New Orleans Saints at Green Bay Packers: The Saints and Packers are both looking for a Super Bowl run this season. Drew Brees organized and funded workouts during the lockout, the addition of Mark Ingram should solidify the run game. Aaron Rodgers is one of the best QBs in the league and has Ryan Grant and Jermichael Finley healthy. Both offenses should be potent this season, but whether both teams can get off to a quick start will be the difference. I like Brees’ offseason workouts and I think it will make the difference here with New Orleans winning.
Atlanta Falcons at Chicago Bears: The Falcons addition of Julio Jones should give Matt Ryan the tools he needs to take the next step; should spread the field for Roddy White and Tony Gonzalez while opening up running lanes for Michael Turner. The Bears appear, to me, to be a team in transition. The defense should be good, but not as great as in recent years, and I don’t think they’ll be good enough to win the NFC North or this game.
Cincinnati Bengals at Cleveland Browns: Does anyone care about the winner of this game? I know I don’t. I want to watch Andy Dalton and A.J. Green and see if they can use their natural talent to mesh together quickly. I want to see if Colt McCoy can continue to grow in Cleveland’s West Coast scheme. Neither of these teams will make a lot of noise this season, but the talent on these teams is very possibly the future of the NFL. Stay tuned.
Buffalo Bills at Kansas City Chiefs: The Chiefs were a surprise 10-6 team last season, winning the AFC West. Too bad for them, Matt Cassel is probably going to miss the first week with a rib injury. Fortunately for them, the first game is against the Bills and Tyler Palko should be good enough to beat the Bills. For the Bills, it’s the first loss in a journey to landing Andrew Luck next April.
Philadelphia Eagles at St. Louis Rams: As an Eagles fan, you can expect this prediction to be a little bias. Before I get bias, I’ll say this, Sam Bradford is a great QB and should do great things this year. I’ve seen a lot of people saying they expect the Eagles to implode under the pressure. I don’t see it happening, and I expect DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, and Michael Vick to not miss a step. Eagles should win a close game here, but they’ll still win.
Detroit Lions at Tampa Bay Buccaneers: The Lions have the best defensive line in the league, which should take away the run game from most teams. The Buccaneers were 10-6 last season and missed the playoffs. I don’t expect them to have as good a record this season, and I expect Josh Freeman to take a step back this season with added pressure to perform. Who’s going to win the game? I have no idea – but in the long run, no one will care either.
Tennessee Titans at Jacksonville Jaguars: The Matt Hasselback era starts in Tennessee. Too bad for him, he isn’t exactly playing on the most talented team in the league. David Garrard looks to be the starter for the Jaguars right now, and reports from around the league look different about the Jaguars. If Garrard and Maurice Jones-Drew can perform well, they might have a chance at a Peyton Manning-less AFC South to start the season.
Pittsburgh Steelers at Baltimore Ravens: I love a good rivalry. The Steelers and Ravens always play a rough, low-scoring, physical game. The Ravens promise to unleash Joe Flacco this season and allow him to use his big arm to go downfield more often. With the addition of Lee Evans, I can imagine that will be fun to watch. I expect the same type of physical game here. I don’t know who wins this game, because it’s always too close to call.
Indianapolis Colts at Houston Texans: Matt Schaub and Andre Johnson are perhaps the best combination in the league. Schaub could throw for 5,000 yards this season if the rest of the receivers can step up their game. Manning won’t be playing in this game according to reports out of Indy and they’ll have to rely on Kerry Collins to run an offense that he’s had about two weeks to learn. If this game was being playing in Indy, I might think the Colts would have a better chance, but it’s being played in Houston and the Texans should get an early jump on their first playoff run.
New York Giants at Washington Redskins: Can Eli Manning turn off his turnovers? Do the Giants have receivers that are good enough to compete. What? They’re playing the Redskins this week? Oh, then they’ll win this game easily. Moving on.
Seattle Seahawks at San Francisco 49ers: Tarvaris Jackson is the starter for the Seahawks. They’ve added a few other pieces, but they’re still not a very good team. So how about the 49ers? They have a new coach, new system, and the same old Alex Smith playing QB. The NFC West is a crapshoot…again.
Minnesota Vikings at San Diego Chargers: The Donovan McNabb era starts in Minnesota. As I mentioned in my preseason QB rankings, I think McNabb has a lot to prove. He’s back in an offense more suited for his talents, and I think he’ll do well in Minnesota. Too bad for him, his first real game is against the Chargers. I like the Chargers to avoid a slow start and get a win in the first week this season.
Carolina Panthers at Arizona Cardinals: Two new QB eras start in this game – Kevin Kolb and Cam Newton both look to get their first wins in their new towns. The Panthers and Cardinals both have decent running games that should take the pressure of these two guys. I expect this will be a quick game because of all that running we’re going to see. I also expect the Cardinals to get an early win because I don’t know anyone who wouldn’t want to throw to Larry Fitzgerald.
Dallas Cowboys at New York Jets: Tony Romo is back and healthy. The Cowboys defense is poised for a great season under Rob Ryan. The Jets added Plaxico Burress to help Mark Sanchez develop into more than a game manger under center. This should be a fun game with the Ryan brothers facing off and two very talented teams looking for an early statement win…which the Jets will get in an emotional 9/11 remembrance game.
New England Patriots at Miami Dolphins: Tom Brady, Chad Ochocinco, Wes Welker, BenJarvus Green-Ellis are talented position players who should give the Patriots a shot at being a very potent offense again. That defense isn’t half bad, either. Chad Henne is in a weird position in Miami. He feels unwanted there, but he can silence all his critics with some early connections to Brandon Marshall and some early magic with Reggie Bush. Oh, my prediction…that’s not going to happen right now. New England should win this game easily.
Oakland Raiders at Denver Broncos: Is anyone outside of Oakland and Denver going to watch this game? I’m not. The Broncos aren’t very good. The Raiders will stay bad as long as the corpse of Al Davis is running the team. This should look a lot like a bad college football game. There are no winners.