Dallas Cowboys @ New York Giants
Dallas secondary looks improved and they hope to be consistent. The offense took advantage of a banged up Giants secondary and slot receiver Kevin Ogletree came through. Running Back DeMarco Murray did just enough on the ground with a couple of nice runs. The Giants showed that they are still the same regular season team. Perhaps this game was bigger for Dallas, but the G-men could have made an early statement. I have yet to place quarterback Eli Manning into the elite category. He needs to produce and lead New York to victories in the regular season. To his credit, he has developed a clutch reputation. Quarterback Tony Romo won this battle.
Cowboys needed to start out with a win and got it against their rival and reigning champions, 24-17.
Atlanta Falcons @ Kansas City Chiefs
Atlanta is more balanced right now, offensively that is. They upgraded the secondary with cornerback Asante Samuel and could contain the ground game of the Chiefs by getting an early lead. Usually I like Kansas City at home, but they are missing a few defenders including pass rusher Tamba Hali. On the other side of the ball, too many of their skill players are coming off injuries (quarterback Matt Cassel, running backs Jamaal Charles and Peyton Hillis, and tight end Tony Moeaki).
Falcons flee the red sea, 23-16.
Philadelphia Eagles @ Cleveland Browns
Simply put, the Eagles have Super Bowl aspirations while the Browns continue their ongoing rebuilding process. Philadelphia has too many weapons for the Browns to focus on. The Eagles defensive line should live in the backfield, coming off a 50-sack season (tied for 1st). Rookie quarterback Brandon Weeden should get a rough welcome to the league, and it’s hard to bank on Trent Richardson starting off strong after a knee procedure.
Eagles soar in Cleveland, 27-13.
Washington Redskins @ New Orleans Saints
RGIII could play well but the Saints usually take care of business in front of their home crowd. It’s surprising how the Saints’ players won the suspension appeals, for the time being. New Orleans has a solid defense and will have to play disciplined in their lanes and gaps. The Redskins will apply pressure on the edge between pass-rushers Brian Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan, but they don’t have enough of a supporting cast offensively to make this kind of noise. The Saints outscore them with Drew Brees and company, especially if the rushing attack does as well as their 6th rank last season.
Saints go marching in, 27-21.
St. Louis Rams @ Detroit Lions
This game could be more competitive than you think. Rams have a good defensive line, but newly acquired Cortland Finnegan isn’t going to be the Megatron stopper. Both QBs are going to get hit, Detroit has an even better pass rush. I definitely trust Stephen Jackson leading the charge with Amendola making his presence felt, but Kevin Smith gives the Lions more of a balanced attack.
Lions make highlights on the Megatron, 24-14.
New England Patriots @ Tennessee Titans
New England is on a mission this season, they will stack the box against CJ and pressure Locker. Brady should have a field day with all his playmakers while Belichick gives his young defense some confidence coming out the gate
Patriots take care of business as usual, 38-17.
Miami Dolphins @ Houston Texans
Texans are a legit Super Bowl contender. Wade Phillips has this defense playing lights out, and rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill will suffer hospitality issues in Houston. Quarterback Matt Schaub shouldn’t have to do more than manage the game with a few play-action passes to receiver Andre Johnson. Miami let go of 2 of their best players leading up to this point and well, at least they were on HBO’s Hard Knocks.
Texans ground and pound featuring Arian Foster & Ben Tate, 30-9.
Buffalo Bills @ New York Jets
Bills have an underrated defense and they force turnovers, not to mention the addition of standout defensive end Mario Williams. They control the clock by handing it off to Fred Jackson, something the Jets plan on doing. New York has some things to figure out on both sides of the ball. Beyond the QB situation, they need to get that defense back into the top tier. Buffalo looks better all around.
Buffalo is the better AFC team in the Big Apple right now, 17-10.
Jacksonville Jaguars @ Minnesota Vikings
Running back Adrian Peterson is elite, but he is coming off a serious knee injury with an offense in rebuilding mode. The defense relies on the line anchored by Jared Allen, and they did tie for the most sacks last year with the Eagles. The Jaguars defense quietly ranked 6th last season and got better by adding safety Dawan Landry. Snagging head coach Mike Mularkey from the Falcons was another good move, he will help Gabbert grow. Between Rashad Jennings, Maurice Jones-Drew, Justin Blackmon, and Laurent Robinson, Jacksonville has more weapons than Minnesota.
Jaguars claw their way to victory on the road, 13-9.
Indianapolis Colts @ Chicago Bears
Chicago should win this one convincingly. The offense is as good as its been in years, rejoined by quarterback Jay Cutler and running back Matt Forte. They also brought receiver Brandon Marshall and running back Michael Bush on board. Colts are going through some changes and Chicago is primed to make a deep playoff run. Rookie quarterback Andrew Luck might find success against the Bears’ cover-2, but not in the winning column where it counts.
Bears come out of hibernation, 31-16.
Carolina Panthers @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers
These rivals are similar in what they are trying to do offensively, but the defense will dictate who wins. The Buccaneers have built a good d-line while adding safety Mark Barron in the draft. I just like Ron Rivera’s defense, plus the fact that Carolina’s linebackers are healthy while adding rookie Luke Kuechly to the core. Plus Cam Newton is the better QB and leader.
Panthers pounce, 27-17.
Seattle Seahawks @ Arizona Cardinals
Pete Carroll has his way with players. Of course the game would be easier with a healthy Marshawn Lynch. This could be a struggle with young QBs and stout defenses. Seahawks rookie quarterback Russell Wilson is more of a playmaker than John Skelton so that’s where I lean. If Skelton (or Kevin Kolb) finds a way to get receivers Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd involved, then this is a different story which is unlikely.
Seahawks flock to the desert, 20-13.
San Francisco 49ers @ Green Bay Packers
The Packers adding Cedric Benson could be the missing piece they needed, while adding some outside pressure with Nick Perry opposite of Clay Matthews. Keep in mind that offenses are usually ahead of defenses early in the season. 49ers might have the best D in the league. They run the ball all game long but they certainly have viable passing targets. I just have to give Aaron Rodgers the nod over Alex Smith.
Packers Lambeau leap, 27-23.
Pittsburgh Steelers @ Denver Broncos
The Broncos aren’t the best in the trenches, but they have serviceable options surrounding Peyton Manning. Maybe he’ll throw for 316 yards. Elvis Dumervil and Von Miller will get some hits on quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. The Steelers are flooded with injuries right now, plus Ryan Clark can’t play in Denver because of health concerns.
Broncos have the edge in Mile High, 20-19.
Cincinnati Bengals @ Baltimore Ravens
Rivals with two of the better defenses in football. This game means more to Joe Flacco than anybody else. Baltimore won’t have Defensive Player of the Year Terrelle Suggs, but you know Ray Lewis and Ed Reed will lead and rally the troops. Receiver A.J Green is legit but will draw double-coverage, so Cincinnati is hoping that Ben Jarvis Green-Ellis brings order to the field as a 3-down back. Still, the Bengals ground game has to prove it’s worth, making Ray Rice is the difference in this game.
Ravens lean on Ray Rice and experience, 21-16.
San Diego Chargers @ Oakland Raiders
No Ryan Mathews for the Chargers, which leads me to believe no dice for quarterback Philip Rivers. The Bolts need to find success on the ground because the offensive line didn’t get any better and the Raiders front-7 is tough. San Diego’s defense is a work in progress, making it hard to go against Darren McFadden in week 1. Oakland also has the speed to make big plays through the air.
Raiders win by playing smash mouth football, 23-17.