When last we met these two teams were on the field at Levi’s Stadium, with the Broncos winning Super Bowl 50 thanks to a spectacular defense. The Broncos defense is just as strong this season, but their offense is lacking a quarterback as Peyton Manning retired and Brock Osweiler stomped off for being benched in favor or Manning. Denver drafter Paxton Lynch, who is not ready as Mark Sanchez failed miserably leaving Trevor Siemian to start the opener. Carolina also has a solid defense and Cam Newton looking to get the bad taste out of his mouth comes out to make a statement, and gets revenge in the season opener.
The Falcons never have the summertime blues as they often play well early in the season. It’s just when fall arrives the Falcons see their hopes wither and die as they stumble and fall like the leaves on a tree. The Buccaneers swept Atlanta last season, and are looking for a strong start in Jameis Winston’s second season. Winston should have a solid game, but the Tampa defense needs to get stronger, before they can be a true Super Bowl contender. Look for Julio Jones to made the Georgia Dome in its final home opener his personal showcase as the Falcons win by a touchdown.
Forget Edgar Allen Poe, Steven King or John Carpenter the Ravens 2015 was its own horror show as they were overwhelmed by injuries sending 22 players to injured reserve. Finishing 5-11, Baltimore lost nine games by eight points or less. It is hard to imagine that many things go wrong two straight seasons. The Bills could imagine it as they have not been in the postseason since 1999. Bad news Bills fans, nobody will be partying like it is 1999 any time soon, as the Ryan Brothers began their version of Dumb and Dumber as the Bills begin another season of irrelevance with a loss.
All signs are go for J.J. Watt who missed the entire preseason recovering from back surgery. While the three-time Defensive Player of the Year may be a bit behind the rest of the league just having him in the lineup will be a boost for the Texans. The Bears were a solid road team last season, winning five away from Soldier Field, but with the Texans pass rush and Brock Osweiler looking to make a good first impression for his new home fans this one looks like a win for Houston.
The corner is being turned in Jacksonville as the Jaguars should be one of the league’s most improved teams. However, they still have a long way to go before they can beat teams like the Packers, who simply have too many weapons. With Jordy Nelson returning after missing all of 2015 with a torn ACL, look for the Packers to make a big statement in Week 1. Nobody is happier to see Nelson’s return than Quarterback Aaron Rodgers who will have a big game to open the season with a win on the road.
Last year was a year of streaks for the Chiefs, who after losing five straight, won their next ten games to reach the playoffs. The winning streak continued in the postseason as they won their first playoff game in more than two decades. Looking to build off that, the Chiefs have high expectations as they start the season at home against the Chargers. The Chiefs have dominated the Chargers as of late, winning the last four meetings. Look for that trend to continue as the Chiefs secondary gets at least two picks from the mistake prone Philip Rivers who is in for another long season.
This is the year the Raiders hope can end their drought of winning seasons, that dates back to 2002 as they have weapons all throughout their offense. The defense is also solid led by Khalil Mack master of the sack. However, they have yet to find the consistency to sustain any success. They also still struggle when they come east so starting in New Orleans is not ideal for Oakland. The Saints offense still can be explosive at times and with Drew Brees leading the NFL in passing in 2015 he still has the arm to win an opening week shoot out.
How to tell if the Bengals have a chance to win. Look at the calendar if it says January than they have no chance, any other month and it is safe to pick them. The Jets were a surprise 10-6 last year, but lost when it was needed most. They will be hard pressed to repeat that performance this year, as the loss of Damon Harrison on the Defensive Line and Chris Ivory in the run game will be a big hurdle for Gang Green. Needing a strong start the Bengals control the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball and get a win in the Meadowlands.
Even for teams like the Eagles who were wrecked by Chip Kelly can take solace in the fact that they are not the Browns. The Eagles begin a new, with a rookie head coach and a rookie quarterback. While the playoffs seem a long shot for the Eagles this year, they should get the Carson Wentz-Doug Pederson era started on the right note as they face the Browns at home. Cleveland is also starting over, but with Robert Griffin III at the helm there is no reason for optimism as the Browns resemble an expansion team.
With their new stadium set to open next week the Vikings begin the season already taking a big gut punch with the loss of Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater to an ACL injury. Minnesota acquired Sam Bradford from the Eagles just last week, but it will take him longer to get a handle on the playbook. Which means Shaun Hill will likely start the opener in Nashville. Hill is not going to lead any team anywhere near the playoffs. The Titans looking just to improve meanwhile will get a big game from Marcus Mariota to get a Week 1 win.
The Seahawks have been one of the most dominant teams in the NFL over the last five years, reaching two Super Bowls and winning one. The Dolphins have been adrift on a sea of mediocrity for the past 15 years, making the playoffs just once. Starting the season in Seattle the Dolphins stand little to no chance in getting the season started with a win, even if Ryan Tannehill is going to final justify being a first round pick. The Seahawks will be out to make a statement and with Russell Wilson leading the way, win this one easily with Jimmy Graham slashing apart the middle of the Dolphins soft secondary.
For the fourth time in five years the Giants and Cowboys are facing off in Week 1. The Cowboys have won the previous three season openers, but this time around are seriously shorthanded with Rookie Dak Prescott starting in place of the oft injured Tony Romo at quarterback. Eli Manning on the other side of the field is healthy and primed for a big year. With the defense improved and the return of Victor Cruz, the Giants seem primed for a big year and winning in Dallas to open the season is a good launching point for new coach Bob McAdoo.
Last season was a major letdown for the Colts as Quarterback Andrew Luck was bruised, battered and tattered. After ignoring the offensive line for years, the Colts finally addressed the men who protect their franchise quarterback with four draft picks. Looking to show no ill effects from a lacerated kidney that ended his season in 2015, expect a big game from Andrew Luck as the Colts easily beat the Lions who will sorely miss Calvin Johnson in their offense.
Even if Tom Brady was not suspended, starting the season on the road against the Arizona Cardinals would be a tough task for the Patriots. The Cardinals are one of the top defensive teams in the NFL, with a secondary that makes life hard for even the best quarterbacks. With Jimmy Garoppolo getting the start, expect the Cardinals secondary to shut down the Patriots one-dimensional offense and win the game on Sunday Night Football. Expect big things for David Johnson in the backfield for Arizona in 2016 as he has a strong game to start the season.
Not all playoff teams are equal. Some teams are legitimate contenders, while others are pretenders that benefit from an easy schedule. The Steelers with their high powered offense are a true contender, while the Redskins reigning NFC East champions were helped by an easy schedule as none of their nine wins in 2015 came against a team that finished with a winning record. The Redskins just don’t have the weapons to keep up with teams like the Steelers. Look for Antonio Brown to shine in primetime as the Steelers win going away.
A rivalry renewed and revived closes out the first week in the 2016 NFL season. The 49ers and Rams may have been grouped together for the last 21 years in the NFC West, but it never quite took on the feel it did when the Rams were in Los Angeles. Not that they have returned to Hollywood that Nor. Cal vs So Cal bitterness is back. Bitterness is the key for the Niners as a Colin Kepernick after losing his starting job has become a malcontent in every aspect of his life. The Rams meanwhile are in a rebuild year waiting for Jared Goff to take the reins under center. Neither team will be a factor when the season is over, but in a repeat of last season the Niners start the year win a Monday Night win at Levi’s Stadium.