Week 1 Predictions for the 2015 NFL Season
The NFL season has arrived meaning new story lines will unfold. Unknown players will emerge while household names could take a step back. And, maybe, a different champion will be crowned at season's end. Before we get ahead of ourselves, we have to start at the beginning. Here are my week 1 predictions to start the 2015 season.
Pittsburgh @ New England: The Steelers will be without center Maurkice Pouncey, RB Le'Veon Bell, and receiver Martavis Bryant against New England. The Patriots will be without Darrelle Revis, Brandon Browner, and Vince Wilfork for the rest of the season as they signed else where in the spring. Although Pittsburgh has quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and last year's leading receiver in Antonio Brown, the entire New England roster will be highly motivated to play after what has transpired in the past six months involving one Tom Brady. A close game throughout, however the Patriots will pull out the win.
Pick: New England
Indianapolis @ Buffalo: Despite the arsenal of weapons the Colts have stored offensively, the Buffalo Bills defense will show that the offensive line is indeed important for the offense. A great win to start Rex Ryan's tenure as Buffalo's head man as free agent addition Tyrod Taylor connects with LeSean McCoy for a score.
Green Bay @ Chicago: The defense for Chicago will be improved this season. The Packers defense pretty much stayed the same but there is an unknown who will line up at receiver for the Bears. A familiar face in James Jones will be greatly appreciated in Green Bay this season.
Kansas City @ Houston: A close one in Houston as both defenses will pose problems. Don't think the Texans will do much offensively with Arian Foster absent. Kansas City will get it done thanks to new receiver Jeremy Maclin.
Carolina @ Jacksonville: A tough pick here due to the defense for both teams, which seems to be quite the topic so far. The Jaguars will certainly be improved on defense while the Panthers look to continue the defensive play that got them to the 2014 postseason. Without Kelvin Benjamin, the Panthers will certainly struggle on offense. Can Devin Funchess and Jonathan Stewart provide the needed help for Cam Newton? Not for this game.
Cleveland @ New York Jets: A low scoring affair in New York as both defenses pose a problem to the other team. The much improved Jets secondary will make it tough for Cleveland's receivers to make any plays.
Seattle @ St. Louis: A new season starts for the Seahawks roughly seven months after a devastating loss in the Super Bowl. How will they fair in St. Louis this time? Another fake punt by the Rams to seal the win or not? Think that will be the focal point that Pete Carroll addresses. They won't get fooled again. Probably one of the better defensive fronts in the NFL, the Rams will wreak havoc on a Seattle offensive line who traded away center Max Unger to New Orleans in March. It will be a hard time for Seattle to do anything on offense, but the Rams will face a more steeper hill to score points. Special teams will win it for the Seahawks as rookie Tyler Lockett will make the difference in this divisional clash.
Miami @ Washington: It's been six years since Miami punched their tickets to the playoffs. This roster is talented enough to get there. They have the players on offense and defense. Ndamukong Suh will be worth every penny. The uninspired Redskins will take one under the chin.
New Orleans @ Arizona: The Cardinals seem to be a popular pick this week to win against New Orleans. I think it's possible that the Cardinals could win, but I am rolling with Drew Brees to find a way. Even though Jimmy Graham is gone, second year wide receiver Brandin Cooks will have an impact for the offense. With Max Unger's arrival to New Orleans, the offensive line will get a boost over a Todd Bowles-less Arizona defense. The Saints running game should be able to make plays establishing an overall offensive balance.
Detroit @ San Diego: I am not very confident that the Chargers will be a contender in the AFC. With Antonio Gates out, Ladarius Green will fill in at tight end; most of us were expecting him to make plays last year but didn't happen. However, one of the better players for Detroit, DeAndre Levy, has been dealing with a hip injury causing him to miss two weeks of practice. He is listed as doubtful for Sunday's game while offensive guard Larry Warford (high ankle sprain) will not play. The two rookie running backs in Melvin Gordon (Chargers) and Ameer Abdullah (Lions) will have a small contribution, but I think Gordon will have the better game.
Baltimore @ Denver: Current Broncos head coach Gary Kubiak faces his former team where he served as the offensive coordinator last season. He and Peyton Manning will test this new Ravens secondary. With a more reliable receiving corps, the Broncos will get the victory in a close win. Don't expect for Steve Smith Sr. and Crockett Gillmore to make enough plays.
Cincinnati @ Oakland: Will newly added Aldon Smith see some playing time for the Raiders? We'll see what he is asked to do but he has to make the most of the 1-year deal that was agreed upon if he wants to continue playing in the NFL. Both offenses will struggle early in the game (there will be a few turnovers), but Jeremy Hill will be too much for Oakland. Derek Carr will throw a touchdown pass to Amari Cooper in a 10-point loss.
Tennessee @ Tampa Bay: Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston last went head-to-head with Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota in the 2015 Rose Bowl. Mariota's Oregon Ducks got the better of Winston's Seminoles with the score of 59-20. Now the two first overall picks in the 2015 NFL draft meet again, in what is an intriguing game in the first week of the regular season. I thought very highly of the Buccaneers last season with the expectation of them winning the division. As you know, things didn't work out at all. There will be much talk regarding the two quarterbacks after each game if the right choice was made. We'll see what happens in 13 years. The Titans will get the best of the Buccaneers due to a strong defensive showing over a subpar offensive line.
New York Giants @ Dallas: The last Sunday night game these two teams gave us was a thriller. It also gave us the catch heard around the world. We'll see how the Cowboys defensive front do as the season progresses but they shouldn't have any problems against the Giants offensive line. The Giants will have a hard time in the trenches.
Philadelphia @ Atlanta: On this Monday night double-header, the Falcons face third year coach Chip Kelly and the Eagles. Like other teams around the league, the Falcons will be on the rise in terms of defense. I am strongly considering on Atlanta to get the victory, but Philadelphia's run game will prove to be the deciding factor.
Minnesota @ San Francisco: The long awaited return of Vikings running back Adrian Peterson comes to a close as we get to see him on Primetime in San Francisco. Even with the mass exodus of defensive players for the 49ers, I still expect for them to compete. Plus the issues with Minnesota's offensive line will lead to a few broken plays here and there. Peterson will have a decent game as he shakes off the rust, but Xavier Rhodes and the Vikings defense will be the difference.
College Football picks: Utah over Utah State, Michigan over Oregon State, Notre Dame over Virginia, Georgia over Vanderbilt, Iowa State over Iowa, Oklahoma over Tennessee, South Carolina over Kentucky, Michigan State over Oregon, Mississippi St. over LSU, Boise State over BYU.