NFL Week 1 Picks: Rounding Up Top Experts' Predictions

Use your ← → (arrow) keys to browse more stories
NFL Week 1 Picks: Rounding Up Top Experts' Predictions
David Goldman/Associated Press

The media's brightest minds have spent months poring over last year's results, this year's offseason and the preseason in an attempt to make their predictions for the 2014 season.

In a way, forecasting the opening week of the regular season is arguably the most difficult, as the evidence on which you're basing your opinions is purely speculative.

These experts, culled from Bleacher Report, ESPN.com and NFL.com, have tried their best to predict how Week 1 will unfold.

Week 1 Expert Picks: NFL.com
Dan Hanzus Gregg Rosenthal Kevin Patra Marc Sessler Chris Wesseling
Saints at Falcons ATL NO NO NO NO
Vikings at Rams MIN MIN MIN MIN MIN
Browns at Steelers PIT PIT PIT PIT PIT
Jaguars at Eagles PHI PHI PHI PHI PHI
Raiders at Jets NYJ NYJ NYJ NYJ NYJ
Bengals at Ravens CIN BAL BAL BAL BAL
Bills at Bears CHI CHI CHI CHI CHI
Redskins at Texans WAS HOU WAS HOU WAS
Titans at Chiefs KC TEN KC TEN KC
Patriots at Dolphins MIA NE NE NE NE
Panthers at Buccaneers TB TB CAR CAR CAR
49ers at Cowboys DAL SF SF SF SF
Colts at Broncos DEN DEN DEN DEN DEN
Giants at Lions DET DET DET DET DET
Chargers at Cardinals SD ARI SD ARI SD

NFL.com

Week 1 Expert Picks: ESPN.com
Adam Schefter Chris Mortensen Seth Wickersham Ron Jaworski
Saints at Falcons NO NO ATL NO
Vikings at Rams STL STL STL STL
Browns at Steelers PIT PIT PIT PIT
Jaguars at Eagles PHI PHI PHI PHI
Raiders at Jets NYJ NYJ NYJ NYJ
Bengals at Ravens BAL BAL BAL CIN
Bills at Bears CHI CHI CHI CHI
Redskins at Texans HOU HOU HOU HOU
Titans at Chiefs TEN KC KC KC
Patriots at Dolphins NE NE NE NE
Panthers at Buccaneers TB TB TB TB
49ers at Cowboys SF SF SF SF
Colts at Broncos DEN DEN DEN DEN
Giants at Lions DET DET DET DET
Chargers at Cardinals SD SD SD ARI

ESPN.com

Week 1 Expert Picks: Bleacher Report
Matt Bowen Mike Freeman Michael Schottey Mike Tanier
Saints at Falcons NO ATL NO NO
Vikings at Rams STL MIN STL STL
Browns at Steelers PIT CLE PIT PIT
Jaguars at Eagles PHI PHI PHI PHI
Raiders at Jets NYJ NYJ NYJ OAK
Bengals at Ravens BAL CIN BAL CIN
Bills at Bears CHI CHI CHI CHI
Redskins at Texans HOU HOU WAS WAS
Titans at Chiefs KC KC KC TEN
Patriots at Dolphins NE NE NE NE
Panthers at Buccaneers TB CAR CAR TB
49ers at Cowboys SF DAL SF SF
Colts at Broncos DEN DEN DEN DEN
Giants at Lions DET NYG DET DET
Chargers at Cardinals SD SD SD SD

Bleacher Report

 

Takeaways

Mike Tanier's Committed to Excellence

Only one of the 13 experts listed took the Oakland Raiders to beat the New York Jets: B/R's Mike Tanier. It seems a bit odd that the Jets are carrying a near consensus. Sure, they're probably a better team than Oakland, but the gap between the two isn't so large that this game looks completely one-sided on paper.

The Raiders will start Derek Carr in Week 1. He is the better choice because he played very well in preseason and his top competition was Matt Schaub. Their respective completion percentages were 16 points apart, per ESPN Stats & Info:

B/R's Matt Miller believes that starting Carr now also makes sense because it will provide long-term benefits:

Oakland will be lucky to hit .500 this season in what is a very competitive AFC West. With that said, the Raiders aren't getting the respect they deserve heading into the season. Week 1 would be a good time to prove some of the doubters wrong.

 

Only a Crazy Man Would Trust Carson Palmer

Another team receiving surprisingly little respect is the Arizona Cardinals. In almost any other division, the Cardinals would be considered a playoff team. In the NFC West, they might win nine games.

Arizona's defense is hampered by the departure of Karlos Dansby, the suspension of Daryl Washington and the injury to Darnell Dockett. But the Cardinals still have one of the better secondaries in the league. Writing for Sports on Earth in June, Tanier ranked the unit third in the league.

He highlighted the fact that Patrick Peterson is one of the NFL's best corners and has more than enough support on the other side of the field:

The best complementary cornerback to a player of Peterson's skills is a ballhawk who can turn tons of targets into turnovers. New arrival Antonio Cromartie has made a career out of just that. Miscast as a top cover corner last year, Cromartie previously thrived when opponents had to throw the kitchen sink at their second-best receivers to avoid Darrelle Revis. As a No. 1 cornerback last year, Cromartie's errors overwhelmed his interceptions. Back in his natural role, Cromartie will be a headache for opponents, with (Jerraud) Powers sticking around as the nickel corner.

On the other side of the ball, Arizona is covered at every position except for one, which just so happens to be the most important position on the field. The Cardinals will go as far as Carson Palmer takes them, and given his mobility, or lack thereof, that's not very far.

Palmer is going to have weeks in which he goes off, though. With wide receivers Michael Floyd, Larry Fitzgerald and John Brown at his disposal, he can't be terrible all year.

Playing at home against what is a somewhat questionable San Diego Chargers secondary, the Cardinals could pull off the win.

 

So Much for the Atlanta Falcons' Home-Field Advantage

The Atlanta Falcons welcome the New Orleans Saints this week, but you wouldn't guess that by perusing the expert picks. According to Odds Shark, the Saints are 2.5-point favorites.

Major question marks still linger over the Atlanta defense. Losing Sean Weatherspoon for the entire season only exacerbates the problem. On the other side of the ball, the injury to Sam Baker leaves a massive hole on the offensive line. The Falcons must be wondering what they've done to incur the wrath of the football gods for another season.

Even if Kenny Stills is limited Sunday, Brandin Cooks should fill the void in the New Orleans passing game. Drew Brees doesn't need much help when it comes to lighting up opposing secondaries. The Falcons can't possibly keep up with the Saints offense in the event this turns into a shootout.

Matt Ryan thinks that getting all of his wide receivers back will help the Atlanta offense dictate the tempo of the game, per ESPN.com's Vaughn McClure:

"When you have veteran guys out there that have been in this game for a long time, I think it allows you to be more multiple than when you have young guys out there," Ryan said Wednesday. "So having those guys back on the field is big for us. It gives us our full complement of what we want to do offensively. It allows us to go as fast or as slow as we want to go."

The Saints look to be the class of the NFC South. Sunday would be a good time for Atlanta to upend the division hierarchy.

 

Note: This is only a smattering of the full predictions, which you can view at NFL.com, ESPN.com and Bleacher Report.

Load More Stories

Follow B/R on Facebook

Out of Bounds

NFL

Subscribe Now

We will never share your email address

Thanks for signing up.