Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Are you ready? NFL Week One Predictions

Week One of the NFL season is nearly upon us! On Thursday, the Giants will begin their title defense against the Redskins, so it's time for me to weight in with some predictions. Each week this season, I will pick the winner of each game. I am not doing this looking at spreads or over/unders, strictly who I think will win the game. In other words, my picks aren't for betting purposes.

Before I get to my choices for Week One, I want to quickly run down my predictions for the entire season:

NFC Division winners: Cowboys, Vikings, Saints, Seahawks
NFC Wild Cards: Eagles, Packers

As much as it pains me, I think the Cowboys are simply a better team on paper than the Eagles. It will be close, though, as I think Dallas will finish with 11 wins and the Eagles will finish with 10. The NFC Central belongs to the Vikings this year. Their running game is too strong and their defense is going to be even better. Their only weak link is Tarvaris Jackson, they'll go as far as he can take them. I also think that Aaron Rodgers will sneak the Packers into the playoffs by leading them to a 9-win season. The Saints are an easy pick in the NFC South because they are the team with the fewest flaws in the division. The Seahawks should continue to dominate the NFC West, but count on the 49ers and Cardinals to have respectable seasons.

The Cowboys will represent the NFC in the Super Bowl.

AFC Division winners: Patriots, Steelers, Jaguars, Chargers
AFC Wild Cards: Colts, Jets

The Patriots are a "no-duh" pick to win the AFC East. I really like the Jets, who have made some great upgrades this offseason. Even before they picked up Brett Favre, the moves they made to shore up the offensive line and the defense were enough to make them respectable, but Favre puts them over the top and into the playoffs. The AFC North is a tough division to predict, but I think the Steelers are the best all-around team in the group. The Jaguars are everyone's trendy pick to win this year, I guess I am a believer, too. I think they will squeak out the division over the Colts, who will still make the playoffs. The Chargers are the easiest pick of all.

The Jaguars will represent the AFC in the Super Bowl.

Super Bowl: Jaguars over Cowboys. The Cowboys get over the hump and finally win some playoff games, but the Jaguars mix of great defense with explosive, consistent offense will earn them their first championship.

Okay, with all of those predictions in mind, here are my picks for Week One of the NFL season:

Thursday Night Game:

Redskins @ Giants I don't know what to make of the Redskins. I can't believe they even made the playoffs last year, they have to be the least exciting playoff team ever. Every year they are hyped up as a team on the rise but they never quite get there. The Giants are hurting on defense, but there is no way they are going to lose their opening game. My Pick: Giants

Sunday Day Games:

Rams @ Eagles I will have a full Eagles season run-down on Friday where I will pick the outcome of every Eagles game this season. Needless to say, there is no way the Eagles lose to a weak Rams team. The Rams have a lot of weapons on offense, but they still don't have anyone who can block. My pick: Eagles by two touchdowns

Lions @ Falcons The good news for both of these teams is that one of them will be undefeated after Week One. The bad news is that's as good as things will get for either team. I will have to go with Detroit in this one simply because Matt Ryan is making his debut and he's got a lot to learn. My pick: Lions, because someone has to win this game

Seahawks @ Bills I am not buying into the Bills hype. I have seen a few preseason publications call them an up-and-coming team with a shot at the playoffs this year. I say they'll be lucky to win 6 games. The Seahawks aren't the same team they used to be, but they should pull this one out on the road. My pick: Seahawks

Jaguars @ Titans Since I think the Jaguars will win the Super Bowl, I obviously think they will win against Tennessee. The Jags defense is going to beat up on Vince Young, who we're all still waiting for to be an NFL quarterback. My pick: Jaguars

Jets @ Dolphins The Favre era will kick off with a win. I still can't believe the Dolphins are letting Ricky Williams be their starting running back, let alone the fact that they gave him a contract extension. Has Ronnie Brown really fallen that far? My pick: Jets

Chiefs @ Patriots I still can't believe the Patriots actually lost the Super Bowl. The Giants proved the old "any given Sunday" adage. Or maybe they proved the "that's why they play the games" adage. Unfortunately for the rest of the NFL, that means there is one pissed off team in New England. Oh, and you better believe Tom Brady will play. This Chiefs team got rid of a ton of veteran talent but they forgot to replace it with good young talent. My pick: Patriots by a wide margin

Bucs @ Saints Maybe it's time the NFL got out of New Orleans. These repeated evacuations can't be good for the team. I am not excited about the Bucs this year at all. A very boring, non-descript team. My pick: Saints in front of a loud home crowd

Texans @ Steelers I am very tempted to pick the Texans here. They are a strong up-and-coming team, with some serious talent on both sides of the ball. If they only had a better running game I would strongly consider them for a playoff spot. Ahman Green stinks. Big Ben and the Steelers will protect their home field. My pick: Steelers, but it will be close.

Bengals @ Ravens This is another game that someone has to win. The Bengals are a mess, just like Carson Palmer's bloody face (cheap shot?). The Ravens are throwing their quarterback of the future to the wolves, but they still have a pretty good defense. My pick: Ravens defense will carry the offense, just like always

Panthers @ Chargers No way the Chargers lose to the Steve Smith-less Panthers. In fact, no way the Chargers would lose to the Panthers at home even if they had two Steve Smith's. My pick: Chargers

Cardinals @ Niners Following the legacies of Montana and Young, the J.T. O'Sullivan era begins in San Fran. I think the fact that O'Sullivan is starting is more of a testament to Alex Smith's crappiness than O'Sullivan's ability. Speaking of crappy quarterbacks, Matt Leinart's NFL career could be ending before it even really starts now that an ancient Kurt Warner gives the Cardinals a much better chance to win. This is a tough one to call, but I have to go with the team with an actual offense. My pick: Cardinals in a close one

Cowboys @ Browns This should be a high-scoring, no-defense game. Derek Anderson appears ready to play, and he'll need to get his arm good and loose 'cause he is going to be firing all over the field as the Browns expose the Cowboys weak secondary. Unfortunately, the Browns weakness on their defense is the entire unit, so the Cowboys should be able to march up and down the field all day. My pick: Cowboys

Sunday Night Game:

Bears @ Colts Kyle Orton or Rex Grossman, does it really matter? This team has had the same obvious problem for so long, it's ridiculous that Lovie Smith even still has a job. Peyton Manning will play, but I don't think the Colts offense will fire on all cylinders right away. Meaning they might only score 21 points, which is more than enough to beat the Bears. My pick: Colts by two touchdowns

Monday Night Games:

Vikings @ Packers Aaron Rodgers couldn't get a much tougher match-up for his first game. The Vikings will hit him early and often. The Green Bay defense will also have their hands full with the Minnesota running game, but luckily they don't have to worry too much about getting beat through the air. This should be one of the best games of the week. My pick: Vikings in a close one

Broncos @ Raiders The Raiders look like an improved team on paper but I won't believe it until I see it. The Broncos aren't that good, either, but I still believe in them a lot more than I believe in Oakland. My pick: Broncos

So there are my picks for Week One. Each week I will predict the games and keep track of my wins and losses. If you agree or disagree or have picks of your own, feel free to leave comments! Enjoy the first weekend of football! Check back Friday for a more in-depth Eagles preview.

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