Let The Games Begin: Week One NFL Predictions
It's been quite an off-season in the NFL, but finally it's time for a new season. Forget about last season; it's in the past. Forget about the preseason; it doesn't matter. It's time for the regular season. Time to put up or shut up.
As Hank Williams Jr. would say, "Are you ready for some football?"
I'm ready, are you?
Minnesota Vikings at New Orleans Saints
What a great way to kick off the season. The Vikings and the Saints will open the 2010 NFL season on Thursday night in a NFC Championship game rematch.
Can you imagine how different this game would be if Brett Favre wasn't playing?
However, he is, and you better believe he wants another shot in New Orleans.
Now, the question is, will Favre be able to wipe the bitter taste from his mouth and win in the Superdome? With Sidney Rice out, it's up to Percy Harvin and Bernard Berrian to step up. The defense of the Vikings is always good and could keep them in the game.
The problem is that I have a hard time believing the Vikings will contain the Saints' offense in their home opener, fresh off of a Super Bowl title.
Fasten you're seat belts, it's going to be a crazy game.
Fearless Forecast: Saints 27, Vikings 20
Cleveland Browns at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Congratulations to the Browns and the Bucs, who win the award for the worst game of the week. Seriously, is there anything appealing about this game?
Last season, both teams had offenses that were near the bottom of the NFL and defenses that weren't the greatest either. So maybe we'll see a shootout? We can only hope.
I give the Browns the slight nod in this one because of their improved defense. I think Jake Delhomme will surprise some people and play well for the Browns, at least for a few games.
This is a big chance for Josh Freeman to start his second season on a high note. This is a win-able game for the Bucs, and their wins might not come in high quantity in 2010.
Fearless Forecast: Browns 20, Buccaneers 14
Miami Dolphins at Buffalo Bills
Remember the Bills opener last year? After outplaying the Patriots the entire game, the Bills saw their lead fall apart at the end, resulting in a loss and in typical Buffalo fashion.
The Bills might not get many wins this year, but something tells me they are going to play well in their home opener. If they can't get up for this game, then what game will they get up for?
Meanwhile, on the other hand, the Dolphins come into the season with very high hopes and have their eyes on an AFC East title. Remember, only two years ago, the Dolphins shocked the NFL by winning this division.
Fearless Forecast: Bills 23, Dolphins 20.
Cincinnati Bengals at New England Patriots
Tom Brady is now two years removed from a torn ACL, just signed an extension with the Patriots, and has Wes Welker back. What could be better? Tom Brady has all his weapons back, and the Patriots offense will be scary.
Unfortunately, their defense may not be, while their opponents, the Bengals, have one of the toughest defenses in the NFL.
Likewise to the Patriots, the Bengals have high expectations for 2010 after winning the AFC North a season ago. This will be the first game where we will see "Batman and Robin" together in action. We get to find out if it will be a mistake or a steal to sign Terrell Owens.
If you ask Chad Ochocinco, Owens is still as good as Jerry Rice. But then again, so is Ochocinco to himself.
Fearless Forecast: Patriots 23, Bengals 16
Indianapolis Colts at Houston Texans
Last season I made the mistake of picking against the Colts so many times, and each time, I was wrong. It's a new season, and you would think I've learned from my mistakes, but I haven't.
Everyone has been saying it for a few years, but this season is when the Texans will finally make the playoffs. It starts with a win against the Colts.
There would be no better way for the Texans to start the season than to beat the Colts in Houston in front of their home crowd.
The Texans won't win the division, at least I don't think, but this would be a huge victory and a step in the right direction towards the playoffs. A win here sets the tone for the rest of the season.
Fearless Forecast: Texans 24, Colts 20
Denver Broncos at Jacksonville Jaguars
Here's another game that I really have no interest in watching. Unless Tim TeBow comes in, I can't see much appeal to this game.
I'm tempted to pick the Broncos in this game, because last season, during their 6-0 start, I picked them to lose every game, and I was wrong every time. I can guarantee you they don't start 6-0 in 2010 though. The Broncos defense has question marks, losing Elvis Dumervil, and on offense, Kyle Orton lost his best weapon in Brandon Marshall.
Luckily for them, the Jaguars aren't loaded with weapons on offense. Aside from Maurice Jones Drew, no Jags player was consistent last season. David Garrard has struggled to be consistent during his tenure in Jacksonville.
This game is 50-50 to me as to who wins. I'll go with the Jags for the fun of it.
Fearless Forecast: Jaguars 24, Broncos 17
Atlanta Falcons at Pittsburgh Steelers
Here's another game that I had trouble picking. With Ben Roethlisberger out for the first four weeks of the season, the Steelers have turned to Dennis Dixon. This is his chance to show what he can do. It won't come easy against a good Falcons team, hungry to return to the playoffs.
For the Falcons, they are finally healthy, and must go into rowdy Pittsburgh to open the season. With or without Ben Roethlisberger, this is a tough game. It's always difficult to win at Heinz Field.
The Steelers defense won't be as bad as last year and will get up for the opener. Remember in Dixon's only start in 2009 against the Ravens, he was impressive in a losing effort. His mobility in the pocket brings something that Byron Leftwich doesn't have.
Fearless Forecast: Steelers 16, Falcons 13
Oakland Raiders at Tennessee Titans
Before you go penciling in the Titans for this game, don't count out the Raiders. With a good defense, and finally a stable quarterback, the Raiders will be in a lot of games this year.
The Titans have playoff aspirations in 2010, and with Chris Johnson, you never know what this team can do. I don't see him having a 2,000 yard season again, but don't quote me on that.
The success of the Titans rides on Vince Young though. He has struggled with consistency since being drafted in 2006.
In this game, I'll be curious to see how the Raiders can contain Johnson, and how Campbell plays in his first game as a Raider. This will be a hard fought game.
Fearless Forecast: Titans 20, Raiders 16
Carolina Panthers at New York Giants
The Panthers have had success beating the Giants on the road, including last years, 41-9 romping. That win came with Matt Moore starting at quarterback, and because of his great play at the end of 2009, he earned a starting spot this season.
The Giants are eager to get back on the field after their collapse a season ago. The defense was a huge concern. Eli Manning had his best statistical season in 2009 and found a connection with Steve Smith in the process.
This is another game where either team can win. I'll go with the Giants though.
Fearless Forecast: Giants 31, Panthers 28
Detroit Lions at Chicago Bears
If you're in a survival football pool like I am, this is the best pick of the week. There's no reason why the Bears shouldn't win this one.
Jay Cutler was perhaps the most disappointing player of the 2009 season, but with Mike Martz aboard as the Bears offensive coordinator, Cutler could flourish. Last year was also a disappointing season for Matt Forte, and I suspect he will be better this season.
The Lions will have a good offense this season, but their defense will be their downfall. I think Matthew Stafford will struggle in this one and so will the the Lions.
Fearless Forecast: Bears 34, Lions 17
Arizona Cardinals at St.Louis Rams
As to no surprise, Sam Bradford will start for the Rams after an impressive preseason. He lost a weapon at receiver with Donnie Avery out, but it was a good move trading for Mark Clayton.
The Cardinals are a mystery. With Derek Anderson starting, you don't know what you're going to get out of him. He is really hit or miss.
This game kind of reminds me of the Lions-Falcons game two years ago when Matt Ryan was a rookie making his first career start. I'm not saying the Rams are going to go to the playoffs, but I have a feeling they will win this one, and Sam Bradford will impress.
Fearless Forecast: Rams 27, Cardinals 23
Green Bay Packers at Philadelphia Eagles
As an Eagles fan, I'm fearful about this game. I'll be at this game, and I have to say, I don't have high hopes.
Aaron Rodgers comes into the season as a quarterback who looks ready to take his team to the Super Bowl. This is just his third year as a starter, and he's been spectacular. I don't think anyone expected him to be this good, not even the Packers.
Meanwhile, the Eagles don't know what they are getting with Kevin Kolb. Similar to Rodgers, Kolb sat on the bench behind a veteran quarterback and now is the starter. If Kolb turns out like Rodgers, Eagles' fans won't have a problem with that.
Something tells me this game won't be pretty. I don't see Kevin Kolb going back and forth with Aaron Rodgers.
Fearless Forecast: Packers 31, Eagles 17
San Francisco 49ers at Seattle Seahawks
Many people are high on the 49ers this year, including myself. They need to let the Seahawks and the rest of the NFC West know that this will be their division in 2010.
The Seahawks have question marks at wide receiver with Mike Williams and rookie Golden Tate as the likely targets for most passes. With T.J. Houshmanzadeh gone, the Seahawks have gone young. Where they haven't gone yet is at the quarterback position. If Matt Hasselbeck has another down year, his career as a starter may be done.
Like I said, this is a huge game for the Niners to let everyone know this is their division. There's no reason why this team shouldn't win the division with the team they have.
Fearless Forecast: 49ers 23, Seahawks 10
Dallas Cowboys at Washington Redskins
Is this Cowboys team different than years past? We'll find out.
There's nothing better than a classic NFC East battle on Sunday Night Football, and this game is one of the most intriguing of the week.
With Donovan McNabb playing his first game as a Redskin, all eyes will be on him. His success against the Cowboys in 2009 didn't go so well as he went 0-3. But with a new team and a new season, who knows what will happen?
This game won't be easy for Dallas. The Redskins have a tough defense and a much improved team, and playing on the road at night is never easy.
Fearless Forecast: Cowboys 27, Redskins 17
Baltimore Ravens at New York Jets
Now, this is a game. There aren't many match ups better than this one in Week One, and I couldn't think of a better game to kick off Monday Night Football.
The Jets have no more distractions after locking up Darrelle Revis and come into the season with Super Bowl aspirations.
The Ravens however are thinking the same thing: a Super Bowl title. In an offseason in which the Ravens saw their offense get much better, it's time to put it all on the field.
Emotions will be high in this game with Rex Ryan playing his former team.
Fearless Forecast: Ravens 17, Jets 10
San Diego Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs
Finally, to end Week One, we have the Chargers and the Chiefs squaring off in an AFC West battle.
The Chargers should win this one, but I wouldn't count out the Chiefs, seeing as it's their home opener and maybe they'll get up for it.
That all comes down to one thing though: the play of Matt Cassel. This is a huge year for him to prove he's worth the money.
Phillip Rivers should have no problem against a bad Chiefs' defense, and really, neither should the Chargers.
Fearless Forecast: Chargers 38, Chiefs 24