NFL Predictions: Week 1
The Lombardi Trophy is the most coveted award that the NFL has to offer. It is the goal of every single team, player, coach, GM, owner, and everyone else associated with every NFL team.
At this time of year, every team is 0-0 (OK, the Saints and Vikings aren't, but they were Thursday Night). There is hope in every team across the country.
The journey for the 32 NFL teams begins this week. Here are my weekly predictions, for your review.
Carolina Panthers @ New York Giants
Nick Laham/Getty Images
Opening week of the NFL season is one of the hardest predictions of the year. We have not seen the starters play more than a half to this point, and basically, conditioning is one of the biggest keys.
The Carolina Panthers lost Julius Peppers this off season, but that may not be what kills them in 2010.
John Fox is again on the hot seat, and coaching for his career in Carolina. The Panthers have decided to go with Matt Moore, even though they drafted Jimmy Clausen out of Notre Dame.
The Giants are set at the QB position, with Eli Manning as one of the top 10 in the NFL. The Giants are opening their brand new stadium, and it is not going to be an easy task for the Panthers.
Giants - 27
Panthers - 17
Atlanta Falcons @ Pittsburgh Steelers
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images
The last time these two teams met in Pittsburgh, the game ended in a tie.
The Atlanta Falcons are a trendy pick to make it into the playoffs, while the Pittsburgh Steelers are slated by many to finish in third in the AFC North.
The Falcons offense is going to have their hands full, with Michael Turner going against one of the best run defenses in the NFL for the last 10 years. The Steelers have allowed only one running back to rush for over 100 in the last 4 years, Ray Rice of the Baltimore Ravens. If the Falcons are going to beat the Steelers, they are going to have to do so by throwing the football.
Problem is, the Steelers secondary looks more like the 2008 version than the 2009.
The real question to this game is, will Dennis Dixon be able to throw the ball against the Falcons? The Falcons were one of the worst teams in the NFL last year against the pass, and brought in Dunta Robinson to help at the position.
Steelers - 24
Falcons - 13
Cleveland Browns @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers
David Maxwell/Getty Images
The Cleveland Browns ended the 2009 season with a four game winning streak. This has many people in Cleveland with high hopes towards a better 2010.
The Buccaneers are also in a re-building process, and many people believe that they are not quite as far as the Browns.
The biggest difference is Jake Delhomme knows the Buccaneers. Playing in Carolina, Delhomme is used to what the Bucs have, he knows their weaknesses, and will exploit them.
Browns - 17
Buccaneers - 10
Denver Broncos @ Jacksonville Jaguars
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images
The Denver Broncos have had one of the craziest off seasons in the NFL. They traded away one of the top receivers in the NFL, when they traded Brandon Marshall to the Dolphins. They then traded TE Tony Scheffler to the Lions.
That was most of the Broncos offensive production last season. They then drafted Tim Tebow, who will be in Florida for his first NFL game, even though he probably won't play.
The Jaguars have been a team over the last few years that has not been to the playoffs. Many people believe this is because of Jack Del Rio. Del Rio may be near the end of his time in Jacksonville, and if he does not find a way to win this year, this could be his last year with the Jaguars.
I believe that the home field advantage for Jacksonville will be too much for the Broncos to over come.
Jaguars - 23
Broncos - 20
Indianapolis Colts @ Houston Texans
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images
The Colts are great—Yes, I know.
The Colts were in the Super Bowl last year—Yes, I know.
The Texans have never even made it to the playoffs—Again, I know.
I know that the Colts have dominated the AFC South for the last decade plus. Peyton Manning is one of the best regular season quarterbacks that has ever played the game.
The Texans are opening the season at home, and over the last few year, they have been especially tough to beat on opening weekend.
I know people will say I am crazy, but I have to go with my gut on this one.
UPSET SPECIAL OF THE WEEK
Texans - 33
Colts - 31
Miami Dolphins @ Buffalo Bills
Rick Stewart/Getty Images
Here is something that may make some of you mad, but unless something CRAZY happens in the next four months, I will not be predicting the Buffalo Bills to beat ANYONE. EVER!!!
The Buffalo Bills are one of the worst teams in the NFL, and I honestly believe that they will have the first pick in the 2011 NFL Draft. Hopefully, they will take a Quarterback because honestly, they do not have anyone on their roster that has the right to be called one.
I mean, if they signed JaMarcus Russell, it would be an improvement.
Miami has made some great strides this off season, and bringing in Brandon Marshall was the biggest. He is going to open the passing game, and bring the deep threat the Dolphins have not had in years. This will also open up the running game, and the Wildcat.
Dolphins - 27
Bills - 6
Detroit Lions @ Chicago Bears
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images
A year ago at this time, I would have said the Bears without a second thought. Over the last two off seasons, the Lions have made improvements, while the Bears have regressed.
Mike Martz has joined the Chicago Bears, and the emphasis is going to be on the passing game. The real problem is, Jay Cutler is either fantastic or horrible, and rarely anywhere in between. In the new system, I believe he will start the year closer to the horrible than the fantastic.
The Lions defense is not going to strike fear in many hearts, but neither is the Bears anymore.
Lions - 24
Bears - 17
Oakland Raiders @ Tennessee Titans
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images
During the 2009 season, the Tennessee Titans were Jeckyll and Hyde. They started the season 0-6, and finished 8-8. They played great towards the end of the year, but not enough to get them in the playoffs.
Some people think the Titans could be returning to the playoffs this year.
The Oakland Raiders on the other hand, did not play fantastic in 2009, but made some great additions to their roster this off season, including replacing JaMarcus Russell with Jason Campbell.
The Raiders are going to be better this year, than they have been in years, and it starts in Tennessee.
Raiders - 27
Titans - 21
Cincinnati Bengals @ New England Patriots
Jim Rogash/Getty Images
This game COULD be a preview of the AFC Championship game.
This game COULD be a Wild Card tie breaker.
This game COULD be between two teams that do not make the playoffs.
Anything can happen in the NFL, and the game between the Bengals and Patriots should be an excellent game.
The difference is going to be, Carson Palmer and his Dynamic Duo of Chad Ochocinco and TO, against a battered and youthful Patriots secondary.
Bengals - 31
Patriots - 27
Arizona Cardinals @ St. Louis Rams
Christian Petersen/Getty Images
Sorry, thinking about this game put me to sleep. I just found the cure for insomnia, watching this game!
The Arizona Cardinals, two years removed from the Super Bowl, are NO WHERE NEAR the team they were then. Gone are Kurt Warner and Anquan Boldin, so the passing game is GONE as well.
Sam Bradford is going to get his first "LIVE" action at the NFL level, and I hope for Rams fans that his shoulder is up to the task.
Cardinals - 13
Rams - 10
San Francisco 49ers @ Seattle Seahawks
Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images
Pete Carrol, you are NOT at USC anymore, and you are certainly not playing UCLA!
Seattle is in the middle of rebuilding their team, and the 49ers are almost complete in rebuilding theirs.
The only piece, in my opinion, that is missing in San Fran, is the QB. Even still, the 49ers defense is STACKED, with Patrick Willis as one of the best ILB's in the NFL leading the way.
The offense is even better with Vernon Davis, Michael Crabtree, and Frank Gore, to go along with a good, young offensive line, I don't think this game will even be close.
In addition, I believe that the 49ers are a QB away from being one of the best teams in the NFC.
49ers - 30
Seahawks - 13
Green Bay Packers @ Philadelphia Eagles
Sorry about the picture. Everyone had either Donovan McNabb or Brett Favre.
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
Two years ago, the Green Bay Packers decided to part ways with a legend, and Aaron Rogers is becoming one of the best QB's in the NFL. This past off season, the Eagles decided to part ways with one of their leaders, Donovan McNabb.
Can Kevin Kolb do what Aaron Rogers did? The Eagles think that he can. I think it is a possibility, but that is NOT going to be happening this year.
Kolb and the Eagles are going to have some growing pains this year, and this game is going to be one of them.
What is going to happen to the crowd in Philly if Kolb struggles early? We may just find out.
Packers - 24
Eagles - 14
Dallas Cowboys @ Washington Redskins
Larry French/Getty Images
The Dallas Cowboys are hoping to do what no other team has done in Football—play the Super Bowl in their own stadium. To do that, they are going to have to start the season hot, against the NEW Washington Redskins.
The Redskins have had trouble over the last few years, and Mike Shannahan was brought in to correct the situation. Albert Haynesworth has caused many headaches in Washington this off season, but Donovan McNabb looks to have been a good decision.
The problem is, Jason Campbell was not that bad, and how much better is McNabb? In Donovan McNabbs best year, he was throwing to TO. There is no one on the Redskins that can match what TO did that year.
Cowboys - 28
Redskins - 13
Baltimore Ravens @ New York Jets
Greg Fiume/Getty Images
Ravens vs Jets is the NFL's version of Pro Wrestling. Big names, big characters, and two hard hitting defenses make for the Game of the Week.
The Jets started the trash talking, with all the "Super Bowl or bust" and "Dream Team" coming out of New York, Ravens ILB Ray Lewis taking it personal, and calling the Jets out.
Now, all we need is to "Lets Get It On"!
Ravens improved offense is going to have it's hands full against the 2009 top rated defense. The real question becomes can the Ravens depleted secondary handle Mark Sanchez? Sanchez has some weapons, and if this game goes into a shoot out, the fate of the game will depend on Sanchez.
Ravens - 35
Jets - 31
San Diego Chargers @ Kansas City Chiefs
Harry How/Getty Images
To close the Opening Weekend in the NFL, the Chargers will travel to Kansas City to play the Chiefs.
Kansas City has taken strides to improve their roster. Scott Pioli has brought in Romeo Crennel and Charlie Weis, both have proved that they are better as coordinators then they were as Head Coaches. Back together, the last time these two coached together was when they won back to back Super Bowls with the Patriots.
This Chiefs team DOES NOT have anywhere near the talent that those Patriots teams had, and it is going to take more than one off season to build this team to a champion.
They will be better, but just not yet.
Even with the contract issues the Chargers have had this off season, they still have the most talent of any team in the AFC West, though the gap is not what it was at this time last year.
Chargers - 27
Chiefs - 14
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
Most teams that lose in the first week of the NFL season, always have a hard time making up for it. This year, there are many games that could decide playoff seeding, Wild Card births, and maybe even home field advantage.
It should be a great week of football, but at this point, ANY week of football is a good week!