08 September 2015

2015 NFL Predictions: Week 1

Week 1 of the 2015 NFL season has finally arrived. Come Thursday night, all of our preseason prognostications (read mine here) go out the window with some actual live NFL action. Who will get their seasons off to the right start? Here are my picks for Week 1.

Thursday, September 10th
Pittsburgh Steelers vs. New England Patriots - NBC, 8:30
Now that Tom Brady will indeed be under center on Thursday night, this game totally changes in my opinion. With the uncertainty of the untested Jimmy Garoppolo, I would have gone with Pittsburgh but now with it being Brady, and likely a Brady with a chip on his shoulder in the wake of the Deflategate action, give me the Pats.
Patriots 31 Steelers 29

Sunday, September 13th
Cleveland Browns vs. New York Jets - CBS, 1:00
Because we all love a showdown of journeyman quarterbacks and we will have one in the Meadowlands here with Josh McCown under center for the Browns and Ryan Fitzpatrick for the Jets. Neither quarterback does a good job of taking care of the football but I think McCown is more at risk thanks to New York's much better defense. Fitzpatrick should also have a good enough rushing game to take pressure off of him.
Jets 17 Browns 7

Carolina Panthers vs. Jacksonville Jaguars - Fox, 1:00
Now I do think that the Jaguars will take a step forward this season and be more competitive than they have been in the past. However, they still have a ways to go on both sides of the ball and this offense will likely struggle against a solid Carolina defense.
Panthers 20 Jaguars 9

Miami Dolphins vs. Washington CBS, 1:00
Starting Kirk Cousins over Robert Griffin III really doesn't solve the issue for Washington because frankly, neither one of them are any good. And their defense, which was awful a year ago, hasn't really gotten any better either. Miami will win comfortably.
Dolphins 24 Washington 7

Seattle Seahawks vs. St. Louis Rams - Fox, 1:00
As we all know, the Seahawks are not the same team away from home as they are at home; granted they are still pretty darn good on the road, just not like they are at home. Don't forget, the Seahawks lost in the Ed Dome just a season ago. I do like Seattle here because I think that the Rams still need a little more time to allow their offense to gel but it will be a good one.
Seahawks 21 Rams 20

Kansas City Chiefs vs. Houston Texans CBS, 1:00
The thing for me with the Texans is can Brian Hoyer be more effective at quarterback than Ryan Fitzpatrick was a year ago. Granted, that's not a particularly high bar but considering a team largely led by Fitzpatrick won nine games ago. They're poised for a step back and I think that Hoyer, who fell apart last season, can be pressure into mistakes by this Kansas City defense and that will be the difference.
Chiefs 19 Texans 14

Green Bay Packers vs. Chicago Bears - Fox, 1:00
Yes, the Packers will be without Jordy Nelson. But the Bears are without a defense and still have issues offensively, including with Jay Cutler. Alshon Jeffery and Matt Forte will help but this defense looks to have little chance of keeping Aaron Rodgers and friends in check. The Packers are my Lock of the Week.
Packers 35 Bears 14

Indianapolis Colts vs. Buffalo Bills - CBS, 1:00
Oh if these teams were to merge. Imagine the Colts with a defense and a running game or the Bills with a quarterback. Buffalo's defense will be really good and could some issues for even Andrew Luck but with LeSean McCoy appearing to be a little banged up, I don't see the Bills' offense doing enough to keep up with Luck.
Colts 30 Bills 21

New Orleans Saints vs. Arizona Cardinals - Fox, 4:05
Arizona's defense likely will take a step backward from last season with defensive coordinator Todd Bowles becoming the head coach of the Jets. That said, I think they can still do much of the schmatic things they did last season to great effect and hound Drew Brees, who is not the same quarterback he is at home on the road.
Cardinals 24 Saints 20

Detroit Lions vs. San Diego Chargers Fox, 4:05
Can the Lions be the same defensively without Ndamukong Suh? I'm not sure we will see about that right away. One should expect their defense to take at least a little bit of a step backwards this season and that could hurt them against a San Diego offense that, with the help of Melvin Gordon, should become more two-dimensional.
Chargers 31 Lions 24

Cincinnati Bengals vs. Oakland Raiders - CBS, 4:25
I could see the rationale for an upset victory here for the Raiders as I do think that the Raiders will take a step forward this season from how bad they have been the last several years. But I do still like the Bengals here as their running game will be the difference here in my eyes. That said, it will be close.
Bengals 17 Raiders 14

Tennessee Titans vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - CBS, 4:25
This game will be a fun one to watch as it is a rare opening week matchup of the top two picks in the draft, and even more intriguing considering it is two quarterbacks. Many eyes will be on both Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota as it is the first real live contest to feature them both. To me, Tampa Bay definitely has the better overall team here and that will carry them to the W.
Buccaneers 26 Titans 19

Baltimore Ravens vs. Denver Broncos - CBS, 4:25
We can talk a lot about the Broncos and how Peyton Manning is not the same quarterback when it gets cold but it's September so that's irrelevant. I did pick the Broncos to take a step backwards in the record this year as well as the Ravens to win the Super Bowl, so there is that, but I like Denver to win here. Manning will have a big day and that will be the difference.
Broncos 34 Ravens 28

New York Giants vs. Dallas Cowboys NBC, 8:30
Unfortunately I forgot about this contest when my picks went live yesterday, so there's that. I think we will see an improved team from the Giants this season, especially on the offensive side, but I don't see the necessary improvement needed from their defense. Dallas's offense should still be churning this season even after losing DeMarco Murray and their defense will be fine enough for the win here.
Cowboys 35 Giants 31

Monday, September 14th
Philadelphia Eagles vs. Atlanta Falcons - ESPN, 7:10
After a wild offseason, it will be fun to see how Chip Kelly and the Eagles' offense debuts after a wholesale makeover. Perhaps my faith in Kelly will be proven to be wrong at some point but I would be surprised if it does not work, quite frankly. And he is not a great matchup for a defense that is still being remade and remodeled by new coach Dan Quinn.
Eagles 30 Falcons 20

Minnesota Vikings vs. San Francisco 49ers - ESPN, 10:20
The Vikings are expected by many to be a playoff contender while the 49ers are expected by many to take a nice step back. Of course, these games will never be played on paper but I don't see any reason to disagree with the conventional wisdom on either team. Look for Adrian Peterson and Teddy Bridgewater to have nice performances against a depleted Frisco defense.
Vikings 24 49ers 13


  1. Hi Ben
    As much as I agree with your GB over Chicago prediction I would have made the Dolphins over Washington as the LOTW given that Washington is a shambles whichever way ones studies them and as dodgy as the Fins' pass rush was last year they won't be given any kind of examination in this game. Your Raiders' score didn't appear by the way.

    1. And as promised Cousins delivered the W for Miami who were far from brilliant themselves.

  2. How About Them Cowboys Super Bowl Bound!