Redskins and quarterback Robert Griffin III will put on an offensive clinic and beat the Eagles in a shootout.
The Philadelphia defense will struggle this season, and it certainly won't be able to slow down Washington's high-powered attack on Monday night. Expect Redskins receiver Pierre Garçon to score at least once in the victory.
In the nightcap, the Texans will dominate the Chargers. Houston's 53-man roster is vastly superior to San Diego's, and the pronounced gap between the two teams will be reflected on the scoreboard.
Texans running backs Arian Foster and Ben Tate will wear down the San Diego defense, and there's simply no way that the Chargers offensive line will be able to block Houston defensive lineman J.J. Watt, the reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year. Watt will record at least one sack of Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers.