NFL Week 1: 16 Games, 32 Teams and 32 Storylines

Mike Pendleton@MP2310Correspondent ISeptember 10, 2010

So It Begins: 16 Games, 32 Teams, 32 Storylines For Week One in The NFL

0 of 32

    Can you feel it? The NFL season is just a few hours away and so, before the kickoff of opening night there are many questions.

    Will the Saints repeat? Did Brett make the right decision? Will the Jets be a serious Super Bowl contender? Those are all-season questions.

    Put together for you here are 32 questions for only Week 1 in this upcoming NFL season.

    Week-by-week story lines are made. We've gone through training camp, pre-season and injuries to get this far, so now let the games begin.

Vikings @ Saints (Vikings) Favre Returns, Without Sidney Rice

1 of 32

    He's back, again. Just falling short last season of the Super Bowl, Favre returns to the Minnesota Vikings but this time, his top wide receiver option, Sidney Rice isn't there due to injury. Percy Harvin will play in Thursday Night's game but the migraine questions are always an issue.

    So the big question is, did Favre make the right decision coming back and how will he fare against the Super Bowl champs? All eyes are on Favre and the under-manned Vikings offense to even keep up with Drew Brees and the high powered offense he runs.


    Update: This article was started in the afternoon but finished after the Thursday night opener. The Saints and Vikings both seemed sloppy, but the Saints came out on top 14-9. 

Vikings @ Saints (Saints) New Orleans Begins Super Bowl Repeat Run, Sharper Hurt

2 of 32

    Head coach Sean Payton was a genius last year, controlling the league's best offense along with his quarterback Drew Brees. So can they do it all over again?

    The Saints lost Mike Bell to free agency but that opens the door for more carries with Pierre Thomas.

    The Saints also lost Darren Sharper to knee surgery who could miss up to six weeks. There has been some pieces lost for the Saints but they aren't major.

    The question for the Saints is will they have a Super Bowl hangover and will Brees have the "Madden Curse?"

    I like New Orleans to beat Minnesota 28-17


    Update: This article was started in the afternoon but finished after the Thursday night opener. The Saints and Vikings both seemed sloppy but the Saints came out on top 14-9. 

Dolphins @ Bills (Dolphins) Brandon Marshall Debuts

3 of 32

    With the wildcat offense in effect, the Dolphins head up to Buffalo to take on a lowly Bills team. The Dolphins finally have their quarterback, Chad Henne and in the off-season went out and got him a big-time wide receiver, Brandon Marshall.

    Question here is, with Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams at running back, can they make more opportunities for Marshall?

    Chad Henne's fantasy stock relies on Marshall and the best way to begin is with a weak opponent. 

Dolphins @ Bills (Bills) Rookie CJ Spiller Gets The Start

4 of 32

    Welcome to the league, rookie. CJ Spiller was one of the most explosive college players in all of football last season and was picked by Buffalo with the No. 9 overall spot in this year's draft.

    With no true quarterback or wide receiver threat (sorry, Lee Evans) the Bills will turn to this kid out of Clemson for a lot of offense.

    Can he shoulder the load? With injured running backs Marshawn Lynch and Fred Jackson still available to play, if Spiller begins to slip he could easily be out of the game.

    If Buffalo wants to prove they're not a joke, Spiller will have to take it to the max against a new and improved Miami defense. 

    Miami wins 24-10

Bengals @ Patriots (Bengals) The T.O.chocinco Show Begins

5 of 32

    This is where it truly begins. Before, Chad Ochocinco's mouth was enough to give defensive coordinators and opponents a big time headache. Now the fact that Carson Palmer has Owens and Ochocinco to throw to, is the major headache.

    The question of can they co-exist or when will the friendship turn into drama isn't even a question.

    That's a nonsense comment and these two players want to win. New England has a banged-up secondary, so the Bengals, who also have rookie Jermaine Gresham to throw to, have a slight edge in this game.

    Let the entertainment begin.

Bengals @ Patriots (Patriots) Wes Welker Returns; Injured Secondary

6 of 32

    If all goes well, Welker will be on the field for Week 1. For New England, that's the best news they can get as of right now.

    With a banged-up secondary, the Patriots may want their offense on the field a lot longer then their defense.

    So how will the secondary hold up against the Bengals' high-powered offense? The offense must put together long scoring drives if they want to be able to hold off Cincinnati. 

    I feel New England will put up a fight but in the end, there might be just to much OchoOwens.

    Bengals beat Patriots 35-24

Ravens @ Jets (Ravens) Anquan Boldin, TJ Houshmanzadeh Who's More Effective?

7 of 32

    Easier said than done, but either TJ Houshmanzadeh, the newest Raven or Anquan Boldin, the new Raven will have to visit Revis Island. Can either of them destroy that island or at least make it less valuable?

    Good news for Ravens fans is the fact that Joe Flacco now has more weapons.

    Ray Rice and Willis McGahee are both prepared, and although Ed Reed will miss this game against his former defensive coordinator, Rex Ryan, the defense is prepared.

Ravens @ Jets (Jets) Rex Ryan, New Weapons Face His Old Team.

8 of 32

    "There's nothing you can't do, these lights will inspire you."

    If those lyrics mean anything to Rex Ryan or the New York Jets, they will come out in style against the Ravens.

    They got their star player, Darrelle Revis, back and just ended their time on HBO's "Hard Knocks."

    Has all the media attention gone to their head? The fans hope not.

    Mark Sanchez comes in with higher expectations, and new arrivals LaDainian Tomlinson and Antonio Cromartie will have some eyes on them as well to prove they were worth the signing. 

    To much offense and defense for Baltimore for them to win.

    J-E-T-S are victorious in this one. 21-17

Browns @ Buccaneers (Browns ) Jake Delhomme Tries To Revive Career

9 of 32

    From Carolina to Cleveland, Delhomme has switched teams but the position of those teams remain the same: questionable.

    Will Jerome Harrison live up to his late-season breakout last year? Will Mohammed Massaquoi become a true No. 1 receiver?

    Those are all-season questions.

    The Week 1 question is, with Jake Delhomme at quarterback, can the Browns squeak one out vs. Tampa Bay? He must bring veteran leadership and exceed expectations if that is to happen.

Browns @ Buccaneers (Buccaneers) Youth Movement In Tampa

10 of 32

    Quarterback Josh Freeman is listed as questionable at the time of this write-up but seems ready to go. How effective will he be? That all relies on his offense, which is headlined with rookies at the wide receiver position.

    Cadillac Williams and Kellen Winslow will need to help Freeman out as they are the true veteran weapons for Tampa.

    Rookie wide receivers Mike Williams and Arrelious Benn will need to be able to stretch the field.

    I'll take the Buccaneers in an ugly game, 13-10 

Falcons @ Steelers (Falcons) Matt Ryan, Michael Turner Return Healthy

11 of 32

    The Falcons can do it; they can reach the Super Bowl. For that to happen, Matt Ryan, Michael Turner and Roddy White, along with Tony Gonzalez, must play to the highest level they can.

    That once again is a season question. Last year, Ryan and Turner both battled injuries and the Falcons fell off.

    Facing an always-tough Pittsburgh defense Ryan will have his work cut out for him.

    The fact that the Falcons under-performed last year could be helpful if they come out and dominate Pittsburgh. 

Falcons @ Steelers (Steelers) How Will Dennis Dixon Perform?

12 of 32

    No Big Ben til at least Week 6. Dennis Dixon was named starter earlier this week and now all eyes are on him to perform.

    Can he take advantage of the offensive weapons that Pittsburgh has including, Rashard Mendenhall, Hines Ward, and Mike Wallace?

    Atlanta has upgraded their defense and is a perfect game for Dixon to prove his worth.

    When all said and done, if Dixon can perform and lead Pittsburgh to victory, he may be attractive for other teams who need help at quarterback in the trade market.

    Atlanta doesn't have as many problems as Pittsburgh, so I like the Falcons in this one, 35-21.

Colts @ Texans (Colts) Peyton Tries To Get Rid of The Houston Headache

13 of 32

    Will Donald Brown start sometime this season? How will Anthony Gonzalez fare now that Pierre Garcon and Austin Collie have shined during his absence? Season questions.

    Big question for Indianapolis, who usually don't have questions is, can they continue dominance against Houston?

    The Texans have fallen short almost every time, but this time they could give the Colts a true test. 

Colts @ Texans (Texans) How Will Highly Praised Arian Foster Begin?

14 of 32

    After a successful preseason and injury to rookie Ben Tate, Arian Foster was named the starting running back for now.

    Andre Johnson has his contract and while Brian Cushing is suspended for the first four games, can the defense become more of a factor?

    Facing Peyton Manning is never easy, but then again neither is facing Andre Johnson.

    The Texans have a lot more pride coming into this season and will truly put up a fight against the favored Colts.

    Arian Foster could be the reason they win or lose. If they win he might create opportunities for Matt Schaub to find Johnson if he runs well.

    Hard to go against Peyton. Colts win, 27-21

Broncos @ Jaguars (Broncos) Tim Tebow, Will He Even Play?

15 of 32

    Standing on the sidelines or making an impact? It's one or the other for highly praised quarterback rookie Tim Tebow. No more Brandon Marshall, meaning no true big threat for the Broncos.

    Eddie Royal, Jabar Gaffney, Demaryius Thomas and Ed Decker are all the wide receivers that Kyle Orton has to work with.

    Will Tim Tebow make a case for starter or will he be used in the "Wild Bronco" package?

    Jacksonville isn't strong, so he may get a shot in the first game of the year.

Broncos @ Jaguars (Jaguars) Searching For Identity Begins Vs Denver.

16 of 32

    While he is a backup option in fantasy football, the Jaguars start David Garrard week in and week out.

    With Maurice Jones-Drew being the key for their offense, Garrard doesn't have much to work with outside of Mike Sims-Walker.

    The defense upgraded with the arrival of linebacker Kirk Morrison, but will he be as consistent as he was in Oakland? The Jaguars have many question marks on the field this season, so this will be a very ugly game.

    I'll take the Broncos in a close game, 17-14

Raiders @ Titans (Raiders) Jason Campbell Era Begins

17 of 32

    Darren McFadden and Darrius Heyward-Bey have both heard the word "bust" thrown around their name when people speak of the Raiders offense.

    With all due respect to these two, JaMarcus Russell was the starting quarterback when they came to Oakland. 

    Now Jason Campbell is there and he is a huge upgrade from JaBustus. The Raiders may be known more for their defense, and rookie linebacker Rolando McClain could have a huge year, but if the Raiders want to start the season right, they must control the Titans offense.

    As much as it falls on Campbell to start hot, it also falls on the defense to control Chris Johnson, who ran for over 2,000 yards last season.

Raiders @ Titans (Titans) Chris Johnson Looks to Repeat and Start Right

18 of 32

    Looking into the future is a mystery. The one thing Titans fans should be proud of is the way the season ended for Tennessee last season, on a high note.

    Vince Young was named the starting quarterback after the team started their season 0-6. Young then led Tennessee to an 8-2 record over their next 10 games and nearly made the playoffs.

    The question is, with Oakland's above-average defense, can Chris Johnson start his season off right?

    Vince Young has looked like a new man in pre-season and that can only mean headaches for defensive coordinators. 

    Behind the arm of Vince Young, not the legs of Chris Johnson, the Titans squeak a victory out, 24-21

Chiefs @ Chargers (Chiefs) Eric Berry Looks to Impress in Rival Debut

19 of 32

    Thomas Jones and Dexter McCluster are the new offensive weapons for quarterback Matt Cassel but it may be the defense, not offense, that keeps the Chiefs alive.

    Kansas City has struggled in the past few years searching for their identity but made good improvements in the draft.

    Eric Berry, the No. 4 overall pick, is now playing safety for the Chiefs and came into camp as the most NFL-ready rookie.

    He's got size, speed, hands, ability to make big plays and just so many more attributes. If the Chiefs want to keep San Diego in check, their defense must come to play.

Chiefs @ Chargers (Chargers) Ryan Mathews Debuts; No Vincent Jackson

20 of 32

    Putting defenders on the ground is something that the Chargers hope Ryan Mathews can do in place of LT.

    Vincent Jackson is suspended and likely holding out, so Philip Rivers will have new receivers to go to along with Mathews, a rookie running back.

    Whether it is throwing the ball or running it, the Chargers can easily dominate Kansas City in this game. Just as easily as they can dominate the game, they can also lose it.

    With new names and under-the-radar players, San Diego has their work cut out for them. The AFC West won't just be handed to them like last season. 

    Chargers win this one easily, 24-7

Redskins @ Cowboys (Redskins) How Will McNabb The Redskin Fare Against Dallas?

21 of 32

    In an unusual off-season trade, McNabb went from Philadelphia to Washington, a division rival. The unusual part about the whole trade is 1) he left Philadelphia and 2) he stayed in the division.

    While Washington isn't the strongest team in the NFC East, McNabb completely upgrades their team.

    With new coach Mike Shanahan in town, ready to win, McNabb has a lot to fulfill, except shoes. He's an upgrade from Jason Campbell and will just need his weapons to be there if Washington plans on winning games.

    Hello, Chris Cooley! Donovan McNabb might look to use his tight end a lot this year, especially against Dallas.

    It'll be a great Sunday night game, that's for sure.

Redskins @ Cowboys (Cowboys) Cowboys Begin With Super Expectations

22 of 32

    Tony Romo and the Cowboys have high expectations, actually, they're super.

    The Super Bowl will be played in Dallas this year but the season question is, will Dallas being playing inside it?

    New rookie Dez Bryant also has high expectations to take the No. 2 spot behind Miles Austin at wide receiver.

    Will the Redskins defense be a factor against this high-powered offense for Dallas?

    Rumors of an Albert Haynesworth trade have been heard, but nothing is imminent. Dallas should take care of Washington in the Jerry Jones' Palace.

    Too many offensive weapons for Romo to lose this game. Cowboys win 31-17

Panthers @ Giants (Panthers) Can The Rushing Attack Repeat From Last Season?

23 of 32

    Last year's match-up between these two teams wasn't fair. Just like the stiff-arm to the defender, it was a rough time for the Giants against Carolina last season.

    With DeAngelo Williams out for this game last year, Jonathan Stewart came in and ran like a possessed man for 206 yards against New York.

    Also for Carolina can Matt Moore remain starter all season or will second round pick Jimmy Clausen find himself starting this season?

    The passing attack will need to take pressure off "Double Trouble" if they want to win.

    Meaning rookie Brandon LaFell and Steve Smith must be the top two wide receivers that they are.

Panthers @ Giants (Giants) Ahmad Bradshaw Gets His Shot.

24 of 32

    Has the right choice been made? The Giants had an up-and-down season last year, ending on the down.

    With Brandon Jacobs not proving his worth, the Giants have named Ahmad Bradshaw, a more explosive player, the starting running back.

    Carolina's defense looked strong in the pre-season and will also need to prove it was no fluke.

    Speaking of fluke, Steve Smith and Eli Manning will come out looking to show that they are who they showed they were last season, great players.

    Giants win and gain redemption, 28-14

Packers @ Eagles (Packers) Can Aaron Rodgers Build Off Excellent Pre-Season?

25 of 32

    Brett who? Aaron Rodgers has not only the Packers organization but Packers fan smiling from ear to ear.

    After an incredible pre-season the Packers and Rodgers look to state their case as not only the best team in the NFC North, but the entire NFC.

    With some guy named Brett in Minnesota losing their first game to the Saints, Rodgers can use that as an opportunity to go out and capture first place right from the start.

    No weapons on offense have been lost but defensive end Aaron Kampman did sign with Jacksonville. Packers still have a very strong case for the Super Bowl in Dallas.

Packers @ Eagles (Eagles) Kevin Kolb Era Begins

26 of 32

    Do your eyes deceive you? Donovan McNabb is no longer in Philly and the Eagles have handed the keys over to Kevin Kolb.

    In an interesting move, seeing how Kolb only played in two games last season. Youth has been the new appearance for the Eagles with young offensive stars, DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, and LeSean McCoy. 

    Whether Kolb can fill McNabb's shoes is a season question.

    The Week 1 question is how will Kolb fare against a Green Bay defense that returns the NFL's Defensive Player of the Year, Charles Woodson? This game could get very interesting, very quickly. 

    I feel this game won't be as close as it could be, Packers win, 31-14

Lions @ Bears (Lions) Will Rookie Jahvid Best Tear Up The Bears?

27 of 32

    Unless you know something other teams don't, you usually don't trade back into the first round to acquire a rookie in the draft.

    The Lions must know something everyone else doesn't when they traded back into the first to get Jahvid Best, a running back out of California. 

    His explosiveness and elusiveness could become a league envy and league destroyer.

    The Bears have many question marks coming into this game including the health of their defense.

    If Best can have his way, the Bears may have some mental health issues as well. 

Lions @ Bears (Bears) Will Mike Martz Be Worth The Hype?

28 of 32

    The man who led the "Greatest Show on Turf" now has to work with the man who led the NFL in interceptions last season.

    It wasn't all Jay Cutler's fault that he couldn't please the Bears fans since he was always running for his life, playing behind a weak offensive line.

    Devin Hester, Devin Aromashadu and Johnny Knox sound like a trio of funny guys.

    Cutler hopes those three, the three that the Bears have put all their trust into, can be a dynamic group for him to throw to.

    If Martz and Cutler want to get it started on the right foot, they will have to prove that Detroit is an easy challenge, which is something they may not be.

    Lions win a surprise game on the road, 20-17.

Cardinals @ Rams (Cards) No More Warner, Boldin. Anderson Starts

29 of 32

    Kurt Warner? Retired. Anquan Boldin? Traded.

    So now the Cardinals rely on Derek Anderson, who they named the starting quarterback after he blew out former Cardinal and now Houston Texan backup, Matt Leinart. 

    Larry Fitzgerald and Beanie Wells will be the main offensive options for Arizona and facing the St. Louis Rams is the best way to get a new look team started on the right track. Sorry, Rams fans! 

Cardinals @ Rams (Rams) Bradford Begins Professional Career in Shaky Situation

30 of 32

    It really has got to be bittersweet for the NFL's No. 1 overall pick headed into this season.

    His top option wide receiver Donnie Avery tears his ACL in the preseason and when he peeks over center he will see one of the best defensive lines in all of football, led by Darnell Dockett.

    The Rams didn't give much to Bradford as he tries to begin with a win against Arizona. They have Steven Jackson and that's about it.

    It will take a miracle for the Rams to win and for Bradford to remain on his feet more then half the game.

    Behind Larry Fitzgerald, the Cardinals win this game, 24-10

49ers @ Seahawks (49ers) Division Game For Hopeful Division Champs

31 of 32

    Looking into Frank Gore's helmet is pretty tough. The possibility of seeing San Francisco win the NFC West isn't as tough.

    The 49ers have another year of experience under head coach Mike Singletary, the strong minded defensive coach.

    The offense was the true question for San Fran last year, as Gore battled through injuries, Michael Crabtree came to the team late, and Vernon Davis took nearly half the season to break out.

    Facing a Seattle team who is searching for their identity, the 49ers should have a field day on offense. 

49ers @ Seahawks (Seahawks) Pete Carroll Era Begins With Questions

32 of 32

    Story-lines are always filled with questions. Did Seattle do right by bringing youth in with Golden Tate and Mike Williams and releasing T.J. Houshmanzadeh?

    Did Pete Carroll leave USC just to get away from allegations? Can Matt Hasselbeck stay healthy?

    The big question for Seattle headed into this game is, will they put up a fight?

    So many question marks arise for this team on both sides of the ball that they don't seem to have a chance, especially with Patrick Willis daydreaming about eating Matt Hasselbeck for dinner.

    49ers beat Seattle easily, 20-7