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NFL: Week 1 Predictions 2011
Football has started with a great game between the past two Super Bowl champions, the Green Bay Packers and the New Orleans Saints, and sadly I wasn't able to release my prediction before the game. The season started off with a bang as both quarterbacks were on point, but in my opinion the game wasn't as close as the score indicated. However, that is not why you are here reading this article. I will continue with my predictions on the upcoming games.
Atlanta Falcons vs Chicago Bears
My pick: Falcons
Both teams led the NFC last season as the top two seeds in the playoffs last year only to get knocked out by the Super Bowl winning Green Bay Packers. Over the off-season, the Falcons improved their pass rush by adding Ray Edwards and improved their wide receiver core by drafting Julio Jones. Both players come in right away and will start. Meanwhile, the Bears didn't do much are about as good as last season. The Bears will be in this game and keep it close due to their home field advantage but the Falcons offense is to strong, and their defense will cause problems for Jay Cutler.
Cincinnati Bengals at Cleveland Browns
My Pick: Browns
The Browns are a team on the rise, but ultimately will struggle to finish teams due to Colt McCoy still coming along as a second year quarterback in the league and due to the lack of a solid wide receiver. The Bengals are a team that is yet again set in rebuilding. They have a rookie starting at quarterback and receiver but have a decent running game and defense. This game will likely be close but Peyton Hillis will be to much for the Bengals and Dalton will struggle in his first NFL start on the road.
Buffalo Bills at Kansas City Chiefs
My Pick: Chiefs
The Bills loss of ILB Paul Posluszny will be noticeable for sure in this game against the balanced attack from the Chiefs. Jamaal Charles and Matt Cassell will have big games against the Bills suspect defense and it certainly helps that the Chiefs are in their comfort zone at home. The Chiefs are an incredibly difficult team to beat in Kansas City.
Philadelphia Eagles at St. Louis Rams
My Pick: Eagles
It'll be a closer game than many would expect as the Eagles are the superior team in terms of talent. It'll be difficult for the Eagles seeing how they have so many changes and in such little time they are expected to have chemistry. The biggest issue will be among the offensive line with a rookie center starting in his first game on the road. Chris Long and the Rams defensive line has improved every year and should be able to get a decent pass rush against the Eagles. The Eagles defensive line should also be able to get to Bradford quite a bit. Still, the Eagles should come out of St. Louis with the win as they are superior to their opponent.
Detroit Lions at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
My Pick: Lions
The Buccaneers were the surprise team of the NFC last season, now that crown will belong to the Lions when this season is over. The Buccaneers are still a solid team, but incredibly young. This game will be close but the Lions have more offensive weapons and have a tough defense with additions like Stephen Tulloch who played for head coach Jim Schwartz back in Tennessee.
Tennessee Titans at Jacksonville Jaguars
My Pick: Titans
The Jaguars suprised many by releasing David Garrard on Tuesday and naming Josh McCown the starting quarterback on Sunday. Even more surprising is how McCown is the starter seeing how he only took nineteen snaps during the pre-season and has been a backup for a good portion of his career. It's clearly setting up Blaine Gabbert to be the starter, but they want to make it as easy as possible for him with little to no pressure on him. If that is the plan, then it still was a mistake to drop Garrard who could have been the stop gap between now and then. Titans win this game due to Jags inability to score in the redzone.
Pittsburgh Steelers at Baltimore Ravens
My Pick: Steelers
Why is this not one of the Monday Night games? The Ravens and Steelers always have great struggles against each other and expect nothing less in this game. I expect the Steelers to be a bit sharper out of the gates and will likely score first putting more pressure on the Ravens. The Ravens have new additions to the offensive line and that will be a problem against the ferocious front seven of the Steelers. Flacco will constantly be under pressure and that is not ideal seeing how he has a new starting wide receiver and tight end.
Indianapolis Colts at Houston Texans
My Pick: Texans
The Texans started last season on a high note by going into Indianapolis and beating the Colts in week 1. This time it will be in Houston on week 1, and the Texans will still win. It would be a much more competitive game if Manning were able to go obviously, but the Texans improved defense will cause problems for Kerry Collins and the Colts. Arian Foster is listed as doubtful for this game with his hamstring injury, but they still have enough at the running back position behind him with Ben Tate and Steve Slaton.
New York Giants at Washington Redskins
My Pick: Redskins
The Giants are going into the season with a good portion of their defense injured. Terrell Thomas being out for the season will hurt them the most. The Redskins will be without safety LaRon Landry for this game and that will hurt them against the run. The Skins have an improved defense however and will likely be able to pull it out seeing how they are at home. The Giants will either blow out the Redskins, or the Redskins will win a really close game but still I believe the Skins will win it.
Seattle Seahawks at San Francisco Niners
My Pick: Niners
The Niners laid an egg last season when they opened the season against the Seahawks, but that game was also in Seattle where the Seahawks are a tough team to beat. The Seahawks decided to go with Tarvaris Jackson as their starting quarterback and he did not look sharp at all during the pre-season. Considering the Niners strong defense, and the fact that they are at home will make things that much more difficult for Jackson. The Seahawks also went out and signed Sidney Rice to be the team's top receiver but he is doubtful for the game, which is a big loss to their offense.
Minnesota Vikings at San Diego Chargers
My Pick: Chargers
The Chargers are some peoples sleeper team of the season considering how strong they finished last year. It helps tremendously that they were able to retain top receiver Vincent Jackson as he is clearly one of Philip Rivers favorite receivers. The Chargers are a superior team than the Vikings both on defense and offense, it also doesn't help the Vikings cause that the game is in San Diego. The Chargers will win this game by a few touchdowns and start the season off on the right foot unlike last season.
Carolina Panthers at Arizona Cardinals
My Pick: Cardinals
Both teams have changed from last season and are now stable at the quarterback position with Cam Newton in Carolina and Kevin Kolb in Arizona. The Cardinals have the stronger team and are playing at home and thus have the clear advantage. The Cardinals will struggle though against Cam Newton's scrambling ability as the Cards have a slow front seven. The Panthers have a solid front seven that will be able to keep the Cardinals running game in check while also providing pressure on Kevin Kolb.
Dallas Cowboys at New York Jets
My Pick: Jets
The Cowboys will be missing starting cornerbacks Terrance Newman and Mike Jenkins for this game and their secondary cannot afford to be without these players. The Cowboys have a solid front seven and new defensive coordinator Rob Ryan will surely dial up a few exotic blitzes to confuse Mark Sanchez, but if Sanchez has enough time he will certainly be able to carve up the Cowboys secondary. Holmes, Burress, Keller, and Mason have to be excited for this game knowing how depleted the Cowboys secondary is. The Cowboys also struggled against the run last season, and that is the Jets forte.
New England Patriots at Miami Dolphins
My Pick: Patriots
The Patriots seem to play every opening Monday Night against one of their divisional opponents and of recent memory, the games have been close. However, the Patriots always pull the game out in the end and I do not see this game being close at all. The Dolphins do not have enough to be able to keep up with the Patriots and the Pats offense was really efficent during the pre-season no matter who played.
Oakland Raiders at Denver Broncos
My Pick: Raiders
The Raiders are another one of the teams that seem to be playing in every opening Monday night game, and remaining competitive in each one. The Raiders lost some key pieces this off-season in Robert Gallery, Zach Miller, Thomas Howard and Nnamdi Asomugha but still have a decent team. Both the Raiders and Broncos will likely be at the bottom of the AFC West and have holes across their roster. The Raiders did manage to sweep the division last season however.