NFL 2012: Week 1 Predictions
Congratulations everyone, Football is back. The most watched sport in the States. This time of year is a happy time for every fan as every team is even at zero wins and zero losses. Every fan can happily say, "We are going all the way!" at this moment. Now, that can be a bit unwise on their part, but I am not one to take away the hope of the fans. At least, not today. Just like last year, I will do weekly predictions on the upcoming games. Now I know I missed the opener, where I am confident that I like most of America picked the Giants to win. Injuries on the defensive side reared it's ugly head for the Giants, and even more importantly the losses of Brandon Jacobs and Mario Manningham showed crucial on the offensive side of the ball. The Cowboys looked good, granted, but it is very rare for a team to win a game when they have thirteen penalties for over eighty yards. Now, it is time for the weekly predictions.
Indianapolis Colts at Chicago Bears
My Pick: Bears
Easy pick right, not quite. Do not expect this to be an easy game for the Bears considering the fact that the Colts were the worst team in the NFL last season. Andrew Luck will quickly transform this offense into something special. However, he will struggle as he will constantly be asked to air the ball out this season considering how weak his defense is. The Colts are making the transition from a base 4-3 defense to a 3-4 defense under the supervision of the former Ravens defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano. They have moved Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis from off the line as defensive ends to the position of rush outside linebackers. They have terrific pass rushing skills, but it still remains to be seen if they can be effective in their new role. Secondly, the Colts secondary leaves plenty to be desired. Expect Cutler to find his old buddy Brandon Marshall quite a few times in this game for their happy reunion. The Bears are usually known for their defense, but with the health of Brian Urlacher is question that alone could force this game to be closer then people think.
Philadelphia Eagles at Cleveland Browns
My Pick: Eagles
Again, like above do not expect this to be a complete blow out. The Eagles defense will be on their top game as they are much improved from last season. While it was just pre-season, the first team defense was flying to the ball. Rookie Mychal Kendricks has been all over the place and impressing everyone in Philadephia with his ability to cover running backs out of the backfield and tight ends down the seam while DeMeco Ryans has been doing what he does best, stop the running attack. The Browns will put up a fight though seeing how it is week one and their home opener. However, with the injury to Trent Richardson and having a rookie quarterback with no wide receivers of note, do not expect much from their offense.
New England Patriots at Tennessee Titans
My Pick: Pats
The Titans are an up and coming team that could squeak into the playoffs this season thanks in large part to their underrated defense. Jake Locker could rise to become a top ten to fifteen quarterback this season as well, but against New England he will find himself a tough opponent. The Patriots spent the off-season trying to bolster their defense. They did so in the draft by getting highly touted prospects Dont'a Hightower and Chandler Jones. Locker should still find his receivers down field, but the Patriots front seven has improved so don't expect Chris Johnson to have a big game. The Patriots on offense will cause a lot of issues for the Titans thanks to their two tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez. Now the Patriots have two adequate receivers on the outside as well in Brandon Lloyd and Wes Welker.
Atlanta Falcons at Kansas City Chiefs
My Pick: Chiefs
The Falcons are a better team on paper but to this point they have never really put it all together. They have tremendous talent and yet under Matt Ryan they have not won a single playoff game. The team is relatively unchanged from last season although they lost their defensive captain left for their division rival in the Saints but gained an all-pro corner back in Asante Samuel. That's a loss in my book considering the team was already viewed as being soft, and with Lofton leaving, they lost their most physical player. The Chiefs made plenty of moves in the off-season to bolster their roster by adding Peyton Hillis, Eric Winston and other various players. Add that into the fact that they are a very tough team to play in Arrowhead Stadium and it all leads to one thing, Chiefs win.
Jacksonville Jaguars at Minnesota Vikings
My Pick: Jags
Both of these teams are in the process of rebuilding. However, the Jaguars as of now are a more complete team. I expect this game to still be competitive throughout the entire game. Blaine Gabbert looked awful in his rookie season but at the same time he didn't have any help at the wide receiver position to make him look good. The Jags addressed that problem by adding Laurent Robinson who had a career year last season with the Cowboys and then they drafted the top wide receiver prospect in Justin Blackmon. Blackmon was impressive in the pre-season and Gabbert looked much more comfortable in the pocket. As for the Vikings, there are still too many questions on the offensive side of the ball. Especially when you look at the health of Adrian Peterson.
Washington Redskins at New Orleans Saints
My Pick: Saints
Poor Robert Griffin. That's all I gotta say. Poor rook. The Saints are going to be playing on such a high level considering it is their home opener and they got the news that their defensive leaders from last season will be back sooner than expected. However, it will still be interesting to see how effective the Saints offense is without Sean Payton calling the plays on the sideline. That being said, they still have one of the best quarterbacks under center for them so they should be okay. The Redskins have a good front seven on defense, but their secondary is still suspect and starting safety Brandon Meriweather will be out for a few weeks while he nurses a hamstring injury.
Buffalo Bills at New York Jets
My Pick: Bills
Are their any positives you can say about the Jets right now? Yes they have a good defense, but let's face facts. The name of the game is putting points up on the board and I just can't see anything positive from their offense. However, I do think that the Jets have been unfair to Sanchez. They've expected him to make great strides every season but they have not supplemented him with pieces to help him succeed. Yet, he has on his resume two AFC Championship appearances. As for the Bills, they are a team on the rise. They converted their defense to a 4-3 which suits their roster better and should allow them to get plenty of pressure on the opposing quarterbacks, even more so with the pickup of Mario Williams in free agency.
St. Louis Rams at Detroit Lions
My Pick: Lions
This will be a rout. The Rams are a work in process with Jeff Fisher running the show there but they are stockpiled with draft picks, that cannot help them right now. It will be a long process, but the team is headed in the right direction with a guy in charge that knows how to build a contender. The Lions on the flipside, have a terrific offense set with a franchise caliber quarterback and a freak of an athelete wide receiver. My only suggestion for the Rams, more importantly the new cornerback for them, Courtland Finnegan do not pick a fight with this Johnson. It won't end well for you, again.
Miami Dolphins at Houston Texans
My Pick: Texans
The Texans are an early season Super Bowl favorite among many analysts, and by all means it is warranted. They have everything you would look for, a quality quarterback, solid running game (theirs is stellar though), a legitimate go to guy on the outside, strong offensive line and a ferocious defense. Their first opponent is very much a cake walk as the Dolphins are another team that are under going an overhaul. The future of the team has been handed over to rookie quarterback Ryan Tannenhill, but the Dolphins are not making things easy on him. Tannenhill does not have much on the outside in terms of weapons. His starting number one receiver in fact has been the teams slot receiver over the past few seasons.
San Francisco 49ers at Green Bay Packers
My Pick: 49ers
This is quite frankly the toughest game to choose all week. This is also quite possibly the NFC Championship game this season. These two teams are the closest things to complete teams. However, I would argue that the Niners are the better team as their defense is stacked and proven. The Packers defense struggled greatly last season and to help add to it they drafted pass rushers primarily. The prime weakness in the Packers is their secondary. They moved Charles Woodson to safety which makes their corners weak, but his ability to read quarterbacks is something special. He should be able to make more plays from the position but for this to really work, Tramon Williams needs to return to form. Point being, there are a lot of "ifs" on the Packers defense. The Niners weakness last season was their inability to attack teams down the field. They addressed that by giving Alex Smith more weapons in the form of Randy Moss and Mario Manningham. It will be a fun game to watch but I think the Niners will come out victorious.
Seattle Seahawks at Arizona Cardinals
My Pick: Seahawks
Name one thing positive in favor of the Arizona Cardinals and I will gift wrap you a cookie free of charge. It's a shame, it seems more and more likely that Larry Fitzgerald will continue to rot on a team that has no foresight. They spent money on Kevin Kolb, but forgot to give him an offensive line to give him more then a millisecond to throw the ball down field. The Seahawks have a functional running game thanks to Marshawn Lynch, but now they have a capable quarterback under center in the form of rookie Russel Wilson. Division games are usually closer however, so expect this game to still be close in score but not on the field.
Carolina Panthers at Tampa Bay
My Pick: Panthers
Divisional games are always tough. Both of these teams are similar to one another, but Cam Newton is an elite level quarterback whereas Josh Freeman has the potential to be something special. Newton and Freeman both have capable running backs and offensive lines set with solid wide receivers on the outside. The offenses in a way kind of mirror each other. On the defensive side of the ball, the same can be said. The one difference yet again comes down to Cam Newton. He is just a difference maker with his legs and his arm. He also makes terrific decisions for a young man in the NFL.
Pittsburgh Steelers at Denver Broncos
My Pick: Broncos
If the Steelers were at full strength, then I'd be inclined to pick them. However, that is not the case as James Harrison is questionable and safety Ryan Clark is out for their season opener. Those are two key pieces on the defensive side of the ball. Add in the fact that it is hard to see Mike Wallace coming in having spent no time in camp learning the new offensive system under the tutelage of Tom Haley. It is a lot of questions for one team, also the Steelers offensive line has always been one massive question mark. Now the Broncos are not a perfect team either, they have question marks alike. Although, the Broncos will be playing in front of their home crowd with a new face in town. None other then Peyton Manning. Manning gives the Broncos a chance at being a legitimate contender and Sunday night will be his chance to showcase just that. He has good weapons on the outside in DeMaryius Thomas and Eric Decker so I expect him to excel.