Week 1 Picks- Previews and Predictions
Yesterday I posted my preview of tonight’s game between the New York Giants and Dallas Cowboys ( See https://mrnfl.wordpress.com/2012/09/04/2012-regular-season-opener-giants-vs-cowboys-preview/) and now it’s time to look ahead to the rest of the action in Week 1.
For the first time in NFL history, five rookie quarterbacks will be starting on opening day. Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III, Ryan Tannehill, Branden Weeden and Russell Wilson have all been to the starting jobs on their respective teams and will be looking to get their NFL careers of to a winning start.
Other standout notes for this weeks games include Peyton Manning who will be making his first regular season start as a member of the Denver Broncos. The 36-year-old is in for a tough start to life as a Bronco going up against the Pittsburgh Steelers defense. As for the Broncos former starting quarterback, Tim Tebow may not be starting for the New York Jets, but he is expected to see some snaps on his debut for his new team. Whether or not he will be lined up as a quarterback however is a different matter.
Whatever happens, Week 1 should make for an exciting start to the new season.
Here my picks for this weeks games.
Colts at Bears
Andrew Luck begins life as an NFL quarterback on the road vs the Bears at Soldier Field. The Colts new 3-4 defense will face a tough test against the Bears running game with star back Matt Forte and backup Michael Bush.
Jay Cutler is back healthy for the Bears and has now gotten his old friend Brandon Marshall as a true no. 1 receiver target on the outside. Julius Peppers and co. should cause plenty of problems for Luck and his offensive line.
Colts- Luck has a mixed debut with 2 interceptions and also gets sacked 5 times.
Bears- Cutler throws for 300 yards and 4 touchdowns.
Falcons at Chiefs
Matt Ryan can no longer use the excuse of a lack of supporting cast. With receivers Roddy White, Julio Jones and Harry Douglas along with tight end Tony Gonzalez, Ryan should be set for another career year.
The Chiefs are finally healthy with key starters Matt Cassel, Jamaal Charles and Eric Berry all available for their season opener. In what will be a highly competitive AFC West, getting off to a good start could prove crucial.
Falcons- Michael Turner is held to under 50 yards rushing.
Chiefs- Jamaal Charles has 150 total yards and 3 touchdowns.
Eagles at Browns
After a disastrous 2011 season in which they surprisingly missed the playoffs, the pressure is on in Philadelphia. With a head coach whose job is on the line and a quarterback who is running out of time, the Eagles are facing a make or break year.
Just as time is running out for Andy Reid and the Eagles, Branden Weeden faces a similar situation with the Browns as the 28-year-old gets set for his first NFL start. Trent Richardson’s health will be a key factor for the Browns.
Eagles- Nick Foles plays a part at quarterback with Michael Vick still hurt.
Browns- Brandon Weeden and the Browns offense won’t gain 200 total yards.
Redskins at Saints
After trading up in this year’s draft, the Redskins finally found their franchise quarterback in Robert Griffin III. RG3 begins life in the NFL on the road in New Orleans in what will be a high-scoring game vs Drew Brees and the Saints.
Speaking of Drew Brees, the $100 million dollar man faces his first game as a Saint without his suspended head coach Sean Payton. Brees and the rest of the Saints offense are in for a tough start against a solid Redskins defense.
Redskins- RG3 struggles in passing but runs for 2 touchdowns on the ground.
Saints- Mark Ingram has his best game as a pro and runs for 100 yards along with 2 touchdowns.
Rams at Lions
After finishing with an awful 2-14 record last year, the Rams have brought in a new veteran head coach in Jeff Fisher. Quarterback Sam Bradford will look to turn around an offense that was second worst in the NFL last season.
The Lions made the Playoffs last season for the first time since 1999 and will be looking to do so again this year. Wide receiver Calvin Johnson is the best in the league and should be in for plenty of catches against the Rams cornerbacks.
Rams- Bradford throws for just 150 yards as the Rams lack of offensive weapons shows.
Lions- Ndamukong Suh starts off a new season with 2 sacks and 5 total tackles.
Patriots at Titans
This will be the youngest Patriots team in Bill Belichick’s reign as head coach and their 2012 season begins on the road in Tennessee. Tom Brady has more weapons now than ever before and Gronkowski and co. will have big games in this one.
After spending most of his rookie year on the sidelines, quarterback Jake Locker is now the Titans starter. Running back Chris Johnson will be relied on heavily to help ease the pressure on Locker and the passing game.
Patriots- Wes Welker silences his doubters with 10 catches for 100 yards.
Titans- Jake Locker has a rough opening day with 4 turnovers.
Jaguars at Vikings
Jaguars star Maurice Jones-Drew has finally returned to the team after he ended his holdout. Despite the sudden change of heart, Jones-Drew won’t be starting the game with Rashad Jennings lining up at running back.
The Vikings have running back issues of their own with sources close to the team calling Adrian Peterson 50-50 for the game. If Peterson is ruled out with injury, backup Toby Gerhart will be asked to step up in his absence.
Jaguars- Blaine Gabbert gets benched in favor of Chad Henne.
Vikings- Adrian Peterson and Toby Gerhart combine for 200 yards rushing and 2 touchdowns.
Bills at Jets
The Bills made one of the biggest splashes on the free agent market this offseason with the signing of defensive end Mario Williams. Although their defense is solid, Stevie Johnson may be their only true playmaker on offense.
The Jets offense looks to be equally unimpressive with receiver Santonio Holmes the only proven target for starting quarterback Mark Sanchez. Rookie receiver Stephen Hill will be asked to add some speed on the outside alongside Holmes.
Bills- Stevie Johnson is held to just 2 catches by Darrelle Revis.
Jets- Tim Tebow runs for a touchdown on a designed quarterback option play.
Dolphins at Texans
Although Andrew Luck faces a tough test on the road vs the Bears defense, fellow rookie Ryan Tannehill may be in for an even tougher one in Houston. Without any reliable targets to throw to, Tannehill is in for a long day.
There may not be a single team as heavily favored as the Texans are right now in the AFC South. Even if Matt Schaub get’s hurt again this season, the lack of competition means they should still go on to win back-to-back division titles.
Dolphins- Tannehill is forced to leave the game through injury.
Texans- Texans defense holds Dolphins to just 10 points.
Seahawks at Cardinals
Despite giving Matt Flynn a near $20 million contract in free agency, the Seahawks named rookie Russell Wilson as their starter for opening day. However, it’s Marshawn Lynch and Robert Turbin who will be the stars for the offense.
Larry Fitzgerald should be the unhappiest player in the NFL right now. The superstar receiver will now be catching passes from John Skelton in the Cardinals offense but don’t be surprised to see Kevin Kolb play at some point.
Seahawks- Russell Wilson throws under 20 times and completes over 70% of his passes.
Cardinals- Both John Skelton and Kevin Kolb play in the game.
49ers at Packers
Many people are picking the 49ers to win the Super Bowl year and they start with a tough game on the road against my Super Bowl pick Green Bay Packers. Alex Smith and the offense will surprise some people vs the Packers defense.
With the addition of running back Cedric Benson, the Packers defense is now their only remaining question mark heading into the new season. Their first test will be to stop Frank Gore and the Niners powerful rushing attack.
49ers- Alex Smith passes for over 250 yards but also throws 2 interceptions.
Packers- Aaron Rodgers throws for over 400 yards in a near perfect display.
Panthers at Buccaneers
Cam Newton is coming off the greatest rookie season of any quarterback in NFL history. But Newton isn’t yet the complete quarterback and will have to take better care of the football in his Sophomore year.
In s surprising move, the Buccaneers hired long time Rutgers head coach Greg Schiano in January. Much of his success with the Bucs will depend on whether or not Josh Freeman can become a consistent NFL passer.
Panthers- Cam Newton, DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart combine for 300 rushing yards.
Buccaneers- Josh Freeman passes for under 200 yards and has 3 turnovers.
Steelers at Broncos
The Steelers begin their new season on the road in a rematch of last year’s Playoff loss against the Broncos. Wide receiver Mike Wallace is reportedly set to start this game after finally agreeing to sign his contract tender.
Peyton Manning’s first game back could hardly come against a tougher defense than the one he will be facing on Sunday night. Peyton must leave his poor preseason play behind him when facing this ferocious defense.
Steelers- Chris Rainey scores on a 50 yard touchdown.
Broncos- Peyton Manning is sacked just once.
Bengals at Ravens (Monday Night Football)
The first Monday Night game of the new year sees an AFC North clash between the Bengals and Ravens.
Andy Dalton will be looking to take the next step in his development as a quarterback this season whilst Joe Flacco will be hoping to finally step up in the playoffs and lead his team to the Super Bowl.
Bengals- Andy Dalton is sacked 6 times by the Ravens defense.
Ravens- Joe Flacco completes just 10 passes.
Chargers at Raiders (Monday Night Football)
I will be posting a full preview for the Chargers opener later in the week.
The new season kicks off tonight with the Cowboys vs the Giants live on Sky Sports 1.
Check back tomorrow for a full recap and highlights from the game.