We were treated to a phenomenal season opener Thursday night in the Packers' win over the Saints, and that puts me at a perfect 1-0 for my game predictions this year. The season's first weekend of NFL football kicks off tomorrow, so it's time to predict the rest of the games.
Last week's record: n/a
2010 season record: 168-88 (65.6 percent)
Falcons over Bears—The Falcons are my projected Super Bowl champions this year (though with the way the Packers played Thursday, a repeat is in the cards). I like Matt Ryan and the Dirty Birds to get off to a fast start and edge the Bears in this one.
Browns over Bengals—I'm not a huge fan of Colt McCoy as an NFL starter or even Peyton Hillis as a long-term starting running back, but the Bengals are back to square one with Andy Dalton and I don't see them being productive this year.
Chiefs over Bills—I think the Chiefs were a bit of a fluke last year, and it doesn't help that Matt Cassel is banged up and he's already lost his starting tight end for the year. I do like them to beat an overrated Bills team though.
Eagles over Rams—Sam Bradford has the Rams up and coming, but I don't think they are really ready to compete with the elite teams of the NFC. I like the Eagles in this one.
Buccaneers over Lions—Detroit is much improved over recent years, but their offensive line and secondary still scare me and we've yet to see Matthew Stafford stay healthy. The Bucs are the third-best team in a very tough division, but they are pretty good themselves and should handle the Lions.
Titans over Jaguars—David Garrard obviously wasn't the future in Jacksonville, but I think it's a big mistake to give a veteran first-team reps all preseason and camp only to cut him right before Week 1. The Titans will take advantage of this mess and ride to victory on Chris Johnson's back.
Steelers over Ravens—This remains one of the best rivalries in the game between two very good teams, but Pittsburgh always seems to have the upper edge and I don't see what Baltimore's done to change that. Steelers win this one in a close battle.
Texans over Colts—A Colts team without Peyton Manning is one you want to play. Houston has been on the cusp of winning this division for a few years, and I don't see how Indy's offense competes with the Texans'.
Cardinals over Panthers—I can't say I'm a fan of Arizona's roster and Kevin Kolb is still very much a question mark. Carolina is still much worse though and is going to have trouble improving upon last year's 2-14 performance.
Chargers over Vikings—My predicted AFC champion, the Chargers are ready to make a run after a fluky year that saw them miss the playoffs despite having both their offense and defense ranked near the top of the league. Minnesota has too many question marks entering the season.
49ers over Seahawks—Seattle was a playoff team last year and even stunned the Saints, but I'm not sold. Both teams have serious quarterback issues here, which is why I'm taking the home team.
Giants over Redskins—New York has already lost a ridiculous amount of players due to injury, but they still have a quarterback. That's one more than the Redskins do, and that should help the Giants to victory.
Jets over Cowboys—I'm big fan of Dallas (as I seem to be every year), but the Jets have built up such a good roster of players. I'll take New York at what should be a very emotional home opener.
Patriots over Dolphins—As much as I want to see Miami win, I just can't justify picking them. New England is clearly the better team, while the Dolphins have too many question marks right now to accurately judge what kind of season this will be for them.
Broncos over Raiders—Denver wised up, keeping their productive quarterback from 2010 and relegating Tim Tebow to the bench. That alone gives them an edge over a Raiders team that is still searching for its long-term signal caller.
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Chris J. Nelson majored in journalism at Georgia State University and currently works for Turner Sports in Atlanta. He operates his own Miami Dolphins website, The Miami Dolphins Spotlight, and he can be followed on Twitter here.
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