NFL: Preseason Predictions and Week 1 Picks

Another year is upon us! The Denver Broncos are the reigning World Champions, and look to repeat with a brand new man under center with the retirement of Peyton Manning. Nope, not Brock Osweiler. And no it’s not Mark Sanchez either.  Another AFC powerhouse in the New England Patriots will also be without their future hall-of-fame quarterback as Tom Brady serves a four game suspension.  Absences and shakeups at the top means a lot can change from last season’s playoff picture.  My team to watch this season will be the Oakland Raiders.

For me, the NFC is where the powerhouses will be in the in the 2016-2017 season.  Carolina is fresh off a Superbowl loss, but were able to keep together their core.  Arizona and Seattle will be there once again in an absolutely loaded NFC West.  Green Bay gets back one of their biggest weapons in Jordy Nelson to go along with what the Packers hope is a reinvigorated Eddie Lacy at running back.  And not to be forgotten are Superbowl vets like Drew Brees and Eli Manning who are looking to regain control of their respective divisions.

NFC Playoff Teams              AFC Playoff Teams

Cardinals                                  Chiefs

Panthers                                   Bengals

Packers                                      Broncos

Giants                                        Colts

Seahawks                                  Jets

Saints                                         Raiders

NFC Championship

  • Cardinals @ Panthers: CAROLINA WINS

AFC Championship 

  • Bengals @ Chiefs: KANSAS CITY WINS

Superbowl XLI

  • Panthers vs Chiefs: CAROLINA WINS

Now that I’ve gotten ahead of myself, here are my week 1 predictions.

Thursday Night Football

  • Panthers @ Broncos: The season kicks off with a rematch of Superbowl XL. Denver will raise their banner, and get their first look at Trevor Siemian at QB.  Cam Newton and company will begin their quest to get back to the Superbowl. The Panthers have put the big loss behind them, and with their core still in tact, they are better prepared for a run than Denver is for their title defense.  The Broncos will still be good, especially if CJ Anderson can continue to grow in the run game.  But I like the Panthers to get the win this time around. CAROLINA WINS

Sunday 1PM Games

  • Buccaneers @ Falcons: The battle for the South gets going quickly with a Bucs team with ambitions of not finishing last in their division, and a Falcons team looking to get back to the playoffs. This is going to be a shoot out with two great offenses going head-to-head.  I simply have more trust in Atlanta during the regular season right now, so I’ll take their defense to make the big stop down the stretch over Tampa Bay. ATLANTA WINS
  • Bills @ Ravens: I see both of these teams being better than they were last season, but not by much.  Buffalo has a higher ceiling right now, especially if Tyrod Taylor can figure out his fumbling problem.  He makes pretty good decisions in the passing game, should get more out of LeSean McCoy this season and has a defense capable for being near the top of the league.  Joe Flacco won’t be without back Justin Forsett, who led the team in rushing the past two season, as previously thought since he has re-signed after being cut days ago. Beyond that, I’m not a fan of the Ravens offense past Mike Wallace and Steve Smith Sr.  I’m going with the AFC in this one. BUFFALO WINS
  • Bears @ Texans: Chicago finished last season in the cellar of the NFC North, while Houston won the AFC South.  I see little evidence to suggest the Bears can get back into relevancy this season, while I think the Texans will lose the division to the Colts once again.  The Bears let Matt Forte walk, as well as the franchise leader in scoring, kicker Robbie Gould. Houston is expected to have their defensive weapon in JJ Watt ready to go, so expect Jay Cutler to feel the pressure all day.  HOUSTON WINS
  • Browns @ Eagles: Both teams will have new starting quarterbacks this season.  Former rookie of the year Robert Griffin III gets a fresh start with Cleveland, while actual rookie Carson Wentz will become the first rookie to start week 1 in Eagles history (ELIAS). The Browns were bottom 10 in total defense and offense last season, resulting in a 3-13 record. Philly hopes their new QB and another year with DeMarco Murray will help get them over the .500 mark and challenge in the East.  Opening at home with these pieces means a week 1 win for the birds.  PHILADELPHIA WINS
  • Raiders @ Saints: Week 1 features a matchup of two teams I think will make the playoffs this season. The Saints defense wasn’t anything to write home about a season ago, allowing at least 20 points in every game but two (17 allowed in each of those).  But Drew Brees had another stellar year, leading the league in passing yards.  New Orleans parted ways with the team’s all-time leader in TD receptions, Marques Colston, but expect big things from Mark Ingram.  Oakland gets another year of Derek Carr and Amari Cooper doing big things in the pass attack.  A lot of moves on defense in the offseason has the Raiders poised for a big season.  That being said, I like the Saints in a tight one at home.  But I will not be surprised at all if Oakland steals one at the Superdome either. NEW ORLEANS WINS
  • Chargers @ Chiefs: Kansas City’s offense never really looks pretty on paper after Jamaal Charles, but they continue to make it work.  Their defense is one of the league’s best and that will carry them again this season.  The opposite can be said for San Diego.  Philip Rivers has a very good group of pass catchers that should give the Chargers a chance in every game.  Their consistency is always questionable on defense, and in a tough AFC West, they’ll need to figure that out.  I really like the Chiefs this season, they return a lot of key pieces off a second round playoff appearance last year. KANSAS CITY WINS
  • Bengals @ Jets: Here’s another game with two teams I think will see the postseason.  New York hopes their run game will be revitalized with the acquisition of Matt Forte, while getting even more out of Ryan Fitzpatrick than they did a year ago.  I’ve said it before, but it’s time for the Bengals to take the next step. There’s some concern that Cincinnati is lacking depth at defensive end, but they’ve been able to dominate defensively in the past, and I think they can figure it out. It won’t be easy, but I like the Bengals to get a road win off the jump. CINCINNATI WINS
  • Packers @ Jaguars: Aaron Rodgers has his favorite target in Jordy Nelson back.  If he can get 2013-14 Eddie Lacy back, look out for the Packers once again.  Jacksonville’s offense took a step in the right direction last year, and they were much better at home.  But while the Jaguars are still a few pieces away, the Packers are primed to make a deep run through the NFC once again. GREEN BAY WINS
  • Vikings @ Titans: Coming into the season, I thought this was going to be a very good game against two teams looking to prove themselves.  Minnesota is coming off a playoff year where they lost to Seattle in the Wildcard round… by one point at home.  Tennessee on the other hand are coming off a 3-13 season in which they won their first two games. Offense wasnt exactly their issue, with the 2nd ranked running game.  But losing Marcus Mariota didn’t help. I really like the Vikings, but losing Teddy Bridgewater before the start of the season is tough, and now they look to Sam Bradford to keep them afloat in an always competitve NFC North.  Give me the Titans on the ground with a healthy Mariota in week 1. TENNESSEE WINS

Sunday 4/425PM Games

  • Dolphins @ Seawhawks: Miami was one of the more disappointing teams a season ago.  They spent a lot of money on defense in the off-season leading up to last year, and it didn’t do much.  The Dolphins allowed the second most yards a game in the AFC.  Add a bottom 10 offense, and you can see why they finished below .500 and last in the East. Miami is a case of just hoping their talent will come together all at once (sound familiar with Miami teams?). Seattle had another good season in 2015, though they didn’t look great in the playoffs after two straight Superbowl appearances.  They lost Marshawn Lynch, but return most of their stars on offense and always have the Legion of Boom to fall back on.  This should be one of the easier wins of week 1 for the Hawks. SEATTLE WINS
  • Giants @ Cowboys: If ever there was a year for the New York Giants to run through the NFC East, it’s this one.  Even in their Superbowl seasons they couldn’t win the division.  But with Tony Romo out, and two rookies starting in Dallas and Philadelphia, the Skins are the only other team returning their starter from a year ago. Yes, Kirk Cousins got his team to the playoffs last season, but Eli Manning was the best QB in that division last season, and if his defense can at least be middle of the pack, and not dead last, this should be an easy return to the playoffs.  Dak Prescott was impressive for Dallas in the preseason, but Big Blue has never had problems playing in the lone star state, and I don’t see it being a problem this season either. NEW YORK WINS
  • Lions @ Colts:The worst defense in the AFC last season belonged to the Colts.  Not having a run game again meant they couldn’t sustain drives the way you’d want to mask that. The hope is veteran back Frank Gore can regain some of his old magic along with keeping Andrew Luck healthy.  As for Detroit, they are another case of talent never panning out for an entire season.  And with the retirement of Calvin Johnson, the Lions lose their most consistent and explosive weapon.  It could be another ugly season in Detroit, while I expect a bounce back from Indy. INDIANAPOLIS WINS

Sunday Night Football

  • Patriots @ Cardinals: New England starts the season without Tom Brady and defensive end Rob Ninkovich due to suspensions.  In an improved AFC East, those 4 games without them could be trouble, especially since im not a fan of their rushing attack. Add a hungry and dangerous Cardinals team, and you’ve got a recipe for a week 1 loss.  Arizona’s depth on offense is pretty impressive, and their defense should be really good again.  A home win to kick off the season is in the cards for the birds. ARIZONA WINS

Monday Night Football

  • Steelers @ Redskins: Washington got some help on defense in the off-season acquisition of Josh Norman, but I still don’t think it’s going to be enough.  The skins do get a break on defense since Pitt will be without top flight running back Le’Veon Bell who is suspended to start the season.  But the Steelers have more than enough big play threats and I don’t know if Kurt Cousins can replicate what he did last season. PITTSBURGH WINS
  • Rams @ 49ers: Blaine Gabbert gets the starting job in San Francisco as that organization looks to distance itself from off-the-field stories.  They open up against a Rams team ready to take the next step.  The newly name Los Angeles Rams biggest issue was inconsistency last season, beating the Cardinals and Seahawks, but losing to the Bears at home.  They’ve got a top flight running back and a better than average defense.  It’s going to be another long season for the Niners. LOS ANGELES WINS

Well that’s it.  Time to sit back, relax and wait for kickoff! Enjoy week 1 everyone.

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NFL: Season Preview & Week 1 Picks

Hello again!

I know, I know.  It feels like forever ago that the Seattle Seahawks made easy work of the Denver Broncos in Superbowl XLVIII.  But never fear.  It’s September, which means football is back! 

My 2013-14 season predictions had the Denver Broncos over the Seattle Seahawks.  And here as we enter week 1, I’m just happy I had the matchup correct.

Here’s how I see 2014-15 will go down:

NFC East                                                            AFC East

  1. Philadelphia Eagles                                       1. New England Patriots
  2. New York Giants                                            2. New York Jets
  3. Dallas Cowboys                                             3. Miami Dolphins
  4. Washington Redskins                                    4. Buffalo Bills

NFC West                                                           AFC West

  1. Seattle Seahawks                                          1. Denver Broncos
  2. San Francisco 49ers                                     2. Kansas City Chiefs
  3. Arizona Cardinals                                          3. San Diego Chargers
  4. St. Louis Rams                                              4. Oakland Raiders

NFC South                                                          AFC South

  1. Carolina Panthers                                          1. Indianapolis Colts
  2. New Orleans Saints                                        2. Tennessee Titans
  3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers                                 3. Houston Texans
  4. Atlanta Falcons                                              4. Jacksonville Jaguars

NFC North                                                           AFC North

  1. Green Bay Packers                                        1. Cincinati Bengals
  2. Chicago Bears                                                2. Baltimore Ravens
  3. Detroit Lions                                                   3. Pittsburgh Steelers
  4. Minnesota Vikings                                           4. Cleveland Browns

NFC Playoff Teams                                                               

  • Eagles, Packers, Seahawks, Saints, Panthers, 49ers

AFC Playoff Teams

  • Broncos, Patriots, Colts, Bengals, Ravens, Chiefs

NFC Championship Game

  • Packers over Seahawks

AFC Championship Game

  • Broncos over Colts

Superbowl

  • Broncos over Packers

So with all that said, here are my week 1 picks.

Thursday Night Football

  • Packers @ Seahawks: It’s opening night and a rematch of the infamous “game-winning interception.”  It’s also as you read, a preview for my NFC Championship game.  I have the Packers winning in the playoffs, but it is too difficult to win in Seattle, and add the Superbowl ceremony the 12th man will get to experience, give me the Seahawks in a close one. SEATTLE WINS

Sunday 1PM Games

  • Bills @ Bears: The run-game needs to be supreme for Buffalo for this team to have a chance.  But I think even if it is, the Bears are simply a better team on both sides of the ball.  Give me the home team big. CHICAGO WINS
  • Browns @ Steelers:  You have to love an AFC North showdown in week 1.  The Browns enter another season with massive changes to adjust to, while the Steelers come off an 8-8 record.  Pitt doesn’t miss the playoffs two years in a row often, but I think that happens this year.  That being said, the Steelers will take the opener.  PITTSBURGH WINS
  • Bengals @ Ravens: Two teams with good defense, two teams with guys who know how to get their teams to the playoffs.  Only one team has succeed in the postseason.  I’m taking the team that HASN’T succeeded.  Andy Dalton was given a monster deal in the off-season, the defense is healthy this year, and AJ Green is a monster.  It’ll be close, but without Ray Rice, Baltimore is in a tough spot.  CINCINNATI WINS
  • Redskins @ Texans: Can RGIII get back to his Rookie of the Year form?  Washington definitely needs him to get close if they hope to get back to the playoffs.  As for Houston, they made sweeping changes in the off-season following a 14-game losing-streak to end 2013, after many had them making a Superbowl run.  The Texans defense was very good last season despite being put in horrible field position over-and-over again, so I think JJ Watt and company end their losing streak. HOUSTON WINS
  • Patriots @ Dolphins: Tom Brady is getting old, as everyone tends to do, but no one told his game.  He did great things with a young receiving core last year, and with the return of Rob Gronkowski, there’s no reason he shouldn’t flourish again.  Miami is looking to put last year’s issues behind them and make some noise in the AFC East.  I just don’t think they do it at home this time around.  NEW ENGLAND WINS
  • Vikings @ Rams: This might be the worst quarterback match-up of the week.  But Minnesota does have the crazy talented Adrian Peterson to pick up the slack.  But St. Louis has one of the better defenses in the league, and they know who to shutdown.  ST. LOUIS WINS
  • Jaguars @ Eagles: Jacksonville is definitely moving in the right direction.  But they’re still young.  Philly made the playoffs last season, but it was in a down year for the NFC East.  Can Nick Foles duplicate his great 2013?  If he continues to be accurate, it could mean another playoff run for the Eagles, starting with this home win to open the season. PHILADELPHIA WINS
  • Saints @ Falcons: The first taste of the NFC South rivalry.  Atlanta had a down season last year, but look to make another run at a Superbowl.  New Orleans is always in the discussion, and I think they’re the best team in that division. NEW ORLEANS WINS
  • Raiders @ Jets: This might finally be the year the Jets get back to the playoffs.  Upgrades at the skill positions should help 2nd year QB Geno Smith.  And don’t forget that defense.  Oakland could keep it close, but I don’t see them getting the road win. NEW YORK WINS

Sunday 4:25PM Games

  • 49ers @ Cowboys: San Francisco has had some off-the-field issues during the off-season, while Dallas looks to avoid another 8-8 season.  It’s going to be tough for the Boys this season with a lot of questions on defense, including the loss of DeMarcus Ware. Dallas has issues at home, the Niners are a favorite to make it back to the NFC Championship.  Give me the road team to open up the season with a W.  SAN FRANCISCO WINS
  • Panthers @ Buccaneers: I have been back and forth about this one.  Carolina was so good on both sides of the football last season, but Cam Newton is banged up and the Panthers aren’t returning enough of their offensive play-makers.  While I think Carolina has a better season than the Bucs, give me Tampa’s defense to steal one at home.  TAMPA BAY WINS

Sunday Night Football

  • Colts @ Broncos: Revenge for a regular season loss to the Colts a season ago, give me the Broncos in a high scoring game months after scoring just 8 points in the Superbowl. Yes I know that an important piece in Wes Welker will be missing for the Broncos, and while I think both teams will have great seasons, a tough 3 game stretch to open the year, Denver has to take advantage at home. DENVER WINS

Monday Night Football

  • Giants @ Lions: New York is in transition offensively, and is coming off a bad season.  The Lions continue to boast a lot of big time names, but never seem to put it together.  If they can all season remains to be seen, but I do think their familiarity will help them edge out Eli Manning and his Giants. DETROIT WINS
  • Chargers @ Cardinals: Philip Rivers got back to being Philip Rivers last season, forcing San Diego into the playoffs.  The Cardinals are on the rise, thanks in large part to their defense.  And that’s why I like the home team in this one. ARIZONA WINS

There you go.  The first week of picks in a 17-week season! Looking forward to this season and hearing from you on why my picks are right or wrong. Enjoy opening week!

Enjoy.