It is hard to believe that seven months have come and gone since the Philadelphia Eagles won Super Bowl LII, but here they are opening the season on Thursday Night against the Atlanta Falcons who a year earlier blew it when they had a chance to beat the Patriots. As the Eagles begin the season, Carson Wentz is still not ready to go meaning, it is up to Nick Foles to carry the load. While Foles was good enough to win the Super Bowl, but he has never been able to have any sustained success. The Falcons, who lost to Philadelphia in the Division Round, is a tough opening draw for the Eagles, who will see just how heavy that crown is.
I would like to know through what lens, Buffalo Bills Coach Sean McDermott sees quarterback Nathan Peterman. After acquiring A.J. McCarron in the offseason, Buffalo turned around and traded him in the preseason, and not to make room for rookie Josh Allen, but so Peterman can start the season. This is the same Nathan Peterman who in his first start last year threw five interceptions in the first half. Maybe Peterman is a sacrificial lamb with the Bills offensive line being among the worst in the NFL and could be dangerous for the rookie. The Baltimore Ravens with Joe Flacco feeling the heat should cruise to an easy win.
At some point this season, the Cleveland Browns will win a game. They may even win two games, but until then each team that plays them will fight to avoid being the team that is the first to lose to the lowly Browns who are 1-31 over the last two seasons. The first team that has a shot is the Pittsburgh Steelers. To tell you how sorry the Browns have been the last two decades, Ben Roethlisberger has more wins than any Browns starting quarterback, at FirstEnergy Stadium. Tyrod Taylor will start the season for Cleveland, but Baker Mayfield will be there sooner than later. I only wish we could get a Hard Knocks as the Browns dumpster fire has become quite entertaining.
At long last, Andrew Luck is healthy and back under center for the Indianapolis Colts. The bad news for the Colts is that the team around him is severely lacking and the offensive line still leaves a lot to be desired. The Colts also have a defense that is porous, which means that every game the Colts will win, will likely be a high scoring game. The Cincinnati Bengals have many holes too and are the right team for Luck to face if he wants to get a win in the opener. Look for offensive fireworks, as the Colts win a high scoring game.
Can someone explain what exactly the Miami Dolphins game plan is? Every time they get some stars around them, they get rid of said star. Making matters worse, they have nearly nothing to show for the deals that sent Jay Ajayi to Philadelphia and Jarvis Landry to Cleveland. Ryan Tannehill is back, but even at his best, Tannehill was just slightly above average. The Dolphins just appear to be spinning their wheels. The Tennessee Titans, meanwhile known their future is invested in quarterback Marcus Mariota. Look, for Mariota to shine in the Florida sun, as the Dolphins are in for a long year.
One win away from the Super Bowl with Case Keenum, the Minnesota Vikings feel that they have the right pieces for 2018 with the addition of Kirk Cousins. The San Francisco 49ers are also feeling excited, as they will have Jimmy Garoppolo for the full season after going 5-0 down the stretch last year. However, during his finish, Garoppolo did not face a defense as good as the Vikings on the road. Look for the Vikings to had Jimmy G. his first career loss, as the Vikings launch what they hope is a journey to Valhalla where they will land their first Lombardi Trophy.
Things usually don’t go well for the Houston Texans when they face the New England Patriots. An example of how poorly that the Texans do against the Patriots is the fact J.J. Watt has never sacked Tom Brady and the teams have played seven times since 2012, with New England winning every matchup. Last season Deshaun Watson had his breakout performance in Foxboro last season, but came up short, as they had no answer for the magic of Brady. The Texans still will not have an answer as the Patriots win again.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers begin the season with a leaky ship, as Jameis Winston will be on the shelf the first two weeks, from a suspension for his continued off the field troubles. Winston’s maturity has been a major issue with Tampa, while the rest of the team built around him appears to be on the verge of caving in. The New Orleans Saints meanwhile were rejuvenated last year by the play of rookies Marshon Lattimore and Alvin Kamara. The Saints have Super Bowl aspirations while Tampa appears to be a sinking ship, look for the Saints to cruise at home in Week 1 to an easy win.
Last year was sheer misery for the New York Giants as they completely unraveled under Coach Ben McAdoo. Under Pat Shurmur there is a different feel in 2018 in the Meadowlands as the Giants have taken steps to make life easier for Eli Manning who spent all of 2017 on the run with a terrible offensive line. The addition of Nate Soldier, the drafting of Will Hernandez and the running of Saquon Barkley all should help, as should a healthy and happy Odell Beckham Jr. The Jacksonville Jaguars are a tough Week 1 opponent, but in a close game, the Giants with the renewed energy will find a way to get the win at home.
No team has frustrated the San Diego and Los Angeles Chargers more than the Kansas City Chiefs. The Chiefs have won the last eight meetings, dating back to 2013, this included games with fourth-quarter comebacks as the Chiefs have become the ultimate thorn in the side. Patrick Mahomes will be making his first official start in Los Angeles and could have problems with the Chargers defense. Mahomes will be successful in Kansas City, but the Chargers are due for a big win and will take out their frustrations and win going away.
Two teams starting from scratch with new veteran quarterbacks, hoping to get back into the postseason meet in the desert. For the Cardinals, it is a whole new era under Coach Steven Wilks, who had previously been a defensive coordinator with the Panthers. Sam Bradford when healthy has proven he can be a good quarterback, but he never stays healthy long enough to win consistently. Alex Smith has always found a way to win, but it has always been because of the talent around him. In Washington, the cupboard is bare for Smith and will be for the Redskins as they take the loss in Week 1.
The Dallas Cowboys appear to be at a crossroad, as they have lost several key players in recent years, and now have an offensive line that is already banged up. After struggling in year two, Dak Prescott is looking to bounce back with Ezekiel Elliott finally out of the shadow of a suspension. The Carolina Panthers meanwhile were a quiet 11-5 last season, are that good that hangs just under the radar. Look for Carolina to start the season on a positive note with a win over the Cowboys.
It is hard to believe it has been five years since these two teams played in Super Bowl XLVIII at the Meadowlands. Each team returned to the Super Bowl in subsequent years but appear to be moving on a different era. The Broncos are still built around defense, with Von Miller leading the way as they hope Case Keenum can be good enough to lead the offense. Russell Wilson meanwhile still leads Seattle’s offense, but the Legion of Boom is gone and a look around the Seahawks roster foretells an upcoming season of doom.
Khalil Mack will be making his Chicago Bears debut in Lambeau Field on Sunday Night Football. Mack who held out all of training camp and was dealt by the Raiders last week will have some catching up to do, but he should be a key piece as the Bears look to make their return to contention. The Green Bay Packers are just happy to have Aaron Rodgers healthy and back under center. If Rodgers is healthy, the Packers know they can go far in the playoffs. Look for Rodgers to shine on Sunday Night as the Packers get a solid divisional win.
When Sam Darnold takes the field for the New York Jets, he will be the youngest quarterback in NFL history to start in Week 1, just three months past his 21st birthday. Ultimately Darnold is going to be a success for the Jets, but there will be growing pains in the first season, and starting on the road on Monday Night Football will be the first lesson. The Detroit Lions have many holes, but one of them is not at quarterback, look for a strong game from Matthew Stafford as the Lions roar at Ford Field.
Jon Gruden loves Monday Night Football, after being fired by the Buccaneers he has spent the last decade in the booth, now that he is back on the field with the Oakland Raiders it only seems natural to start on a Monday Night. However, it has been a false start for the Raiders as they were forced to deal Khalil Mack as they begin what could be their final season in Oakland. With Vegas still two years away look for the Raiders to wander the desert as they get run over by a Los Angeles Rams team with Super Bowl dreams.