What better way to begin the NFL 100th season, than the NFL’s two oldest teams a Soldier Field. The Green Bay Packers are still a marquee team with Aaron Rodgers, while the Chicago Bears with a monster defense led by Khalil Mack could be among the NFC’s top teams. Matt LaFleur is making his debut with the Packers the Bears typically play well against coaches in their debut game. The Packers are in a transition around Rodgers, hoping to retool without rebuilding; this is not a recipe for success.
The Carolina Panthers are entering season a critical season as Coach Ron Rivera is clearly on the hot seat. Cam Newton, coming off shoulder surgery in the off-season, is also looking to prove that he is an elite quarterback in the NFL. The Los Angeles Rams coming off a trip to Super Bowl LIII are hoping to avoid the Super Bowl hangover. As poorly as the Rams played in the big game, it can be argued they already have a hangover. Coming to Carolina for an early game sets up well for the Panthers to get the win.
Not since they returned to the NFL 20 years ago, has there more anticipation for a Cleveland Browns season. All the years of pain and suffering may be about to pay off as the Browns have a talented team with high expectations. Starting at home against the Tennessee Titans, a team that is the definition of mediocre look for the Browns to come out strong and win the game in impressive fashion.
The last two losers of the AFC Championship Game meet in the season opener, with the Kansas City Chiefs hoping to take the next step, while the Jacksonville Jaguars hope to bounce back of a disappointing 2018 season. The Jaguars could have a monster defense with the addition of Josh Allen from Kentucky. They just need to find some offense. In this one, with their practice week distracted with Hurricane Dorian, look for the Chiefs to come in and win the game, without scoring 30 points.
The Miami Dolphins appear to be committed to rebuilding as they have gutted the team while following the Browns model. The hope is that it can pay off as it has in Cleveland. The problem is that 2019 will bring pain and sorrow, as Miami is capable of going winless. Even when the Dolphins were playing their best over the last few years, they never have played well against the Baltimore Ravens. Look for Ryan Fitzpatrick to be on the run all game.
Both of teams are hoping to rebound after missing the playoffs in 2018. The Minnesota Vikings had a shot before losing their final, while a five-game losing streak doomed the Atlanta Falcons as their offense sputtered. The Vikings are more likely to rebound as injuries, and a tough schedule was behind some of their struggles. Playing at home, they should get their season, started with a win.
One thing that always seems to happen with the New York Jets is that new coaches tend to make a good first impression. Their best season is always their first year and they usually start strongly. Playing at home, in their new uniforms, look for them to have a big game playing the Buffalo Bills, who appear to be ready to start the rebuilding process all over again. It seems like a never-ending cycle for Buffalo over the last 20 years.
Carson Wentz has his work cut out for him, as he has to win the fans over with Nick Foles no longer on the bench as a safety net. If he struggles, Philadelphia Eagles fans could turn against him fast. Facing the Washington Redskins at home in Week 1, that should not be an issue, as the Redskins are treating this as a redshirt year for Dwayne Haskins as Case Keenum starts the season as a sacrificial lamb.
The Los Angeles Chargers are looking to build off a strong season, even though Melvin Gordon appears to be locked in for a lengthy holdout, while the Indianapolis Colts are just plain out of luck. Even without Gordon, the Chargers still have Philip Rivers at quarterback who is the more important player, while losing a QB the caliber of Andrew Luck is fatal for the Colts.
The Legion of Boom has departed, but the Seattle Seahawks defense has retooled and made a significant addition, picking up Jadevon Clowney. Look for Clowney to make a big first impression as the Seahawks pass rusher takes advantage of the porous Cincinnati Bengals offensive line and makes life hell for Andy Dalton. Meanwhile Russell Wilson steady as ever for Seattle.
Kyler Murray makes his debut for the Arizona Cardinals at home against the Detroit Lions. Murray has a big learning curve, as the Cardinals have traded Josh Rosen and made a full commitment. The Lions have Matthew Stafford, starting for the 11th season. Stafford has been solid but has not had any playoff success; still, he is a top ten quarterback.
Ezekiel Elliott has ended his holdout and not a moment too soon, as he will be ready to go for the Dallas Cowboys’ season opener against the division rival New York Giants. This will be a showdown of star runners, as Saquon Barkley paces the Giants attack. In what has seemingly become a yearly tradition the Giants open Dallas and suffer a loss. Elliott and the Cowboys have Super Bowl dreams while the Giants are in a year of transition with Daniel Jones soon to take over at quarterback.
Jimmy Garopolo is back as the San Francisco 49ers hope to bounce back after a disappointing season. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have a terrible secondary and will likely be picked apart. Jameis Winston meanwhile is in a must improve season, as Tampa has to consider giving up on the former #1 pick if he continues to struggle. Garopolo was one of the top passers before going down with an ACL. You fully expect him to be strong on Sunday as the Niners get a late kickoff time in Tampa.
Another season and another banner as the New England Patriots after winning their sixth Lombardi Trophy begin the season against the only other team with six Lombardis. The Pittsburgh Steelers are hoping that football is the story, after dealing with the soap opera of the departed Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown. The Steelers did beat the Patriots last year, which sets up New England for a revenge game and that usually means a big game for Tom Brady.
The New Orleans Saints were flat out screwed last season as that no-call against the Rams was one of the worst in the history of the NFL. The Houston Texans are rolling the dice, trading three draft picks for Laremy Tunsil to sure up the line for Deshaun Watson. At the same time, they traded away Jadeveon Clowney, which will hurt the pass rush. With a questionable secondary that is bad and against a team like the Saints and Drew Brees that is bad news.
Antonio Brown has brought his clown show to the Oakland Raiders, creating more drama than touchdowns as he continues to sulk over his helmet and fines during training camp. From sore feet to his helmet issues, the Raiders are regretting this deal already, and Brown has not played on a game yet. The Denver Broncos have a strong defense and are hoping Joe Flacco can resurrect his career. Look for Denver to go into Oakland and get the win.