Week 1 of the NFL season is upon us! After a thrilling Thursday night matchup between the Panthers and Broncos, the season gets into full swing this Sunday. There are some key players missing from the field this week: Rob Gronkowski and Tom Brady are out for the Patriots, Tony Romo is out for the Cowboys, Teddy Bridgewater is out for the Vikings, Le'Veon Bell is out for the Steelers, Tyler Eifert and Vontaze Burfict are out for the Bengals. That being said, this should be an extremely fun opening week with multiple rookie quarterbacks making their first career NFL starts, some great divisional matchups, and another year of football in full swing! Will Dak Prescott, Carson Wentz, and Jared Goff win in their first career NFL starts? Will the Patriots be able to compete without Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski? Find the answers to those questions and more during this weekend's games. How do we picture things playing out? Here are some picks:
Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Atlanta Falcons. This is a matchup that is actually pretty tough to call for me. The Buccaneers are looking like a pretty good team heading into the season, and should be at least even with the Falcons from a pure talent level. The Buccaneers are also the younger team. However, Atlanta has a slight advantage playing at home, and that tips the odds in their favor. Final score: Atlanta Falcons 21, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 14.
Buffalo Bills @ Baltimore Ravens. The Bills are simply the superior team here. Buffalo does have some question marks, but the Ravens offensive unit is an offense in shambles. That should give the Bills the edge in a defensive-minded game. Bills win this one. Final score: Buffalo Bill 27, Baltimore Ravens 23
Chicago Bears @ Houston Texans. The Texans win their first home game with Brock Osweiler under center in convincing fashion. Houston is a team on the rise, and Chicago seems to be competing for a top ten draft pick for another season. This Chicago team is improving, but not fast enough to defeat the Texans in Houston in week 1. Final score: Houston Texans 24, Chicago Bears 14.
Green Bay Packers @ Jacksonville Jaguars. The Jaguars are quietly turning into a pretty good football team. However, questions along their offensive line make it easy for the Green Bay defense to cause problems upfront all day. This will be a surprisingly close game, but Green Bay squeaks out a close one. I wouldn't at all be surprised if Jacksonville pulled off a win in this one, however. Final score: Green Bay Packers 28, Jacksonville Jaguars 27.
San Diego Chargers @ Kansas City Chiefs. The Chargers are an improved team this season, but the Chiefs are a very tough nut to crack at home. That gives Kansas City a clear advantage in this divisional matchup. I have to go with the Chiefs in this one. Final score: Kansas City Chiefs 24, San Diego Chargers 21.
Oakland Raiders @ New Orleans Saints. The Raiders are rapidly turning into a playoff team. The Saints are a team in rapid decline. Oakland is the better team in this matchup, and should win this one, even in New Orleans. Final score: Oakland Raiders 28, New Orleans Saints 24.
Cincinnati Bengals @ New York Jets. Cincinnati goes into this game missing Tyler Eifert and Vontaze Burfict. That makes this a difficult matchup for them. However, the Bengals have some of the best depth in the league, and their defense should hold up against the Jets offense. This is going to be an extremely close game, but I think the Bengals win it. Final score: Cincinnati Bengals 21, New York Jets 20.
Cleveland Browns @ Philadelphia Eagles. Most people will expect the Eagles to win this matchup, because Cleveland, but I have faith in Hue Jackson. The guy can flat-out coach, and this is a game that the Browns can win. I think they pull it off against a rookie quarterback in his first career NFL start. The Cleveland Browns extend to 1-0 for a share in first place in the AFC North at this very early point in the season. Browns win! Final score: Cleveland Browns 28, Philadelphia Eagles 24.
Minnesota Vikings @ Tennessee Titans. This is going to be a close game due to the lack of quarterback depth in Minnesota, but the Titans have too many question marks on offense to convince me that they are going to win this game. Vikings take this one. Final score: Minnesota Vikings 14, Tennessee Titans 7.
Miami Dolphins @ Seattle Seahawks. This is going to be an interesting matchup. Miami is quietly putting together a pretty nice offensive unit. Seattle still has a very strong team. I think Seattle is the better unit here, and at home, that makes the difference. Final score: Seattle Seahawks 28, Miami Dolphins 24.
New York Giants @ Dallas Cowboys. Typical NFC Least grudge match. This game could go either way between two teams that hate each other. I'm going to give the edge to Dak Prescott and the Cowboys in this one at home. Final score: Dallas Cowboys 28, New York Giants 27.
Detroit Lions @ Indianapolis Colts. This is a game that should be pretty interesting. The Lions face their first regular season game since Calvin Johnson's retirement, and their offense has changed drastically this off-season. Matt Stafford is still under center, and he has a good rapport with his offensive coordinator. However, Andrew Luck is finally healthy, and that should tip the scales in Indy's favor. I'm picking the Colts in this one. Final score: Indianapolis Colts 35, Detroit Lions 28.
New England Patriots @ Arizona Cardinals. This could be a great game on paper, but the names that are missing will decide this matchup. The Patriots will go into this game lacking both Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski. That should give the Cardinals a major edge. Arizona is a great team that will capitalize on any weakness, and they should win this one. Final score: Arizona Cardinals 24, New England Patriots 21.
Pittsburgh Steelers @ Washington Redskins. The Steelers don't have Le'Veon Bell in this matchup, but with DeAngelo Williams there, that won't be a problem. The Steelers are the better team in this matchup on paper, and should take this one home. Final score: Pittsburgh Steelers 28, Washington Redskins 21.
LA Rams @ San Francisco 49ers. I've always hated the 49ers. Now, Colin Kaepernick has given me yet another reason to. If he steps up and puts his money where his mouth is and does something tangible to help his cause (and the people affected by it), I'll be able to respect him. Until then, he seems to be grabbing attention. His attention-seeking nonsense won't help the 49ers against a Rams team looking for blood. The 49ers are a mess, and the Rams are a team on the rise. Rams win this one, easily. Final score: LA Rams 38, San Francisco 49ers 3. (OK, maybe I've got a bit too big of a spread here, but I have no respect for an organization which tolerates one of their players inherently disrespecting our men and women in service, even if Kaepernick does have the freedom to voice his opinions. Do it like an adult. C'mon man!)
--Mike B. (0-1)
Hey guys, I'm really glad football is back, I can't wait for week 1 to get started. Here's my picks:
Packers @ Jaguars: The Jaguars are on track to do better than they did last year, but I still think that the Packers are the better team. The Packers biggest weakness is their O-line. Aaron is going to have to run a lot more than he's used to, especially with the release of Sitton. It's going to be tough for them, but I think the Pack is going to come out on top. My prediction: Green Bay wins, 30-24.
Bills @ Ravens: The Bills starting QB was the backup in Baltimore a few years back. Rex Ryan used to be a defensive coordinator in Baltimore. Ed Reed, who is now a coach in Buffalo, was a pro-bowl safety for the Ravens. Buffalo has a lot of ties to Baltimore, and they're coming for blood. The Ravens are going to struggle against Buffalo's strong defense, and Baltimore's defense normally can't stop the pass at all. My prediction: Buffalo wins, 17-13.
Bears @ Texans: Houston is at home, and they have a stronger team than the Bears. JJ Watt is going to provide a lot of pressure to Jay Cutler. I have a feeling Cutler will be trying to get the ball off very quickly. My prediction: Texans win, 24-17.
Browns @ Eagles: The Browns QB situation hasn't improved much since last year. The Browns are notoriously the most unlucky team in the NFL. Sorry Browns, but week 1 isn't going to be your week. My prediction: Eagles win, 20-19.
Buccaneers @ Falcons: This game is a close matchup, but the edge goes to the Falcons since they're at home. My prediction: Tampa Bay wins, 23-19.
Vikings @ Titans: This game is a giant question mark, and it ultimately comes down to how well Sam Bradford will perform. Its hard to say if he has had enough time to learn the Vikings offense and adjust to his new team. However, the Titans were the worst team in the NFL last year, so the edge goes to Minnesota. My prediction: Vikings win, 27-18.
Bengals @ Jets: Overall, the Cincinnati has a stronger team than the Jets. The Jets have struggled in the past 2 years, and they haven't proven otherwise thus far. My prediction: Cincinnati wins, 33-20.
Raiders @ Saints: Oakland has gotten a little better over the last couple years. The Saints defense has really struggled, as they finished 32nd in the NFL last year. I think this is going to be a close game, and I think this will be a game worth watching. My prediction: Oakland wins, 23-21.
Chargers @ Chiefs: The Chiefs has a great defense last year, and I think it's going to continue into this year. Kansas City has been stronger the last 2-3 years than they've been in a while. My prediction: Kansas City wins, 24-17.
Dolphins @ Seahawks: The Seahawks have a very dominant team, and they are a very strong team when they play at home. The Dolphins have a long way to travel just to lose. My prediction: Seahawks win, 34-13.
Lions @ Colts: The Lions receiving core has become a lot weaker over the last year. Megatron retired at the end of last season, and Golden Tate won't be playing due to an injury. The main receiver in Detroit is Anquan Boldin, so definitely start him in fantasy as a WR2 or WR3. The Lions are on the road, and it's going to be a tough one for them. My prediction: Colts win, 24-20.
Giants @ Cowboys: This is going to be a very close game. The Cowboys have the best O-line in the NFL, and they're playing at home. Dak Prescott looked good in the preseason, and I think it's going to carry over into the regular season. Prescott looks strong, and he'll get the protection he needs. My prediction: Dallas wins, 24-17.
Patriots @ Cardinals: This is going to be a fantastic Sunday night game. Both teams are very strong. However, since 2010, New England has run 6,520 offensive plays. Only 96 of those have come with Rob Gronkowski and Tom Brady off the field. The fact that both Brady and Gronk are out is a huge loss for the Patriots, and it's going to show in this game. Garoppolo is a good backup to Brady, but this is going to be his first start in the NFL and he's going to have a tough time. My prediction: Cardinals win, 34-33.
Steelers @ Redskins: Pittsburgh has a stronger team than the Redskins. I know that Washington made it to the playoffs last year, but they were just the better of 4 poor teams. My prediction: Steelers win, 27-17.
Rams @ 49ers: The Rams have gotten a lot stronger over the last 3 years. Their defense is very dominant, no matter who they play. The 49ers have Gabbert at QB who hasn't done anything that impressive yet. And if something happens to Blaine, then stuck-up Kaeperpick gets to step into the game. I don't think highly of San Francisco, and I think the Rams are going to show their true strength in the beginning of the season. My prediction: Rams win, 40-3.
--Tyler B. (0-1)
Philadelphia over Cleveland 24-14
Houston over Chicago 21-17
Tennessee over Minnesota 14-13
Buffalo over Baltimore 20-7
Kansas city over San Diego 21-13
Oakland over New Orleans 30-24
Cincinnati over New York Jets 24-14
Atlanta over Tampa Bay 17-14
Jacksonville over Green Bay (upset alert!) 28-24
Seattle over Miami 24-14
Indianapolis over Detroit 28-20
New York Giants over Dallas 17-14
Arizona over New England 21-13
Pittsburgh over Washington 28-27
Las Angeles Rams over San Francisco 21-7
NFL Week 1
Packers @ Jaguars (1 PM/ET): The Packers have Jordy and Rodgers connection back and they have a deep sleeper that can return kicks and play well behind Lacy as a receiving back in Jhurell Pressley. For the Packers the question is defense. The Jags are a young uprising team with the possibility of reaching the Super Bowl within the next 3 years. The Jaguars are going to struggle at times against the more experienced teams this year but they will learn as the year goes on. This game starts close and slow but the Packers will come out second half burning the Jags defense. Packers win 29 – 17 over the Jaguars.
Bills @ Ravens (1 PM/ET): The Bills have Tyrod returning to face his former team and try to beat his former teacher, Joe Flacco. The Bills have the better O-line, run game, WR’s, QB, and defense as a whole. The Bills will win this game on the road and upset Baltimore fans. Bills win 20 – 17 over the Ravens.
Bears @ Texans (1 PM/ET): The Texans are a dominant team and this game should not be much of a test for them and they have the man tank himself back JJ Watt. Brock is going to carry this offense with Hopkins and Fuller to throw to. The Bears have no reliable defense and their offense needs to prove itself this year to convince me that they will do anything at all. Texans win 31 – 20 over the Bears.
Browns @ Eagles (1 PM/ET): The Browns are a team trying to figure crap out as their front office has forced this team to lack a rebuild process in the last 6 years that they needed. The Eagles are a mystery to me. I think it truly has to deal with Carson Wentz and what he manages to do as a Rookie QB. This game will be a really interesting matchup and could lead to a lot of fun for the fans as it could turn sloppy. Eagles win 25 – 23 over the Browns.
Buccaneers @ Falcons (1 PM/ET): The Buccaneers have a team that is finally getting close to playoff contention and this year will show us all how little they have left to do before reaching that peak. The Falcons need a defense and until they get that they will stay behind the division. This game will be a division rivalry though so you can’t count out anyone. Buccaneers win 17 – 13 over the Falcons.
Vikings @ Titans (1 PM/ET): The Titans are rebuilding still but with Mariota at the helm it is a good start. They will be competitive this year and really make some heads realize that he has a lot going for him. The Vikings had a shot at being a top team in the NFC North this year if they didn’t lose Bridgewater. The Vikings will struggle to find an identity on offense in this one. This game is tough to call. Titans win 15 – 12 over the Vikings.
Bengals @ Jets (1 PM/ET): The Bengals offense is poised to explode this year and I think we will see glimpses against the Jets in this one. The Jets offense can’t be trusted this year I think Fitzpatrick is going to be below average this year. I am confused by the 2 point line for this game. Bengals win 27 – 10 over the Jets.
Raiders @ Saints (1 PM/ET): This game is going to be a passing fest between a young arm and a legendary arm. This game is going to have a favorite though as the Saints have no defense the Raiders have a good rising defense. I think this game will be close for the first quarter and then open up fast. Raiders win 30 – 17 over the Saints.
Chargers @ Chiefs (1 PM/ET): The Chargers are going to have an offense but their defense is a bit of a worry if you are a Chargers fan. That being said the Chiefs are the opposite, a great offense and a game manager QB in charge. This game is the true what wins offense or defense. Chargers win 28 – 20 over the Chiefs.
Dolphins @ Seahawks (4:05 PM/ET): The Seahawks are truly just the better team. I think the Dolphins have an inconsistent defense that will be exploited by the Seahawks offense. Plus this game is in Seattle so I think this one should be a no-brainer. Seahawks win 30 – 17 over the Dolphins.
Lions @ Colts (4:25 PM/ET): This game is going to be the one game this weekend I will find hard to watch. The Lions offense is already without Megatron and now you add Golden Tate being injured, Matt Stafford is in for a bad day. The Colts offense just needs to play like we know they can and they will put this game out of reach quickly. Colts win 32 – 20 over the Lions.
Giants @ Cowboys (4:25 PM/ET): Here we go! Dak Prescott and Zeke are here to show Cowboy fans their future. Meanwhile the visiting Giants will have a new coach, and new number 2 WR, and a modified defense. This game is going to be nonstop back and forth action due to a lack of a shut-down defense on either side. This is definitely a game to watch. Cowboys win 34 – 29 over the Giants.
Patriots @ Cardinals (8:30 PM/ET): GAME OF THE WEEK!!!!! If this wasn’t Jimmy G I would really love to see Brady for Carson with these two defenses and their new pieces on offense. The Cardinals are my surprise super bowl pick and I really will stand behind them. I think the Pats are a great team with or without Jimmy G especially with the genius coaching. David Johnson has a big one this game with 120 yards and 2 TD’s. Cardinals win 27 – 19 over the Patriots.
Steelers @ Redskins (7:10 PM/ET): I like the Steelers roster with or without Bell a lot more than the Skins roster at full health. The Steelers will be without Bell, Martavius, and now Wheaton but I don’t think that slows down Big Ben too much against this lack of a defense. Steelers win 31 – 17 over the Redskins.
Rams @ 49ers (10:20 PM/ET): The Rams will have to wait to make their regular season return to LA as they are on the road against a division rival. The Rams will be letting Goff ride the bench to start so he can pick things up and learn instead of throwing him into the fire. The 49ers only gained recognition this offseason due to Kaep’s decision to stand or sit during the National Anthems. This game is a no brainer in my eyes. Rams win 23 – 7 over the 49ers.
Sports give us as the human race something to cheer for and support and give hope to all of us.