02 September 2014

2014 NFL Predictions: Week 1

(AP)
The wait you have all had to endure is over as the best reality show on television has returned: the National Football League. It all kicks off this Thursday night as the defending Super Bowl champions, the Seattle Seahawks, host the Green Bay Packers in a rematch of what some may say a controversial ending in 2012. With every team returning to the gridiron, who will start the 2014 NFL season off right? Here are my picks for Week 1.

2014 NFL Predictions

Thursday, September 4th
Green Bay Packers vs. Seattle Seahawks - NBC, 8:30
Not only is this a rematch from the aforementioned "Fail Mary" incident, this also may just be a showdown of the two best teams in the NFC. Green Bay has the goods to take down Seattle on both sides of the ball but as we all know, it is damn tough to go into CenturyLink Field and win. And given that this will be a game where the folks up in Seattle will be going nuts, so I give just a slight edge to the Seahawks here.
Seahawks 27 Packers 24

Sunday, September 7th
Tennessee Titans vs. Kansas City Chiefs - CBS, 1:00
Everybody, including me, thinks that the Chiefs are bound to take a step back. And as I also mentioned in my season preview, I think the Titans are going to be a little better than folks expect. That said, I like Kansas City in this ballgame. The Titans are still working themselves into a 3-4 defense, one their personnel is not entirely suited for, and I think Jamaal Charles will have a big day on the ground.
Chiefs 17 Titans 12

Minnesota Vikings vs. St. Louis RamsFox, 1:00
How will the Rams look without Sam Bradford and instead with Shaun Hill under center? New Vikings coach Mike Zimmer will be sure to throw a number of different looks at the veteran which could lead to a long day. That said, I still like the Rams here at home. Their defensive line can slow down Adrian Peterson just enough and will give Matt Cassel a rough outing. Zac Stacy will be key on the ground for St. Louis and Hill will be enough of a game-manager to pull it out.
Rams 19 Vikings 14

Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Philadelphia EaglesCBS, 1:00
Can Jacksonville take a step forward in 2014? I think they can but even then, they simply do not have the horses on either side of the ball to either keep up with the Eagles or keep them from putting a ton of points on the boards. Unless Chad Henne torches an underrated Eagles defense or Toby Gerhart plays like he did at Stanford, it could be a long afternoon in South Philly. The Eagles are my Lock of the Week.
Eagles 31 Jaguars 10

Washington vs. Houston TexansFox, 1:00
Now we finally get to see what top pick Jadeveon Clowney can do in a real NFL game. The Houston pass rush will be coming over Robert Griffin, III, who has not played all that impressively in the preseason and in camp. That's why you have people saying things like this, while also then this. I think some of the Griffin talk has been over the top but I also think that he could struggle against a strong pass like the one he will see this Sunday in Houston. Give me the Texans.
Texans 23 Washington 21

Oakland Raiders vs. New York JetsCBS, 1:00
If you had to guess which rookie quarterback would be starting in Week 1, would Derek Carr have been your guy? I don't think so but alas after a strong preseason where he clearly looked better than Matt Schaub, Carr is the man for the Silver and Black. And he may be able to find success against a mediocre Jets pass rush and a horrific situation at cornerback. That said, Oakland is the weaker team here and they have an early local start.
Jets 19 Raiders 9

Buffalo Bills vs. Chicago BearsFox, 1:00
The Bills' only chance in their road opener is if E.J. Manuel shows some significant improvement from last year. While Buffalo has a good defense, the Bears are a pretty explosive club offensively in the air and on the ground. I still do not have such confidence in Manuel yet and I think he could be hurt that his top wideout, Sammy Watkins, is battling a rib injury. Chicago is not great in the secondary and their pass rush is still in flux somewhat but in the end, they will be be winners.
Bears 28 Bills 14

Cleveland Browns vs. Pittsburgh SteelersCBS, 1:00
Brian Hoyer is going to be the man for the Browns as many had thought going into the preseason, but that does not mean he will solve all of Cleveland's problems. He doesn't really have any wideouts to work with and thus will be relying a lot on Ben Tate to run the ball effectively. But simply put, Hoyer is not the kind of quarterback that will make the Steelers stay awake at night, especially considering they will throw out Ben Roethlisberger on their own end.
Steelers 21 Browns 9

Cincinnati Bengals vs. Baltimore RavensCBS, 1:00
The recent history is against the Bengals here as Andy Dalton has never won in Baltimore and the team hasn't won there since 2009. I think that trend will continue this week. Both defenses will get at the other quarterbacks and the offenses may struggle to run the ball. I do think Joe Flacco has the game and the guys to make it happen offensively and I think the home crowd will help tilt this game towards the Ravens.
Ravens 21 Bengals 20

New England Patriots vs. Miami DolphinsCBS, 1:00
Could the Patriots have a little trouble down in Miami Gardens? I think they can and I think they will given what the weather should be like and given how I think that a new offensive scheme for the Dolphins can help Ryan Tannehill take a step forward. That said that will only go so far as Bill Belichick should be able to design pressure to take advantage of an inconsistent Miami offensive line and Tom Brady will make some plays, as always, for a road win.
Patriots 30 Dolphins 25

New Orleans Saints vs. Atlanta FalconsFox, 1:00
Atlanta should not be as bad as they were in 2013 and I think Matt Ryan and the Atlanta offensive will be rejuvenated this year. That said, this isn't a great matchup for them even at home. They are still feeling out top pick Jake Matthews at left tackle, something Rob Ryan will try to exploit, and I don't see how they upgraded the pass rush improved all that much, something Drew Brees will take advantage of. There will be points, points and more points, but I have more confidence in the Saints to pull it out and get the stop they would need.
Saints 38 Falcons 31

Carolina Panthers vs. Tampa Bay BuccaneersFox, 4:25
Can Josh McCown make enough plays to take advantage of a weak Carolina secondary while keeping a strong front seven at bay? I think he can get some shots deep with Vincent Jackson and Mike Evans should Doug Martin work the running game some. Cam Newton is going to do a lot on his own this year with a mediocre supporting cast and while he is certainly capable of pushing the action, a sound Tampa Bay defense will hold him off just enough.
Buccaneers 20 Panthers 12

San Francisco 49ers vs. Dallas Cowboys - Fox, 4:25
San Francisco's defense is not as strong as it has been of late, and the pass rush will certainly miss Aldon Smith. That said, even as the Cowboys are a strong offensive club that should find some success against a less-than-stellar Frisco secondary, the 49ers are good enough offensively to really take advantage of a feeble Dallas defense. They should be able to run the ball with ease and allow Colin Kaepernick to make plays on the edge where he is really dangerous.
49ers 32 Cowboys 27

Indianapolis Colts vs. Denver Broncos - NBC, 8:30
Who doesn't love an Andrew Luck-Peyton Manning showdown? The only issues here is that I still do not think that Luck has quite the supporting cast to take out a reloaded Bronco squad. The running game isn't much and they are still working on the defense. Luck can only do so much and Manning will get vengeance for Indianapolis's win last year.
Broncos 40 Colts 31

Monday, September 8th
New York Giants vs. Detroit Lions - ESPN, 7:10
Will new coordinator Ben McAdoo's scheme prove to be a winner for the Giants? One hates to overreact to the preseason but even then, the Giants did not look good at all on that side of the ball. The pass rush also may still be a problem and that could prove to be a fatal weakness against Matt Stafford and the riches he has in his supporting cast. Look for the Detroit offensive line to get after Eli Manning and force him into some mistakes.
Lions 28 Giants 20

San Diego Chargers vs. Arizona Cardinals - ESPN, 10:20
Well we have got ourselves a good one to close out Week 1 down in Glendale. Both offenses will look to take some shots down the field with Philip Rivers and Carson Palmer, respectively, but I think if Patrick Peterson shuts down Malcolm Floyd, Rivers may not be as dangerous as he would be otherwise. I think it will be key if San Diego can get their running game going against a solid Arizona defensive front and I think Ryan Mathews could struggle some. Look for the Cards here.
Cardinals 27 Chargers 23

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