Here we are again kicking off another NFL season in Foxboro after the Patriots historic comeback in Super Bowl LI. Fans at the game will greet Roger Goodell with 70,000 Bozo towels from Barstool Sports. The Patriots could be even better this year than they were last year, which means chances are they are in for Lombardi number six. The Chiefs defense should keep the game close for a while, but the lack of any weapons will lead to the Kansas City defense tiring down the stretch as the Patriots pull away to an easy win.
There is not one aspect of the Jets team that looks good, as it appears they have decided to tank the entire season to get the number one pick. The Jets have already made history as they have the longest odds ever to win a Super Bowl at 1,000-1. The Bills are not much better, but they always seem to put some of their best efforts early in the season at home. With Tyrod Taylor cleared to play I see the Bills doing just enough to start the year with a win as the Jets countdown to 0-16 begins.
The Falcons have the toughest task of any team this year, getting over the sense that they completely blew a chance to win Super Bowl LI. At some point, you have to expect the Falcons to suffer through a major case of Super Bowl hangover. However, it won’t be in Week 1 as they face a Bears team that could be among the worst in the NFL. Look for Matt Ryan to get off to a fast start against the Bears soft defense.
With Joe Flacco missing all of training camp and the preseason, it is likely that Ryan Mallett will be the Ravens starting quarterback as they begin the season in Cincinnati. That should be a big boost for the Bengals who need to get off to a fast start after last year’s struggles. The Bengals have a ton of concerns as the season begins as well, with Vontaze Burfict serving another suspension for a dirty hit. Andy Dalton has his flaws, but at home against a team without its starter, he should get a win for the Bengals.
The Steelers and Browns rivalry is on par with the rivalry between a hammer and a nail. Since Cleveland returned to the league in 1999, the Steelers have hammered them time and time again, winning 31 of 37 matchups. The Browns should be better than the 1-15 team they were last year, but asking them to beat the Steelers in Week 1 with an unproven rookie in DeShone Kizer at quarterback is a bit too much. The Steelers are still among the best in the AFC and have a history of big wins in the opener.
This could be one of the best games in Week 1 as the Cardinals are seeking to bounce back from a disappointing season, while Matthew Stafford is trying to prove he is worth what the Lions gave him. Both teams are about evenly matched, with the Cardinals secondary being capable of shutting down Stafford. However, as was the case too often last year it was a costly interception that stung the Redbirds. On the road in Detroit, don’t be shocked if that is the difference again as the Lions win a close one.
The magic number for the Texans all season will be 20. If they can score 20 or more points they will likely win the game, with the NFL’s most dangerous defense. The Jaguars themselves have a solid defense, but their quarterback situation may be even worse than Houston as Blake Bortles seems like a pick-six waiting to happen. Look for J.J. Watt to make noise in his return as the Texans stomp the Jaguars on the way to an easy win in Week 1 at home.
Two teams with playoff aspirations both hinging on quarterbacks that suffered similar leg injuries in the penultimate game of the regular season last year. Each team should be in the playoff picture when the season is over as I expect both Derek Carr and Marcus Mariota to show no ill-effect from the injury. Sometimes when a matchup is this tight you have to go with the home team and that is the case here as the Raiders going cross country in an even strength game lose a close one.
If the Philadelphia Eagles are to prove they are a legitimate playoff contender, they must erase some of the mistakes and bad losses they have suffered over the last few seasons. This means beating the Redskins, who they have lost their last five meeting against. Carson Wentz had a solid rookie season last year, but has room for improvement. The Redskins appear to be a team in disarray with Kirk Cousins contract status hanging over their heads, as several key free agents departed in the off-season.
Don’t expect to see much offense at the Coliseum, as the Rams open the season with a new coach against a Colts team without Andrew Luck. While the Colts say they expect Luck to return soon after off-season shoulder surgery, the fact they traded for Jacoby Brissett tells you there is at least some concern. The Rams don’t do much well, but rushing the quarterback is their forte, with the Colts porous offensive line, that should equal a win for L.A. in Week 1.
Last year when the Seahawks paid a visit to Lambeau Field, Russell Wilson had the worst game of his career throwing five interceptions. The Seahawks shored up the defense, adding Sheldon Richardson at the end of the pre-season, but they still have some gaps on offense to worry about, especially along the offensive line. Both teams should be factors in the playoffs, with each sensing their window of opportunity closing. This one should be close throughout, as Aaron Rodgers pulls it out in the end.
Each team is hoping to recover from a bad 2016 season. The Panthers last year suffered a bad case of the Super Bowl hangover, posting a record of 6-10, while the 49ers were a complete dumpster fire at 2-14. The Panthers as long as they keep Cam Newton up right should bounce back, while the Niners are in a complete rebuild. Look for Cam Newton to have a big game as the Panthers win easily on the road.
Giants against the Cowboys in Week 1 is becoming as much as part of the NFL as the Thursday Night kickoff. This fifth time in six years that the two NFC East rivals are playing each other in Week 1, with most meetings in primetime. The Cowboys got a boost this week, as Ezekiel Elliott was given the go ahead to play as his appeal heads to federal court. Elliott will be the difference in this game as the Cowboys edge the Giants on a late field goal.
Adrian Peterson gets a chance to show his former team he still has mileage on his legs as the Saints begin the season on Monday Night Football against the Vikings. The Vikings are still without Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, but believe Sam Bradford is good enough to them to the playoffs. The Vikings defense is also strong and should be able to wear down the Saints quickly and get the win at home.
Just how desperate are the Broncos to find a quarterback? They signed Brock Osweiler who was released by the Browns at the end of the pre-season. Osweiler did play well with Denver in their Super Bowl season in 2015, but, was exposed as a starter in Houston. The Broncos key to victory rests with their defense, which is among the tops in the league. Look for that defense to get Phillip Rivers to make the crucial turnover in the fourth quarter to secure victory at home in final game of the NFL’s first week.