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2015 NFL Week 1 Predictions
Pittsburgh Steelers vs New England Patriots
The team that truly got the brunt end of the stick from "Deflate Gate" is that of the Pittsburgh Steelers. All the cards are stacked heavily against Pittsburgh as Tom Brady and the New England Patriots will be looking to put Deflate Gate behind them in a big way but the Steelers will be down Leveon Bell and Martavis Bryant. Add in the fact that the Steelers are not a team that is built upon a great defense anymore, losing those two pieces on the offensive side will hurt a great deal. Brady, in turn, will torch the Steelers secondary for multiple scores with fully regulated inflated footballs.
Green Bay Packers vs Chicago Bears
It is a shame what happened in the preseason to the potent Green Bay offense when Jordy Nelson got injured for the season, however as great as the duo of Aaron Rodgers and Nelson is, the offense will still be fine. Rodgers is the best quarterback in the NFL and still has a capable group of weapons at his disposal with Eddie Lacy leading that group. The Packers worked best when they decide to be more physical instead of a finesse team that rests solely on the shoulders of Rodgers, and last year they started that trend. With Nelson gone for the season, I expect the Packers to run Lacy more often and became a more balanced offense. All of this is moot as they face off the lowly Bears this week who will most likely be in the cellar of the division this year with their poor defense.
Kansas City Chiefs vs Houston Texans
This is the year where the Texans make a jump into the upper echelon in the AFC and of course it all starts with their defense. The defense was already one of the best last year led by JJ Watt, but with former first overall pick Jadevon Clowney coming back from injury expect their defense to be something truly special this year. It'll all start this week as they shut down the Chiefs who I also believe will fall this season from where they have been recently. Still, this game will be a close one as both teams have great defenses with mediocre offenses, it will be a hard time to find the end zone come Sunday in Houston.
Cleveland Browns vs New York Jets
The whole talk of possibly all four AFC East teams making the playoffs is a bit overblown. As I see it the Jets and Bills, while having great defenses, still have an issue at quarterback which will hurt them in the long run against playoff teams. In this case, the Jets will reign supreme and earn their new head coach his first win. The Browns won't make it easy on the Jets however as they also have a tough hard nosed defense, but their offense is the closest thing it comes to being inept.
Indianapolis Colts vs Buffalo Bills
The Colts new weapons will be on display in this game as they look to make a strong debut against a tough Bills defense. The Bills also added a key piece to their offense in the form of LeSean McCoy who will look to help take pressure off of new quarterback Tyrod Taylor. Taylor has been a career backup to Joe Flacco so it is hard to predict how he will do due to the fact that he has so little actual meaningful gametape. New offensive coordinator Greg Roman comes from San Francisco, so one would imagine a mobile quarterback like Taylor will work well in the system, but still the Bills will have a hard time pulling out a win against the Colts come Sunday.
Miami Dolphins vs Washington Redskins
It has been quite the tumultuous offseason for the Redskins to say the least and it is hard to say things will get better. The Robert Griffin era is seemingly over but it will not go away and will be a question that the locker room will have to deal with every week. This week they deal with the Dolphins set with a new prized defensive tackle to anchor their already strong defense in Ndaumkong Suh and Ryan Tannehill has some new weapons on the outside. All in all, the Dolphins look to be one of the most improved teams this season and all of that bodes horribly for the Washington Redskins.
Carolina Panthers vs Jacksonville Jaguars
The Panthers got a bad break in the form of Kelvin Benjamin's injury (no, that wasn't a pun) and match that with their offensive line issues it is hard to imagine that they will have another "successful" season. They already struggled to score points with a mediocre offensive line and weapons on the outside, now they have even less talent. The Jacksonville Jaguars on the other side have slowly been piecing together a more competitive roster and with Bortles at the helm they seem to be making strides. This season they surely will be competitive in games but struggle to finish, however in games on a level playing field like this one, I would expect them to pull it out.
Seattle Seahawks vs St. Louis Rams
There is a lot of love coming into this season for the Rams, but I am not buying it. The acquisition of Nick Foles is a mixed bag as he does fit Jeff Fisher's offense but he regressed horribly last season in his decision making as well as his footwork. The thought process is that a change of scenery will benefit him, but even if it does, the skill position players around him leave a lot to be desired. On the other side, the Seahawks will be hurting without Kam Chancellor but also their offensive line is not as strong as it was in years passed. These losses will hurt against better teams and the Seahawks will squeak by in a close game.
New Orleans Saints vs Arizona Cardinals
The Cardinals have a terrific offense and with Carson Palmer they are a hard team to stop defensively. The Saints on the other hand were one of the worst passing defenses in the league last year, so this game does not bode well for the Saints. The Cardinals will most likely take a step back as they have lost some talent but none of that will matter this week as the Saints are in need of a bit of an overhaul. Yes, they still have Drew Brees but the rest of the surrounding group is less then impressive.
Detroit Lions vs San Diego Chargers
The Chargers have always had a impressive offense but in the past few years their running game has struggled, add in rookie Melvin Gordon and now they will have balance once again. The Chargers also boast one of the top passing defenses in the league and go against one of the most prolific passing offenses, and in this case I will take the defense over the offense. It does not help that on the other side of the ball that the Detroit Lions lost what made their defense so prolific in star Ndamukong Suh and even Nick Fairley.
Tennessee Titans vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers
This is rare. It is incredibly rare to see the number one and two overall picks play each other in their NFL debut, let alone both players be quarterbacks. The Tennessee Titans are a much more balanced team on both sides of the ball and will help make Marcus Mariota look like the better of the two rookie quarterbacks. Jameis Winston on the other hand will struggle with a make shift offensive line in front of him.
Cincinnati Bengals vs Oakland Raiders
The Raiders are on a good path just like the Jaguars, they will continue to struggle in the wins department but they will certainly be competitive in every game this season with a capable quarterback at the helm and a stout defense. However, the Bengals have too much firepower on the offensive side of the ball. The Bengals are not as strong as they have been in previous years but as a collective whole they are the stronger team.
Baltimore Ravens vs Denver Broncos
This game was tough to predict as I believe the Ravens will be there at the end of the season where as the Broncos will not. That belief comes more so from the fact that the Ravens perform so much better at the end of a season and coming off of so many losses on the offensive side of the ball, it will take some time for them to adjust and hit their stride. The Broncos on the other hand will be more run oriented this season and balanced which will be hard for the Ravens to deal with in the opening game of the season.
New York Giants vs Dallas Cowboys
The Cowboys will struggle without DeMarco Murray this season as they more then likely will become a more pass oriented team like in the past. However, the Giants on the other hand will struggle even more as it has been said last season that they needed a talent overhaul and that still remains even today. Of course, they have hit it big with a player like Odell Beckham but one player does not change the fortunes for a team. The team has issues on the defensive side of the ball and they still have yet to be addressed.
Philadelphia Eagles vs Atlanta Falcons
Chip Kelly is anything but ordinary and neither is his offense which will certainly take off to new heights come this season with his own chosen quarterback this time at the helm. Chip has dealt with players that he had inherited from Andy Reid up until this point and I would be hard pressed to say it won't work. On the other side, the Atlanta Falcons will be a more balanced team with a defensive minded coach at the helm who will look to make them more physical. This game more then likely will be a shoot out and whoever has the ball last will likely win. Either way, it will be really exciting to watch.
Minnesota Vikings vs San Francisco 49ers
The Vikings are another team that I believe will make a big jump this season. Undoubtedly it helps to have Adrian Peterson back in the lineup but beyond that they are a formidable team on offense and defense. The same thing cannot be said for the 49ers who lost a lot of talent to surprise retirements on both sides of the ball, not to mention the coaching staff that had left. It's hard to imagine that they will be competitive like they have been in years past and I expect the Vikings to make it a hard debut to the season for them.