NFL Week 1 Picks and Predictions

Jake WestrichSenior Writer ISeptember 7, 2010

Each Tuesday morning,'s NFL simulation engine will provide you with predictions, box scores and statistics for every NFL game that week. The NFL simulation engine generates detailed information including the home team's chances of winning (Home Win %), average score, and comprehensive box score link. If you want to share your new found NFL knowledge with friends and family, make sure to check out our NFL Widgets on the WhatIf To Go page or click on the social networking share bar located at the top and bottom of the article.

The statistical inputs to the thousands of NFL games simulated are based on rigorous analysis of each team's roster, depth chart, and statistically based player ranking. Roster modifications have been made for injuries and suspensions and those players are not part of their team's game simulation.

To account for injuries and roster moves announced late in the week, we will be re-simulating some games on Thursdays throughout the 2010 NFL season.

We encourage you to interact with our 2010 NFL SimMatchup feature (which is FREE) to simulate any of the games below as many times as you want. You also have the option of adjusting the depth charts to your liking.


-- READ: NFL Week 1 Power Rankings -- 


Game of the Week: Minnesota vs New Orleans

While not as ballyhooed as the examples above, the rematch of the 2009 NFC Championship has nevertheless sent football aficionados into a frenzy. The Minnesota Vikings travel to the Big Easy to battle the Saints on Thursday, officially signaling the start of the 2010 NFL season.

New Orleans will consummate the seven-month celebration of their Super Bowl success with—what else?—a parade. While not exactly the second coming of Mardi Gras, the festivities will feature musical performances, a procession strolling through the French Quarter to the Superdome, and culminate with Drew Brees and company raising their title banner in front of 73,000 Who-Dat faithful. (Allegedly, Taylor Swift and Dave Matthews will be two of the featured acts for the made-for-TV spectacle. Because when I think of the New Orleans jazz scene, I think of Taylor Swift belting out, "When the Saints Go Marching In.")

Although fan favorite Scott Fujita left via free agency, the Saints kept their championship squad relatively intact. All-Pro Darren Sharper begins the year on the PUP list, but with the Brees/Payton tandem back in action, the Saints will be looking to repeat as NFC South champs.

To the surprise of absolutely nobody, Brett Favre has come back for a 20th year, returning to the scene of his ill-advised pass attempt that ended Minnesota's 2009 championship hopes. Yet while No. 4 is back in the saddle, the Minnesota landscape has altered. Star Sidney Rice is sidelined for eight weeks after hip surgery. Chester Taylor, a favorite target of Favre's, has left for rival Chicago. Speculation abounds about the long-term health of 2009 Rookie of the Year Percy Harvin. The offensive line, once considered the foundation of the franchise, is suddenly vulnerable. (Which theoretically could pose a problem when employing a 40-year-old QB with ankle issues.)


But for all the question marks surrounding the Viking offense, Minnesota still has the services of one Adrian Peterson. The former Sooner garnered 18 TDs and rushed for nearly 1,400 yards in '09 and projects as one of the top RBs in the league in 2010.

So who does the WhatIfSports engine predict will emerge victorious? The last ten Super Bowl champions have commenced their title defenses with W's; according to our simulations, that trend will continue in 2010. The Saints come out on top 61.9% of the time, with an average score of 28-22.


Game of the Week: Falcons vs Steelers

Thanks to Favre's annual "Will he or won't he?" watch, Ben Roethlisberger's "situation" was temporarily put on the media backburner. But with Roethlisberger serving a suspension and Byron Leftwich suffering a MCL sprain, Pittsburgh has turned to 3rd stringer Dennis Dixon to start the season opener against Atlanta. Dixon, a onetime Heisman hopeful at Oregon, has just one start under his belt in his young NFL career. However, Dixon was impressive in the preseason, completing 23 of 32 passes for 327 yards, two touchdowns, and two interceptions.


After winning the 2008 Rookie of the Year, Matt Ryan fell into somewhat of a sophomore slump in 2009. Though accumulating six more touchdowns, Ryan dropped in yards, completion percentage, and QB rating. "Matty Ice" and the Falcons will try and recapture their 2008 form, a year which saw them go 11-5 and earn a playoff invite.

In the matchup of young gunslingers, Ryan shines while Dixon struggles as our projections indicate an Atlanta victory. The Falcons win at a 55% rate, with the average score of 19-18.

Here is the rest of the Week 1 schedule: