I didn’t have the greatest first week, but hey, there is a lot of time left in this season to improve my prediction record. Maybe take a few less hot takes. Maybe. Doubtful. I like hot takes. I like the underdog. Who doesn’t? Everyone has that gut instinct from time to time, but sometimes that instinct is just plain wrong (see my 49ers-Rams prediction from last week). Even with my losses, it was an exciting weekend with lots of intense moments. It is so great to the NFL season back, so here’s to football until February.
Week 1 Record: 9-7
All times eastern.
NEW YORK JETS (0-1) @ Buffalo Bills (0-1), 8:25 p.m.
In our Thursday night battle in the AFC East, there is going to be a lot of bad blood. The Jets and Bills have had a few great battles over the last few years, and although neither team considered top-tier this year, they will both be in the competition for the playoffs. Neither team looked great in Week 1 as they both took losses, but the promise is there. Even though Sammy Watkins is not 100%, I expect his matchup with Darrelle Revis to be one of the keys to the game for the Bills. As for the Jets, they will need to heavily pound the run game of Bilal Powell and Matt Forte to control the time of possession.
Cincinnati Bengals (1-0) @ PITTSBURGH STEELERS (1-0), 1:00 p.m.
Both teams got victories in Week 1 for this matchup, but not many teams looked as impressive as the Steelers last week. Roethlisberger and Brown were totally in sync and we can expect that to continue here. A.J. Green and Andy Dalton will do their best to match the duo for the Steelers in what should be a great game in the early slate on Sunday. The Steelers will still be without Le’Veon Bell in this one, so you can expect another game full of throws by Big Ben.
Tennessee Titans (0-1) @ DETROIT LIONS (1-0), 1:00 p.m.
Although the Titans will want to pound the run in this one, I think the Lions will be able to jump out to an early lead and force Mariota to take some chances and spread the field. Of the games this week, this one seems like the most likely to turn into a shootout. Both teams are weak at secondary and have enough weapons on the offensive end to put up points. I think I am surprising myself by picking the Lions to start the season 2-0, but I guess that’s what is happening.
Baltimore Ravens (1-0) @ CLEVELAND BROWNS (0-1), 1:00 p.m.
Does losing RGIII hurt the Browns? I’m not so sure that it does. Josh McCown will be taking the snaps for Cleveland this weekend, where he was reasonably successful last year. On the other side of the ball, the Ravens bring in consistent starter Joe Flacco and a decent receiving core. This game is not too intriguing, but I think the Browns come away with a home victory to even up their record through 2 weeks.
Dallas Cowboys (0-1) @ WASHINGTON REDSKINS (0-1), 1:00 p.m.
I’m sure that neither of these teams wanted to start the year 0-1, but that is where they are. With the Eagles and the Giants winning in Week 1, both the ‘Boys and the Redskins are already a game back in the division. A loss for either team here, and they could be 2 down after just 2 weeks. That being said, this is a big game early in the year. The Redskins have the home field advantage, and I think that that is the difference in this affair.
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS (0-1) @ New York Giants (1-0), 1:00 p.m.
The Saints lost last week in an absolute heartbreaking shootout, and I think that a shootout is likely in this one as well. New Orleans has two very solid receiving options in Cooks and Snead, and with Brees taking the snaps, they are as dangerous as ever. Defensively, there is not much for them, but you just have to outscore your opponent right? In another ridiculously close game, the Giants came out on top over their rival Cowboys last weekend. Eli did a great job spreading the ball to several receivers last week and if he can keep the Saints’ defenders on their heels, he could have a big game and take the victory back to New York. However, I like Brees over Eli in a shootout and that is what we will see.
San Francisco 49ers (1-0) @ CAROLINA PANTHERS (0-1), 1:00 p.m.
If I told you that the 49ers would ever have a better record than the Panthers this season, would you have believed me? Well, it happened, and I don’t think it stays that way for long. The Broncos’ defense was unreal last Thursday and I think the long week will be good for Cam Newton as he will be ready to attack the 49ers week secondary. The 49ers will also have a much bigger challenge in the Panthers’ defense, even without Josh Norman on the team this year.
Miami Dolphins (0-1) @ NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (1-0), 1:00 p.m.
Jimmy G came in and looked awesome, because, of course, right? He looked just like a vintage ’08 Matt Cassel in Week 1. Honestly though, how many times did you see that comparison during the Pats’ game? Maybe a bit too much, but he did look good in their win over a tough Cardinals squad. The Dolphins took a tough loss against the Seahawks in Week 1, but that is nothing to be ashamed of. Nobody looked good on offense in that game, so it is hard to determine how the season will play out. I think the Dolphins are a much better team that people give them credit for, but they will fall to 0-2 after this one in Foxborough.
Kansas City Chiefs (1-0) @ HOUSTON TEXANS (1-0), 1:00 p.m.
In a battle of top-tier defenses, this game will actually come down to which offense shows up to play. The Chiefs are going to want to control the time of possession, but which running back is going to be healthy? Spencer Ware looked good as a replacement for Jamaal Charles in Week 1, but he sat out practice today and we will have to wait to find out who takes the snaps behind Alex Smith. The Texans, on the other hand, saw Will Fuller have an outstanding NFL debut and, though it is only Week 1, maybe the beginning of a great WR duo of Fuller and Nuk Hopkins. This is obviously a stretch after such a small sample size, but Lamar Miller is a great fit in Houston and you can expect another nice week from him to balance the offense.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-0) @ ARIZONA CARDINALS (0-1), 4:05 p.m.
The Cardinals had a really tough match-up against the Patriots last weekend, even without Brady and Gronk. They took a tough loss there, but they are still a top team in the NFL with title aspiration this season. The Bucs, on the other hand, got off to a great start with a win and are looking to build on that success. I like the Cardinals here because of their defensive prowess and incredible amount of weapons and versatility on offense.
SEATTLE SEAHAWKS (1-0) @ Los Angeles Rams (0-1), 4:05 p.m.
The Rams looked awful in Week 1. Is there anyone who would disagree with that? With that being said, the Rams are known to be the Seahawks’ downfall. I know that last week I picked against the Seahawks and that came back to haunt me, so I’m going to play it safe and take the ‘Hawks this time. Don’t you let me down RW3, I’m counting on you. The major storyline for me in this game is what Seattle is going to do with their running backs and if Doug Baldwin will continue his phenomenal streak of TDs.
Jacksonville Jaguars (0-1) @ SAN DIEGO CHARGERS (0-1), 4:25 p.m.
These two teams both played in battles last weekend only to come out on the losing end. They are both going to be out for revenge in this match-up, where we are going to see two quarterbacks who really like to throw the ball. However, with Keenan Allen out for the season, I think you will see a lot of Melvin Gordon and Danny Woodhead for San Diego. That, however, will not prove to be a bad thing, as they both looked effective in their snaps last weekend.
Atlanta Falcons (0-1) @ OAKLAND RAIDERS (1-0), 4:25 p.m.
Julio Jones might be one of the top-two receivers in the NFL right now, but Amari Cooper is not one to sleep on. Derek Carr and the Raiders love to throw the ball, and Cooper has great hands and is already emerging as one of the best at his position. The Raiders are looking to be in playoff contention this season, and they cannot afford a loss at home to the Falcons, even if it is early in the year.
Indianapolis Colts (0-1) @ DENVER BRONCOS (1-0), 4:25 p.m.
Is there an offense capable of scoring big-time points on the Broncos’ defense? Well, I’m sure it will happen at some point, but I don’t see it this week. The Colts are better with Andrew Luck back, but their offensive line doesn’t have what it takes to stop the relentless Denver pass rush. Trevor Sieman is not a top-tier quarterback, but if C.J. Anderson keeps up his work from Week 1, he is in for a spectacular season that could lead the Broncos to another top playoff seed.
GREEN BAY PACKERS (1-0) @ Minnesota Vikings (1-0), 8:30 p.m.
Even without Bridgewater, the Vikings were able to come out of Week 1 with a victory. Still, the Titans aren’t nearly the opponent that they are getting in Week 2. The Packers come in after a nice road victory over the Jaguars where their offense looked back into prime form. Although I think the Packers defense will struggle against Adrian Peterson, I think they neutralize his effect by putting up early points and taking a lead that they never relinquish.
PHILADELPHIA EAGLES (1-0) @ Chicago Bears (0-1), 8:30 p.m.
Carson Wentz wasn’t perfect in his first NFL start, but he was pretty good, and he came away with a victory against the Browns. Jordan Matthews was his primary target and I think Matthews, along with Ertz and Mathews out of the backfield will prove to be valuable assets for Wentz. The Bears have Jay Cutler and Alshon Jeffrey, but they are without Matt Forte this year, as he is now with the Jets. Jeremy Langford was solid in relief duties for Forte last season, but he was not great in Week 1. The Bears will need Langford to have a good game in order to come away with the victory.