NFL Predictions Week 1: Kevin Kolb and 5 New Additions Guaranteed To Impress
The NFL's abbreviated offseason generated a ton of movement in the free agent and trade markets. Some of the big names that moved to new places are expected to contribute right away and provide results as early as Week 1.
Of the new additions, Kevin Kolb of the Arizona Cardinals may have the most pressure on him to perform. Along with Kolb, here are five other guys who will come through and impress in Week 1 of the NFL season.
Kevin Kolb, Arizona Cardinals
Kolb may have the most to prove this season after not really getting a chance to show his stuff with the Philadelphia Eagles. The Arizona Cardinals paid a hefty price for the fifth-year pro this offseason, sending Pro Bowl cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and a second-round pick to the Eagles in return for him. The Cards then gave Kolb a six-year, $65 million contract and immediately handed him the starting quarterback job.
So, yeah, I'd say he's under a fair bit of pressure.
Luckily for Kolb, he has one of the NFL's best safety blankets in Larry Fitzgerald lining up as a wide receiver for him.
In four preseason games, Kolb put up very good numbers. He finished the exhibition season completing 22-of-40 passes (55 percent) for 356 yards, with one touchdown no interceptions. His quarterback rating of 93.3 looks good and he appears to already be comfortable in Arizona's offense.
If he can up that completion percentage and find Fitzgerald often, he should have a great debut this week against the Carolina Panthers.
Bob Sanders, San Diego Chargers
The San Diego Chargers signed Bob Sanders to a very low-risk, one-year, $2 million deal this offseason, rolling the dice on the oft-injured safety.
When healthy, Sanders has proven to be one of the best defensive players in the NFL. Unfortunately, the 30-year-old has only played in eight games since the beginning of 2008. That's a horrible track record.
If Sanders somehow remains healthy, he could provide a huge boost to a Chargers team whose defense already led the NFL in yards allowed per game last season. Putting Sanders at strong safety, with Eric Weddle lining up beside him at free safety, gives San Diego an imposing back two. Throw in cornerbacks Quentin Jammer and Antoine Cason and the Chargers boast one of the best secondaries in the NFL.
Sanders has looked good this preseason and will begin the season fully healthy for the first time in years. This weekend, against the Minnesota Vikings, he should provide great support against what is sure to be a concentrated running effort led by Adrian Peterson.
Nnamdi Asomugha, Philadelphia Eagles
The biggest prize of the offseason was former Oakland Raiders cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha. And in a case of the rich getting richer, the Philadelphia Eagles scooped up the Cal product on a five-year, $60 million contract. To no one's surprise, Asomugha has looked fantastic in the preseason.
Asomugha will man the right side of the Eagles defense, while fellow new addition Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie will share duties with Asante Samuel on the left side. To start out, Rodgers-Cromartie will also take the nickel back spot if the Eagles don't trade Samuel—and it doesn't look like they will this season.
Asomugha may not put up big numbers interception-wise this season, but he will certainly have an impact and give the Eagles one of the best secondaries in the NFL.
Bradford would be wise to just avoid Asomugha's side of the field in the opener. I'm sure the nine-year vet is out to justify all the money and hype he has received.
Reggie Bush, Miami Dolphins
When the Miami Dolphins swung a trade with the New Orleans Saints to get running back Reggie Bush, it was either a genius move to free a playmaker from a restrictive role or a bone-headed decision to invest in a bust.
Bush has basically been handed the keys to Miami's running game and now it's up to him to prove he can actually be a feature back at the NFL level. While he faces a tough New England defense in Week 1, I think Bush will actually come through and have a solid game, setting himself up for a breakout year.
Dolphins coach Tony Sparano has said that Bush will likely get the most carries. Maybe now that he will be getting regular work, he will finally find a rhythm and prove he can be a good NFL running back. We all know he can catch the ball out of the backfield and contribute as a return man, but Bush clearly thinks he can do more than that.
Bush's work ethic has impressed virtually everyone around the Dolphins. If that translates to on-field success, he's well on his way to a big season.
Johnathan Joseph, Houston Texans
The Houston Texans knew their secondary was atrocious last year. They ranked dead last in passing yards allowed per game (267.5) in 2010 and were in desperate need of an upgrade. So they went out and signed Johnathan Joseph to a five-year, $48.75 million contract on July 28 to help shore things up.
Joseph was regarded as the second-best cornerback option on the market (behind Nnamdi Asomugha) and, though he has been hampered by a groin injury in the preseason, he should provide an immediate impact in the Texans secondary.
Joseph is just 27 years old, is entering his sixth year in the NFL and has grabbed nine interceptions over the past two seasons. Facing an Indianapolis Colts team without Peyton Manning in Week 1, Joseph should make his presence felt and make an impact.