There will be a big upset, a bitter stick-it-to-the-haters performance and a compelling rookie QB matchup in the first week of the NFL season. Before we get into specifics, let's take a look at the entire slate of games with predictions, viewing info and predictions for each.
|NFL Week 1 Schedule, Predictions and Viewing Information|
|Away||Home||Time (ET)||National TV||Prediction|
|Pittsburgh||New England||8:30 p.m.||NBC||New England 40-31|
|Green Bay||Chicago||1 p.m.||Fox||Green Bay 21-14|
|Kansas City||Houston||1 p.m.||CBS||Houston 20-6|
|Cleveland||New York||1 p.m.||CBS||New York 16-7|
|Indianapolis||Buffalo||1 p.m.||CBS||Buffalo 20-13|
|Miami||Washington||1 p.m.||CBS||Miami 30-10|
|Carolina||Jacksonville||1 p.m.||Fox||Carolina 9-7|
|Seattle||St. Louis||1 p.m.||Fox||St. Louis 24-19|
|New Orleans||Arizona||4:05 p.m.||Fox||Arizona 20-14|
|Detroit||San Diego||4:05 p.m.||Fox||Detroit 35-29|
|Tennessee||Tampa Bay||4:25 p.m.||CBS||Tennessee 20-17|
|Cincinnati||Oakland||4:25 p.m.||CBS||Cincinnati 32-28|
|Baltimore||Denver||4:25 p.m.||CBS||Baltimore 27-24|
|New York||Dallas||4:30 p.m.||NBC||Dallas 32-20|
|Philadelphia||Atlanta||6:55 p.m.||ESPN||Philadelphia 27-20|
|Minnesota||San Francisco||10:15 p.m.||ESPN||Minnesota 23-10|
The Seattle Seahawks have been as good as any team in the NFL over the last three seasons. They have compiled a 36-12 record and gone to two straight Super Bowls. With another strong roster and motivation to win after the disappointment in Super Bowl 49, the Seahawks might appear to be unbeatable in this game.
There's no question the Seahawks are one of the best teams in the NFL, but they will lose on the road against a motivated St. Louis Rams team in Week 1.
Per Odds Shark, the Seahawks are 4.5-point favorites.
Seattle is known for its defense—though it will be playing without holdout safety Kam Chancellor, per Marc Sessler of NFL.com—but the Rams defense is a formidable group. Robert Quinn has established himself as one of the premier pass-rushers, and Chris Long returns after missing most of the 2014 season with an injury.
If St. Louis can get penetration into Seattle's backfield, this could be the kind of grind-it-out game Rams head coach Jeff Fisher thrives in.
Ten of the Seahawks' 12 losses over the last three years have been on the road. Two of those defeats were at the hands of the Rams, and that includes a 28-26 loss in Week 7 last year.
Seattle may go back to the Super Bowl—and even win it—but it will begin the season 0-1.
Brady Will Be in Top Form
Tom Brady's four-game suspension is lifted, and he's not talking in detail about the ordeal, but you can bet he wants to come out and perform well in his return to the field.
Playing against the Pittsburgh Steelers defense should help him put up big numbers. The Steelers D might be one of the worst in the league in 2015. The secondary is mediocre at best.
Here's what Rob Rossi of TribLive.com said about Pittsburgh's chances of slowing down Brady on Thursday night:
Tomlin's suspect secondary has nowhere to hide Thursday night. And fresh off capping the knees of professional sports' most powerful commissioner, Brady might make like “Whitey” Bulger against a group of Steelers who probably couldn't cover actual elephants.
At cornerback: Antwon Blake and William Gay. At strong safety: Will Allen. At free safety: Mitchell.
At risk: Any and every Steelers' lead.
Pittsburgh might find it hard to get a lead without running back Le'Veon Bell and wide receiver Martavis Bryant, per Rossi. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger will be forced to lean heavily on all-world receiver Antonio Brown. If the Patriots defense can just be decent, and give Brady as many shots at Pittsburgh's secondary as possible, he'll light them up.
The Pats will win big at home.
Mariota Will Get the Best of Winston
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Tennessee Titans aren't very good this year, so there's not a ton of discussion around their Week 1 matchup. However, because it will pit the No. 1 and No. 2 overall picks in the draft against each other in their pro debuts, it's a pretty big deal.
The Titans' Marcus Mariota and Bucs' Jameis Winston have met before. Mariota led the Oregon Ducks to a 59-20 win over Winston's Florida State Seminoles in the 2015 Rose Bowl, and he'll again get the better of Winston on Sunday.
Throughout the preseason, Mariota looked like the more polished player—though that wasn't supposed to be the case. He completed 70 percent of his passes and tossed just one pick in the exhibition games. Winston threw only two picks, but he looked less comfortable in the pocket and on the run.
Adam Schein of NFL.com pulls no punches in his belief that Mariota is and will be the superior player. Schein wrote:
I believe that everyone will believe in the Titans QB after this year. He's a savvy, versatile and tremendously gifted player. A guy without any baggage. The exact kind of guy you want to build a team around. Marcus Mariota will have a better rookie season than Jameis Winston, a harbinger of things to come for both in their respective careers.
I'm not sure he's right about the long-term prognosis, but we're in total agreement about Sunday's opener. The Titans will eke out a win, and Mariota will claim Round 1 of what will be an omnipresent comparison between him and Winston for the entire time both men are in the NFL.